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Is Los Angeles too much trouble? Try San Diego!

Apr 11, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT

Greetings from San Diego

My kids want to go to California, so I am planning on taking them to California on a vacation sometime this summer.  The first thought was to head towards Los Angeles, or at least somewhere near there like the Orange County beaches.

But it’s expensive!  The airfares are pretty steep to LAX at the moment, and the hotels and resorts are no bargain either. So I’ve been rethinking.  The current candidate: San Diego. Much cheaper to get there from here. And, even though it is not as glamorous, I think it’ll be pretty darn nice, even if it means I have to visit my brother too.

A similar dynamic is going on with baseball team sales at the moment. As Tim Sullivan of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, the bidding for the San Diego Padres is now open. And, not surprisingly, a lot of people who first thought L.A. was a great idea are now interested in San Diego:

Citing confidentiality clauses and the sensitivities of embarrassed losers, Greenberg and Moag declined to discuss potential bidders Tuesday. Still, Greenberg has a history with hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen, who lost out in the final bidding for the Dodgers …Two baseball sources Tuesday identified former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley as an interested party. Another baseball source believes former player agent Dennis Gilbert may get involved with the Padres once he’s recovered from losing out on the Dodgers.

It’s still warm, the accommodations are still fabulous and, while it may not be quite as glamorous, my kids and those old rich dudes will probably like San Diego just as much as they would have liked L.A.

At least I hope so, or else next year it means I’m going to Disney World.

  1. davidpom50 - Apr 11, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    I think your kids might like San Diego even better than they would’ve liked LA. It’s a pretty great place.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 11, 2012 at 2:24 PM

      Oh, I know. I’ve been there several times since my brother lives there. It’s great. Just gotta find the right place to stay. Or someone to front me the cash for the Hotel Del

      • elgorditodehumboldt - Apr 11, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        Craig, you should check this place out: Reasonably priced and conveniently located (5-10 minutes to downtown, Petco Park, Coronado, Seaworld, zoo, beaches, etc). Plus there is a massive park right next to the hotel itself. Only downside is it is fairly close to the airport and the planes fly right over the pool area.

      • davidpom50 - Apr 11, 2012 at 4:17 PM

        I’ve had great success in San Diego using Priceline. Kinda depends on where you want to stay, though.

      • cosanostra71 - Apr 11, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        If you want to go to LA, flying into Long Beach Airport is cheaper than LAX many times.

      • sasquash20 - Apr 11, 2012 at 5:47 PM

        Look up this little bar called Rocky’s. Greatest burger I ever had in my life. I have not been back to SD in about 4 years so I hope it is still open.

      • schlom - Apr 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM

        Still there and still amazing. In fact Rocky’s is too good – it’s hard to find room inside during busy times.

  2. drakosm - Apr 11, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Why would your kids not liking San Diego make you go to Orlando?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 11, 2012 at 2:23 PM

      If they get a bad vacation, they’ll demand a perfect one, and the nuclear option for a 6 and an 8 year-old is Disney World.

      • iranuke - Apr 11, 2012 at 4:32 PM

        Go to Balboa Park and catch the zoo. Lots of neat stuff at Balboa Park, and all kids love the zoo.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 11, 2012 at 5:17 PM


  3. Francisco (FC) - Apr 11, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    At least I hope so, or else next year it means I’m going to Disney World

    Could be worse, you could be going to the Marlin’s stadium and the God-forsaken monstrosity they built in the outfield….

    • majmayhem - Apr 11, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      Going to Marlin’s park though, the kids could be exposed to the virtues of the man, known as Fidel Castro. And no parent, I mean NO parent, would want their kids to hear that.

  4. ezthinking - Apr 11, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Hit the Hard Rock. It’s right by Petco.

  5. mrfloydpink - Apr 11, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    I am surprised to learn that SDG is cheaper than LAX. Because SDG is pretty dinky, it’s usually much more expensive than the other local options (LAX, John Wayne, Bob Hope)…

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 11, 2012 at 3:04 PM

      Kind of surprised myself, but flying out of Columbus, Ohio is like going into Wonderland. It’s so counterintuitive.

    • ezthinking - Apr 11, 2012 at 3:14 PM

      Flying out of Colorado Springs is usually much cheaper than Denver even though you connect through Denver. Pre-911, you could jump on/get off at Denver, but not now.

    • mrfloydpink - Apr 11, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      Not sure exactly what inspired a thumbs down, but SDG is notoriously small. They’ve been arguing for years about a bigger airport, but each of the possible locations is problematic in some way.

      Of course, it is not the smallness, in and of itself, that makes flights to SDG expensive. It is the smallness compared to the size of the city. Lots of demand for terminal space, and not enough supply.

      • micker716 - Apr 11, 2012 at 8:37 PM

        The biggest reason is the Business Traveler and the International Traveler. They’re paying top dollar with less regard to pricing. There are lot more BT’s and IT’s flying into LAX. Also, nobody connects out of SAN (unless your flying one of those weird 5-stop Southwest Airline routes). It’s almost purely a leisure travel (OK 85%) destination. Leisure Travelers, with families in tow, tend to shop for the cheapest rates months in advance.

  6. icanspeel - Apr 11, 2012 at 3:20 PM

    It’d be nice if the Padres finally get an owner committed to the team. For all the good Moores did for the city and organization.. the bad is what is left right now.

  7. SOBEIT - Apr 11, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    LA or San Diego are great…I just hope you are not going there to check out a guys hose and report it.

  8. greymares - Apr 11, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    I would like to go to San Diego just to eat in Old’e Town.

  9. skerney - Apr 11, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Sicilian Thing Pizza on 30th has IPA on tap and Paul will put any game on the TV for you. Less than 10 minute drive to the Gaslamp.

  10. cambodianbreastmilk - Apr 11, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    My hometown as I now reside in Las Vegas. Took my girlfriend for her first time a year or so ago for a week. Stayed at the Hard Rock, spent a day at Sea World, a day at the Zoo, a day showing her Balboa Park/Old Town then saw my Padres play the Marlins, watched UFC fight that was originally supposed to take place in SLC but was relocated, and spent a full day on the beach and roaming around Gaslamp. Food everywhere down there is amazing and I don’t know of a better place in country with nicer weather. Without a doubt, one of the best trips back home I’ve ever had.

  11. APBA Guy - Apr 11, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    San Diego will be great. Here’s a hidden gem I use when I’m down there:

    You know all the kid stuff to do when you’re in SD, but you can also walk from the hotel to the Pacific and see the guys from the Amphib Base running in the morning. Nothing like having a bunch of 20 somethings in combat boots blow by you to remind you how old you’re getting to be. And some of them are SEALs. So there’s that.

    Anyway, beautiful spot. Have fun.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 11, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      APBA: I heard that’s nice. But that’s on the bay side, right? Is it close/walking to the ocean side, or is that too far away? With the kids easy beach access is going to be important.

  12. pipkin42 - Apr 11, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    I think you’re missing the obvious solution here. San Francisco.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 11, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      Certainly what I would do if it were just me, but a 6 and an 8 year old want a beach, a pool, palm trees and all of that stuff.

      But yes: San Francisco is my favorite city in America.

  13. dad2twins - Apr 11, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    I would imagine a Disney World vacation would be an order of magnitude more expensive than heading to San Diego.

    Things to see: The Zoo (and Safari Park up north) and Balboa Park
    Lots of Navy stuff up close along the harbor or from up top at Point Loma
    Torrey Pines Golf Course and Torrey Pines State Reserve have amazing views of the Pacific from the bluffs.

    Depending on what attractions you want to head for, you can save some coin getting a multi-park pass: has good info on that and all of the other options.

    There are beaches readily accessible all up and down the coast in San Diego county. There are wonderful little coves which are a nice contrast to the big stretch of sand beaches.

    Anaheim, home of Disneyland, is about 90 minutes north (of course, depends on traffic) from San Diego by car. Note that you should not try to see “all” of Disneyland (let alone both it and California Adventure next door) in one day. That way lies insanity, especially during Spring Break season when both parks are even more insanely crowded.

    Since Craig has expressed a fear of driving in Socal: Amtrak runs trains from San Diego and LA (all the way to Santa Barbara actually), so you have that option as well for a day trip. LA’s regional rail (Metrolink) operates out of Oceanside and San Diego County has the Coaster train that links up with Metrolink in Oceanside. But these rail services tend to only run during commuter times, but are a little cheaper than Amtrak (but Amtrak sells beer on board). Trains will not save you time vs driving, but will definitely save you sanity vs being stuck in traffic. San Diego also has a small trolley system to run you from the downtown area to points little further north.

  14. brentfrazier - Apr 11, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    Craig, check out the Catamaran on Mission Bay. It backs up to the bay and is right across the street from the beach. You’re just north of Belmont Park, about a 5-10 minute drive to Sea World and have easy access to plenty of places to eat. You will also not be far from the freeway so getting to downtown, Old Town, Balboa Park or Coronado Island will not be that difficult.

  15. kevinbnyc - Apr 11, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Craig: the Hotel Solamar was fantastic. Rooftop pool, nice rooms, and I think we’re similarly thrifty. Check it out.

    • brentfrazier - Apr 11, 2012 at 5:15 PM

      Right in the middle of downtown too…about 2 blocks from PETCO. Great place.

  16. pisano - Apr 11, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    Years ago I was on a business trip and stopped at a gas station in Arizona, and I saw the best and most descriptive words on the shit house wall, it said: LEVEL LA, I think that says it all. If your smart you’ll avoid LA completely and go straight to San Diego, their motto is: “America’s finest city”

  17. canofcorn66 - Apr 11, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    Is New York too much trouble? Try Baltimore!

  18. washstnative - Apr 11, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    In the mood for a dive bar after the kids go to sleep? Try this place it rocks:

    or maybe in SD for some tunes:

    Too bad you can’t have beer on the beach in PB? Or does it really matter
    Need cheap food?
    God, I miss that city!!!!!

  19. cleverbob - Apr 12, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    Los Angeles is awful. Never been to San Diego, but I assume it’s better than awful. Go there instead.

  20. kylepinion - Apr 12, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Going to San Diego and not doing Comic-Con? You gotta go at least once in your life Craig, the kids would love it, at least for a day.

    • kylepinion - Apr 12, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      And yea, I do know it’s sold out for this year (got my tickets and hotel already, don’t make fun of me).

  21. gloccamorra - Apr 12, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    There are plenty of little motels right next to the beach. Craig won’t like the accommodations, but his kids will get an education in SoCal “beach culture”. Their classmates in Ohio will be in awe of their knowledge and vocabulary when they get back home.

    The big question is where will the millionaire buyers live? John Moores spends his time in Houston, but won’t let go of the condo overlooking Petco. Larry Lucchino is now in Boston, but is still holding onto his La Jolla house too. Adrian Gonzalez’ mansion might still be up for sale, though.

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