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 San Diego

Holland America's Oosterdam Visits San Diego

San Diego, California Information
Contributed by
Tom Ogg

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Language and Currency
What is San Diego Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?

San Diego Port Reviews

Language and Currency

The official language of San Diego is English, but Spanish is also widely spoken. The official currency is the U.S. dollar.

What is San Diego like?

San Diego, known as "America's Finest City" is a cosmopolitan and sophisticated city located on the Pacific Ocean near the Mexican border. While the city and surrounding areas entertains a population exceeding 3 million people, and San Diego City itself is the nation's 7th largest city, San Diego offers a "small town" environment and atmosphere. Everyone enjoys spending the day in San Diego and it appears to be the "perfect port".

What is the weather like?

San Diego's weather is legendary. With a temperate Mediterranean climate and over 300 consecutive days of no rain and plenty of sunshine, San Diego offers some of the most comfortable weather in the world. It surprises some that the two worse months to visit San Diego are May and June when a condition known as "May Grey and June Gloom" may exist. Of course there are plenty of days of glorious sunshine during May and June, but if you are going to experience overcast weather, these would be the months that it could happen. The best time to visit San Diego for weather is from July to December.

Where does the ship dock?

Celebrity's Mercury Docked in San Diego

Ships dock at the "B" street pier at the very foot of "B" Street in downtown San Diego. The very heart of downtown San Diego is within easy walking distance and the airport is only 5 minutes away.

Where is the shopping?

The Entrance to Horton Plaza, Downtown San Diego

San Diego is a shopper's paradise. First on the list for cruise passengers would be downtown's Horton Plaza, a formidable shopping mall that marked the redevelopment of San Diego's downtown. Horton Plaza has numerous national chains, local boutiques and an eclectic mix of upscale shops that anyone would find stimulating. To visit Horton Plaza, simply head east on "B' Street a few blocks, you can't miss it. It is within easy walking distance from the "B" Street pier.

The Gaslamp District offers shoppers block after block of unique boutiques and shops selling all sorts of wonderful products. The Gaslamp is San Diego's historic district and offers dozens of excellent local restaurants. It is located just beyond Horton Plaza and is well worth spending the entire day. (turn right on the block after Horton Plaza.)

Seaport Village is more touristy than the downtown, but offers more great restaurants and unique shopping for things to take back to the folks at home. Many visitors rate Seaport Village at the top of their list of things to do.

Fashion Valley Shopping Center

Fashion Valley is a huge mall made up of upscale department stores (Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcos, etc.) and dozens of upscale specialty shops and boutiques (Brooks Brothers, Abercrombie and Fitch, etc.). Fashion Valley is easily accessible by using the trolly located in the train station 2 blocks east of the cruise ship terminal on "B" Street.

La Jolla offers extremely sophisticated shopping and is well worth a visit for the day if you have not experienced it before. La Jolla is one of the most beautiful coastlines int he world and the village itself is quite affluent. Designer boutiques, galleries, jewelry stores, and shops of all descriptions mark a shopping experience in La Jolla. La Jolla is also home to some of San Diego's best restaurants.

What is there to buy?

Everything one could imagine is available somewhere in San Diego. There are a lot of specialty shops downtown and in the Gaslamp District worth investigating. For major mall shopping hit Horton Plaze downtown and for upscale mall shopping hit Fashion Square in Mission Valley (on the East County Trolly). Finally for specialty designer cloths, art, collectibles and everything else expensive visit La Jolla.

What is there to do?

There is enough to do in San Diego to keep you busy for a month. Trying to focus on seeing San Diego in just a day, is kind of like trying to do Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm and Balboa Island in just a day. It is impossible. But there are some great things to see and do right around the port itself.

One of the Harbor Cruise Boats
(Note closeness to Cruise Ship Terminal)

Right next to the "B" Street Pier (turn to the right, or to the south) is the tour boat and ferry piers. It is a quick two-minute walk and you can board one of the hourly harbor cruises that will introduce you to beautiful San Diego Harbor. If you have never visited San Diego Harbor before, you should consider taking one of these cruises. There are several companies that offer them, but Hornblower tends to get the highest ratings. They depart every 75-minutes starting at 10 AM.

The Coronado Ferry Pier

Take the ferry over to Coronado for the day. Coronado is a home to some upscale and designer boutiques and the fabulous Hotel Del Coronado. Built in 1888, the Hotel Del (as she is known by locals) is now a historic landmark. Taking the ferry to Coronado and then having lunch at the Hotel Del is a wonderful way to spend a day in San Diego. Ferries depart every hour, on the hour from 9 am and continue into the late evening. Currently the fare for the ferry ride is $2.25.

Wheel Fun Bike Rentals

Rent a regular bike, a bicycle built for two, or a 2 or 4-passenger Surrey bike and cruise the waterfront. You can ride along the waterfront for miles and miles and have a great day exploring San Diego by bicycle. You will find "Wheel Fun" rentals directly across the street from the "B" Street Pier located in the Holiday Inn. They offer hourly, 1/2 and full day rentals.

The Maritime Museum

Tour the San Diego Maritime Museum. Just to the north of the "B" Street Pier, one can see the Star of India and the Maritime Museum.

The Star of India
(Part of the Maritime Museum)

The Star of India was launched in 1863 and is the world's oldest active ship. The Maritime museum is a must see if you are into historic ships and maritime culture.

The Aircraft Carrier, Midway

Tour the Midway. Now docked in San Diego a short 5 minute walk from the "B" Street Pier (turn to the right, or south and walk along the harbor front,. You can't miss it). It costs $13 for adults to board her, but you can spend all day climbing around her nooks and crannies. The Midway served for over 45 years in active military duty and was just retired to San Diego and is now a museum. Even if you only have a casual interest in military ships, you will find a visit to the Midway fascinating.

Seaport Village

Visit Seaport Village for shopping and lunch. Seaport Village is about a 15-minute walk from the "B" Street Pier. Just keep walking along the harbor front past the entrance to the Midway and you will shortly arrive at the entrance to Seaport Village. You will find dozens of unique boutiques selling many one-of-a-kind items from kites, to candles, to hanging chairs and so on.

Just one of Seaport Village's Great Restaurants

There are several excellent restaurants located in Seaport Village, as well. If you continue past Seaport Village, you will enter the Marriott Hotel and Marina. There is also an excellent spot for a libation and some food on the ocean here.

San Diego's Historic Gaslamp District

Visit Horton Plaza and the Gaslamp District. Decades ago, the oldest part of downtown San Diego was quite seedy, to say the least. A developer had the idea of creating a mall in the very heart of it to try to stimulate redevelopment. It worked. From Horton Plaza sprang a rejuvenated Gaslamp district that is a destination in itself. With fabulous boutiques, restaurants entertainment venues, and unique shops of all kinds, a day spent in the Gaslamp is memorable indeed. Most folks will shop at Horton Plaza in the morning and then venture into the Gaslamp for a lingering sidewalk cafe lunch. There are dozens of quality restaurants one more famous than the next and the hardest thing to decide is which one you will dine at. To get to Horton Plaza, simply cross the street at the traffic light in front of the Coronado Ferry and head up Broadway. You will pass the Santa Fe Train Station on your left, as you make your way downtown. It is about 7 blocks or so until you come to the entrance to Horton Plaza. From Horton Plaza, continue for another block and then turn right down 5th Avenue. You are right in the hearth of the Gaslamp District. Just continue down 5th Avenue for blocks to enjoy its eclectic neighborhood.

Beyond these local attractions there is the world famous San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park. You can take a local bus up the avenues to the park. Little Italy is a thriving ethnic district within easy walking distance from the pier. It offers numerous Italian restaurants and ethnic boutiques. To access Little Italy, cross the street just north of the Maritime Museum at Cedar Street, walk inland three blocks to India Street and then turn left. Little Italy unfolds for the next three blocks and is well worth a visit.

You can take the Coaster (a local train) from the Santa Fe Train Station to the Del Mar Station and enjoy a day at the beach, Lunch at Jakes at the Beach Restaurant and the Poseidon Restaurant (a local beachfront hangout) and then walk the wonderful community of Del Mar for some upscale shopping. Continue on the Coaster to Encinitas and walk three blocks to Moonlight Beach and more great restaurants and eclectic shopping in downtown Encinitas.

Of course, there are San Diego's theme parks, Wild Animal Park and Sea Life Park. If you intend to visit these parks you are best off to rent a car for the day.

Is there anything of “Don’t Miss” quality?

Don't miss San Diego. It is great!

Are there any great restaurants or bars?

Anthony's Seafood Restaurant

There are several excellent restaurants in San Diego. Right around the port area, look for Anthony's Seafood Restaurant only about 100 yards north from the "B" Street Pier. Anthony's goes back several decades and is a local institution. Dine in the restaurant, but not the outside dining area. The food i the restaurant is excellent, but the food from the take out window is mediocre, at best. Right across the street from the pier is a Ruths Chris Steakhouse.

San Diego Vacations
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