Dremscapes Print Subscription Form
Canada Guides Ad
Search Past Articles
(2011 - Fall Issue)


It was February and cold back home. Looking out of the aircraft window, I gazed down on the snowless Pacific Coast landscape in anticipation.

Ihadn’t visited San Diego since I was three and all I remembered of that trip was the zoo where I was captivated by a bear sitting in a bathtub. Childhood memories had brought me back.

We had divided our four-night pre-cruise stay between downtown San Diego and La Jolla.

City Centre

The airport is very close to downtown San Diego; I swear we could have walked.

A five-minute cab ride brought us to the exquisite 184-room, 23-storey Sè San Diego Hotel located within easy walking distance of shops and restaurants. Sauntering past the doorman who had effortlessly opened a 400-kilogram bronze door for us, we entered a world of leather-covered walls, reception desks bound in stingray pelts and silk mobile chandeliers. And this was only the lobby. Our one-bedroom suite on the 12thfloor offered amazing views of downtown San Diego and its harbourfront. Higher up, we checked out the luxe suites and three two- and three-bedroom penthouses complete with kitchens equipped with state-of-the-art Italian appliances. An über lounge, a restaurant, bar, workout room, spa and relaxation lounge, business centre and swimming pool completed the guests’ must-have list. I couldn’t help thinking this was the perfect place for a bachelorette party or girlfriends’ getaway—super slick, relaxing and close to everything a woman could possibly need or want.

Just a 10-minute walk from our hotel, we boarded an open-air trolley for our San Diego tour. Old Town Trolley Tours is an ideal way to experience California’s second-largest city known for its ideal year-round climate, exciting attractions and miles of beaches. Travelling through Coronado, Balboa Park and Zoo, Old Town Market, the harbour district, the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy, the hop-on hop-off concept allowed us to explore various locales at our own pace.

Dining here was delightful and I can definitely recommend the Suite and Tender dining room at the Sè San Diego. Choosing a 2009 Loredona Pinot Grigio from Monterey, we opted for executive chef Calamari’s recommended selection of appetizers followed by our entrées, potato- and horseradish-crusted halibut for my husband and the scrumptious Szechuan pepper-crusted Ahi tuna for me.

Another restaurant we tried was Searsucker—a busy, noisy, happening place geared to a younger crowd. This time, appetizers of tuna + screaming rooster and octopus saffron aioli with a cress salad preceded sea bass for him and tasty scallops from Maine with foie grasand figs for me—all paired with a bottle of 2009 Pierropan Soave. Lunch, we were told, offered a completely different atmosphere from dinner. We’ll keep that in mind next time.

On the Way

Before hitting La Jolla, we took time to explore communities and sites along the way. Our first stop was the Cabrillo National Monument, which took us past the beautiful homes of Sunset Cliffs and offered up magnificent views of San Diego, the surrounding area and the military base on Coronado.

Then it was on to the free-spirited community of South Beach to sample fresh oysters and the “best fish tacos” in the USA at the South Beach Bar & Grille. A little farther along in the coastal suburb of Pacific Beach, we checked out Mission Bay Park with its two-mile-long boardwalk. Offering a mix of accommodation, Pacific Beach is party central and attracts an estimated 15 million visitors a year.

Of course, we couldn’t drive by SeaWorld without paying a visit to Shamu, the most popular killer whale in the world. It was a splash!

Beautiful La Jolla

Our hotel of choice here was the Grande Colonial Hotel where our one-bedroom suite overlooked the majestic Pacific coastline and boardwalk populated by strollers stopping to watch the protected sea lions and photograph perfect sunsets. Multi-million-dollar properties, high-end shops, art galleries and restaurants line the streets and shoreline. I could live here—if I had the money. Nevertheless, it was a treat, if only for a couple of days.

As one might expect, restaurant menus reflect their oceanside location. Dinner at our popular hotel restaurant consisted of sweet potato soup with ginger followed by entrées of halibut for him and beef short ribs for me, complemented by a bottle of 2003 Chryseia from Douro, Portugal.

The next evening found us at the very chic George’s at the Cove restaurant. A medley of appetizers included a tuna dish (a take on the fish taco but definitely not as messy and much more delicious—try it!), local fluke scented with curry, marinated octopus from Monterey and albacore with carrot purée and bok choy. And we still managed to conquer our entrées of swordfish and hanger steak (a.k.a. the butcher’s cut) together with a bottle of Merlot. However, we did pass on the tempting list of desserts although they were definitely worth a try.

Throughout our stay, the weather was perfection. But then this is San Diego, a city that boasts an average of 146 sunny days and 117 partly cloudy days a year, an average annual precipitation of less than 300 millimetres and average temperatures ranging from 14.1 C in January to 22.5 C in August.

What I know for sure about San Diego is that I will be back. There is so much more to explore and many more menus to savour. I’m thinking the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, happening November 16–20, just might be the perfect reason to return.

Best Western
San Antonio
Website Hosted and Designed by The Biz Services Inc.