The East Village (www.sdeastvillage.com), east of the Gaslamp Quarter, is beginning to outshine much of downtown. It helps that pleasant, intimate Petco Park (100 Park Blvd., San Diego) is tucked in amid the condos, hotels, retailers and restaurants. And it doesn't hurt that the ballpark has added Hodad's, a locally renowned burger joint, to its list of food purveyors. Start your evening early with a drink or modern Mexican meal at El Vitral (815 J St., San Diego), which sits next to the ballpark. After the game, or instead of it, proceed to the small but engaging Neighborhood (777 G St., San Diego) for a drink or a casual dinner. If you like craft cocktails, secret doors and texting your reservations a week in advance, you might be interested in Noble Experiment (www.nobleexperimentsd.com, open Wednesdays-Sundays), a speak-easy whose "secret" entrance is next to Neighborhood's bathrooms. After you're finished on G Street, you may or may not be ready to weave among the many conventioneer-friendly restaurants and bars of 4th and 5th avenues in the Gaslamp Quarter. When the time is right, flop at the Hotel Solamar (435 6th Ave., San Diego), a block from the ballpark. But don't try any of this July 12-15. That's when Comic-Con takes over downtown.
4. Little Italy
India Street, Little Italy ( Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times )
In the early 20th century, when tuna fishing meant more to San Diego than conventioneers did, Italian fishermen lived on and near India Street. Then the tuna industry began to shrivel, Caltrans put a freeway through the neighborhood, and Little Italy dwindled. Now it's back, with thematic emphasis, and India Street buzzes with shops, restaurants, bars, the occasional butcher and barber, and a handful of lodgings, all within about five blocks of the Embarcadero's historic ships (www.sdmaritime.org and www.midway.org) and eight blocks of the downtown train station. Stroll India between Beech and Grape streets, roll a little boccie in Amici Park at State and Date streets, maybe check out the galleries and design shops along Kettner Boulevard. For dinner, grab a table at Bencotto (750 W. Fir St., San Diego), where the Italian food comes with warm service amid cool, sleek design. Afterward, step over to Craft & Commerce (675 W. Beech St., San Diego), a bistro pub full of repurposed wood and red metal chairs, but no vodka or ketchup. (It's a flavor thing. Let your waiter explain.) Then La Pensione (606 W. Date St., San Diego) is waiting with 68 rooms upstairs. Failing that, the 23-room Little Italy Inn (505 W. Grape St., San Diego), which occupies an old building and feels more like a B&B, is just a few blocks away. Both offer rooms for less than $200.
5. Old Town
Old Town San Diego ( Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times )
If you like celebrating a Latin culture that thrived in San Diego long ago, you need not stop with Little Italy. Follow the legions of tourists north to Old Town, which was the heart of San Diego in its years under Mexican control from the 1820s to the 1840s. Parking might be difficult unless you arrive by San Diego's well-developed trolley system (www.sdmts.com), but scores of shops, displays, kid-friendly attractions and adult-friendly margaritas await in and around Old Town State Historic Park (4002 Wallace St., San Diego). If you're shopping, check out the Fiesta de Reyes shops and restaurants (www.fiestadereyes.com) and don't overlook the nearby Bazaar del Mundo (www.bazaardelmundo.com) on the 4100 block of Taylor Street.
Hotel del Coronado ( Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times )
Begin with a greasy-spoon breakfast at Clayton's Coffee Shop (979 Orange Ave., Coronado), with its horseshoe-shaped counter and military specials. Then meander to the beach by the Hotel del Coronado (1500 Orange Ave., Coronado), where Navy SEALs often train and sandcastle master Bill Pavlacka often fashions amazing edifices. Because the Del is right there, you might as well get another cup of coffee at the snack bar (and if Christmas is at hand, check out the lobby decorations). From the Coronado Ferry Landing, near the north end of Orange Avenue, you can catch a ferry to downtown San Diego and back. The rest of the day can go two ways. You can get an affordable dinner at Miguel's Cocina (1351 Orange Ave., Coronado) and spend an affordable night in the same complex at El Cordova Hotel (1351 Orange Ave., Coronado). Or you can splurge with a room at the Hotel Del (rooms in the newer buildings are larger than those in the original building). Or for a more intimate scene (but no pool), try the 1906 Lodge at Coronado Beach (1060 Adella Ave., Coronado) a few blocks away.
7. Point Loma
Point Loma Seafoods ( Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times )