Wanderlust: 48 Hours in San Diego

By Kearsten Shepherd

I recently traveled to San Diego for a conference and added a couple extra days on to vacation with my husband. Unfortunately for us both the Chargers and the Padres were playing out of town while we were there, so we were forced to find new things to do to fill our time.

San Diego is an amazing town and is often associated with great weather and amazing beaches. I find the walkability, energy and convenience of the Gaslamp district to be much more my speed. I mean beaches are great, but if you can find a hotel with an ocean view and a pool with drink service, it beats out sand in all the wrong places any day of the week.

Here are a few of the “must do” items for anyone spending a weekend, or just a few days in San Diego’s Gaslamp District.

Things to See and Do

USS Midway – It seems kind of strange, but you can literally spend the entire day aboard the USS Midway docked in the port of San Diego. The USS Midway was one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers before it was turned into a museum which houses 60 exhibits and a collection of fully-restored aircraft.

Kissing statue – Just outside the USS Midway you’ll find the “Unconditional Surrender” statue – a 25-foot replica of the iconic photo of a sailor kissing a nurse after returning home from war.

San Diego Zoo – So I know that some people are zoo-adverse, and I had never really been a fan before, but the San Diego Zoo made me a zoo convert. The San Diego Zoo has been around almost 100 years and is home to some amazing animals you’ll never find at the Sacramento Zoo.


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At the Zoo make sure to:

  • Take the tour – It’s about 40 minutes, but well worth it. It gives you the lay of the land and helps you plan out what you want to see and what you really don’t care about.
  • Take the Skyfari Aerial Tram – The aerial tram seats up to four people and offers amazing views of the entire zoo while getting you across the park in record time.
  • See the pandas early – I didn’t realize that if you want to see baby pandas, you need to show up early. We got there toward the end of our day and there was an hour wait. If I had known, I would have stopped here first.
  • Check out the beer stands located in a few key locations featuring local beer varieties from Karl Strauss.



Places to Eat, Drink and Be Merry

The Oceanaire Seafood Room – This is an oldie but a goodie in my book. Whenever I am in San Diego, I make it a point to go here. The oysters are amazing! They offer a wide variety of fish in a steakhouse style. Definitely worth trying – and if you are there on a Sunday, you can get $1 oysters!

Cowboy Star – This newer restaurant offers a variety of steak cuts – aged on site – and prepared to your specifications. It’s a mix of modern and western and offers great drinks and even better food. A must try!

Table No. 10 – They had me at “here’s a purse hook for your bag.” This up and coming restaurant offers small plates for sharing made with local ingredients. You can sit in the open kitchen (limited seating) or in the open dining room. No matter where you sit, the food is amazing.

La Puerta – You can’t go to San Diego without getting some Mexican food. Pulling 4 stars on Yelp, La Puerta takes their cuisine to a new level. Try the carne asada fries, you’ll thank me later!

Kansas City BBQ – Also known as the Top Gun Bar, this dive bar offers good beer, good food, and pictures from Top Gun. The joints claim to fame is the fact that two scenes from the movie were filmed there.

Whether you’re in town for work or for fun, taking time to check out these places will be well worth it.  The Gaslamp offers a ton of fun within walking (or Uber) distance, with great weather, amazing views, and a “good time” attitude.

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