I go to San Diego at least once a year. Usually just a road trip with myself and the kids. They’ve grown to love it as much as I do. Time slows down slightly in San Diego. The weather is nearly always perfect (assuming you’re not going down during winter time which my sister told me can get cold enough for her to actually put on a jacket). The food is always good (in any weather). The beach is most likely a 10 minute drive no matter where you stay. And there are an endless amount of activities ranging from free to your account better have some commas. Being a single mother on a very limited budget I tend to find free things to do. However this trip was different. A family outing and new experiences. There are so many ways you can enjoy San Diego.
Our 3 Day Itinerary From La Jolla
DAY 1 You’re in SD, it’s okay to be lazy, wake up late and enjoy the little moments. Grab a brunch or lunch in the scenic La Jolla Village by the sea. Walk the trail bordering the sea. If you’re not beach ready, head back to your “home for the weekend” before laying out on one of the beaches. Then grab some delicious Mexican food for dinner.
DAY 2 Rent a boat around Mission Bay and while away the hours cruising around. But why stop there? Try paddle boarding, driving a ski jet, sailing, or even put on a jetpack. Then grab a much needed meal. Quick nap at “home base” and then go right back to beach bumming. Try surfing or boogie boarding. Then dinner of your choice or try a brewery. So many to choose from.
DAY 3 Leaving San Diego on the third day can be such a sad good bye. I recommend spending the last few hours either walking around Balboa Park or in Downtown by the water front. Or, since this is mostly La Jolla based, one more beach day couldn’t hurt. The beaches here are perfect. Be advised this is not an itinerary for any SD first timers.
Note: This itinerary not recommended for first timers in San Diego.
My favorite thing about San Diego is how many activities you can do in one day. So many adventures. You can go from walking around museums and picnicking at parks straight to a beach in 10 minutes or less.
From San Francisco, San Diego is a 7-8 hour drive all the way down I-5. Since it passes through that dreadful LA traffic, leaving early is best. I’ve survived a few road trips with my children since they were as young as one – while being solo. This trip was different. It was a family trip including my parents who were visiting my sister in SD. Here is a list of: what we did, what a perfect San Diego weekend includes and how-to have a great family getaway.
But First…Where We Stayed
On this getaway we stayed in La Jolla, the Jewel City. The place my parents always dreamed of living in. An expensive place to live and a 10 minute drive to downtown San Diego. My dads favorite beach is here. We stayed at Embassy Suites La Jolla directly across from Westfield Mall.
First of all, this place was perfect! Pretty affordable compared to other La Jolla hotels. True, it wasn’t beach front nor did it have an ocean view. But the amenities were great and the hotel lobby was wonderfully designed. The koi fish pond was a favorite of my kids. Breakfast buffet was complimentary. Very much family friendly with activities and games for kids. There was “Happy Hour” consisting of complimentary alcoholic beverages and snacks. Also had an indoor pool which we used once. This all-suite hotel was great. Rooms were spacious! Since we were a family of 6, the 2 room suites accommodated us perfectly.
1. Curiously Check Out the Birch Aquarium
Pressed on time, we didn’t actually go in. But here is a small aquarium located in La Jolla. We drove by for a quick photo op in front of the whale statue. For a longer trip I would consider taking a look inside. Check website for prices.
2. Walk Around La Jolla Village
And admire this perfect + pink hotel, La Valencia. If you have an affinity for pink buildings like me, you’ll dream of booking a room here one day. The location of the hotel is perfect, with rooms facing the Pacific Ocean.
3. Get Advice From Inspirational Pink Doors
Something about a pink door with the words “Get Money” written in sharpie is just so inspiring. Yes random pink door, you are right, I think I will get money.
4. That Moment When the Ocean Comes Into View
And you know it’s gonna be a good day.
5. The View Isn’t Complete Without A Washing Machine
Palm trees + pink buildings + an outdoor washing machine.
6. Lunch At Cody’s La Jolla
We read some great reviews over at Yelp and it did not disappoint. Just look at that appetizing lobster roll right there. Had a foodie moment. Plus, our lunch came with a pretty cool view.
7. Walk Off That Lobster Roll
Down one block from Cody’s La Jolla is a grassy ocean front park. My kids had fun running around and climbing trees. I loved watching the waves.
8. End Day Uno With A Trip Down Memory Lane
We drove by our old apartments in the Mira Mesa area close to La Jolla but inland. We ended the day with; a Bobalicious stop in our old ‘hood. A sunset view frolicking on the beach. And delicious Mexican food from Lolita’s. My sister and I shared the carne asada fries.
9. Wake Up Early For Mission Bay
This was my dad’s idea. He wanted to take us out speed boating on the bay. Mission Bay is full of activities! There are beaches close by. A pier with rides and carnival games. Sea World is here. And plenty of water sports and activities.
10. Go Speed Boating
Most fun we had all weekend! With my sister and cousin, laughing like old times. My dad talking about moving back to San Diego (which him and my mom do every time we visit). My kids in their life vests because I’m a paranoid mama. It was their first time on a boat. We rented an inner tube as well and took turns.
11. Take Turns Driving The Boat
Just kidding. One of us was driving, the other just posing. Can you guess? My daughter actually steered us safely under a bridge. We were going 5mph. Just look at that concentration. Obviously I wanted a picture for the gram. Also in the picture: this beautiful lace kimono/cover up my sister graciously lent to me for an hour.
12. Take A Selfie, Attempt To Take A Dronie And Then Get Poke
My dad takes his drone on most trips. He tried flying one here right after the boat trip and a seagull kept attacking it! Aggressively at that. And then, hello random selfie. We were so hungry at this point and my sister recommended this poke restaurant called Poke Go. I didn’t take food pictures here because I already knew none of them would come close to my lobster roll picture.
13. Snapchat And Nap
Snapchat car fun on our getaway because – yay! – I didn’t have to drive this road trip. My daughter actually loves Snapchatting despite her unamused look.
Then nap. You’re allowed a nap. Even a 2-hour nap. Because there is something about San Diego that makes it possible to have as many adventures as you want in 24 hours. And a quick break is much needed between the activities.
14. Spend Time At Our Favorite Beach
La Jolla Shores is the one beach I remember even as a child. I learned to boogie board at this beach. The vibes are great and the water is perfect. The only negative is the parking. It can be the most frustrating parking experience ever! Basically going in circles and pray you catch someone leaving. It’s pretty much game of musical chairs. We came later in the day but even mornings tend to get filled up quick.
15. We Got Some Shave Ice While Waiting Around For Parking
Nothing compares to the shave ice in Kauai but at least it was cheap. And killed time while my dad was driving around looking for that elusive parking spot.
16. Splash In The Shallows
Once you got that parking situation sorted out, the fun begins. We picked our spot, set up toys and snacks and jumped into the waters. What I loved was how far you can walk out in shallow waters before the waves even reached your knees.
17. Go Boogie Boarding!
At first my daughter was scared when we were assisting her. But when trying it on her own she fell in love with it. Oh and there goes my sister in the first picture boogie boarding as well.
18. I Honestly Don’t Think An SD Trip Is Complete Without Rubio’s
San Diego is the birthplace of Rubio’s. There are plenty of locations. I stop by at least once on every trip just to get my shrimp taco. Pricey but oh so good and a tradition. The one we dined at was next to a Sprinkles ♥
Like I mentioned above, this was no “First Timers Guide To San Diego” itinerary. We used to live here. And this slow paced, quick getaway was the perfect San Diego trip. Traveling with kids can easily become a chaotic mess. So we planned less…and “went with the flow” more. Stress-free is the way to go. But what I love about San Diego is that going at a slow pace is very much acceptable. Recommended even. Actually, beach wear and crop tops are also acceptable in SD as well. I believe it’s one of the most perfect places to raise children. My childhood is filled with the most loving memories of this place. And I know my children love it here as well.
Have you been to San Diego? What’s your idea of a perfect getaway? I would love to hear from you in the comments! Or simply “Like” the post .