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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!

Where’s the Party At? San Diego Beaches for 20-Somethings

It doesn’t take tourists long to realize every San Diego beach is not like the next. Some are good for surfers, some are best for families, and some have been handed over to the hedonists, also known as the millennials. If you’re looking for a beach with a party vibe, these are the spots for you.

Mission Beach

For millennials, Mission Beach is a hot spot with lots to do. Beachgoers can grab a cheap slice of pizza or hop a ride on the wooden roller coaster that sits near the sand, play at the arcade, or listen to live music. It also includes a new bar and restaurant right on the boardwalk called Draught and a simulated wave machine at the neighboring beach bar, WaveHouse. This is perhaps the most popular beach in San Diego and is crowded most days of the week.

Pacific Beach

About 10 minutes from most SAN airport hotels, Pacific Beach is just north of Mission Beach. Here, you’ll find sunbathers, rollerbladers, and young adults who are all there to take in the beautiful views and electric vibe. Twenty and thirty-somethings often enjoy grabbing a bite to eat at Woody’s or Kona’s after taking a stroll on the wooden pier. There are also dozens of bars and restaurants along the boardwalk and down the main drag, bustling Garnet Avenue.

Ocean Beach

For tourists who are seeking a more laid back but still youthful and fun vibe, head to Ocean Beach. San Diegans know this at the hippie spot, where it’s not uncommon to play a game of bocce ball with some of the locals, see a 60-year-old with dreadlocks, or smell a certain herbal scent hanging in the air. There are the occasional spontaneous drum sessions near the pier, a large farmers’ market on Wednesday, and some of the city’s best fish tacos at South Beach Bar & Grille.

Imperial Beach

Imperial beach is a little further south, maybe 10 or 15 minutes from an SDCC hotel in downtown San Diego, but it’s the perfect place to find beach volleyball games or try your hand at body boarding. There’s also a beachfront farmer’s market and an annual sandcastle competition where competitors build huge castles over the course of a weekend. The surf here is also some of the best in the city.

Don’t plan your trip to San Diego before securing a hotel room in downtown San Diego. When the weather warms, the rooms go fast! Make the Marina Inn & Suites part of your vacation plan. We offer fast and easy booking, low rates, great promotions, and friendly customer service. Call 1-800-571-2933 to make your reservation today!

Top San Diego Walking Tours

Sunny San Diego is the perfect spot to explore on foot. You’ll see things you wouldn’t otherwise, and you’ll get a better taste of the local flavor. Whether you’re interested in local history or want to sample the local fare, here are some of the best walking tours San Diego has to offer.

San Diego Brewery and Beer Tour
Cost: $49, including tour, brewery tastings, and pizza

Offered every weekend, this walking tour is designed to be both educational and entertaining. The highlight of the tour is Ballast Point Brewery in Little Italy, near several Little Italy hotels, where you get a behind the scenes look at the much-loved facility.

The Old Town Walking Tour
Cost: $49.50 to $99

Old Town is the cultural hotspot of San Diego, and this tour is jam-packed with history and beauty. Tour participants will visit quite a few sights including Mission Bay, Presidio Park, Old Town State Historic Park, and more.

Gaslamp Walking Ghost Tour
Cost: $20

This fun and spooky tour lasts about an hour and takes you through the historic part of the Gaslamp Quarter. Tour guides set the mood with stories of the area’s notorious past, as you visit the Horton Grand Hotel, a leading hotel in downtown San Diego, and an old haunted brothel.

Tide Pool Tour
Cost: $134.10 to $149.00

A professional, educated tour guide leads the way on this costal adventure to San Diego’s tide pools. This tour is hands-on and you will get to hold marine life like brittle stars and tickle sea anemones.

A Taste of San Diego
Cost: $75, including all food and water (beverages extra)

This tour works like a progressive dinner. The group walks to four different restaurants and samples a variety of foods and desserts over about 2.5 hours. You can take the tour in South Park or in downtown.

Come explore San Diego today! The Marina Inn has a room ready and waiting for you! We are a leading SAN airport hotel, near Little Italy, the Gaslamp Quarter, and the convention center. Speak with a Reservation Manager today by calling 1-800-571-2933. Booking is quick and easy, we offer flexible dates, and our rates are unbeatable!

Where to Go Wine Tasting in San Diego

Visitors in San Diego might not know that the area has developed as a fine winemaking location. If you enjoy wine tasting, the Marina Inn & Suites San Diego offers a look at a few places you might want to try the next time you’re in the area.

Fallbrook Winery, Fallbrook

At the far northern edge of San Diego County lies the Fallbrook Winery, a lovely location amid avocado orchards and cypress trees. Their estate-grown grapes come from vines carefully selected to thrive in the microclimate of their latitude. The warm sunny days and cool nights experienced there produce wonderful Malbec, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Their 2004 Syrah took a silver medal at the San Diego National Wine Competition. Tastings are by appointment only: Monday-Friday, 10am-4:30pm ($20/five wines), and weekends, 10am-4:30pm ($30/five wines).

Milagro Farm Vineyard and Winery, Ramona

The third largest vineyard in San Diego County, the Milagro Farm Vineyard and Winery is located in Ramona, East County San Diego. You can enjoy the sweeping vistas from the elevation in Ramona and the view of the vineyard’s pond while you listen to live music as you sip your red or white of choice. Milagro Farm is committed to sustainable winemaking and loves to educate their visitors about their unique process. They produce 11 varietals, including estate-grown Cabernets, Sangiovese, Barbera, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Tastings can be enjoyed Friday-Sunday, 11am-5pm ($12/six wines).

Bernardo Winery, San Diego

The Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo offers their own homemade food for sale, such as olive oil and pasta, in addition to red and white wines. Established in 1889, they are Southern California’s oldest winery. The Winery Village Shops are open from 10am-5pm, Tuesday-Sunday. Tasting are available 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday, and 9am-6pm, Saturday and Sunday ($10/five wines). Tours of the winery are available to the public, and you can bring your own picnic to enjoy on their grounds. Whatever your favorite wine, they are sure to have it here, from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah to Chablis, Chardonnay and Riesling.

Altipiano Vineyard and Winery, Escondido

If you’re heading northeast to the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park, you might want to add a stop at the Altipiano Vineyard and Winery, a newcomer on the winemaking scene. This family-owned and operated vineyard is in a gorgeous location above the San Pasqual Valley, in an area once decimated by wildfires. Altipiano offers a range of reds and whites, and if you take home a bottle of their Sangiovese or Pinot Grigio, it will be the perfect accompaniment to an Italian meal. Their tasting room is open Friday-Sunday, 12-6pm.

The only downside to these wineries is their distance from San Diego Airport hotels. However, there are a number of winery tours that depart from Downtown San Diego and take you around to San Diego’s top wineries. Best of all, you don’t have to worry about driving after drinking. Reach out to the Marina Inn & Suites, and besides helping you book a cheap room in Downtown San Diego, we can help you find a winery tour. Call us at 1-800-571-2933 to inquire about our low rates and availability.

San Diego in the Spring: April Events Around Town

We know you’ll find plenty to do around San Diego, and if the weather is nice you might not even leave the beach. However, if you find yourself needing a break from the sand, here are some April events worth checking out.

April 1 – The Sleeping Beauty in Balboa Park

Sit back and relax at the Casa del Prado Theater in Balboa Park for a live performance of this classic story, which will feature student ballet dancers from SDCYB. Tickets start at $10.

April 3 – The Used at House of Blues San Diego

Alternative music fans can rock out to a live performance by The Used with songs off of their old albums, which include Lies for the Liars and In Love and Death. Find a hotel room in the Gaslamp Quarter and it will be a short walk to the show. Tickets start at $29.

April 10 – Fragile Waters

Photography enthusiasts can enjoy an exhibit of pictures that were taken by names including Ansel Adams and Dorothy Kerper Monnelly. The show is centered on the beauty and power of water, and the gallery will be on display at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Tickets start at $8.

April 13 – The Discovery of King Tut

This educational experience will offer a glimpse of ancient Egypt with over 1,000 replicas of tombs and treasures at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Tickets start at $8.

April 21 – Think and Drink Trivia

Enjoy drinking wine while playing trivia with other contestants. Think and Drink Trivia is an entertaining experience that offers awesome prizes to the winners. The event will be hosted at Winston’s Beach Club. Tickets are $2.

April 24 – Amazing Scavenger Hunt Adventure

Explore the city with other visitors and locals alike on a giant scavenger hunt. Clues will take you through Little Italy, Old Town, and near the waterfront. Tickets start at $9.

Spring is a great time to visit San Diego, but when the sun is out hotels start to fill up fast. Find a room at the San Diego Marina Inn & Suites and enjoy a great location, low rates, and the amenities of home. Call a Reservation Manager at 1-800-571-2933 and book your room today!

Food & Wine Fests Around San Diego

Split your time in San Diego between the beach and a fun food and wine festival. The city hosts several throughout the year. Here are just a few coming up.

Spirit of Baja Tequila and Wine Pairing Dinner
April 10 at Westgate Hotel
Cost: $129

Need a little help with wine pairing? There’s no easier way to learn than to attend a dinner event like this, hosted at a hotel with some of the nicest Gaslamp Quarter accommodations in San Diego. You’ll be treated to a cocktail reception with hors d’oeuvres made by Executive Chef Fabrice Hardel. Celebrity chef Flor Franco will handle the dinner and wine pairing part of the evening, which also includes tequila tasting. The largest importer of Baja wines, Fernando Gaxiola, will be doing some of the wine pouring.

3rd Annual VinDiego Wine and Food Festival
April 10-11 at NTC Liberty Station
Cost: $95

This annual event is considered one of the largest gatherings of wine aficionados in California. Guests will enjoy gourmet food and sample wine from top chefs and winemakers. The selection will include more than 300 wines, offering a wide range of flavors sure to be enhanced with the mouthwatering cuisine available to guests.

Fourth Annual San Diego International Wine Show
April 25-26 at The Paddock at the Del Mar Fairgrounds
Cost: Pricing unavailable

Enjoy a mix of Californian wines and international vintages at this 2-day event. Local chefs will also be on-site to demonstrate recipes sure to go with any of the wines served.

Junior League of San Diego Food and Wine Festival
May 2 at La Jolla Cove
Cost: $75

The theme of this year’s festival is the Kentucky Derby. While not required, attendees are more than welcome to wear their sun hats while sampling wine from more than 50 of the top restaurants in San Diego. Selections will include exotic cocktails, local craft beers and regional wines.

Ready to please your palate? Reach out to the San Diego Marina Inn. We offer guests flexible dates, no booking fees, and the best rate guaranteed. Discover which of our ongoing promotions works best for you by calling 1-800-571-2933 and speaking with a friendly Reservation Manager.

Learn a Little Something at These Historical San Diego Homes

San Diego has done a remarkable job preserving many of its unique historic buildings. The varied architecture includes examples built by colonial settlers and missionaries, fortune-seekers who came to California in the mid-nineteenth century, Gilded Age millionaires, and innovative Modernist architects. Many of these buildings were created as private homes; some of them still are, but others are now open to the public. Here are a few worth checking out, recommended by the staff at a premier downtown San Diego hotel.

Casa de Estudillo, 4000 Mason Street

Built in 1827, when the state was part of Mexico, this grand adobe mansion is a classic example of Spanish Colonial architecture. It became briefly famous in the 1880′s as the site of the fictional “Ramona’s” wedding, from the novel by Helen Hunt Jackson, and endured the ravages of tourists who literally took chunks out of the walls. The house was restored in the 1960s and is now open to the public.

Whaley House, 2476 California Ave

Known as one of the most “haunted” houses in San Diego, the Whaley House was built in 1857 in the Greek Revival style. Over the years, members of the Whaley family suffered numerous tragedies, and their spirits are said to lurk about the house today. Tourists can test the rumors themselves, as the house is now a museum.

Hubert H. Bancroft Ranch House, Spring Valley

Located in Spring Valley, about 20 minutes from several inexpensive San Diego Convention Center hotels, the Bancroft Ranch House was made out of the wooden beams and planks from a wrecked ship in the San Diego Bay. This was in 1863, which makes it the oldest Anglo-American structure in the area. It is now a museum housing Native-American artifacts.

Villa Montezuma, 11925 K Street

A beautiful example of the sumptuous “Esthetic” style, Villa Montezuma has a history as colorful as its paint job and remarkable stained glass windows. In its heyday, the mansion saw writers, artists, playboys, spiritualists, and musicians throw parties and practice their crafts within its walls. Sadly, this house is now closed to the public although a local group is working hard to reopen it.

William Heath Davis House, 410 Island Ave

Like several other old San Diego houses, the William Heath Davis House has made numerous appearances on ghost-hunting shows and tours, but there are many other reasons to visit this fascinating old place. Shipped from the East Coast and assembled in 1850, it is the oldest building in New Town. It is well preserved and open for tours daily.

Although the Marina Inn & Suites lacks historic charm, we make up for it with our great amenities, flexible dates, and low rates. We are an affordable hotel near San Diego Airport, offer complimentary parking and Wi-Fi, and offer a Kids Suite for families traveling together. Call us at 1-800-571-2933 to inquire about availability and our ongoing discounts.

Best Green Spaces in San Diego

If you’re heading out to sunny San Diego, it’s guaranteed you’ll spend quite a bit of time outside. However, if you aren’t familiar with the area you might miss out on some of the city’s best green spaces. During your stay, make time to explore the following areas, selected by the friendly staff at the Marina Inn, a cheap San Diego Convention Center hotel.

Mission Trails Regional Park
Encompassing nearly 6,000 acres of green space, this park provides plenty of opportunities to ride, hike, walk or simply enjoy a family picnic right smack dab in the middle of one of the most scenic areas of San Diego. There’s also a campsite (Kumeyaay Campground) within the park if you’re so inclined.

Grape Street Dog Park
The city’s largest play area for pooches, Grape Street Dog Park near the downtown area includes 5 acres populated with wide lawns, eucalyptus trees, and cascading water fountains. You’ll also find benches and picnic tables, ideal for a day in the park with your furry friend.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve
Nestled between Rancho Penasquitos and Sorrento Hills, this particular San Diego green space offers some 4,000 acres of land encompassing 14 different types of habitats and a waterfall. Wander along the 40 or so miles of multi-use trails and you’ll discover many rare and endangered animal and plant species.

Waterfront Park
Waterfront Park, located near inexpensive San Diego airport hotels, offers themed gardens and a central plaza with a seating area where you can take some time to soak in your surroundings. The park also includes broad plazas with elevated terraces, a children’s play zone, picnic areas, and plenty of well-maintained green spots.

Del Mar Mesa Preserve
Del Mar Mesa includes more than 900 acres of protected habitat and open space. The area also has more than 10 miles of biking, hiking and riding trails open to the public where you can enjoy the beautiful, green surroundings found here.

Balboa Park
Named for Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Balboa Park is an easily accessible green space that offers something for just about everybody who happens to be in San Diego. The 1,200-acre park is home to the San Diego Zoo, natural vegetation zones, green belts, a botanical garden, a Japanese friendship garden, walking paths, a huge fountain, and tons of museums.

Now that you’ve got a full itinerary, you just need a place to stay. Let the Marina Inn & Suites in San Diego take care of that for you. We make booking easy and quick, dates are flexible, and we have the best rate guaranteed. Give us a call at 1-800-571-2933 to speak with a friendly Reservation Manager today!