California Dreamin – San Diego!

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I’ve been really excited to write about our trip to San Diego for awhile now! I cannot wait to share all the details of our trip out to California because it was one of my favorite trips yet. I apologize in advance for the long post and the overload of photos – but I just couldn’t help myself!

San Diego is usually pretty difficult to fly out too since it’s such a popular destination.  Fortunately for us, we got lucky one weekend in mid February and the chances of us making it on the flight looked good. We flew out Friday night and with the time difference, we ended up landing at 7. We checked into our hotel in downtown, quickly freshened up and headed out to the Gaslamp Quarter for the evening. We ate at Nicky Rotten’s Burger Joint and sat outside on the patio which overlooked 5th avenue (the main street of the Gaslamp Quarter); this allowed us to take in the city and people watch 🙂 The Gaslamp Quarter is a 16 block historic neighborhood bustling with restaurants, bars and shops. It’s the center of downtown San Diego and always has something going on no matter what time it is. We spent the rest of the night stopping in and out of bars and checking out most of the neighborhood. When the jet lag finally sank in, we headed back to our hotel so we could get up and see what the rest of this wonderful city had to offer!

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We woke up early Saturday morning and were on a mission to find the best breakfast the city had to offer – we ended up finding a restaurant on Yelp which was walking distance from our hotel. We wandered down the street and since the San Diego airport is literally right near the city center, we were able to see all the commercial airplanes fly right over us. It was unlike anything I’ve seen before, so we ended up just watching in amazement for quite awhile as 737s flew right above our heads. We eventually made it to the restaurant we picked out – Hob Nob Hill – a diner like atmosphere that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The breakfast was delicious – we devoured omelets and fresh biscuits right out of the oven served with the most scrumptious fresh preservatives, AND the best coffee cake I’ve ever tasted. If that doesn’t make you want to check out this restaurant next time you find yourself in San Diego, then I am not sure what would! From there, we headed to Balboa Park – the “central park” of San Diego except Balboa Park has these gorgeous buildings with beautiful Spanish architecture (reminded me of my study abroad in Seville). After walking around the park, we headed into the famous San Diego Zoo! We spent the next few hours checking out the tigers, elephants and of course the pandas. The zoo was so impressive with the unique areas made for each type of animal – particularly the elephants’ area, which made you feel as though you were suddenly transported to Africa. We had a lot of fun pretending like we were little kids walking around the park, but finally decided it was time to go and check out the other areas of the city.

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Beautiful architecture in Balboa Park
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San Diego Zoo
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I’m trying my best to connect with my flamingo family

We headed over to the USS Midway, the famous aircraft carrier of the US Navy and was once upon a time, the world’s largest ship. On that very day, the “Unconditional Surrender” statue was officially unveiled – this is a statue depicting a famous photograph from the end of World War II. It sits right next to the USS Midway and overlooks the beautiful San Diego harbor. We snapped a few photos and then decided to head over to the Fish Market, a restaurant that overlooks the bay. We were able to get a table outside on the deck and enjoyed the scenic view of the ocean and sailboats. After we finished our drinks, we headed to Seaport Village, a waterfront shopping & restaurant district right along the San Diego Bay. My favorite part of Seaport Village was the marina near by – something about marinas just tugs at my heart strings. Maybe it was the summers I spent in Keyhaven, England where the nearby marina always amazed me, but I could take in the view of a marina for hours. After spending awhile in the village, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We walked through the business area of San Diego and got to see a bit more of downtown.

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Unconditional Surrender on the embarcadero in San Diego harbor
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The sunsetting on the marina at Seaport Village

For dinner, we again relied on the wonderful Yelp, where we found a mexican restaurant called The Blind Burro. The prices were very reasonable for delicious food and drinks. Plus, the ambience of the outdoor patio and “industrial” vibe of the bar were awesome. If you find yourself in San Diego, I highly recommend eating here for lunch or dinner! We originally tried to eat dinner at Searsucker, a restaurant opened by Brian Malarkey from Top Chef, but were so hungry we decided to forgo waiting since it was quite busy. However, Searsucker looked fantastic and want to try it out next time I am in San Diego. After dinner, we checked out a few bars – my favorite was Barley Mash. Barley Mash is this awesome community table seating restaurant/bar that mixes modern style with a rustic flare. As you would imagine from the name, they have a good beer selection, particularly focusing on local breweries. Look up Barley Mash here -http://www.barleymash.com/index.html . If you wind up in San Diego, you must stop by for a drink or two.

We woke up early Sunday morning with a great idea. Instead of flying out of San Diego that afternoon – why not rent a car, drive the 100 miles up the coast of California, and fly out of LAX? We immediately knew this was the perfect way to spend our Sunday, so Cole headed over to the airport to rent a car while I got ready. We spent all of Sunday driving up the Pacific Coast Highway. Our first stop was La Jolla, a beach town north of San Diego, where we stopped at this adorable restaurant called “The Cheese Shop” and had a quick, delicious breakfast outside while we enjoyed the beautiful views. From there, we continued to head north of PCH through the numerous towns such as Cardiff by the Sea, Encinitas, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and much more. The weather was absolutely perfect and we were fortunate enough to have a convertible so I was able to take a lot of photos all along the way! We stopped for lunch in Laguna Beach – had my first ever Banzai Bowl (a combination of a smoothie and granola which was absolutely delicious) and grabbed a slice of pizza. All of the views from the various cities were absolutely breathtaking and I couldn’t get enough – I finally understood why people are so crazy in love with California. Beautiful weather, sandy beaches, and delicious food – what more could you ask for?! We slowly made our way up the coast, passing the Long Beach port which was quite a sight, and eventually made it to Los Angeles Airport.

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Cruising on the Pacific Coast Highway
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The spectacular views from La Jolla beach
Loved Laguna Beach
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The bridge exiting Long Beach and heading into Los Angeles

I was sad to see our trip come to an end, but San Diego and California blew away all of my expectations. I have so many photos and memories that will always remind me of our amazing weekend trip.

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