I am reviving this thread because the Lovely Bride, Clive, Nigel, and I will be
visiting there this May. The zoo is a definite as is Balboa Park. What's the
Gas Lamp District like?
Well you can take a walk around
using various local maps to see for yourself.
It's an area of bars and restaurants. It's nothing to write home about but can be a good spot for a night out, you can pay for parking somewhere and just walk around pub crawling, checking out restaurants etc.
Little Italy is smaller and less famous, but it's also a nice spot to get something to eat and you can walk down to Harbor Drive
The Bride asked me whether I wanted to take a bus tour to Mexico. I don't
know much about what cities/towns are in range or whether, with only a week
to spend, it is worth it.
You can be in Mexico in half an hour, so it really matters what you are interested in doing. But do note that the border crossing to return can be a pain. I had some friends who would love to go eat tacos, or seafood (there's a great and cheap lobster place they loved) but I never thought it was worth the hassle and there are much better places to see in Mexico than what's near the border.
Some other recommendations:
Of all the tourist traps, I think Sea World is the most fun. I've been to amusement parks and tourist attractions around the world and I still remember the Sea World trips the most fondly.
Not cheap (I think it's over 30 or 40 bucks) but it's better than the zoo IMO.
I also think La Jolla cove is a must visit. There are some great restaurants with great ocean views there, and you can walk along the cliffs over the water. It's one of the most beautiful spots in San Diego. Here's what I used to do (any time other than weekends it's great, on weekends it's going to be crowded with no parking).
I'd turn into this parking area
(center of the map) right after turning on to prospect. It's just a little spot with about 5 parking spaces, but it's empty almost anytime but weekends.
There are some stairs leading toward the water, on the map it's labeled park row, and leads to what they are calling "coastal walk", hang a left at the bottom of the stairs and you will be walking along a cliff over the ocean behind some cliff-side mansions. There are some benches and it's usually very peaceful and calm.
If you keep walking a few minutes you'll end up here, at Coast Blvd
. I used to work in in that park as you can see from these horrible blue photos
One block inland, and you are on prospect, where there are a lot of nice restaurants and art galleries, and this area is, in my opinion, the most beautiful spot in San Diego bar none.