Think of San Diego and a few things probably come to mind: beach, sun, surf, and perfect weather. How about I add yoga, margaritas, and fish tacos to the list and call it a day?
I kicked off my travel-filled summer of 2017 with a wonderful trip to San Diego to visit my friend Jamie. You may remember her from our chance meeting in Buenos Aires many years ago and subsequent day trip to Uruguay. Well I’m happy to say that the fun didn’t end in South America; we’ve gone domestic, folks. Below is how to spend four blissful days in beautiful San Diego, where the sun always shines, the tequila always pours, and the yogis always namaste.
HAPPINESS COMES IN WAVES: FOR THE LOVE OF THE BEACH
Hang at the beach or walk/run the OB Pier at the end of Newport Ave. The pier is an ideal place to go for a run–the San Diego weather and views are (almost) enough to actually make running enjoyable!
Walking Sunset Cliffs was probably the highlight of my time in Ocean Beach. The rugged coastline features expansive ocean views and dramatic rock formations. The cliffs are fairly easy to scale, but I definitely appreciated my decision to wear sneakers. Highly recommend carving out an hour or two to explore this breathtaking area.
Tucked between sandstone cliffs, La Jolla Cove is home to the most adorable sea lions that just love to spend their time lounging and sunbathing. I felt a strong connection to those sea lions. We seem to be living parallel lives of late.
Looking for a nude beach? Well look (but not for too long!) no further. Or do, if you’re into that kind of thing. No judgement here. Black’s Beach is a secluded section of beach beneath the bluffs of Torrey Pines in La Jolla. From Gliderport, it’s about a 15 minute hike down. The incredibly scenic path down is a bit steep; there are roughly about 450 steps as well as alternating patches of sand and pavement. Highly advise wearing proper footwear and be prepared for the return hike up! But seriously, it’s really not that strenuous and the views and beach are such sweet rewards for your labor. And don’t worry, clothing is optional, so no need to go nude if you don’t want to. The beach is absolutely lovely…but the people-watching is even better!
Bet you were hoping for more photos of the nude beach, huh?! Stop lying.
Often described as San Diego’s water wonderland, Mission Bay is an aquatic playground where you can have your pick of the litter of water sports, enjoy dining and cocktails with the sun shining on your face, and sink your toes in the warm soft sand. A wonderful place to spend a quintessential San Diego day!
We rented the amazing FunCat, which is basically an electric-powered lounge chair chair that allows you to sit back and chill as you leisurely cruise the bay. This thing is amazing. The biggest take-aways from this adventure? WHY DON’T I OWN A FUNCAT AND WHERE CAN I PURCHASE ONE?
BALBOA PARK: FOR THE LOVE OF THE URBAN OASIS
By the time my fourth and final day came, I was ready to take a break from finding sand in my bathing suit (and um, other areas) and decided to spend some time at Balboa Park. A 1,200 acre urban park, this gorgeous area is a conglomerate of Spanish-styled architecture, open green spaces, museums, gardens, walking trails, and natural vegetation zones.
I enjoyed a delicious patio lunch at the park’s premier restaurant, The Prado.
From prickly cacti to brilliant roses and orchids, the varied landscaped gardens are definitely a highlight of any visit to Balboa Park.
NOURISHMENT FOR THE SOUL: FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD, COFFEE & COCKTAILS
First thing’s first: coffee. There is no shortage of hip coffee shops in the beachfront neighborhood Ocean Beach and two spots that I loved were OB Beans, a local micro-roaster that also sells clothing apparel, and Newbreak Cafe, a wonderful cafe right on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard that serves delicious breakfast sandwiches.
The beachfront restaurant Wonderland Ocean Pub is a great spot to grab lunch in Ocean Beach. Fish tacos and a Kentucky mule (they have all kinds of mules, yum!) made for a fab pairing.
The view isn’t too shabby either.
An east-cost inspired eatery, the Voltaire Beach House is an inviting new spot in Ocean Beach that has a laid-back outdoor space and serves creative cocktails. We only ate appetizers here but everything was good and the service was friendly.
My favorite and fanciest meal of the trip was at Coasterra, a stunning modern Mexican restaurant perfectly situated on Harbor Island, resulting in spectacular panoramic views. This is al fresco dining at its best—Coasterra is the perfect combination of upscale dining while set in a relaxed open-air setting. Highly recommend.
Oh how I adore a good market and Liberty Public Market did not disappoint. Converted from a former navy building, this lively market is comparable to other lauded food stalls like D.C.’s Union Market, Seattle’s Pike Place, and San Francisco’s Ferry Building. The wide variety of artisan vendors will surely satiate all players in the game: from foodies, beer enthusiasts, and coffee lovers alike, there is something here for everyone. Their spacious outdoor patio is the perfect spot to enjoy a casual lunch and bask in that glorious southern California sunshine.
NOURISHMENT FOR THE SPIRIT: FOR THE LOVE OF YOGA
San Diego is an active person’s dream and every second spent inside is a waste I tell you, an absolute waste! A bit dramatic, anyone? But seriously–I absolutely loved being able to squeeze in a few runs and hikes during my trip but by far my favorite active pursuits were my two outdoor yoga sessions offered by the amazing John and Brittany of Fire&Fly SD. One of the highlights of my entire trip was a lovely and spiritual evening of sunset yoga, accompanied by crystal sound therapy, gong bath and fire dancing under the stars on the shores of the bay (located at Ski Beach Park on Mission Bay, typically from 7pm-9pm, but times vary). The event was so wonderful that I rejoined John about twelve hours later for a beach yoga flow class (Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30am to the left of Tower 5 in Ocean Beach). Both sessions were donation- based and community-centered. If you are at all interested in practicing yoga while in San Diego, I highly recommend practicing with John and Brittany in some capacity–their passion, love, and commitment to their practice and community is inspiring…I left energized, encouraged and empowered. Truly moving and memorable.
WHAT I MISSED: LOVE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
Ughhh. THE ZOO! It’s not so much that I’m that much of a zoo person, I’m really not. Although you may remember my slight obsession with the Singapore Zoo. But I was excited to spend my last day visiting the more touristy spots since Jamie was working that day and I could be free to geek out and explore places that she’s probably already been to at least a dozen times. I had planned a fun-filled day at Balboa Park to be followed by the infamous nearby zoo and while I was leaving the park on my way to the zoo, I was notified that my evening flight was canceled. I don’t like you, Spirit Airlines. Never have. Never will. So instead of marveling at the adorable pandas, I spent my time on hold with Spirit and scrambling to find another red-eye flight. By the time it all worked out, I didn’t have enough time to justify purchasing the expensive admission ticket into the zoo. Don’t fret, Gao Gao, Bai Yun, and Xiao Liwu, I’ll be back, I promise!
But not by way of Spirit Airlines, I can assure you.
To read more about some other favorite U.S. adventures: