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Travel Journal: San Diego – Part 1, Activities

Today’s Travel Tuesday post takes us to the West Coast for some fun in the sun. We were recently in San Diego for a wedding and loved the city. While we were there for a wedding, we still explored the city a bit, and here are our recos. (Don’t worry, we’ll dive into the food next week.)


Friday, 8/17

One of the best things about San Diego is the location of the airport. We landed at 11 AM and by 11:45 we had already gone to the hotel, gotten changed, and ubered to La Jolla Shores beach. It’s so convenient. I hate losing so much of the day to travel, but I quickly learned San Diego is super convenient.

Our hotel, in all its retro glory

After a stop for cold brew, we took ourselves on a little beach walk. Around 12:30 we were feelin snack time so we made a pitstop before joining a group of fellow wedding-goers on the beach. We spent some time in the sun before heading to a full meal with the crew.

There are tons of surfing and kayak lessons available (many with Groupons) – take advantage

Truck bed filled with kayaks…a very SD sight

We got back to the hotel around 4 pm and just lounged by the pool. The weather was lovely and I was able to get some good reading done. Also, I loved that the hotel was playing non-stop music at the pool.

We met Hart and Karin for dinner in the Little Italy area and then joined the rest of the group at a bar in the Gaslamp neighborhood. I’m still figuring out the various San Diego neighborhoods, but these seem like some of the more fun places to go out. Don’t let the name fool you – Little Italy in San Diego is nothing like the NYC Little Italy you’re probably picturing. These areas are both packed with trendy bars and restaurants – definitely a fun area to go out.

Saturday, 8/18

Rather than a rehearsal dinner, the bride and groom hosted a rehearsal park day. They had lawn games, beer, snacks, a taco truck, and a couple speeches. I was really diggin the relaxed vibe.

The happy couple listening to the speeches

Those festivities were starting at noon, but since it was pretty chill, we decided to go an hour late and spend the late morning checking out another beach and more tacos. The boardwalk at Mission Beach has a pier area with roller coasters and games but then the boardwalk itself was more residential than we expected. After walking for a bit, we headed to the park to spend a few hours with the other wedding guests.

Post-park, we had our hearts set on another snack. The place we wanted to check out looked to be very close so we decided to walk there. It was a great opportunity to stare at all the stunning homes. I absolutely loved creeping on all these houses. The style is so different from anything I’m accustomed to (either in Savannah or NYC) and I loved picturing myself there.

We spent the next couple hours by the pool, just hanging out. I loved being able to soak up the sun and get a ton of reading done on this trip. I went through two books in three days.

True, we probably could have packed our days with more activities, but it’s been a while since we’ve had good weather and a pool right outside our front door. We just wanted to chillllll.

Sunday, 8/19

Entering the pier – there are the cutest bungalows lining each side that you can actually stay in – next trip for sure

The wedding started at 4:15 on Sunday, which meant the getting ready process would start around 2:30/3. We headed to Pacific Beach because everybody described it as the beach with all the college kids and bars, a vibe that piqued Albert’s interest. We people watched from the pier, walked the boardwalk, and spent some time laying out before heading back to the hotel.

The wedding was at a new venue called Lot 8, a converted parking lot behind the hotel. We laughed, we danced, and tore up the photo booth. It was the perfect way to end a fun weekend.

In a very California move, each guest was given a glass with their seat assignment that also served as your beer/wine/cocktail glass all evening. Environmentally friendly AND adorable.

San Diego Details:

  • Accommodations: We stayed at the Atwood hotel. It’s a no-frills kinda place, but I didn’t need anything fancy. I also loved that it had that retro motel vibe. So much of San Diego still looks like the 60s. I was lovingggg all the mid-century architecture.
  • Neighborhood: Our hotel was in the Mission Valley area. There’s not a ton there, but it IS a highly convenient area. It was super close to the other areas we wanted to check out. I love how San Diego is neighborhood-based, just like NYC. Sure you have to drive to those neighborhoods (vs. walking or using public transportation), but they were much closer together and each area seemed to have a distinct personality.
  • Why It’s So Much Better than LA: I am NOT a fan of LA. Some parts are nice, but it just seemed so spread out. San Diego has all the good parts about LA (e.g., the weather) without all the parts that [to me] make LA miz. It takes no more than 15 minutes to get anywhere, there are tons of great tacos, the beach is super accessible (and free), and I didn’t feel the need to get dressed up. Everyone is way more chill in SD, with way less fake-ness.
  • Tips:
    • Beach it up. There are so many beaches in San Diego, and they each have a distinct flavor. La Jolla is the nicest, Pacific Beach is the most duuuuuude-ish, etc. Check out as many as you can.
    • Get physical outside. There are so many fun, outdoor activities. I was planning to do a beach yoga sesh but ended up cancelling due to a scheduling conflict. There’s also surfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking. Exercising on the water is the best kind of exercising.
    • Admire the scenery. One of my favorite things about San Diego was the look. I loved the mid-century and Spanish influence in the architecture. Also, as someone who loves greenery, the prevalence of succulents (and gorgeous, extra bright florals) just made me happy.
    • Go to the zoo. One of my few regrets is that we didn’t make it to the famed San Diego Zoo. It was just too hard for us to give up beach/pool time to go. From everything I’ve ever heard, it’s worth a visit; however, if you don’t have time, check out the sea lions at La Jolla Cove to get your animal fix.
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