We’re taking a detour from the normal posts for a week, because sometimes, I love to play tour guide and help people find good stuff!
Sometimes I travel for fun, and sometimes because of how my life has gone, I get to travel for school, business, etc as well.
I went to San Diego a few weeks ago to write a few stories down there (see the first one up now!).
But, while I was there, I tried to also hit as many of my old favorite things (foods, places, people, etc.) and to try a couple new ones. SO… If you are going to San Diego any time soon, these are officially my suggestions:
Where to EAT:
- The chips and queso dip at Miguel’s Cocina
Go to Miguel’s for the best white queso dip in the world. And if you want to argue with me about somewhere that you think has better Queso, then I’m gonna need you to fly me out there so I can try that place for myself. Until then, All Hail Miguel’s amazingness white cheese sauce and fresh fresh chips.
- What to eat there: The Flautas, the Tacos, or the Enchiladas. These are all great, but not out of this world. Really, the queso is why.
- Where: There are 4 locations, all great, the one I’ve been to is at: 2912 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
- Price Range: $$
- Nearby: go for a quiet walk along the Bay (See #8 in places to go/things to do below). Get coffee and hang out at the living room
2. California Burritos or Carne Asada Fries at Santana’s AKA Fresh MXN Food AKA Eat MXN Food
Ok, so the current and most recently passed names make it seem like perhaps you should gloss over this place. Do not. Sanatana’s is the original name, and while they have added locations, (I like this location best), and changed names, their menu has stayed largely the same. Santanas is rumored to have invented the california burrito.
- What to eat there: California Burrito or Carne Asada Fries.
- Where:1578 Rosecrans St San Diego, CA 92106
- Price Range: $
- Nearby: The Starbucks next door has many outlets if you need to re-charge. Otherwise take your burritos to go and eat them at #1, #2, or #3 under places below)
- Similar places: Adalberto’s (same suggestions), Cotija’s (California Burrito and Bean and Rice Burrito), and Ortiz’s (for any burrito)
3. Sea Food at Point Loma SeaFood
If you want the freshest sea food perhaps in the continental U.S., come here. It’s right on the water, and it’s both a market where you can buy your fresh seafood to go cook it at home, or you can order from their menu to get something delicious right there. To order, just muscle your way up to the counter, and shout your order. You can eat inside (you have to go outside and around the building to enter the enclosed patio) or outside at the stone picnic tables or the tables right along the water. Be wary of seagulls who will try to steal your food.
- What to eat there: You can’t go wrong. I like their fried shrimp, fried calamari, or traditional fish and chips. If you’re not a seafood person but you’re with seafood people, I believe they do have chicken strips as well.
- Where:2805 Emerson St, San Diego, CA 92106
- Price Range: $$
- Nearby: It’s close to the airport so a perfect first or last stop on your way in or out of town. It’s also close to Pizza Nova, which is delicious. It’s close to Miguel’s, The Living Room, and Shelter Island as well.
4. Anything at Extraordinary Desserts
The name says it all. I’m a dessert person. I partake whenever possible in the dessert genre. Which is often. And this place is the best dessert place I’ve ever found (Sorry gelateria in Rome with the best-known ice cream to man). Eat anything there. Pieces are always very rich, so it might be best to share. OR do what I do and get a couple choices to share. P.S. If there are flowers on your dessert, they are edible, but you can choose not to eat them.
- What to eat there: While I love ice cream, don’t settle for the usual here (though it’s an option). Get one of their delectable creations. Whether it’s cake, pie, tart, whatever.
- Where: Two locations. Little Italy has a larger, more open space indoors: 1430 Union Street, San Diego, CA 92101. But I like the ambiance better at the Balboa location (plus has outdoor seating). 2929 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103
- Price Range: $$
- Nearby: Little Italy location is obviously in Little Italy which is a great place to wander around and explore. Also, if you’re there during business hours, stop by the art gallery of Grant Pecoff (See Little Italy Entry below for address). Amazing, colorful work plus wonderful children’s books for sale!
5. Acai Bowls in Ocean Beach —Quik Stop Liquor/Convenience Store
- What to Eat: Probably the small is enough, but if you’re a big eater or you’re sharing, go full-bore. Also, their coffee is not bad for it being equivalent/priced like gas station coffee.
- Where: Newport Ave, on the left hand side as you head West. About 2-3 blocks up from the beach. 4921 Newport Ave San Diego, CA 92107
- Price Range: $$
- Nearby: Walk Newport Avenue for fun shopping. The Closet has cheap, cute clothes (and nose rings for $.99!). There are antique stores galore. The Little Chef for fast, cheap, great Chinese food. The Light House has the best ice cream. Hodad’s has great burgers (let the long line be the testament to it. It’s worth it, but bring cash). Plenty of new bars and breweries seem to be popping up in those blocks. And of course, go walk the beach.
6. Ice Cream in a Waffle Cone at Light House Ice Cream
As you walk up you can smell the cones being made, because, yes, they’re made fresh and they’re amazing. The ice cream itself is from a company based out of San Francisco and it’s The. Freaking. Best. (Outside of Italy.)
- What To Eat: I am personally a fan of the two scoops of varying flavors in the fresh waffle cones.
- Where: 5059 Newport Ave Ste 102, San Diego, CA 92107
- Price Range: $$
- Nearby: All Ocean Beach spots.
Places to Go/Things to Do:
- Sunset Cliffs.
Great for walking along, sitting on the benches, or driving down. There are absolutely incredible houses on one side with varying architectural styles and then the beautiful ocean on the other. Go down the stairs to the tide pools for an extra fun excursion. You can find crabs, sea anemones, sea snails, and sometimes sea cucumbers and starfish!
- Where: 1253 Sunset Cliffs Blvd, San Diego
- Tips: Sunset is best.
- Nearby: Ocean Beach and Point Loma Areas
2. Ocean Beach (OB)
Some of my favorite food and shopping suggestions are here, and it is, hands down, my favorite beach, and my favorite place in San Diego. It’s kind of a dirty area — lots of homeless people and hippies, sometimes one-in-the-same, but it’s also a local hangout. If you’re a surfer, it’s a great area, but the locals can be territorial so stay out of their way. It’s a great beach for families with kids that want to play in the water and get some decent waves with boogie boarding or body surfing. Life guards on duty. I suggest the area around lifeguard Tower 2 or 3. Browse through the shops, eat at the restaurants, get some coffee and stroll down the beach or the pier. Watch people slack lining, playing frisbee, fishing, surfing, and more. If you want to go to the restaurant on the pier, I’d suggest going for breakfast and getting the mango or blueberry pancakes.
- Where: Take Newport Ave. West until you hit the sand. If you hit the water you’ve gone too far. That’s just ocean. Not ocean beach.
- Tips: If you can’t find parking along Newport Ave., there is a parking lot at the beach end of Newport Ave, and one right by the large Life Guard Tower with the cross on it. If it’s a holiday, or sunny weekend, parking may be a struggle, so take whatever you come across.
3. Shelter Island
Great place if you want to have a bonfire at night, or just have a picnic or a stroll in the daytime.
- Where: Shoreline Park, 2204 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego, CA , San Diego
4. Little Italy
If you want to get the taste of downtown without going to a Mall, go stroll through Little Italy.
- Where: It’s the general vacinity, but here’s the address for the Pecoff Art Studio 1825 India St., San Diego, CA 92101
- Highlight: Grant Pecoff’s art studio
- Nearby: Extraordinary Desserts
- Balboa Park
5. Balboa Park
Wonderful for strolling, hiking, picnicking, or going to the museums. Balboa Park is one of the city’s greatest gems.
- Where: Enter on El Prado Street and either park right in street parking there and enjoy the park area/walk in, or drive in and find parking inside to be closer to museums. El Prado begins at where Laurel St. and 6th Ave. make a T: 2500 6th Ave San Diego, CA 92103
- Highlights: Museum of Man (costs). The Timken Art Museum (Free). The Botanical Gardens (free). The Zoo (costs).
6. Hike to The Devil’s Punch Bowl:
Lizz and I did this hike together and while it is 3 miles down hill there, and 3 miles uphill on the way back, it’s not the strenuousness of the hike that’s hardest, but the heat. They say to bring plenty of water, and I’d reiterate that plus, make sure you start the hike hydrated already. The punchbowl itself was pretty incredible though.
- Where: All info including purchasing the required permit ($6 for up to 5 people) can be found HERE: devils-punchbowl.com
7. Coronado Island
It’s the fun, throw-back place in San Diego. It’s easy to feel like you’re a great Gatsby character on vacation here. Enjoy the soft sands of the beaches, rent a bike to jot around the island, and get ice cream at the famous Moo-Time Ice Cream Shop (same idea as Cold Stone, but better).
- Coronado Beach: 838 Ocean Blvd Coronado, CA 92118
8. Walk along the Bay
There is a public path (Bessemer Path) along the bay in the back of some gorgeous houses. Find street parking nearby and start at the address below (on the curve where Talbot St. curves into Anchorage Lane). Start there and turn right, heading south along the Bay. Go as far as you like, but there is a precarious swing along the bay a bit farther down. Be careful though, apparently it has broken several times before.
- Where: 1001 Anchorage Ln., San Diego, CA 92106
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Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.
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