Maralyn Hill and I enjoy meeting in San Diego for business and pleasure. A special spot for us is Shelter Island, but all of San Diego draws us. It is our go to base for visits to wineries, driving to Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, taking a cruise, and long walks along sandy ocean beaches.

Since my son, captain Matthew, lives aboard his sail boat in San Diego harbor, I have access to bicycles, water sports, paddle boards, and all the fresh fish I can catch.

Mai Tai at Bali Hai
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Mai Tai at Bali Hai

This year I chose my San Diego favorite spots for holiday celebrations. A summer birthday featured the famous Mai Tai’s at Bali Hai, along with fresh seafood, then a short walk to a concert at
Humphrey’s by the Bay on Shelter Island in Pt. Loma.

Thanksgiving brought us back to Shelter Island’s Bay Club, boutique style hotel and marina for a traditional turkey dinner at the picturesque Quarterdeck waterfront restaurant.

Scorpion at Grass Skirt Speakeasy
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Scorpion at Grass Skirt Speakeasy

A group of us enjoyed the secrecy of a South Sea’s island style speakeasy, called Grass Skirt, which is a deli by day.

I choose to return to my old haunt, the Isle of Palms Hotel and Marina, for Christmas filled with warmth, cheer, and quiet ambiance.

We dined like kings on roasted prime rib with traditional old English trimmings at Fiddlers Green authentic Irish waterfront pub.

Bali Hai Outdoor Dining on Shelter Island
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Bali Hai Outdoor Dining on Shelter Island

There is a visitors book about 101 things to do in San Diego, known as America’s Finest City. During my 32 years of visiting, I have barely begun to experience a third of them.

A few highlights I recommend are the hands-on Birch Aquarium and kayaking in La Jolla, exploring historic Old Town San Diego, the trolly tour, and Miguel’s Mexican restaurant on Taco Tuesdays. San Diego is also known as the Craft Beer Capital of America, with over 130 craft breweries.

No need to drive in San Diego, a walkable city, or go green by bus, train, trolley, Uber or Lift, taxis, bicycles, scooters, and boats.

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Lee and Matt Sailing on Mission Bay

It is the wildlife, sea creatures, parks, beaches and 70 miles of coastline that draws me back to San Diego. As a culinary writer, I delight in the historic Liberty Station farm and artisan markets, for cut flowers, French patisseries, gourmet coffee, wine bar, and the fresh fish catch of the day. The diversity of neighborhood dining options adds a California touch to cuisine from around the world from well-know chefs, to casual beach taco stands, or dining on a yacht.

If I am lucky enough to greet the new year in San Diego, I will celebrate at Old Venice, my Italian cafe in Pt. Loma. Or perhaps, back my top choice, the captivating Marine Room Restaurant on the brink of the LaJolla shore. Maralyn and I recently enjoyed the company of the warm and wonderful French Chef, Bernard Guillas, who has been  at the Marine Room for nearly 25 years.