Travel Guide: A San Diego Sojourn
There is perhaps nowhere else in the continental United States more reliable for warm, sunny days and beautiful beach conditions.
San Diego is the country’s eighth largest city, known for family attractions like SeaWorld, Legoland and the world-class San Diego Zoo, and in the last several years growing from a laid-back coastal town to an all-around travel hotspot. Tijuana is just over the border and the entire Baja Norte region is a fun road trip adventure that’s easily accessible from San Diego. Wine lovers will also love exploring Guadalupe Valley, more rugged and raw than other wine regions in California.
Where To Stay
$: Moxy San Diego is a fun 128-room Marriott hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter. Receive a welcome nitro-cocktail served from a lively tricycle upon check-in and sit down to play board games in the lobby surrounded by playful flamingoes. Rooms are smaller, but the location and modern style can’t be beat.
$$: InterContinental San Diego is the newest hotel in town. Known for its sweeping waterfront views, it’s located in the BRIC mixed-use development. The 400-room hotel includes 24 spacious and stylishly decorated bay view apartment-style suites. Its health and wellness center offers a fitness-on-demand studio with instructor-led classes ranging from yoga and mat Pilates to kickboxing projected onto a video wall.
$$$: The Lodge at Torrey Pines has likely the most picturesque setting of any resort in the area, complete with a public golf course that hosts an annual PGA TOUR tournament, cozy full-service spa, and great hiking at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Originally built as a small inn in 1961, The Lodge has all the warmth and charm of decades past, but the updated amenities for modern travelers. You’ll be so well taken care of as soon as you enter the stained glass doors at this Craftsman-style lodge that you won’t want to check out.
What To Do
Whether you prefer surfing or golfing, swimming or hiking, San Diego has an abundance of outdoor recreation by land and sea. Get a lay of the land from above with a 30-minute city tour with Corporate Helicopters (sunset tours are highly recommended) and then hit the ground running. Like many American cities, electric scooters have taken over the city, so you can zip around town and along the boardwalk to maximize your stay in the sun.
The San Diego Zoo is not just for kids, either, and while wandering around by day is fun, you can also sleepover in the safari park and see many of the animals when they are more active at night. Book a behind-the-scenes safari with visits to the rhino rescue center and veterinary medical center, or play zookeeper for a day in the animal area of your choice. Early morning with pandas is another favorite tour, where you can watch the pandas enjoying breakfast before the zoo opens.
Theater buffs will enjoy the intimate La Jolla Playhouse, hosting Tony Award-winning musicals since its founding in 1947 by Gregory Peck and Dorothy McGuire. Diana, documenting the life of Princess Diana, is the latest high-energy hit.
Where To Eat
Little Italy is the hottest neighborhood for dining in San Diego. Ironside Fish & Oyster is heaven for seafood lovers, from fresh crudo and local uni to charcoal grilled fish collar. Juniper & Ivy recently celebrated five years, and it’s still packed every day of the week. Start with small bites like the yellowtail tostada and oysters and pearls, before digging into carne cruda asada (steak tartare on steroids) and roasted duck. Next door, Herb & Wood serves one of the best brunches in town. Start with the tahini gelato-topped warm monkey bread.
Gelato and ice cream abounds in San Diego. An’s Dry Cleaning in University Heights serves “fabrics” like cashmere (goat cheese and honey) and termeh (saffron, vanilla, pistachio). Salt & Straw has inventive flavors, too, with lots of crunchy mix-ins if you prefer ice cream with texture. For more traditional gelato, Bobboi Natural Gelato in La Jolla is a sure bet. Their dark chocolate and pistachio sorbets are so creamy, it’s hard to believe they’re vegan.
Don’t Miss – The Bucketlist Must-Do
The impossible seems possible when you fly with a bird from the coastal cliffs of La Jolla. Paragliders love the consistent conditions at the Torrey Pines Gliderport and with parahawking, you get to fly in a tandem glider with an instructor and a trained free-flying falcon by your side leading the way. This experience is super weather dependent (the wind has to be just right), but truly a one-of-a-kind adventure.
Amber travels the world 350+ days each year. She’s flown a plane to the Grand Canyon, spearfished in Mexico and had dinner with Francis Mallmann at his home in Uruguay, all in the name of work. She studied journalism at Northwestern University and, in addition to serving as the RUBY Travel Expert, her work also appears in Forbes, Saveur, Hemispheres, Departures, American Way, Four Seasons Magazine, Spafinder and USA Today. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.