San Diego Staycation Guide 2023
Relinquish your local status (temporarily) and embrace life as a tourist
It’s about this time of year that we can really start to feel the itch to get away, as spring trips fade in the rearview mirror and summer looms near. Even if the calendar’s filling (or nearly filled!) with those big, budget-busting trips, sometimes we need a little something to grease the vacation wheels. Fortunately, as far as getaways go, we live in one of the best places in the world to escape without ever having to go very far. So, here’s to changing the scenery without changing your time zone, taking off with no need for air traffic control, and soaking up San Diego without having to go home and do the dishes.
By Deanna Murphy and Mia Park
A Downtown Diversion
When it comes to downtown hotel options, San Diego really has a wealth of riches. If you want to feel like royalty, The Westgate Hotel, a AAA Four Diamond destination in the Gaslamp Quarter, is about as elegant and opulent as they come, modeled after the Palace of Versaille. (Baccarat chandeliers? Check.) Its trademark Afternoon Tea tradition changes with the seasons but serves sophistication year-round, and a 40,000-square-foot wellness center, AquaVie, features a luxury spa and rooftop pool. InterContinental San Diego, a sleek waterfront property near the Midway Museum, has families in mind with its Better Together package, offering guests who book a Queen room at a qualifying rate the option to add an adjoining King room at no additional cost — a perfect incentive to go all-in with a reservation at the hotel’s Italian-inspired, seafood-forward restaurant, Garibaldi. Or, pop up to the hotel’s rooftop bar and lounge, Layover, which will host a summer concert series Saturday evenings from 4-7pm beginning May 27 through September 2.
The Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina sits at one of the best locations downtown — walkable to Petco Park and the Gaslamp Quarter, directly overlooking the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, and just steps from Seaport Village — making it a great place to stay but also one of the best bases
from which to explore the city. A recent, extensive renovation included redesigned rooms, and the result is fresh, bright, and welcoming. Bucking the rooftop pool theme of many area hotels, the Marriott instead has a traditional pool that snakes between its two towers, serviced by the poolside Tequila Bar & Grille. In addition to this pretty fantastic (admittedly unexpectedly so given its decidedly urban location) pool, the Marriott has a well-appointed fitness center and a diminutive but lovely spa, The Hideaway, offering massages and facials. The bustling main restaurant, Marina Kitchen, is not to be overlooked, even though it shares an address with Roy’s, the well-known Hawaiian fusion restaurant chain created by Chef Roy Yamaguchi. (A Marina Kitchen must order: the chef’s special Curry Spiced Crab Cakes.) A session in one of the Topgolf Swing Suites at Marriott’s Bayside Lounge is a great way to cap off the day.
With the hotel’s exceptional waterfront positioning, views of the Shell, Coronado Bridge, and Coronado itself across the bay are an inspiring reminder of how truly gorgeous the city is, and how much there is to do here. Our recommendation: Stay here and embrace tourist life. Check the schedule for performances at the Shell (perhaps grab one of the few remaining tickets for Diana Ross: The Music Legacy Tour 2023 on June 11), or make sure the Padres are in town, go to a game, and eat a hot dog from Randy Jones Grill there. Stay long enough to venture into Little Italy for Italian comfort food at Nonna, sitting outside, of course, so you can watch the glowing pedicabs roll past after dark. Do not skip dessert from Nonna’s in-house sweet shop, Zucchero — in fact, have more than one. And finally, journey across the bridge for breakfast at The Henry in Coronado before, probably reluctantly, returning to life as a local.
For the Elevated Epicure
Panoramas of the pristine coastline are just the beginning at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. This AAA Five Diamond escape provides endless opportunities for the ultimate staycation in La Jolla, from al fresco dining to unforgettable golf experiences and indulgent spa days. For the food enthusiast, Executive Chef Kelli Crosson’s market-driven cooking shines at A.R. Valentien, where ocean breezes on the terrace pair seamlessly with an impressive collection of California wines. Guests can also opt for the casual vibes of The Grill at Torrey Pines, which encourages lounging beside cozy fire pits and lingering over meals from the patio’s wood-burning rotisserie. New at The Lodge is Judson’s, a pool venue whose bar program delivers an exceptional range of craft cocktails, local beer selections, and sommelier-chosen wines, while the culinary menu focuses on pool-friendly fare including a crab cocktail in gazpacho, a chimney-smoked vegetable wrap with whipped goat cheese, and daily rotating wood-fired paninis.
Consider timing an overnight stay to two mouthwatering culinary events launching in May that have become synonymous with The Lodge. The Artisan Table Signature Wine Series features monthly dinners that pair a curated multi-course meal of seasonal bounty with some of the state’s most notable wines. Set on the spacious terrace of A.R. Valentien, each Signature Wine Dinner welcomes a special guest from the featured winery to share insight on their winemaking process. Playing With Fire is The Grill’s monthly seasonal grilling series where Crosson and Chef de Cuisine Paul Arias partner with some of the area’s leading chefs. With The Lodge’s “4th Night Free” offer, a complimentary fourth night is offered when a three-night stay is booked.
The Ultimate in Luxury
To truly unwind, look no further than Fairmont Grand Del Mar, nestled in the serene Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve and seamlessly combining the old-world charm of a Mediterranean estate with the elegant luxury of a modern-day resort. One of only 13 triple Five-Star properties in the world and Tripadvisor’s #1 Luxury Resort in California, it also boasts Chef William Bradley’s unparalleled seasonal tasting menu at Addison, San Diego’s only Michelin-three-star restaurant. Consider checking in for an extended weekend and experiencing The Forbes Five-Star Fairmont Spa & Wellness at Fairmont Grand Del Mar, which provides a relaxing, restorative experience complete with an expansive fitness center and movement studio offering complimentary yoga and fitness classes daily for resort guests. When it’s time for an indulgent beauty treatment, the Grand Cru uses Repairing Grand Cru Gold Complex, which contains a blend of chardonnay, pinot meunier, and pinot noir to help skin retain long-lasting firmness. Rich in flavonoids, resveratrol, and polyphenol, this highly restorative serum is further enhanced with gold minerals. Green caviar, a rare algae used for centuries in Japan and renowned for its longevity properties, is then combined with FicuVita stem cells, peptides, and hyaluronic acid to help stimulate collagen synthesis, reduce DNA damage, replenish skin volume, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The 90-minute treatment includes microdermabrasion and VitaSkin ultrasound infusion.
The Delightful Del
The iconic Hotel Del Coronado, part of Curio Collection by Hilton, has been welcoming visitors since 1888 to its broad expanse of beach, ocean view guestrooms, and restaurants. For the past four years, the resort has been undergoing a $400 million transformation, including restoring its historic Victorian wood-paneled lobby and debuting Shore House at the Del, a luxury oceanfront residence-style hotel.
Now Beach Village, its gated community of 78 beachfront cottages and villas which opened in 2007, is getting a multi-phase makeover, with most cottages to be completed by summer. Inspired by golden sands and ocean tides, villas have been renovated in neutral tones, layers of texture, and lots of natural light. Beach Village also provides gated access, three swimming pools and hot tubs, personalized concierge services, priority dining reservations, and access to exclusive experiences and amenities including beach chairs and umbrellas, fitness classes, and discounted tickets to local attractions including the USS Midway and the San Diego Zoo.
Relax and Renew
Omni La Costa Resort & Spa’s award-winning The Spa at La Costa covers 43,000 square feet, including treatment rooms, a private courtyard pool with waterfalls, hot tubs, and SoCal’s only therapeutic reflexology path. Choose from a variety of facials, massages, body rituals, and treatments. The Spa Café offers a healthy, delicious menu, with ingredients plucked fresh daily in Alicia’s Garden, named after a longtime member of the resort’s culinary family.
The Carlsbad resort has also teamed up with health experts at Best Life-ing, which offers half-, full-, and multi-day retreats including healing, life coaching, and spa treatments. Select from healing modalities that include breathwork, guided meditation, yoga, regression therapy, sound healing, and more. “We customize retreats to make sure they fit our clients’ needs based on their goals, intentions, and budget,” says owner Julia Brodska. Experiences are available for individuals, couples, and groups for birthdays and other special occasions. The idea is to relax, renew, recharge, find peace, and align with your soul’s purpose. “Come as you are,” say the experts, “and leave more grounded and centered than ever before.”