Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Am I the only one who immediately thinks of that scene in Anchorman when Will Ferrel talks about the origin of "San Diahgo" whenever I speak of this city? No? Okay, cool.
I found myself over annunciating the "Diahgo" part of this beautiful place as I prepared for a Memorial Day Weekend (#MDW) getaway with my boyfriend. While I have my moments where I enjoy spontaneity and living in the moment, for the most part I'm definitely a planner, especially when it comes to travel. Since we were only going to be there for a few days, I merely wanted to ensure that we hit all the sites, tried all the recommended food and saw everything we could possibly see in that short amount of time.
On Friday, what should have been a two hour drive (come on people, San Diego is not that far from Los Angeles), ended up being a four hour drive. GREAT START! Thankfully we still arrived to the hotel by 5:30pm, just in time to relax, unwind and get ready for dinner.
At 7pm, we made our way out of our hotel and over to Coronado (specifically the Hotel Del Coronado) where we had dinner reservations at Sheerwater. When we were in the planning phase of our trip (you know, like two days before we left), I knew I wanted to at least eat at this historic Hotel if we weren't going to be staying there. After looking at the restaurant selection, Shearwater seemed to have the best menu and ambiance for our night one dinner. Boy were we right!
(Sheerwater reservations and menu info here: https://hoteldel.com/restaurant-coronado/sheerwater/)
Image via SanDiegan.com
We requested a nice table via Open Table online (life hack) which gave us a gorgeous patio view overlooking the ocean. The free standing heat lamps made the evening ocean breeze bearable and in fact, enjoyable. Adam and I decided that this was our "all-out" dinner so we started with wine and appetizers.
Do yourself a favor and order the Baked Goat Cheese off the Shared Beginnings part of the menu. Dear God. I actually find myself at a loss for words trying to do this dish justice. Me! A loss for words!!
Every bite was better than the last (and this is coming from someone who doesn't eat cheese OR bread - but I was on vacation so yes, I indulged). When the waiter came over and asked about our appetizer I think my exact words were "wow." Yeah, that whole loss for words thing really helped prove my intelligence and maturity that evening. I think we both wished we could have licked the plate but as we were in a fine establishment we just asked for more bread and cleaned the plate that way.
Once our main courses arrived we were yet again wowed. Adam ordered the New York Strip Steak and I had the Atlantic Salmon. Mouth watering, delicious, cooked to perfection, awe-inspiring dinner. While we left with satisfied and happy tummies, that didn't mean that I forgot to leave room for dessert. Like I said, I was on vacation people!
We stopped at the Creamery on the way out located along the strip of restaurants and stores down below the Hotel. While I found the consistency a little thick for my liking (I definitely should have stuck to one scoop), my boyfriend claimed it to be the best ice cream of the trip.
Back at the hotel, we were quickly sound asleep and ready for another day of adventure and exploration.
Saturday morning we woke up and left the hotel in search of the Potato Chip Rock hike. Mt. Woodson, as it's properly called, is a 7.5 mile (exact distance still up for debate) hike out and back located near Poway CA. It was about an hour drive from our hotel but considering we were in San Diego and not Los Angeles anymore, traffic was not a factor.
The hike itself is on a well paved, wide road. Upon arrival to the trailhead, the road was littered with numerous cars and fellow hikers unloading from their vehicles. We had to park across the street and run across to officially begin our journey.
Once we finally reached the peak I was blown away not only by the beautiful vista but by the 60 people waiting in line to take their photo on Potato Chip Rock. HAH! No thank you. While we did not join the hoards of people standing waiting to take a photo on a rock, we did enjoy the #views.
What better way to treat yourself after a long and grueling (not really so grueling) hike than ice cream!? I was dying to try the rolled ice cream I saw on Instagram from ICMonster so when I found out it was just outside of San Diego, it was immediately added to the weekend to do list.
My Matcha Nutella ice cream was to die for! I have a difficult time explaining the texture of this particular ice cream ... It wasn't as creamy as normal ice cream nor as light as the dairy free variety, rather it was hard like Dippin' Dots in long rolled form. There, you get the picture right?
The cafe itself is filled with Asian inspired cartoon characters on the walls and bright colors everywhere. It was located in a strip mall which meant no line and an overall very pleasant experience. 10/10 would recommend.
We found ourselves in yet another food coma as we made our way back to the hotel, showered, and took a little afternoon siesta. Ahh the things you can do on vacation.
After we regained our strength, we went to Liberty Public Market and found ourselves overwhelmed by the inordinate amount of food choices. From healthy to deep friend deliciousness, we circled the indoor Marketplace until we both selected our evening meals.
Liberty Public Market reminds me a bit of Grand Central Station here in Los Angeles except it's much bigger and dare I say, better? The beer garden/outdoor sitting area gives it such a summer vibe and all the parking definitely makes a difference. While the place was bustling with small children and overly intoxicated adults, it was a perfect evening sitting outside enjoying what San Diego has to offer.
The night was still young once we finished up our dinner and dessert at the Market so we made our way to Little Italy where we wandered around looking for an appropriate post-dinner bar. Bracero had a quasi rooftop bar on the second floor where we sat and enjoyed some beer and Sangria while people watching the city below.
Another wonderful day eating and drinking (oh and hiking) our way through San Diego.
Sunday was reserved for Old Town San Diego. Despite the weather report suggesting a cloudy weekend, we were met by clear skies and sunshine everywhere we went and our day in Old Town was no exception. We took a step back in time as we meandered our way through the day popping into souvenir shops and a small craft fair in the street. Mexican food was not on our mind nor the food of choice that afternoon so we went back to Coronado where we stopped at Leroy's Kitchen and Lounge for a quick bite to eat.
While the food wasn't anything exceptional, it provided me with my necessary midday mimosa and the strength I needed to venture onward. We let the food digest as we walked around the island, enjoying the sunshine and boutiques along the street.
Being that Los Angeles really isn't that far from San Diego and therefore our trends really couldn't be that far ahead, I wanted to find a good Matcha spot in SD. Holy Matcha was the answer to my prayers. The decor was pink and green infused femininity with Instagram worthy backgrounds everywhere you turned. My boyfriend said even the bathroom was photo-worthy. (The Matcha was amazing too by the way).
With my Matcha thirst quenched, we walked back to the car, right by Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream. If this place tasted half as good as it smelled we just had to have it. Only on vacation would I enjoy Matcha and then walk across the street to buy ice cream. You bet I did! (Don't judge me).
Adam and I enjoyed strawberry sherbet and cookies and cream on cones as we headed back to the hotel ready for another food coma. (I was promptly reminded why I don't eat ice cream on cones, cue the spill).
We were up to our eyeballs in food and dessert that night so we decided on appetizers at a bar in the Gaslamp Quarter. Talk about people watching!
Union Kitchen and Tap had a charcuterie board my boyfriend had his heart set on so we popped in there for drinks and cheeses before walking around this infamous quarter. We saw everything from pedi bikes with dancing passengers to bartenders throwing up on the street outside their bar yet the life I felt marching up and down these streets in those moments was exhilarating. The bright lights, the floods of people, the music blaring, it made for an eventful and memorable walk around the Gaslamp.
Charcuterie board from Union Kitchen and Tap in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Day 3 of our mini weekend getaway had come to a close and we packed our things back at the hotel in preparation for our Monday departure. Due to long lines at both breakfast spots we were going to try, we skipped breakfast and instead opted for the Unconditional Surrender ("Kissing Statue") before heading back home. Total fan girl moment! I've loved this piece from the moment I laid eyes on the original photo so to see it in real life in statue form surrounded by the elegance of the water, the ships and cloudy skies was breathtaking.
It was a perfect way to honor Memorial Day and end our weekend in San Diego.
Like LA, there's so much to do in San Diego and while my weekend featured only a few of those things, it made my craving to explore this city that much greater.
(Originally Published May 30, 2017)