On the first day of the year, the roads are empty and most televisions are tuned to the Rose Parade — some for the flowers, others in anticipation of the Rose Bowl (USC against Michigan this year). For those who go to bed early on New Year's Eve, January 1 is the perfect day to enjoy San Diego sans the usual crowds. I asked concierges at six hotels what to do on New Year's Day while most of the town is relaxing at home. Gibran Huerta, concierge for the W Hotel, suggests taking the ferry to Coronado for ice cream at Moo Time Creamery and oceanfront ice-skating at the Hotel Del Coronado. "It's a really cool rink, like the one downtown, but there you're right by the water, and you can catch the sunset," says Huerta. January 1 is the last day the rink will be open this season. Prices range from $10 to $25. A round-trip ferry ticket is $6.
Huerta also recommends the Miramar Speed Circuit, an indoor track for kart racing. The track will operate under its usual Monday hours, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Those with children should be aware that they must be at least four feet tall to ride the junior karts. Nonmembers pay $23 to drive. "Another cool thing would be a day trip to Puerto Nuevo, which is only 45 minutes from the border," adds Huerta. "You could grab some lobster, and the lines won't be that long crossing the border."
"Last year I went to lunch with a friend at [Trattoria] La Strada and walked to Seaport Village and looked at the view," says Coco Gaiter, concierge for the Manchester Grand Hyatt. For those who prefer a guided experience, Gaiter recommends the Old Town Trolley Tour. "I learned a lot about Old Town and how San Diego originated," she says. "When Stingaree [a new restaurant and club downtown] first came out I was, like, 'That's a really cool name,' but now I know there's actually a story behind it. Before San Diego was a major city, there was a red-light district, an area for gambling and prostitution they called the Stingaree." The trolley tour, which lasts two hours and travels from Old Town State Park to Coronado and back with a total of eight stops, lists tickets at $27 for adults and $13.50 for children aged 4 to 12.
Michael Anderson, concierge for Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa, says January 1 is a good day to golf. "Torrey Pines is open 365 [days a year], and you usually have to book at least a week or two in advance," he says. If all of the tee times are taken, Anderson suggests heading to downtown La Jolla for some window shopping and a meal at the Asian restaurant Roppongi. "Dining in downtown La Jolla is always busy," says Anderson. "But on New Year's Day it should be unusually quiet, and there should be available parking, which never happens."
January 1 is the last day to view the "Holiday of Lights" at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The drive-through light show (a 1.5-mile route into the Fairgrounds and around the racetrack) includes 400 lighted and animated holiday-themed displays. The viewing takes approximately 15 minutes. Cars carrying up to five people are charged $13 and those with six or more, $18. Buses pay $48.
Concierge for the Four Seasons Resort Aviara Sarah Gagliardi encourages people to go out and get some fresh air. "I would put on a sweater and bring a little picnic to the beach. People can bring their bikes to ride along the Carlsbad boardwalk or set out a blanket on the sand," says Gagliardi. "It's a great day to set goals with your family. Get everyone a new calendar and set five goals for this year. Have lunch, enjoy the outdoors, walk on the beach, take the beauty in, and appreciate a new year and a fresh start."
"Go out on a sailboat or a bigger harbor excursion boat," says Alfonso Villa, concierge for the Marriott Hotel & Marina. "You'd have most of the boat to yourself. It's also a great time to charter a boat and have a little private party on the bay." If Villa had the day off, he would go to the La Jolla Cove and watch the seals. "Anytime from December to February is pupping season. This is the only place on earth that humans can get that close to [seals] in a natural environment," says Villa. "Last year there were 28 surviving pups. A couple of friends and I go every weekend, and everybody I recommend that to comes back to say it was an awesome experience. And it doesn't cost any money."
New Year's Day Activities
- Harbor Excursions: 619-234-4111 or www.sdhe.com
- Del Mar Holiday of Lights: 858-755-1161 or www.holidayoflights.com
- Torrey Pines Golf Course: 877-581-7171 or www.torreypinesgolfcourse.com
- Miramar Speed Circuit: 858-586-7500 or www.miramarspeedcircuit.com
- Oceanfront Ice Skating at Hotel Del: 619-435-6611 or www.hoteldel.com/holidays
- Old Town Trolley Tours: 619-298-8687 or www.trolleytours.com