36 Hours in San DiegoPublished July 21, 2011
Courtesy of Charlotte Reed
San Diego, California is known for its favorable climate, miles of beautiful beaches and assortment of family attractions. Additionally, the city offers a variety of things to do, appealing to two-legged and four-legged guests.
When a consulting client offered to fly me out to San Diego, I asked for them to fly me out a few days earlier so that I could attend the Sixth Annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition. I have never been to the competition and was excited to attend. Moreover, between the surf dog competition and working for my client, my English Toy Spaniel Rhone and I had thirty-six hours to enjoy San Diego together.
Since I always stay at the first Hotel Indigo located in Atlanta, I wanted to try out the San Diego property. As compared to the Hot-lanta property, the California property is more upscale and conveniently located in the Gaslamp Quarter, full of shops, restaurants and other amusements. Although the hotel staff provided excellent service and the resident dog Sandy was friendly, the hotel does not have much of a pet program.
Upon a late night check-in, I asked for the pet food menu and bowls for my hungry dog. At this hotel, there was neither a pet menu nor any pet food in house. Most disappointing was the old and stained plastic bowls that I was given for my dog to eat out of. Now, this was a big No-No, or a “faux paw” when you have a pet expert staying on property who has a chapter about her entitled “Miss Fido Manners” in the W Hotel’s Guest Book, has introduced the Hilton Pet Program, can easily discuss which Loews for pets she loves most, can chat about the amenities of the Kimpton dog properties, the benefits of staying in the Red Roof Inn, has a peaked interest in the development of fairly new dog programs at the Best Western and worships Little Nell’s for creating the first pet program for four-legged guests.
All I can say, is, thank God for the 7-11 down the street! For one night only, Rhonie feasted on Purina Alpo Home Style Prime Cuts with Beef Cuts in Gravy off of Chinet. Only the best for my dog!
And in the morning, our thirty-six hours begin.
8:00 AM: Where the Pet’s Go
After a short walk around the neighborhood, Rhone and I ended up down the street from the hotel at the 9th and K entry gate to Petco Park. This area of the stadium is opened to the public as a neighborhood park. Once inside we check out the grassy knoll where local dog owners meet, let their dogs play for a few minutes and exchange pleasantries. Here, we found out about the best dog places in the neighborhood.
9:00 AM: Leashed Fitness
Since taking a fitness class with your dog is one of the hottest fitness trends, Rhone and I drove to Carmel Valley to take the doggy and me fitness class taught by Dawn Celapino, ACE. Celapino taught her Leash Your Fitness program class at the Markin Pet Resort. Our class was made up of 23 pet parents who sprinted, did jumping jacks, leg kicks and stretches with their "furkids" in tow. Eventually, we directed our dogs under and over hurdles, up and down the A-frame and through the weave poles. Since most of the dogs in the class, were large, Rhone could only jump over a few hurdles and walk under the others. After three attempts, she conquered the A-frame. Our favorite students were the Harlequin Great Dane who was adept at taking the A-frame and a Golden Retriever with nasal cancer who really enjoyed being out and about with other dogs. After the hour workout, we were exhausted.
Noon: Let’s Eat
Al fresco dinning in San Diego is par for the course so Rhone and I meet up with my friend Cynthia Nakagawa and her dog, Sophie, for a street-side lunch at the Royal Thai Cuisine restaurant in the busy Gaslamp Quarter. Cindy and I met years ago on the San Diego leg of my W Hotel sponsored book tour. Cindy is an active dog mom on the San Diego pet scene. She rescues dogs, pays their medical expenses, socializes them in her lovely Rancho Bernadino home and takes care to find them good families. (Check out her Facebook. She is looking for a home for Shih-Tzu now.) At lunch, we noted the restaurant staff was genuinely pet-friendly, sitting us at an appropriate table which would be better for our dogs and offering them bowls of fresh water.
2:30 PM: Dog Beach
Later in the afternoon, I drove over to Coronado to meet up with friends at the North Beach Dog Run. The 24 hour, off-leash dog beach is located on Ocean Blvd. next to the naval station. While at the dog beach, Rhone was content to sit far back from the water’s edge and watch the large dogs frolic on the beach, play Frisbee and Tug of War.
4:00 PM: Self-Service Groom
After so many outdoor activities, Rhone needed a wash and dry for our San Diego Living TV show the next morning. From the hotel, we walked over to City Dog pet store to use the self-service dog wash. For $10, I was able to wash and dry Rhone on premises. Upon check-out, I remembered that I needed to purchase some stainless steel feeding bowls. Thanks to store owner Gary, we also borrowed a few things for our TV segment the next day.
8:00 PM: Cocktails with the Canine
After an exhausting day, Rhone and I were happy to sit out in the Hotel Indigo’s outdoor space on the 9th floor and watch (with a limited view) the Padres game at Petco Park. This large and comfortable outdoor space has a bar and hosts the hotel’s monthly canine cocktails event for guests and neighborhood residents. Additionally, the 9th floor outdoor area is outfitted with a potty area. Having an outdoor potty area is a huge plus, especially for weary travelers who might not want to give their dog a long night walk after a long day of activities.
9:00 AM: San Diego Living
Since San Diego has so many outdoor sporting (especially water-based) activities for dogs, I was asked to discuss how to prep your dog for a sporting event. I explained that dog should be clean, flea and tick free and well-behaved. Moreover, for their added protection, pet owners should bring a soft-sided crate, sunscreen, fresh water, portable bowls and a life preserver for them if they will be going in the water. Additionally, I showed how top canine athletes stay fit with FitPaws conditioning equipment by using demo dog Schnitzel and handler Earlene Winn of TailWaggers who came all the way down from Redondo Beach, California.
11:00 AM: Meeting at Petco
Since Petco employees bring their dogs to work, I took Rhone to my meeting with Marketing and PR Execs at Petco’s corporate headquarters. In our meeting, we discussed the new Petco Certified Nutrition Program and how it makes it easier for pet owners to select pet food. We also talked about the growth of the new Unleashed Stores and the impact that they are making in their communities around the country. Rhone’s contribution to the meeting was that she snored so loud she sucked in the curtains.
1:30 PM: Lunch Break at San Diego’s Best Steak House
Located within walking distance from the Hotel Indigo is Cowboy Star restaurant and butcher shop. As always the food was super delish. The large rib-eye provided ample left-overs for a hungry dog like Rhone. The restaurant was recently voted Best Steak House in San Diego.
3:30 PM: Nate’s Point Dog Park
When visiting a city with your pet, it is always a good idea to obtain a copy of the local pet magazine. After picking up a copy of San Diego Pets Magazine, I headed for Nate’s Point off-leash dog zone in Balboa Park. This popular dog park is located on the West Mesa of Balboa Park, immediately south of El Prado / Laurel Street. If you want to visit the park, be patient because finding a place to park can be difficult, especially on the weekends. Nate’s Point is about 2.3 acres, completely fenced, and amenities include a drinking fountain, picnic tables, and double-entry gate. Here, a lot of people were discussing the Loews and Purina Surf competitions and taking paddle boarding classes with their dogs.
6:00 PM: Shopping with dog in tow
Before visiting certain dog-friendly places, it is always best to call to make sure that they are still dog-friendly. Prior to visiting Horton Shopping Plaza, I called to review that dogs are still welcome. Since they are, Rhone and I walked over to the mall to do a little shopping. This outdoor shopping center features approximately 200 stores, a variety of dining options and entertainment, events, and more.
8:00 PM: Off to La Jolla, California
Our 36 hours of free time ended with our leaving the Hotel Indigo for my work assignment in La Jolla. Rhone and I are looking forwarded to coming back to San Diego before the end of the summer and taking a surfing lesson at Coronado Surf Academy and the paddle board lessons with Happy Dog Happy Owner.