SAN DIEGO -- NAFCU's 41st Annual Conference and Exhibition couldn't have brought you to a better place. Beaches, beautiful weather and all around paradise.
It's the summertime and you're in San Diego. The Cabrillo National Monument, located in Cabrillo National Park, commemorates the history of San Diego, harkening back to the day in 1542 when European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo arrived in what became California. That's why San Diego is known as the birthplace of California.
Downtown San Diego has eight unique neighborhoods that each offer entertainment, great food, shopping and a beautiful atmosphere. While you're here take the opportunity to visit each neighborhood and the sites that each has to offer.
The Marina District
The home of the San Diego Convention Center is a great place to start exploring San Diego. Step away from the conference to experience these area highlights:
San Diego Wine & Culinary Center: Located on the ground floor of the Harbor Club Towers, directly facing the Convention Center, the wine and culinary center provides a wine and cocktail tasting bar, an open kitchen for chef demonstrations, wine blending, cooking classes and a retail shop. You have five wine tasting options to choose from that feature local wines, wines from around the world and after-dinner wines. The wine and culinary center also has happy hour every Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that features $5 house red and white wine by the class and $5 well martinis and cocktails. There is also a caf?(C) menu available for food choices to pair with your cocktails.
Seaport Village: This village is a 14-acre waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment complex that is home to 57 themed shops and four miles of cobblestone pathways, ponds, fountains, restaurants and caf?(C)s. Some of the shops include Harley Davidson San Diego, San Diego Surf Co., Rip Squeak & Friends Gallery and Urban Girl Accessories. Visit the Seaport Village Web site at www.spvillage.com for a complete list of shops and restaurants.
Caf?(C) 222: A local favorite spot for breakfast that is known for its stuffed omelets and signature peanut butter waffles.
Kansas City Barbecue: Voted the best barbecue in San Diego for 10 years, visit this spot to get close to Tom Cruise as this is where the bar scenes from the 1986 film Top Gun were filmed.
Fish Market: A causal dining experience with oyster and cocktail bars as well as a fine-dining menu served on the second-floor called Top of the Market that has views of Coronado and San Diego Bay.
A historic 16 blocks that features Victorian-era buildings and 100 of the city's finest restaurants, 35 pubs and nightclubs and 100 retail shops.
The Hard Rock Hotel San Diego: Opened in November 2007 as San Diego's first condo-hotel. The hot spot features 24/7 service and a signature restaurant opened by NOBU and a lounge and sky bar by Rande Gerber. The two-building hotel has a world-class spa and fitness center, state of the art screening room, outdoor pool deck with private cabanas, a 7,000 square foot music venue and retail boutiques.
Croce's Restaurant and Bars: This restaurant was established by Ingrid Croce as a tribute to her late husband, '70s singer-songwriter Jim Croce. It's a local landmark with live jazz and dining.
George's on Fifth: Is an American restaurant serving classics, seafood and steaks that is also one of the most photographed historical buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter.
The William Heath Davis Historical House Museum: This building is the oldest surviving structure in the Gaslamp Quarter. It's a saltbox-style home shipped around Cape Horn and was assembled in San Diego in 1850.
The Shout! House: This venues features dueling piano players sitting face-to-face at grand pianos and performing classic rock 'n' roll hits from the '50s to the present that are driven by audience requests.
This 15-block neighborhood is named after its main attraction--the Horton Plaza multi-level, outdoor shopping and entertainment center. The plaza has 130 specialty shops, restaurants, a movie theatre and performing arts theatre.
The Lyceum Theatre: The theatre houses the San Diego Repertory Theatre, which produces a six-play run each season that features comedies and drama.
Balboa Theatre: The theatre is located adjacent to Horton Plaza and was recently rehabilitated into a 1,534-seat facility. It re-opened in December 2007 has began hosting live arts and cultural performances. The theatre has a 1920s design and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Downtown San Diego's central business district houses venues like City Hall, the World Trade Center, Copley Symphony Hall and the Civic Theatre.
On Broadway: A bar, restaurant and lounge that is located in a two-story historic bank building with a sushi bar and giant dance floors.
House of Blues: A full-service restaurant and a multilevel music hall featuring national and local live entertainment.
This San Diego neighborhood is made up mostly of commercial development and residential condos. However, it does also provide some great restaurants and museums.
Anthony's Fish Grotto on the Bay: This restaurant was established more than 60 years ago by the Ghio family and serves fresh seafood cooked with secret family recipes. It also has a quick-service Fishette, which offers patio dining.
Maritime Museum of San Diego: This museum features a collection of historic ships that includes the Star of India, which is the oldest active sailing ship.
Urban Trees: These trees are life-size sculptures of fantastical trees designed by local artists. The trees are set along the bay front and are a public art project of the Port of San Diego and are made of steel and glass, tiles and copper, wood and canvas.
Generations of Italian families have made their home here in the heart of the San Diego
tune and fishing industry. Like an Italian neighborhood the area offers an array of delicious food to choose from.
Trattoria Fantastica offers Sicilian dishes with a modern flair.
Zagarella offers a menu combined of Northern Italian and Sicilian specialties.
Buon Appetito offers sophisticated Italian food with a cozy ambiance.
Filippi's Pizza Grotto combines old fashioned Italian dining with a delicatessen and market.
Caf?(C) Italia has street-side table and a courtyard atrium with panini's, salads and Italian gelato.
Also located in Little Italy is Anthology, San Diego's newest live music establishment. Anthology holds the spirit of classic supper clubs from the 1940s and draws renowned local and international musicians of jazz, classic rock, blues, Latin and world music.
Downtown San Diego's largest neighborhood was brought alive by the construction of PETCO Park. The state-of-the-art baseball stadium is the home of the San Diego Padres and opened in April 2004.
This neighborhood is named after the historic El Cortez Hotel. Cortez Hill is one of the oldest and most distinguished residential neighborhoods in San Diego. Fifth and Sixth Avenues are lined with commercial shops and sidewalk caf?(C)s. Ash Street provides a gateway to the waterfront. Cortez Hill also provides views of urban San Diego, Balboa Park, the bay and Pacific Ocean.
Located just outside downtown San Diego Balboa Park is the nation's largest urban cultural park. It houses 15 major museums, performing arts venues, gardens and the San Diego Zoo. Admission to the park grounds is free as well as the Botanical Building and outdoor gardens.
The San Diego Zoo has more than 4,000 rare and endangered animals that represent more than 800 species and subspecies. It's home to the largest population of giant pandas in the United States and is one of only four facilities in the nation to house critically endangered giant pandas. Joan B. Kroc's Monkey Trails and Forest Tales allows guests to trek through Asian and African forests that hold some of the world's most threatened wildlife. The zoo also has a Wild Animal Park that is home to more than 3,500 animals representing more than 400 species. It also has a renowned botanical collection that represents 3,500 species and 1.5 million specimens. Over half of the parks 1,800 acres have been set aside as protected native species habitat.
You can't visit San Diego without seeing one of the beaches along San Diego's 70 miles of coastline.
Coronado Beach is recognized annually by the Travel Channel as the best family beach in North America.
La Jolla Shores is a spacious beach that runs parallel to a wide cement boardwalk that separates the beach from a large grassy park used for picnicking and volleyball games.
Ocean Beach has the Ocean Beach Pier and is most popular for Dog Beach, where dogs can enjoy the surf and sand.
Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are connected with a three-mile boardwalk that is popular among skaters, runners and bicyclists.
Belmont Park is adjacent to Mission Beach and is home to the vintage Giant Dipper roller coaster, The Plunge giant indoor swimming pool, amusement arcades and the Wave House with an on-land wave simulator.
Cardiff State Beach and Elijo State Beach are popular among surfers, kayakers and body surfers. The San Eligo Lagoon is a nearby ecological reserve where visitors can bird watch or go on a nature walk.
Cabrillo National Park offers a large rock shoreline of tide pools where families can see flowery anemones, scampering shore crabs and other sea creatures. The Cabrillo National Monument celebrates this history of San Diego by commemorating the arrival of European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542, which is why San Diego is known as the birthplace of California. The monument and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse provide panoramic views of San Diego's coastline.