Recently I was invited to spend a week in Southern California for a “mom-cation”, visiting three cities: Palm Springs, Huntington Beach and San Diego, to see the best of the best that they all had to offer.
Today I’m sharing from my final destination – San Diego!
Let me start by saying that there is no way you can fully take in everything that San Diego has to offer in less than 48 hours! I quickly realized just how much there was to do in San Diego once I started planning my two days there and knew there was just no way to see it all. So I focused in on the areas I would be travelling through as well as making sure I hit a couple of the major hot spots!
So let me share with you my top three places to explore in San Diego, California – whether you are there for a short visit or an extended vacation, make sure to try and hit these places up, even for just a few hours!
Top Three Places to Visit in San Diego, California
La Jolla Cove:
Travelling down the coast to reach San Diego, you will first pass through one of the more northern coastal regions of San Diego called La Jolla (pronounced La Ho-ya). La Jolla is surrounded on three sides by the ocean and backed by Mt. Soledad, making it one of the most beautiful regions of San Diego, often nicknamed “The Jewel” of San Diego and one of the most popular beach destinations in California.
I headed straight to La Jolla Cove, a small but breathtaking beachfront part of La Jolla that is known for it’s crystal-clear water and abundance of marine life. Specifically, I wanted to see the sea lions and seals! It was a little tricky to find parking as it was bustling with people on the sunny Sunday afternoon that I visited, but once I did find a spot, I hopped out and waisted no time exploring the area!
There are steps that lead right down into the cove to a small beach that is ideal for swimming and snorkelling. That’s where I found this natural rock formation that looks like a passage way right out into the ocean! Isn’t it spectacular?!
Just up from the beach is Point La Jolla where you can walk out on the rocks and get up close and personal with the seals and sea lions. Hundreds of them are sprawling along the rocks – such a site to behold. A quick note here that if you do visit this area, please be respectful of the animals and nature. There were loads of visitors there with me taking pictures and for the most part, people stayed back far enough to peacefully observe. But I did notice some young kids on occasion trying to get a reaction from the sea lions and it just didn’t seem right to disturb them in their own habitat.
I could have spent a full week exploring just the La Jolla area Streets lined with cafes, boutique shops, plenty of water activities including snorkelling and scuba diving and so much more! But even if you are simply driving through to San Diego, make sure to stop and stretch your legs along the La Jolla Cove! You won’t regret it!
My next stop was Pacific Beach, about 10 miles south of La Jolla, California. This area of San Diego is so interesting as it has the pacific coast on one side but it also has Mission Bay, a 4,600 acre saltwater inlet that spans 27 miles of shoreline with several beach communities.
I had the pleasure of staying at the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa right on Mission Bay. This Polynesian-themed resort has more than 300 guest rooms and is one of the premier resorts in all of San Diego with it’s lush vegetation in and around the hotel grounds. Complete with waterfalls, koi fish, exotic birds, it’s a little tropical paradise perched between the bay and coast.
I loved this hotel because I felt it let me experience the best of both worlds that Pacific Beach/Mission Bay has to offer – the bay and the beach! Having breakfast both mornings on the outdoor patio overlooking the peaceful bay while watching joggers and cyclists out for their morning run or heading off to work was a fabulous way to start my days.
After breakfast, I went to Action Sports Rental in front of the Catamaran Resort and was able to rent a bike for an hour ride along the Pacific Beach walkway, which is located across the street from the resort!
Biking along Pacific Beach was one of those moments where I kept telling myself “Remember this moment forever!” One of the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to in the U.S., lined with the cutest homes, cafes and shops, this place is like a little slice of paradise!
My only regret with Pacific Beach is that I didn’t have more time to take it all in! I am already planning our next trip to San Diego and you better believe that Pacific Beach (and for that matter, all the other places I’m mentioning in this post) are on that itinerary to do again!
The final stop on my whirlwind trip to San Diego was to the famous Balboa Park, a 1,200 acre urban park in the heart of the city. This park is a place where culture, science and nature collide with countless places to see and explore. It is home to more than 16 museums, multiple theatres, dozens of gardens and trails, as well as many cultural and recreational activities, including the San Diego Zoo.
Because I only had a few hours in the park, I knew I had to pick one place to explore and after seeing a few pictures online, I knew the Spanish Village was the place to go!
The quaint buildings and colorful courtyard date back to 1935 when they were built to resemble an old village in Spain. It would temporarily be used as as army barracks during World War II and then reclaimed and restored by artists in 1947.
Since then, it has become a vibrant community of over 200 local artisans that actively create daily works of art that can be seen on display in the various galleries and even purchased for personal use. I absolutely loved going through all the studios, meeting many of the local artists and seeing their incredible displays of art! I even bought a blue and white ceramic bowl that was handmade by a local potter! It sits proudly on display in my home as a reminder of this vibrant community that captivated my heart in San Diego!
I cannot find enough words to describe how incredible, beautiful and vibrant San Diego is and how profoundly it impacted me! I’m not joking when I say that I actually looked up real estate in San Diego and entertained the idea of moving there! While that won’t realistically happen as our lives are very much set up here in Toronto, you better believe that San Diego, California is now at the top of my revisit list, as it’s become one of my all-time favorite cities in America!
Love & Blessings,
Note: Thank you to Visit California and Visit San Diego for hosting me at these various locations. As always, all the thoughts and opinion are 100% my own.