WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Solamar, 435 6th Ave., San Diego; (610) 819-9500, http://www.hotelsolamar.com. A block from Petco Park, neighbored by the lively Gaslamp District. 235 rooms, pool on fourth-floor terrace. Rooms for two usually $175-$300.
La Pensione, 606 W. Date St., San Diego; (619) 232-4683, http://www.lapensionehotel.com. 68 rooms in Little Italy. Pedestrian-friendly. No pool. Rooms for two usually $109-$179.
Little Italy Inn, 505 W. Grape St., San Diego; (619) 230-1600, http://www.littleitalyhotel.com. 23 rooms, some with kitchens, and a B&B feel. Continental breakfast included. Rates usually $99-$199.
Hotel del Coronado, 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado; (800) 468-3533 or (619) 435-6611, http://www.hoteldel.com. Its 368 rooms are divided among the original 1888 building (most guest rooms 200 to 290 square feet) and its Towers and Cabanas buildings (built in the 1970s; guest rooms 290 to 350 square feet). Rooms for two usually $275-$575, more for suites.
El Cordova Hotel, 1351 Orange Ave., Coronado; (619) 435-4131, http://www.elcordovahotel.com. 42 rooms, pool. Rooms for two usually $104-$199, more for suites.
1906 Lodge at Coronado Beach, 1060 Adella Ave., Coronado; (619) 437-1900, http://www.1906lodge.com. Stylish. Two blocks from the beach. No pool. Rooms for two usually $209-$399.
Bay Club Hotel & Marina, 2131 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego; (800) 672-0800, http://www.bayclubhotel.com. Rooms for two usually $120-$180.
Pearl Hotel, 1410 Rosecrans St., San Diego; (619) 226-6100, thepearlsd.com. Midcentury motel with 23 rooms, redone for frugal hipsters. Snug courtyard, pool. Rooms for two usually $99-$169.
Paradise Point, 1404 Vacation Road, San Diego; (858) 274-4630 or (800) 344-2626, http://www.paradisepoint.com. A 44-acre resort island, pricey but great for kids. 462 rooms. Beach, pools, spa, fancy and casual restaurants, bike and boat rentals, putting greens. Major renovation in 2010. Rooms for two usually $150-$300. For bay frontage, add about $300.
Tower 23, 723 Felspar St., San Diego; (858) 270-2323, http://www.t23hotel.com. Beachfront minimalism. Opened 2005. 44 rooms, most with partial or full ocean views. No pool. Rooms for two usually $229-$409, sometimes lower in winter.
Crystal Pier Hotel, 4500 Ocean Blvd., San Diego; (858) 483-6983, http://www.crystalpier.com. Whitewashed cottages over the water in Pacific Beach. 28 Cape Cod-style units, 27 with kitchens, dating to 1930. Most units $250-$370 a night. Summer can be fully booked up to 10 months ahead.
Catamaran Hotel, 3999 Mission Blvd., San Diego; (858) 488-1081, http://www.catamaranresort.com. 313 rooms. Facing Mission Bay, across the street from Pacific Beach. Rooms for two usually $189-$309.
Bed & Breakfast Inn at La Jolla, 7753 Draper Ave., La Jolla; (858) 456-2066, http://www.innlajolla.com. Fifteen rooms in a 1913 Irving Gill building. Rooms for two $210-$289, more for suites.
Estancia La Jolla, 9700 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla; (858) 555-1000, http://www.estancialajolla.com. 210 rooms on 91/2 acres next to UC San Diego. Pool, spa and hacienda-style grounds. Opened in 2004, changed owner and management in late 2011. Rooms for two (which begin at about 640 square feet) generally fetch $229-$319, plus a hotel services fee of $17 daily. Fifteen-minute walk to ocean. Discounts for Costco members and San Diego residents.
WHERE TO EAT
Tiger! Tiger!, 3025 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego; (619) 487-0401, tigertigertavern.blogspot.com. Draft beer and sandwiches, with prices topping out at $10. Many hipsters. No reservations.
Station Tavern & Burgers, 2204 Fern St., San Diego; (619) 255-0657, stationtavern.com. Burgers up to $7.
Blind Lady Ale House, 3416 Adams Ave., San Diego; (619) 255-2491, http://www.blindladyalehouse.com. Pizzas $7-$16.50.
El Vitral, 815 J St., San Diego; (619) 236-9420, http://www.elvitralrestaurant.com. Modern Mexican food, next to Petco Park. Dinner main dishes $18-$28.
Neighborhood, 777 G St., San Diego; (619) 446-0002, http://www.neighborhoodsd.com. Bar and grill. Dinner main dishes $10-$14.
Bencotto, 750 W. Fir St., San Diego; (619) 450-4786, lovebencotto.com. Mod Italian in a sleek building. Opened 2009. Main dishes and pasta dishes $12-$24.
Craft & Commerce, 675 W. Beech St., San Diego; (619) 269-2202, http://www.craft-commerce.com. Gastropub offering lunch, dinner and many drinks. Opened 2010. Dinner main dishes $11-$16.
Clayton's Coffee Shop, 979 Orange Ave., Coronado; (619) 435-5425; no website. A greasy spoon that dates to 1941. Dinner main dishes to $10.95.
Miguel's Cocina, 1351 Orange Ave., Coronado; (619) 437-4237, http://www.brigantine.com/miguels_cocina/location-coronado.html. Unpretentious Mexican food across the street from the Hotel del Coronado. Dinner main dishes $9-$18.
Point Loma Seafoods, 2805 Emerson St., San Diego; (619) 223-1109, pointlomaseafoods.com. Fresh seafood in a newly renovated two-story building overlooking the harbor. Hours 9 a.m.-7 p.m. most days, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays. Main dishes up to about $16, sandwiches $8-$12.
Pizza Nova, 5050 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego; (619) 226-0268, http://www.pizzanova.net. Waterfront views and wood-fired pizzas in an upscale dining room. This local chain has three locations. Dinner main dishes and pastas $9.25-$16.95.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
San Diego Zoo, 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego; (619) 231-1515, http://www.sandiegozoo.org. Adults (12 and up) $42; children (ages 3-11), $32. Free parking.
Balboa Park, 1549 El Prado, San Diego; (619) 239-0512, http://www.balboapark.org. In 1,200 acres, more than a dozen museums, several performing arts groups, beginning with the Old Globe; gardens, fountains, historic buildings, grassy expanses.
Petco Park, 100 Park Blvd., San Diego; (619) 795-5000, sandiego.padres.mlb.com/sd/ballpark. Padres tickets generally $5-$110.
Old Town State Historic Park, 4002 Wallace St., San Diego; (619) 220-5422, http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=663.
SeaWorld San Diego, 500 Sea World Drive, San Diego; (800) 257-4268, seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-sandiego. Sea-based exhibits, shows and rides featuring dolphins, penguins, sharks, whales and others. A new Manta coaster ride opened recently. Adult admission at gate (ages 10 and older) $73; children (ages 3-9) $65. (For the same price through June 30, you can buy a "fun card" that serves as a pass for the rest of the calendar year, excluding several blackout dates). Online discounts often available. Parking $14.
Cabrillo National Monument, 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, San Diego; (619) 557-5450, http://www.nps.gov/cabr. Harbor views, tide pools, wave-lashed cliffs and an 1850s lighthouse. Admission $5 per passenger vehicle, $3 per pedestrian or cyclist.
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect St., La Jolla; (858) 454-3541, mcasd.org. (The museum has additional public space in downtown San Diego at 1100 and 1001 Kettner Blvd.) General admission $10; anyone 25 or younger is free.
Birch Aquarium, 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla; (858) 534-3474, aquarium.ucsd.edu. Adult admission $14, children ages 3-17, $9.50.
La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla; (858) 550-1010, http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org. A professional nonprofit theater, with a trunk full of Tony Awards, on the UCSD campus.
Torrey Pines Gliderport, 2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla; (858) 452-9858, sandiegofreeflight.com. Includes Cliffhanger Cafe, where sandwiches and snacks go for up to $7.95.
FOR MORE INFO
San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, http://www.sandiego.org.
Urbanistguide.com for listings of independent restaurants, shops and other businesses in older neighborhoods south of Interstate 8.