THE INSIDERS: SAN DIEGO
GO: San Diego, in southern California right on the US border with Mexico, has a mild climate and fantastic beaches and is a great place to visit all year. But what better time than San Diego Beer Week, which starts on November 6? What Napa is to wine, San Diego is to craft beer. With 115-plus breweries, the options are incredible and feature a broad range of styles. Head to Guild Fest on the Saturday, then plan a fun week. Check out my Mike Hess Brewing’s North Park location and get a unique view of a brew house from our sky bridge, or try AleSmith’s new tasting room and brewery in the Miramar area. For cocktails, don’t miss Seven Grand in North Park; sdbw.org; mikehessbrewing.com; alesmith.com; sevengrandbars.com.
EAT: Nothing beats a beach and a barbecue and Iron Pig Alehouse in Pacific Beach fills the bill. Downtown, go for a hand-tossed pizza and craft brew at Ciro’s Pizzeria or American fare at the city’s oldest brew pub, Karl Strauss, on Columbia. North Park is full of choices, but definitely get to Waypoint Public, the locals’ neighbourhood bistro and bar; ironpigalehouse.com; cirossd.com; karlstrauss.com; waypointpublic.com.
EXPLORE: If you love pups and sand, visit Ocean Beach’s dog beach, or spend time paddling or swimming to the buoys or just exploring the tide pools at La Jolla Cove. San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park is about 40 minutes’ drive north of downtown and features amazing animals in a free-range habitat across 800ha; sdzsafaripark.org.
BUY: Skip the malls and support local artists and merchants by heading to San Diego’s neighbourhoods such as Ocean Beach and North Park, which buzz with artisans creating and selling everything from chocolate and clothing to photography and furniture plus, of course, craft beer and spirits.
STAY: Hilton San Diego Resort at Mission Bay and Paradise Point Resort both feature amazing bay and ocean views with restaurants showcasing the best chefs and culinary delights. Mid-city, try The Lafayette Hotel located in “hip” North Park; relax by the pool or walk to well-known restaurants, breweries or San Diego Zoo. Hotel Solamar is located in the heart of the downtown Gaslamp Quarter, the premier dining, shopping, nightlife and entertainment district, within walking distance of the Convention Centre and baseball’s Petco Park; sandiegohilton.com; paradisepoint.com; lafayettehotelsd.com; hotelsolamar.com.
Mike Hess is chief brewing officer and owner of Mike Hess Brewing Company, along with his brother Greg. Mike started home-brewing in his Philadelphia apartment in 1995 and his company has won major awards for its beers; mikehessbrewing.com. Insiders editor: Graham Erbacher Graham.Erbacher.news.com.au