Mission Valley is easily accessible. Every major freeway leading into San Diego County passes by or through the valley. Thus, many attractions and suburbs are less than 30 minutes away.
Accessibility to Mission Valley is easy with the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Green Line (511) or [sdmts.com]. This trolley line travels in an east–west direction through the heart of Mission Valley. It makes stops at Old Town, Morena/Linda Vista, Fashion Valley Transit Center, Hazard Center, Mission Valley Center, Rio Vista, Fenton Parkway and Qualcomm Stadium where the mighty San Diego State Aztecs play. Then it stops only a few blocks from Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá before heading up to the campus of San Diego State University and on to La Mesa, El Cajon and Santee.
To aid residents and out-of-towners with an ever-changing Mission Valley, we have divided the chapter into regions. These areas are best identified by their main streets. Bold-faced numbers in the text correspond to their map location.
Fashion Valley (13) at 7007 Friars Rd. (619-688-9113) is the largest and ultimate shopping destination in San Diego County! It has more than 200 specialty shops and restaurants, an 18 screen theater and five department stores including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.
Hazard Center is ideally located off the 163 Freeway at Friar’s Road. It’s home to a half a dozen memorable restaurants. The top attraction, which is destined for greatness, is the first San Diego location of Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill at 7510 Hazard Center Dr. 619-764-4411) [woodranch.com]. You’ll love their premium baby back pork ribs, sensational salads and homemade desserts. It’s open weekdays from 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. and weekends from 11:30 a.m.–10:30 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. They also offer curbside take out and would love to cater your next event. It’s located next to the Doubletree Hotel in Hazard Center (see map).
Farther east on Friars Road is one of the newer shopping centers in the valley, Fenton Marketplace (16). Anchor stores include Costco, IKEA Home Furnishings and Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse. Complementing these stores is a host of places to eat.
CAMINO DEL RIO NORTH
This frontage road, which parallels Interstate 8, runs in an east-west direction. See map. Westfield Mission Valley (17), 1640 Camino del Rio North (619-296-6375) is a major shopping center featuring 120 stores, shops, a food court, and restaurants.
Also on Camino del Rio North tucked under the Interstate 15 freeway and next to the I-8 Freeway in East Mission Valley is the immensely popular Dave & Buster’s Restaurant Bar and Arcade (3) at 2931 Camino del Rio North (619-280-7115). You won’t find a better venue for fun and games and memorable parties. This unique bar and the game venue is perfect for people of all ages from kids to adults.
Getting rave reviews is Hunter Steakhouse (16) at 2445 Hotel Circle Pl. (619-291-8074). This legend in fine dining boasts being in business for 40 years with two locations to serve you including Oceanside. When it comes to prime rib, theirs is hard to beat. They hand-cut all of their own steaks, award-winning prime rib, fresh seafood and many homemade dishes they have become well-known for. One of their specialties is banquets and catering. So if you’re looking for a special place or a special menu, call Hunter Steakhouse first. See Restaurants.
SAN DIEGO’S OLD MISSION
For a glimpse into the fascinating way of life of the Franciscan missionaries who first colonized San Diego back in 1769, visit the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá (33), 10818 San Diego Mission Rd. (see map). Contact the Visitor Center (619-281-8449) or Parish Office (619-283-7319). An excellent mapped, self-guided tour of the grounds and building is available. Admissions are ($5) for adults, ($3) for students and seniors and ($2) for children 12 and under.
MISSION TRAILS REGIONAL PARK
Mission Trails Regional Park (27) (619-668-3281) is truly one of the ten wonders of the world. It is in fact, larger than Mission Bay and Balboa Park combined. And at 5,800 acres, it is the largest open space urban park west of the Mississippi River. And the spectacular, panoramic view from their 4,000 sq. ft. Visitor Center Terrace is nothing less than breathtaking.
This unique offering includes two lakes, a scenic stretch of the San Diego River and Old Mission Dam; a day-use campground for picnics; and Cowles Mountain, which is the tallest mountain in the city and from the summit offers panoramic views of the city clear to the Pacific Ocean. Plus, there are over 40 miles of trails, which easily accommodate hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, birders, and equestrians. There are also 600 different types of plants within the park, including over 300 varieties of wildflowers. Plus, they offer daily interpretive walks and have a Park Ranger on staff. The hub of activities takes place at nearly 15,000 sq. ft. Visitor and Interpretive Center, which is open from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily except New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The park itself is open every day of the year. The Center features a fascinating display of exhibits of animals and foliage in their natural habitat as well as rotating exhibitions of works by local award-winning artists. Don’t miss this unique glimpse of nature, which is only five minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Mission Valley.
MORENA BOULEVARD SHOPPING AND DINING
A really delightful must-see store is City Lights Year-Round Christmas Gifts, Collectibles and Emporium (11) at 1212 Knoxville St. (619-275-1006). Imagine 40,000 sq. ft. of everything you could ever want for Christmas and more. The moment you walk in the door you’ll be mesmerized with glittering ornaments, holiday decor and jolly Santas. Mention their ad, for a free San Diego ornament.
For the best Cuban cuisine this side of Miami, dine at Andre’s Cuban and Puerto Rican Restaurant (24) at 1235 Morena Blvd. (619-275-4114). André’s has been a favorite for 30 years for their savory Cuban and Puerto Rican dishes served in an atmosphere of tropical plants, romantic background music and attentive service. See Restaurants.
NEARBY KEARNY MESA SHOPPING AND DINING
A fabulous dining destination near Mission Valley is Kearny Mesa’s Convoy Street Asian Restaurant Row, which is San Diego’s answer to Chinatown in other cities. See Kearny Mesa on the Mission Valley map. Here you’ll find fabulous cuisine from China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Plus, you’ll find some of San Diego’s favorite American restaurants here, too.
A great restaurant on the dining scene is China Max (1) at 4698 Convoy St. (858-650-3333) in Kearny Mesa. They serve outstanding Cantonese seafood cuisine and outstanding dim sum.
For fantastic pancakes served daily, look no further than The Original Pancake House (5) at 3906 Convoy St. (858-565-1740). Their name says it all! Here you can enjoy house specialties like the oven-baked apple pancake with a cinnamon glaze or the Dutch baby which is served with butter, lemon and powdered sugar. Also featured are wonderful crêpes, waffles and omelets made with farm fresh grade AA eggs. See Restaurants.
Another local favorite is Sunrise Buffet (5) at 3860 Convoy St. (858-715-1608). They offer more than 100 entrées. Diners come for their great food, and come back because of their affordable prices.
A few blocks north is Phuong Trang Vietnamese Restaurant (4) at 4170 Convoy St. (858-565-6750), which is the most recommended Vietnamese restaurant in San Diego. They have received accolades from the Channel 10 News A-List and the San Diego Union-Tribune, as well as praise from San Diego Magazine, The New York Times and Fodor’s. Their specialty is delicious-tasting Vietnamese cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood and healthy vegetarian entrées. See Restaurants.
And a shopping treasure located on Aero Drive is Canyon Pottery Co., Inc., (7) at 8080 Armour St. (858-279-2600). They have the largest and most impressive collections of outstanding planters and architectural accent pieces in Southern California at 40 percent discount prices on most planters and accessories! Gainey Ceramics, Talavera planters, architectural supplements, handcrafted Italian terra cotta and ceramics and Raku vases, along with wonderful rustic planters are just a few of the many beautiful pieces you’ll find at this 2-acre showroom warehouse. Present their coupon, and receive $10 off your purchase of $50 or more of retail prices (excluding tax)! See Shopping.
With a ton of things to do in this neck of the woods, it makes good sense to live in this centrally located area as well. Newly built Broadstone Corsair (10) offers 360 luxury apartments at 8583 Aero Dr. (844-289-3533) [BroadstoneConsair.com]. And if you love Asian cuisine, nearby Convoy Street is teeming with one great restaurant after another.
You’ll find one of the best breakfast spots in the city at 2801 University Ave. It’s The Mission Restaurant (619-220-8992). This is where hungry diners come for simple, healthy, great-tasting food. A popular breakfast selection is their blueberry cornmeal pancakes which are decorated with a tart berry purée, powdered sugar and fresh fruit. Also delicious are their Latino breakfast plates, like the pappas loco which are rosemary potatoes served with grilled jalapeños, black beans, cheese, avocado and sour cream. They also have locations in Mission Beach and East Village. See Restaurants.
SPORTS ARENA AREA
Less than two miles from the many hotels in Mission Valley is the Sports Arena Area, which is home to the Valley View Casino Center, and a host of delicious places to dine. At the top of this list is Yummy Buffet (25) at 2855 Midway Dr. (619-222-3388 [yummybuffet.com]. Their all-you-can-eat Asian buffet is second to none. Their wide array of cuisine includes king crab legs served at dinner only as well as baked salmon and a 20-foot long fresh salad bar as well as freshly made sushi.
The big attraction though, is the Valley View Casino Center (1), formerly the San Diego Sports Arena, at 3500 Sports Arena Blvd. (619-224-4171). It is a year-round local attraction in more ways than one. Yes, it’s home to touring attractions like the ice follies, sports events, rodeos, family shows and rock concerts.
Before the show, a nice place for bite and a drink is Brazil by the Bay, located behind the arena at 3676 Kurtz St. Authentic Brazilian food and great prices!
Yet the biggest attraction is Kobey’s Swap Meet (1) (619-226-0650), which is located in the parking lot of the Sports Arena. This swap meet is the largest in the county. So don’t miss it! It is held every Fri.–Sun., 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Admission ranges ($1–$2). Many vendors accept credit cards. See Shopping. Be sure to use their discount coupon in this book for admission.