Where to Stay, Eat and Chill in Downtown San Diego From a Local’s Perspective

The Westgate Hotel’s Vanessa Saenz Gives Us the Downtown Dish on Spa Days, Staycations and Shopping Local

Photographed By: Kambria Fischer
Illustrations By: Vicente Martí Solar  See in San Diego

Name: Vanessa Saenz
Job Title: Sales Manager, The Westgate Hotel
Resident of: Downtown/Cortez Hill
Local Living: 1.5 years


3 Must-Do Activities at The Westgate Hotel: See in San Diego

-Attend an afternoon tea! Think three courses and plenty of champagne.
-Get in a workout at AquaVie Fitness + Wellness Club—the biggest gym in downtown.
-Throw on a plush robe and order room service. Pro tip: the lemon ricotta pancakes are divine.


Off to the Market

One of my favorite ways to support small businesses is by visiting local farmers markets. My favorites are Little Italy’s Mercato on Saturday mornings and the Ocean Beach Farmers Market on Wednesday nights—two totally different vibes. Indulge in the three-layer dip from Baba Foods Hummus stand in Little Italy or enjoy a variety of freelance vendors, musicians and fire dancers in Ocean Beach.


Dream Day See in San Diego

When it comes to staycations, it’s no surprise The Westgate Hotel is at the top of my list. My unofficial itinerary would start at AquaVie Fitness + Wellness Club—our downtown urban oasis. Then, I’d lounge by our heated rooftop pool (the biggest pool in downtown), order drinks, maybe get a massage at AquaVie Spa, and then walk to Gaslamp for dinner. 


You Had Me at Tajin Rim

Don’t get me started on El Chingon’s “Bad Ass” drinks. My favorite is the Bad Ass Chamango Marg made with tequila, triple sec, lime, chamoy and mango puree, served in a goblet glass with a tajin rim and topped with a tamarindo straw and a Lucas Mango Paleta. Happy hour takes $7 off these big boys! As for food, you can’t leave without trying their crispy potato tacos… I’m not drooling, you are.


Walk in the Park See in San Diego

Kate Sessions Park has to be one of my favorite spots for socially distanced fun in the sun. In May, I went out there maybe two or three times per week to read, picnic or hang with friends. There’s so much space that everyone can distance without worry. Best part is, the park has the most amazing views of Mission Bay.


Get Your Glow On

With all of the added stress from the pandemic paired with the lovely masks we have to wear all day, my skin was in need of some serious TLC. #Maskne is no joke! I found Skin Habit a few months ago, and I was hooked after my first consultation! I love my monthly facials, and most of their products are clean and paraben-free!


The Westgate Hotel
1055 Second Ave
San Diego, CA 92101

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