Things To Do In The Gaslamp, Coronado, Pacific Beach & La Jolla
San Diego is one of America’s best cities.
Heck, it’s one the world’s best cities.
PubClub.com spent three months there and couldn’t get enough of it, couldn’t see enough of it, couldn’t stop finding or creating fun things to do, daytime and nighttime.
We did enough, tho, to be able to put together this fun list of top 10 things to do in San Diego to make for a perfect weekend.
1.) STAY & PLAY IN THE GASLAMP
The Gaslamp is your headquarters, your home base, your launching point for every activity in San Diego. With its many outdoor cafes it’s kind of like a mini European city combined with a clean New Orleans French Quarter and Bourbon Street with all its cool bars and nightlife.
The Gaslamp is where you want to begin your day and end your night.
2.) RIDE BIKES IN MISSION BAY & ALONG THE STRAND IN MISSION & PACIFIC BEACH
Rent a bike.
Then put it on the trolley, transfer to a bus (it’s far easier than it sounds, for San Diego has excellent public transportation) and get off at Mission Bay. Then spend the day riding around the bay (you can get off to jet ski, windsurf or do some stand up paddle boarding if you like) before making your way to Mission Beach and up to Pacific Beach.
There’s a bike path that runs along the beach and you’ll pass rented beach houses, restaurants and classic San Diego bars – Lahina in Pacific Beach is a PubClub favorite and the massive Wave House behind the Mission Beach rollercoaster is a must. Lock up the bike to lay on the beach and go swimming or rent a board and go surfing (note, the water temperature is rarely above 70F).
3.) WALK THE LA JOLLA CLIFFS & SNORKEL IN LA JOLLA COVE
You can keep riding north – tho you have to get on residential streets for a while – and go to La Jolla. Or do the trolley/bus thing; again it’s incredibly easy.
La Jolla is stunning. It’s a small village on the edge of a cliff, kind of like San Diego’s Santorini. You can spend a very pleasant 2-3 hours walking along the cliffs, stopping to watch the sea lions lay on a beach and then watch people snorkel – or do it yourself – at super-scenic La Jolla Cove.
When you want drinks, sit on the small patio at Jose’s and have margaritas.
4.) TAKE THE FERRY TO CORONADO
The diversity of San Diego – especially in such close proximity to the Gaslamp – never ceases to amaze and here’s another example: you can walk behind the Convention Center and take a short ferry ride to Coronado.
The highlight of this place is, of course, the historic Hotel Del. You can walk by it on the beach path (be sure to dodge all the people having weddings), go inside its posh lounge for a drink or have a cockatil on its patio overlooking the beach. Or just walk through its very expensive gift shop hallway.
You can also have great margaritas across the street at the Brigantine (get the shaker) and on the patio of the friendly Costa Azul. The dive Danny’s Palm Bar is known for its burgers and onion rings and if you just want a cold beer, McP’s Irish Pub is the place. All these spots are on Orange Ave.
You’ll need to take a bus from the ferry drop-off – unless you have a bike – and there is also a bus from the Gaslamp that goes to and from Coronado.
5.) EAT PIZZA IN LITTLE ITALY & HAVE BEERS IN SAN DIEGO’S OLDEST TAVERN
We cannot recommend the pizza at Filippi’s enough; it’s awesome. In fact, walk in the door and it just smells awesome. Little Italy is a 10-minute tram ride (or half hour walk) from the Gaslamp on India Street.
After this, go down one street to the oldest tavern in San Diego, The Waterfront Bar And Grill (2044 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA). It once was on the waterfront, thus its name, until land filled in part of the bay. This is a casual somewhat dive bar with a great local crowd. Besides being awesome for afternoon beers, it’s a very good spot for burgers and if you really want something hearty, go for the chicken fried steak.
6.) GO TO THE TOP GUN BAR
If this sounds touristy, it is and it isn’t; this dive bar wound up being one of PubClub’s top spots downtown. Across from the Convention Center – it’s Kansas City BBQ – this is where a famous scene for “Top Gun” was filmed.
It’s a small dive bar with pretty good BBQ and bartenders spicier than the sauce.
When someone asks the inevitable question – “is this really where Top Gun was filmed?” – he (or she) will go into a hilarious two-minute routine explaining all about the movie, where the scenes were shot and exactly which bar stool Tom Cruise sat on during filming.
And ladies, feel free to add your bras to the collection on the ceiling.
7.) HAVE A MAI TAI AT THE BALI HAI
Here’s why it’s so tough to wrap your arms around San Diego – there’s so much of it that it’s difficult to see and do everything. But with a little efficiency of your time you can manage to swing by Shelter Island for Mai Tais at the Bali Hai restaurant & bar.
The drink packs a wallop, so much so that it will water your eyes until the rum numbs the tongue.
The Bali Hai overlooks the entire bay to downtown and it’s a beautiful setting. The restaurant tables are by the window, so when you’re at the bar you have to stand up to get the full view.
8.) NIGHTLIFE IN THE GASLAMP
On weekends, the Gaslamp is dynamic. It’s a frenzy of activity from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. There are so many bars it’s crazy and what you see is not always what you get. Take the Tipsy Crow; it looks like a standard pub but upstairs is a really cool lounge and downstairs a rocking (but casual) dance club.
Barley Mash has a downstairs refuge of sorts called Ginger’s and what locals call “the Alice In Wonderland bar” (Vin de Syrah) is one of the coolest spots in town. For more on bars and nlightlife in the Gaslamp, click here.
9.) TOUR THE CANTINAS FOR MARGARITAS IN OLD TOWN
Take the trolley to Old Town and hit all the cantinas for a margarita tour!
10,) CHECK OUT THE THE SEAPORT VILLAGE STREET PERFORMERS
It’s hardly like Mallory Square in Key West at sunset, but Seaport Village has street performers and they will keep you entertained for an hour or so in the afternoon.
The location is perfect, along the walkway of this mini seaside village overlooking the bay, which also has a few restaurants, a good place for Happy Hour margaritas (Edgewater Cafe), the waterfront Embarcadero Park, plus a neat little salute to the military featuring Bob Hope jokes and the U.S.S. Midway.