Spring break came up suddenly and we didn’t have reservations for Hawaii or any type of exotic location, so we had to think on our feet. Where could we getaway without a plane ticket? San Diego felt like the answer: it always makes a great last minute retreat for sun and sand, but we’ve done the typical family schedule before — a day at Legoland, a day at Sea World and then hit the zoo. Could we make San Diego feel like something exotic?
For those who, like us, are themed park out, there are a myriad ways to have fun in San Diego. Three days flew by and we didn’t even miss Hawaii. The weather was great, the ocean felt warmer than in LA and we had a ball.
La Jolla Beach
There are lots of beaches to choose from in San Diego, but we love the one on La Jolla Shores Drive. It’s big and beautiful and this trip we rented Kayaks which was a blast. (Paddle boards also available) For beginners and people with young kids, we recommend the tours that leave several times a day. It’s more money, but you have a guide to help you navigate and on calm days, you can kayak to awesome caves.
Make a day of it and body surf, swim and enjoy the many great restaurants in La Jolla. Our personal favorite for dinner is Piatti’s, which is fantastic Italian, but it is also very popular, so make a reservation in advance. For lunch have a picnic. There is a terrific Cheese Shop on La Jolla Shores Drive that makes sandwiches you can pair with a Mexican Coke. Also, if you go to the Cheese Shop be sure and try their home made oatmeal almond cookies. They are flourless and butter less and completely out of this world delicious.
La Jolly Kayak 858 459-1114
Piattii Italian Restaurant and Bar 858 454-1589 2182 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla
La Jolla Cheese Shop 858 459-3921 1 2165 Avenida De La Playa, La Jolla
Balboa Park, Coronado and Old Town by Trolley
For something that is fun for kids and gives everyone a true sense of the city, try the Trolley Tours. Climb aboard in Seaport Village or Old Town and set off on all kinds of destinations. Once aboard, you have unlimited reboarding, so it’s a chance to really see some sights, hear some trivia, and try new locations. We recommend spending some time on Coronado Island which has some darling little streets and eclectic architecture to view, as well as food and fun at the The Hotel Del Coronado where Marilyn Monroe filmed scenes from “Some Like it Hot”. If you’re there in the afternoon try Moo Time Creamery for a fun atmosphere and a delicious scoop of ice cream.
The trolley also makes a stop at Balboa Park, a vast destination with an array of museums and cultural stops that you could spend a week exploring. Choose one (or two) places to visit, and resolve to return another time. We love the San Diego Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the San Diego Automotive Museum, and the San Diego Natural History Museum. Also of note, the Marston House from the Arts and Crafts period (1905) that boasts formal English Gardens.
Trolley Tours 619-821-9444
Moo Time Creamery 1025 Orange Ave Coronado, CA 619-435-2422
Balboa Park Visitor’s Center 619 239-0512
Bike the Pacific and more
When I asked locals what they most recommend tourists do in San Diego they suggested renting bikes near Pacific Beach and cruising the coast line. The bikes are inexpensive and there’s a safe clear path. They also suggested ending the bike ride at Fred’s Mexican Café where the tacos are “awesome”. This is small restaurant where the other big specialty is the watermelon cucumber margarita, which is described with equal fervor.
Finally, if you have real Dodger fans in your family, plan to hit San Diego when the Dodgers are in town and watch them play the Padres as an away team. We did this once on a previous trip and it was a really fun way to see a city in action. The Padres stadium is smack in the center of San Diego and there are tons of restaurants, theatres and life bustling all around the stadium itself. It’s a very different experience being in Dodger Stadium and it was he first time my son had to be cheering against the crowd… It makes for a day your devoted fans won’t soon forget. Baseball season starts this coming Monday!
Radd Action Sports, Inc 3837 Mission Blvd 858 488-7789
Fred’s Mexican Café 1165 Garnet Ave. 858-483-8226
Written by Cary Bickley