A San Diego New Year Celebration
Warm your spirits in the California sun with San Diego’s trademark holiday cheer! Celebrate the New Year by enjoying the area’s award-winning food, wine, parks and much more.
Rating (5)
Program No. 21195RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
11 meals
5 B 1BR 2 L 3 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar private meeting room to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing the up-to-date schedule that reflects any changes, other important information, and to confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. 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. Our knowledgeable Group Leader will also serve as our Study Leader for all field trips and deliver educational content unless specified otherwise. Transportation will be via private motorcoach. At the hotel, our private meeting room will serve as our space for lectures and meeting points. Periods in the 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 will gather for an informal reception with wine and snacks. Then, during a walking exploration led by a member of the US Grant hotel staff, we will discover niches, artwork, and learn about its enthralling history.

Dinner: At a well-known seafood restaurant on the waterfront, next to the Bob Hope Memorial and the Midway Aircraft Carrier, we’ll have a 3-course plated meal ordered from a select menu with beverage choices of soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

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

San Diego Mission, Presidio Park, Old Town, Gaslamp Quarter
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 1.5 miles; paved and cobblestone streets.

Breakfast: In a private section of the hotel’s restaurant, have what you like from the breakfast buffet with choices such as eggs, oatmeal, yogurt, fresh fruit, sweet rolls, milk, orange juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: We will be joined by a historian from the San Diego Historical Society (SDHS) for an introduction to the city’s history. This morning’s lecture will set the stage for our field trips today. We will then set out on a journey to sites where the city was founded beginning with San Diego de Alcala Mission. With our Group Leader, we will explore the mission and its on-site museum. Established by the Franciscan missionary Father Junipero Serra in 1769, San Diego de Alcala was the first of 21 California missions. We will then ride to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. On the way, we will stop at the top of Presidio Hill for views of San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. As the site of the original fortifications, residents chose to live in the Presidio for protection from potential Native American attacks but moved to the base of the hill as time passed.

Lunch: At a lively restaurant in Old Town, we will have a plated meal featuring traditional Mexican cuisine with iced tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: With our Group Leader, we will stroll through Old Town, the original site of San Diego where the population grew until Mexico granted it the status of “pueblo” or chartered town. We will visit some of the most important historical buildings from that era including the stately Casa Estudillo on the main plaza; Sibley Stables, home to a collection of stagecoaches; the rustic jail; and San Diego’s first schoolhouse. Old Town San Diego remained the heart of the city until the 1860s when Alonzo Horton promoted development closer to the shore, the area that became the current downtown known as the Gaslamp Quarter. Returning to downtown via motorcoach, we will be joined by a local expert for a walk to become acquainted with the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego’s downtown since 1860. Declared a National Historic District, it is now filled with restaurants, nightclubs, theaters, galleries — and gas lamps! — as well as spicy stories and tales of haunted houses. We will also visit the Gaslamp Quarter Museum located in one of the area's first houses and the adjacent Horton Grand Hotel. On the walk back to the hotel, we will stop at Horton Plaza Park, a public plaza that has recently been beautifully developed, including a restored landmark fountain from 1910. The adjacent Horton Plaza Mall is known for its bright colors, interesting architecture, and the 1907 Jessop’s Street Clock.

Dinner: 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. Our hotel's location in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter offers a wide array of restaurant choices.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to attend a performance from current offerings, enjoy Happy Hour at the hotel with fellow Road Scholars, or just relax.

U.S. Navy & San Diego, Cabrillo Monument, La Jolla, Aquarium
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 1 miles; paved, smooth sidewalks with slight inclines. At aquarium, standing up to 1 hour with periods of slow walking.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: With our SDHS historian, we will discuss the establishment of the U.S. Navy and its importance in the growth of San Diego. We will then ride to the dramatic tip of Point Loma peninsula and the Cabrillo National Monument, named in honor of the famed explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who landed on this point in 1542. Our knowledgeable Group Leader will take us through the historic museum and to Old Point Loma Lighthouse, one of the original eight lighthouses on the West Coast, restored and refurnished to reflect what life was like in the 1800s. We will then hop aboard our motorcoach and drive along the scenic Pacific Coast north of downtown, past Mission Bay and popular Pacific Beach, to reach the exclusive La Jolla community where we will visit the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Birch Aquarium.

Lunch: At the Birch Aquarium Café, lunch will include soup and a half-sandwich, a cookie, small juice, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: At the aquarium, a member of the education department staff will present a lecture followed by an expert-led exploration of the Aquarium that exhibits more than 60 environments. Next, we will ride into La Jolla and set out for a nature walk with our Group Leader along the famous coves that will take us to nearby Seal Beach, protected by cliffs and part of a marine reserve. We will stroll along the shore to observe seals and sea lions, each occupying a distinct cove, and see cormorants nesting on the cliffs. Perhaps we will catch the “green flash” as the sun sets. We’ll then return to the Gaslamp for dinner.

Dinner: We will ride to a lively Italian restaurant in the Gaslamp and have a family-style 3-course meal with beverage choices of soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: The motorcoach will return to the hotel after dinner. If you wish, you may stay in the Gaslamp on your own and return independently by walking or taxi.

Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, New Year’s Eve Festivities
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking approximately 1/2 mile in Balboa Park; walking at museums and zoo according to personal preference.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: In the final lecture by our SDHS historian, we will learn about the development of Balboa Park, built to host the 1915 Exposition. Today it is America’s largest urban cultural park, its 1,200 acres filled with exotic vegetation, 17 museums, theaters, art centers, exquisite Moorish architecture, and a world famous zoo. We will then board a motorcoach and set out with our Group Leader to become familiar with El Prado, the heart of the park. The remainder of the morning is free to explore on your own, to see and do what interests you most.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like in Balboa Park. You might have a relaxed meal in a lovely garden restaurant or a sandwich on the go between museum visits.

Afternoon: We will regroup at a designated time and place and visit the San Diego Zoo, regarded as one of the best in the world. We will ride to the front gate of the park to board the narrated bus, included in our tickets, to get an overview of the zoo. You are then welcome to continue exploring on your own: either on foot, on the hop-on/hop-off Kangaroo Express Bus, or the Skyfari aerial tram, also included. We’ll then gather by the big Christmas tree, where bell ringers and caroling will enliven the tree-lighting ceremony before returning to the hotel to freshen up and prepare for an evening of festivities. In our private room, we will meet for a toast to get into the New Year spirit, then continue to the hotel’s elegant dining room for New Year’s Eve dinner.

Dinner: In the hotel’s elegant dining room, we’ll gather for a late seating of the special 6-course “Tasting Dinner” plus a glass of wine; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Enjoy the festivities with live music for listening and dancing. The exciting Midnight Countdown will include a champagne toast. Happy New Year!

Coronado Island, Hotel Del Brunch, Harbor Cruise, Happy Hour
San Diego, California
The US Grant Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 1/2 mile, with opportunities to stroll along the stunning beach on your own.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we will have an opportunity to rest, relax, and sleep in before our late-morning departure for Coronado. Located across the bay from San Diego, Coronado is a semi-island connected to the mainland by the “Silver Strand” and to downtown San Diego by way of the curved, slim, elegant San Diego-Coronado Bridge. Coronado is characterized by fabulous views, palm-lined avenues, a fine wide beach, and the famous Hotel Del Coronado — popularly known as Hotel Del — an American fairytale castle. With our Group Leader, we will explore by motorcoach and on foot. Our first stop is at the Ferry Landing plaza facing the beautiful San Diego skyline. We’ll drive across the island along fashionable Orange Avenue to reach the Hotel Del. Boasting a history filled with famous celebrities, the lavish wooden Victorian hotel is the last of its kind still standing on the West Coast. We’ll take a short walk to learn about the many historical events that earned the hotel its fame.

Brunch: In the celebrated historic Victorian Crown Room of the Hotel Del, we’ll delight in a festive New Year’s brunch with all the trimmings.

Afternoon: We will have some time for independent exploration at the Hotel Del. As we immerse ourselves in the ambiance of this iconic hotel, we’ll be able to wander amongst its many halls, the gardens, or along the white sand beach. Returning to San Diego over the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, we’ll embark on a narrated harbor cruise. We’ll be able to view the spectacular city skyline when skyscrapers reflect the sun’s glow onto the calm waters of the bay, in addition to sailing next to elegant hillside communities, marinas, the Naval Shipyards, and the Naval Air and Submarine Stations. Back at the hotel, we will gather one last time as a group in our private room for farewells and a toast to the program during a Happy Hour with snacks, juices, and wine. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Dinner: If you’re still hungry, this meal is on your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes
San Diego, California

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program. 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!

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