San Diego – Business and Pleasure!

Any time I travel for business, I try to squeeze in some additional fun time. If my company is already buying airfare, why not take advantage of it? My job doesn’t involve a lot of travel, maybe 2-3 trips per year, so it’s perfect for supplementing my own vacations. When I was asked to attend IBM’s big conference in May, I jumped at the opportunity! The conference was on a Tuesday and Wednesday, and I wasn’t about to fly in and fly out without a little R&R. I opted to take a vacation day on Monday; enabling me to fly out early Sunday.

Tip: Sometimes flying out on a weekend may reduce your airfare enough to cover an additional hotel night! Check your company’s travel policy!

Aside from a quick road trip from Palm Springs to Tijuana about ten years ago, I hadn’t been to San Diego. For all intents and purposes, this was a new city to explore. And there was an overwhelming number of options!

First order of business when landing on the West Coast is to find fish tacos!  I checked in to my hotel, fired up the Yelp app, and walked over to the waterfront area to Puesto for a beer and tacos. Delicious!

As soon as I landed, I headed to Puesto for fish tacos and cerveza!

I spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Seaport Village, which was very touristy, but I could have spent the entire day in the Kitson boutique.

 

Coronado Kayak Rental

So, what to do with my vacation day? As much as I also wanted to visit Balboa Park, I chose a Bike and Kayak tour of Coronado. On Monday morning, I walked a few blocks from my hotel, jumped on the Coronado ferry, and checked in for the bike tour.  Turns out, I was the only customer, so I got a private tour.  We essentially pedaled around the island, either on bike paths, or wide roads.  Not a lot of traffic to worry about, which was nice.

After a few hours on the bikes, we were back at the office and I was informed that I had 2 hours before the kayak tour would begin.  So, I went off for lunch and came back for a private kayak tour with the same guide.  Any day on the water is a good one, and this was no exception.  Although we didn’t really go anywhere, it was nice to see the city from the water, and to paddle under the giant Coronado Bridge.

Business Travel

After some ice cream and a ferry ride back, I was about to turn into a pumpkin, er, go into business mode. The work part of the trip started Monday night with a pre-conference dinner at Top of the Market, which appeared to be a fancier version of the Fish Market downstairs. As much as I sometimes dread networking dinners, after a few glasses of wine and good food, they usually end up being pretty fun. Besides, how many people can say they’ve taken a pedi-cab with their boss and 3 coworkers? (That poor guy who had a pedal us all over town!)

Tuesday would bring a full day of conferences, followed by a cocktail hour at Atmosphere, a bar on the roof of the Marriott Gaslamp.  Incredible rooftop!

After a quick dinner at Rockin’ Baja Lobster, (more fish tacos!) it was time for the big concert of the convention.  IBM apparently pulls some big names in every year. This year, Aloe Blacc performed to a small audience.  I hadn’t heard of him before, but recognized his music when I heard it.  The venue was small enough that we were able to squeeze right up to the stage.

After the concert, it was time for barhopping in the Gaslamp District.  After a few shots of Jaeger, on top of everything else consumed that night, I snuck out and grabbed a cab home so I could still be fresh for another full day of conferences.  Gone are the days of staying out all night and going straight to work the next morning!  Mwah-mwah.

Westin San Diego

I chose to stay at the Westin San Diego – it fell within our corporate travel policy, and was also affordable for the 1 night I was footing the bill.  The buildings were very distinct, so I could always spot the hotel and find my way back!  The neighborhood was interesting…on the quiet side, but not in a good way.  Very close to the train and military museum, but also next door to a YMCA/hostel with a lot of homeless in the area. I heard drunken shouting very late into the night one night (from one deranged person) The Westin Gaslamp looked a bit nicer and in a great location as well, although quite a bit pricier.  My room, though, was great. Everything I would expect from a Westin. Did I mention the free airport shuttle?!  Huge bonus in my book!

I left San Diego with the same thought I have in most cities (except New York!):  “I could totally live here!”

What’s the most fun you’ve had on a business trip?

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Coronado Kayak Rental

 

 

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Ohio’s First Adventure: Marietta

Kayaking the Muskingum River with Marietta Adventure Company

Marietta, Ohio is a sleepy town along the Ohio River in the South-East corner of the state. Before my visit, Marietta (or Ohio for that matter) was not really on my travel radar. My compass almost always points West to the mountains, but I am so glad I took the opportunity to visit Marietta. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of outdoor activities in Ohio. It’s no wonder that National Geographic named Marietta Ohio’s Best Adventure Town!

Marietta is the oldest city in the state of Ohio (founded in 1787) and the first American settlement of the Northwest Territory. Marietta’s history goes back even further to the Hopewell and Adena tribes, who left behind ceremonial mounds which you can still see today. Marietta grew popular as a riverboat town, and still celebrates their steamboat heritage.

Historic Bike Tour with Marietta Adventure Company

What to Do in Marietta

You will be surprised at the variety of activities to explore in Marietta. I spent 48 hours and could have easily filled twice that amount of time!

Kayaking in Marietta

Kayaking the Muskingum River with Marietta Adventure Company

Marietta Adventure Company has everything you need for a day of adventure on local water. They offer guided tours, rentals, shuttle service and kayak sales. Even if you have your own boat and shuttle, they have some useful links on their website that you should check out.

When I visited, we had a short guided tour from our launch on the Muskingum River, into the confluence of the Ohio River, past downtown Marietta, a quick stop at Buckley Island and on over to West Virginia, where the van picked us up. In addition to the guided tours, it looks like they will have some special events, like full moon paddles, in the summer!

Marietta Adventure Company

Biking in Marietta

Historic Bike Tour with Marietta Adventure Company

Marietta Adventure Company also offers bike rentals and sales. We were given a historic bike tour by one of the owners, who said they are considering offering these tours in the near future. I hope they do, because it was a great experience. We all commented on how comfortable the cruiser bikes were, too! As someone who occasionally bike commutes in Chicago, I found the wide streets and low traffic to be very relaxing for our ride around town.

The paved River Trail follows the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers for 3.5 miles through town. The Marietta Trail Network has over 20 miles of groomed single-track and the Marietta unit of Wayne National Forest features technical mountain bike trails if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush!

Hiking in Marietta

Wayne National Forest

Marietta offers excellent hiking opportunities, including the Frontier trail right in town, and nearby Wayne National Forest. We hiked part of the Archer’s Fork loop with a forest ranger, where we saw natural arches and caves in just a short hike. The North Country Trail also passes through this area.

Less than an hour away, you will also find Hocking Hills State Park, which is a beautiful park filled with waterfalls and hiking trails.

Ghost Tours

Ghost Trek with Jessica from Hidden Marietta

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, Hidden Marietta offers tours chock full of history and ghost lore. We joined the owner, Jessica, for an evening ghost trek around town. As we strolled through the Front Street area for about 2 hours, Jessica (in 1800’s apparel!) regaled us with stories from Marietta’s past, which was quite scandalous at times!

Marietta College Planetarium

I was really excited to visit the Anderson Hancock Planetarium for a special show with Dr. Bragg. The planetarium holds public programs each month, so check the website for details. (Tip: bring a sweater!)

Covered Bridges

Hune Bridge, Wayne National Forest

Nine covered bridges remain in the Marietta area. You can plan a self-guided tour with help from the Marietta CVB.

Festivals in Marietta

Marietta Sweet Corn Festival – this July festival celebrates the agricultural history of the region, with music, food and entertainment.

Rivers Trails & Ales – it’s just what it sounds like – a celebration of paddling, biking and local ales. Taking place in August, RTA offers fun for the whole family.

Ohio River Sternwheel Festival – this September festival seems to be the talk of the town. The Lafayette Hotel keeps a running wait-list for this big weekend, which brings dozens of authentic sternwheel boats, and over 100,000 visitors to town!

Where to Eat in Marietta

Blue Cheese Chips at The Galley

Marietta has a great variety of dining options, from casual cafes to trendy bistros. Here are the places I visited in Marietta:

  • Busy Bee – located in Harmar Village, this small cafe uses fresh ingredients from local farms. Great breakfast spot to fuel up for outdoor adventures!
  • Harmar Tavern – Harmar Tavern offers a classic menu of American favorites, including the “soon to be famous” bologna sandwich. Great patio for outdoor dining!
  • Third Street Deli – I had a delicious Southwest chicken panini from this deli! Grab a picnic lunch before heading out on a hike.
  • The Galley – this restaurant in the Hackett Hotel was the most upscale that we tried, although still casual. Really enjoyed the blue cheese chips appetizer!
  • The Gun Room at Lafayette Hotel – hearty breakfast menu with a ton of classic breakfast options.
  • Over the Moon Pizza – this was my favorite spot! Not only was the pizza delicious, but the owner, Moon (a former mayor of Marietta) entertained us with stories of growing up in Marietta, and his encounters with Bigfoot.

Over the Moon Pizza

Where to Shop in Marietta

Front Street

Marietta’s historic district has no shortage of charming shops to browse during your visit. Boutiques like The Cook’s Shop, Rossi Pasta, S|P Curated and Karen’s Crafts have a wide variety of items to bring home as souvenirs.

Where to Stay in Marietta

  • Historic District – I recommend staying in the historic district for a more authentic experience, as well as being in walking distance of great food and drink.
    • Lafayette Hotel – (Dog-Friendly!) check out my review here.
    • Hackett Hotel – the Hackett Hotel is another great option for your visit. This 5-room hotel is in a building with a long and colorful history (hint: more ghost stories!) The building also houses the Galley restaurant and Adelphia music hall.
    • If B&B’s are more your style, check out the options here!
  • Chain Hotels – if you prefer chain hotels (no judgment, I love my SPG and IHG points, too!) you will find plenty of options near the interstate.

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Ohio's First Adventure

I was hosted by Visit Marietta to learn about the variety of outdoor adventure opportunities in Marietta. These are solely my personal opinions/experiences and I was not financially compensated for this post.

This post is also part of the Weekly Postcard. Click the photo below to check out other posts this week!

Two Traveling Texans
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