For those of you who recoil from direct sunlight, break out in a rash when your ankles touch vegetation and prefer to feel the grit of brake dust, not trail dust, between your teeth, we bring you: The Urban Hikers Guide.
Rule No 1: Legit rest stops are ones that have air-conditioning, require a shirt and shoes and have bathrooms that are tidied up at least once a day.
Rule No. 2: Eye candy in the form of shop windows and architecturally exciting buildings is a must.
Rule No. 3: Sorry, beach cities and suburbs. Your lack of really tall buildings disqualifies you from urban-hiker foot traffic.
Rule No. 4: Thou shalt not bring thine own sustenance. Non-pre-packaged food and drink should be readily available for purchase along the route.
Martin Luther King Promenade
Starting point: West Market and Harbor Boulevard at the hedge maze (yes, indeed: hedge maze).Ending point: Park BoulevardDegree of difficulty: Easy, unless you hang a right at Fifth Avenue and take a jog up six flights of Convention Center steps.Rest stops: San Diego Wine and Culinary Center (200 Harbor Drive, closed Sundays) for wine and snacks; Maryjane's Coffeeshop (in the Hard Rock Hotel at Fifth Avenue) for diner food and cocktails.
It's amazing how many San Diegans have never walked the promenade, which stretches for a mile along Downtown San Diego's Harbor Drive. Along the path are quotations from MLK Jr. and public art inspired by his life and work. Take it all in, of course, but when you feel a fit of ADD coming on, leave the path to scope out the following:
- Urban Lighting: A lamp and lighting shop that's more like a modern-art museum. 301 Fourth Ave.
- Cost Plus World Market: Pick up Republic of Tea Ginger Peach Green Tea, a bag of Haribo gummy candy and some curry mix for dinner. 372 Fourth Ave.
- Jolt N Joes: Downtown's closest thing to an old-school pool hall (pool tables are upstairs). 379 Fourth Ave.
- Chinese Historical Museum: With its traditional Asian garden and rotating exhibitions on Asian art and history, museum admission's a steal at $2. Currently on display: Magnificent Chinese Boxes of the Past. Open 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. 404 Third Ave.
- San Diego Convention Center: Pretend you're a conventioneer and pick up free stuff. You know the Drug Information Association trade show (June 21 through 24) will be swag-o-riffic.
Southwest Golden Hill
Starting point: Pick a spot, any spot within the area bounded by 19th Street to the west, F Street to the south, 25th Street to the east and A Street to the north, otherwise known as the Greater Golden Hill Historic District.Degree of difficulty: Hilly in some spots, but lots of shade in others.Rest stop: Influx Cafe (see below)This is kind of a do-it-yourself, wander-around hike. You've got your San Francisco grade hill (B Street between 20th and 21st streets), your charming Victorians* and some off-the-beaten path things to do:
- The San Diego Women's History Museum: Free admission! Just go when it's open—noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Currently on view: All Our Grandmothers (“a visual journey through the lives of women who lived in his region 100 years ago”) and, through May 30, Framed with Hope, a photo essay depicting the lives of orphans in Jakarta. 2323 Broadway, Suite 107.
- Flying Panther Tattoo & Gallery: Rob Benavides is practically a tattoo god in these parts for his Dia de los Muertos-themed ink work. 2323 Broadway, Suite 101
- Influx: Before it was cool to open shop in North and South Parks and Golden Hill, there was Influx. Booze? No. House-made granola, tasty sandwiches and excellent blended coffee drinks. Absolutely. 1948 Broadway.
- Quartermass-Wilde House (2404 Broadway): Built in 1896 by San Diego developer / department store owner Rueben Quartermass. It's now a law office, so look, but don't bother the inhabitants. Unless you need legal counsel.
- Hayward-Patterson House (2148 Broadway). Built in 1887 by yachtsman Albert M. Hayward and later owned by Francis Elliot Patterson, a professional photographer.
- The Union (at 19th and B streets): OK, it's not a Victorian, but it's stunning. It's one of architect Jonathan Segal's buildings, named for being the former site of the San Diego Textile Workers Union, which Segal adapted and integrated to form 13 town homes, two live / work lofts and his own office.
- Other Spots: Loring House and Edward Parmalee House, opposite each other at 22nd and F streets (both built in 1893); Waters Residence, 2124 Broadway (1887); S.I. Fox House, 1004 24th St. (1911); McKee/Stewart House, 2460 B St. (1897); E Street between 24th and 25th streets (don't miss 2441 E St., built in 1898).