San Diego, CA

I spent this past weekend soaking up the sun in San Diego with Matt. The laid-back surf culture is infectious, the people are nice and you can't beat the weather. Here is a recap of what we got up to on the long weekend. 


1.Hiking Mt. Woodson Trail to Potato Chip Rock.  This famous hike located about an hour from San Diego (depending on traffic) has beautiful views along the whole trail and ends with the chance to stand on a thin rock ledge. It is all uphill on the way up with very little shade, so pack lots of water! We went on weekend morning and it was decently crowded (~20 people at the top), we waited maybe 15 minutes to take a picture. So if you want more privacy I'd recommend going early on a weekday. All in all this took us about 1.5 hours and I would highly recommend for a fun, moderate hike. 

Distance from Downtown San Diego: 31 miles/1 hour

Price: Free



2. Cabrillo National Monument. This monument commemorates when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed in San Diego bay back in the 1500s. If history is your thing visit the information center, where you can see all of the informative exhibits. Then drive down to see the tide pools. It's best to visit in the winter months, as low tide falls during the day then. Check the tide schedules before you go and keep in mind the tide pools close at 4:30pm. Once done with the tide pools you can walk along the sand stone cliffs and breath the sea air and take in the waves crashing. 

Distance from Downtown San Diego: 10 miles/30 minutes

Price: $15



3. Torrey Pines State Reserve. A beautiful park located right on the beach. There are many trails to different view points both overlooking the city and the beach. We parked in the lot at the north end of the park and then walked up Torrey Pines Park Rd from that road there a bunch of easy short loops to various view points. The last trail we took was the beach trail which popped us out on the beach and then we were able to walk on the beach all the way back to the parking lot. I would rate this hike (not even sure I would call it a hike) as easy, but be aware the paths are unpaved and sometimes uneven. Again, make sure you bring water, there is more shade here but it does get hot!

Distance from Downtown San Diego: 18 miles/40 minutes

Price: Free to enter, all day parking $15


4. La Jolla If I were to do this trip again I would stay in La Jolla, a nice quieter seaside neighborhood in San Diego. There is a lot to do here so I'll break it down into bullets.

  • Coast Walk Trail: Walk along the cliffs for some gorgeous views of the bay. It's an easy 30 minute walk out and back. 
  • La Jolla Cove: Sit on the beach, or if you're up for it swim in the rough water. It's a really tiny beach with caves and a great view of La Jolla Bay. You can even catch some seals and sea Lions sunning themselves on the rocks or playing in the surf. From this beach
  • Children's Beach: A man-made rock jetty protects this small beach from the rough surf. During pupping season (Dec 15-May 15) this beach is closed to allow for the seals to give birth and raise their young. The closure is controversial for the locals, but for now you can stand on the path above the beach and see the seals bond with their young. The cliffs just south of here are a beautiful place to watch the sunset as well. 
  • Ellen Browning Scripps Park to see the Lorax Tree: In between the La Jolla Cove and the Children's beach is this park. In the park there is a tree that a lot of locals believe to be the inspiration for the lorax tree in Dr. Seuss' famed book. (Dr. Seuss lived in the area). Although this is not confirmed it does look an awful lot like the lorax tree and it's a nice park to visit regardless. 
  • Village of La Jolla: Right behind Scripps park is a collection of stores, restaurants and art galleries. It's easy to spend a few hours wandering around and window shopping here. 
  • La Jolla Shores Beach: This is a big, pretty crowded beach. We saw a lot of swimmers here, but it was way too cold for us. Otherwise it's a nice beach to walk on. Just behind the beach are a lot of touristy stores and restaurants. It's a fun place to wander around for an afternoon. 
  • UCSD Birch Aquarium Trail/Secret Swings: Just up the road from La Jolla Shores Beach is this trail. If you park on La Jolla Shores Drive near where it intersects Discovery Way, you're a 5 minute walk from the trailhead. From this vantage point you have a great view of the bay with La Jolla shores in the foreground. This would be a great place to watch the sunset from as well. Also, rumor has it there are secret swings here that you can get a great picture on with La Jolla in the background. We weren't able to find them, but here is a blog post with instructions if you want to give it a try. Happy Hunting!

Distance from Downtown San Diego: 14 miles/25 minutes

Price: Free


Secret Swings Blog Post:


5. Walk to Blacks Beach from Torrey Pines Gliderport: Park at the gliderport and if you're lucky you can see some paragliders taking off from the ledge. Then walk out onto the cliffs on you left there you will see a trail leading down to the beach. It's a steep walk down, with some uneven footing and slippery sand, but overall very manageable. There are some uneven stairs to help you as well. Once you make it down you'll be on black's beach. This is a nude beach so don't be afraid to bare it all if that's your thing. Facing the ocean, turn to the left and walk down the beach to see a large group of surfers catching waves. We enjoyed watching them from the beach. Even further down you'll see the "mushroom house". This interesting house was rumored to be owned by UCSD as an area for faculty to go on retreats. Now it looks abandoned, but it's a cool place to check out. I think this was probably my favorite thing that we did while in San Diego. 

Distance from Downtown San Diego: 15 miles/20 minutes

Price: Free




6. Mission Trails Regional Park: We parked by old mission dam and then hiked a couple trails close to the parking lot. This is a huge park, the largest in California, so there is a lot of trails to chose from. There really is something for every skill level. I recommend looking at the website before going to pick out what you think would be right for your party. Whatever you pick the rocky hills and vegetation are beautiful so you won't be disappointed. 

Distance from Downtown San Diego: 12 miles/20 minutes

Price: Free



7. Pacific Beach and Crystal Pier: Pacific beach seems like a more lively, younger La Jolla from an outsiders perspective. The beach by the pier is great place to watch the sunset by. There are a bunch of bars and restaurants right by the beach after the sun sets as well. 

Distance from Downtown San Diego: 10 miles/15 minutes

Price: Free



8. Devil's Punchbowl Hike: I was nervous to do this hike at first, as the website makes it seems very difficult. I would say the most difficult thing is that you go downhill first, so the way back is the hardest part. The hike is not super steep, but it has very little shade so it can get very hot. There is about 2 miles of unshaded uphill hiking on the way back, but I would say it was about as difficult as the Potato Chip Rock hike. At the bottom of the hike you end up at Devil's Punchbowl- a small swimming hole, that has a trickle of a waterfall flowing into it. So named because of the many people that have died from jumping off the cliffs and into the swimming hole. We found the punchbowl underwhelming, but the scenery along the way was well worth the hike. It took us about 2.5 hours total including the time spent relaxing at the bottom. Make sure that you get a permit before you go as there is someone at the trailhead that checks it and makes you sign in. Permits can be found at the website below. 

Distance from Downtown San Diego: 53 miles/ 1 hour 15 minutes

Price: $10 for the permit



9. Seaport Village: This is a shopping area right by the water near downtown San Diego. There are a lot of unique touristy shops and some restaurants. It's nice to wander around and walk along the water. There is a lot of street parking in the area, but most you have to pay for. 

Distance from Downtown San Diego: 1 mile/7 minutes

Price: Free for entrance, paid street parking




10. Balboa Park: Located right in the middle of the city this park has it all- a plethora of museums, the San Diego zoo, beautiful greenery and much more. It can be a little overwhelming at first but I recommend starting on El Prado. This is the main walking street where most of the museums are located off of.  The buildings are beautiful and have a Spanish look to them. Once you're done walking up El Prado you'll see the Beau Evanson Fountain, a large circular fountain, just behind this is a bridge to cross the street. Across the street is the Rose Garden and Desert Garden. This is a beautiful place to see many different kinds of plants. From here there are various trails that you can take to walk around the park. You could spend almost a whole day here! 

Distance from Downtown San Diego: 2 miles/10 minutes

Price: Free; Museum entrance fees varies



Where we ate/drank: In the interest in saving money we made most of our food at our AirBnB, but here is a few of the places that we went.

  • George's: This is a cute rooftop bar overlooking the bay in La Jolla. The food and drinks were good, but the view was what really stood out. This would be a great place for a sunset meal. 
  • Belching Beaver Brewery: Their peanut butter milk stout is what made this brewery famous- it honestly tastes more like a dessert than a beer! There are many locations all over San Diego, but if you don't make it to one of their locations I recommend trying their peanut butter milk stout. 
  • Mission Brewery: Mission Brewery is housed in an old converted Wonder Bread factory in the Gaslamp quarter area of San Diego. This is a fun brewery to check out and in a great location to visit other bars as well. 
  • El Indio Mexican Restaurant: Truthfully we only ended up going here because the place next door (Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill) had a line out the door. But I'm so happy that it worked out this way because this place was amazing. We both got the fish tacos, and then split chips and guac. It was yummy and inexpensive. 


Thats everything that we did while in San Diego. If you have any questions about anything please leave a comment down below and I'll answer as best I can! 

Please leave recommendations with things we missed! Both for my future reference and for others who are going to San Diego! 

Thanks for reading!