For labor day weekend, Ananta and I visited San Diego. Ananta and my best friend Fatima both have visited San Diego couple of times and they can’t stop talking about it. So I thought it was time for me to check out what the buzz was all about!
We flew to LAX from MSP instead of SAN. From LA we did a mini road trip making ur way to San Diego. If your next trip sounds similar route, this can be a handy little guide for where to stop and explore. Fair warning, this is a long post. So if you are not interested in the whole blogpost then just click on the links of the places we stopped at during this road trip.
Los Angeles, Carlsbad, Encinitas, La Jolla and San Diego.
Let’s start with LA.
We arrived to LA on Friday night. This might probably sound crazy to a lot of people but instead of going to hotel, we went straight to The Bungalow in Huntington Beach where our friends from LA were waiting for us. I call Ananta and I restless kids because we both stay away from the idea of spending the first night/evening at hotel. You flew 4 hours to be in a different city. Why would you stop your adventure there? Well unless you have kids or have other circumstances that prevents you then that’s a different story. Anyways getting back to The Bungalow. The Bungalow is a fun little bar/lounge place right on the pacific beach. The line to get in can get long at times but once you are in, it is pretty chilled and relaxing inside.
We drove to San Diego the next morning, making stops at different little beach towns and cities. Traffic was horrible but I am assuming that is normal for LA.
Our first stop was Carlsbad. This was the first time I saw the pacific ocean on this trip. I couldn’t wait to walk on the sand. We parked on the free parking sites along highway 1 and had a nice little stroll on the beach. It was a nice way to stretch after a long slow bumper to bumper ride. Since there weren’t many options to eat near the Carlsbad beach, we drove to the next beach town, Encinitas.
I loved Encinitas. It is a cute little beach town with a lot of options to eat and explore. We got fish and shrimp tacos from the The Taco Stand. (I think we only ate seafood during this whole trip) You couldn’t see the ocean from the restaurant but it was nice to sit outside and do some people watching. I even got an orange Fanta and I never drink soda. I just felt like drinking. Before hitting the road again, we got some coffee from Better Buzz Coffee. We got The Best Drink Ever(TBDE) and Iced Moroccan Spice(IMS).TBDE was definitely good but not sure if it is the best drink ever. IMS on the other hand was unique. You could really taste some spice. But I liked TBDE better than the IMS overall.
Next stop on our itinerary was La Jolla!
The highlight was probably seeing the sea lions. I have never seen sea lions in their natural habitat and it took me by surprise how many and how close they come to humans. Well I think the humans were being obnoxious and getting way too close despite the warning signs put by the city. Not cool people! Most of the sea lions were in La Jolla cove. We spent a good amount of time walking along the coves.
There are many small coves and beaches that do not have sea lions where you could bring your mats and relax. We just weren’t prepared to go to water. So we kept walking around 🙂
There were many snorkeling and kayak tours around the cove too which again, we couldn’t fit into our schedule.
Another thing we missed is visit to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (pheww long name!) San Diego is known for big oceanography studies and research. It will be really fun to learn facts about the ocean patterns. I would actually love to know why the ocean is so calm in La Jolla.
As the sun started to set, we made our way to our hotel in San Diego.
We stayed at Manchester Grand Hyatt which is conveniently located in the heart of downtown San Diego. We were right behind Seaport village and within walking distance from USS Midway Aircraft carrier museum. What more, the hotel was very close to the most happening part of the city, Gaslamp Quarter. We had dinner at Cafe Sevilla the day we arrived. I highly recommend this place for dinner. Live music and some Spanish flare. Wait time might be painful but food and ambience is good. Hence reservation is also highly recommended.
Of course if you are out at night in Gaslamp quarter, you have to check out the night life. As a matter of fact, Cafe Sevilla is a good place to start. We made it to two lounges/clubs; Florent and Omnia. Florent has two floors: upper level for hiphop while basement is deep house. Ananta and I both love house music so we really enjoyed the music out here. Omnia on the other hand is a proper EDM club with DJs. Two floors and a roof top – this place is huge and packed! We also made it to a hookah lounge called Myst which interestingly served full menu and drinks.
The next morning after an adventurous night out, we got our breakfast at this cute coffee shop, Copa Vida. We were on the waitlist for another restaurant called The Mission which was listed by both Thrilist and Eater for best breakfast but we couldn’t wait and Copa Vida looked really nice. Plus this place specializes in coffee. So we decided to just ate here. After a relaxing breakfast, we made our way to Balboa Park through Little Italy. Little Italy is a cute neighborhood with many choices to eat of course majority of it being Italian!
Balboa Park is one beautiful place. So many museums and things to look at. I could spend hours just walking around or go around and around in one of those cute Electriquettes.
Another interesting places to visit is Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This place is the birth place of San Diego. There are many historic buildings including San Diego’s first school and many adobe style homes. The whole park looks like a mini theme park with many shops and eateries. I wish I had some pictures to share but I completely forgot to take any.
We went for a short drive to National Monument which is close to Old Town. National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on west coast. Since this is at a higher elevation you get good views of the entire San Diego city. Likewise, if you drive down towards to ocean, you end up at tide pools. As the sun sets, the water level goes down and you can see many rock formations which are submerged under the water during early hours of the day. It is interesting how nature works, isn’t it?
There are many beaches in San Diego but my favorite of all is the one at Torrey Pines. You can hike your way down and relax at the beach. But if you are more of a board walk person then Mission Beach might be the place for you.
During our trip, we feasted at many places. Pier Cafe and Extraordinary Desserts are two other places that I recommend visiting. Pier Cafe is a cafe built right on a pier. It surrounded by water from 3 sides. So basically it feels like you are on a boat. Plus the fish 3 ways was really good! Extraordinary Dessert is one of the popular dessert places in San Diego. When you look at the pastries the first time, you are wow-ed at everything because everything looks so beautiful. Then you realize they are just regular pastries with real flowers on them. But then you take your first bite and you go straight to heaven again. So light. So good! I could probably eat 5 of those…at once!
And that wraps up my little guide! I made sure I ended it with something sweet. Hah! You see what I did? If you made it all the way till the end, then give yourself a pat on your shoulder! There were so many restaurants and little places we stopped by but above mentioned places are definitely the highlights and recommended places to visit. Let me know if you have a favorite. I definitely need to visit this place again!
As always thank you for sticking with me!
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