Almost any day when you find yourself in San Diego with 24 hours of free time ahead is a very good day. I haven’t spent much time here in the past, but I know I’m not going to sit at the airport the whole time. I pull up HotelTonight and almost instantly find a hotel for the night. Now that that’s done, I remember that there are all sorts of rental car options nearby. I decide to get one and head out to do some exploring. Why not? I’m in America’s Finest City with time on my hands. That doesn’t happen often, so I decide to go see what it’s about.
I get into my rental car and check into my hotel – totally seamless. I leave my things behind and ask the concierge how best to explore the area. The concierge tells me that the best way to get a feel for the area is to get on Interstate 5 – it’ll bring me to or at least past all sorts of places that are unique and that each offer a bit of flavor that is San Diego. I do just that. Here’s what I find:
I’m hungry, so I decide to get started and jump on the 5 North. The first place I see that looks interesting is Old Town. I pull off the freeway and into the neighborhood. It’s as if I’m traveling back in time. Historic buildings, quaint shops and, of course, choice after choice for authentic Mexican food. I park, walk into a restaurant and realize two things as soon as the food is served that I’m not going to be hungry anytime soon and that this Mexican food is the real deal. More than satisfied, I decide to get back on the freeway.
I really want to get a good look at the thing that San Diego is most famous for – its beaches. I’ve heard that La Jolla is beautiful, so I pull off the 5 and start snaking my way into this affluent area. It’s really something. Tiny streets and little shops that give it an almost European feel surround me. I find a place to park and walk down towards the water. I smell it before I hear it. I hear it before I see it. The ocean is breathtaking. I see people walking out on a walkway of some sort, so I decide to join them. Next thing I know, I’m looking at frolicking seals. This is not something you see every day. I snap some pictures and move on.
A little farther up the freeway I see signs for Del Mar. It rings a bell – I know I’ve heard about this place before. It doesn’t take long to know why word about this town has traveled. Del Mar is like a mixture of modern, high-end living, true beach town culture and a lot of history. I turn off on Jimmy Durante Boulevard and drive right by the horse track. You know, the one where Hollywood stars have spent time for generations. I take in a race or two – why not? – and decide to keep moving, as there is still a bit of San Diego to see.
After a few more minutes on the 5 North, I start seeing signs for what I was told should be my final destination for the day – Carlsbad. I drive into the downtown area and have to decide what I want to do in this quintessential California coastal town. Do I want a cocktail or a beer? How about a snack? Would I like to check out the coast from this vantage point? I decide on a quick drink and another peek at the ocean. It’s here that I learn that the beach looks different in every town I’ve seen it from today. That’s pretty neat. It’s time to head back towards the hotel.
It really doesn’t take that long to get back downtown to my hotel. It’s dinnertime now and I think I’ve finally walked off that amazing lunch from Old Town. It’s a good thing, as I immediately realize as I’m walking through the Gaslamp Quarter near my hotel that there are more options for dinner than I could ever imagine. I decide on a nice Italian place and enjoy it to the fullest. Not wanting to call it a night after dinner, I decide to stop in a few places on my way back to my hotel to have a drink and talk to folks. Everyone is friendly. The Gaslamp is the perfect way to end the perfect day in San Diego.
If you’ve found yourself in a city with some time to spend, you may be like me in that the most difficult part of arranging your stay is finding a hotel in short order. That’s not going to happen with HotelTonight. You’ll find what you’re looking for in seconds and it won’t take much longer than that to secure a room that you’ll be happy with. I know that when I finally got back to my room after this wondrous day that everything fell into place perfectly.