Leaving the LA area after our visit to the set of Chelsea Lately (which you can read about here), I was incredibly excited to reach the next destination for a few key reasons: 1) I had never been to San Diego and therefor eager to check it out 2) it was Andrew & my FIRST EVER warm beach vacation together in our 6.5 years as a couple 3) I GET TO SLEEP IN A REAL BED IN A HOTEL AND NOT ON A CRAPPY AIR MATTRESS IN A TENT…AMAZING!!!!
Late the evening after our time in LA, we arrived at the PB Surf Beachside Inn, located on Mission Boulevard in the Pacific Beach ((PB)) area of San Diego, and quickly checked into our room. The hotel on the outside looks pretty basic and unassuming. We booked a standard room, which was clear to see it had been recently remodeled and looked brand new. It was the perfect size room with a closet, tv and desk, especially for two weary travelers living out of a tiny Honda Civic. We unloaded the car and decided to take a walk down the street to an ice cream shop called The Baked Bear that we noticed when we had driven past earlier. Turned out it was more than just ice cream. They had a half dozen types of freshly baked cookies available for your choosing, then several ice cream flavors of which you pick to create your ideal “custom ice cream sandwich.” We each selected our ingredients, but to be honest, I wasn’t overly impressed with the cookie flavor and wished I had gotten just a small scoop of ice cream in a dish. Andrew enjoyed his maple bacon cookies filled with chocolate chip ice cream enough to return at least once more during our time in PB. Anyone surprised? Didn’t think so.
The next morning, we drove into downtown San Diego for brunch at the bright, hip eatery, Snooze, which came highly recommended from my friend A-Tooch of The Foodies at Work blog fame. Certain recommendations you think ‘ok, maybe that would be cool’, but when A-Tooch recommends I do something ((especially something to do with food)), I do it without hesitation. She knows precisely what I’m all about. After a brief wait, we were taken to our table where I ordered up the breakfast tacos, Andrew chose a potato dish with bacon and cheese, and an order of the pancake sampler to share. The food came out pretty quickly, and was almost just as quickly devoured. I loved the giant space and natural lighting of the restaurant. Earlier that morning we made plans to do some errands after brunch, but once we got back to the car, we decided it was far too nice outside to do anything but park our butts in the sand.
Here is the thing I swiftly realized when we got to San Diego: you can spend your time exploring all the exciting sites and doing all the fantastic things there are to do ((the famous Zoo, Sea World, museums, downtown neighborhoods, parks, La Jolla, etc.)) OR… you can spend your time entirely on the beach. I received loads of recommendations of things to do in SD and was excited to explore this oceanside city I had never been to. But after that first afternoon in the warm sunshine and watching the numerous surfers trying to catch a wave, I decided I would be ok with foregoing sightseeing to spend the few days staying put in Pacific Beach, relaxing and working on my tan at the splendid cliffside beach, conveniently located just a block away from our hotel. It is likely I will be one of those ridiculous leathery-skinned bronze old ladies at the beach when I’m old and permanently retired. I love the sun and I love the beach too much for my own good.
We got into our routine of waking up, spending much of the day at the beach, grabbing lunch to-go at the nearby grocery store ((salad bar for me and sandwiches for Andrew)), and wandering around the neighborhood for dinner and drinks in the evening. We frequented Bare Back Grill for their ‘Raspy Mule’ drink which I fell in love with, especially during happy hour when each mule on their sizable mule-specific menu were only $5; and Ciro’s Pizza which had some seriously legit pizza and garlic knots for a West Coast pizzeria. Both Bare Back & Ciro’s had such laid-back, beach town vibes to them, with open windows and outside seating. Do not miss either of these spots if you find yourself in PB. We also hopped around to some of the bike & surf shops in PB ((it was fun seeing so many people on beach cruiser bikes)), took walks on the boardwalk which extended for miles along the beachfront, and enjoyed the stunning sunsets.
On Friday night in PB, Andrew’s good friend and former co-worker from both adidas and Columbia, Will and his wife Vershawn came to visit for an unforgettable evening in the Mission Hills neighborhood. First, we hit up a small bar for some drinks and a live DJ, followed by the real reason we ventured out – an incredible taco place called Lucha Libre. After a few drinks, something resembling ‘dancing’ and conversation, we headed next door for a late meal at Lucha. I chose the veggie quesadilla which turned out to be one of the freshest, best quesadillas I have ever tasted. It came with tortilla chips, which you could dip into several different salsas available. Will strongly suggested I try the ‘white sauce’, and thankfully I listened because it was amazing. I don’t know what exactly was in this cilantro salsa besides its namesake, but it worked incredibly well with the fresh, salty tortilla chips. I devoured my food too quickly for any photo evidence. I recommend this place if you are near Mission Hills, or just in need of a gourmet taco/burrito/quesadilla fix.
Unsurprisingly, I noticed a lot of fit bodies ((excluding ours of course, ha!)) in Pacific Beach. Everyone appeared to be surfers. The people of PB seemed extremely cool, but not in any intimidating sort of way. It is an incomparable vibe of which you feel like you want to be a part. Before moving to the USA permanently in 2002, Andrew spent three months traveling solo around the states, including a stop in Pacific Beach and loved it. Lucky for me he chose to move to Seattle over Pacific Beach ((although after experiencing both, I’m not sure why!)), so he was eager to return and be reminded exactly what he loved about it. There is something immensely calming about being right near the ocean, in a place like Pacific Beach. The weather there is absolutely gorgeous – I’m talking 200+ days with an average temp of more than 70 degrees – which means there is always the opportunity to spend part of your day at the beach if you are lucky enough to live closeby. Our itinerary had us leaving San Diego Saturday and driving to Tucson then El Paso for two brief overnight stops before San Antonio. We decided to amend the plans to add another night in PB and skip Tucson – that is how much we loved it.
With all of my family on the East Coast, and Andrew’s family in England, there is undoubtedly a draw for us to move closer to both families when we finish our travels. If that were not the case, I think San Diego would be at the top of our list of places to live, and still may remain on the short list. If we do not permanently end up there, I can definitely see us going back for frequent beach vacations. There is so much more to see and do, along with several days to spend working on my golden brown tan in the Southern California sun.
Next up I will post about my time in the great big state of Texas!