hotel del coronado

Photo: Courtesy © Steven Vidler/Eurasia Press/Corbis

San Diego

An idyllic coastal city

FIRST-TIME ESSENTIAL  Housed within the country’s largest urban cultural center (Balboa Park), the San Diego Zoo spans 100 acres—nearly twice the size of the Oregon Zoo—and is one of the only places in the world where you can see a giant panda. TIP: Go early in the day when the zoo’s 4,000 animals are most active. sandiegozoo.org

MAXIMUM EXPOSURE  Trace the shoreline of San Diego’s ritziest northern neighborhood on a kayak tour of La Jolla. If the cliff-clinging mansions don’t leave you gape-mouthed, the sea caves and aquamarine waters filled with sea lions, dolphins, and schools of colorful fish certainly will.

ZEN MOMENT  Spying the telltale spouts of migrating gray whales from your vantage atop Point Loma’s Sunset Cliffs. And with 18 acres of oceanfront bluff to choose from, you’re sure to commune with nature all on your own.

EAT THIS  A few years ago Men’s Journal named San Diego America’s #1 Beer City. Ahem. Consider it your Beervana civic duty to test this unlikely thesis with a tour of the North Park neighborhood, where several craft beer–centric restaurants like The Linkery, a renowned sausage-and-meat house with an extensive beer list, showcase the best of San Diego’s 35 breweries. thelinkery.com

  • 3 flights from PDX daily
  • 65 average high temp in February
  • 70 miles of coastline

REST YOUR HEAD  Kimpton Hotels—owners of Portland’s Vintage Plaza and Hotel Monaco—recently renovated the artsy Gaslamp Quarter’s Hotel Palomar into a den of modernism complete with plush pillow-top beds, a new gastro-lounge (Saltbox), and a sleek rooftop pool and bar. hotelpalomar-sandiego.com, from $169

FOR LOVERS  Once a location for Marilyn Monroe’s Some Like It Hot, the lavish 121-year-old Hotel del Coronado and its two miles of pristine shoreline across from downtown San Diego all but guarantee a steamy weekend. hoteldel.com, from $289