I have to admit that one of the reasons I was so excited to attend the AARP "Ideas@50+” event last week was that it was held in San Diego.
San Diego has to be one of my favorite travel destinations.
If you remember, last year in May, Doc and I celebrated the first year anniversary of our meeting by taking a romantic weekend trip to San Diego.
Although last weekend's trip was basically business, we also earmarked it for some much needed rest and relaxation.
So, for a few days, let's turn Survive 55 back into a “travel blog” and talk a bit about the “social” side of the AARP event and some of the great places we visited, restaurants we ate at and fun things we did during our 4 day trip.
Other than covering the “Ideas@50+” event we had no schedule, no plans, no time restraints and no idea what wass going to happen next.
That’s the way to travel, isn't it?
Since we were in San Diego to visit the Convention Center why don't we start at the start?
The AARP “Ideas@50+” event was held at the San Diego Convention center which is located right downtown, on the water and across the street from Petco Park and the Gaslamp Quarter.
It is definitely a beautiful building in a beautiful location in a beautiful setting in a beautiful city.
As you could guess, the building itself is huge like most convention centers.
It has 3 floors and is divided into multiple sections with different sized exhibit halls, ballrooms, meeting rooms and public spaces.
The composition of glass, metal and color is bright and airy and holds an endless array of interesting photographic panoramas.
Unfortunately, parking, like everywhere in downtown San Diego is a "pain in the ass" or expensive.
But, if you don’t mind walking a bit, there is $5 “honor box” parking on the bay side in the Embarcadero Park lot near Joe’s Crab Shack.
We found open spaces all 3 days and it didn’t take us long to find a quick route into the back of the convention
- The Look – It really does look like a cruise ship
- The Layout – It was fun just to walk around the entire building and take pictures of the different angles and at different windows. The views are spectacular. The front opens up to Petco Park and Downtown San Diego while the back offers the bay, Coronado Island and Point Loma.
- The Long Escalators – Again, they offer some great picture taking opportunities and they are just downright fun to ride.
- The Grand Staircase – This divides the center in half and has become “the place” for fitness buffs to be seen. It’s 100 steps to the top so you’ll always catch an eyeful of the “beautiful” people sweating while doing their stair runs.
- The Starbucks – Hey, it wouldn’t be complete without one.
It appears that San Diego is in the midst of improving the convention center with a Phase III expansion which should break ground in early 2015.
The expansion will include a 5 acre rooftop park, broadened waterfront park areas with a public event venue and stores, pavilions and restaurants on an "Embarcadero-like" promenade.
This will obviously make one of the nicest convention center settings even better.
Believe it or not, the Convention Center is an attraction worth seeing all on its own.
While there are probably 100 vastly different hotels (Hilton, Wyndham, Marriott, Omni, Hard Rock, Westin, La Pensione and the Manchester Grand to name a few) in the downtown area, I am glad we stayed where we did.
Sometimes the high-rise, high class hotels are nice, but many times they are overbearing with difficulty parking, “stuff shirt” attitudes and overpriced restaurants and amenities.
I like my hotel to be comfortable, where I can drop off my stuff and hit the road running.
It's all about the different experiences and local flavor right?
That’s why I decided to book the Sofia Hotel.
The price was right and the amenities were great.
While there were several "partner" hotels for the AARP convention, their prices were at least $100 more a night.
I was worried about trying out this historic "boutique" hotel but I was not disappointed.
- Great “Old World “ ambiance and historic architecture
- Least expensive rates for a hotel of this quality
- Walking distance to the Gaslamp Quarter, Petco and Convention Center
- Staff, with one exception, was incredibly nice and helpful
- Great bar/restaurant on site - "Currant"
- "Coffee Bean" just next door
- Check-in and checkout was quick and easy
- The hotel is partnered with "Uber" to give your first ride for free
- Free bikes to use
- Fridge and microwave in room
- 2 bottled waters each day
- Free WiFi
The only downsides were:
- Strange "minimalist" glass window for shower creates huge bathroom puddles
- Small room
- Queen bed was not extremely comfortable
- Valet parking was $32 a day, but has unlimited in and out privileges
- Room A/C was not real strong - stayed around 80 degrees the whole time
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am all about having the most fun with the least amount of money.
Well, the free bikes for the hotel guests to use is a fantastic amenity.
On Thursday night, Doc and I rode over to Little Italy to check out the world famous pizza at Filippi’s.
Then, Friday morning we grabbed the bikes again and rode over to the convention center.
From there, we took the bikes with us on the ferry over to Coronado Island.
We spent the afternoon exploring the island and visiting the beach and the Hotel del Coronado.
We finally got back to our hotel at 9:00 PM to find out that we were only supposed to take the bikes for 3 hours…..Oops!
In spite of our criminal action, the hotel was gracious and didn’t slap the cuffs on us.
Nothing spells "FUN" like having a nice hotel to call home.
So, tomorrow we’ll continue our San Diego journey by stopping by a few restaurants that we discovered:
- Filippi's Pizza Grotto
- Night and Day Cafe
- Dick’s Last Stand
- Los Panchos de Charly
- Lil’ Piggy’s Bar-B-Q
Please join me because I think you will be surprised what I have to say.
It's easy to tell them about it.
Forward it on to them or just email them my blog link at www.survive55.com.
The more Baby Boomers we can help, the better place we make this world !!!
Thanks for joining me..........................................................