Saturday, August 27, 2016

San Diego Weekend: The Non-Beer Portion

Our friends Lee and Laura live in San Diego and have suggested we visit during the Stone Beer Festival. We decided we would plan to visit in 2017 since they were going to host another couple this year and we did not want to add any further logistics. The other couple decided not to make the trip and we got 3 weeks notice they were open and tickets available for us. Airfare looked good, hotels downtown were reasonable, and we had a vacation day floating around we were trying to figure out how to use. It seems like that day found its purpose.

Our plan was to fly in Thursday night in time to hit The Gaslamp Quarter for dinner and drinks (we stayed in the Hilton Gaslamp). What actually happened: we had a 4 hour flight delay and landed at midnight. We were up against heavy plane traffic at O'Hare, an expiring flight crew/returning to gate for a new pilot, staggered take-offs due to weather, and the San Diego landing curfew. At least we did not have to come in Friday and miss out on more of the fun. As Holly put it, we just missed going to bars (and Dave's argument back was we missed a chance to view a turn-of-the-century historic district in poor lighting).

Lee and Laura picked us up Friday morning for a fun-packed day. The first stop was the world famous San Diego Zoo. A volunteer took our photo at the welcome sign for the price of taking his survey. Arg! Holly had 3 must-sees today: koalas, pandas, and otters. We were able to accomplish all three quickly. We had some other great viewing opportunities of polar bears, elephants, lions up close, meerkats, and weaver birds actively building nests. Lee marshaled us to the zookeeper talk at the maned wolf exhibit which was quite enjoyable.

We decided to save nearby Balboa Park for a future trip in favor of lunch. We hopped in the car and headed to Ocean Beach's Pizza Port location. The slices were NY style with excellent crust. They make their own beer as well as feature many guest taps. Perfect lunch pick! Afterwards we walked over to the beach and hung out for a few minutes watching the crowd take in some of the last days of summer break.

Next stop was Cabrillo National Monument for an incredible view of San Diego, Coronado, and the sourrounding area.

Our next stop of the day was Coronado Brewing's production location/taproom. Great dog-friendly place in an out-of-the-way industrial area. Across the street was Christmas Warehouse. You like to decorate for Christmas? This is the place. Lee got some inspiration for this year's outdoor display.

Next up, a visit to Ballast Point Brewing at their Home Brew Mart location. Another nice location (more on beer in a future post). We then headed to a Thai restaurant for dinner before our tour guides dropped us off at our hotel. We wanted to take in a bit of Gaslamp District activity before bed so we went out for a drink at Cat Eye Club. It was a small well-themed tiki bar very close to Petco Park.

The next morning we traversed the Convention Center steps to make our way to the Embarcadero. We browsed a few Seaport Village shops, took in the WWII memorials along the walkway, then spent some time on the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. We explored the brig, engineering and communications section, toured the Admiral's Quarters and pilot ready-rooms, and browsed all the aircraft top-deck. Holly declared we were going to watch Top Gun when we got home.

The rest of the day was dedicated to beer so we will leave that out for another post.

On Sunday we decided to Uber over to the Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island. The town looked charming enough to spend a few hours exploring. "The Del" is one of the grand resorts built in the Victorian era. We are not sure if Disney ever states it's the inspiration of their Grand Floridian Hotel, but it is pretty darn obvious. We were surprised at the use of dark wood in the lobby and commons area. We walked the grounds and the connected beach before settling in on a bench with a breakfast cocktail.

We headed back to the mainland to meet up with our hosts Lee and Laura (thanks Lee for all the driving over the weekend). Our first stop was Karl Strauss Sorrento Mesa for their craft beer brunch. This is a hidden treasure of a location with a Japanese garden tucked in the middle of a corporate park. Many food items were made using beer including pancake syrup and beer-battered fish. All the food was excellent and the price of admission included either one pint of beer, a pre-selected flight of four IPAs (we all passed on that one), or bottomless mimosas. We were lucky enough to get a table against the koi pond.

Our next stop was Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Lee was nice enough to drive us up the windy hill road vs. making us hoof it up like so many hikers were doing. At the top of the hill was a visitor center with some small displays and great views of the valley, ocean, and plants; including Torrey Pines. We honestly had no idea there was such a thing. Dave thought Torrey Pines was a town or just the golf course named for someone - like Pottersville in It's a Wonderful Life.

Lee braved traffic and nearly-dead jaywalkers to show us the town and beach of La Jolla. Lots of beautiful homes were packed together to form streets of architectural mish-mosh creating almost a new style of Modern-Spanish-Craftsman.

It was time for another beer stop. We arranged to meet Dave's cousin and her husband at Intergalactic Brewing. This no-fuss taproom has a nice selection of unique beers with sci-if inspired names.

Our final stop was at Liberty Station for dinner at Stone Brewing's World Bistro and Gardens. This is the standard all brewpub restaurants will be held to. Beautiful courtyard beer garden, bocce courts, high-end fixtures and lots of natural materials. The beer list is a balanced mix of Stone's products along with many other guest beers. As the sun was setting the air definitely got cooler and the patio heaters started clicking on. It was approaching the time for us to get to the airport and depart on our red-eye home. Sleeping on the plane was not too difficult.

We are anxious to return to San Diego because we didn't even scratch the surface of all the area had to offer. Maybe next trip we can convince Lee and Laura to take us to Tijuana.


1 comment:

  1. Ooh...we made a Team Tizzel trip report! We had a wonderful time with the two of you, and look forward to showing you more of America's Finest City!