Afternoon: This program is designed to give everyone a chance to discover the best of San Diego and spend time outdoors enjoying the best climate in the U.S. We combine expert led visits to some must-see sights and attractions with the opportunity to spend active time independently on the shores of Mission Bay. The idea is to combine the best of group travel with some added free time and flexibility for individual pursuits. In this way we can help you create a custom San Diego experience; for some more active, for others more relaxing, a chance to fit in your favorite museum or a special restaurant meal. To start the program we gather in the lush Southern California sub-tropical garden of the hotel and meet your group leader, a local San Diegan who will review both the structured and flex aspects of the program to prepare you for the days ahead.
Dinner: We’re on the waterfront! Enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel’s restaurant overlooking the yacht marina.
Evening: Stroll along the boardwalk in front of the hotel and enjoy the cool ocean breeze.
Activity note: The hotel is ideally based to take advantage of outdoor activities available on Mission Bay. Kayaks, paddle boards and bikes can be rented on the bay front adjacent to the hotel and we have negotiated a special discount. Our local guide will help set you off in the right direction to explore on the water or along the bike path.
Breakfast: There is a great buffet selection at the hotel’s waterfront restaurant and the choice of indoor or outdoor seating.
Morning: Known as California’s birthplace, San Diego pledged allegiance to Spain and Mexico, becoming part of the USA only in 1850. Today it is one of America’s favorite cities. Its enviable climate described as the “most ideal in America,” the Pacific Ocean as its natural aquatic playground, and the scenic beauty of its location attract visitors as well as new settlers. It is one of the nation’s most important business cities, with growing high-tech, biotech and communications industries. Despite the large population, it still boasts a small town mentality with a high quality of life. A lecture by a local historian presents an overview of the city’s development. We will set out to explore the sites where the city was founded. Old Town State Park, the birthplace of California with over 30 historical sites, is our first destination. On the way, we’ll drive past the Italian neighborhood settled by Italian fishermen who began a thriving tuna fishing industry. A second detour is to the top of Presidio Hill adjacent to Old Town, to see the open view and the site of San Diego de Alcalá Mission founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1769. In Old Town stroll through the main plaza, established by Spanish soldiers from the Presidio. Join your leader for a guided walk to visit some of the most important historical buildings depicting the life of a frontier town in the 1830’s.
Lunch: In Old Town, lunch is a taste of Cal-Mex cuisine in a lively restaurant, Mexican food with a touch of California sophistication.
Afternoon: Continue to downtown. Join an expert led walk to become acquainted with the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego’s downtown since 1850, declared a National Historic District. Diverse architectural styles are uncovered along the walk and amusing tales of ghosts and adventures bring each building to life. The visit includes the The Gaslamp Quarter Museum located in one of the area's first houses, the Victorian era Davis House, and the adjacent historical Horton Grand Hotel. Gaslamp Quarter is now filled with restaurants, night clubs, theaters, galleries and gaslamps! The walk ends at the waterfront facing the Convention Center, an architectural success reminiscent of a ship at full mast sailing on waves crashing on the beach. A pedestrian promenade along the bayside of the center leads to Seaport Village, a pleasant restaurant shopping area with a scenic park surrounded by water on three sides. Continue to explore with your leader or at your own pace. You may decide to explore other destinations, enter the Midway Aircraft carrier or the Maritime Museum also located on the waterfront. For the remainder of the afternoon, the hotel offers the option of relaxing by the pool, the SPA, strolling along the marina. For an active option, rent a bicycle, a kayak, or a paddleboard taking advantage of the discount offered to Road Scholars. The leader will be glad to assist you with suggestions and logistics.
Dinner: Dinner is on your own but you may choose to join the group leader for a savory Italian meal in the heart of the Gaslamp. San Diego offers a wide range of dining options from worldwide cuisines, pairing quality restaurants with spectacular views from sophisticated to casual California ambiance. Choose among the Gaslamp Quarter which boasts a wide array of restaurant options and nightlife abounds, the bay front, or any one of the many trendy eclectic neighborhoods for your dinner and evening destination. The group leader will provide a list of options for your convenience. In case an evening at the hotel is your preference, there are some casual eating options nearby in addition to the hotel restaurant.
Evening: Continue to enjoy the nightlife in the district chosen for your dinner. The program leader will provide information on theater performances and special events. Balboa Park offers open air theaters including the Globe, downtown has several opera and playhouses, Sygnet theater performances run regularly in Old Town.
Breakfast: Great people watching over the hotel’s bountiful buffet breakfast overlooking the marina.
Morning: No wake up call for this morning! Pursue your personal activity. If desired, meet the tour leader in the hotel garden to confirm the logistics for your individual visit or activity. Perhaps you would like to join a Harbor Boat Excursion to either the North Bay or 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. A boating alternative is a cruise in Mission Bay on a Mississippi- style sternwheeler. You may decide to join your leader on a bicycle track partially encircling Mission Bay, the 4,600 acre aquatic park filled with paths, waterways, islets and inlets. Kayaks and paddleboards may be rented at the hotel, join a half day fishing trip, or simply relax by the pool or at the SPA.
Lunch: On your own, most likely at the hotel or a quick bite along the shore of the bay to be ready for the early afternoon group activity.
Afternoon: As a gateway to Mexico, San Diego expresses a true cross-cultural feel reflected in its communities, its architecture, cuisine, culture, and arts, particularly in Barrio Logan, the Hispanic Quarter. 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 tall, colorful murals which reflect Mexican-American culture, such as a dark-skinned Virgin of Guadalupe, César Chavez’s social struggle, Mexico’s conquest and independence and much more! Continue across a slender curved bridge that unites San Diego with charming Coronado semi-island. Characterized by fabulous views, palm-lined avenues and a fine wide beach, the highlight of Coronado is the 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. Together with the leader or at your own pace, walk along the historic corridors frequented by Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis during the filming of the famed film “Some Like It Hot”, through the gardens and out to one of the most beautiful of California’s beaches. We’ll return to downtown by ferry to view the skyline and harbor from mid-bay. Landing on the Embarcadero, walk by the Maritime Museum to view the imposing Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship. Continue to the Bayside restaurant for dinner.
Dinner: The fish and seafood restaurant on the bay is a San Diego landmark. A non-sea platter may be chosen.
Evening: The restaurant is near the vibrant downtown offering an ample selection of nightlife. For a quieter option, return to the secluded hotel.
Breakfast: It’s a very California breakfast: outdoors, on the water, and lot’s of healthy options in the hotel restaurant.
Morning: This morning we’ll 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, 8 gardens, theaters, art centers, exquisite Moorish architecture and a world famous zoo make up its 1.200 acres. Filled with cultural treasures, architectural grandeur and lush landscapes, the park holds a wealth of stories behind its creation. Together with an expert, walk along El Prado, the heart of the park, and to other crucial landmarks to better appreciate the beauty and importance of the park in the development of the city. If desired, join the leader on a visit of the Botanical garden and a small private collection of art.
Lunch: Meet for an informal lunch at a restaurant in the park.
Afternoon: Balboa Park has been referred to as the “Smithsonian of the West”. Museums choices include art, science, natural history, history of man, photography, and more. The afternoon is yours to choose a museum to visit at your pace. Also within the park easily reachable from El Prado is the famed San Diego Zoo. The entrance ticket includes a bus tour, skyfari and a hop-on-hop-off bus facilitating personal exploration. Your leader will assist you with the logistics for your choice of activity either in the park or with other destinations in the city.
Dinner: If desired, meet your leader at the beautiful El Prado Restaurant for Happy Hour, a San Diego favorite. You may choose to remain in the restaurant for dinner or depart for the nearby Hillcrest trendy neighborhood for a wide choice of ethnic restaurants.
Evening: There are several theaters within the park. Treat yourself to a performance following dinner at the El Prado restaurant to end a perfect day. If trendy Hillcrest neighborhood was your choice for dinner, enjoy an after dinner drink in a local bar.
Breakfast: Delight on the ample choice of delicacies served at the buffet breakfast in the same marina-facing restaurant.
Morning: The top of the morning is open for independent exploration. If desired, meet the tour leader in the hotel garden to confirm the logistics for your individual visit or activity, either in the city or in the hotel. You may decide to join your leader on an excursion to the 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. 11:30 am Meet in the hotel garden and head out along scenic Pacific Coast north of downtown. Live the quintessential San Diego beach experience at Pacific Beach.
Lunch: Walk along the boardwalk among surfers, skateboarders, bikers and choose a restaurant for lunch.
Afternoon: Continue north along a spectacular coastline to reach the sophisticated exclusive La Jolla community, where Mediterranean architecture, boutiques and restaurants line rugged cliffs and sculptured coves. Walk along the shore, view the cliffs and seal beach, and continue at your pace into the town to browse in the boutiques or enjoy a cup of coffee in the historic Hotel Valencia. Meet the leader and continue to the world renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Birch Aquarium which are located within the town. You may visit the aquarium or join the leader on a walk along the more than 1,000 ft. long pier extending into the ocean. Continue the drive to the top of mount Soledad for a panoramic view before returning to the hotel.
Dinner: Farewell dinner is at the hotel’s bayside restaurant.
Evening: Gather in a garden cove for a review of the joyful week and farewells.
Breakfast: Last opportunity to view the marina as you delight on the ample choice of delicacies served at the buffet breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant.
Morning: The program leader will be available to assist you with your check out and departure procedures.