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February 23, 2017

Travel Guide: San Diego

This time last week I decided we were getting the heck out of LA for President's Day because... sun. Pursuing the sun led Andy and I to one of our favorite SoCal spots: San Diego! San Diego holds a special place in my heart because it's one of the first places Andy and I ever adventured when we got together 4+ years ago. There's a ton to see and do in SD, so I rounded up all my faves from this trip + our past few trips for my San Diego travel guide. Keep on reading for our favorite places to eat, things to see, and fun activities plus a 3 day travel plan for any weekend getaway.

If you're planning to venture from LA to SD, plan for at least a 3 hour drive because of traffic and potential pit-stops. To break up the drive we usually stop in Costa Mesa at The Camp to grab a bite to eat, stretch our legs, and do some shopping. This past weekend our time in San Diego looked something like this: 

Day 1

We arrived on Saturday exactly at check-in time and made our way to The Pendry which is one of the newest hotels in San Diego's Gaslamp District. It is by far one of my favorite hotels I've EVER stayed in. (see my hotel diary here!) Upon checking-in we were greeted with a welcome cocktail and my first thought was "they get me!" After settling into our gorgeous room we enjoyed a glass of wine at the bar downstairs and then ventured out to explore the East Village and Gaslamp areas.

 Around the corner from the hotel I discovered my favorite burger spot from previous visits: Neighborhood. Naturally, we ate all the things (see menu advice down below under eats + drinks). I was a little bummed we planned the trip so last minute because Neighborhood also has a secret speakeasy bar called Noble Experiment that requires reservations typically within 2-3 days in advance. Next time though! 

In typical Andy and Ashley fashion we totally passed out after dinner and didn't make it to the hotel club that we really wanted to check out. This is 30 you guys... staying up past 10pm is ROUGH. 

Day 2

The good thing about being old (I kid, I kid) is that if you go to bed before 10pm you're up with the sun! We woke up earlier, or at least I did, and enjoyed a lazy morning at the hotel's restaurant -marketplace; they serve Vittoria coffee! After getting dressed we walked over to The Mission for breakfast. One of the best parts about staying in the Gaslamp district is that everything is walkable and if you don't want to walk they now have public bike rentals that you can take to and fro.  We were going to bike to Balboa Park for an afternoon excursion but it was a little chilly, so we opted to drive. Parking around the park is free - yay! 

 I've always heard of Balboa Park but never realized everything that it has: museum after museum, gardens, street performers, carousel... all. the. things. We could've spent hours on hours there but didn't want to cough up the $15 for every museum - oops.  Walking around the gardens and grounds was amazing enough to warrant a trip, so I definitely suggest visiting if you're in San Diego. After Balboa Park we ventured to North Park which I would describe as the Venice of San Deigo; think very cool, hipster vibes. You know: cute overpriced coffee spots, succulent stores, and record shops aka totally Andy and my vibe! I DIED when we walked passed the store Pigment - I feel like the website doesn't do the physical shop justice. It's like the cutest stationary shop meets a succulent garden meets Target's home section meets every colorful gift you've ever wanted to buy. Not sure how else to explain it but you MUST go if you are in North Park. Another really cool store in the area is Aloha Beach Club - it's more for guys but I love the whole vibe they are throwing out. 

Naturally after all the adventuring and shopping we were hungry which brought us to Harvest which was back near our hotel. The Gaslamp district food options are pretty indulgent (burgers, beer, fries, pizza, more beer) and Harvest is probably the healthiest thing in the area. Don't worry, it's not like we were trying to have healthy meals for the rest of the trip because for dinner that night we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory. Yes, it's a chain and I crave it like no other. There aren't any in Los Angeles which means whenever I'm near one I have to have it, and, I mean, this was walking distance from our hotel. If you're not into the OSF idea (why would you be?) then I suggest going to Basic Pizza. I've been a few times on other trips and their pizza and beer do not disappoint. 

Had we not eaten our weight in spaghetti and fallen asleep quickly after,  we would've gone to another great speakeasy called Prohibition. For this one you don't need a reservation, you just have to know where it is!  

Day 3

On our third day we had amazing sunshine (that was the whole purpose of the trip!) and we pretty much went to the Pendry pool at 10:00am before packing up and heading home around 2pm. On our way home we stopped at Windansea Beach which is one of my favorite beaches up near La Jolla. I personally would suggest staying out of the main La Jolla area because it is SO packed and getting in and out is pretty nuts, but you do you!

Keep scrolling to see pics from our trip, specific menu favs, and some other spots we didn't hit on this trip but that I really love.

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{balboa park}
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{aloha beach club}
pendry hotel, new san diego hotel, gaslamp district eater, what to do in san diego
{provisional @ the pendry}
cool things to do in san diego, what to do in san diego, windansea beach, cool spots san diego
{windansea beach}
cool things to do in san diego, what to do in san diego, pendry hotel, cool spots san diego
{pendry poolside bloody mary}
cool things to do in san diego, what to do in san diego, pigment shop, cool spots san diego
{pigment store}
cool things to do in san diego, what to do in san diego, everyday pursuits, cool spots san diego

{eat + drink}

The Baked Bear - stop there on your way to Windansea beach and get any of their delicious ice cream sandwiches

Neighborhood -  local burger spot with a great beer selection. Get the hood burger and jalepeno mac 'n cheese

Basic - yummy pizza spot (the pizzas are HUGE) that's super central to downtown San Diego

Harvest - a healthy food gem in the middle of a rather indulgent downtown San Diego landscape

The Mission - Mexican breakfast joint. Get the chilaquiles. Really you should always get chilaquiles if they are on any menu!

Prohibition - no reservation needed speakeasy

Noble Experiment - speakeasy in Neighborhood that requires 2 -3 day ahead resies


Windansea Beach: gorgeous somewhat secluded beach - it's getting more popular!

Pendry Hotel - luxury meets boutique hipster hotel vibes. 6 places to eat + drink plus an amazing rooftop pool scene

Balboa Park - huge park with museums, bikes, theatres, and gardens. Definitely a must visit even if it's just to walk the grounds. 

Pigment - the coolest boutique with succulents, candles, and gifting items in North Park

Sunset Cliffs - holy stunning beach overlook! As noted in the name you should definitely go at sunset because the view in unreal.

{san diego packing list}

Cali dreaming? Check out my other California travel guides:


  1. Wow so much useful info, can't wait for summer to hit some of these spots. Thanks for taking the time to do this roundup.

  2. Thanks for the overview. We visiting San Diego from brooklyn in a couple of weeks and I’m hunting out good ideas. I hadn’t read about Belmont Park yet and that amusement park sounds perfect for our family!

    Kim - www.condorny.com


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