Top 12 Things to Do in San Diego in January 2016 – Travel Guide for First Timers
There are not many places in the country where you can wake up on a Saturday morning in the middle of January, grab a towel and head out for a day at the beach. Well, you can do that in San Diego, and you can do a whole lot more in the first month of the new year. As you say goodbye to 2013 and welcome in 2014, it is not hard to find something fun to do every day of the month.
Some events and activities you can only do in January, while many other things to do in San Diego are at your beck and call all-year-round. What you choose to do is entirely up to you, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Start the year with a special brunch. A number of San Diego hotels and restaurants will be offering an extra special brunch on New Year’s Day. Two of the perennial favorite San Diego locales for New Year’s breakfast and brunch are the Motif Restaurant at St. Regis Monarch Beach and the Le Fontainebleau Room at the Westgate Hotel.
Continue your New Year’s Eve celebration in a slightly more toned-down way by treating your spouse, and maybe the whole family, to an elegant late morning or early afternoon brunch. The Westgate hotel, at 1055 Second Avenue, is conveniently located right by the Gaslamp Quarter in Downtown San Diego. As a 4 Star and 4 Diamond hotel, you can expect much more than an ordinary brunch, and when you go, you won’t be disappointed. Everything is top-notch and the food is absolutely delicious. Step up to the carving stations, feast on the freshest seafood and savor the freshly baked bread, pastries and assorted desserts. With live music playing in the background, this is certainly one of the best ways to start your New Year off in style.
It is well worth the short drive from Downtown San Diego to Dana Point to attend the amazing breakfast/brunch at the 5 Star, 5 Diamond St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort’s Motif Restaurant. Open from 8:00 am to noon, award-winning Executive Chef Frederic Castan and his staff will prepare you an epicurean spread that will rival any celebratory feast anywhere in the world. Delight in a wide range of international dishes as well as traditional favorites as you take in the spectacular Pacific Ocean views.
3) New Year’s Concert: Salute to Vienna
Now that you have filled up on a fabulous feast of gourmet cuisine, why not continue the day by attending the 2:30 pm performance by the Strauss Symphony of America. Just a few blocks away at the Copley Symphony Hall (750 B Street), Budapest Conductor, Andras Deak, presents, Salute to Vienna. The 14th season begins with a festive tribute to German Composer Richard Strauss. More than 75 musicians will perform a light-hearted medley of some of his most famous compositions such as Die Fledermaus and the Merry Widow. Beautifully costumed dancers and singers will make this concert much more than just an outstanding orchestral performance. Whether you are into opera and classical music, or just want to experience what you have been missing, the Salute to Vienna is a performance not to be missed.
4) San Diego Zoo
Okay, we can’t forget the kids. Your young children may prefer an Egg McMuffin to a gourmet brunch. They probably would rather listen to some other type of music than Strauss. One thing you know that they will love is a trip to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Although you can go to the zoo any time of the year, January is a particularly nice time to go because the weather is so cool and the crowds are not as big as in the middle of the summer. Your kids will be all excited and you will also have plenty of fun.
5) National Comedy Theatre
Every weekend night in January, residents and visitors to San Diego can enjoy a night of laughter at the nationally acclaimed improvisational comedy show. There are no scripts and performers work off of suggestions and ideas offered-up by the audience. With more than 3,000 live performances under their belts since the family friendly show began in 1999, this is the longest running show, of any type, in San Diego. Show times are at 7:45 pm and 9:45 pm on Friday and Saturday nights and the cast gives a single 8:00 pm performance on Sunday. If you love to laugh, come on down to the National Comedy Theatre.
January brings the International Auto Show down by the waterfront at the San Diego Convention Center. Car enthusiasts get a chance to see all of the newest models at this popular public event. This year’s Auto Show takes place between January 1- January 5, 2014.
7) San Diego Spring Home Show
Another big and popular show scheduled to take place at the San Diego Convention Center from January 10-12, is the Home Show. Homeowners can get lots of great ideas about remodeling, landscaping and decorating their homes from the pros. Whether you are a skilled contractor or like to tackle easy weekend projects, you will enjoy the many interesting exhibits and product demonstrations at the 2014 San Diego Spring Home Show.
San Diego is a big Navy town and it is quite appropriate that the Harbor is home to a real aircraft carrier. In its second life, the Midway serves as a floating museum that provides a one-of-a-kind learning experience for the whole family. Once the floating home to some 4,500 shipmates, the Midway has a 4-acre flight deck and all sorts of interesting areas to explore. The kids will love climbing into the cockpit of a fighter plane and adults will appreciate the historical story of one of America’s most important military ships.
Torrey Pines Golf Course is the site of this prestigious PGA Tour event that takes place from January 23-26, 2014. Tiger Woods is the 2013 defending champion and he loves this course, but will he be able to repeat and win the trophy again? Golf fans will love the chance to see all of the biggest stars and more casual fans will enjoy themselves just as much in this very scenic golf course by the sea.
10) Balboa Park Museums
Want to put a little culture into your life? San Diego is fortunate to have a 1,200 acre urban cultural park that includes, among other things, the San Diego Zoo, Old Globe Theatre, a Japanese Friendship Garden, a carousel, a miniature railroad and 15 superb museums. Enjoy everything at the Park, but make sure to also check out at least one or two of the museums. Among the most popular of the Balboa Park museums are the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center and the Timken Museum of Art. Balboa Park museums are open year-round.
San Diego Restaurant Week has become such a popular tradition for all of the food-lovers in the San Diego area that it has been turned into a biennial affair. In January of 2014, the event will take place from the 19th to the 24th of the month. More than 180 local restaurants will be offering prix-fixe (low set prices based on the meal you select) on three-course lunch and dinner meals. If this event is anything like the last one, the participating restaurants will wind up serving more than 150,000 meals over this focused five-day period. No reservations are needed – just bring your appetite and enjoy!
Designated as a historical landmark, this beachfront amusement park is right across from Mission Beach and the Pacific Ocean. The Big Dipper is one of the last remaining wooden roller coasters on the west coast. While not a big place like Disneyland, there is a wave pool, miniature golf, arcade and plenty of places to buy some food and ice cream. Belmont Park is ideally located and just the right size for a day full of family fun.
You can probably think of many more ways to spend time in SD in the month of January. Maybe you want to take the family to Legoland? SeaWorld SD will give you a chance to meet Shamu the killer whale and explore the world under the sea. Anyone thinking about marriage can visit the Bridal Bazaar on January 26 at the Convention Center. On one of the warmer days, you can go walking on any of the 70 miles of beach along the SD County coastline. If you love the outdoors, you will have ample opportunity to run and play in the parks, go horse riding or get out and play a brisk game of tennis.
SD in January has something for everyone. It does not matter whether you are young or old. You can enjoy museums, art galleries and restaurants, or, you can go whale watching, snorkeling or jogging down along the Embarcadero. Come to SD and have a great time!
*SD = San Diego
Planning the Perfect Trip to SD
A trip to Southern California may sound just about perfect. With ideal weather and endless attractions, there are few things left wanting in an oceanside retreat such as SD. However, while there is plenty to do in the city, smart travelers know that having a good vacation is about more than a list of attractions. To the contrary, having the best vacation requires comprehensive planning with an acute attention to the details.
If a trip to SD is in your future, consider these helpful tips to stay healthy and happy during your time in Southern California.
1. Stay active. The very idea of vacation is about getting away from the stress of everyday life. For many people, there is nothing more appealing than sitting on a beach without a care in the world. While SD certainly does have the sand to make such a dream come true, smart travelers realize that relaxation should only be one component of a quality getaway. Staying active is just as important as kicking back. After all, rest provides energy but getting out and using that energy is what makes people truly happy. Just think about it. Even light exercise triggers the release of serotonin in the brain, which gives people a strong sense of satisfaction.
Therefore, be sure to slate at least a few active events during a trip to SD. Fortunately, there are many possibilities including hiking, biking, surfing, yoga and more. Even the simple act of walking on the beach can be enough to get the heart pumping, making a vacation more memorable than ever.
2. Eat right. When traveling, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet. After all, many people stay in hotels with minimal kitchen facilities, which makes it impossible to prepare food. Besides, part of the allure of traveling is not doing the menial daily tasks like cooking and dishes. Plus, SD has countless delectable restaurants to consider. However, while it may be fine to indulge once or twice during a trip, try to balance out the decadent meals with healthier options. Opt for a salad a few times. Look for restaurants that offer more nutritional information.
To stay healthy on vacation, consider eateries like the Lean and Green Cafe. Located in La Jolla, the Lean and Green Cafe is a unique restaurant, committed to healthy, wholesome menu items. All the food served is organic, which gives it a richer flavor and added health benefits. With restaurants like the Lean and Green Cafe, it is possible to eat healthy and still feel indulged.
3. Think green. Vacation may be about personal enjoyment but that does not mean that travelers should think only about themselves. Good travelers know that it is important to show respect to the destination as well. Part of respect is leaving as little of an environmental imprint as possible. SD is a remarkable town. The weather is perfect, and the beach is a worldwide attraction. However, with so many visitors in the city each year, SD can sometimes suffer from pollution and other environmental factors.
Therefore, when staying in SD, put a little effort into keeping it green. Try walking or biking to attractions. Use public transit. Always put trash in the right place, and make an effort to recycle. Look for hotels that offer green services. Minimize your use of maid service and reuse towels and sheets. These small things can have a dramatic impact on the environmental integrity of California, ensuring that San Diego will be a perfect oasis for years to come.
4. Fun at any age. Vacation should be a time to think outside the box. One of the best things about SD is that it literally has something for everyone. However, do not be so quick to label attractions according to age. Even though SeaWorld may seem like an ideal spot for children, older couples and college students can also find the spectacular display of marine life appealing. Similarly, the SD Zoo and Safari Park are both great options for people of all ages. Even people who are not always a fan of sports may enjoy a game at Petco Park.
The list of attractions is endless. Consider a round of golf at Torrey Pines. Visit the USS Midway Museum. Spend time in Balboa Park. Take the bridge to Coronado. There are opportunities for fun, relaxation, learning and more. Try something new and remember that there is no age limit on having a good time.
5. Control cash flow. Vacation is about getting away from the stresses of real life. Even so, just because travelers are getting away from their work does not mean that all aspects of reality should be forgotten. In fact, it is very important to stay mentally grounded during vacation, or the brief respite can turn into a nightmare. First, always plan ahead. Reserve rooms in advance in order to find hotels with the right accommodations in the right location. Buy tickets to popular attractions before leaving in order to avoid waiting in line and to find the best deals.
While in SD, keep track of all expenses. Consider using cash for extraneous, fun purchases, and look at menu prices before selecting a restaurant. Set a budget and stick to it. If the budget is limited, look for deals in advance. Hotels may offer off-season or midweek discounts. Eat lighter meals most of the time, saving up for one or two splurges during the getaway. This way, the trip can have a feeling of decadence without destroying the budget.
The fact is, relaxation is easier said than done. The best way to unwind is to plan in advance, making careful considerations about the budget and itinerary before leaving. By thinking about eating right and staying healthy, it is possible to revitalize the mind, body and soul. Fortunately, SD can offer visitors this type of comprehensive experience, making it the perfect vacation destination.
Hotel Managers Group recommends this affordable hotel for your next trip to San Diego:
- Mission Valley Resort www.missionvalleyresort.com (5 minutes from Gaslamp Downtown)
- San Diego’s best running routes (utsandiego.com)
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