Tag Archives: Old Town

San Diego and Butterfly Boucher

We’ve been following singer/songwriter Butterfly Boucher since 2004 — in fact, since the first day we tuned in to the now-defunct Indie 103.1 and heard “Another White Dash” for the first time. We caught her opening for Barenaked Ladies a few months later and picked up her album, then caught her again opening for Sarah McLachlan later that year. Her second album, “Scary Fragile”, finally came out on Tuesday (it’s very good — Katie says it may be the best sophomore album she’s ever heard), and she’s doing a concert tour. She’s playing in Los Angeles most of this month, but timing worked out better for us to go see her in San Diego on Saturday. So we bought some tickets and made a weekend trip out of it.

Historic San Diego

We drove down after lunch on Saturday and hit Old Town San Diego on the way in. (More Highlander Grog!) I could swear I don’t remember having trouble finding it before, but the last few times it’s been hard to get to even following a map. At least we managed better than we did in December, when we ended up several miles inland before we could find a place to cross the inlet.

I don’t remember much going on the last time we were there, but this time Old Town was in full-on living history mode, complete with tour guides dressed up in 1800s outfits and a horse-and-buggy ride.

I’d booked the Courtyard San Diego Downtown because it’s literally next door to the House of Blues. It took a while to negotiate the one-way streets, but once we arrived, we stepped inside and were blown away by the lobby. It turns out that the hotel used to be the building for the San Diego Trust & Savings bank. After the bank closed in the 1990s, Marriott bought it and converted it to a hotel. The vault, safe deposit rooms, and other rooms on the first floor became a conference center, and the offices on the upper floors became guest rooms. They’ve preserved as much of the old look of the place as possible, down to keeping the mail slots on the former office doors. (Don’t worry, they’re blocked.)

We ate dinner at Chopahn (6th Ave. near F St.), an Afghan restaurant we first visited during last year’s Comic-Con. It was empty when we got there, which I hope was just because we were there on the early side, because the food is great. Another couple arrived while we were eating, but they were the only people we saw other than the waitress. She had started pushing tables together as if they were expecting a larger party later on.

After dinner we wandered the Gaslamp district for a while. I kept making notes of where various hotels or restaurants were located. Eventually I realized I was basically scouting for Comic-Con next month.

Around 7:00 we made our way to the House of Blues.

Concert

That’s when we discovered that we’d been under a misapprehension about the nature of the venue. Continue reading

San Diego Weekend

We went to San Diego this weekend for a company event. The drive down on Saturday was quite nice — much faster than any of the times we’ve driven down for Comic-Con, for instance. It took us only an hour and 20 minutes to get to Old Town San Diego, and that was with taking the wrong exit and driving two miles inland just to be able to cross the river.

Old Town San Diego wagon and rockWe had lunch at El Fandango in Old Town, then wandered around the shops for a bit. By now we’ve seen most of the exhibits and museums. But the San Diego House of Coffee and Tea is a must-visit stop, if for no other reason than to pick up some Highlander Grog. We also grabbed some hot coffee to walk around with, since it was gloomy with occasional drizzling. (I later noticed a sign in the Gaslamp area that said “Umbrellas $9.95. When Raining, $19.95.)

Cut-out CactusThey had set up period tents and wagons around the grounds, mostly in the courtyard with the flagpole made from the ship’s mast. One of the shops we visited was the mineral & gemstone store, which I’ve always liked visiting even back when I was a kid. And right up front, they had the hugest trilobite fossil I’d ever seen, around a foot long.

After a few hours, we drove into downtown San Diego and checked into the Omni Hotel. I’d never stayed there before, but it’s highly sought-after among attendees at Comic-Con because it’s right across the street from the convention center. Our room had a view of the end of the convention center, which will shed a little light on the size of the crowds. Continue reading

Coffee Shops in San Diego [way out of date]

So, you’re going to Comic-Con, you want coffee, but you don’t want Starbucks. Maybe you don’t like their coffee, maybe you don’t like their size, or maybe you don’t like the fact that they sued a comic book artist over a parody several years ago.

I’ve been to a couple of It’s a Grind locations over the past few years, and decided to do some Internet searching for other coffee places in Downtown San Diego.

First, the chains:

It’s a Grind – highly recommended.

  • 1603 India St. (India & Cedar in Little Italy, near trolley stop)*
  • 690 First Ave. (1st & G, across from Ralphs, near Horton Plaza)
  • 10th & J St. (marked as Coming Soon on website)

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

  • 160 W. Broadway (Broadway & Front, near Horton Plaza)
  • Also inside the Ralphs at 1st and Market

No sign of Kelly’s or Peet’s, and of course Diedrich is gone. Though Starbucks has 15 locations plus the Seattle’s Best in the Gaslamp Borders.

I found a couple of lists at San Diego Coffee Houses and String Beans. I’m not sure how many of them are actually downtown, but these appear to be:

Seaport Coffee and Fudge Factory

  • 849 West Harbor Drive

Twiggs Coffeehouse*

  • 702 Ash Street (Ash & 7th)

Brickyard Coffee & Tea

  • 675 W G St (between 6th Ave & 7th Ave at the Seaport Village trolley stop)

If you get out to Old Town San Diego, I highly recommend stopping by the San Diego Coffee and Tea House. Seriously consider picking up a bag of Highlander Grog to take home.

* Not near convention center, but still downtown & near hotels.

So, are there any San Diego natives reading? Any suggestions–especially for places within walking distance of the convention center?

Missed Haunting

I was looking for info on the “Haunted Hotel” sign I snapped the other day, and discovered that the Whaley House in Old Town San Diego is supposed to be the most haunted house in America.

And it was just down the street from our hotel. We walked past it every morning on our way to the trolley station and every night on the way back. I’d thought about visiting it just out of historical interest, but our days were pretty much taken up by Comic Con.

At least that explains why people were wandering around the place with flashlights and cameras at 11:30 last night.