16955
San Diego
Signature City San Diego: A Toast to the Best
Walk Torrey Pines State Reserve, see the murals in Chicano Park, savor the cuisine of Little Italy and sail San Diego’s harbor as you explore the best this seaside city has to offer.
Rating (4.91)
Program No. 16955RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,249
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6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 2 L 5 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
San Diego
D
Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Mission Valley

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

DAY
2
U.S. Military in San Diego, Harbor Cruise, Seaport Village
San Diego
B,L,D
Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Mission Valley

Breakfast: Enjoy breakfast in a room assigned by the hotel.

Morning: The U.S. Military in San Diego and harbor cruise. The military's impact on San Diego is legendary. Yet, few people know that the plan for turning the city from a sleepy resort town into a community on the cutting edge of the American defense effort was the result of a vision brought to fruition by a number of events. A local historian will give a presentation on the military's influence in transforming San Diego into a city with the largest Navy and Marine Corps complex in the Unites States. The presentation will conclude with a Q&A. Transport to San Diego Bay. You will enjoy a two-hour San Diego harbor cruise that leaves from the waterfront near the San Diego cruise ship terminal. This narrated harbor excursion shows how closely the city is tied to its maritime heritage. The excursion covers Harbor and Shelter Islands, Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument, North Island Naval Air Station, the Submarine Base, as well as the Coronado Bridge, and much more. It's a great way to rest your feet and get some great city views with ships docked beneath San Diego's modern skyline, or watch sea lions lounging on a buoy. Take warm clothing along on your harbor cruise. It's always colder on the water, and even when the weather is warm, fog comes in quickly and the temperature drops with it.

Lunch: Lunch at Seaport Village

Afternoon: Transport to Little Italy. You will experience San Diego's rich Genoese and Sicilian history on an exclusive expert-led walking exploration through the Little Italy district. A stable ethnic business and residential community since the 1920s, Little Italy today represents downtown San Diego's oldest continuous neighborhood business district. At one time, more than 6,000 Italian families lived in Little Italy and toiled to build San Diego into the center of the world tuna industry. This exploration will enable you to experience the history, cuisine and culture of one of California's most hip and historic neighborhoods. Enjoy wine tasting and antipasto at an Italian restaurant in the Little Italy district. Coach returns to the hotel.

Dinner: Dinner in the hotel.

Evening: Free evening.

DAY
3
Old Town Lecture and Narrated Walking Tour, Wines & Tastings
San Diego
B,D
Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Mission Valley

Breakfast: Breakfast in a room assigned by the hotel.

Morning: An Introduction to Old Town is presented by an emeritus professor from the San Diego State History Department. He will trace the evolution of the area from the early indigenous people of the area, the Kumeyaay, through the emergence of the Spanish and the Franciscan friars who attempted to convert these people, and the period of the Spanish land grants, all leading up to the establishment of Old Town. Transport to Old Town An exclusive narrated walking tour of Old Town State Park which will illuminate life in the Mexican and early American periods of 1821 to 1872. Even today, life moves more slowly in this part of San Diego, where the hustle and bustle is balanced with history and fiestas. Visitors are offered a glimpse into yesteryear, as converging cultures transformed San Diego from a Mexican pueblo to an American settlement. The core of restored original historic buildings from the interpretive period are complemented by reconstructed sites, along with early twentieth century buildings designed in the same mode. The Historic Plaza remains a gathering place for community events and historic activity. Five original adobe buildings are part of the historic park, which includes museums, unique retail shops, and several restaurants. This tour will be followed by free time to continue to explore the state park or the shops and historic buildings adjacent to the park.

Lunch: Lunch on your own in Old Town

Afternoon: Transport to Hotel del Coronado. The Hotel del Coronado is one of the most recognizable features of San Diego. Its superb waterfront location, irrefutable charm and storied history, makes it a must-see for all visitors to Southern California. Beginning construction in 1887, the hotel was completed in only 11 months at a cost of $1 million. Labor was provided largely by Chinese immigrants from San Francisco and Oakland. The hotel was built as a premier resort for the wealthy and has quite a famous guest list, including 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. The Del, as it is affectionately known, is one of the oldest and largest all-wooden buildings in California and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. Transport to hotel. Alex and Pam McGeary, a husband and wife team of sustainable vintners from Warner Springs Ranch, will discuss the science of growing the grapes and producing wines in a completely sustainable way. They will bring samples of their Shadow Mountain Winery vintages for tastings.

Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.

Evening: Free evening.

DAY
4
San Diego Zoo, Option Zoo or Visit Museums in Balboa Park
San Diego
B,D
Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Mission Valley

Breakfast: Breakfast in a room assigned by the hotel.

Morning: A long-time friend of the San Diego Zoo will give a presentation to set the stage for the day's excursion to the Zoo. Transportation to San Diego Zoo. The world-famous San Diego Zoo, in Balboa Park, is one of the largest, most progressive zoos in the world with over 4,000 animals of more than 800 species. It is privately operated by the nonprofit Zoological Society of San Diego on 100 acres of parkland leased from the City of San Diego, and ownership of all animals, equipment and other assets rests with the City of San Diego. Exhibits are often designed 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 an African rain forest (featuring gorillas) to the Arctic taiga and tundra in the summertime (featuring polar bears). Some of the largest free-flight aviaries in existence are here. Many exhibits are "natural" with invisible wires and darkened blinds (to view birds), and pools and open-air moats (for large mammals).

Lunch: Lunch on your own in Balboa Park

Afternoon: Continue your day at the zoo, where the cool, sunny maritime climate is well-suited to many plants and animals. Besides an extensive collection of birds, reptiles and mammals, it also maintains its grounds as an arboretum, with a rare plant collection. As part of its gardening effort, it raises some rare animal foods. For example, the zoo raises 40 varieties of bamboo for the pandas on long-term loan from China, and it maintains 18 varieties of eucalyptus trees to feed its koalas. It is extremely active in conservation and species-preservation efforts. Its Center for the Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES) raises and releases California condors, pandas, tigers, African black rhinos and a large number of other endangered species. It employs numerous professional geneticists, cytologists and veterinarians and maintains a cryopreservation facility for rare sperm and eggs. Or, you may choose to visit museums in the park on your own.

Dinner: Dinner in the hotel.

Evening: Free evening on your own.

DAY
5
Torrey Pines Preserve, La Jolla, Birch Aquarium
San Diego
B,L,D
Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Mission Valley

Breakfast: Breakfast in a room assigned by the hotel.

Morning: Coach to La Jolla for an educational ranger-led exploration at Torrey Pines State Park. Torrrey Pines State Natural Reserve is located within San Diego city limits and yet remains one of the wildest stretches of land on our Southern California coast! 2000 acres of land are as they were before San Diego was developed with the chaparral plant community, the rare and elegant Torrey pine trees, miles of unspoiled beaches, and a lagoon that is vital to migrating seabirds. One can imagine what California must have looked like to the early settlers, or to the Spanish explorers, or even to the first California residents here, the Kumeyaay people. There are eight miles of trails, a visitor center, and expert-led nature walks are offered. Torrey Pines is visited by travelers from all over the world and by local residents who come daily to rest at the stunning overlooks, walk a peaceful trail, or exercise in a clean, beautiful environment. Special care has been taken to preserve this coastal treasure and keep it pristine for generations to come. PLEASE NOTE: Should rain be a factor, the trails may be unavailable for use. Should this be the case, a different activity may be substituted. Coach provides a brief exploration of the Village of La Jolla and then off to lunch in the area.

Lunch: Lunch in La Jolla.

Afternoon: The mission of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is to provide ocean science education, to interpret Scripps research, and to promote ocean conservation. The Aquarium provides ocean science education through creative exhibits, programs, and activities designed to help people use critical thinking, and to make science relevant to their daily lives. Docents interpret Scripps Institution of Oceanography research, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of the science used to study Earth, and inspiring public support of scientific endeavors. The institution promotes conservation through education and research, believing that with increased understanding of the ocean, people will respect and protect the marine environment. Coach returns to the hotel.

Dinner: Dinner in a banquet room assigned by the hotel.

Evening: The Department of Music and Dance at San Diego State University will provide an accomplished performer/performers to enhance the evening with musical selections.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
San Diego
B

Breakfast: Breakfast in a room assigned by the hotel.

Morning: Following breakfast, there will be a presentation/demonstration, led by the two head chefs from San Diego State University that will conclude the instructional segment of the program. This presentation is a "not to miss" five-star-rated experience by past participants and will include a discussion of how foods complement one another and how the fusion of foods can create a whole new experience of flavors. Individual tastings will also be provided. A group discussion and Q&A will conclude this presentation. Check-out is at noon.