The second part of the Hen Do California Trip was 3 days in San Diego. I was super excited about this stop because the city is just amazing! It’s probably one of my favourite US cities now because of its beaches, parks, neighbourhoods, food and the general laid-back beach vibe. It’s got the typical skyscrapers that most American cities have but it’s different – it’s got a real small town feel to it.
Hence, I’ve created for you the ULTIMATE three-day guide to the city of San Diego.
Day 1: Gaslamp Quarter, Embarcadero, Fish Market Restaurant
I arrived here after spending the weekend in Simi Valley, Los Angeles. I went on the most beautiful train journey using Amtark Pacific Surfliner. I literally have no words to describe the sea views you have. The Pacific Surfliner has two stops in San Diego: Santa fe Depot in downtown and the Old Town Transit Centre. I went to the main station which in downtown.
Luckily, a hotel nearby was kind enough to let me hold my bags there for 2 hours until my two friends come as they were delayed. As I had a bit of time to spare – I decided to walk from downtown to Gaslamp Quarter.
Gaslamp District is home to boutiques, cafes, restaurants and a bunch of cool shops. I was a huge fan of the historical buildings – like Balboa Theatre and the Louis Bank of Commerce. It’s definitely got a small town feel to it as it has no skyscrapers and very few traffic lights. Encompassing a roughly 16 block radius, the Gaslamp district has traditional Victorian architecture mixed with trendy construction which truly creates a unique mashup of styles. Make sure to try the ice cream at Ghirardelli!
It’s also meant to have a great nightlight scene as its famous for its many rooftop bars – unfortunately we didn’t have time to check it out.
After meeting up my friends, we dropped off our bags in the Airbnb and took an uber to the Embarcadero. This is an area along the waterfront where you can explore some of San Diego’s top attractions: The Maritime Museum, the USS Midway (a long serving aircraft carrier with 29 restored aircrafts on board) and the Star of India (the world’s oldest active ship). We just took pictures here, chatted and chilled at the waterfront.
The Fish Market Restaurant
After reading reviews about it on Google, I must say, this restaurant lived up to expectations. It had excellent harbour views and the prices were moderate for an exceptional dinner. We had the classical fish and chips. Beware though, there is often a long queue and so you might have to wait for a while for your dinner – but it worth it!
Day 2: La Jolla, Mission Beach, Sunset Cliffs, Little Italy
After surviving our first night in our Air BnB, we took an uber to La Jolla beach (pronounced la-hoya). We had breakfast at Sugar and Scribe Bakery before heading down to La Jolla Cove. There is no way to miss it as you just follow everyone else down the road.
La Jolla Cove is a beautiful sheltered cove with crystal clear waters. We continued walking along the beach promenade where we noticed plenty of seals and pelicans – the real residents around here. The beaches are so beautiful!
Pacific to Mission Beach
There are plenty of other beaches that we also wanted to see before leaving San Diego. The other top ones include Ocean Beach (traditionally hippy option), Mission Beach (home to Belmont Park fun fair) and Pacific Beach (good for surfing). As I already surfed in Ventura a few days before, we took an uber from La Jolla Beach to Pacific Beach with the aim of walking down the promenade to Mission Beach. We took an electric scooter from Pacific Beach which was super fun. It was fun until I rode straight into a wall and had a bruise that stayed until my wedding and honeymoon! All of this so I can go ahead and take a video of my friends scootering (that’s love haha!)
Mission beach was amazing and i would definitely recommend going. Other than relaxing at the beach, or at the bar, there is plenty of things to do here. We had an ice-cream and took in the vitamin D that our bodies desperately craved from living in London.
As the sun was beginning to set, we quickly dropped off our electric scooters and took an uber to Sunset Cliffs as this was meant to be the best place to catch the sunset in San Diego ( I think the name gives it away). It was just the perfect evening and I spent with the perfect friends a girl could ask for.
My friend LOVES Italian food and so at this point, we were starving and were ready to eat. Little Italy is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in San Diego, dating back in the early 1900s when it was a fisherman’s outpost for Italian immigrants. It has since grown to over 50 square blocks. We sat outside of the restaurant (so that we could people-watch) and ate the best pasta I had in a while. We also got a few desserts to share between us – ya’ll Italians know how to cook!
We then headed back to the apartment and packed our bags ready to leave the next day.
Day 3: Balboa Park, Old Town
Located in the heart of San Diego, the giant 1,200-acre Balboa Park is home to over 15 museums, including National History Museum, Museum of Man, San Diego Museum of Arts and the world-famous zoo. It’s the largest ‘urban cultural park’ in the world. This place is great as it offers a little something for everyone to enjoy.
You could easily spend a whole day here hopping from museum to museum and spend time in all of the green spaces. Its also great if you are on a budget as many of the attractions are free to visit and there also countless walking paths and botanical gardens. The botanical gardens were my favourite and is home to 2000 varieties of plants. If I wasn’t limited on time, I could have spent hours inside snapping photos of the plants and even of the domed building itself.
I loved the Spanish-style architecture. Its unexpected, yet beautiful and was apparently inspired by the Spanish maritime explorer who the park is named after (not Rocky Balboa as I initially assumed – oops).
Old Town San Diego
From Balboa park, we took an uber to our final stop before heading to the airport – Old Town. With our suitcases in hand, we decided to satisfy our craving for Mexican food and headed to Café Cayote. Their tacos were insane! We also had a bit of a performance from three jolly Mexican singers who assumed It was my friends birthday.
The Old Town San Diego is a sort of living museum where you can explore the origins of California. The Spanish colonized this part of California in 1769 with a hillside garrison and a Spanish Mission – it’s the site of the FIRST Spanish settlement in the US (pretty cool huh).
We stayed in a local air bnb to try and save money on the accommodation. It was really modern and pretty inside, but not too sure about the area. When we first came to drop off the suitcases, there were a group of men just sitting on the wall of their houses staring at us. Maybe we were paranoid but all we were thinking was that a group of guys just watched three girls come out of a taxi with a smirk on their faces.
Either way, we came back later in the evening, paranoid as hell. During dinner, we were even talking about leaving our stuff there and staying in another hotel! With our families and emergency lines on speed dial, we prayed (literally, huddled in a circle to pray) and went inside.
Okay – so maybe we over-reacted (a little?) and everything was fine… BUT its good to be cautious I guess haha.
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