Choose Your Own San Diego Adventure

Close your eyes and picture this: the sky is clear blue. The sun is shining. The temperature is 74 degrees, and there’s a nice breeze blowing. The ocean is sparkling. The palm trees are swaying. Is this paradise? Close! You’re in San Diego!

San Diego Sunset and skyline

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San Diego is a beautiful city. As a popular tourist destination, there are so many things to do and see, you could rill an entire website. If you’re able to stay a few days before and/or after WordCamp 2022, or you want to venture out in the evenings after the conference, take advantage of some of the amazing things this city has to offer!* 

From parks and beaches to museums and dance clubs, you’re sure to find plenty of ways to fill your days and nights during your stay in this hub of Southern California culture. You are all but guaranteed great weather for being outdoors. Throw your SPF and a water bottle in your backpack, grab your shades, and get out there!

Tip: try the MTS Trip Planner to find out how to get to your destination from the hotel via bus or trolley.

*I realize that sightseeing or other activities might not be attainable to everyone visiting WordCamp US this year. There just might not be enough time or funding for extracurriculars. That said, I wanted to point out some of the things that I love about San Diego, and I hope you get a chance to enjoy them too! If not this year, then maybe next time around!

If you love sand and surf… Mission Beach

Mission Beach is a laid-back but bustling beach area with a walk/bike path, shopping, and plenty of food & drink. Visit Belmont Park for a ride on the famous wooden roller coaster, then take a long walk around scenic Mission Bay and watch the sailboats glide through the water. Stop for a beer and burger at Draft, and then settle on the sand to watch the sunset. (3000 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109)

An overhead view of the famous wooden roller coaster at Belmont Park in Mission Beach
An overhead view of the famous wooden roller coaster at Belmont Park in Mission Beach

If you love animals… San Diego Zoo

Fun for all ages, the San Diego Zoo spans 100 acres and houses over 12,000 animals of more than 650 species. It’s the most visited zoo in the US and is cited as one of the best zoos in the world. With an open-space concept, the zoo strives to recreate natural habitats as opposed to housing animals in cramped and oppressive cages. (2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101)

Now, the zoo is huge. You could reasonably visit several days in a row and still have plenty of new things to see. Here’s what I like to do: after arriving, stop by to say hi to the flamingos (they’re close to the park entrance). Then, take a quiet, relaxing, scenic ride through the sky on the Skyfari Aerial Tram to the back of the zoo. You’ll get beautiful views of downtown and surrounding Balboa Park. Pick a path to walk back to the entrance. You can choose to hear the lions roar and watch the elephants play, check out the polar bears and the hippos swimming, or wave at the primates and listen to the birds sing in the aviaries. 

After getting your fill of giraffes and giant tortoises, cruise over to Pete’s Seafood for dinner. If you love seafood, you’ll love Pete’s. They fly in fresh authentic New England seafood and serve up delicious fish & chips, lobster rolls, clam chowder and lobster bisque, along with a selection of other northeast coast favorites. Not in the mood for fish? Pete’s also offers other options like chicken, pork, and eggplant sandwiches. I highly recommend the lobster roll. Sublime. (3382 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104)

If you love beer & arcade games… Coin-Op Game Room

If the Pinball Wizard’s got nothing on you, then Coin-Op Game Room is your place to be. It’s a bar. It’s an arcade. It’s a… barcade? Local beers, craft cocktails, burgers, and shared plates fill you up while the sights and sounds of your childhood spark nostalgia for that sacred time in life. I remember having to stand on a milk crate to play Pole Position as a kid… (3926 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104)

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you could follow an unofficial North Park Brewery Tour and see what all the beer fuss is about around here. With 14 craft beer stops in close proximity, you have plenty to choose from, and of course, can rely on a convenient and dependable ride back to the hotel.

If you love gardens & museums… Balboa Park

Before we get into the park details, I must tell you about my favorite place to eat in all of San Diego: Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe. For your Balboa Park adventure, I suggest starting with breakfast here. The food is always delicious, authentic, and filling. The dining room inside is bright, colorful, and cheerful. There is outdoor seating, great service, and friendly smiling faces. 

After breakfast, walk east on Spruce Street toward the park to Sixth Avenue, then take a right to walk south toward Laurel Street. Turn left at Laurel and walk east along El Prado into the park. You’ll pass the bocce lawn and the dog park, then cross the Cabrillo Bridge spanning route 163 for some great views.

This beautiful 1200-acre park boasts 17 museums, a huge botanical building standing behind a lily and koi fishpond, tons of gardens, an organ pavilion, a carousel, restaurants and coffee shops. The park includes spaces for picnics, plenty of shade trees, and miles of trails to explore. 

Bonus: check out some hidden gems of the park.

Photo of an interactive park map of San Diego, click on the link to go to the interactive map
Interact with this park map at balboapark.org.

If you love baseball… Downtown San Diego

Why not wind down a day of learning and networking by catching an evening game at Petco Park? The Dodgers are visiting from LA all weekend (and it’s bound to be a good weekend for Dodgers fans, but you didn’t hear that from me…). Game times: Friday 9/9 6:40 pm | Saturday 9/10 5:40 pm

You thought I’d forgotten about dinner first? Me? Forget the food? Never. Your dining options are basically endless in Downtown San Diego. Of course, you can get just about anything inside the stadium, but if you’re looking for something more specific, you can try one of these nearby options:

City Tacos (323 7th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101) – A fresh take on a classic, City Tacos offers meat, fish, vegetarian, and even Paleo offerings, and dishes can be topped with a variety of creative salsas.

Bub’s at the Ballpark (715 J St, San Diego, CA 92101) – You’re going to find your sports bar favorites here, from nachos to wings to burgers to any fried food you can think of. Grab some specialty tater tots and a beer before heading to the stadium. 

Basic Bar & Pizza (410 Tenth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101) – If you’re craving pizza, Basic has you covered. You can build your own with extensive toppings, or opt for one of their specialty pies. Wash it down with a cold beer or cocktail.

Tin Fish (170 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101) – If you’re craving seafood, this is a great little spot to grab something fried or grilled before the game. You’ll find a menu full of mouthwatering selections along with a full bar for drink options. Outdoor seating is available to enjoy the perfect San Diego end-of-summer weather. 

If you love history… Old Town San Diego

Hop on the trolley at the hotel stop, and then hop off a few minutes later to visit historic Old Town State Park. If you’re a history buff, Old Town’s museums and parks are free to the public. Check out the Old Town San Diego Guide for more information.

If you’re craving amazing authentic Mexican food, this is the place to go. Touting the best Mexican food in San Diego, you can’t really go wrong with any of the many restaurants located in this historic area of the city. Along with amazing food and drinks, Casa de Reyes is a never-ending party with outdoor seating and daily free entertainment. Similarly, Casa Guadalajara offers indoor and outdoor seating on a lush patio, along with live mariachi music

The Colorado House and Courthouse Museum in Old Town San Diego
The Colorado House and Courthouse Museum in Old Town San Diego

Not Feeling Adventurous?

If the hustle and bustle of the conference is enough adventure for one weekend – thank you very much – well you still have to eat! Here are some options that are close to the hotel. Distances are from 500 Hotel Cir N, San Diego, CA 92108:

In-N-Out Burger (2 miles)

When you’re in San Diego, you have to eat at In-N-Out Burger. It’s actually a law. Look it up*.

I feel like we all know about the Not-So-Secret Menu by now. But if you have no idea what I’m talking about, then revel in the dreamy wonder of it all! I can actually have one of these delightful taste bombs made extra super especially my way?! Indeed. From extra burger patties to extra cheese to no burger patty at all, you can customize your order pretty much any way you can think of. One adventurous diner has even tried ordering every super secret menu hack… all in one day. 

If you couldn’t tell, I do believe In-N-Out makes the absolute best fast food burger in existence. Their fries… well that’s another story. Even though they’re both fresh cut and fried in the store, they somehow manage to miss the mark. But order them animal style, and now we’re talking.

*Don’t really look it up, just trust me on this one, K?

2005 Camino Del Este, San Diego, CA 92108

Trader Joe’s Grocery (1 mile)

Trader Joe’s is a Southern California staple. The first store was opened in Pasadena (east of Los Angeles) in 1967. TJ’s carries mostly store-brand items, and the prices, quality, and flavors are all amazing. Here you can find plenty of ready-made, no prep necessary options for breakfast, lunch, and dinners outside of the conference. You’ll also find tons of snacks (TJ’s has EXCELLENT snacks), chocolate, cookies, ice cream, beverages, nuts and dried fruit, and fresh fruits and veggies. A great place to stock up for your stay and your trip home!

1072 Camino Del Rio N, San Diego, CA 92108

Jane’s Cafe (0.75 mile)

Jane’s Cafe has been dubbed “The best breakfast in San Diego”. Offering breakfast and lunch options, this quaint cafe is tucked away from the hustle and bustle and offers sweet and savory breakfasts, smoothies, coffee, sandwiches, salads, and other signature dishes. Sure to be a crowd pleaser!

591 Camino De La Reina Suite 130, San Diego, CA 92108

King’s Fish House (1 mile)

If you like seafood, you’ll love King’s Fish House. From sushi and oysters to wild sea bass and crab legs (and everything in between), you’ll find it on the menu at King’s. Top it off with specialty cocktails or pair dinner with a glass of wine or ice cold beer. It ain’t cheap, but it is gooooooood.

825 Camino De La Reina, San Diego, CA 92108

Broken Yolk Cafe (1.75 mile)

A San Diego breakfast staple! Broken Yolk boasts tons of breakfast goodies including pancakes, wraps, omelets, and their signature eggs benedict dishes. If you’re dining in a group, the menu is sure to have something for everyone.

1760 Camino Del Rio N, San Diego, CA 92108

Resources

Here are some helpful websites to help you plan your trip and transportation around the city.

Ron Burgundy and his infamous quote, "Stay Classy, San Diego."

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