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San Diego’s Neighborhood Spotlight: Normal Heights

Called “one of the most walkable neighborhoods in San Diego,” Normal Heights was founded in 1906. Today, this neighborhood is full of unique book and antique stores, restaurants, and coffee shops covering about a dozen blocks on each side of the restored business district on Adams Avenue. If you’re going to head to this funky neighborhood, be sure to include the San Diego Marina Inn’s top 6 hotspots on your list.

1. Mariposa Ice Cream

An old-school ice cream shop, Mariposa specializes in unique flavors, such as cappuccino almond fudge. With Will Ferrell and Kristen Bell among its fans, the ice cream here is famed by celebrities and locals alike.

2. Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

Daniel Charlson, the Kauai-born owner of Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, brings years of coffee-roasting experience from the Hawaiian island with his small-batch roasts. If you go, be sure to try their French-pressed coffee paired with a delicious vegan donut.

3. Hanna’s Gourmet

Served family-style, the dinners at Hanna’s are highly recommended by foodies and picky-eaters. Each month, Hanna’s Gourmet serves up culturally varied menus, ranging from South African bobotie to Moroccan tagine.

4. Villainous Lair Comics & Gaming

With a huge selection of comic books and gaming merchandise, this shop has endless fun and feeds the inner nerd in anyone. If you have an hour to kill, stop by to play a round of Dungeons and Dragons or a variety of other tabletop games.  

5. Blind Lady Ale House

This yummy pizza joint kicks the traditional pizza and beer dinner up a notch with gourmet toppings and craft brews. The long wood tables make it an ideal spot to meet up with a large group or to meet some new friends.

6. Soda and Swine 

This small restaurant offers a huge variety of meatballs, including pork, beef, chicken, or quinoa bases that can be served on a sub, slider, spaghetti, or alone. Eat it there or take it next door to the speakeasy-style bar, Polite Provisions, and enjoy with the hipster bar’s signature punchbowl.

Coming to San Diego for your next vacation? Give the Marina Inn & Suites a call. Our comfortable accommodations in downtown San Diego are a prime location for travelers looking to explore the major attractions in the city or smaller, funky neighborhoods, like Normal Heights. Reach out to a Reservation Manager at 1-800-571-2933 or reserve your stay online. We look forward to greeting you!

Free Summer Concerts in San Diego

If you love music, but you don’t want to break the bank on your San Diego vacation by paying for concert tickets, there may be a solution. Presented by the San Diego Marina Inn & Suites, here are three free local concert series in the San Diego area to check out this summer.

1. Carlsbad TGIF Concerts in the Parks

When: Now through August 21st on Fridays from 6 to 8pm
Where: Various parks in Carlsbad, including the Alga Norte and Stagecoach community parks

While Carlsbad is just outside of San Diego, this concert series is worth the drive. Meet friendly local people and enjoy a variety of free tunes, all while relaxing in the warm SoCal weather. This year, the concerts will include a mix of country, big band swing, Latin, pop, R&B, and soul groups. Plus, because of the series’ increasing popularity, a wide variety food vendors will be in attendance, offering frozen yogurt, ice cream, chips, hamburgers, hotdogs, and more. Bring a blanket and hunker down for a lovely evening of music at one of these TGIF concerts.

2. Seaport Village Concerts

When: Now through September 27th on Sundays from 1 to 4pm
Where: East Plaza Gazebo

Sit in on a free concert while enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon at this especially picturesque San Diego location. Seaport Village, a small shopping area along the San Diego Harbor, is a lovely place to listen to rock, blues, and jazz music. With cute boutiques, shops, and restaurants throughout the village, you can listen to tunes while browsing or find a comfortable spot on the lawn to doze during these concerts.

3. Coronado Summer Concerts in the Park

When: Now through September 6th
Where: Spreckels Park at 7th Street and Orange Avenue

At this concert series at the Spreckels Park in the upscale Coronado community, you can get an earful of a variety of musical genres, ranging from dance, to big band, to country rock. If you’re a fan of ABBA, Journey, or Dave Matthews, you’ll even find some great tribute bands playing the hits you love from those artists on this year’s schedule. Concerts take place in a large gazebo in the center of the park, so you can stroll the grounds while still being able to listen to some wonderful music.

For your summer vacation to San Diego, you don’t have to break the bank to have a good time. With these free concerts, you can get a taste of the local music scene and keep to your budget. If you’re looking for other ways to ensure your vacation is easy on your wallet, reach out to the Marina Inn in San Diego. We offer affordable, convenient, and comfortable accommodations in downtown San Diego. Give a Reservation Manager a call today at 1-800-571-2933 to set up your reservation, or book your stay online. We look forward to hearing from you!

Neighborhood Spotlight: North Park, San Diego

From good eats to plenty of activities, there are many reasons that North Park is a great neighborhood to explore when you’re staying at the Marina Inn Hotel San Diego. If you have not yet visited the area, here are some reasons why you should.

An Award Winning Community

Men’s Magazine recognizes San Diego to be among the top 5 cities for beer lovers, and 30th Street in North Park is often dubbed “America’s beer boulevard.” From plenty of local brews to exotic flavors imported from overseas, the drinks are always flowing and the company is always fun. Some of the local favorites for microbreweries in North Park include Fall Brewing, Belching Beaver, and Hess Brewing.

Satisfying Mouthfuls of Flavor

Residents and visitors to North Park are often treated to the enticing smell of incredible foods. There are many different cuisines to choose from, but Saiko Sake & Sushi Bar, that serves locally sourced fish and vegetables, is one of the top restaurants to check out. StreetCar Merchants of Fried Chicken, Donuts, & Coffee is another local favorite, serving, as its name suggests, an assortment of fried foods, including donuts, chicken, and French fries.

Arts and Entertainment

North Park is a diverse neighborhood that mixes historical culture with modern charm. For a great experience, explore some of the arts and entertainment that reflect the area’s diverse community. If you love art, check out any of the small galleries scattered throughout the neighborhood.  For those who are more musically inclined, try out the North Park Theatre, which is home to San Diego Lyric Opera, or Bar Pink, which is a hotspot for local funk bands.

Easy to Get Around

North Park is one of the easiest neighborhoods to navigate, making it a tourist-friendly place to visit. While most of the locations are easy enough to get to on foot, there are plenty of bus routes to take you through the neighborhood, including bus routes 1, 2, 6, and 15.

Thinking of checking out some of the attractions in North Park, San Diego? The comfortable and affordable Marina Inn is conveniently located just minutes away from this hotspot. Give one of our Reservation Managers a call at 1-800-571-2933 to learn more about how we can make your stay in San Diego enjoyable, or book your room now!


Upcoming Fairs and Festivals in San Diego

Summers in San Diego are characterized by an overwhelming parade of fairs and festivals. At the San Diego Marina Inn, our staff has come up with the following list to give you some information about the favorite fests and fairs of local San Diegans.

OB Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off Festival

When: June 27, 2015

While the big draw for this annual event in Ocean Beach is the chili cook-off, there will be more to do here than just vie for bragging rights. Highlights include five stages of continuous live music, a community art mural project, and tons of local vendors and restaurants that will be selling handcrafted goods and giving out samples. Plus, no OB festival would be complete without a beachside beer garden. For those coming as a family, don’t worry: there’s also a children’s area with juices for the kids.

San Diego County Fair

When: Now through July 5, 2015

The granddaddy of all SD area fairs, this huge county fair offers a little something for everyone. You’ll discover a diverse selection of games and rides, ranging from classic fair staples to rip-roaring thrill rides, delicious and usual foods, garden shows, contests, livestock tents, and music. Multiple stages will serve as gathering spots for big name musical guests, including Cheap Trick, Christina Perri, and teen star Austin Mahone.

Comic-Con International

When: July 9-12, 2015

Live out your pop culture fantasies by attending this world-renowned festival. Aside from having a ton of movie memorabilia, impressive comic collections, superhero-inspired art, and enthusiastic fans dressed as their favorite comic book characters, the event is sure to draw the attention of some celebrities more than willing to mingle with fans. Tickets sold out quickly this year, but you can check online for resale tickets.

San Diego LGBT Pride Parade, Rally, and Festival

When: July 17-20, 2015

Every summer San Diegans come together for 3 days to celebrate and promote local and global LGBT pride. In addition to a high-energy parade, this event will include an equally exciting block party and a 5K run/walk. The festival will feature a live DJ during the rally, plus an hourly raffle. Expect large, exuberant crowds, and lots of activities, free food, endless fun, and rainbows.

Thinking about coming to some of San Diego’s most fun summer events? Take out some of the hassle of traveling by staying at the Marina Inn & Suites, one of the most comfortable hotels near the San Diego airport. We also offer exclusive hotel packages for leisure travelers, free Wi-Fi, and complimentary parking for all our guests. Find out about our great low rates and availability by calling 1-800-571-2933 today, or by clicking here to reserve your room.

Tips for the Best Beach Day Yet

Your vacation in San Diego won’t be complete without some time at the beach! Make the most of your family beach days by following our tips below.

1. Decide What Matters

Would your older children like some surfing lessons? Do you need a pet friendly beach? Would you rather stay close to your downtown San Diego hotel, or are you up to a short drive? Once you know what your priorities are, you’ll be able to find the right spot for you and your fam.

2. Go Early…

Beat the crowds to the beach so you can find a spot to spread your towels and keep your gear. This also gives you a chance to rent some lawn chairs and/or an umbrella without the chaos of the crowds.

3. …and Stay Late

You’ve never seen a sunset until you’ve seen the San Diego sky adorned with bright pinks, deep blues, and vibrant oranges over the Pacific Ocean.

4. Stay Hydrated

Once you get set up for your day on the beach, scope out somewhere nearby to buy water or refill your own water bottles. You can also pack a small cooler with nonalcoholic beverages.

5. Look for a Bathroom

Another step in setting up your day is making sure you know where a clean restroom is. Someone will always need to go.

6. Wear Sandals

It’s easy for locals to spot tourists—they’re the ones at the beach in sneakers. Wear shoes that you can rinse off easily and get the sand out of. Trust us.

6. Prepare for Down Time

You aren’t going to spend the entire time in the water. Bring some magazines and books for when someone needs to rest or relax.

Of course, don’t forget the sunscreen, snacks, and camera. And above all else, have a great beach vacation!

If location is a top priority during your stay in San Diego, book a room at a hotel near the San Diego Airport like the Marina Inn & Suites. We’re just minutes from downtown, about 10 minutes from the beaches, and around the corner from the airport. Even better, you can save up to 12% on your stay just by booking a few weeks in advance! Find out how much cash you can keep in your wallet by calling 1-800-571-2933 and speaking with a friendly Reservation Manager.

San Diego Activities for Thrill Seekers

For those seeking adrenaline-pumping fun in the sun, San Diego has more than enough extreme activities to get your heart pounding. The Downtown San Diego Marina Inn has put together this list to help you on your way.

Cage-Free Dive with Sharks

Mako Mike Kazma, known locally as the shark whisperer, will show you how to have the apex predators of the ocean eating raw meat straight from your bare hands.

Hang Glide Over La Jolla

If jumping off a cliff isn’t enough to get you going, try being suspended mid air with a sail attached to your back as you defy gravity. You’ll have a tandem instructor latched to you, but it certainly won’t dampen your mid-air tour of nature, mansions, and nude beaches.

Have an ATV Adventure

You can ride over rough terrain like a 21st century cowboy in San Diego or south of the border in Baja. Once you’re there, enjoy the track at a private ranch, or snake through mountain and ocean side trails.

Fly a Jet Pack

So technology isn’t advanced enough yet to strap jet engines to your back without some serious consequences, however, Aquatic Aviation has the next best thing. Try out a water-powered jet pack or hoverboard that’ll shoot you 30 feet into the air with the force of 1,000 gallons of water per minute.

Flip Off a Flying Trapeze

You’ll have no choice but to let go of all inhibitions when you’re flying through the air with nothing but your partner’s hands to catch you. Oh there’s a net, too.

Whale Watch on a Jet Boat

Does cruising on the open sea to watch the gentle giants of the deep sound a little too tame for you? Crank your adrenaline up a notch by blasting through the water on a 70-foot long jet boat with twin 1,400 horsepower engines.

Want to try them all? Book a hotel in San Diego Gaslamp Quarter to be near all the action the city has to offer. The Marina Inn & Suites offers more than a great location. We also have free Wi-Fi, flexible dates, and money-saving discounts. Call 1-800-571-2933 to speak with a friendly Reservation Manager!

San Diego’s Best Kept Secrets Worth Seeing

Certain features of San Diego are common knowledge, like its famed weather, fun attractions, and outstanding universities. However, if you’re planning a visit to San Diego, you might want to consider these little-known items throughout the city as you arrange your itinerary.

1. Musical Bridge

The 25th Street Bridge is actually a musical instrument! Its sidewalk railing is crafted with chimes, and each vertical rod is encased in bronze. Striking the bells in sequence creates a melody dubbed “Crab Carillon.”

2. Secret Stairs

San Diego has stairways to heaven. Hidden within La Mesa are three sets of stairs off the beaten track. The staircases were installed around 1913 to facilitate neighborhood foot traffic. Each climbs the side of Mount Nebo from a different approach, and the most challenging staircase offers great views from Mt. Helix to Downtown.

3. Best Pizza in the Country

According to TripAdvisor reviews, San Diego serves up the best pizza in the country. For vibrant flavors and pies that would make Italy proud, check out local favorites Cucina Urbana, Napizza, or Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizza.

4. Home of Dr. Seuss

Ted Geisel, the best-selling children’s author in the world, lived in La Jolla. Writing under the name of Dr. Seuss, he published 46 children’s books. The Geisel Library of the University of California San Diego houses the world’s largest collection of Dr. Seuss memorabilia. It includes his original manuscripts, notebooks, and photographs.

5. Largest Comic Book Convention

Founded in 1970 as the Golden State Comic Book Convention, San Diego Comic-Con is a four-day event held each summer at the San Diego Convention Center. Along with comic books, the venue features animation, toys, collectible card games, fantasy novels, web-comics, video games, and panels with actors, directors, producers, and writers. Publishers Weekly has coined the convention as the largest show in North America. Hotels in Downtown San Diego go fast and tickets sell out in minutes, so you’ll want to plan in advance.

6. Annual Secret Party

Each year, a party of about 2,000 guests awaits the announcement of where they’ll meet for dinner. The gala always takes place in a public space, participation is by invitation only, and guests learn where they’re headed only after boarding the buses that take them to dinner. Each guest is requested to bring dinner in a picnic basket, along with champagne, fine china, silverware, chairs, a table, and white tablecloth. Dinner begins with each guest waving a white cloth napkin, a stunning visual! The diners eat, dance, and enjoy live music in a festive atmosphere featuring white balloons.

7. Solstice Clock

Located on the Silver Strand pedestrian path in Coronado is a unique solar clock. It consists of a circle of benches configured to tell time with markings that line up to where the sun sets during the summer and winter solstices. Every year on December 21, the day of the Winter Solstice, a group gathers to celebrate the event. People read poems, share conversation, and remember loved ones. It starts at 4pm, and anyone can join.

Whether you decide to spend your trip laying in the sun on the beach or exploring lesser-known hidden gems, one surefire way to have a great trip is to book an affordable and centrally located hotel in Little Italy San Diego. The Marina Inn offers many of the same amenities as home, and our rates simply can’t be beat! Give us a call today at 1-800-571-2933 to speak with a friendly Reservation Manager!

Point, Click, and Shoot These 7 San Diego Spots

When you land in San Diego, it won’t take long before you whip out your camera and begin clicking away. Heck, even the locals can’t help but snap pictures of blooming flowers, great waves, and stunning sunsets (have you seen our Instagrams?). However, if you’re serious about getting good snaps, there are a few places you don’t want to miss. Here are 7, brought to you by the Marina Inn Downtown San Diego.

1. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Discover some 2,000 acres of stunning coastal bluffs nestled between La Jolla and Del Mar by making a trip to this reserve. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can snap pics while following the eight miles of hiking trails found here. You can also arrange for a guided nature walk if you want to get a better understanding of the region.

Suggestion: Make your way to the top of Broken Hill to find sculpted sand cliffs and a rare pine tree worth capturing.

2. Cabrillo Point

Home to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, Cabrillo Point is another perfect place to take some photographs in San Diego. As long as you have your camera out, don’t forget to snap a few shots of the downtown San Diego skyline including the San Diego Convention Center and Gaslamp Quarter, the Pacific Ocean, and the bay. You might even spot a few gray whales just off the coast.

3. Presidio Park

Spanning 40 acres, Presidio Park offers a sweeping view of the city that’s perfect for some picture taking. Go for a stroll and you’ll find some native trees and beautiful vegetation. Then, take a break and enjoy a picnic or visit the Serra Museum, which displays artifacts related to the region’s history, before taking a few more snaps at dusk. The park is also within walking distance of Old Town State Historic Park, so you can always head over there to take some more photos, if you wish.

Suggestion: Take a picture of the plaque and water bowl that’s in the park for the fabled “ghost deer,” the spirit of a white deer that escaped from the San Diego Zoo years ago that’s said to still “visit” the park.

4. Black Mountain

Hills, ridges and canyons covered by chaparral and sage make Black Mountain a great focal point for your photos. With more than 2,000 acres of open space here, plan to spend some time exploring this the mountain and its surrounding areas. You can usually get a decent view of the ocean to the west, more mountains to the north and east and Downtown SD to the south.

Suggestion: Grab your camera and drive to the north along Carmel Mountain Road where you’ll find Lusardi Creek, a secluded locale sure to offer some great photo ops.

5. Harbor Island

This manmade peninsula is a perfect spot for a day of picture taking fun. Follow the single road that goes from one side to the other and you can snap all the pictures you want from the comfort of your car. If you prefer to explore by foot, you’ll find some marinas and other prime spots for picture taking.

Suggestion: Take a bike ride instead and, if you’re up for it, ride over to neighboring Shelter Island.

6. Mount Soledad

The site of the city’s iconic Mount Soledad Easter Cross, Mount Soledad will give you a picture-perfect view of La Jolla (immediately below), the San Diego skyline to the south and breathtaking mountains off to the east and north. You can even get a few good photos of Mexico off in the distance on a clear day.

Suggestion: Pack a picnic and enjoy the view while having lunch.

7. Bankers Hill

Take a casual stroll through this upscale neighborhood and you’ll find plenty of examples of historic architecture worth capturing. Head west and you’ll get to a more elevated area where you can take advantage of a panoramic view that includes Downtown, San Diego Bay and Coronado.

Suggestion: Go to Front and Brant Street and walk along the Bruce Street Suspension Bridge above Kate Sessions Canyon for stunning views.

Along with bringing your camera, don’t forget to book a room! With summer right around the corner, good hotel rooms in the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, or near the airport go fast! Call the Marina Inn & Suites at 1-800-571-2933 to reserve your room today! We offer 24/7 customer service, flexible dates, and the best rate guaranteed!

Make the Most of Your Trip with 3 San Diego Pub Crawls

While San Diego’s warm weather is an undeniable plus, this city doesn’t lose its spark when the sun goes down. Tourists and residents alike are drawn to the downtown area, where dozens of watering holes keep the city dancing and laughing into the wee hours. With so many options available, pub crawls are a great way to take advantage of local expertise and see the city’s best spots. Try out one of the popular options below next time you’re in the area!

1. San Diego Pub Crawler

This four-hour tour is a beer aficionado’s dream. An expert tour guide takes guests to three spots in the Gaslamp District, the heart of San Diego’s burgeoning craft beer scene. The emphasis on quality beer means you will be treated to up to 14 total tastings, in addition to discounts on supplementary beverages, starting at $45 per person. Cheers to that!

2. World Crawl San Diego

For those who like a little dancing with their libations, World Club San Diego takes guests on a tour of five pubs and dance clubs every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night right. Crawlers get to skip the line at every venue, leaving more time for sipping and mingling at nightlife favorites like Whiskey Girl and Double Deuce. The crawl is $75 per person, including free appetizers. Five clubs makes for a lot of drinks, so stay safe by booking a hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter and walking to and from the crawl.

3. Pedal On

If you like to workout while on vacation, this unique tour is right up your alley. Pedal On has guests cycle their way through a three-mile pub crawl in San Diego’s beautiful Pacific Beach area. The eight-person bike gives you the perfect outlet for burning off the crawl’s tasty food and drink offerings, and it serves as a memorable vacation experience. Just $45 per person.

It will be pretty hard to participate in pub crawls if you aren’t in San Diego, so head on down ASAP! When you’re ready to start your vacation, choose the Marina Inn in San Diego. With flexible dates, 24/7 customer service, and the best rate guaranteed—we have you covered! Give us a call at 1-800-571-2933 to learn more about our great amenities and reserve your room!

Soggy San Diego: 6 Rainy Day Activities

While San Diego weather is usually just about as perfect as it gets, every once in a while we get a bit of rain. If the inclement weather puts a stop to your outdoor plans while on vacation, here are six things you can do instead.

1. Museums at Balboa Park

It may be too drizzly to run around Balboa Park itself, but did you know it has 17 museums as well? Favorites include the Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Air and Space Museum. Another popular choice is the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, where kids and adults alike can enjoy a hands-on experience and visit their IMAX Theater.

2. Little Italy

There’s just something about cozying up on a rainy day in an Italian restaurant. Part of the reason you’re staying in Little Italy is for the food anyway, so why not visit regardless of the weather? Grab an umbrella and make the short walk from your hotel room in Little Italy to one of the cafes or restaurants nearby. A hot Italian meal and a big latte may be exactly what you didn’t know you needed.

3. Tour of USS Midway

Did you know the USS Midway aircraft carrier is permanently berthed in San Diego? It’s now open to the public as a museum and offers an amazing look at what life is really like on one of these floating military cities. Get your information first-hand from retired military docents, and don’t forget to give the flight simulator a whirl.

4. Olympic Training Center

About 20 minutes southeast of downtown lies the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center, a sure hit for athletes of any age. You can take self-guided tours daily or get a guided tour on Saturday mornings. As some of this tour involves being outdoors, this is a good option for days when the beach may be a bit too chilly but you won’t get drenched going outside. Proceeds from the shop on campus benefit the athletes representing the US in the Olympic Games.

5. Birch Aquarium

Most of the exhibits at the Birch Aquarium (about 15 minutes north of downtown San Diego Convention Center hotels) are indoors. This may be a great rainy day alternative to Sea World or the zoo if your family had hoped to see some animals.

6. Sky Zone

Need a place for kids to burn off some serious steam (or sugar)? Try Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park, with several locations in San Diego. They can bounce away their energy for an hour, and it may look like so much fun you’ll want to join in too.

Of course, you don’t have to move indoors for just a little shower. Pack a rain jacket or umbrella, and have the usual tourist destinations all to yourself in the rain. Do you need to make a reservation for your upcoming trip? Look no further than the San Diego Marina Inn, a cheap and family-friendly hotel near downtown, the convention center, Little Italy, and the airport.  There’s no fee when you book with us, we keep your info secure, and we have great, low rates. To speak with a friendly Reservation Manager, call 1-800-571-2933. We look forward to hearing from you!