Ever see those scenes in movies when the character is flying into a city and the view out the window is DROP DEAD gorgeous? This is San Diego. The view was crystal clear and the skyscrapers felt touchable. You fly so close to the ground you can make out the model of a car on the freeway, lol. It's a very special experience and I'm about to spill why this place should be your next vacay.
the hotels have character and a story
We stayed at Hotel del Coronado and it felt like a historic Ritz Carlton. It was built in 1888 and some even claim it's haunted! After being open for a few years, a 24-year-old girl checked in hoping to meet up with a man. She was married, but it was said she was distant from her husband. Supposedly, this secret guy didn't show up and she committed suicide soon after. Creepy!
During our stay, we didn't see anything. We actually stayed in a different building too! However, many guests have said they've seen a young woman roaming the hallways, beach, and gift shop. Regardless, this property is beautiful. The room rate is a little pricey, but the amenities and shops are a treasure. You can snag a room for around $300, if you visit during the week and off season.
For the girl on a hunt for an affordable hotel, there's still plenty in the Coronado area. Then, you can hop on over to the Hotel del for a day and grab a drink at one of their beach bars. This way, you can take your own personal tour, without the hefty price! In my opinion, I'd rather stay on Coronado than on the mainland. It was much cleaner and it felt less crowded than San Diego.
Lastly, I loved the del because of its prime location. Instead of renting a car, we used Uber to get to Coronado. With many restaurants on our property and plenty of other ones within walking distance, we didn't need a car! You might be thinking...but I want to see San Diego, how can I do this if I'm stuck on the island? Well, let me introduce you to Old Town Trolley Tours :)
see san diego, without a rental car
One of my favorite memories of this trip was taking the Old Town Trolley Tour. It takes you to some of the coolest sites in San Diego and how it works, is a dream come true. You literally can hop on and off whenever you want. The best part? If you stay at the del, you'll be in walking distance of a stop where you can hop on too. It was so nice to walk a few blocks and hop on the trolley, instead of ordering an Uber to explore the city.
It looks like they started tours again on July 11th, so they are open for business! Let me break down how it works. Hop online to decide what pass is right for you and your family. We did the cheapest package because that's all we wanted to do, see the city!
These cost $37.80 each and that's a steal for what you get in return. This pass includes a day of free re-boarding from any of their 12 stops and free shuttle service from select hotels. We spent most of the day visiting our top favorites, so this pass was perfect for us.
TIP: If you purchase your tickets online right now, you can save 10% on your passes. Don't miss this deal! The price above showcases this discount ($37.80).
Before you pick a pass, I would definitely ask everyone on the trip what they want to do. If one of your kids is dying to see the Maritime Museum, then look into Old Town's Gold Pass. They offer you free admission to ten museums and you only pay nine bucks more for this pass! Finally, if you see the stop list and can't fathom doing everything in one day, buy the platinum pass. This gives you two days of unlimited boarding :)
Since I covered the basics, let's jump to my favorite stops! The first time we got off was at the Embarcadero Marina. I was totally drawn to the rusticness of the ships and I'll wander along a pier any day. We also had a great view of the skyscrapers here!
Another spot we really liked was Seaport Village. It's a very cozy outlet of unique shops and restaurants. Here, we snagged Ben & Jerry's and then walked along the water. This would be a great place to get a souvenir or a happy hour cocktail. I had the best time shooting all the pretty buildings. I can't get over this one, ugh! It's the San Diego Pier Cafe. They recently painted it too, which breaks my heart because I loved the peeling wood ;(
chow down in little italy
When we arrived in Little Italy, we were READY TO EAT. I checked restaurant reviews and then we made our way to Davanti Enoteca. For an appetizer, we ordered foccacia di recco, which is a cheese flatbread with honeycomb. It was sooo good and definitely gave us the great Italian experience we needed. I think I liked this stuff better than my entree too!
After our lunch, we strolled the streets in the rain and fell upon a farmer's market. Little Italy was perfect for browsing boutiques, picking up a fresh loaf of bread, or finding a naturally scented soap.
TIP: Davanti's happy hour runs from 3pm-6pm everyday. Their drinks are marked down to $5 to $7, so stop in then and save a few bucks!
check out sunny jim's cave
Usually on every family trip, everyone picks one thing they really wanna do. For me, I was so excited to check out La Jolla. It turned out being just as cool and so freakin pretty. You will honestly stare at the coast lines forever... One hecka unique place to hit up here is Sunny Jim's Cave.
To make the climb, you'll go to a quirky cave store and head down their stairs to get to the tunnel. It's about 144 steps, but totally worth it. There's a little wood dock landing and a great view of the ocean once you're down there. As of now, tickets are $10 and they are only letting people in with a reservation because of covid. You can make a reservation here.
the sweetest breakfast cafes
As I searched for a breakfast spot on Coronado, I saw hella cute photos of this lil place. It's called Clayton's Coffee Shop. When we went, it was pretty crowded, so I do recommend going early! They have a mix of booth and counter style seating. I ordered the chorizo scramble burrito and it was freakin delish. This was my favorite place to eat on the whole trip! I mean look at this coffee?!
Man, I feel like I have so much more to say. There definitely may be a part two for San Diego, but these things above were what made this trip memorable. I'd love to hear from y'all. Have you been and what spots did you love? Do you like a different part of California better?
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Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a rad trip to San Diego and always feel free to email me with any travel questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Travel bucket list:
Countries visited: 5
states left: 11