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San Diego tours and excursions

San Diego tours

Walking tours

The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation, William Heath Davis House Museum, 410 Island Avenue, Downtown, offers two-hour guided walking tours of the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego's oldest neighbourhood, every Saturday. The tours leave from William Heath Davis House Museum. It is possible to book private tours for groups.

San Diego's Boosters of Old Town, Robinson Rose Historical House and Museum, 4002 Wallace Street, offers guided tours of the Old Town's 19th-century historic neighbourhoods and national park - often by guides dressed in period clothing. Attractions include an early American pioneer cemetery, one of the Old Town's oldest churches and a haunted house. Some tours include lunch and a fashion promenade.

Tel: +1 619 233 4692; +1 619 220 5422.
Website: http://www.gaslampquarter.org

Boat tours

San Diego has built its reputation on its oceanfront locale, so it stands to reason that a visit would not be complete without a guided tour of San Diego Bay. There are several options, including whale-watching excursions during the gray whale migration in winter and romantic dinner tours complete with dancing and a gourmet dinner. When in season (mid December through March), Hornblower Cruises and Events offers three and a half hour whale-watching tours. One- or two-hour harbour tours are also available. Tours depart from the B Street Pier beside the Cruise Ship Terminal, Harbor Drive.

Tel: +1 619 6868700.
Website: http://www.hornblower.com

San Diego excursions

Disneyland

Not surprisingly, Disneyland, 1313 South Harbor Boulevard, Anaheim, is still one of Southern California's most popular attractions, especially since it is within easy driving distance of both San Diego and Los Angeles. In addition to its old favourites, such as Main Street USA, where visitors can walk through replicas of early American stores, and Fantasyland, which celebrates some of Disney's greatest character creations, there is an exciting entertainment park. California Adventure is an innovative combination of old-style American amusement parks and 21st-century Disney technology. Its Golden State attraction integrates modern-day concerns about ecology and wildlife preservation with the public's old-fashioned love for entertainment and adventure. The Paradise Pier is a reminiscent journey back to the days of the original American amusement park, with 1950s version rides and Coney Island-style entertainment. A third attraction is Disney Downtown, which includes 12 state-of-the-art cinemas, a jazz bar and restaurants featuring North American cuisine. The easiest way for visitors to reach Disneyland from San Diego is by Greyhound bus (www.greyhound.com) or by Amtrak rail (www.amtrak.com). Both companies provide a direct service to Anaheim and stop in Disneyland. By car, Disneyland is situated on the I-5 north to Anaheim.

Tel: +1 714 781 4565.
Website: http://disneyland.disney.go.com

Tijuana, Mexico

Less than one hour south of Downtown on I-5 is the Mexican border town of Tijuana (or TJ). Of late, Tijuana is struggling to maintain its status as a viable tourism destination due to the much-publicised shootings and kidnappings caused by Mexico's drug wars. Visitors are cautioned to travel in groups and be extra-conscious of their surroundings. Tijuana has several cultural and historical attractions including the Tijuana Cultural Center's museum and the curio shops and restaurants along Avenida Revolucion. The San Diego Trolley goes to the border, where sidewalks lead to shops and restaurants. Taxis are available on both sides of the border. Passports are necessary for re-entry to the USA. Equally important, visitors should remember that most US insurance policies do not cover driving in Mexico. Insurance can be purchased from roadside vendors on the US side of the border, prior to entering Mexico.

A digital image at https://illuminoto.com

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Featured Hotels

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Hotel Solamar

A member of the hip Kimpton Hotel group, the 10-storey Hotel Solamar is a modern, stylish hotel in San Diego located in East Village, just one block from the Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. Excellent both for leisure and business, this 4-star hotel is artfully designed with 235 guestrooms characterised by modern, clean sophistication. A fourth-floor patio houses an outdoor splash pool with the poolside Jbar featuring DJ music and cabana seating at night. The hotel's Jsix Restaurant serves Asian-inspired Californian cuisine.

La Valencia

Beauty, elegance, and charm live inside the pink stucco walls of this property, known locally as La V. Stunning views of La Jolla Cove and the ocean act as backdrops in the richly appointed La Sala room (where martinis and tapas are served in the evening) and many of the 100-plus original guest rooms and 15 villas, each boasting a whirlpool tub, king-size bed, and personalised butler service. The hotel's exclusive =Sky Room , with just a dozen or so tables and a small bar, is one of the most elegant restaurants in San Diego. The sidewalk level Whaling Bar is a La Jolla institution where local nabobs mingle over steaks and martinis.

Gaslamp Plaza Suites

The Gaslamp Plaza Suites is a European-style, San Diego hotel built in 1913, with many elements of the original décor intact such as the sculpted Corinthian marble, Australian gumwood carpentry, hand-cut mosaic tiles and bronze and brass embellishments which can be seen throughout the hotel. The location is as central as it could get - in the heart of the Gaslamp District. Complimentary continental breakfast is served daily on the rooftop terrace overlooking the beautiful Downtown area of the city.

Sofia Hotel

One of the oldest hotels in San Diego's Downtown has been transformed into a chic boutique inn with 212 rooms that have the feel of urban studios with efficient Wi-Fi and access to Currant, one of lower downtown's most happening cafes. Some rooms are dark and noisy - ask to see a few before unpacking.

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Set smack at the foot of Fifth Avenue, across the street from the San Diego Convention Center at the edge of the Gaslamp Quarter, the 12-story Hard Rock attracts awe-struck sightseers ogling The Rock Shop (collectable Hard Rock gear), Nobu (chef Nobu Matsuhisa's entree into the SoCal dining scene), Maryjane's diner-style coffee shop and the Sweetwater Saloon - a sidewalk bar by day and happening dance club at night. Guests in the 420 rooms and suites are greeted with their choice of music drifting from speakers on the flat screen HDTVs. Red leather chairs and low white couches, swirly patterned rugs and square showerheads in the ceilings set a fun-loving mood, enhanced by Sleep Like a Rock beds.

Tower 23

Named for the lifeguard tower it faces, this ultra-hip Pacific Beach hotel has 44 slick rooms with rain showers, Egyptian cotton bedding, LCD screen TVs and H2O toiletries. Some suites overlook the boardwalk and beach and have private balconies. Wi-Fi is available throughout the property - checking your e-mail from a cafe table by the sand is just about as SoCal techie as you can get. The hotel's JRDN restaurant serves the freshest regional seafood and produce in a casual setting.