January 25, 2011

Tuesday’s Travel Tips – San Diego

This week’s Tuesday’s Travel Tips takes us to sunny San Diego! With great weather, delicious seafood, friendly locals and pretty beaches, this Southern California destination is a perfect vacation haunt for every variety of traveler.

Airport Operations Supervisor Royal relays that San Diego International is the busiest single-runway commercial service airport in the U.S., and second in the world after Gatwick in London. The History Channel program Most Extreme Airports ranks it as the 10th most extreme airport in the world.

Airport Operations Crewmember Dean says that many people do not know that San Diego International Airport is home to a protected habitat for an endangered bird called “least terns.” They are listed under the federal and California State Endangered Species Act since 1972. The least tern is a migratory species that has nested on the sand and gravel in the five oval areas between the airport’s runway and taxiways since 1970.

If you plan on a trip to San Diego don’t forget your flip flops! The city is known for perfect mid-70 degree weather throughout most of the year and its palm tree lined roads and golden/pink sunsets make you feel like you ARE somewhere special.

San Diegans’ warm attitudes and smiling faces welcome you as  it is a laid back beach community. It’s home to the world famous San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Belmont Park, Balboa Park and the Coronado Hotel and Resort. Even better, all of San Diego’s beaches and attractions are within 10 to 20 minutes from each other.

San Diego has a strong Spanish cultural influence, as you may notice at its free tourist parks like Old Town. According to our Crewmembers, San Diego also has the best Mexican food around!

Airport Operations Crewmember Frances points out that the great American aviator Charles Lindbergh is known throughout the world as the first person to make the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. What you might not know is that Charles Lindbergh used Ryan Aeronautical Company of San Diego to manufacture his special plane — which he also helped to design. He named his plane “The Spirit of St. Louis” as he persuaded nine St. Louis businessmen to help him finance the cost of the plane. On May 10 – 11, 1927, Lindbergh tested the plane by flying from San Diego to New York with an overnight stop in St. Louis. The flight took 20 hours and 21 minutes, which at that time was a transcontinental record. On May 20, 1927, Lindbergh took off in “The Spirit of St. Louis” from Roosevelt Field near New York at 7:52 a.m. He landed near at Le Bourget Field near Paris, France on May 21 at 10:21 p.m. Paris time (5:21pm New York time). He had flown more than 3,600 miles in 33 1/2 hours. In his honor, the City of San Diego named the San Diego International Airport “Lindbergh Field.”

In San Diego you can embark on exciting whale watching tours from December to March. The great gray whales pass through San Diego while traveling on the longest mammal migration in the world, with approximately 20,000 gray whales making the 12,000 – 14,000 mile round-trip journey from the Bering Sea, along the Canadian Coast and down the California coastline to the lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. After spending the summer feeding in the food-rich waters of the Arctic, the grays start their migration in late fall and can been seen off the shores of San Diego as early as December. You can join daily cruises from San Diego and watch these spectacular mammals make their life-saving trek to their breeding grounds in the warm waters of Baja. You can also go to Point Loma — which is a short drive from the San Diego Airport — and is home to the Point Loma Lighthouse where you can catch a bird’s-eye view of the ocean that’s perfect for whale watching. Don’t forget your binoculars! And look for the whales’ blow spouts, which can reach up to 15 feet high and be visible for 5 seconds! “There she blows!”

One of San Diego’s most beautiful resorts to visit is the historical Coronado Hotel and Resort established in 1888. This played as a movie set to Marylyn Monroe’s “Some Like it Hot!” This movie was shot in 1959.

The Hillcrest area is best known for its good food and restaurants. The word on the streets is that “if you don’t serve good food you wont last long in Hillcrest.”  This special unknown area includes The Hash House a go go. Located at 3628 5th Avenue, it is just minutes away from the airport. The Hash House has had many famous visitors (such as Martha Stewart), and has been featured on The Food Network on many occasions for its large portions and tasty cuisine.

Nightlife depends on what you’re looking for. A prominent gay community resides in Hillcrest just up the street from the airport, where you will find not only good food and restaurants, but local bars, busy night clubs such as Rich’s, and the new high class club Eden, known for its good food and dancing. Eden is said to be very similar to The Abbey in West Hollywood.

Even downtown provides many safe and well-lit haunts. There are lots of clubs with live bands where you can get your dance on in the Gaslamp Quarter. There are clubs for all types of music lovers as well, such as the Latin-influenced Margarita Rocks Night Club.

Airport Operations Crewmember Robyn relays that sometimes visitors don’t think of making the drive up to North County, about 20 miles from the airport, but they should! In North County San Diego (North of La Jolla, including Del Mar, Carlsbad and Oceanside), San Diego beaches and surfing are some of the best spots in the world.  Cardiff By The Sea is home to many surf competitions, Del Mar is said to be where “The Surf Meets the Turf,” Carlsbad is home to Legoland, and Oceanside has a great surf museum and boardwalk.  You can also go to El Callejon for authentic Mexican food in Encinitas.

By now you may have learned that there is always something to do in San Diego, which may be why its residents are so happy.

In addition to sharing your San Diego travel tips below, you can also tweet them using the hashtag #TTSAN. And don’t forget to give and get some great travel tips from other travelers at our TrueBlue Community!

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