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10 ways to stay classy in San Diego

A discerning guide to one of the finest US cities

10 ways to stay classy in San Diego
14 February 2017

You know what they say about cajoling Anchorman quotes into headlines: 60 per cent of the time, they hardly ever work so don’t even attempt it.

We digress. If you’re still scanning the web for that big 2017 getaway, pining for warmer climates beyond Easyjet’s reach, then the land of Ron Burgundy, AKA San Diego, could be the one.

Home to one of the world’s best year-round climates, this bohemian paradise is packed with sprawling trails, incredible vistas, miles of crashing shorelines and hipster neighbourhoods teeming with craft breweries and first-rate food joints. It speaks volumes about the town that LA crowds come fleeing here for weekend getaways in their droves.

No matter where you're coming from, here's our guide.

Fill up on (Scotchy Scotch) Scotch inside a hidden speakeasy

You don’t need to be Al Capone to sniff out the speakeasies clustered around the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter, a downtown hub of bars and nightlife. Just follow the queues snaking outside Noble Experiment, a swanky drinking hole concealed behind sham beer kegs in the back of a nightspot called Neighbourhood – itself worth a visit. Book in advance. Bedecked by a wall of gold skulls which wouldn’t look amiss in Hannibal Lecter’s living room, it’s as dramatic as it is booze-filled.

Eat the world's most expensive brunch (and stay there all day)

Perched on the small island after which it’s named, Hotel Del Coronado is a timelessly well kept hotel which has seen everyone from Frank Sinatra to Marilyn Monroe to most US presidents check in at one time or another. Brunch here is the Californian equivalent at Tea at the Ritz: opulent, expensive and your mum will be incredibly jealous. But you won’t care. A buffet from the Gods, they offer 12 types of donut alone. This plate, pictured, was our first effort. We had three more. It’ll cost you $93 for the pleasure but how can you put a price on sweet, sweet gluttony?

Get an Uber into Mexico for the day

Make haste before Donald erects a forty foot steel fortress festooned with lasers and enjoy the novelty of crossing the US-Mexican border from San Diego to Tijuana for a day. The state line is less than 15 minutes drive from the centre of town, and with Uber Passport you can have an XL drive you over – it might even top that time you managed to get home from Tiger Tiger with one per cent battery.

Hang out at a hipster haven

Named one of the best hipster neighbourhoods in the US by Forbes, North Park is also – naturally – home to a slew of cool microbreweries. Mike Hess, noted as one of the best on the West Coast, is our pick of the bunch. Time it right and you’ll be able to work off the ensuing day’s hangover at Thursday’s weekly North Park farmer’s market.

Take a ride by the coastline

“Cali-fornia”, you’ll muse to yourself in waggish disbelief, shaking at your head like Die Hard’s John McClane as people with ten times the confidence of you skateboard and rollerblade down the concrete boardwalk which runs between the best coastal areas. From Pacific Beach to Mission Bay, where $4m beach apartments nestle alongside frat houses and hippie huts, you may be best navigating it by beach bike.

Word to the wise: some cafes even award you discounts if you turn up on two wheels.

Eat ALL the tacos

We came, we saw, we ate all the tacos. The city is in the grip of a tacos trend right now, meaning crickets, cow tongue, braised octopus and other meats you’ve never once considered putting in a taco and topping with salsa are on a menu somewhere. The blue corn tortilas - healthier than regular ones - at celeb chef Trey Foshee’s Galaxy Taco are a touch of genius.

Paraglide over Torrey Pines PGA course

No, not in a bid to get one over the golf touts, rather a happy bonus of flying from Torrey Pines Gliderport. An historic aviation point Charles Lindbergh had his maiden flight from, these days the vista afforded by a trip up with a pro includes an unrivalled view over the world class golf course. On the other side of the rocks you’ll see a glut of futuristic cliffside mansions you could easily see Tony Stark parking his product placement Audi outside of. Well, that’s if you’re brave enough to try it in the first place.

Geek out aboard the USS Midway

If you feel the need, the need for quoting lines from Top Gun, do so atop the USS Midway. Another spot encaptulating the city’s rich naval history, this retired aircraft carrier was in service between 1945 and 1992, and is now docked in the downtown area as a permanent museum packed with enough fact firepower to sink a pub quiz.

Mill around SD's answer to Beverly Hills

You know those impossibly tall women who exist solely on salads, yoga and carrying dogs around in their purses? While we can’t rule out you bumping into one in the well-heeled district of La Jolla, don’t let that put you of this kitsch coastal corner of the city, boasting great eateries, art galleries and A+ accommodation. Make yourself at home in the Grande Colonial hotel, complete with a London black cab ferried over from Blighty.

Treat your eyeballs to an artistic feast

Like we said: classy. While you’re in La Jolla, head to the Museum of Contemporary Art and walk around pompously with one finger tucked under your chin safe in the knowledge you totally get that obscure metaphor the artists were going for. Come evening time see what’s going on at The Old Globe, historic playhouse and one of the largest arts institutions in the region. 

America As You Like It packages start from £2530.00pp based on two people sharing travelling in July, including return flights on British Airways from Heathrow to San Diego, seven days fully inclusive car hire and seven nights room only at the Grand Colonial Hotel San Diego.

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