It is becoming a tradition that for my birthday, Rick and I get out of dodge, as my best friend Eileen likes to say. As I get older, travel and experiential “gifts” are becoming more and more important to me so any chance I have, I will jump on an AA Boeing 737. And since my birthday falls right around the time in Chicago where we’ve all had more than enough of the snow, 30 degree temperatures and gloomy days, San Diego was a more-than-ideal destination to escape that madness. Plus, we have some great Starwood hotels there, amazing friends and oh, yeah, the sun exists there on a consistent basis.
Here are some highlights of our weekend in San Diego and a few travel tips for your next trip out west. First things first. Rent a car. In my opinion, San Diego proper is just a small part of the experience in going to San Diego. I think the neighboring towns and beaches are actually what makes going there worth the experience. So having a car to get around, get to/from the airport is critical. If you’re feeling really Californian, rent a red convertible. We had a hot full-sized Chevy sedan. Oh yeah!
Now, onto the fun stuff.
Stay at the US Grant Hotel. Why? It’s in a great location near the Gaslamp district, a short walk to the water and um, the hotel is beautiful and the beds are absolutely to die for. The linens are like butter. In fact, I met the Director of Operations and hope to order the sheets and duvet cover for our bed at home.
How bad do you want this couch? Ahhhh…a designers dream!
Have lunch, shop and visit the seals in La Jolla. La Jolla is a quaint town about 10-15 minutes from San Diego and features breath-taking views, boutique shopping and a slew of restaurant options. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip!
Spend the day at Coronado Beach. This was such a nice day with our friends! We enjoyed some bloodies at Hotel del Coronado, played in the sand and cherished the beautiful views. Coronado Island is also about 15 minutes from San Diego and the drive is really pretty.
This is the famous Hotel del Coronado.
Have brunch at Cafe 21 in the Gaslamp District (which is a few blocks from the US Grant Hotel). Seriously. Do it. The menu is outrageously organic and ecclectic and the outcome of the food was dee-lish! We wanted to go back there so bad!
Take a drive down (and up!) Highway 101. I’ve always wanted to do this…sort of a bucket list item for me and it was worth it! I still want to do the full coast one day but for now, I will take the short drive we had from San Diego to Carlsbad.
This is our dear friend, Mrs. Eisenberg. She’s 92 going on 70 and is a truly a remarkable woman!
Eat dinner at Bencotto Italian Kitchen in Little Italy. Being from Chicago, I was admittedly a little skeptical to eat Italian food in San Diego. But, our dear friends recommended this place and they have great taste (pun intended) so we went with it. And I am SO happy we did. Apart from the company and conversations being amazing, the wine I had there was unforgettable, especially because I took a picture of it. Also, the seafood squid ink pasta was to. die. for. I ate it too fast and didn’t get a picture…sorry!
Visit friends. If you don’t have any that live there, make some! 🙂 Gladys and Dom, thank you for making my birthday so special!