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CALIFORNIA BLUE

MAY 15TH, 2008

CALIFORNIA BLUE

San Diego is in the midst of a renaissance. The southern California metropolis is as hot as the scorching sun that bleaches its beaches.

stay
A neo-gothic gem, The Sophia was built in the roaring '20s and was the city's first hotel with en suite bathrooms. Nestled between Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter, it retains its flapper vibe, but with a $16 million reno it now has luxe modern amenities today's flappers have come to expect. 150 West Broadway, 1-800-826-0009, www.thesofiahotel.com

shop
Forget postcards. Scent is a proven trigger of memories. Claus Porto's 12 months of soap box set ($99)—August's red poppy, May's mimosa—will do the trick. Available at Little Italy's Mixture, a 1940s warehouse converted into a treasure trove. 2210 Kettner Blvd., 619-239-4788, www.mixturehome.com

eat
No need to head to Tijuana, just wander to the Gaslamp Quarter. La Fiesta's mole pablano ($16), chile rellenos ($13) and camarones al chipotle ($24) will have you shaking your maracas. 628 Fifth Ave., 619-232-4242.

do
Get your motor running and head out on the highway. Downtown San Diego Harley-Davidson will hook you up with a rental hog for a self-guided tour up the Pacific Coast. What better way to experience the pine-tree dotted mountains that give way to causeways and ocean air? Maybe the one time that leather chaps are socially acceptable. 2400 Kettner Blvd., 619-233-6677, www.downtownsandiegoharley.com

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