Trip Coach: June 10, 2008
Ericka Chickowski, author of "Moon Handbooks San Diego," answered your questions about vacations in San Diego.
Ericka Chickowski: Hi folks. This is Ericka Chickowski, author of Moon San Diego and today's Trip Coach. I can't wait to answer your questions about San Diego, so let's get started!
Logansport, Ind.: What is the temperature in San Diego in the first part of January?
Ericka Chickowski: According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), January is usually San Diego's coldest month. But temperature is all relative and you are likely going to be in heaven coming from Logansport. The mean temperature here is 57.8 degrees, more than 30 degrees higher than Logansport's mean temperature that time of year. Best of all, the sun shines 72 percent of the time in January and there are often times where the thermometer brushes up into the 70s during the day.
Onset, Mass.: We are meeting our son, a Marine who'll be on leave at the end of August in San Diego before shipping out to Iraq. What would be an inexpensive hotel with a good pool, hopefully close to the beach and some nightlife?
Ericka Chickowski: Hey, Liza. Glad to hear that you'll get some quality time with your son before he's deployed. I thank him and your entire family for his sacrifice!
I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but the Navy and the Marines run a number of nice lodges and inns in San Diego that are significantly cheaper than just about any hotel you'll find. It is one of the benefits of being Navy town. You just need to have your son book the room and have him present at check-in to qualify.
The trick is that you might have to compromise on one of your qualifications if you want to take advantage of this. On Coronado Island, the Navy Lodge North Island is right near the beach and within walking distance of Orange Avenue (including the Coronado Brewing company), but there is no pool. Up near Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, the Marines rent out some beach cottages plunked down right off the sand. There's no pool and it is little bit of a drive to Oceanside or San Clemente bars, but you will have a lot of privacy and you can't beat the beachside location. If you're dead-set on the pool, the Marines also run the Inn of the Corps Ward Lodging on Camp Pendleton. This does have a pool, but it isn't as close to the beach and you'll need to drive to get your groove on at night.
Finally, if you are a family of golfers don't forget to look up some of the military golf courses in town. San Diego is known to have some of the finest military links on the planet, so get out there and take advantage of them!
Buffalo Grove, Ill.: Do I need a car if I am only visiting for about 3 days?
Ericka Chickowski: It depends on what you want to experience. If you want to see the best of San Diego in that short amount of time, then I would definitely recommend a car. If, however, you'd like to stick around one particular area for the entire trip, you might be able to get away without. This is especially true if you plan on staying downtown. From down there you can easily check out the Embarcadero, Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter by foot. You can also take a water taxi out to Coronado Island and walk to Orange Avenue from the ferry landing. Balboa Park is also close to the downtown hotels. It is a bit of a hike, but there are ample buses and taxis there if you get tired.
Similarly, if you plan to unroll a towel on the beach and stay out there the whole time, then just take a cab and rely on your own two feet or a rented beach cruiser. If you do stay in the beach areas without a car, try to stay right in Pacific Beach, La Jolla or Ocean Beach for maximum walkability. Some of the hotels in Mission Beach near Mission Bay are a bit out of the way for pedestrians.
Libby, Mont.: We need a good kennel in the greater San Diego area for our 2 Siberians in November. Thanks in advance.
Ericka Chickowski: One of the most convenient and friendly kennels in town is in Pacific Beach. Called Camp Diego, this kennel only employs cages at night. During the day, staff supervises the dogs as they roam free and play in their indoor/outdoor facilities. I love the idea and my little Sandy seems to do well there when I go out of town.
Also, don't feel like you necessarily have to put them up overnight while you are in town. Many of San Diego's hotels are dog-friendly and you can always put them in doggie daycare at Camp Diego when you plan to go to attractions that don't allow pets. One of the coolest (albeit pricey) places is Hotel Solamar, which even takes big dogs like yours and will pet sit and walk your dog when you're away.