Thanks to all the wonderful people who responded to my questions, I had a wonderful 5-day trip to San Diego. I chose to stay at the Hilton Harbor Island, which turned out to be a great choice.
Sunday--my room wasn't quite ready when I checked in, but the bellman took up my bags. I walked to Tom Ham's Lighthouse for brunch while I waited for my room. It was a good variety and tasty. I would have liked more vegetables, but that's just my choice. When I got to my room, I immediately went to the balcony where I had a terrific view of the harbor filled with boats and the city. The stress jjust drained out of me immediately.
Monday--Because I had taken the Old Town Trolley tours in other cities, I had prepaid a two-day pass online. This took me to most of the sites that were recommended in the forum. I had been concerned about transportation from Harbor Island into the city, but Old Town Trolleys runs an island hopper trolley that stopped right in front of my hotel. The first day I got off in Coronado and walked to Hotel Del Coronado, very much worth the walk. Lunch was at LaSalsa, inexpensive and delicious, with patio seating. Around the corner was Marie Callendar's where some friends I met on the trolley ate, also very good. It was easy to catch the trolley back to the city where I got off at Old Town. I mostly shopped and took the trolley to Horton Plaza, a very interesting and confusing shopping center. You really have to experience it for yourself because I don't have the words to describe it. But it was a fun place to shop. I called for the hotel shuttle to pick me up there. I highly recommend the Old Town Trolley tour because I learned so much about the history of San Diego and Coronado. (www.trustedtours.com)
Tuesday--I took the Island Hopper and got off at Seaport Village, one of my favorite sites. There's low cost shops, but the Embarcadero Park along the bay is what attracted me. People were tossing baseball, flying kites, or just relaxing under the trees.
When I arrived, my trolley driver mentioned that the Seal tour would be only $18 with the purchase of the trolley tour. So I decided to take the tour--way cool! The vehicle toured via land first and then in water, going out to a huge platform covered with sea lions and birds (pelicans, a stork, gulls). This is the tour to take if you want great pictures of sea lions from up close.
After the Seal tour, I had a blanco shrimp pizza at the Edgewater Grill in Seaport Village, again with a wonderful patio seating with a harbor view. The pizza was delicious and reasonably priced. I chose to just take the full 2-hour trolley tour without getting off, just absorbing all the history and culture of the city. The island hopper took me back to my hotel at 6:05.
Wednesday--I chose not to go to the San Diego Zoo but to drive to the zoo's Wild Animal Park instead--a very smart decision for me. I had reserved a rental car ahead of time and had prepaid my ticket to the animal park. The hotel shuttle took me to the airport where I caught the rental car shuttle. I was a little apprehensive about driving in the city, but I had no problems. On the way to the animal park I saw a sign for pick-your-own oranges, so, on a whim, I stopped and picked oranges to bring home to my family.
About the Wild Animal Park, there are some things you need to know. Be prepared to walk--A LOT. First, walking from the parking lot is uphill and can be a good distance later in the day. I paid an extra $5 to park closer. The walk to the Tour of Africa tram is quite long and confusing. The map provided was almost useless, as were the signs. I found it very difficult to find my way around, but the tram ride was very good. Another warning: it may be 75 degrees in San Diego, but it is at least 20 degrees hotter inland at the animal park. I felt I had actually gone to Africa. Take water and a hat or umbrella. Children under about 8 might prefer the San Diego Zoo where they can see the animals closer and enjoy the petting zoo. However, the 9 yr. old on my photo safari had a great time.
The smartest thing I had done was to prepay for the Photo Safari (you can choose either Asia's elephants or Africa's giraffes; I chose Africa). It was an extra $90 but worth every penney. This was my favorite thing I did. Only eight of us were in the canvas-covered back of a truck. We had great 360 degree views. The truck went inside the fences so we could come within just a few feet, and in some cases, a few inches, of the animals. A photo booklet was provided so we could match our pictures and identify the animals we took. I got to feed giraffes! Our tour guide took pictures, since I was traveling alone. Amazing is the best word to describe this adventure.
Thursday--island shuttle to Seaport Village. I realized that the Old Town Trolley tour because, at $30 with on and off privilages, was the cheapest and easiest way to get around. This time I got off at the ferry landing on Coronado Island and took great pictures of San Diego from that vantage point. I only stayed 30 minutes and took the next trolley (they arrive in 30-minute intervals) and got off at Old Town. I had heard so much about Casa Guadalajara, I walked the two blocks and had a great meal on the patio. I highly recommend this restaurant. On the way back I toured Old Town, which I found very interesting. Next the trolley took me to the cruiseline dock where I had booked a 2-hour harbor cruise. To be honest, it concentrated on the navy presence in San Diego; the Seal was a much better tour. Next time I would skip the boat and tour the Midway, which is right next door. I took the trolley back to Seaport Village where I just relaxed until time for the island shuttle (Ben & Jerry's helped). At 6:05, I was on my way back to the hotel.
Friday--took the hotel shuttle to the airport for my flight home.
About the hotel--I had read some negative reviews and even considered changing my reservations before I left. The hotel isn't new and shows some wear and tear, but everything was clean, and the employees were very friendly and helpful. I liked the fact that it was away from hustle and bustle. One drawback is that there are no shops or restaurants close-by. I eat a big meal in the middle of the day and usually have enough to take back to the hotel for dinner, or I just ate granola bars. I always had an action-packed day and looked forward to just sitting on the balcony watching the sailboats.
Hits: Casa Guadalajara, Seaport Village, Wild Animal Park, picking my own oranges, San Diego's breezy, cool weather
Misses: Horton Plaza and the harbor boat tour
Because I was traveling alone, I skipped Sea World and LegoLand, but everyone I talked to with young children said they loved both those sites. Also, since I am very fair and burn easily, I didn't go to any beaches. What I did filled my day from 10:00 AM - 6:30 each day, a very full day. If you want to do more, plan to stay longer and maybe rent a car for day trips.
I know this is long, but I wish I had had someone tell me detailed information like this. I will post pictures.