Before living in Northern California, my family and I lived in San Diego for many years so this was a fun post for me to write!
I always get asked by people interested in visiting San Diego for the first time what they should see, where they should eat and where to stay so I thought I would write a blog post dedicated to a weekend getaway in one of my favorite cities in the U.S!
San Diego is known for its awesome weather and sunshine all year long so in my opinion, it’s always a good time to visit. The summer months tend to be more crowded for obvious reasons so if you are flexible and don’t enjoy crowds, I would suggest visiting during the off-season and you’ll still have a wonderful visit.
Where To Stay
This newly opened hotel brings sophistication and class to the bay waterfront in San Diego. It’s in the perfect location overlooking the bay in downtown San Diego and its modern decor is chic but not overbearing. You’ll immediately feel at home the moment you step foot into the lobby.
The staff is the best in the business and the service, from the valet to the check-in and to the restaurants were incredible. The rooms were incredibly spacious and the floor to ceiling windows gives you breathtaking views of the beautiful San Diego skyline. The bathroom is white marble and so spacious and I especially appreciate the ample counter space and the energy saving lights in the room.
A focus on fresh local ingredients, Vistal is a tribute to San Diego itself. The space is absolutely beautiful with a large outdoor patio that overlooks the beautiful San Diego bay waterfront. We dined at Vistal three times during our stay and enjoyed breakfast, lunch and a late night snack.
We didn’t get a chance to eat at Del Frisco’s but vowed to make that a priority next time we’re in town. Rowell loves a good steak (he is after all a meat and potatoes kind of guy) and this steak house has a remarkable menu that we can’t wait to try.
My favorite part of this hotel was the gym!
Yes, we worked out on this trip, can you believe it?! The hotel is not your average bare bones gym. It is large and equipped with the best and latest cardio and weight training equipment. The coolest part was a separate room with a huge television that plays workout videos you can follow such as a spin and bootcamp classes.
If staying focused on your fitness goals is a priority for you, then I could not recommend Hotel Intercontinental in San Diego more!
What To Do
San Diego is best known for its amazing weather and beautiful beaches so be sure to hit up at least one of the places listed below.
Sea World has received a lot of flack in the past for their inhumane practices and treatment of the animals, in particular the Orca whales but I was pleasantly surprised during our last visit. Sea World has done a great job at making necessary changes that protect the welfare and health of the animals and their trainers and are educating visitors with their ongoing efforts to maintain safe and humane practices.
Be sure to watch as many shows as possible, they are all great and there is something for everyone of all ages. And if the kids get antsy, theres a big area where kids can play and run around in. During the warmer months, there’s a splash pad for kids so be sure to bring extra clothes if you plan on getting wet.
Balboa Park is a San Diego must-see! You can’t go to San Diego and not visit Balboa Park. When I lived in San Diego, we would go as often as we could, even if it was just an after dinner stroll.
There are 17 museums, numerous gardens, and beautiful architecture to admire so theres no shortage of things to do. Make sure to check their website for free museum days.
If you get hungry, The Prado Restaurant is an award winning full-service restaurant and is a great option. They have outdoor and indoor seating and reservations are highly recommended.
San Diego many beaches for you to choose from but if I’m going to recommend one beach to visitors and travelers, it would have to be Coronado Beach. You’ll cross beautiful Coronado bridge to get there and the views from this bridge is just spectacular.
The beach itself is huge which is one of the main reasons why I love it there so much. You wont be fighting with others for a spot on the sand. Plus, there are so many great restaurants to try that are just all walking distance from the beach so after a day of playing, make sure to hit up one of the many dining establishments .
While you’re in Coronado, don’t forget to visit the Hotel Del Coronado.
This historic hotel is famous and it is said that guests such as Marilyn Monroe used to frequent this hotel back in the day. The Hotel Del in the backdrop of your beach pictures is what’s up! Make sure you get that shot.
Where To Eat
If you want healthy food that will energize you for the day, you will love Cafe Gratitude. It’s a beautiful space in downtown San Diego with delicious vegan options. Trust me, you wont even miss the meat at this place. My favorite was the french toast and Rowell loved the Huevos Rancheros! We finished our meals off with detoxifying green juices to go.
Let me preface this by saying that I LOVE SUSHI! If I had one meal left on this earth, it would be sushi specifically from Sushi Ota. I’ve eaten a lot of sushi in my life and have been to a lot of sushi restaurants, both hole-in-the-walls and fine dining and Sushi Ota still remains as my favorite. The fish is so fresh, its almost indescribable how good it is. It just melts in your mouth.
A couple of tips…
- Make sure to make a reservation way in advance. This place gets packed and there is no chance you are getting a table without one, especially on the weekends.
- Sit at the sushi bar. Completely different experience. You may even get the chance to be served by Mr. Ota himself. Life changing!
OK, how cute are these character buns? They’re almost too cute to eat. Almost! The Hello Kitty ones are filled with Nutella and the piggies are filled with BBQ pork. Both highly recommended. So good!
The ramen was delicious too. I loved the broth and the noodles were firm, just how I like it.
They have two locations now: Little Italy in downtown San Diego and Carlsbad which is just North of San Diego.
Vistal is the restaurant inside The Intercontinental Hotel and we dined there three times during our short stay. The most memorable meal was by far the breakfast. I ordered the pulled pork eggs benedict and Rowell had the braised short rib with egg on top. Both were delicious!! Make sure to dine outside on the patio or inside right by the window to get a view of the famous San Diego bay front.
Our new found favorite spot in Little Italy is Civico 1845. We came here on a Saturday night and IT WAS BUSY!! We didn’t have reservations….bad idea. Make sure you make reservations. So we waited about 45 minutes and got 2 seats at the bar, which I loved! We chatted with the bartended who helped us order our food.
We started with octopus carpaccio topped with arugula, onions and drizzled with olive oil. Um, yummy!!!
For our entree, I ordered the Linguine Alla Piscatora and it was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in my life.
Rowell had the lobster ravioli and it was decadent, rich but not too heavy. It was perfection.
For more on San Diego, check out my post on 10 thing to do in San Diego for FREE!