A Perfect Weekend in San Diego

 

Weekend in San Diego and La Jolla

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.

 

Friday Night

Dinner in Little Italy

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.

San Diego Travel Guide with Salt and Straw Ice CreamOn 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

 

SATURDAY

Breakfast at Richard Walkers Pancake House or The Donut Bar

Things to do in San Diego_BrunchThe 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.

Things to do in San Diego_Best San Diego DoughnutsThere 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?

USS Midway Museum

Things to do in San Diego_USS Midway MuesumThis 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.

Lunch at Cafe21

Things to do in San Diego_Brunch Cafe 21I 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.

Balboa Park or The San Diego Zoo

Things to do in San Diego_Balboa ParkOne 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.

Sunset Cliffs

Things to do in San Diego_Sunset CliffsPart 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.

Dinner at La Puerta

Things to do in San Diego_Best Mexican Food in Gaslamp QuarterThe 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.

 

Sunday

Brunch at The Cottage

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.

Walk Down Coast Blvd. in La Jolla

Things to do in San Diego_La Jolla BeachThe 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.

Gelato at Bobboi Gelato

Things to do in La Jolla_Bobbi GelatoOf 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!

Hike Torrey Pines State Park

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.

Things to do in La Jolla_The Taco StandMy favorite tacos at the Taco Stand were the shrimp and fish tacos.

Dinner at The Taco Stand

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.

Weekend in San Diego and La Jolla

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!

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My Favorite Thrift Stores in Manhattan

best thrift stores in manhattan

Something my mom and I love to do together is going to thrift stores. We love looking around at all the different knick-knacks and finding good deals on designer stuff. So when I was planning our trip to New York City, of course, I had to do some research on thrift stores. We went to both thrift stores and vintage shops while we were in New York City, but I found that a lot of the vintage shops offered truly vintage stuff, like stuff from the 60’s and 70’s at a much higher price point. I was more interested in finding designer stuff and unique knick-knacks. Below are four of my favorite thrift shops I visited well in Manhattan. I also created a Google Map with all of these stores in Manhattan.

Be sure to check out my 7 Sweet Spots in NYC blog post to read about my all my favorite bakeries and desserts in Manhattan! Or check out the travel section of my blog to see all my travel posts!

 

Housing Works Thrift Shops Manhattan_best thrift stores

While we were in New York we stopped at three different Housing Works thrift shops. They have many locations all throughout Manhattan and each location has a variety of items. The first two we went to, we didn’t really find anything worth purchasing. We found a lot of the items to still be expensive. I’m talking like $75 for a visibly used Banana Republic dress. But at the last location we went to, I found a brand new, still with tags, Bloomingville pitcher for only $8 and it was still selling online for almost $30! There was also a set of matching Bloomingville mugs for $3 a piece! I highly recommend checking out Housing Works, but be aware each location is different and some stuff can still be expensive.

bloomingville pitcher and mugs from housing works thrift shop in manhattan
The cute Bloomingville pitcher I found and the matching mugs.

 

angel tree thrift shop manhattan_best thrift stores

We also stopped at Angel Street Thrift Shop and found it to be very similar to Housing Works Thrift Shop. Some stuff was still kind of expensive and other stuff was honestly just junk. Although I will say that while digging through a pile of tops, I was able to find a grey wool Lacoste sweater for only $6! Score!

Lacoste Sweater From Manhattan Thrift Store
Only $6 for this wool Lacoste sweater!

 

Chelsea Flea Market Manhattan_best thrift stores

I know Chelsea Flea Market isn’t a thrift store and it’s only open on Saturday and Sunday but this place had the coolest stuff.  One of the things I loved most about Chelsea Flea Market was that it is a traditional flea market that sells antiques, art, vintage jewelry, and clothes. There were a lot of knick-knacks, artwork, and vintage clothing and jewelry. My mom managed to find a gorgeous Ted Baker London Dress for only $10! I also saw a pair of Tory Burch jeans that were only $12 but unfortunately, they weren’t in my size.

 

Goodwill Manhattan_best thrift stores

My favorite of all the thrift stores we went to was Goodwill. We went to a location in lower Manhattan but they have locations throughout Manhattan. I swear, I honestly could have spent all day going through the racks of stuff. There were tons of J.Crew and Banana Republic for super cheap. You can find a nice Banana Republic blouse for just $8. I found a really cute Marc Jacobs sweater that was only $30, but I couldn’t justify purchasing it because I live in Florida and it never gets cold. If you have time to go to only one place, I would highly recommend going to Goodwill. Just remember to give yourself time to go through all the clothes!

Goodwill Manhattan_Marc Jacobs Thrift Store Find
This Marc Jacobs sweater would have been a steal at $30!

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7 Sweet Spots in New York City

sweet spots in new york_ dominique ansel bakery_cronut

My recent trip to New York City was filled with lots of tasty foods and if you know me at all, you know I am all about the sweets! I did a lot of research before going to New York City and am happy to share with you all, my favorite sweet spots in the city. Trust me, there were a couple of spots that I wanted to go to but because I can only eat so many cookies before going into a diabetic coma, I didn’t get a chance to go to them. I plan on going to New York City again so if there are any bakery spots or food places, in general, you want to recommend, let a sista know! I also wrote a post that includes my Favorite Thrift Stores in Manhattan so be sure to check it out! Or check out the travel section of my blog to see all my travel posts!

sweet spots in new york city_doughnut plant

Doughnut Plant

Doughnut Plant invented the crème brûlée doughnut so of course, we had to try it. We ended up getting a creme brulee doughnut, pistachio doughnut, strawberry doughnut, rose doughnut, strawberry doughnut, and a cinnamon roll doughnut. The Rose doughnut was a little pricey at $5 but, I had never tasted something like that before. It was a traditional yeast doughnut glazed with a combination of donut icing and rosewater. The crème brûlée doughnut was also delicious. The inside custard reminded me of acrème brûlée and the hard sugar outside added a really nice touch. We weren’t too impressed with the other doughnuts we got but they have many different options on their menu that include both cake doughnuts and yeast doughnuts.

sweet spots in new york_doughnut plant rose doughnut

The crème brûlée doughnut on the left and the rose doughnut on the right.

sweet spots in new york city_laduree_french macaron

Ladurée

French macarons are one of my favorite desserts and even though I’ve been to Ladurée before, I couldn’t help but go again in New York City. I’ve had many French macarons but somehow, Ladurée manages to make the best french macaron I’ve ever had. They’re definitely not cheap but boy are they good. I wanted to try one of their French pastries but since we had just eaten at Dominique Ansel Bakery, I couldn’t imagine eating another rich pastry again.

sweet spots in new york ctiy_waffles and dinges_belgium waffle

Waffles and Dinges

We came across Waffles & Dinges while we were walking around Central Park and I’m so glad we did. The smell from the stand took me back to my trip to Europe and the Belgian waffles tasted almost good as eating them in Belgium. They offer a wide range of toppings and you can eat it on the go. We got a strawberry and whipped cream waffle and a speculoos waffle and I’m honestly drooling right now talking about it.

sweet spots in new york city_dominique ansel bakery_cronut

Dominique Ansel Bakery

The whole reason we went to Dominique Ansel Bakery was because they invented the cronut. Once we went in and saw all the other delicious pastries we couldn’t help ourselves but order a bunch of other pastries. Of course, we got a cronut in the flavor of the month, which happened to be a strawberry and cream flavor but, we also got Nutella pastry, a DKA, a peanut butter and jam pastry, and an almond pastry. The Cronut was so much better than I had imagined and I highly recommend getting one. I also recommend getting a DKA, or five. They’re soft and flakey in the center but kind of hard and sweet on the outside. If you can, try to get there early and also on a weekday otherwise you’ll be waiting in line to get your hands on a cronut during the weekend.

sweet spots in new york_dominique ansel bakery_cronut_dka

Love at first sight looking at a cronut. On the right, a DKA and almond pastry.

sweet spots in new york city_milk bar_crack pie

Milkbar

Before we went to New York City, I watched the Netflix episode of Chef’s Table with Christina Tosi, the creator of Milk Bar. I heard about Milkbar before but, it wasn’t until after I watched the Chef’s Table that I was dying to go there. While we were there we got three cookies, Birthday Cake Truffles, Crack Pie, and Cereal Milk soft serve. When I tasted the Cereal Milk soft serve, I was instantly taken back to being five years old, sitting at the breakfast table, eating a bowl of cereal, watching cartoons on the weekend. The Crack Pie was also really good but a little too rich for me. The cookies were also both hard on the outside and soft on the inside. Before we left New York City, we stopped at Milkbar one last time and I got some cookies and Birthday Cake Truffles to bring back to Florida.

sweet spots in new york city_milk bar ice cream

The original Milkbar Cereal Milk soft serve with cereal. Right, my mom and I eating Cereal Milk soft serve.

sweet spots in new york city_magnolia bakery

Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery is also a must if you’re in New York City. They are most well known for their cupcakes and banana pudding. When I was there we got an order of banana pudding, two cupcakes, and a Blueberry Jamboree Icebox Dessert. The banana pudding was the best banana pudding I have ever had and I live in the South so that’s saying something. It wasn’t heavy like the traditional banana pudding that I’ve had, it almost seemed like it was a combination of pudding and whipped cream because it was on the lighter side. The cupcake was also really good but, if you’re going to get one thing here, get the banana pudding.

sweet spots in new york_magnolia bakery banana pudding

I was so excited to try Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding that I put too much in my mouth.

Levain Bakery

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go to Levain Bakery while I was in New York City but a co-worker who was in New York City the week after me brought me back some cookies from the bakery so I got to try some. Let me tell you I am so sad that I wasn’t able to try them while I was in New York City, fresh out of the oven. Even though they were a day old, they were still incredibly delicious and I honestly can’t imagine how they must have tasted fresh out of the oven. The cookies were nice and hard on the outside yet, soft and doughy on the inside. Needless to say, they are 100% worth $4 and worth the wait.

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Europe Travel Guide

Travel Europe Itinerary

Back in May, I went on an amazing trip to Europe for 3.5 weeks. I spent hours upon hours looking at travel blogs, Pinterest, Trip Advisor and Eurail.com so I could plan every moment of my trip. I was so OCD about this trip that I created a color coordinated calendar with all of our tours and attractions on it. I know, I need help. When I got back from Europe I thought to myself, “I put in a lot of time and research into this trip and learned a lot along the way, so why don’t I share all of it?” I figured that all of my hard work could benefit not just me, but other people who are interested in traveling to Europe. So here we are!

This is my first post in my “Travel Europe” series. In this post I’ll talk about our route, city itineraries, transportation, how we paid for everything and where we stayed. In the upcoming months I’ll be expanding this series with posts that are specific to the different cities and countries we visited so keep posted! Don’t forget to check out all of my travel posts here!

travel-europe-itinerary-route
Our flight arrived in Amsterdam, Netherlands on May 10th and from there we traveled to Brussels, Belgium ⇒ Paris, France ⇒ Florence, Italy ⇒ Rome, Italy ⇒ Venice, Italy ⇒ Salzburg, Austria ⇒ Prague, Czech Republic ⇒ Berlin, Germany. We left for the US on June 2nd. We visited other small cities on day trips, but for the most part we stayed in the major cities I listed. A more detailed itinerary that shows how many days we stayed in each place can be seen below.

travel-europe-itinerary-calendar
When I say I was OCD about planning this trip, I was not lying. Each city was marked with a different color on my itinerary and all of the places and attractions we wanted to see were listed on the appropriate day. Some attractions we booked directly on their websites, but the best way to book a lot of different tours on one website is by using Viator. There are tons of tours and attractions from all around the world on this website with real customer reviews. It is also much easier to look at your bookings in one centralized place instead of visiting a bunch of different websites, so I highly recommend it. There were a few tours that were not available on Viator that I purchased directly on the tours’ websites, but I would definitely check Viator first before looking elsewhere. Plus, if you click on the link above you can save $10 on your first booking!

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What I realized when it comes to lodging is to use Airbnb in larger cities and hotels or hostels in smaller cities. Airbnb is great because all of our apartments had full kitchens so we could cook some of our meals and keep leftovers in a fridge, rather than eating out for every meal. You also get the opportunity to stay in residential areas which will give you a more local experience rather than a tourist experience. If you click on the Airbnb link above, you can save up to $35 on your first booking!

When it came to booking hotels I used Hotels.com. It was really nice and convenient to have your booking information on one centralized website – not to mention, the more you book, the more free hotel nights you can earn!

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Once we made it over to Europe we traveled from city to city using a Eurail Pass. I highly recommend using the train system, because not only do you get to see the European countryside, but they have a ton of routes leaving at all times of the day. The Eurail website has a plan your trip feature that makes it super easy to plan your routes and make reservations, rather than going to each individual train website to make the reservations. I will say that the Eurail pass was not cheap, but it was nice to have all the reservations made and routes planned prior to our trip. Keep in mind that some routes require a reservation, and depending on your Eurail pass, that reservation might need to be in First Class.

At first, figuring out the train stations and hopping off one train to catch another was intimidating (remember, we were lugging around two over-sized, heavy suitcases). Once I did it a few times, though, I got the hang of it. My biggest piece of advice here is to not be afraid to ask! Other people waiting for the train were always more than willing to guide us in the right direction, and the people who work for the train companies were also incredibly helpful.

Other than riding trains, we either walked or took taxis to most places. I will say that even though it was expensive, it was much easier than trying to figure out the public transportation system in most places. Don’t get me wrong, we tried – but after sitting on an airplane for nine hours and walking around aimlessly looking for the correct bus in the rain for an hour with our suitcases, we gave up and said #teamtaxi!

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I will start this topic off by saying that I am in no way, shape or form a financial advisor, and I strongly believe that you should never spend money that you don’t have. Now that that is out of the way, when we knew we were going to Europe, we decided to open a new travel credit card so we wouldn’t have to worry about changing currency going from country to country.

We used the Chase Sapphire credit card which has no international fees and no currency exchange fees. There is a $99 annual fee, but it is waived your first year (so if you cancel before then, you will not have to pay the fee). If you plan on spending $4,000 in the next 3 months, I highly recommend applying for a Chase Sapphire credit card. If you spend $4,000 in the first three months your account is open, you will earn a 50,000 point bonus ON TOP OF the points you already earn for your purchases. That is basically an extra $500 you will earn for buying things you had already planned on purchasing! In addition to earning the 50,000 bonus points, if you redeem them for travel you get an additional 20%. How awesome is that?! That’s basically a free plane ticket to Europe!

By the way, if you are not interested in redeeming your points for travel, you can still purchase gift cards or redeem your points for cash. We did take out Euros at an ATM when we got there, but we mostly used the credit card. I will say that if you are going to get Euros, DO NOT go to the currency exchange counter or request currency from your bank before you leave. Both of those methods are quite expensive and should be done as a last resort. Taking money out from an ATM is the most cost efficient way to get different currency.

OVERALL

Overall, my trip to Europe was an incredible experience, but there were some things I would have done differently. First and most importantly, I would not have lugged around a huge 26″ suitcase that weighed over 40 pounds. Not only did I not wear half of the clothes I packed, but I also almost pulled a muscle lifting it on and off the train. Which leads me to my next change: I would have not brought all the clothes I brought. I recommend bringing less than you think you should and bringing pieces that are versatile and comfortable. Lastly, I wouldn’t fill my trip with things to do every day. Sometimes when we got to our hotel from the train station, all we wanted to do was relax and take a nap… but since we booked a tour, we would have to suck it up and go. Leaving free time in your schedule lets you relax, explore or go back to places you want to see again.

Stay tuned for new Travel Europe posts that will include my favorite eats in Paris, five things you must ask your Airbnb host, things I wish I knew before going to Rome and many more!

Do you have any recommendations or advice when traveling to Europe? Have any questions for me? Leave them in the comments below!

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