Hi everyone! This is my first post here at this board and I have to say I have really enjoyed reading through all the threads on San Diego. My daughters, ages 10 and 12 and I are headed your way for the first time ever for 4 nights in early April. Not having been there, I have researched San Diego rather extensively via the internet and have come away with a few impressions.
1)Already I know I should have rented a car instead of having bought prepaid transportation from the airport and unlimited bus/trolley tix already. I am going to have to live with that decision.
2) Pacific Beach has a ton of restaurants and most of the foodies snub most all of them.
3) One either thinks Casa de Pico and Casa de Bandini are the only places to eat real Mexican food or they think they are the worst tourist traps in the city perhaps only second to the Seaport Village, which I have yet to read any good review of.
Here's my reality. We bought the 3-in-1 passes to the Zoo, Wild Animal Park, and SeaWorld. Additionally, we bought separate transportation via Contact Tours to the Wild Animal Park. They will pick us up at our hotel, which is the Catamaran Resort Hotel on Mission Bay near Pacific Beach. We will also go on the photo safari while we are there. We will have breakfast with Shamu one morning. I am not counting on actually liking the food more than my kids will like all the various reincarnations of Shamu.
People have told me we just HAVE to see La Jolla. We have a summer place in Camden, Maine and frankly, it looks like coastal Maine including the snoozing seals though we usually see them do that on rocks out in the harbor rather than on the beach. I am reading reviews of restaurants that sound overpriced and snobby, but am told that they are must do events. We could go to La Jolla the first day provided our plane lands on time. We will be getting to the airport here in DC for a 6:30 am (EST) flight on the day that daylight savings time begins no less and will have to arrive at the airport 2 hours early. Our scheduled arrival time is at I think about 11:30 am your time, but we will have been in the air more than 7 hours. Our hotel check in time is a mean 4:00 pm. I am hoping we can ditch the bags in a closet there and take off for the day provided we don't fall asleep in the lobby!
I see from the bus schedule that it is a straight shot up to La Jolla and from everything I read about parking, it might take less time to take that bus than to find a parking space there anyway. This is the other conflicting advice I keep seeing, "rent a car and hunt like mad for parking every place you might want to go".
Question???: IS LA JOLLA BETTER THAN CORONADO, IF SO WHY AND WHERE DO YOU THINK WE, ARRIVING IN OUR TRAVELING CLOTHES AND PROBABLY DEAD TIRED, SHOULD GO IF WE DECIDE TO HIT A RESTAURANT. I'm having trouble even figuring what time our bodies are going to think it is!
Next question: Your impressions of Old Town overall. We don't have architecture like that here. Is there something to see? Are there good places to buy Mexican items there? We will NOT be heading into Mexico on this trip. My daughter was born on "El Dio De Los Meurtos" and I'd love to get one of those silly skeleton dolls for her to take home. Should we eat in Old Town or should we come back to Pacific Beach and try Gringo's as San Diego magazine is recommending this month?
Regarding food in Pacific Beach----I read a lot of snide posts on the net regarding the place and have read posts on various boards about Ocean Beach that even sort of scare me. I have seen various places in Pacific Beach however that pique my interest. My kids are going to want to spend as much time as they can at the beach, after all they are kids. After long days touring, I can't say that the Gaslamp District sounds unique enough for me to care to go. We have Georgetown, DC and Old Town Alexandria,VA here which are real places, not artifically created tourist districts, but I digress...
Here are a list of places I am interested in for various reasons. Please tell me what you think of them and why. If you have eaten something good or bad at any of these restaurants please tell me what that was. We are interested in Mexican, seafood, and possibly Hawaiian food. Maybe a fish taco. We have oodles of otherwise ethic here and don't need Italian either.
Joe's Crabshack- I think this sounds fun, but I am worried about the quality of the seafood. I'd love some simply steamed Alaskan King crablegs one night though and can't find anywhere else that touts them. Alternate ideas are welcome!
Lamont St. Grill
Additionally, we need to stop somewhere and get breakfast that will keep in our hotel room, eg, muffins, scones..I think I know better than to say bagel in San Diego from the sounds of things...
Most of our lunches will have to be inside SeaWorld, the zoo and the Wild Animal Park. Any insider tip re eating there short of packing our own lunch which would be difficult.. I am really not interested in touring around all day and then spending half the evening on a city bus trying to get to and from "the restaurant". My kids would be miserable and I might be, too. Thank you for even reading such a long post. We are truly excited about this trip and we think that overall, San Diego promises to be a wonderful place to visit.