City Guide: San Diego, California
6 "Must-do's" in San Diego that don't include Sea World
San Diego will always hold a special place in my heart, as this is where I am from originally. So when my close friend from New York decided to move out West, it was the perfect excuse to come back for a "home-town" visit. This was the first time I'd been back since moving in 1998! Here's my share on places I think you can't miss.
First things first- IN-N-OUT BURGER! After picking up our rental car from the airport we mapped ourselves to the closest one for my husband's very first experience. Sadly, he was quick to inform me that he thought 5 Guys was better, and it was in that moment that I wasn't 100% sure about the stability of our marriage (kidding...sorta...). If you've never been to in-n-out, chances are you've heard people RAVE about it. It's fresh, it's consistent and all around just a good "fast-food" burger. I think one of the reasons west-coasters cling to it so dearly is because it's a chain that's never lost sight of themselves by diluting their menu with too many options or compromising their quality by going national. Their staff is always friendly and well trained (they literally have a in-n-out university...) You can't go wrong when you keep it simple with a cheese burger and fries...and uhm...a milk shake that I swear they must make with buttermilk or maybe just butter... (so rich and creamy!)
What is a trip to San Diego if you don't go to Pacific Beach. Pack a blanket, a bottle of wine and some snacks for a spectacular sunset. Enough said.
Speaking of sunsets...I didn't remember sunset cliffs from when I was younger but it made it on my list of things to do based on a basic pinterest peruse. I wasn't expecting it to be literally right off the side of the road when we arrived but none the less, a beautiful spot to sit on the rocks and take in the views!
La Jolla Beach aka Sea Lions! Guys, I've found my spirit animal... You cannot miss going to La Jolla Beach and seeing all the Sea Lions. It is beyond entertaining and I'd have stayed there observing them all day if my husband had let me. It's like watching Desperate Housewives, Sea Lion addition. They are SO territorial, SO confrontational, loud, bitchy and aggressive (see...JUST like Desperate Housewives). As fun as they seem, it's not the best idea to get TOO close to them, however they seem pretty unbothered by your presence and therefore will get within a few yards of you. Apparently, these guys are here all year-round and have basically taken over the beach. It's a great spot with or without kids and very easy to get to.
Hiking Torrey Pines
Hiking trails of your choice with the rewards of ending your hike on the beach surrounded by vibrant red-orange cliffs, sold! Don't intimidated by the word hike, simple athletic shoes or close-toed shoes will do (it's not going to be a 127-hours situation, I promise) However, packing water and snacks is always advisable. Torrey Pines is another stunning place to watch the sunset with an easy walk back along the beach. You do have to pay a small entry fee when parking.
The Grass Skirt Tiki Bar I'm always pleasantly surprised when you find someplace outside of New York with the same level of "funk" to their dining approach. To be honest, this place maybe takes the cake on the most thought-out, out-of-the-ordinary dining experience. You start by entering what looks like a space only big enough to order take out, only to be led through a freezer door, down a short hallway and into what is actually a fairly large restaurant (so cool, love that kind of creativity). The creativity doesn't stop there. Our booth, which felt like the best seat in the house, was more like an alcove, lined floor to ceiling with magenta upholstery and nude women wallpaper. The food was tapas style and like the restaurant, a little funky. A great place for un-shy eaters (I don't want to use the word adventurous because that makes it sound like they're serving you mysterious delicacies, which they are not). Don't pass up the french fries, but honestly if you're the type of person that would pass up french fries, we probably can't be friends anyway. Speaking of friends, this is a good place to go with a group, as the ambiance is lively and entertaining rather than intimate and romantic. Check out their menu/website here.
There's a million more places to see and restaurants to devour but we only had a few days and honestly, I wasn't blogging when we visited so I didn't document everything as I would now. I promise I'll do better next time. Recommend some good spots in the comments!