San Diego is how one might imagine the whole of California to be and it certainly is the epitome of especially Southern California – bikini clad girls playing volleyball on glittering gold sand beaches, guys in board shorts heading into the warm ocean water with surf boards in hand, palm tree lined streets, all day pool parties, bars serving cocktails to happy crowds until the early hours of the morning and of course, endless amounts of sunshine! But besides lying on the beach, sipping cocktails in the pool or visiting the famous San Diego zoo, how does one spend a long weekend in California's second largest city? Below is a list of the highlights from our recent trip to San Diego which should give you some ideas.
Hire a car (even if just for a day) and explore the coast. We headed up to Pacific Beach and to La Jolla where we saw the sea lions and seals relaxing on the rocks and then enjoyed the most fantastic lunch at George's at the Cove (we shared the ceviche and fish tacos but every single plate of food coming out of the kitchen looked amazing and if you're looking for a deliciously refreshing cocktail, the Hound Dog is an absolute must). We also headed down to Point Loma where you can explore the light house, observe the monument of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (who was the first European to set foot on the west coast of the USA), pop into a few (rather small and sad looking) museums or (my advice) simply enjoy the views over the Pacific or the city.
Party up a storm in the Gaslamp. We actually stayed in the Gaslamp (which I would highly recommend) and I absolutely loved exploring all of the little bars and restaurants along Fifth Avenue. I especially enjoyed cocktails at the rooftop bar at Rustic Root. We also ended up dancing the night away with some friends (who happened to be in San Diego over the same weekend) at OMNIA, which also has a rooftop area where you can regain your composure after being dizzied by the two dozen (or more) disco balls moving up and down on the main dance floor downstairs. But whatever you're after – stylish Italian restaurant, Irish pub, sports bar, steak house, cigar lounge, coffee shop, somewhere to satisfy your sweet tooth, you'll find it in the Gaslamp.
Spend a day on Coronado beach. It's a very quick ferry ride to Coronado from the 5th Avenue Landing and when you arrive in Coronado a free bus runs between the ferry landing and the beaches and famous Hotel del Coronado (approximately 1.5 miles / 2.5 km south). We lay on the sparkling beach (the sand literally sparkles as a result of flakes of mineral mica) all afternoon and even I had a dip in the ocean which is beautifully warm! There looked to be stax of great lunch spots along Orange Avenue but given our proximity to Mexico, we thought that Mexican food would be a good bet and we weren't disappointed at Miguel's Cocina.
Cycle through Balboa Park. On our last day we borrowed bicycles from the hotel we were staying at and headed towards Balboa Park. Be warned, it's uphill all the way if you cycle from the south (Gaslamp) to the north (Hillcrest). We only did a quick cycle along mostly the western edge of the park and along El Prado but there are also a host of museums, attractions and restaurants in the park that you can enjoy. We actually had dinner at The Prado at Balboa Park on Sunday night but were rather disappointed as the food was pretty ordinary.
Have breakfast in Hillcrest. After our uphill cycle through the park, we stopped at Fig Tree Cafe in Hillcrest for the most delicious breakfast of french toast with fresh berries and sweet cream cheese – truly delicious and worth the effort to cycle there.
I hope that you also enjoyed a long, warm and sunny 4th of July weekend!
Stay tuned as I'm sure I'll be updating this list frequently – with the fog creeping into San Francisco for the Summer and San Diego only a one hour flight away, it really is the perfect spot to enjoy a weekend getaway!