San Diego Spring Break Crawl: Vacation Ideas Beyond the San Diego Zoo

San Diego fish tacos
Fish tacos at San Diego's Mariscos Nine Seas Food Truck make a cheap and delicious spring break lunch. Photo: Jess Moss
March weather in San Diego -- sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s -- makes it a popular spring break hub. While the college crowds may swarm the beaches (or head south over the border), there are things to do all over the city to channel spring break.

Get the All-Inclusive Treatment:Hornblower Brunch Cruises
Pay one price for a bundled food or drink experience

For $60 you can have a buffet brunch of salads, eggs Benedict, seafood, meats and dessert -- plus all the champagne you can stomach. But unlike eating at a resort restaurant, the view here constantly changes -- you're on a bay cruise around San Diego, after all. Watch the Coronado Bridge, sailboats and Point Loma sea lions float by as you pick up another glass of bubbly.

See the Green Flash at Sunset:JRDN
Where to watch the sunset

For sunset specials with an ocean view, try happy hour at JRDN, the clubby beach bar at Pacific Beach's Tower23 Hotel. Happy hour specials on the chatty bar side run until 7 p.m.; for a more subdued but equally scenic set-up, reserve an outdoor table on the restaurant side (then try the house-made bourbon ice cream).

It's 5 o'clock Somewhere -Here:Bali Hai
Where to get a great tropical drink

You'll overlook the mildly suburban Polynesian vibe as soon as you see Bali Hai's bay view of San Diego. Known for its mai tai ($7.95), which, with no juice and three rums may be the strongest version of the drink you've ever tasted, the restaurant also has milder drinks like the Mr. Bali Hai ($6.50), a mixture of rum, pineapple juice and blackberry, which come in tiki mugs you can take home.

Closer than Disney World:WaveHouse
A fun activity for kids and families

If the prospect of riding real ocean waves seems a bit too rough for your kids, try the simulated waves at WaveHouse in Belmont Park. The FlowRider ($20 per hour, plus $10 registration fee) is an endless wave made for body boarding, so it won't knock the little ones around. The ride is currently under renovation, but is expected to reopen in early March. If you're in San Diego before FlowRider's back in action, Belmont Park has lots of other beachfront amusements. Or try another spring family favorite: a visit to Carlsbad's Flower Fields, a 50-acre expanse of flowers -- including a blooming American flag.

Budget Beach Bites:Mariscos Nine Seas Food Truck
An affordable beachy or seafood meal

There's no twitter handle, no cutesy branding and no brightly designed exterior: this South Park food truck's all about the food. Parked in the Gala Foods lot at Grape Street and Fern, Mariscos serves freshly made fish tacos that start at under $2. There are makeshift tables and seats in the parking lot, and you get a free cup of soup while you wait for your food.

Planning a Caribbean spring break instead? Check out our island finder >>


Jess Moss is senior editor at MapQuest and AOL Travel. Her favorite thing about spring in San Diego is the warm, sunny Balboa Park picnic-friendly weather.

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