ADD TO LISTMore laid back than LA, San Diego, which is about a 20 minute drive from the Mexican border offers plenty of things to do alongside friendly locals. It is a popular stopover for visitors from LA as well as a serious destination in its own right. Major stops include Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo as well as Sea World. Alternatively for outdoor enthusiasts, there are numerous beaches dotting the coastline. Watch for surfers or ride the surf yourself!
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Red Fox Room Piano Bar - retro bar will take you back to the 40's. Customers are pretty much either over 70 or under 35. If the Red Key in Indy had a piano--ok so the Red Key does have a piano--but if it were a piano bar, it would be the Red Fox. Adjoining restaurant has great steak dinner.
This is easily one of my favorite cities. It's very laidback and clean without any of the craziness you would find in LA. Since it has plenty of history (surprising for California), there are numberous sites/places worth checking out. Some of my personal faves include the Gaslamp quarter, Old Town San Diego and Hotel Del Coronado. The San Diego Zoo is also worth checking out if you have the time. The hotels are really nice and I remember staying at one where my hotel room had a beautiful view of the harbor and the skyline. You definitely get a peace of mind spending a long weekend in San Diego. Hotel Del Coronado is a must-see! It has a definitive Victorian atmosphere with dark cherry wood walls and dimmed lighting. Try staying there if you get the chance. You'll feel like you went back in time. There's too much to do in SD to include all of it in one travel tip so just go there and check it out for yourself!
If you're in San Diego, you need to visit Barrio Logan (a.k.a. Logan Heights). Don't be scared off by the word barrio -- that's just the Spanish word for neighborhood. Think of Barrio Logan as an ethnic neighborhood, like Little Italy. There are authentic Mexican Restaurants here (I recommend Porkyland on Logan Avenue -- they make a great nopal burrito), as well as panaderias (bakeries), dulcerias (cake shops), and fruterias (fruit stands). After lunch -- or during, if you got food you can take away -- go down to Chicano Park, under the Coronado Bridge. There are colorful murals there, painted in the vibrant Chicano style -- bold, lively colors. Chicano Park is the pride of Barrio Logan, representing the indomitable spirit of the community who fought City Hall and won.
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