We all need a getaway every once in a while, and weekend trips are such an easy way to do just that. I love LA, but at least once a month I find myself craving a mini-escape. One of my favorite cities to run to is San Diego. The weather is always perfect, the vibe is chill, and the coastline is hard to beat. There’s so much to do that no matter what your interests are, there’s something for you.
When I travel, I’m all about relaxing during the day, maybe doing some light shopping, obviously stopping into one (or several) coffee/juice bars, and then enjoying some great nightlife when the sun goes down. No idle traveler here. I’ve rounded up my favorite spots to visit when you’re in America’s Finest City.
Where to Stay
Kimpton Palomar Hotel
First things first, you need a comfy bed. I’ve stayed a lot of places in San Diego and let me just tell you, Palomar Hotel is far and away my favorite. Kimpton knows how to do hospitality. When you walk into the modern-meets-glitz lobby (through an epic gold door), you are immediately met with the friendliest staff ready to help you seamlessly check in. The rooms are stunning, the toiletries smell amazing, and the balcony views of Downtown are hard to beat. One of the best parts of this newly renovated boutique hotel is the rooftop pool + bar. It’s my loveliest boho patio dreams come true. The cocktail menu is small but boasts some major players – like champagne with a craft popsicle (a must). For elevated Mexican street food, hit up the hotel’s main restaurant, Curadero. I guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed.
Coffee + Juice Time
One of my favorite ways to explore a city is by visiting its different coffee shops, and Copa Vida is one of the cutest shops I’ve ever stopped into. Between its minimalist menu, concrete floors, marble table tops and delicious brunch menu, it’s a total gem. Despite being right next to the hustle and bustle of Petco Park, it’s a great little spot to bust out some work or share friendly conversation.
Spill the Beans Coffee and Bagels
Spill the Beans is a newer shop and, oh my gosh, is the design to die for! And while they’re dedicated to making delicious California-style bagels, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Their menu boasts cheeky sandwich names like “Thighmaster” and “Millennial.” My kind of people.
If I’m traveling, then you know I’m enjoying more wine than usual so I like to keep the rest of my health game strong. Juices are my go-to breakfast choices on weekend trips and Vitality Tap has a recipe for every ailment. I always opt for the detox shooter, which is (full disclosure) quite gross but does the trick. They’ve also got an extensive menu of delicious smoothies and bowls if you don’t insist on making your taste buds hate you. #doyouevenjuice
Where to Eat
Listen, I take football seriously. Like religiously serious. So if I’m going out on a weekend, you best believe the restaurant I choose is playing the game. American Junkie is my favorite sports bar in Gaslamp for several reasons. (a) They have delicious + healthy options if you’re not in the mood for onion rings or a burger; (b) the drink menu is full of winners; (c) the servers are hot AF; and (d) they have adult games. If you’re only familiar with the one in Newport and, thus, scared (rightfully so) don’t be. San Diego’s American Junkie is truly top notch.
If you like tapas + sangria, Cafe Sevilla is the way to go. The ceviche trio is my absolute favorite (I ordered two rounds), followed by their gambas al ajillo and scallops a la plancha. Plus there’s live music seven nights a week! I’m not really a tapas person but this eatery is a game changer.
If you want to really ball out/indulge in a decadent dinner, look no further than Water Grill. Their entire menu is divine. 100% worthy of breaking any diet you’re on. My person favorite dish is the Alaskan Halibut with roasted butternut squash. Bring on all the sage butter and pesto, thank you. Pair your course(s) with a celebratory glass of wine or a fancy spirit and you’re in for one memorable night.
Where to Shop
I don’t usually enjoy malls, but Fashion Valley is a different story. It’s a multi-level outdoor mall with all of my favorite shops – Free People, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, H&M, and Sephora – plus great dining options; namely, True Kitchen. It’s rather dangerous if you’re trying not to drain your wallet, so proceed with caution.
Where to Drink
The Shout! House
The Shout! House is a request-driven rock n’ roll dueling piano bar that even promises some raunchy humor. If you’re tempted by a good time but not into the club scene, this is a must-visit. In fact, it’s where I spent (and miraculously remember) my 21st birthday a few years ago. Brace yourself for an evening thoroughly, but be prepared to be dragged on stage if your friends call on you.
ALTITUDE Sky Lounge
ALTITUDE is the Marriott’s stunning rooftop bar in Gaslamp. At night, the views of Downtown are absolutely breathtaking and the menu isn’t too shabby either. It’s a great spot to get a little fancied up and sip on something classy for those more bougie evenings. Plus, the kitchen is open until midnight, so no need to subject yourself to Taco Bell when dem late night drunkies hit ya.
Level 9 Rooftop Bar
Are you sensing a theme? Rooftop bars are my jam, and Level 9 at Hotel Indigo is such a perfect spot to hit. Not only is every single cocktail on the menu dangerously delicious, but they have the comfiest couches and fire pits. It’s also on the smaller side (being that Hotel Indigo is a boutique hotel), so if crowds aren’t your thing, fear not. Take it from someone who is deeply judgmental about rooftop bars – this one is not to be missed.
You stay classy San Diego. Or don’t, no judgement here.