The last time I went to California was when I was in high school and while I was there, I visited San Jose and San Francisco. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit San Diego for work, and of course, I had to extend my trip so I could really explore San Diego and La Jolla. As usual, I did a ton of research and planning as to what the best restaurants were and different sites we could see. Here is my San Diego travel guide with some of my favorite things we did while we were in San Diego and La Jolla (as well as a few things I wanted to do but didn’t get the chance to) to make the perfect weekend trip! I also created a Google Map that has all these places on it as well as places to get drinks.
We went to Little Italy twice while we were in San Diego and I honestly would have never guessed there was a Little Italy neighborhood in San Diego. It is the cutest area that is filled with Italian restaurants, shops, and little markets. The restaurant we went ate at is called Buon Appetito and it was delicious. I highly recommend eating here or at Little Italy Food Hall. Little Italy Food Hall wasn’t open when we went but I have heard nothing but good things from there.
On the left is Salt & Straw and on the right is my double scoop ice cream cone I got. I ordered two flavors off the seasonal menu and they are HUGE scoops of ice cream!
You’ll want to save room dessert at Salt and Straw. There will most likely be a line there, but trust me, the ice cream is worth the wait. This ice cream shop originated in Portland, Oregon but has since expanded throughout the west coast. And while they don’t have your traditional flavors like vanilla and pistachio, every flavor I tried was to die for. #teamhoneylavender
The outside of Richard Walkers Pancake House on the left and my pancake flight with blueberry, pecan, and bacon pancakes on the right.
There are two options for breakfast. If you have time to spare definitely go to Richard Walkers Pancake House. There will probably be a line but it’s worth the wait. I ordered a pancake flight but, I really wanted to get a baked pancake. Since baked pancakes take 10 to 20 minutes to prepare and we were short on time, I didn’t get one. The table next to us got one and it was huge and looked so delicious. The corned beef hash was also very good as well as the bacon and eggs.
There were so many donuts, it was so hard to choose. I got a maple bacon donut and a pink frosted with sprinkles donut but the unicorn donut was so tempting.
If you’re short on time or don’t have a lot of money to spend, hit up the Donut Bar. There will also be a line here but it goes super fast and the donuts are some of the best donuts I’ve ever had in my life. I mean they have a Pop-Tart donut that has an entire Pop-Tart inside of it… need I say more?
This is me on the top of the USS Midway, next to one of the many aircrafts they have onboard.
The first activity today is the USS Midway Museum. It was really cool to see the ship and see how they live when at sea, although I think I got lost like 3 times. They aren’t lying when they say it’s like a city on water. They also have lots of different military planes, and you can even go inside some of them. It took us between an hour and a half to two hours to go through the museum but we also didn’t go to any of the tours so if you plan on going to those as well, it will take a little longer.
I ordered the berry mascarpone cheese crepe cake and it was SO filling and a perfect balance of sweet and rich.
For lunch you have to go to Cafe 21. This place has 4.3 stars on Google with over 416 reviews and did I mention they have a mimosa flight? The Mimosa flight comes with six different Mimosa flavors and they all sounded delicious. I wasn’t able to get one because I was there for work and didn’t want to show up to any events drunk. I had a hard time deciding what to get but I ended up with a very berry mascarpone crepe cake that was out of this world and super filling They have both sweet and savory options and the drink menu is huge.
One of the many museums in Balboa Park in San Deigo.
Next up is the San Diego Zoo and/or Balboa Park. The San Diego Zoo is one of the best zoos in the world and it’s conveniently located inside Balboa Park. If you’re not into zoos, Balboa Park is a treat in itself with over 65 miles of trails and several different Gardens. There are also events there often so be sure to check out the calendar in advance.
Part of Sunset Cliffs. You’ll see a lot of people by the mermaid but keep driving because it’s a lot less crowded towards the end.
If you like to eat dinner later I also recommend going to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park and watching the sunset. It can get really busy so be sure to get there the sunset but the views are incredible and super romantic.
The HUGE pile of guacamole and handmade chips were the perfect combination to go with my shrimp tacos.
Since you’re in San Diego it wouldn’t be right to visit without eating Mexican food, right? La Puerta has all the necessities for good Mexican cuisine. Tequila, check, delicious margs, check, tacos, check, and guacamole, check. By the way, they have over 100 different kinds of tequilas so obviously, the margaritas are delicious. The guacamole is made fresh and served with fresh chips and I am pretty sure the guacamole is some the best guacamole I have ever had (well except for Nicks…maybe one day I’ll share that recipe). The shrimp tacos were really good too but the guacamole and fresh chips were the star of the show. There are many little bars and ice cream shops by this restaurant so I recommend checking them out if you’re up for it.
Today will be spent mostly in La Jolla which is just North of San Diego. To start your day off, you have to go to The Cottage to get brunch. I was dying to go to this place while I was there but unfortunately didn’t get to go. This place came recommended to me by a few people who had been to San Diego and it has 4.5 stars on Google. Be sure to get there before 10 because this place gets packed.
The left is La Jolla beach, look at that blue ocean water!! The right is by the Children’s Tide Pools where you can see the famous seals.
You’ll then make your way La Jolla Tide Pools and walk all the way down to the Jolla Cove. This walk is all along the coast and on your way, you’ll get to see the Children’s Pool which has become overrun with wild seals and sea lions and see Seal Rock. If you’re a little more adventurous you can actually do a kayak tour or snorkel by the cove. Do be aware the current is much stronger on the west coast then it is on the East Coast. We booked a kayaking tour out to the cove with Everyday California and unfortunately got sick because of the strong tide. If you decide to do that I recommend taking a Dramamine before you go.
Of course, I had to get the double scoop waffle cone and totally regretted not getting a third scoop.
After you check out the cove be sure to go to a Bobboi Gelato. I guarantee you, there will be a line outside but let me tell you this place has the best gelato I have ever had and I have had gelato all throughout Italy. The gelato was honestly incredible and I would have gotten in line for a second cone if the wait weren’t as long. They also let you taste the flavors which is nice because they have some really delicious sounding flavors, it’s hard to just pick one!
You’ll then want to go to Torrey Pines State Park which is a park located right on the coast. The views are absolutely incredible and there are a lot of hiking trails that are both long and short and easy and hard.
My favorite tacos at the Taco Stand were the shrimp and fish tacos.
To end your weekend in La Jolla you’ll have dinner at the Taco Stand which is a delicious Mexican restaurant that’s also very cheap. I know, Mexican twice, really? But hey when in Mini-Mexico might as well eat lots of Mexican food right? Every Taco we had was delicious and the burritos were delish as well. We also got the guacamole but weren’t huge fans because they seem to put some sort of fruit in it (I think it was pineapple?). You can easily feed two people here for under 20 bucks.
While we were in San Diego and La Jolla, we also went to a few other places that we loved so if you have a little more time than just a weekend be sure to go to The Baked Bear, Pacific Beach, Sushi Ota, Cabrillo National Monument, Hotel Del Coronado, and Cowles Mountain.
Were there any places in La Jolla and San Diego that you went to and loved? I would love to hear about it in the comments!