The North Park branch has a pretty decent collection of non-fiction books, particularly cook books and travel guides. The fiction section leaves something to be desired, but it makes up for this with tons of DVDs (it beats paying to rent movies at the video store!), though the Mission Valley location has more. Get there early if you want to use the public internet though, as I've had to wait a half an hour for a computer before. My only major complaint is that the city cut this branch's weekend hours (Sat 9:30-2:30, Sun 1-5).
PROS: Very good non-fiction and video selection
CONS: Rather incovenient weekend hours
This is a cute little used bookstore on a block full of cute little book stores. The difference here is price. 5th Avenue books has a lot of remaindered and just plain inexpensive hardbacks. They also have a pretty wide selection, especially considering the size of the store. And if they don't have what you want, there are 3 or 4 other bookstores within walking distance.
I have had to fix ALOT of things wrong with my apartment, and this place has always had what I needed. It is run by a couple guys that seem to take their tools very seriously, and while it is a dark, cramped store, they have everything small the major hardware stores would have (except lumber), and for slightly better prices (in my opinion).
This thrift store has TONS of furniture in really good condition, and it is usually on sale. It is a great place to help furnish that new apartment. Unfortunately, as far as thrift stores go, it tends to be a bit pricey, especially in terms of clothes, which are also hit and miss. All proceeds go to the San Diego Rescue Missions, which helps the homeless.
OK, I know that this is a small part of what they do at the race track, but in my opinion it is the best. On Fridays throughout the summer, Del Mar race track offers live concerts with EXCELLENT bands after the races. Price? General admission to the track this year is $8.
Obviously, they also have horse races from July to September, and other events throughout the year. However, as a huge music fan, it is really exciting to see some of my favorite bands in an outdoor venue for $8 a ticket.
This little place on the corner of Wall Street and Hershal in La Jolla has some of the best paninis ever. The staff is a little quirky, but nice, and they make excellent sandwiches. Definitely a local lunch favorite, though they only have a few tables, so plan on getting carry out.
Old Town Market is a conglomeration of several different gift shops and vendors covering a wide range of interests. The building also houses a couple of small "museums" which occupy a corner in several shops in order to give an educational spin on the blatent commercialism. The staff tends to be friendly, and prices are resonable. All in all, these are fun shops with a little bit of kitsch and alot of gifts to send to relatives in colder climates during the holidays.
Located between the Hospitality House and Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, the Japanese Friendship Garden is a beautiful and relaxing place to walk and escape the hustle and bustle for a while. My favorite spots were the koi pond and the meditation room, which is so well insulated, you can't hear any of the airplanes flying overhead. They also have a few art exhibits centered around a Japanese theme that are well worth the $3 admission.
Hornblower is one of several cruise companies that run whale watching tours during the Grey Whale migration past San Diego each winter. While they can't guarentee how much whale you'll see, they do have a guarentee that if you don't see anything on the 3-hour cruise, they will give you a free ticket for another one.
In addition, they offer regular 1- and 2-hour harbor cruises past alot of the Navy sites and the more interesting parts of the bay (of note the USS Ronald Reagon, some cool submarines, and California Sea Lions).
Both tours were alot of fun, especially when we saw a pod of greys and hundreds of dolphins within half and hour of each other. It can be a bit pricey, but they often run coupons in the Reader. All in all, lot of fun (but don't forget the dramamine).
If you are looking for new and used vinyl records in San Diego, this is the place to be. In addition to records, they had tons of hard to find CDs and local bands, and very helpful staff.
SPECIAL NOTE: Off The Record just openned a new location in North Park! They are located at 2912 University Ave., right next to Claire de Lune coffee house.