We recently took a family vacation to San Diego, and it was AMAZING. My husband, son, and I traveled with my two sisters, my sister's fiance, and my mom and dad out west and stayed in Pacific Beach over the holidays. Our 16 month son flew as a "lap child". This phenomenon deserves it's own post, because it was a doozy of an experience.
After a long, four hour flight, with a busy baby who wanted to do everything except for sit on his parents lap, San Diego offered many things for us to do as a family. During the evenings, my mom or dad would often stay home with our son, so that we could experience some of the breweries and bars that are well known in the area. The following is my list of Top 10 things to do while in San Diego:
1) Rent Bikes: We got lucky with this one - our Airbnb came with eight bikes (and a baby trailer!). We were one mile from the beach. My son loved riding in the baby trailer. We would ride up and down the coast each day, stopping at various coffee houses (Kono's, the perfect PB coffee stop near the pier) and beaches along the way.
2) Visit the Sea Lions at La Jolla Cove: We underestimated how awesome this would be. We drove to La Jolla from Pacific Beach (seven miles or so), and got lucky with a front row parking spot right near the Cove. There was not too much of a beachy area here. We had brought folding chairs (also included at our Airbnb) and picked a spot in the grass to set up camp for people watching and ocean gazing. You can walk around to several areas where the sea lions can be seen basking in the sun. You can get very close to the lions - they were truly amazing to watch!
3) San Diego Zoo: A must! This zoo has won many awards - rightfully so! It is huge, and beautiful. Bring your walking shoes since the paths were designed to mimic walking in the jungle. Our son was pretty good in his stroller for most of the time, but I was happy to have our Ergo carrier with us as well. We spent about four hours at the zoo - which was plenty of time to see all of the exhibits, which include over 3,500 animals! They are currently building a new exhibit called Africa Rocks, which will be opened sometime this year. Our favorite animals to see were the bears and giraffes!
4) Coronado Brewing Company: This place had my favorite beer out of all of the breweries. We loved the atmosphere. It was not too crowded, and we were able to get a table for our group. The beer flights were delicious, and were well labeled so that we knew exactly what we were drinking.
5) Modern Times Beer in Point Loma: Talk about an amazing atmosphere! Fun, bright, so many things to look at! We were here on New Years Eve (daytime), so the place was packed. The beer was delicious, and was served in cigar boxes. It's all about the presentation, right?! They also specialize in coffee - they make their own vanilla simple syrup using a vanilla bean reduction process - the final product was amazing! This brewery is kid friendly - we were certainly not the only ones with a baby with us! I picked up a sweatshirt from Modern Times, and my mom ordered a mug from their website that they had on display (but not available for sale at this location). I still have dreams about that latte!
6) Surfing Lessons: While we did not actually take surfing lessons, we watched the locals catch some waves in December. It was far too cold for us to get into the water, but next time we are in Pacific Beach, lessons are a must! Lessons are abundantly available along the beach - the instructors will have you surfing in no time!
7) The Baked Bear: OMG a build your own ice cream cookie shop. I've died and gone to heaven. Don't stress yourself about picking just one cookie for your sandwich, I went with two different cookies. You can also choose to have your ice cream sandwiched between brownie, glazed donut, or, get ready - a cookie AND a brownie! Mind blown! They have several locations out west, but the original Baked Bear is located in Pacific Beach. It is a must-try!
8) Duffy Boat Rental: We rented an electric boat from Duffy and cruised around Mission Bay (you are your own captain!). It was AWESOME. The water was very calm, and we picked a beautiful day to be out in the bay. The boats were very clean, and the staff set us up quickly and we were on our way. We chose the 90 minute cruise. The boats come with a map that let you know how long it will take to get from point A to B, which helps greatly in timing your 90 minute trip. We were able to bring our own cooler with food and drinks on our boat. Such a good, memorable experience!
9) Barrel Republic: This bar had a unique concept that my sisters and I couldn't get enough of. You receive a bracelet when you enter the bar, and you pour your own brews (and wine!). You hold your bracelet (which is embedded with a chip) up to the tap, and you are charged for the amount that you pour into your glass. This gives you the opportunity to try a few ounces of many different craft beers. You can pour as little or as much into your glass at a time. There is a limit that you can pour within a given period of time, but this is just to ensure that people are not over served. Such a fun place with a unique concept!
10) Restaurants: I LOVE the food in California. It is right up my ally. It is quite different that the food that you routinely see in the Midwest. Don't get me wrong, we have amazing restaurants where we live, but California food can be extra "crunchy" - just my style!
Acai Bowls: The best place for an amazing Acai Bowl is The Menu. This breakfast spot was perfect - we were able to get two tables for our group of eight next to each other almost as soon as we walked in. The restaurant was bustling and had a fun atmosphere. They also had a top-notch Bloody Mary, which is my fave morning beverage! Doesn't this Acai Bowl look amazing? I wish I had one right meow!
Oscar's Mexican Seafood: Super fresh tacos! There are two locations in PB, were tried the one on Emerald street. This place WILL be busy - we hung around for an outside table, which we scored in five minutes or so. The fish tacos and shrimp ceviche had so much flavor - I could eat here every day.
The Iron Pig Alehouse: We went here for our New Years Eve dinner. It was the perfect setting for a larger group - were were able to snag a table without a reservation (we got there early!). It was so incredibly difficult to choose between brisket, ribs, or pulled pork. I went with the pulled pork, and it was delicious. The slow smoked beans and cheese smash were the perfect complements to this BBQ feast!
Cinnaholic: This Shark Tank phenomenon allows you to create your own customized gourmet cinnamon roll. Yes please! We also got a tub of their vegan cookie dough to-go as well. In fact, all of their products are vegan, but who would know?! They taste so good - I didn't even miss the milk or eggs!
San Diego was a blast. Whenever friends or family are looking for vacation suggestions, this area is my go-to suggested spot. It is within the US, easy to get to, kid and family friendly, and the weather is GORGEOUS. We were there in December, and the weather was in the 55F-75F range, and it was sunny all but two days. Those Californians have it good out there! We can't wait to go back, since we only saw a fraction of what this town has to offer.
Stay classy, San Diego!