I ended my California trip in June and started my trip in November both in San Diego, covering everything the city has in 4-5 days. Just to note, the beginning of June is a great time to visit this place. Not sweltering hot, but just warm enough & beautiful to cover everything I wanted to do.
The short version: I’ve never been able to say that I wanted to truly live in any other place besides NY for an extended period of time…until San Diego. Maybe that’s why I visited this place twice this year.
The long version:
Things to see and do in San Diego
Water Jetpacking: I wouldn’t recommend this if you can’t swim, because getting up in the air and then landing deep in the water can be scary. It was $280 for a 15 minute flight with the video package, but I talked to the instructors pre-jetpacking, made friends, and they let me do 30 minutes all together! Social skills do pay off. Overall it’s exhausting, but so worth trying at least once if you love water. Most important tip: no matter how nervous you get, listen- the instructors are your golden ticket to success. At the bottom of my page is my video in case you have no idea what this is!!
Old Town: you really don’t think it’s that interesting driving by it, but then once you get inside, it’s the cutest village with a million things to do. We went to a wine tasting at Hacienda de las Rosas Winery ($10 for 5 different wines- if you go with a few people, get different ones and you can sample them all), an Olive Oil Tasting at Temecula Olive Oil (first off, this is a far cooler concept that I thought and secondly, we found the guy we spoke with to be very knowledgeable – I bought Roasted Garlic Olive Oil- it’s delicious!), Seeley Stable Museum, Toby’s Candle & Soap Shop (watched how candles are shaped in the cooling process- very interesting!), Cousin’s Candy Shop, and several souvenir shops. You can easily spend a day here attending the other museums (there are plenty more), restaurants, and other factories. Plan ahead with opening/closing times. Check out the link above to see what else you can do.
Coronado Bridge & Hotel: Be a dare devil and drive through the parking lot of the nicest hotel in San Diego. Be a real rebel and even though you don’t have a room booked, just walk around the premises of the hotel- it’s lavish, gorgeous and you may catch a wedding or two. Walk on the beach, and romanticize with a friend or significant other. The town is nice as well, though a drive through is probably enough and the bridge to get into the town is beautiful.
Balboa Park: One of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever walked through in my entire life – the type of park that you WANT to get lost in, wander around in, and fall in love. If you’re into that sort of thing, this is the place for you. Seeing it at sunset is beautiful, but don’t forget that it could get dark quickly, and then it’s difficult to walk around, so plan around mid-afternoon if you can. Aside from just walking the park and taking it all in, other attractions include various museums, performing arts theaters/social clubs, gardens, hiking trails, and miscellaneous other recreational activities.
La Jolla Cove: A beautiful walk alongside the water where you see many absolutely adorable sea otters, get a feel for the people of the city, and if you have time, take a walk through the town – filled with several stores and restaurants. We only stopped to have a few crepes, but just walking around the somewhat busy streets and exploring what the place has to offer is an adventure in and of itself.
Mission Beach/Bay Park: I stayed here for a short while, but the water was warmer than the ocean since it’s the bay, and I learned to paddle-board (although the real waves is something I have yet to do). We felt like this was more of a family place to go.
Pacific Beach: No matter what time, there are always people on this beach- swimming, laying out and soaking in the sun, playing Beach Bocce (our version was amazing), and relaxing. If you park your towels by PB Shore Club, then you might even have free entertainment in the form of music or people-watching. Yes, I occasionally like to do it too.
Gaslamp Quarter: If you crave seeing larger buildings, many restaurants, and really understand the assortment of people in San Diego, then this is the place for you to go. I personally didn’t check out the nightlife in this section of San Diego, but hear it’s fun as well. Expect prices for meals to be higher here, as with any downtown city area filled with competition. If you’re limited on time and not as big into city-life, then save this one for last.
On my second trip to San Diego this year (in late November), I also managed to go to:
Torrey Pines: This is both a golf resort and a place to walk around and hike. Winnie and I didn’t go to the gold resort, which I hear is beautiful, but the hike was great too. We only spent about an hour and half catching up and walking around there, but if you want to hike around more, there’s more ground to cover.
Poway Mt. Woodson Trail: This was about a 7 mile hike I did.. probably one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve done. I didn’t make it through the very end because we went late and it got dark quickly, but the views I saw were still something to take in. If you do make it to the top, there’s a famous Potato Chip rock (that sticks out) and is a great photo moment.
Bars we went to were all casual and a good time. Nothing extraordinary for a NY girl, but I wasn’t seeking that. If you’re going for high-class, these wouldn’t be it. If you want a feel for San Diego people and a chill, relaxed mood, two bars I enjoyed in the Pacific Beach area included Barrel Republic and Moondoggies (casual, fun bar). In Barrel Republic, you get a wrist band and sample as many beers as you want up to 32 oz. Then the bartendars evaluate you, and you can pay ask for another 32 oz. Awesome concept.
A few delicious places to eat
- Pacific Beach Fish Shop: just the most amazing fish tacos I think I’ve ever had. I don’t have a crazy basis for comparison, but these were just great. Trust me, please?
- Latin Chef Peruvian Brazilian Restaurant: I’ve only had Peruvian food a few times, but the way they make the food is great- a variety of menu options, good portions, good prices, and great quality. This place isn’t fancy, more of a casual place, so just keep that in mind.
- Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant: the food is good and the waiters are all sweet as they try to make the place feel very Italian (and in my opinion they succeed). You can also catch some dance classes here on certain nights. Check ahead for times.
- Cafe Athena (Greek & Vegetarian Restaurant): great authentic Greek food, reasonable prices, beautiful interior and excellent service.
I’m not sure if I just got lucky and stumbled upon a great set of people, but if everyone in San Diego is like the people I hung out with the two weekends I spent there- well, I just should’ve moved there a long time ago. M.A.- thank you for the amazing stay both times and for being such a sweetheart to us ladies and making sure I got to see what I wanted! Noland, thanks for the second stay too!!
I’m sure I’ll return to San Diego so throw your 2 cents in travel tips down below to let me know what I may have missed in my mission to cover everything in 4-5 days!