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A San Diego Christmas

Program Number: 20420RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/18/2013 - 12/26/2013; 12/18/2014 - 12/26/2014;
Duration: 8 nights
Location: San Diego, California
Price starting at: $2,385.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Holidays Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 20; 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free; Low Salt    

It’s Christmas the San Diego way! Embrace the holiday season and the warmth of San Diego. Take pleasure in a private carol concert, and ring in Christmas day with brunch at the Hotel Del Coronado. Learn the tale of the city’s founding in the Gaslamp Quarter and at San Diego de Alcala, the first of 21 missions established by Father Junipero Serra.


• Visit wineries in Temecula Valley, dine in the charming seaside town of Encinitas, and enjoy a harbor cruise in San Diego Bay.
• Experience the museums, art centers and Moorish architecture of Balboa Park and see the famous zoo lit up for the holidays.
• Follow the coast to the cliffs of La Jolla for an expert led behind the scenes visit to the Birch Aquarium and share the Christmas spirit by celebrating a Posada event with the Mexican community.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to one mile on uneven terrain, stairs up one level.

San Diego

The oldest city in California, San Diego possesses a rich history in a gorgeous, light-filled setting. Cabrillo National Monument, historic Old Town and the city’s Spanish Mission help to tell the story of San Diego’s past. The city is blessed with a Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches and cross-cultural feel.

Luxury-collection hotel accommodations in the historic and vibrant downtown Gaslamp Quarter.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Esther Mitrani

Esther Mitrani was born in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. She graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology at the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, then worked in San Francisco for three years in human resources in high-tech. Missing her home, she return to her native city. Esther has been guiding since 1994, and joined the family business in 2002 as an organizer and tour leader. She is an eager traveler, and she loves sports and languages.
Audrey Evans

Audrey is an education specialist at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the coordinator for their whale watching excursions. Spending her early childhood in northern California, she developed a love for all things marine. She holds a degree in biology, concentrating on ecology and evolution, and has a ten-year career as an informal science educator. Audrey has held past positions as a naturalist as well as an educator for an environmental non-profit where she taught members of her community to recognize chemical and biological indicators of water quality. She has always had a particular interest in marine mammals and looks forward to witnessing the annual migration of gray whales as they pass the San Diego coast. Audrey has observed these animals up-close in their breeding grounds in Baja California, and is always enthusiastic to share her experience and knowledge with others!
Maria Mitrani

Maria Mitrani was born in Italy, then lived in Canada, the United States and France. She finally settled in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, where she has been living since 1976 with her husband and three children. She has a bachelor’s in Italian and art history from the University of California at Berkeley. Since 1985 she has led tours through different parts of Mexico and is a specialized guide for Baja California. She is one of the owners and founders of Andiamo.
Meals and Lodgings
   The US Grant Hotel
  San Diego, Calif. 8 nights
 The US Grant Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The hotel has 47 suites and 270 spacious empire-style all amenities guest rooms, Grant Grill restaurant and lounge, complimentary Internet access in the main lobby and meeting/event spaces. A San Diego Icon since 1910, the palatial US GRANT hotel is situated in the city's lively and historic downtown Gaslamp Quarter, just steps away from top shopping, dining, and entertainment The hotel's Grand Lobby is adorned with sparkling crystal chandeliers, hand-loomed silk carpets, and artwork. The modern and elegant guest rooms provide comfort with indigenous accents and refined luxury.
  Contact info: 326 Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101 USA
phone: 619-232-3121
  Room amenities: Our classic Superior Rooms offer the US GRANT's trademark regal ambiance. Presenting guests with a glimpse of the hotel's storied past via historical touches, they also provide comprehensive contemporary comforts. At 300 to 450-square-feet, Superior Rooms represent the core of the hotel. Nine-foot ceilings featuring crown molding greet guests, leading them to the commissioned French and Native American Indian art displayed throughout the room. Ample windows offer city or garden views. Empire-style furnishings, including a standing mirror, complement the contemporary art and are joined by thick imported carpets and pillow top Luxury Collection brand beds (either on King or two Doubles) wrapped in 300-thread-count Italian linens and framed by an original Yves Clement drip-painting headboard. Across the room, an executive desk with writing pad and telephone invites the guests to take advantage of Wi-Fi, while a 32-inch plasma televisions and CD player clock radio provide alternative in-room entertainment options. The soothing marble bathroom with basin sinks and enclosed glass showers is the ideal ending to an active day. Relax with exclusive Gilchrist & Soames bath amenities before settling in for a peaceful night's sleep.
  Facility amenities: - 24 Hour business center, complimentary Internet access - ATM/ banking - 24 Hour fitness facilities - Art gallery - Gift shop - Bar/Lounge Complimentary Internet Access
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Approximately $210.00 PLEASE NOTE: Pre/Post extensions will be open for reservations 8 weeks prior the program departure date.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Approximately $210.00 PLEASE NOTE: Pre/Post extensions will be open for reservations 8 weeks prior the program departure date.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The US Grant Hotel, San Diego. The program will begin at 3:00 pm in a private room of the hotel for welcome and orientation. You will be staying at The US Grant Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
The US Grant Hotel. The program will end after the independent breakfast (included). You will be staying at The US Grant Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
$20.00 per night at the US Grant hotel. This is a special rate for Andiamo/Road Scholar participants.
To Start of Program
  Location:  San Diego, Calif.
  Nearest airport:  San Diego Airport (SAN).
  From End of Program
  Location: San Diego, Calif.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

To US Grant Hotel


From Airport






Per Person/One Way:


$15.00 approximately
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


10 minutes approximately 


Taxi cabs may be found right outside the airport terminal. It is the easiest transfer method. Same information is applicable for train or bus stations arrivals.


To US Grant Hotel


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Super Shuttle
phone: 800-258-3826
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Approx $14.00
Prices are subject to change.




10 minutes approximately


Private shuttles or taxi cabs are the best means of transportation. Please call one day in advance to schedule your pick up from the airport, the bus or train stations, or SAN parking lot.

Driving Directions
  From East Follow Intestate 805 South to Interstate 8. Follow I-8 to Highway 163 South. Follow Highway 163 South toward downtown San Diego. At the end of Highway 163, enter Downtown. Turn right on B Street. Turn left onto 4th Avenue. The hotel will be on the right. The valet parking entrance is directly after C Street.
  From North To US Grant Hotel Follow Interstate 5 South. Exit at Civic Center/Front Street. Take the left fork towards 2nd Avenue. Turn right on 4th Avenue. The hotel will be on the right. The valet parking entrance is directly after C Street.
  From South To US Grant hotel Follow Interstate 5 North. Exit at 6th Avenue, heading south. Turn right onto B Street. Turn left on 4th Avenue. The hotel will be on the right. The valet parking entrance is directly after C Street.
  To San Diego Airport (SAN): Exit the airport in the right lane. Turn left onto Harbor Drive. Turn left onto Broadway. Follow Broadway ten blocks to 3rd Avenue. Turn left onto 3rd Avenue. The hotel valet entrance will be on the immediate right.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Welcome Dinner and Orientation
(Wednesday, December 18)
 Afternoon: Program Registration.
 Dinner: Meet fellow participants for a brief welcome gathering at the hotel followed by an overview of the hotel enthralling history given by a US Grant staff member. Transfer to a well known bayside seafood restaurant to enjoy the harbor lights for a welcome dinner.
 Evening: Freetime.
Accommodations: The US Grant Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Histroric San Diego
(Thursday, December 19)

Note: Information on theater performances to be suggested with the Final Information Packet.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: A morning lecture on San Diego History Part 1 sets the background for the day’s field trips. Departing the hotel, become acquainted with the surrounding Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego’s downtown since 1850. Declared a National Historic District, it is now filled with restaurants, night clubs, theaters, galleries and gaslamps! The Gaslamp Quarter Museum is in one of the area's first houses. Continue the historical tour to the sites where the city was founded. The Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra established San Diego de Alcala in 1769, the first of 21 California missions. The guided visit includes the on site museum. Drive to the top of Presidio Hill on the way to Old Town State Park, the birthplace of California.
 Lunch: Lunch in Old-Town San Diego
 Afternoon: An expert led walk includes visits to some of the most outstanding historical buildings, and the splendid restored Victorian homes of Heritage Park. Return to the hotel.
 Dinner: Tonight dinner is on your own, providing you the opportunity to take advantage of the hotel's location at the heart of the Gaslamp District which boasts a wide array of great restaurant options.
 Evening: Evening is free to join one of San Diego's many activities or to relax. Please review the Free Time Section for suggestions.
Accommodations: The US Grant Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3: Balboa Park Museums and San Diego Zoo
(Friday, December 20)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Morning lecture on San Diego History Part 2 relates the development of Balboa Park and the amusing tales behind the Panama - California Exposition. The lecture includes the establishment of the US Navy, a mayor event for San Diego's growth then and now. Explore Balboa Park. Built to host the 1915 Panama – California Exposition, Balboa Park today is America’s largest urban cultural park. Exotic vegetation, 15 museums, theaters, art centers, exquisite Moorish architecture and a world famous zoo fill its 1.200 acres. Get to know El Prado, the heart of the park, with free time to choose a museum to visit.
 Lunch: In Balboa Park.
 Afternoon: After lunch, visit the renowned San Diego Zoo. Take advantage of the included bus tour, skyfari and hop-on-hop-off bus for personal exploration. After the tree lighting event, depart the zoo and have dinner at a historic rooftop restaurant in lively Hillcrest District near the park.
 Dinner: At a neighborhood restaurant in trendy Hillcrest.
 Evening: Free Time
Accommodations: The US Grant Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: La Jolla and Nothern Pacific Coast
(Saturday, December 21)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: The third and last lecture on the history of San Diego relates the events and developments which make San Diego “America’s finest city”. Head out along scenic Pacific Coast north of downtown. Drive past Mission Bay and popular Pacific Beach to reach the sophisticated exclusive La Jolla community, where Mediterranean architecture, boutiques and restaurants line rugged cliffs and sculptured coves. The world renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Birch Aquarium are located within the town. The expert-led visit of the aquarium includes a lecture presented by a staff member of the education department.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch in La Jolla with free time to stroll through the coves and the boutiques.
 Afternoon: Continue along the coast to relax in the peaceful Meditation Garden in the seaside village of Encinitas.
 Dinner: A delicious Italian dinner in the charming beach front town of Encinitas.
 Evening: End the day at the Del Mar Holiday of Light, the largest animated light show on the western coast.
Accommodations: The US Grant Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Temecula Wine Country
(Sunday, December 22)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Depart the city for a day in the country. Rolling hills covered with vineyards and award winning wineries fill Temecula Valley. After a walking historical tour of the town, enjoy free time to stroll on your own through the shops and the olive oil tasting.
 Lunch: Lunch in Temecula
 Afternoon: After a hearty lunch, continue to the wine country to learn the process of wine making followed by tasting. Returning to San Diego, the afternoon and evening are free for independent activities. Please review the Free Time Section for suggestions.
 Dinner: Tonight dinner is on your own, providing you the opportunity to take advantage of the hotel's location at the heart of the Gaslamp District which boasts a wide array of great restaurant options.
Accommodations: The US Grant Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Spirit of giving and Mexican-American Community in San Diego
(Monday, December 23)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Begin with a lecture on the Mexican-American culture, its history and lifestyle, to better understand the large Hispanic community in the city. Drive to historic Cabrillo National Monument commemorating Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s landing at San Diego Bay in 1542. Located at the tip of Point Loma, it offers breathtaking views of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. A museum on early Spanish explorations and the Point Loma lighthouse are located within the park.
 Lunch: In Barrio Logan
 Afternoon: Get to know Barrio Logan, the Hispanic Quarter. Join the Christmas spirit of giving by participating in a traditional Mexican Posada giving warmth to the needy and lonely of the Barrio. Chicano Park, located under the San Diego-Coronado bridge, is home to the largest collection of outdoor murals in the United States all painted by local artists. Tour the murals. Explore the hidden surprises of Horton Plaza, an interesting gathering-shopping area.
 Dinner: Chinese buffet dinner in the Gaslamp District.
 Evening: Free Time
Accommodations: The US Grant Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: The Harbor, the Waterfront and Little Italy. Christmas Eve frolics.
(Tuesday, December 24)
 Breakfast: At the Hotel
 Morning: The day is dedicated to explore San Diego Bay and the waterfront. Begin with a Harbor Boat Excursion to both the North Bay and South Bay for spectacular views of the city skyline from the water in addition to sailing next to the Naval Shipyards and the Naval Air and Submarine Stations. Lunch is on the boat. Take a cheerful stroll along the San Diego boardwalk decorated with amusing art work and join a guided visit of the Maritime Museum including the famous Star of India.
 Lunch: Aboard the Harbor Cruise.
 Afternoon: Continue to stroll at Seaport Village, a pleasant restaurant shopping area with a scenic park surrounded by water on three sides. Drive past the San Diego Convention Center, a huge construction recreating a sailing ship, and stop in Little Italy to enjoy a cup of true espresso or gelato.
 Dinner: Christmas Eve dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Get into the Christmas spirit with a private caroling party led by a lively entertaining quartet and accompanied by wine.
Accommodations: The US Grant Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Farewell Christmas brunch at the Del Coronado Hotel.
(Wednesday, December 25)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: Begin with a lecture on the history of Christmas traditions. The day is dedicated to Coronado. A slender curved bridge unites San Diego with charming Coronado island. Characterized by fabulous views, palm-lined avenues and a fine wide beach, the highlight of Coronado is the famous Hotel Del, an American fairytale castle. Boasting a history filled with famous celebrities, the lavish wooden Victorian hotel is the last of its kind still standing on the West Coast. Delight in a festive Christmas Brunch, our farewell meal, served in the historic Crown Room, a truly memorable experience. Enjoy free time exploring the hotel, the beach and its surroundings.
 Lunch: Christmas brunch at the Hotel Del Coronado.
 Afternoon: Return to downtown San Diego after the sunset and enjoy the magnificent view of the city lights from across the bay. Meet for a last gathering for farewells with cookies, eggnog and snacks.
 Dinner: On your own at one of the Gaslamp Districts many excellent restaurants.
 Evening: Free time. A final chance to stroll bustling downtown.
Accommodations: The US Grant Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9: Farewell San Diego
(Thursday, December 26)

Note: Independent departures.

 Breakfast: At the hotel
 Morning: Independent departures.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  San Diego, California General Overview
With almost idillyc weather, San Diego offers entertainment for every taste. From numerous museums, nature and beaches, exhibits and events, to a great number of amusement parks, restaurants and night clubs, this city has something for every age. For additional information, visit
  General overview
San Diego offers a vast variety of events year-round for all tastes. To learn what will be happening during your stay, you may review a comprehensive calendar at this San Diego visitor's on-line guide. For additional information, visit
OLD GLOBE THEATER Balboa Park Tel. (619) 234 5023 CYGNET THEATER 4040 Twiggs St. San Diego, CA 92110 Tel. (619) 337-1525 SAN DIEGO CIVIC THEATER 1100 Third Ave Tel. (619) 570 1100 BALBOA THEATER 868 Fourth Ave @ E Street in Gaslamp Tel. (619) 5701100 COPLEY SYMPHONY HALL 750 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101 Tel. (619).235.0804
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

San Diego Gaslamp Quarters

Author: Gaslamp Quarters Association and San Diego Historical Society

Description: San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, established as New Town, was the bustling anchor of the commerce for the developing city. Nearly 200 striking images tell the story of the area's early boom and bust, the saloons and bordellos of infamous Stingaree Town, the urban decay of the 20th century, and the rebirth and restoration over the last 30 years.

San Diego, Jewel of California Coast

Author: Charlene Baldridge

Description: A visual tour of San Diego's favorite attractions, including the area's colorful history, arts and culture, and endless outdoor activities.

Temecula Wine Valley Country

Author: Gia Lucy

Description: Leads readers though the various regions of wine country, capturing the beauty and history of Temecula.

San Diego An introduction to the Region

Author: Philip R. Pryde

Description: A historical geography of the natural environments and human development of San Diego County. A tecnical but simple approach.

San Diego Legends

Author: Jack Scheffler

Description: Pleasant reading about the events, people and places that made history.

San Diego Then and Now

Author: Nancy Hendrickson

Description: A photographic approach to San Diego history comparing same site, different time period.


Author: Helen Hunt Jackson

Description: A favorite historic love novel set in Southern California in the 1880’s, Ramona is the story of 3 cultures - Indian, Mexican, and Anglo – and their struggle to co-exist.

The Story of New San Diego & it's founder Alonzo E. Horton

Author: Elizabeth MacPhail

Description: The good and the bad of San Diego history are brought out in numerous instances. The "Fairest of the Fair" was not always a model city-in the boom period of the 1880s there were sixty-four groceries but seventy-one saloons-implying that drinking was of greater concern than eating. The one hundred and twenty "bawdy houses" suggest other diversions of great interest to the early settlers. Gambling was rampant, with that television hero of "law and order" Wyatt Earp the owner of three such establishments. South of H Street was the Stingaree District, our local Barbary Coast, where many of the above institutions flourished ". . . in spite of sporadic efforts (not too strenuous) to tone things down when complaints got too numerous."

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