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San Diego Getaway Guide

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(credit: Liz Laing)

San Diego is a city full of fun, with many attractions and neighborhoods to explore beyond Sea World and the famous San Diego Zoo. From miles of pristine beaches, to cultural museums, and a thriving downtown area encompassing Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter, visitors will find plenty to do in this coastal gem of a city.

Manchester Grand Hyatt
(credit: Manchester Grand Hyatt)

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
1 Market Place
San Diego, CA 92101

For a stay in San Diego, you can't get much better than the Manchester Grand Hyatt's location, across from sunny San Diego Bay in downtown San Diego. The two striking towers accommodate 1,628 guestrooms, including 76 suites and a spacious and stylish Grand Suite, with a sleek and comfortable sitting area, large dining table, kitchenette, wet bar, marble bath and pullout sofa bed. In the connecting bedroom, you have a choice of either a king or two double Hyatt Grand Beds™ fitted with premium linens and down duvets. Vertical striped wall treatments and geometric patterns on the carpet and headboards make the room modern and sophisticated, though the main attraction is the spectacular view of the San Diego Bay showcased through floor-to-ceiling windows. You can even catch a sea breeze by opening the windows for a breath of fresh air.

In the morning, head downstairs to Lael's for a decadent breakfast buffet offered daily. The Grand Buffet features made-to-order omelets, waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, fresh fruit, yogurt, muffins and pastries, and includes juice and coffee. You can then easily walk to Seaport Village, tour the historic USS Midway or enjoy a harbor cruise.

w san diego
(credit: W Hotel San Diego)

W San Diego
421 W B St
San Diego, CA 92101

A recent $5 million makeover makes the W San Diego, with its spectacular 258 guest rooms and suites, the perfect spot for a luxury stay with a super-hip flair. Within walking distance to both the bustling Gaslamp Quarter and charming Little Italy, the hotel's location means a quieter stay and easy access to several shops, bars and restaurants. If you're looking to be wowed, the spacious Extreme Wow Suite (1,250 sq. ft.) is the ultimate in modern sophistication, with a blue and white color scheme and stunning views of the cityscape below. The suite features fun, surprising design elements, such as water coming out of the ceiling into the bathtub instead of an ordinary spout, and a TV in the wall to watch as you soak in the deep tub complete with jets.

As far as the nightlife scene, look no further than the newly imagined Rooftop Bar, where you can sip on cool cocktails, enjoy one of the private cabanas, or admire the bold "bonfire" -- a playful sculpture of stacked red beach chairs ablaze. If feeling at home is more your thing (only ten times cooler) the revamped Living Room Lounge in the lobby practically bursts with energy, featuring a full bar, plush seating, vibrant colors, and funky lamps – a perfect blend of urban sophistication meets laid-back style.

Stone Brewing Co Company
(credit: Stone Brewing Co)

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Escondido
1999 Citracado Parkway

Escondido, CA 92029

Located in San Diego's North County, beer enthusiasts and foodies alike will enjoy a visit to Stone Brewing Company, one of the nation's most successful microbreweries. For $3 you can peer behind the scenes of the brewing process on a guided tour, which concludes with a beer sampling (in a souvenir glass) of four of their best selections. Afterwards, have dinner at the brewery's restaurant, Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens – Escondido, which offers a diverse menu of worldly comfort foods and offers more than 30 craft and specialty beers on tap. A satisfying dish for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike is the Tempeh Shepherd's Pie, a combination of vegetables, tempeh and cheeses, topped with a generous serving of mashed potatoes. After dinner, take a stroll along the winding paths throughout the sprawling beer garden with lush vegetation, flowering plants, and a koi pond. Two fire pits and tiny lights sparkling throughout the trees add a touch of romance to this cozy backyard setting.

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy
(credit: Davanti Enoteca Little Italy)

Davanti Enoteca Little Italy
1655 India Street
San Diego, CA 92101

Located in the heart of Little Italy, Davanti Enoteca Little Italy serves authentic Italian cuisine with inventive interpretations. Start off your meal with a roasted cauliflower dish in a Sicilian olive tapenade with piquillo peppers and lemon vinaigrette. Be sure and order the signature Focaccia di Recco, baked focaccia stuffed with fresh, soft cow cheese and topped with honeycomb – it's so good, you'll want more and more. Leave room though for all the delicious salads, pizza and pasta dishes, such as the hand-made orecchiette pasta with sausage, rapini, pecorino and chilies. Sweet endings come in the form of grilled rustic Italian bread with nutella, banana and marshmallow or a zingy lemon tiramisu with fresh blueberries, elderflower and mascarpone.

General Manager, Joshua Zanow (who began his career at Thomas Keller's French Laundry), is definitely doing something right here. With such great food and excellent service, Davanti Enoteca is on many top lists of San Diego restaurants.

pardo san diego
(credit: The Prado at Balboa Park)

The Prado at Balboa Park
1549 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101

For a classic San Diego dining experience, look no further than The Prado at Balboa Park, an impressive place to bring out-of-town guests or celebrate a special occasion. The scenic location is beautiful and both the food and service are exceptional. Plus, you have the added bonus of touring some of the museums in Balboa Park before or after your meal. First course offerings include a Seared American Kobe Beef Sushi Roll with asparagus, wasabi, tobiko aioli and a ponzu dipping sauce. On the menu you'll find plenty of farm fresh salads, paninis, tacos, burgers and BLTs. The Grilled Chicken BLT is not your ordinary BLT with avocado, applewood smoked bacon, tarragon aioli on a ciabatta roll. One of the most popular dinner menu items is the Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs, served with horseradish mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, gremolata and a bordelaise sauce, which will melt in your mouth with every bite. The Prado also has a great Happy Hour offered twice on most week days from 4pm-6pm and 8pm–10pm and also on Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm–11pm.

Old Town Trolley Tours
(credit: Old Town Trolley Tours)

Old Town Trolley Tours
4010 Twiggs St. (at San Diego Ave)
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 298-8687

With San Diego's Old Town Trolley Tours, you can sightsee with flexibility and freedom. Learn about "America's Finest City" from the comfort of your seat on this whirlwind tour, from historic Old Town, to the beachside paradise of Coronado, and everything in between. The entire tour without hopping off runs 2 hours, but the full-day pass allows you to make your own itinerary and take advantage of the 11 stops along the route. Conveniently, a trolley arrives every 30 minutes at each stop, so you'll never have to wait long to head to the next destination. Get your cultural fix by visiting Balboa Park's museums, followed by grabbing some authentic Italian grub in Little Italy, then heading over to the Gaslamp Quarter for some shopping. The tour is ideal for visitors who want inexpensive and breezy transportation to see the best of San Diego and to learn about the city's fascinating past.

Liz Laing is a writer, web designer and photographer who lives in Los Angeles. Her latest projects may be followed on Liz Laing.
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