SHAFR 2016: San Diego Guide

Welcome to San Diego, here are some travel tips from the local arrangements committee.

An interactive map of the USD Campus can be found at

For those arriving by car:

Driving directions to the KIPJ building:

From the North: Use I-5 South, exit Sea World Dr./Tecolote Rd.

  • Proceed left at stoplight toward Morena Blvd.
  • Turn right on Morena
  • Turn left on Napa
  • Turn left on Linda Vista Rd.
  • Travel to the first stoplight to USD's west entrance, turn left and enter campus.

From the South (or the airport): Use I-5 North, exit Morena Blvd. (signs will say: Morena Blvd. use I-8 East)

  • Stay to the right and follow the signs for Morena Blvd.
  • Take the first right onto Linda Vista Rd.
  • Travel to the second stoplight to USD's west entrance, turn left and enter campus.

From the East: Use I-8 West, exit at Morena Blvd.

  • Turn right onto Linda Vista Rd.
  • Travel to the second stoplight to USD's west entrance, turn left and enter campus.

Parking: If driving, you must obtain a visitor’s pass at USD’s West Entrance on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday you do not need a pass and can park where you like. Proceed up the hill and at the stop sign turn right into the KIPJ parking structure. Park in the lower levels in white lined spaces only. You may also park in the white lined spaces on the hill leading up to the building or in the West Parking Structure at the bottom of the hill.


To get back and forth from USD to the Best Western Plus Hacienda or Courtyard San Diego Old Town hotels, use the free shuttles provided by Goldfield Stage and the University of San Diego.

Attendees can use the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Green Line trolley from the Old Town Transit Center to reach the Gaslamp Quarter downtown, via the Santa Fe Depot (Amtrak), Little Italy, and Seaport Village.

San Diego also has Uber and Lyft.

Dining Options at and around USD:

La Paloma Cafe: café attached to the KIPJ building. Here you will find light fare, including sandwiches and salads, and espresso drinks as well as lovely views. La Paloma will be open approximately 3-6 on Thursday June 23, and approximately 8-5 on Friday and Saturday June 24 and 25. 

USD Food Truck: across the street from the KIPJ, open from 8-2 each day and serving sandwiches, snacks, and coffee. 

University Center: A 5-7 minute walk down the main USD promenade (Marian Way) will take you straight to the University Center.  There you have many different options, including:

Pavilion Dining: serves breakfast (7-9), lunch (11-2), and dinner (5-8). Here you will find the widest selection of food choices.

La Gran Terraza Restaurant: You can also enjoy lunch and beautiful views at the upscale La Gran Terraza restaurant from 11:30-1:30 Thursday and Friday. La Gran Terraza is also open from 4-8 pm on Friday. 

O’Tooles Lounge: adjacent to La Gran Terraza, has inexpensive drinks and bar food and is open Friday from 4-8.

Tu Mercado: in the University Center, has groceries and food and is open from 7:30 am-6:00 pm Thursday and Friday and from 9-6 on Saturday.

Ballast Point Brewery: a short, downhill walk from the KIPJ, located at 5401 Linda Vista, this is one of the best local micro craft breweries you will find. Open until 10:00 pm. (We recommend the Sculpin.) 

Pacific Time: next door to Ballast Point Brewery and boasts delicious breads, meats, cheeses, and sandwiches as well as local wines and craft beers. 

Urbane Café: a little further down Linda Vista (inexpensive and excellent).

Teo Leo’s: off Linda Vista on Napa St., a classic Mexican restaurant.

If you have a car, head northeast on Linda Vista and discover the abundance of Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese restaurants as Linda Vista turns into Convoy St. 

*Fun fact, Linda Vista was the staging area for the U.S. Pacific campaign during WWII.

Top 10 Activities in and around San Diego, with Drinks and Food:

1. Beaches. Take a walk along La Jolla’s coastline (20 minute drive or Uber). Head to the Children’s Pool and see the seals, then walk the footpath along the cliffs. Kayak and snorkeling tours and rentals are available as well. Stop off at Brockton Villa or George's at the Cove for spectacular views, drinks, and food. Be sure to reserve in advance if going to either of these restaurants. Mission Beach boardwalk is a lot of fun as well if you want to people watch, walk, bike, skate for miles, or enjoy various water sports.

2. Balboa Park. Balboa Park is celebrating its centennial and is a San Diego must-see, just minutes from downtown and ranked as one of the best parks in the world. The park is home to 15 major museums, several performing arts venues, lovely gardens and many other cultural and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo. With a variety of cultural institutions laid out among its 1,200 beautiful and lushly planted acres, Balboa Park is the nation's largest urban cultural park. Take advantage of the many museums open until 8:00 on Friday, June 24. Close to Balboa Park is the restaurant Bertrand at Mr. A’s, which has the best views of downtown, Balboa Park and San Diego Bay, and excellent food as well.

3. The historic Gas Lamp district in downtown San Diego has a wealth of history, restaurants, and pubs. For an unbeatable view and drinks head to the “Top of the Hyatt” at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, or Altitude Sky Lounge perched atop the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter. Recommended restaurants include Searsucker, Café Sevilla, and Grant Grill (in the historic U.S. Grant Hotel). You can drive, Uber, or take the trolley from Old Town to downtown San Diego.

4. Little Italy also has character and many restaurants. The deck and food at Glass Door, located at the Porto Vista Hotel is spectacular. Juniper and Ivy is another extremely popular restaurant. Be sure to reserve in advance. Not too far from Little Italy is Cucina Urbana, another great dining spot.

5. Historic Old Town San Diego. Old Town is the birthplace of California, where the first Europeans settled. What was it like in California in 1850? History is waiting for you with over 17 historic points of interest as well as museums, shops, and restaurants, all within easy walking distance. Be sure to check out the original buildings that house the museums. For restaurants, Old Town Mexican Café and Casa Guadalajara are good bets. The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant, in the heart of the historic district, is fun. The Hacienda Hotel (Best Western Plus) has the Tequila Factory Restaurant and Cantina attached to it with a cozy bar. Between Little Italy and Old Town is El Indio’s Taco Shop, which is inexpensive and delicious.

6.  The USS Midway. Take a trip through American naval history with admission to the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. This enormous ship, known as the longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century, now offers a range of interactive exhibits, a self-guided audio tour and numerous restored aircraft across its 4-acre flight deck and sections below. It’s an essential piece of San Diego’s, and America’s, military history. Enjoy amazing views of the San Diego skyline from the flight deck. Close by is the Fish Market Restaurant, an iconic spot in San Diego. A little south of the Fish Market Restaurant is Seaport Village, which is also a fun excursion, with many shops, restaurants, and bars right on the water.  

7. Maritime Museum of San Diego. Visit the Maritime Museum, located just a little north of the USS Midway, and visit the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship, dating back to 1863. The Maritime Museum of San Diego enjoys a worldwide reputation for excellence in restoring, maintaining and operating historic vessels. The museum has one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, which are available for daily public tours.

8. Coronado. If you want to get on the water, take the ferry to Coronado and have lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants there. We recommend the Hotel del Coronado, which is a national historic landmark built in 1888. The Hotel Del is right on the beach. Another way to get on the water is to take a harbor cruise.

9. For Kids, or kids at heart. Seaworld (10 minutes from USD or Old Town), the Wild Animal Safari Park (about 45 minutes in northeastern San Diego) and Legoland (30 minutes north) are pretty spectacular. You will need a car or Uber for all three. Also the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar ( is in town until July 4 (about 25 minutes north) and it is quite a scene. Where else can you get deep fried peanut butter pickles, slim fast bars, and shrimp and rice on a stick?

10. Presidential Libraries. Finally, for those interested in research, the Nixon Presidential Library is a little over an hour away (in Yorba Linda) without traffic and the Reagan Presidential Library is about 3 hours away (in Simi Valley).

Additional Selected Restaurants by Neighborhood:

We encourage you to start with the San Diego Magazine’s latest issue, which identifies and describes over 200 of San Diego’s top restaurants.

The following restaurants are broken down by neighborhood. Old Town, Gaslamp and Little Italy are all on the green trolley line.

GASLAMP, in the heart of downtown San Diego, has evolved in recent years to offer an eclectic variety of top-quality, innovative restaurants: Searsucker, mentioned above, although a bit more pricey ($$$), is well worth the visit; very happy Happy Hour M-F, 4:30-7:00 PM.  Pining for oysters? Spike Africa’s Fresh Fish Grill is an excellent option. Meeze Greek Fusion is casual and perfect for lunch. Bandar offers Persian/Mediterranean fare (lunch and dinner) and generous portions at that. Candelas provides upscale Mexican cuisine. There are many, many bars in the Gaslamp, too numerous to list here, but to get you started, try Prohibition, The Tipsy Cow, Whiskey Girl, The Red C Lounge, The Field Irish Pub, or Loungesix (voted best rooftop bar in San Diego). You can also get diner at Jsix. Both are located in the Hotel Solamar.

LITTLE ITALY is of course known for the superb Italian restaurants, but is quickly becoming a hub of innovative eateries that define San Diego: Bencotto is a bit more expensive than others, but the gnocchi are hard to beat. Civico 1845 is famous for perfectly prepared calamari to start and pappardelle brasato (braised beef on a bed of hearty noodles). Filippli’s Pizza Grotto is worth a visit, if only to take in its history; it’s one of the few remaining original restaurants in Little Italy. In contrast, but equally inviting, is Davanti Enoteca, one of half-dozen across the nation, this enoteca brings a hip, new take on Italian food, including the famous focaccia di Recco, which is an authentic Italian bread with fresh cheese and honeycomb. Juniper and Ivy, mentioned above, is one of our favorites. Although you’ll pay a bit more ($$$), it’s well worth the memorable culinary experience. Bracero Cocina is also making a name for itself. The Flight Path invites you to “travel the world through wine.” We’ll meet you there!

OLD TOWN has an array of Mexican restaurants, each with their own distinctive menus and vibe, although definitely appealing to the tourist in all of us. Our favorites are Casa Guadalajara, Old Town Mexican Café, Rockin Baja Lobster, and Café Coyote. 

HILLCREST (Uber or car) is located close to Balboa Park and has been considered foodie central for many years, although a number of challenger neighborhoods now exist. You can’t go wrong is this vibrant community. You will need to drive or Uber, parking is usually challenging. Technically between Hillcrest and the Gaslamp (next to Balboa Park) is Banker’s Hill Bar and Restaurant, which sources from local area farms and is among our favorite of San Diego’s American-style restaurants. It’s located just a few blocks from Bertrand at Mr. A’s, another excellent choice (mentioned above). Hash House a Go Go has truly monumental portions of foods—be sure to split plates. Arrivederci has stood the test of time, providing excellent Italian food.  Tractor Room is another classic. Saigon on 5th is one of the top picks for Vietnamese. Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro is popular. The Patio on Goldfinch is another wonderful choice.

NORTH PARK (Uber or car) is an up and coming dining neighborhood, also close to Balboa Park. URBN on University Ave is a great casual bar/restaurant with garage doors that open to the street. The West Coast Tavern in the Lyric Theatre building is also fun. Other favorites include The Smoking Goat and Urban Solace.

POINT LOMA (Uber or car). If you have time to check out Point Loma and the Cabrillo National Monument, we recommend stopping at the restaurant EAT, located in the Pearl Hotel on Rosecrans. Dine beside the pool.

LA JOLLA (Uber or car). Besides George’s at the Cove and Brockton Villa, we also recommend Truluck’s, although it is located a little east of La Jolla. Herringbone has an amazing atmosphere and good seafood. For inexpensive breakfast or lunch, Harry’s is the classic spot.