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California

Signature City San Diego

Program No. 16955RJ
Walk Torrey Pines State Reserve, explore the San Diego Zoo, savor the cuisine of Little Italy and sail San Diego’s harbor as you explore the best this seaside city has to offer.
Length
6 days
Rating (4.9)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,399

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climate
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jan 8 - Jan 13, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Feb 12 - Feb 17, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Feb 26 - Mar 2, 2023
Starting at
1,399
Itinerary Note

Wellesley Class of 1971

Mar 19 - Mar 24, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Apr 16 - Apr 21, 2023
Starting at
1,699
May 7 - May 12, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Sep 17 - Sep 22, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Oct 22 - Oct 27, 2023
Starting at
1,949
Nov 5 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
1,699
Jan 7 - Jan 12, 2024
Starting at
1,949
Jan 21 - Jan 26, 2024
Starting at
1,949
Feb 18 - Feb 23, 2024
Starting at
1,949
Apr 14 - Apr 19, 2024
Starting at
1,949
May 12 - May 17, 2024
Starting at
1,949
Sep 1 - Sep 6, 2024
Starting at
1,949
Oct 27 - Nov 1, 2024
Starting at
1,949
Nov 17 - Nov 22, 2024
Starting at
1,949
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Jan 8 - Jan 13, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Feb 12 - Feb 17, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Feb 26 - Mar 2, 2023
Starting at
1,799
Itinerary Note

Wellesley Class of 1971

Mar 19 - Mar 24, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Apr 16 - Apr 21, 2023
Starting at
2,199
May 7 - May 12, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Sep 17 - Sep 22, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Oct 22 - Oct 27, 2023
Starting at
2,449
Nov 5 - Nov 10, 2023
Starting at
2,199
Jan 7 - Jan 12, 2024
Starting at
2,469
Jan 21 - Jan 26, 2024
Starting at
2,469
Feb 18 - Feb 23, 2024
Starting at
2,469
Apr 14 - Apr 19, 2024
Starting at
2,469
May 12 - May 17, 2024
Starting at
2,469
Sep 1 - Sep 6, 2024
Starting at
2,469
Oct 27 - Nov 1, 2024
Starting at
2,469
Nov 17 - Nov 22, 2024
Starting at
2,469

At a Glance

From the world-renowned San Diego Zoo to sparkling beaches, bustling boardwalks and a picturesque harbor, San Diego is a city where life is lived outdoors. Experience the best of this sun-kissed California jewel, as you sample San Diego’s rich Genoese and Sicilian culture on an exclusive expert-led walk through Little Italy, marvel at the architectural masterpieces and manicured landscapes of Balboa Park and discover one of the wildest stretches of land on the Southern California coast — Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to one mile, stairs, some hills, standing indoors and out, getting on and off a motor coach without assistance.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Explore San Diego’s harbor on a study cruise and learn about the city’s fascinating maritime heritage and how it came to be home to the largest Navy and Marine Corps complex in the U.S.
  • See San Diego’s natural side with a walk at Torrey Pines State Reserve and a visit to Cabrillo National Monument.
  • Take a behind-the-scenes exploration at the San Diego Zoo and the historic Hotel del Coronado.

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Anthony Davi
Anthony Davi is a New Yorker of Sicilian descent who has lived in San Diego for several decades. In 1997, he formed Little Italy Tours to share his love of his ancestor’s for visitors to experience Italy in San Diego. As a documentary producer, Davi created a mini-documentary for the San Diego Symphony about the music of Italy and stories of Little Italy. Davi speaks a bit of the old Sicilian dialect and his passion for all things Italian resonates throughout his programs.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Anthony Davi
Anthony Davi View biography
Anthony Davi is a New Yorker of Sicilian descent who has lived in San Diego for several decades. In 1997, he formed Little Italy Tours to share his love of his ancestor’s for visitors to experience Italy in San Diego. As a documentary producer, Davi created a mini-documentary for the San Diego Symphony about the music of Italy and stories of Little Italy. Davi speaks a bit of the old Sicilian dialect and his passion for all things Italian resonates throughout his programs.
Profile Image of Linda Canada
Linda Canada View biography
Linda Canada is a transplanted San Diegan with a love of local history. She holds an undergraduate degree in history from UCLA and a law degree from Loyola University Los Angeles. In addition to writing for publication about local history, Linda speaks to many local groups and visitors about San Diego and its colorful past. She curates exhibitions at museums and has served as the archivist for the Girl Scouts of San Diego and Imperial Counties and the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
San Diego Then and Now
by Nancy Hendrickson
Charting San Diego’s growth from a small village to a gorgeous beach city, this heavily illustrated regional portrait pairs 100 archival photographs with full-color shots of the same scene today.
A Natural History of California
by Allan A. Schoenherr
Abundantly illustrated, this natural history takes California apart, region by region, telling about its variety of landforms, habitats and wildlife. This updated second edition features new species, park details, information on the impacts of a changing climate on the state and new stories about people's interactions with the wild.
San Diego: An Introduction to the Region
by Pryde, Philip R.
This accessible, comprehensive history covers the geology, agriculture and natural features as well as the social and urban development of San Diego and surrounding areas. Includes maps and illustrations.
National Audubon Society Field Guide to California
by Peter Alden
A compact, easy-to-use guide to 1,000 California trees, wildflowers, mammals, insects, birds and other flora and fauna.
San Diego Legends: Events, People and Places that Made History
by Innis, Jack Scheffler
As the title suggests, this is a compendium of the history makers of San Diego and the places and events that have contributed greatly to making San Diego what it is today. This book gives a nice nice background of the city for curious visitors.
Moon San Diego
by Ian Anderson
A practical guide in the Moon series, packed not only with travel necessities (hotels, restaurants, sights), but also with a good overview of history and destinations throughout San Diego.
California: A History (Modern Library Chronicles)
by Kevin Starr
Arguing that America’s most populous state has always been blessed with both spectacular natural beauty and astonishing human diversity, Starr unfolds a rapid-fire epic of discovery, innovation, catastrophe, and triumph. For generations, California’s native peoples basked in the abundance of a climate and topography eminently suited to human habitation. By the time the Spanish arrived in the early sixteenth century, there were scores of autonomous tribes were thriving in the region. Though conquest was rapid, nearly two centuries passed before Spain exerted control over upper California through the chain of missions that stand to this day. The discovery of gold in January 1848 changed everything. With population increasing exponentially as get-rich-quick dreamers converged from all over the world, California reinvented itself overnight. Starr deftly traces the successive waves of innovation and calamity that have broken over the state since then–the incredible wealth of the Big Four railroad tycoons and the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906; the emergence of Hollywood as the world’s entertainment capital and of Silicon Valley as the center of high-tech research and development; the heroic irrigation and transportation projects that have altered the face of the region; the role of labor, both organized and migrant, in key industries from agriculture to aerospace.
San Diego's Navy: An Illustrated History
by Bruce R. Linder
The generously illustrated book tells the intriguing story of how a reluctant Navy department slowly realized San Diego's attributes and then took bold action to consolidate its position. This discerning history provides a sweeping and long overdue view of the city and base that has influenced the lives of countless thousands of American Navy men and women and their families.
I Cover the Waterfront: Stories from the San Diego Shore
by Max Miller
Special reporter for the San Diego Sun Max Miller set down his impressions of the San Diego waterfront -- from the departure of the Sardine Fleet to the hunt for elephant seals for the zoo to the sailing of the California fruit liners -- capturing the romantic spirit of the harbor and deep-sea life.
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6 days
5 nights
10 meals
5 B 2 L 3 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
San Diego
D
SpringHill Suites by Marriott San Diego Downtown/Bayfront

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m. Remember to bring your nametag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:15 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Orientation. In our private meeting room at the hotel, the Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Travel and transfers will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. We’ll get to know our fellow Road Scholars in a session we call Crossing Points and discover what we share beyond a love of lifelong learning. Then settle in and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
San Diego History, Harbor Study Cruise, Little Italy Walk
San Diego
B,D
SpringHill Suites by Marriott San Diego Downtown/Bayfront

Activity note: Walking less than .5 mile to boat launch. Getting on/off a 150-foot vessel with stairs accessing 3 decks; riding approximately 1 hour. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking about 1 mile, approximately 2 hours; paved sidewalks, dirt paths, periodic stops for commentary, and opportunities to sit.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will be joined at the hotel by a local expert for an overview of San Diego history. We’ll learn about the evolution of the area from a native Kumeyaay village to a Spanish settlement, including the Mexican and American periods. We’ll then walk across the street and board our boat at San Diego Bay for our 1-hour narrated study cruise. Find a seat of your choice, indoors or out, and enjoy the view of the San Diego skyline as we cover 13 miles on the Bay. We’ll pass landmarks such as the Harbor and Shelter Islands, the Cabrillo National Monument, and the Star of India. As we go, we’ll learn about bait barges and keep an eye out for sea lions as we pass Point Loma. We’ll also get a sense for the significance of the military presence in San Diego as we pass by the North Island Naval Air Station and the Nuclear Submarine Base.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll ride to Little Italy for an introduction to San Diego’s rich Genoese and Sicilian history during a walking field trip. We’ll stop to explore key sites including a historic Italian home, Piazza Basilone, and a historic Italian-Catholic church. There are “Little Italy” communities throughout the country but San Diego’s is one of the most active. Many of these Italian Americans were employed in the local fishing industry, earning San Diego the title of Tuna Capital of the World. This community also has a long history of activism; after the decline of fishing industry, local Italian Americans rallied together in the 1990s to create their own community management corporation and saved the industry. Little Italy today is symbolized by the exciting new Piazza della Famiglia development.

Dinner: At a restaurant in Little Italy.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
3
USS Midway, Hotel Del Coronado, Immigration Panel Discussion
San Diego
B,L
SpringHill Suites by Marriott San Diego Downtown/Bayfront

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 24 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking about 2 miles throughout the day; paved and dirt paths; unavoidable stairs; climbing stairs and ladders aboard USS Midway.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll walk across the street to the USS Midway Museum where a docent will lead our exploration of what was a floating city at sea and trace nearly 50 years of world history aboard the longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. We’ll have access to the mess deck, berthing spaces, hangar deck, flight deck, island superstructure, and various exhibits and displays. Museum docents stationed throughout the ship are eager to share their personal stories of life at sea. We’ll ride from the Midway to our lunch venue.

Lunch: At a local brewery.

Afternoon: Back aboard the motorcoach, we’ll ride to Hotel del Coronado, one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. With a docent from the Coronado Historical Association, we’ll set out on a walking field trip to learn the history of “The Del”, as it is affectionately known. Construction began in 1887 and the hotel was completed in only 11 months at a cost of $1 million (equivalent to nearly $25 million today). Labor was provided largely by Chinese immigrants from San Francisco and Oakland. The hotel was built as a premier resort for the wealthy and its guest list included Thomas Edison, L. Frank Baum, Charlie Chaplin, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, and Edward VIII, who met his future wife — Coronado resident Wallis Simpson — during his stay. One of the oldest and largest all-wooden buildings in California, this Queen Anne Style hotel was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. We will then return to the hotel with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: We will end our day with a panel discussion on immigration along the U.S. and Mexico border. The southern border of the United States is just minutes away from downtown San Diego. Local experts will give insight into the news and media coverage surrounding the border and current issues facing government officials and everyday citizens on both sides.

DAY
4
Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, Free Time
San Diego
B
SpringHill Suites by Marriott San Diego Downtown/Bayfront

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 8 miles, approximately 30 minutes. Walking up to 1.5 miles; moving sidewalks; steep grades. Any additional walking and activities during independent exploration will be based on personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will head to Chicano Park. We will meet a local expert and scholar who will guide us through Chicano Park which is a designated historic site. The park has over 80 murals. This site was saved by residents in 1970 and two years later artists starting adorning the concrete walls with images celebrating Chicano culture and activism. Next, we will board our motorcoach and ride to the San Diego Zoo at Balboa Park, the nation’s largest urban cultural park. Upon arriving at the Zoo, we’ll set out on an expert-led field trip. We’ll learn from zoo staff about the various aspects that go into responsibly caring for a zoo and its animal residents. These may include learning about the fundamentals of creating a green environment at the zoo, animal health care, exhibit design, feeding, breeding, and more. We’ll observe some of the most popular exhibits, such as the Elephant Care Center or the giraffe enclosure, and then have some independent time to explore what interests each of us most. The Zoo exhibits animals in the most natural way possible and around a particular habitat. The same exhibit features many different animals that can be found side-by-side in the wild, along with their native horticulture. Exhibits range from Africa Rocks that reveals animal and plant inhabitants of six iconic African habitats to the Tiger Trail that highlights the tigers and other animals that share the tropical Asian rain forests. In addition to the extensive collection of birds, reptiles, and mammals, the zoo maintains its grounds as an arboretum with a rare plant collection. As part of its gardening effort, it raises some rare animal foods such as the 18 varieties of eucalyptus trees for its koalas. The Zoo is active in conservation and species-preservation efforts.

Lunch: On your own to have what you like in Balboa Park.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will explore Balboa Park with a local expert. Learn about the architecture and landscaping in Balboa Park. The park is the remnants of two Expositions: the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition commemorating the opening of the Panama Canal and the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition that was held to boost the local economy during the Great Depression. A small menagerie left from the Panama-California International Exposition of 1915-16 was taken over by Dr. Harry Wegeforth and developed into what is now one of the world’s rarest wild animal collections. The Zoo has grown to 100 acres in size and is home to more than 4,000 animals representing 900 species from around the world. After our walk, we will reboard our coach to return to the hotel. Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration.

Dinner: The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Torrey Pines State Reserve, La Jolla, Cabrillo Nat. Monument
San Diego
B,L,D
SpringHill Suites by Marriott San Diego Downtown/Bayfront

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 50 miles, approximately 2 hours riding time. Walking up to 1.3 miles; paved sidewalks, dirt trails, some uneven terrain, 100-foot elevation gain. Elective 2.8 mile walk at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve with 429-foot elevation gain. Any additional walking and activities during independent exploration will be based on personal choice.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll board the motorcoach and ride to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve where we’ll meet a member of the Torrey Pines Docent Society. This majestic wilderness within San Diego city limits is home to one of the world’s rarest pine trees, Pinus torreyana. Believed to be remnants of ancient woodlands that once flourished along the Southern California coast, the trees now grow naturally only on this small strip of coastline and on Santa Rosa Island. We’ll learn about the human and natural history of the Reserve as we walk on a selected trail. Next, we’ll visit the Ranger Station-Visitor Center and look at the displays before heading out to La Jolla.

Lunch: At a restaurant in La Jolla.

Afternoon: We’ll then ride to the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula for a self-directed field trip to the Cabrillo National Monument. En route, our Group Leader will provide an introduction to the site. Designated as a California Historical Landmark in 1932, it commemorates the landing of the Spaniard explorer, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. We’ll have opportunities to explore the Visitor Center and chat with a ranger, take a short walk to one of the original eight lighthouses on the West Coast, Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and visit the “They Stood the Watch” exhibit presenting the history of Fort Rosecrans in a historic military building. We’ll then board our motorcoach and ride back to the hotel and take in the astounding views of the San Diego Bay. At the hotel, we will be joined by a local expert for a discussion about Chicano culture and history in San Diego. Learn about the influence of the ancient Aztec to modern Chicano culture in Southern California.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
San Diego
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.