A Sunday Stroll through San Diego

24 Hours in San Diego

This was originally written as part of a 30-day blog challenge to write a 24-hour guide to your hometown (where you grew up, or where you live now) for someone who has never been there (I’m going with where I live now since I’m an Air Force Brat and grew up “everywhere”  😉  ).
So here we go for 24 Hours in San Diego. Lets do this! 
PS All photos are mine unless otherwise noted.
The hubs and I will wave at you from the balcony as you fly in!
Don’t worry, we’ll be at the airport before you even get your luggage!
Just about to land!
Hello, dear reader!

Welcome to San Diego!

You’re staying with yours truly, and it’s a Sunday, well – because Sunday Funday in San Diego is awesome. Of course, when you arrive you’ll meet the pets, Dr. Zhivago Einstein (aka Doc) and Glider.

Doc says, “Nice to meet you!”
And so does Glider!

We’ll start our day getting out of bed. Not together, of course. You slept in the guestroom! The hubs and I are early risers, so if you like to sleep in, well 0700 (that’s 7am) IS sleeping in. Don’t worry, it will be worth it!

Rest head here

Grab a shower in our really cool surfer guest themed bathroom (this is San Diego!) and let’s go. We have 24 hours and we’ll be sleeping for some of that, so you’re in for a busy day!

My Surf Collection Guest Bathroom

We live downtown, so we’ll take a leisurely stroll in the gorgeous, 65 °F  (18.3 °C)  weather for brunch at one of many awesome spots within walking distance of our abode. It’ll warm up as the day goes on and the marine layer lifts.

Typical Marine Layer. It will lift around 11/noon.

I will wear my brunch shirt because I just really love it:

Though we could have chosen awesome places like Hash House a GoGo just up the street in Hillcrest (where the plates are GINORMOUS) or The Mission where the mango green tea freeze is the stuff dreams are made of, we’ll go with Zanzibar Cafe’ because they make the best soy vanilla chai latte this side of the Sierra Nevadas. Not to mention, you really shouldn’t miss the mimosa sampler. You’re not driving after all!

Hey, how did Doc get here? I guess the Mimosa sampler is just THAT good!
Doesn’t this vanilla soy chai latte look DELISH??

After we’ve polished off our acai bowls and breakfast burritos we’ll walk back, grab our hats and sunblock then head to Point Loma’s Cabrillo National Monument passing through Ft. Rosecrans. The fact that the hubs proposed to me there has nada to do with the need to visit, of course! It will be free with our military park pass, too! History Lesson: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to step foot on the west coast in the mid 1500’s.

Once we make our way up, you’ll be enticed to spend the entire day taking in the gorgeous views. We’ll explore the lighthouse, pose for pictures, meet travelers and tour the visitor’s center.

Cabrillo Monument is just past Ft. Rosecrans
View from the monument
San Diego from the Monument
The airport from the monument
Absolutely beautiful shot by escapingabroad.com – it really looks like this (I couldn’t find my pictures of the actual monument so a thanks to them for such an amazing shot)

Once we’ve gotten our fill, we’ll get in the car and head to the tide pools. Because this is San Diego there will, of course, be more amazing views. We will take in Mother Nature and the surfers in all their glory, too.

Tide pools at Pt. Loma
Surfers at Pt. Loma
Photo by kevinboylesphotography.com

After we’ve played in the Tidepools, we’ll head to La Jolla – the Jewel – to walk along the water and take in the Children’s Pool and Seal Rock.

After parking, this is the view you will see when we get out of the car:

Not so bad

Off in the distance, you’ll see the hang gliders from the Torrey Pines Glider Port. We’ll all wear comfortable shoes since the walk out to see the seals can be a little bumpy.

Children’s Pool – off to the left is the viewing area. You can get close to the seals, but you cannot touch them
Just another day in San Diego
Hang gliders at Torrey Pines Gliderport

After strolling, we’ll make our way up to the hill for a light lunch at George’s at the Cove on the Ocean Terrace. Trust me, you’ll want to save room for later.

At George’s you’ll be mesmerized by the views and feel like you’re dining on top of the Pacific. After all, you practically are…

This would be our view
And this too. Photo credit: From Flickr’s AMagill

After ceviche, stuffed dates and quinoa kale salads with yellow fin (okay so the hubs had a burger) we’ll want to walk off some of the calories. A stroll around La Jolla Village and its art and photography galleries is a must. You talk yourself out of that $10,000 Peter Lik knowing you’ll have an even worthier photo to frame when you return from your stint in San Diego.

Now it’s time to head back south to world-famous Balboa Park and its architectural wonders.  We get out of the car, reapply sunblock, and make our way through the beautiful buildings. You spot the lily pond and the aviary structure that makes up the boisterous Balboa Botanical Garden in front of it. We have to walk through. I mean, it is free. We can’t just not go in! After twenty minutes or so, we all decide to become orchid growers. As we’re discussing catasetums vs oncidiums, what’s that you hear? It sounds like music coming from an organ over yonder? Well yes! It’s 14:00 (2pm) so THAT IS an organ playing just feet away at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. After all, every Sunday afternoon at this time the Spreckels Organ Society puts on a free performance! The organ itself weighs 100,000 pounds and is the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world.  We’ll make our way over, and gratefully, get some people to scoot over so we can grab a few seats.

The beautiful lily pond – for privacy of my bonus daughters, their faces are blurred.
This is from when they were in town visiting us. 🙂
Balboa Park Botanical Garden with Lily Pond in Front – the building is unmistakable
Take in the architecture
Fountain near the Prado

After the performance, photographs of this masterpiece are a must!

Spreckels by day
And night – the night performances in the summer are wonderful, too!

We walk some more, getting to the fountain and footbridge that leads to the cactus and rose gardens. The mountains off in the distance are another treat.

Funky cactus
A small area of the rose garden
So pretty!
SO many roses!

It’s not quite dinner time, but we’ll have worked up an appetite from all that walking. It will be time for some fish tacos! Let’s head over to PB as we locals call it (Pacific Beach) where there are a plenitude of places to choose from. We’ll go with Oscar’s since it’s a good local stand. $5 later, we’re good to go!

Fish tacos. You can do shrimp, chicken, beef or anything…but fish and shrimp are best! Photo from Oscars’ website

We’ll stroll the boardwalk and head down to WaveHouse at Belmont Park in Mission Beach where you try your hand at the FlowRider.

Me on the Flow Rider (this was a few years ago). When I was blonde. Photo from Pacific San Diego Magazine

You’re so good, you decide what the heck?! I’ll do the FlowBarrel, too! After all, it is the only one in the United States and pffft so what if it knocks Olympians on their rears?! You got this!

The crowd will enthusiastically (and a little intoxicatedly) cheer you on and as you leave WaveHouse, WORLD CHAMPION of the FlowBarrel, you humbly nod in acknowledgement of your triumph!

Flow Barrel and Mission Beach at Wave House. Photo from sandiegoalist.cityvoter.com

Of course, we’ll pass other surfers on the way out:

The hubs and I have to at least take you through Sunset Cliffs, so we ride along and look out as the sun starts to make its way into the ocean.

Though not necessary – this is San Diego after all – we decide to freshen up a bit. Back at the domicile, you send out a Tweet about what a great time you’re having with @TravelNavyWife and her hubs /wink.

Now it’s time to head to an all-time favorite. We decide to cab it since it’s only a few dollars and I won’t feel like getting my car out of the parking garage or walking down the hill in my heels. Get ready to feast your eyes on the artistry of Karen Krase’s creations at Extraordinary Desserts, Little Italy. Again, this has nothing to do with the fact the hubs and I met here or that we got our wedding cake here!

Most people go here just for dessert, but you will work up an appetite becoming WORLD CHAMPION and all, so you will want to start with the most awesome tomato soup ever, those croutons and herbs are scrumptious. We decide to make like TFF’s (travel friends forever) and split our paninis – I get my usual: the turkey with cranberry and smoked mozzarella while you order between the smoked salmon and Portobello and brie. Or maybe the Italian Salami… The hubs gets a grilled cheese.

From the Extraordinary Desserts Website

The orzo and side salads are the perfect toppers. We chose dessert from the case when we got in…

The dessert options change daily so you’ll never get bored. Plump maybe, but never bored!

…and just when we think we have no more room left, we go ahead and order those hot teas and coffee then our server brings us the delectable delights in honor of their name sake.

Extraordinary Desserts indeed:

Just a few of the options you’ll have. This is from one of my birthday weeks.

After we’ve had our fill, we stroll through Little Italy and figure, “What the heck…the Gaslamp isn’t too far away!”

There’s always something going on in Little Italy on the weekends! They also have the best Farmers Market!
Gaslamp Quarter sign
We’ll top the night off right at Vin de Syrah (again has nada to do with the fact the hubs and me spent some time here on our first date), the best wine bar in town (in my humble opinion). We head to 5th and E and down the concrete stairs just underneath the Melting Pot. It may look a little sketchy, but just trust me. The hubs and I don’t let the door to the right fool you! You look to your left and see a small bird on a branch attached to an ivy covered door. AAAAH there’s the brass door handle! Turn that bad boy and walk inside to find a magical Alice-in-Wonderland type setting with some of the best mixologists in the state! Order up one of the classy cocktails or tell Kevin behind the bar (Aaron if he’s there that night, he’s usually down the street at Analog) what type of wine you fancy and they won’t steer you wrong.
Just trust me! 🙂
Bird on branch, small brass door handle – THIS is the door!
An underground Alice-in-Wonderland
Vin de Syrah

We’ll grab oversized chairs next to the faux fireplace and watch as the amazing meat and cheese boards are delivered around us while discussing the meaning of life. Or maybe just our favorite music. Whatever floats our boats.

After we’ve all said we couldn’t dare have another, we order just one more round and toast to travel and a beautiful day! It’s about that time and we walk the handful of blocks back to the condo.

Doc has been keeping your seat warm:

I’m just kidding. He doesn’t leave his tank unsupervised. 😉

No sooner will we get through the front door when you’ll ask, “So what’s up for tomorrow?” You’ve decidedly postponed your trip home for a day.

So I’ll take the day off work. Because 24 hours in San Diego – totally not enough time.

After all, you still need to see the green flash.

Now that you’ve seen the bigger stuff, come stroll with me through San Diego’s Hidden Gems by clicking here!