Back in 2019 Aaron and I went to San Diego for my 25th birthday and it was one of the best vacations of my life! Since Aaron lived there for 8 years during his time in the Navy, he spent much time in the beautiful city and now it truly is our dream city to call home one day. This year we planned a vacation to San Diego to truly unwind and relax from work (I had some classwork to complete, but nonetheless it was an extremely amazing experience, we both got to unplug from work!) With beautiful weather, friendly people, poppin’ night life and stunning beaches, there’s something for everyone in San Diego. Here’s a few of the things we did on our trip that I would highly recommend if you’re ever in the San Diego area!
San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo is a fun, family friendly place where you can spend a good chuck of your day! With tons of places to eat or grab a coffee, and the skyfari to get to one side of the park to the other, Aaron and I had a blast! We have a great appreciation for education and conservation of animals that are endangered, and San Diego Zoo is doing fabulous work in assuring hundreds of species continue to thrive in its home. With tons of educational opportunities and getting close to many animals, this would be a great option for a family day or a quick day date with your partner. Also, the gift shops are so cute and I always save shopping for the end!
If you’ve never been to Balboa Park in San Diego, it is my #1 recommended spot for SO many fun activities as well as museums if you’re a nerd or history buff like me! The Museum of Us was one of our first stops and it was previously named Museum of Man, but after years of listening to members of the San Diego community, they renamed their historical museum to better reflect their missions and values, which I love so so much. I appreciated their transparency of how they obtained artifacts as well as their acknowledgment of Native peoples, specifically Mayans that many regard to as people of the past, but indeed, they are still here. The museum shares in their plaques and signs throughout the exhibits that they are working with Native peoples to accurately and appropriately obtain historical information and artifacts and hope to continue to collaborate with them in a manner that brings us all together. Their exhibits on race, human civilization, and how we see the world were deeply touching and thought-provoking. One of the exhibits that led me to tears was the “The Things We Carry” exhibit, in which it displayed information on migrant deaths and shared objects that many tried to carry over the Border to the United States but did not make it. Part of this exhibit shared hundreds of tags, with each tag having a name of a real person who passed from trying to cross the border. Many died from hypothermia and other painful deaths, and I walked away only imagining the pain of trying to come to the United States with a dream, a dream of a better future for oneself or family. Although it may be considered controversial, the topics this museum brings to the surface ignite a fire that we all deserve to be treated human.
Another museum I loved was the San Diego Natural History Museum, which if you love natural science and have a love for animals and nature, this would be a great stop for you. With 5 floors of breathtaking exhibits, scenery and interactive displays and films for museum visitors, this can easily be half a day to a full day of entertainment! Aaron and I only made it through two floors with the almost 3 hours we had, so we will definitely be returning! I hate rushing through museums and love to soak in every bit of information and scenery I can take in, and with beautiful paintings, murals, fossils and educational exhibits to go through, I was stimulated from beginning to end. We had time for the Fleet Science Center which was also amazing and if you have time for it, don’t miss the San Diego Air and Space Museum!
Flagship Dinner Cruise
I give Flagship Cruise 11/10 for such an amazing experience! This was my first dinner cruise ever and I wanted a romantic night out with Aaron. I booked this a few weeks in advance and the week of we called to ensure which meals we wanted. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and the amazing customer service we received, along with complimentary champagne and a 3 full course meal. The cruise had 3 floors, the first for dinner, the second a dance floor with music and the third the top of the boat with a full view of San Diego Harbor. This 2 1/2 hour cruise was exactly the vibe I was going for; calm, peaceful and romantic, with music not being too loud to interrupt conversation. Highly recommend this cruise for any special celebration or event!
Places to Eat
Antique Row Cafe – AMAZING breakfast/brunch option, they had the best biscuits and gravy ever!
Ballast Point in Little Italy – Great for wings, tacos and beer tasting! Yum! Aaron is a huge fan of Ballast Point beer, so it was so fun having this for Friday night romantic dinner.
El Indio Restaurant – Authentic Mexican food with real cheese and flavorful sauce.
Mona Lisa Italian Foods – One of the highlights of this trip was trying this hidden jewel! They seem to be well known for their wines, however, we stuck with our diet coke and iced tea haha, but their pasta is *chef’s kiss*!
Sunset Cliffs, close to Point Loma and Ocean Beach, is a beautiful spot to watch a sunset! Although it was really chilly by 5pm, many people were out on the rocks also soaking in this beautiful scenery and view. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me, soaking in this beautiful moment as the sun set and my love right next to me.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Marriot in Mission Valley, which was very close to Balboa Park and many other places we visited! At usually $650 a night, we got a bomb deal of only paying $150 a night, it was an overall clean and satisfying room, however, there was a salsa dancing competition the weekend of our trip so there were a LOT more people than we expected. The first night Aaron and I were in a joint room in which we could hear the people in the room next to us really loudly (we had some party people next door next to the older couple lol), so the next day we requested a room with no jointed room and we slept great the next 3 nights. The hotel had a 24 hour gift shop open with snacks and travel items, came in handy for ice cream and Tylenol! The gym and pool were open and although we didn’t have time to try the restaurant and bar downstairs, it looked nice! Overall 4/5 for the hotel experience.
This is just scratching the surface of how much San Diego has to offer; a weekend isn’t enough time to explore everything! Soak it all in and enjoy the beautiful weather year round!