There is a place full of sun, sand, surf, twisting seashore drives, perfect weather, fine cuisine, drinking and beautiful people. No, it’s not Los Angeles. Nicely positioned just 125 miles south of L.A., San Diego stands as testament that you need not suffer traffic-induced comas to have a little fun.

San Diego seems to have everything Los Angeles does – a lively downtown nightlife, beach-going college crowds, upscale shopping areas and an endless selection of restaurants and bars – but unlike L.A., the ocean feels as if it’s right next to you most anywhere you go.

First and foremost, you’ll need a place to rest your head, so check out the downtown 500 West hotel. An urban, European-styled hotel with 260 rooms, the 500 West is a historic landmark and no more than a hop, skip and jump away from downtown San Diego. Affording such amenities as harbor, city and courtyard views, an onsite fitness center and complimentary morning newspaper service for only $69 a night, you really can’t miss. And with rates so low, the hotel is popular with students, meaning there are always plenty of young, attractive people to fraternize with.

After you’ve checked in, the most logical thing to do is to head down to the historic Gaslamp Quarter, home to the town’s best nightlife. Start by silencing those hunger pangs at the Gaslamp Strip Club – A Steak Place. The GSC is not what it sounds like, but is instead a grill-your-own steak house with excellent atmosphere and choice cuts of meat. Because you cook your own food (except for the side dishes) the prices are reasonable. And when you’re done eating, there’s a full bar to satisfy any leftover thirst.

Nothing settles the well-fed stomach like a fine smoke. Just across the street from the GSC is a smoke shop and hookah lounge called Gran Havana. The company makes their own cigars, rolls them locally in San Diego and sells them at reasonable prices. The décor resembles a cigar warehouse and provides the perfect place to relax with a good Robusto.

If you’re up for some late night carousing, head out toward the beach and find a bar called Pacific Shores. If the Day-Glo murals of underwater scenes don’t make you smile, then the drink prices definitely will. Even the driest patron can fill his tank for a comparatively meager sum.

For the late night munchies, try Moondoggies, a local beach version of TGI Friday’s, complete with good food and a young, college-aged crowd. It’s definitely the place to be when you’re by the beach.

But wait, you can’t leave San Diego without first visiting the staple Old Town San Diego and Historic State Park. Here you can check out a free barn-turned-museum that chronicles the settlement of the area, wander through local merchant shops and have some fantastic Mexican food for lunch at one of several restaurants, such as Casa De Bandini.

At the end of the day, it’s almost impossible not to say you’ve had a great time visiting San Diego. And because it’s not a huge tourist town, you’ll find few crowds and a relaxing vibe. If you’re in need of a quick getaway, make like the Spanish missionaries and visit San Diego for a getaway you surely won’t forget.

For more information on a trip to San Diego, visit the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau at