Posted on June 23, 2014 by Janet Steinberg
San Diego and nearby environs: 365 days of ahhhhhhhh!

There are not too many people, or too many places that can deliver what they promise. But San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau promises 365 days of ahhhhhhhh! And, let me tell you, that is what you get in San Diego and its neighboring communities of Coronado and La Jolla.

And what a town San Diego is…with its fabulous Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, Old Town, and Heritage Park. Heritage Park, dedicated to the preservation of San Diego's Victorian architecture, is home to the original Temple Beth Israel, the second oldest synagogue structure still existing in the American West. The first services were held in it on September 25, 1889.

TEMPLE
TEMPLE BETH ISRAEL, CIRCA 1889

The structure served as temporary quarters for many religious sects before they established churches of their own. Therefore, it reflects church styles of the late 1800s. The county now operates this building, which was moved to Heritage Park in 1978, as a community center. Today Congregation Beth Israel is a reform temple located in the Balboa Park area (2512 Third Avenue).

You can literally eat your way through San Diego. I can vouch for fabulous meals at Blue Point Coastal Cuisine in the Gaslamp Quarter, The Prado at Balboa Park, and C Level set on San Diego Bay overlooking the city's skyline and Coronado.

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PRADO RESTAURANT IN BABLOA PARK

Buster's Beach House and Longboard Bar at Seaport Village is a fun place to dine, before or after strolling the boardwalk and exploring the shops in Seaport Village. Reasonably priced meals at Buster's should be preceded by a 24-ounce Big Kahuna Classic Margarita, a deliciously dangerous concoction of Tequila, Cointreau, Grand Marnier and lime juice. Ask for two straws and share.

For authentic Mexican food in an authentic setting, Old Town's Casa Guadalajara serves up a humongous Macho Grande combination platter that gives the chef's sampling of carne asada, taco, enchilada, tamale, chile relleno served with guacamole, rice, beans, and salsa fresca.

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MARGARITA FOR TWO IN OLD TOWN SAN DIEGO

No trip to San Diego would be complete without a day spent in La Jolla. La Jolla (pronounced la HOY-uh), meaning "the jewel" in Spanish, is a many-faceted, picture-postcard jewel hugging seven miles of California coastline some 25 minutes north of San Diego. Legendary sunsets are said to be a daily occurrence.

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ROCKY LA JOLLA COASTLINE MAKES FOR LEGENDARY SUNSETS

La Jolla's restaurant, Nine-Ten, (910 Prospect Street) is located in an old pharmacy whose pharmacist was Gregory Peck's father. The marble floors and the leaded glass windows from the 1920s add to the restaurant's low-key, elegant charm.

At Nine-Ten you will enjoy the best of the harvest from local artisan farmers where produce is selected daily for the restaurant's Evolving California Cuisine. The bounty of the sea is also featured with local fish selections and items arriving daily, Al fresco La Jolla dining is offered on the sidewalk patio or outdoor ocean-view terrace.

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NINE-TEN RESTAURANT

The Steakhouse at Azul La Jolla, San Diego's first steakhouse experience, one hundred feet above spectacular La Jolla Cove, is also located on fashionable Prospect Street. La Jolla Village's premier ocean-view steakhouse, it serves 100% USDA prime steaks in addition to a selection of Greg Norman Signature Wagyu™ beef, Milk-Fed Veal Chop, Colorado Rack of Lamb, Free-range Chicken and a variety of fresh Seafood.

Outdoors, a garden courtyard patio features starlight dining around an oversized fire pit. Indoors, floor-to-ceiling windows shamelessly reveal why The Steakhouse at Azul La Jolla was voted best in its class. An intimate private Wine Room is glass-surrounded, insuring unobstructed views of the Pacific Coastline.

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PACIFIC COASTLINE IN LA JOLLA

Following three memorable days in San Diego, we crossed over the dramatic 2.1-mile San Diego-Coronado Bridge and checked into the Hotel Del Coronado (affectionately dubbed "The Del"). The Victorian-style Hotel del Coronado may well be the jewel in the crown of the American Riviera, that stretch of Southern California that goes from Los Angeles to San Diego/Coronado.

This National Historic Landmark, a rambling white clapboard legend with red-peaked roof, crimson turrets, and lazy verandas, is said to be "one-third sun, one-third sand, one-third fairy tale". It has sheltered international royalty, politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and the rich and famous since 1888. Ten U.S. presidents, from Benjamin Harrison to Bill Clinton, have visited the Del. Publisher Rand McNally credits The Del as enjoying "more fame and historical significance than perhaps any hotel in North America".

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HOTEL DEL CORONADO

In 1958, the Del became the backdrop for the shenanigans of Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Joe E. Brown, when they filmed "Some Like It Hot" at the hotel. From my luxurious Victorian suite overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I could almost see Marilyn and Tony toasting their champagne flutes as they conned each other on Joe E. Brown's yacht.

When you're at the Del, check out Otis #61. Otis #61 is not a perfume. Otis #61 is an elevator…a very famous elevator. One of the first fully functioning electric elevators manufactured in America, Otis #61 has graced the main lobby of the Hotel del Coronado since the resort opened in 1888.

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CAGE ELEVATOR AT HOTEL DEL CORONADO

In 1960, a Hollywood scenic designer, Al Goodman, was hired to refurbish The Del's lobby. Goodman designed a wonderfully ornate, Victorian-style grill to adorn the lobby elevator. The famous Goodman grill has been restored back to its original glory.

Sunday brunch at the Del, usually held in the glorious Crown Room with its beamed ceilings and crown chandeliers, was the perfect end to a perfect week. This Grande Dame of the Sea had forever cast her magic spell over me.

JANET STEINBERG is the winner of 38 national Travel Writer Awards.

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