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San Diego City Trip - Old Town

San Diego skyline at dusk
San Diego Skyline at Dusk

SAN DIEGO DAY 3: Old Town, Seaport Village, Coronado Island

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On day three you will carouse downtown, check out Old Town or head over the bridge to Coronado. Start by having a tasty breakfast at the Broken Yolk Café in the Gaslamp District. You'll love their comfort food and big portions. Choose from over 20 different omelets, Betty's biscuits & gravy, eggs Florentine or light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes. This hearty fare should set you up for a day of exploration.

From your present location on Sixth you can easily wander about the shops and galleries. From the sleek Exclusive Collections Gallery to the expansive Wine Bank for tastings and take homes of California's finest fermented grapes, the Gaslamp has something for every yen (clothes, furniture, art, spirits and even cowboy hats). The architectural behemoth known as the Horton Plaza might vie for your attention, but since you can shop at Banana Republic and Nine West back home, it'll be more fun to seek out gems like Kita Ceramics and Eden — a gorgeous boutique specializing in upscale yet more affordable fashion. Younger folks will love Urban Outfitters, Puma and G-Star Raw to find their new favorite pair of jeans.

The Broken Yolk Café in San Diego serves over 20 different kinds of omelets
The Broken Yolk Café

Venture a bit west for fun in the sun at the tourist mecca Seaport Village. Indulge in ice cream and check out the small, touristy stores with souvenirs, cards and nautical treasures. Then rent a boat or jet-ski to catch some fresh air in the harbor. You'll have an amazing view of the San Diego skyline as well as the authentic feeling of being at sea: the wind in your hair, the blazing sun on your face and the feeling of cold sea spray on your skin. There are several rental places located right by Seaport Village. Check out the docked boats and compare prices.

Another option is to visit San Diego's Old Town, midway between La Jolla and the Gaslamp, just over the I-5 South. This festive part of town reflects the Mexican and early American periods (1821 to 1872) of San Diego. The myriad street-side stores offer wonderful souvenirs like pottery, wind chimes, and Día de los Muertos and Virgin de Guadalupe memorabilia. You'll also see how the early settlers lived at Seeley Stables and Casa de Estudillo. Toast your grand experience with a giant margarita at the Old Town Mexican Café or choose from over 2000 tequilas at El Agave Tequileria which also has a Tequila Museum with the most beautiful collection of bottles in the U.S.

USS Midway in San Diego

History buffs will want to stroll along the bay to Navy Pier, where the legendary USS Midway awaits. Midway was the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the history of the U.S. Navy, and now it serves as an interactive naval aviation museum. Equipped with more than 35 exhibits and displays as well as vintage aircraft, the Midway reflects San Diego's unique heritage as one of the largest Navy ports in the world.

Another great adventure is a trip to Coronado Island — an idyllic beach community. It's worth the drive over the bridge to visit its gorgeous beaches and the historic Hotel del Coronado, the Victorian beach-front masterpiece which opened in 1888. Explore this storied property where aviator Charles Lindbergh celebrated his famous New York to Paris flight in 1927; Charlie Chaplin, Thomas Edison and The Prince of Wales were all illustrious guests at the time of the hotel's pinnacle in the early 20th century. Marilyn Monroe filmed "Some Like It Hot" on site; Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz created their "Lucy and Ricky" television personas while residing at this luxe seaside retreat. Rent some bikes or a surrey for a pedal along the strand. Afterward, grab some ice cream at the Moo Time Creamery or smoothies at the Boardwalk Café back at the hotel.

If you have time for a leisurely epicurean adventure, hit the Sunset Bar for a mojito, then head to 1500 Ocean, a culinary charmer with modern design. The restaurant is helmed by executive chef Robert Hohmann, who's trained with renowned chefs Thomas Keller and Mario Batali, just to name a few.

Before heading back to the airport, grab a last bite at Cucina Urbana, one of the hottest eateries in town. Enjoy wood-fired flatbreads fresh from the oven, cheese and charcuterie platters and delicious desserts like the roasted strawberry fregolata. If Cucina Urbana is jam-packed, head a few blocks over to Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant, the savvy neighborhood hangout from one of San Diego's best chefs, Carl Schroeder (also of Market Restaurant + Bar fame). We love the spiced hangar steak and pencil-thin truffle fries.

A douc langur monkey at the San Diego Zoo
A douc langur at the San Diego Zoo

We've tried to show you all sides of San Diego: the natural and highly designed, the mellow and the over-the-top. But our coverage wouldn't be complete if we omitted some of the more obvious, kid-friendly tourist attractions such as SeaWorld, the San Diego Wild Animal Park and Legoland.

Legoland (located thirty minutes north in the community of Carlsbad) offers more than 60 rides, shows and attractions for kids ages 2 to 12. Among the park's highlights is the Land of Adventure, which combines four attractions including their "first-ever" dark ride, the Lost Kingdom Adventure (a journey to recover stolen treasure inside an all-terrain roadster), Cargo Ace (an airplane ride that flies six feet into the air), Beetle Bounce (it launches kids 15 feet up one of two towers to touch giant Lego beetles) and Pharaoh's Revenge (foam ball target fun). Be sure to stroll through the incredible lego displays where you will see Las Vegas, The White House, and parts of New York City made entirely out of legos. And don't forget to visit their over-the-top water park on a hot summer's day.

SeaWorld offers a new adrenaline-thumping rollercoaster called Manta that twists and turns upside down, and shows like the exciting "Dolphin Discovery" with bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales, as well as the world-famous "Shamu Adventure" set in a seven-million-gallon stadium. At SeaWorld you can meet (and maybe even pet) a diverse array of sea critters, ranging from sharks, penguins, dolphins, manatees, tube worms, sea hares and even hermit crabs. Watch GAYOT's exclusive video interview with senior animal trainer Jennifer Fuhs to find out more about the SeaWorld San Diego's Dolphin Interaction Program.

Approximately 30 minutes northeast in Escondido is the expansive San Diego Wild Animal Park, which features roaming herds of exotic animals. Among the park's 3,500 animals are a very rare California condor and the largest collection of rhinos in any zoo. Kids will also love the hot air balloon ride for an aerial view from above.

For more information, visit www.sandiego.org

MORE SAN DIEGO INFORMATION

*Images courtesy of preserveamerica.gov and the Broken Yolk Café

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