San Diego is a place you visit and spend the entire time dreaming of living there. It’s everything you imagine. Incredible weather, miles of beaches, tacos, avocados, sunsets and surf, basically an eternal vacation. From my week in California’s finest city, I’ve selected the highlights of our trip to plan the perfect San Diego weekend itinerary.
Check into a Californian hotel of your choice. Of course I recommend none other than five-star Rancho Valencia, a Relais & Chateaux property (see post on how I find the best hotels), where we stayed for our babymoon.
Start the day with a banquet-worthy Californian breakfast, consisting of a mandatory avocado on toast and whatever else you want. I still have dreams about the cinnamon bun at Rancho Valencia. Guys, it came with an extra pot (a whole pot!) of icing.
After breakfast, spend the morning and early afternoon getting pampered at the spa. Trust me, when you don’t have weeks to shake off whatever it is you brought over with you, some me-time at the spa is the best shortcut to a relaxing weekend. If you can get up early enough, start with a fitness or yoga class, then go for a massage, and finish with a swim, all before lunch!
Now we’re ready to see San Diego, you’re going to need a car. One of the unique benefits of staying at Rancho Valencia is their fleet of complimentary Porsches. The only catch, however, is the time limit. So you might need to rent another convertible and take the Porsche out for a spin later!
The number one attraction in San Diego is Balboa Park, one of the city’s most Instagrammed places. You can easily spend the whole day here, visiting the Botanical Building, California Tower, El Prado, museums and zoo.
But eventually, you’re going to get hungry, which is around the time you should head downtown to either Little Italy or the Gaslamp Quarter, which are the main two food and drink districts.
My pick is Ironside Fish & Oyster in Little Italy for seafood and lobster rolls in a casual, bustling industrial setting. For something a little more upscale, it’s Born and Raised for steak and cocktails. Other local Gaslamp favourites are Juniper & Ivy, and Herb & Wood.
Finally, don’t leave the city without watching the sunset at the famous Sunset Cliffs, or anywhere that you can see the ocean.
Go for a morning hike at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. This unmissable cliffside hike through pine forests and sandstone canyons has a variety of trails from advanced to family-friendly. Even at 6 months pregnant I found it very comfortable.
After the hike, head to La Jolla, known as the ‘jewel’ of San Diego. A beautiful seaside town best known for its gorgeous beaches, house porn (it’s a millennial thing, we fantasise about houses mmkay), boutique shops and waterfront restaurants, such as George’s at the Cove and Eddie V’s, both with fantastic ocean views.
It’s hard not to fall in love with La Jolla. Spend a lazy day walking around, checking out the birds and sea lions, and grab an ice cream at the popular Bobboi Natural Gelato shop.
But have you even been to San Diego if you haven’t eaten a California Burrito? It’s a must, and La Jolla just happens to do a great one at The Taco Stand. What’s in a California Burrito? Flame grilled steak, an American serving of cheese, fries, guacamole, tomato salsa and sour cream. Go get.
If you have the time, another lovely neighbourhood to check it out is Del Mar. The beach is perfect for long walks, while the town centre also has some interesting boutique shops, such as the Frustrated Cowboy. For food, there’s Del Mar pizza for a quick bite or the popular Pacific Coast Grill right on the water for lunch or dinner.
Last but not least, don’t forget to watch your last Californian sunset before you go. There are so many popular sunset spots along the coast, although my favourite is Swami’s beach in Encinitas, where there is no shortage of classic palm tree lined streets nearby.