In our two week trip to California, we decided to hit up Southern California’s most popular tourist destinations, La Jolla. San Diego is famous for beautiful beaches, year-round great weather and countless outdoor attractions. It is the perfect place to spend a long weekend or a few weeks depending on how much you love it!
With friendly locals, great weather, amazing cuisine and picturesque beaches, you won’t want to leave. People are incredibly active in San Diego-you’ll find people surfing, walking, hiking and biking at all hours. There are many different areas and suburbs of San Diego worth seeing. We stayed in La Jolla, an upscale beach community with impressive coastlines and the best seafood on the West Coast.
California is not the most public-transportation friendly state, so we suggest definitely renting our a car for your time there. Parking can also be tough-so if you’re not really planning on doing any day trips around California-then consider Uber and Lyft!
Where we Stayed in La Jolla
We stayed in amidst the beaches and regal bluffs of Southern California at The Grand Colonial Hotel. The lobby and rooms are slightly modernized while keeping in touch to the intimate boutique hotel.
The Grand Colonial Hotel captures the quintessential Californian coastal lifestyle in every detail. All of the rooms had beautiful ocean views and with the windows open you could feel the ocean breeze from down the road.
Where to Eat
This is the restaurant we went to for Christmas Eve dinner-and it was amazing! La Jolla gave us a true Californian ocean-to-table culinary experience with al fresco dining, a raw bar and an exhibition kitchen.
Try the Oyster Bar and Sea Scallops!
The Marine Room
This gorgeous elegant dining room is located right on the water that features seafood creations made with globally-influenced flavors. You can wine and dine while being eye-level with the dramatic waves on La Jolla Shores.
Try the Fleur de Sel Crispy Skin Branzino!
This place is taco-central, and your trip to San Diego is not complete unless you dedicate a whole meal to them. Innovative flavors and family recipes straight from Mexico City are plated ever so delicately in this restaurant. The place is beautifully decorated with colors everywhere, from the walls to your plate! Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time because this place is packed!
For starters you have to try the chocken taquitos, Mexican Street Bowl and the Guacamole! For Tacos, you can’t go wrong with the Taco of the Month, Tamarindo Shrimp, Filet Mignon and Baja Shrimp.
The best place to grab a quick coffee before you start your day, better buzz is a cute chic café that serve the most delicious coffee in all of San Diego. The café itself is very aesthetic and they offer a variety of pasteries and breakfast sandwiches to complete your meal!
Try their Iced Moroccan Spice Latte with Oat Milk and Avocado Toast
Ironside Fish and Oyster Bar
An awesome place to enjoy a seafood Happy Hour, ironside Fish and Oyster Bar serves….fish and oysters, obviously. Along with some nice small plates and the catch of the day, the seafood found here is incredibly fresh. Try to catch their happy hour from 3pm-6pm Monday-Friday for a great sampling menu and wine list!
Try their raw oyster bar and smoked black bass toast!
The Morning After
A breakfast, brunch and bar located in the Gaslamp district..what more could you ask for? With the best “instagrammable” meals, the portions are fairly large but worth every bite.
Try the Cruchy Crunch Toast or the Fruity Pebbles Pancakes!
Another great Happy Hour spot, Osteria Panevino is a fantastic Italian restaurant perfect for all occasions. Comfortable and cozy, Osteria has a rustic feel to it and has some of the best pastas!
Try their Rolllini Di Melenzane and truffle fries!
This is the perfect breakfast or brunch spot! Voted best patio dining in La Jolla in a row, The Cottage features all of the best and freshest ingredients from breakfast to dinner. This restaurant began as a local hangout and later expanded to a large restaurant serving American and Southern California influenced food.
Try the Pork Belly Benedict or the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes for something sweeter!
Great for a Happy Hour or Dinner, Nine-Ten is a top rated Michelin restaurant that serves evolving California Cuisine with menus dictated by local harvest. It was actually the main restaurant of our hotel. The restaurant is casually elegant with contemporary vibes and a sidewalk patio. The food is fresh from Chino farms and local artisan providers along with local fish from Hawaii, the North Pacific and the Atlantic.
Try the Cacio e Pepe and the Grilled Local Swordfish
George’s at the Cove
George’s new American cuisine served at their rooftop restaurant has panoramic views of the coast along with a cozy bar inside. We’ve had happy hour inside at their elevated bar one evening and enjoyed a beautiful lunch on their roofdeck. The service is superb and their wine list is extensive!
Try their Nori Crusted Cod Sandwich with fries!
What to Do
La Jolla Cove
You’ll soon come to realize that La Jolla is fairly small. Everything is walkable, especially if you are close to town. Our hotel was right by La Jolla Cove which is essentially a cove and a beach surrounded by cliffs. Along the cove runs a sidewalk which is a great morning run if you’re up to it.
Look down from the walkway and you'll find tons of seals everywhere at The Children's Pool. The seals have totally taken over the cove as their protected breeding spot and when the tide fees high, you can see the seals going in and out of the water.
You can't actually get close to them, but close enough to see them in their natural habitat. There are hundreds all along the coast and it's pretty much guaranteed you will see a dozen of them chilling out. If the weather is permitting, many people will go swimming and snorkeling around the cove.
Be sure to check out the sunset at the cove to get the best views of La Jolla!
La Jolla Caves
La Jolla has tons of caves worth exploring. One fun way of seeing them up close is to go kayaking! With the kayaks you're able to go into and around the caves and explore them. The tour guides accompany you into the caves and can help you maneuver your kayak with ease. Many of them are marine biologists and can give you tons of background information about the sea life on the way to the caves. Additionally from the kayaks you can take in a different view of all Jolla and it's beautiful!
The Cave Store is a gift shop where a man-made tunnel leads you directly to the mouth of the cave. You can actually walk down to the cave without ever having to step foot in the water.
Ellen Browings Scripps Park
A lovely place to have a picnic and enjoy the stunning views of La Jolla, Ellen Browingings park is gorgeous. It has everything from the Children's Pool, Torrey Pines State Reserve, and Dr Suess looking trees. Dr. Seuess's famous Truffula Trees from The Lorax was an inspiration that came from these trees distinct to Southern California!
Walk Along Windansea Beach
There's a beautiful walk along the many beaches of San Diego starting from La Jolla Cove. If you want to check out where the locals hung out and drove a couple miles south to Windansea Beach. The landscape here is incredibly interesting and there are always a ton of surfers.
Home to more than 16 museums, multiple performing art venues, lovely gardens, trails and the famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park has something for everyone! This urban cultural park in San Diego is a short drive out of La Jolla and you can spend your entire day there.
Air and Space Museum
Also located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Air and Space museum display the science, space and aviation history at this Smithsonian Institution affiliate.
The museum houses a collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft from all over the world, including a flight-worthy replica of Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis,” the actual Apollo 9 Command Module, and the only real GPS satellite on display in the world. You can also find artifacts from the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and Neil Armstrong!
Fleet Science Center
For a more interactive environment, head to the Fleet Science Center at Balboa Park. At the science center, there are over 100 interactive exhibits that pique your curiosity. There is also an IMAX film adventure that shows you the wonders of the planet.
Situated just scross the bay from downtown San Diego sits Coronado Island. Coronado has great surf, pristine beaches, an adorable town and nice hotels. All around the town you'll find elegant gardens, old-w haunted mansions, boutique shops and tons of oceanfront dining.
At the beach you can go surfing, kayaking and sailing. If you need a break from the beach, there is a top-rated golf course.
No trip to Coronado would be complete without a visit to the legendary (questionably haunted) Hotel del Coronado. Built in 1888, the hotel is a National Historic Landmark. You can wine and dine in the hotel's famous restaurant which boasts glorious views of the ocean.
We went during the Christmas holiday when the Coronado Outdoor Ice Rink was open. You're able to go around ice skating freely to Christmas Music while enjoying the views of the Ocean only a few feet away!
USS Midway Museum
This historical naval aircraft carrier museum has been voted one of the top things to do in San Diego. The museum consists of the aircraft carrier, Midway and houses an extensive collection of aircrafts!