Waking up early in San Diego was no problem due to the jet lag. Unfortunately, it was the weekend so no Concierge Level breakfast and we had to forage for ourselves. The Marriott Marquis San Diego is right next door to the San Diego Convention Center, most famous as the location every July of Comicon. If you have to ask what is, you probably don’t want to know. The convention center is surrounded by other big name hotels and a great location between the water and the fun part of town – the Gaslamp District. Here is a picture of the hotel and accompanying marina. Note the bridge over to Coronado Island in the background. Fun fact – the components of that bridge float so they would not block the harbor if the bridge were destroyed by enemy attack.
Stepping outside,the weather was 57 heading up to an expected perfect 73. What a break from the East Coast freezing temps and miserable snow dump we had last Thursday! The San Diego Trolley system is right there and a good way to get to the outlying parts of San Diego or even go down to the border and cross into Tijuana. We elected to stay close since we would need to check out and head back to the Fairfield Inn in the afternoon.
So it didn’t take long for the wife and I to find a great spot to fill our bellies. A European pancake house named Richard Walker’s Pancake House which featured Dutch Apple Pancakes. We are real fans of a good Dutch pancake and the line outside seemed to be a good review of the level of food quality. I went to their website and found that they were a family restaurant founded in 1948 with two locations outside of Chicago and a third here in San Diego. I didn’t get the story on how THAT happened, but if anyone know please chime in. I got the cherry Belgian waffles and the wife the Dutch apple pancake seen below. As you can see, we went away quite full and even skipped lunch!
I was somewhat familiar with San Diego having grown up in L.A. and doing family vacations over the years, but that was a while ago so we decided to pay $36 each for the Old Town Tolley Tour. This was a pretty good 2 1/2 hour hop-on, hop-off type tour that covered all of the big attractions in San Diego – Gaslamp district, Little italy, Coronado Island, Balboa Park and Old Town.
Here is the Gaslamp District, a long street of bars and restaurants which is party central for San Diego. The wife and I had a great night here in 2006 with an Army Strong Bonds weekend. If you are not aware of this Chaplains Corps program check it out and get a all expenses paid weekend to reunite with your spouse. Originally set up to help with reintegration after a tour in one of the warzones, it is now open to everyone. If you are young, this is pretty much where you want to end up in the evening!
Next stop on the tour was the famous Balboa Park. Home not only to the San Diego Zoo, it has so many other activities that you could easily spend a full day here. We passed on spending time here since we only had a day and wanted to do more in Old Town. One thing that I found very amusing was outside the Air & Space Museum. Here is a picture on a Sea Dart, the Navy version of the Delta Dart interceptor of the ’60s. Note the retractable water skis!
Next stop on the tour was Old Town, the original Spanish settlement. I’ll hit that at the end since that is where we ended up the evening. Then we reached an old childhood memory for me, the sailing ship Star of India. They actually have quite a collection of ships that you can tour including the WW2 carrier Midway.
Next stop was Seaport, a very Disneyesque collection of shops and restaurants that was actually right next to the Marriott Marquis. It was in fact actually designed by Walt Disney and has that same feel. A nice collection of places that would be great to keep kids entertained. The view across the bay from here is of the Ronald Reagan so a nice view if you are nautically minded.
So that ended the tour and we headed over to spend the night at the Fairfield Inn Oldtown. Oldtown is the usual collection of little trinket shops, bars and restaurants. A good touristy thing to do with the family during the day and a great place for margaritas and Mexican food at night. I wish we had more time to invest in seeing all the sights of San Diego, but it was off to Honolulu the next morning!
And guys, here is a little tip – spending $5 to have your wife serenaded is always a good investment.