San Diego Winter Waterfront Weekend

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Out of all the places I’ve lived, San Diego is my favorite. It’s a beautiful, welcoming city located right on the San Diego Bay. In addition, its moderate year-round temperatures make it an exciting vacation destination 12 months a year. Due to this fantastic climate, there are lots of marine activities that can be enjoyed even in the winter months. For those who’d like to get away from the freezing temperatures and mounting snow, I’ve put together this itinerary for a fantastic San Diego winter waterfront weekend.

San Diego Winter Waterfront Weekend

Relax and enjoy the view as the Lord Hornblower cruises along the San Diego skyline. Image courtesy: Hornblower Cruises

Saturday

7:30 a.m. – Breakfast at hotel

9:00 a.m. – Maritime Museum of San Diego (Downtown) In addition to its collection of real-life historic vessels, this museum hosts a variety of maritime exhibits. It showcases the Star of India, the world’s oldest active ship, which is maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers and sailed at least once a year. (Adults $16, Children $8)

12:00 p.m. – Lunch at Kansas City Barbeque (Downtown) You can experience a bit of cinematic history while dining in this San Diego landmark restaurant where the famous bar scene in “Top Gun” was filmed. Take the time to enjoy their infamous cap, license plate, life preserver and brassiere collections while you’re there!

1:15 p.m. – Whalewatching with Hornblower Cruises (Downtown) On this 3-1/2 hour nature tour your eyes will be glued to the ocean as you watch for whales during their seasonal migration. In addition you’ll see dolphins, sea lions and harbor seals, as well as a variety of aquatic birds. I’ve done this tour myself at least a half dozen times, and have never failed to see whales. (Adults $45.00, Children $22.50)

San Diego Winter Waterfront Weekend

San Diego’s whalewatching season starts in December and continues through late April. It’s a great way to enjoy your San Diego Winter Waterfront Weekend. Image courtesy: Hornblower Cruises

7:00 p.m. – Dinner at Croce’s in San Diego’s Gaslamp District (Downtown) Ingrid Croce built and runs this restaurant in honor of her late husband, singer/songwriter Jim Croce. Located in the center of activity in the city’s famous Gaslamp District, it serves modern American cuisine and offers live music seven nights a week.

Sunday*

7:30 a.m. – Breakfast at hotel

Morning (or Afternoon) – Tidepooling at Cabrillo National Monument (25 minutes west and south of Downtown) During low tide, this intertidal zone along San Diego’s coast turns into a private marine laboratory. You will likely see a variety of small fish and crabs, as well as starfish, sea anemones and possibly even an octopus. Be sure to dress warmly and wear non-slip shoes that can get wet.

San Diego Winter Waterfront Weekend

The tidepooling area is located in the southwest portion of Cabrillo National Monument, north of the Point Loma Light Station. Image credit: National Park Service

12:00 p.m. – Lunch in Seaport Village (Adjacent to Downtown) Choose from 13 casual and four fine dining restaurants in this 14-acre waterfront complex.

Afternoon (or Morning) – Continue exploring the more than 50 specialty shops in Seaport Village which offer everything from colorful kites to exquisite chocolates. Enjoy a magic show, watch the street performers, or stop and listen to one of the many free concerts.

7:00 p.m. – Dinner at Top of the Market (Adjacent to Downtown) This fine dining restaurant is renowned for exceptional seafood and overlooks the San Diego Bay. It’s a wonderful way to relax and reflect on your past two days in one of America’s most beautiful and exciting cities!

* Timing for the day’s activities will be subject to the timing of low tide, which is necessary for the tidepooling activity. Morning and afternoon activities may need to be shifted, and meal times need to be flexible.

Hotel Recommendations for a san diego winter waterfront weekend:

San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina

This Marriott property is located downtown and adjacent to San Diego’s Convention Center. Right on San Diego Bay, it provides exquisite views as well as easy access to all downtown attractions, shopping and restaurants.

Bay Club Hotel & Marina

Located just six miles west of downtown on Shelter Island, this hotel provides gorgeous views of the San Diego Bay and many of the amenities of a resort hotel. Prices are very reasonable.

Additional Information:

Wintertime high temperatures in San Diego average in the mid-60s, but ocean breezes can make it quite cool when you’re out on the water. Be sure to dress in layers and bring a raincoat to protect against the ocean spray.

How does this San Diego winter waterfront weekend sound to you?

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27 thoughts on “San Diego Winter Waterfront Weekend

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Coronado was the only beach I took people to when they visited. There aren’t waves there like there are in Pacific Beach but to me, it’s much more beautiful.

  1. Terry Littleton

    Tide pooling is one of the best things I have ever done. The article is very well written. It is the best city I have ever visited.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I agree – it is awesome. I look for tide pooling opportunities anytime we’re staying near a shoreline.

  2. Carol Colborn

    Evoked memories of our trip to San Diego in 2013. Highlight is the Cabrillo National Monument. That is really a beautiful place to visit!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I know! On the Hornblower tour you also learn a little of San Diego’s history and see a couple other significant landmarks in addition to the whales.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      I feel that way, too, Brianna. We used to love driving downtown and just walking along the waterfront. It’s so very beautiful!

  3. Alice Teacake

    I would love to go and do the whale watching! It’s encouraging to hear that you’ve been many times and not been disappointed 🙂 Sounds like a lovely way to pass the afternoon.

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      It is, indeed, Alice! It says a lot for a wildlife viewing activity where you are nearly guaranteed to see what you’re hoping to see.

  4. melody pittman

    What a fun weekend! I have only been to San Diego on business so not much time for exploring but I do love southern California. Had no idea Jim Croce had a restaurant, interesting. The GasLamp District is my favorite!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      San Diego is one of those places where you have ocean, mountains, desert, orchards, farmland, etc. all within a few miles. I don’t think I could ever get bored there.

  5. Brianne Miers

    I was only in San Diego once… years ago when I was there for a conference at the Convention Center (I stayed at the Marriott). I absolutely loved it and hope to get back to explore more, so thanks for your recommendations! (I’m heading to the Women in Travel Summit in Irvine in March, so I’m thinking of trying to head down.)

  6. Natalie

    I could definitely use some San Diego weather right now. It was 15 degrees here last week! The whale watching looks super interesting, and I like that you are almost guaranteed to see a whale 🙂

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Well, the weather is just one more awesome thing about San Diego … flipflops 11-1/2 months a year! LOL

  7. Mar

    I had never heard of tidepooling but makes a lot of sense. In low tide you can see lots more animals. Sounds lime a great sea-facing itinerary you are proposing!

  8. Francesca @onegrloneworld

    Love your photos! San Diego is a great city, never been but visited a few times. This is an awesome itinerary for first timers or for those who have been several times- there are a lot of things I still haven’t done there, like whale watching!

    1. Cherri Megasko Post author

      Francesca – The next time you go to San Diego in the winter, definitely give whalewatching a try … you won’t be disappointed!

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