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Saturday, September 9, 2017

Heading to San Diego

Soooo...remember how a week ago I was super excited about visiting St. Thomas? Well, it sure looks like Irma and Juan are going to thwart that plan, so we're looking into back-up plans. Right now, I think our best bet is San Diego, as neither of us have really actually been there and there are tons of things to do, and we don't even need to rent a car to do it all. 

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I've tentatively booked myself into our timeshare near Balboa Park, so we can walk to 80% of the things we want to see and do, and take public transportation everywhere else, including the train to Legoland. Plus, the weather will be less hot and muggy, but I can still pack everything I planned to pack for the USVI, with the addition of a cardigan and a pair of pants. 

Why am I telling you this? Because I gotta have a plan, right? Don't worry. You know me with the million ideas that I can fit into any time frame, so of course I have this list of fun stuff that work for our budget:

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Free and inexpensive

Balboa Park – This gateway to San Diego culture and activities is home to 15 museums, art venues and gardens, as well as the San Diego Zoo. The park itself is open 24 hours and offers free admission to the grounds, Botanical Building and most gardens.

Old Town San Diego – Discover San Diego’s historical Mission Valley Neighborhood where the Kumeyaay Indians prospered. You’re invited to enter Old Town’s historic buildings for free, including the oldest schoolhouse in San Diego, the Estudillo House. Visiting Bazaar del Mundo is a must, where you can pick up one-of-a-kind and exotic items. While it is 3 miles outside of downtown, taking the Trolley or Coaster to Old Town is quick, easy and affordable.

Seaport Village – Everyday you’ll find free entertainment in Seaport Village, from Shakespeare to blues music. Find the schedule of outdoor performances HERE. Enjoy the view of the bay, browse over 50 shops and choose from 17 unique dining venues. You can even sign up for coupons to use on your visit to Seaport Village.

Moderate

Mission Beach Boardwalk – Stroll along 3 miles of beach with fun shops and food selections. Take the family to Belmont Park, the beachfront amusement park and entertainment center. It’s famous for its oldest wooden coaster called the Giant Dipper. Unlimited ride passes are available. Get discounts for Belmont Park HERE.

Birch Aquarium – See the wonders of the Pacific Ocean with over 60 habitats, including hands-on exhibits and the soon-to-open Boundless Energy exhibit which explores the groundbreaking ways we can use the power of the sun, wind and water for natural power. The aquarium brings amazing aquatic creatures to the surface and educates you on their habitats and preservation.

Splurge

San Diego Zoo – Explore one of the nation’s largest and most innovative zoos with your family. At 100 acres, it houses over 4,000 animals and also offers a guided bus tour that can give you an overview of the entire zoo. You can reach the zoo by Coaster from downtown. Children 11 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult in the month of October.

Wild  Animal Park – Observe herd animals from Asia and Africa, such as giraffes, rhinos and cheetahs. Choose from the original tram safari and walking tour or from 7 other more unique safari tours (unique tours have unique prices). The Safari Park is located 35 miles from the San Diego Zoo in Escondido. It’s possible to get there via public transportation.
(Save money by purchasing a multi-pass ticket  HERE.)

If you, like me, want to do a ton of things, you might want to think about picking up a San Diego GoCard for you and each member of your traveling party. For a discounted price, you can gain admission to your choice of 50 of San Diego’s top attractions, including the San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND California, Sea World (with the purchase of a 3, 5 or 7 day pass), Birch Aquarium at Scripps and many more. 

The pass allows you to skip the ticket lines and go right to the front gate.  Each comes with a full-color guidebook and shopping and dining discounts, giving you even bigger savings. Have it shipped to you before you leave or pick it up at designated locations when you get to San Diego.

There you have it. Things to fill more than 7 days, but also plenty of ways to just relax and wander for days without really stressing out about life. The only thing I'll really have to worry about is where I'm going to eat for dinner, because there are so many options. I'll keep you up to date on my plans, but if you have suggestions for what I must see and must do (and must eat!) in San Diego, I'm all ears.
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