Getting there: San Diego is 121 miles south of Los Angeles via Interstate 5. As you approach the downtown area on I-5, exit at Front Street/Convention Center. The offramp will fork; take the right lane. Proceed to West Ash Street and turn right to North Harbor Drive. This will put you in the heart of the embarcadero area.

Lodging: Two hotels, a Marriott and a Hyatt, are positioned right on the water at the south end of the embarcadero. Though not normally fond of chain properties, we found the Marriott Hotel & Marina to be very comfortable, and its towers are positioned to maximize the bay views (even our lower-priced city-view room picked up a sideways view of the bay). The hotel has been offering a lot of competitive packages lately, most of which include breakfast. Web site quote for a weekend stay for two in early February: $204 per night. Information: (619) 234-1500; www.marriott.com. The Hyatt Regency is right next door. Web site quote for the same February dates: $235. Information: (619) 232-1234; www.hyatt.com. A short walk from the waterfront and also very popular is an Embassy Suites. Web quote: $209. Information: (619) 239-2400; www.embassysuites.com. Convenient to both the train station and the tour-boat docks is a Holiday Inn. Web quote: $126.50. Information: (619) 232-3861; www.holiday-inn.com.

Dining: There are more than a dozen seafood restaurants sprinkled along the waterfront, from Seaport Village to Shelter Island. One of the best is the Fish Market, 750 N. Harbor Drive (between Seaport Village and the tour boat dock). It has a casual dining room downstairs (ideal for lunch), a more elegant one upstairs. The fresh fish is abundant, and the restaurant's mesquite broiler is ideal for preparing it. Information: (619) 232-3474. If you eventually burn out on such grub and desire a change of pace, consider Rainwater's, which feels like a cross between a 1950s steak house and a private men's club. It features steaks, chops and other hearty entrees, with side dishes that are decidedly not heart-smart. It's a couple of blocks from the embarcadero, just steps from the train station, at 1202 Kettner Blvd. Don't worry: It has plenty of seafood on the menu, too. Information: (619) 233-5757. For breakfast, avoid the nondescript fare and the astronomical prices at your hotel and head to a delightful locals hangout, Cafe 222, also near the waterfront at the corner of Island Avenue and Second Avenue. The casual setting is pleasant, the food creative and the service friendly and attentive. Information: (619) 236-9902.

Information: San Diego tourist information can be obtained at (619) 236-1212; www.sandiego.org.