What to see and what to skip in San Diego

It’s easy to understand why San Diego inspires travel, with its 70 miles of beaches, entertainment that ranges from kid-friendly to adults-only and a growing revolution in all things culinary. As a former San Diego resident, I can vouch that the rumor is true: The weather does stay practically perfect year-round. Throw in a swarm of activities and a major value factor, and this sunny Southern California enclave never disappoints. Next time you go, add these suggestions to your San Diego to-do list.

Skip Summer, Go in October

Temps in the 70s and 80s and consistently sunny skies make summer San Diego’s hottest season for tourists. But traveling other times of the year brings thinner crowds and lower prices. Visiting in October, specifically, can save parents big-time. For the last few years, the 10th month has been dubbed “Kids Free” here, with myriad family activities offered throughout the county at no cost. Look for kids-eat-free offers from several restaurants and for kids-play-free incentives from theme parks and museums. In 2016, for example, SeaWorld featured free entry, free dolphin and beluga whale interactions and free meals for each child with a paying adult. Kids Free offers for October 2017 will go public in August.

Skip Conventions

As with any convention-friendly city, hotel prices will soar when big group meetings come to town. So when you’re planning your visit, use your favorite search engine to look up “San Diego convention calendar.” You’ll get an 18-month glimpse at upcoming events, including the projected number of attendees. For example, when Comic-Con returns in July, with a projected 130,000 fans descending on San Diego, you’d better believe hotels will kick prices up and sell out. Visit the week after for much better rates. This will mostly affect Gaslamp Quarter hotels, as they’re walking distance to San Diego’s world-class convention center.

Skip the Dog Sitter, Bring Fido

The word is already out: San Diego is one of the country’s most pet-friendly cities. Dog-welcoming eateries and beaches abound here; I loved taking my St. Bernard, Bruno, to North Beach in Del Mar, which allows off-leash frolicking seasonally. San Diego’s pro-Fido attitude also means your pet can probably stay in your hotel room, though prices can vary, and there may be weight restrictions. Some fancy hotels will charge one-time fees of up to $150. But the best bargains are at Kimpton’s two downtown locations – Hotel Solamar and Hotel Palomar – where any pet of any size stays with you for free! If Spot’s well behaved, bring him along to the hotels’ complimentary wine hour at 5 p.m. each day.

Skip the Bar, Visit a Brewer

My colleague Blaire Constantinou, a travel expert in Travelzoo’s L.A. office, recently returned from San Diego raving about the beer. “With more than 130 breweries spread across downtown and all the way up to Oceanside, there’s a brewery tour and tasting room in your future,” she…

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