I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating…mini vacations are what keep those of us who don’t get to take many trips, throughly sane. Or at least partially sane with those busy work weeks!
A little over a month ago, Julie and I planned a short weekend getaway to San Diego with another couple we are friends with. While the trip was centered around a baseball game at Petco Park, we were equally excited for the opportunity just to do a little travel.
From our home in Orange County, the drive to San Diego is just over an hour without any traffic. You can also take the Amtrak down to the city, but the cost per person really doesn’t make it worthwhile. It’s about $35 per person one way and I seriously cannot justify paying almost four tanks worth of gas for an hour or so drive.
Since we only planned to be in San Diego for one night, we agreed to meet our friends around noon for lunch prior to the early evening game. We left our place at 11:00 am and were met with a sea of traffic. This was easily the worst traffic Julie or I have ever experience while driving to San Diego. Ironically, the last time we visited, we ran into the worst traffic coming home and were already determined to leave early Sunday morning to avoid it this time around.
Two and a half hours later and several serious considerations to just getting off the freeway, parking the car, and taking the train (despite that sounding crazy), we arrived at our destination. Our friends, who had gone a different route to get there thanks to a trip out to the valley, were already a few appetizers and beers ahead of us.
On this trip, we stayed at the Marriott Marquis San Diego, but there are no shortage of attractive hotel options in the downtown area. We have previously also stayed in the Gaslamp District, while Coronado Island is another close option. The Marquis is right on the marina, so the views are fantastic, and the city view rooms are no slouch either.
Aside from the baseball game, I’m uncertain if there was anything else going on in town while we were there, but the hotel was packed! A friend of ours works at the hotel and confirmed that there were a large number of leisure guests in town for the weekend. I felt bad for the bellman and valets on the front drive as they definitely seemed overwhelmed with all the guests arriving early for check in.
After dropping off our bags, we met up with our friends in the lobby and headed back over to the Gaslamp District to grab a late lunch before the game. If this is your first visit to San Diego and you are going to be downtown, I highly recommend the Gaslamp District for your eating and drinking enjoyment. You have just about any food choice you can imagine and there is no shortage of quality options. In fact, on our last visit, we ate at a cool, sort of weird place called Werewolf which I recommend. This time, our friends suggested BarleyMash which was a great call. The restaurant has a ton of TVs if you’re interested in watching sports and solid food and drink selection. San Diego is big on craft beer these days and the selection at BarleyMash was quite good.
The fry appetizer, which was split four ways, included stout braised short ribs and pepper jack cheese sauce to name a few. Drool.
The burger was quite tasty, as were our second helping of fries which were nicely seasoned.
Julie and I often make it a point to share food. Since we both love to eat, sharing gives us an opportunity to try an appetizer and main course while not entirely stuffing ourselves into oblivion. We of course, have learned this the hard way. 😉
From lunch, we headed back to our rooms to relax and change for the game. The ballpark is a short 5-10 minute walk from the hotel, but the city also has tons of bike taxis if you are in need of a ride. Once at the stadium, we could see that the lines to get in were incredibly long. This is the first year that Major League Baseball has added metal detectors to the entrances (something most other major sports already have in use) which must have been slowing the whole process down. We circled around to the main entrance in hopes of a shorter line, which we were rewarded with.
Petco Park is a beautiful ballpark and easily one of my favorite stadiums in California. Although I wish they could have designed the park to face the water in the same mold as the ballpark in San Francisco, you still get amazing city views here instead. With reasonably inexpensive ticket prices, the stadium is a must visit. As with most city stadiums, there are a number of parking lot options for those just driving in for the game, Public transportation is a good alternative if you live in other parts of San Diego County. A ballpark tour is a great option if you want a view behind the scenes of a professional team. Prices are usually less than the cost of a game ticket and every Major League team offers these tours, generally before games or when the team is out of town. I did this with some friends a few years ago and really enjoyed it. If you’re a baseball fan, I recommend it.
The game itself wasn’t all that exciting. A lot of runs were scored by the home team, so if you’re a fan of the Padres, you would have had a blast! 🙂 My friend and I had a nice little wager going as to how many hits they would end up with, since the game was never close beyond the first inning.
It turns out that night was also the first ever Padres Laser Show that began immediately following the game’s conclusion. While a number of teams put on a weekly or monthly fireworks show, the laser idea was something new entirely. Unfortunately, the show itself left something to be desired. Though the lasers were certainly cool, there didn’t really seem to be any discernible flow to the program. What we got were a number of songs intended to get people excited and then interspersed with some San Diego themed movie clips (which of course meant a lot of Anchorman and Top Gun). So I guess it wasn’t all that bad, but I definitely would not have paid any extra for it.
If only they had sharks with lasers on their heads…now that, I would pay extra for!!
Following the laser show, we headed back over to BarleyMash with our friends. The bar has late night entertainment seven days a week. We hung out there for a couple hours, catching up with our friend who works at the hotel and was now off for the night. Coincidentally, a co-worker and friend of mine was also in town with her boyfriend for the game. They stopped by and we chatted with them for a bit before they headed out to another bar. As the night wound down, we wished our friends goodnight and headed back to the hotel. Having battled a cold for about a week, I was eager to get some rest before heading home in the morning.
Up early the next morning, we grabbed a quick breakfast at the Exchange (a new concept that has replaced room service and where you can pick up to-go items) which consisted of coffee (Julie’s morning requirement) and breakfast burritos. We were quickly on the road by 8:00 am and with no traffic, we had smooth sailing, arriving back home at 9:00 am.
A good weekend and a much needed getaway. For now, we have just one more small weekend trip planned for my birthday in May, before the big trip in June! Only 76 more days to go!! 🙂