My sister surprised me with a weekend trip to San Diego on my birthday. I had never been there, despite growing up just minutes away in Orange County. She was in charge of the itinerary so all the credit goes to her. So here’s your guide to spend two magical days in classy San Diego!
DRIVE TO CARLSBAD
My sister and I drove from Orange County to San Diego. Depending on where you live, it may be cheaper to fly into LAX or Orange County and then drive down. We made a pit stop in Carlsbad to experience several acres of extraordinary color at the famous Flower Fields.
The annual opening marks the unofficial start of springtime in San Diego County. They’re usually open from March to May, so plan accordingly. There are nearly 50 acres of breathtaking, colorful displays of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers, which are in bloom for six to eight weeks each year. The burst of color makes for awesome photo opportunities! The famous fields also include roses, orchids, sweet pea blossoms, petunias and poinsettias.
In addition to a stroll through the fields, you can enjoy family-friendly activities, including antique tractor wagon rides, a sweet pea blossoms maze and gardening demos. More info here.
DINNER WITH A VIEW
We stopped in La Jolla to dine at George’s at the Cove. We lucked out and got a table with little wait time! And we got the table we wanted, right at the edge of the terrace with a beautiful view. The food is average but the drinks are amazing! Honestly, we stopped here just to take in the view. Explore the Menu here.
PARKING & LODGING
We hit the road after dinner and finally reached our Aibnb location right in the heart of the Gaslamp district. I recommend staying at an Airbnb that’s closer to downtown and all the activity. First reason: Hotels are incredibly expensive in the heart of town. Secondly: Many Airbnb hosts offer free parking!
DRINK, DANCE & DISCOVERY THE GASLAMP DISTRICT
Although it had been a long day, I couldn’t resist the urge to stay up late and check out the local bars and clubs. Do not pay cover! My sister and I talked the bouncers out of charging us a cover fee. So turn up your charm and save the cover money for drinks! My favorite place to dance was Café Sevilla. They play all my faves: salsa, bachata, merengue and reggaeton!
GO TO LITTLE ITALY
We woke up early and went out for breakfast at San Diego’s Little Italy. This place is so magical! The quaint shops, cafes and eateries make you forget you’re still in California. My favorite place is Pappalecco. Great coffee, breakfast and gelato!
WALK ALONG THE SHORELINE
We walked off our big meal by taking an Uber to San Diego’s shoreline. We took the traditional picture next to the kissing statue near the embarcadero, and checked out the USS Midway.
HIKE TO POTATO CHIP ROCK
This hike may only be possible for you, if you have a car. You’ll need to drive to Poway, near Mount Woodson. Parking is free. Make sure you use the restroom before you begin the hours-long hike!
The incredibly steep trail is a nearly 4 miles up and another 4 miles back. It’s physically challenging, but the breathtaking vistas along the way keep you from giving up. The trail is paved, and well maintained. And good news for pet lovers! Dogs are allowed. Once you finally reach the rock, expect a line of people waiting to take pictures.
If you’re scared of heights like me, I’m not going to downplay the difficulty. You will need to climb on top of one big rock, and then jump to the actual potato chip rock. Just know that you can ask for help to get on and off the rock. I needed three strong men to help me! Plot at least 4 hours to finish the hike, and bring plenty of water.
COOL OFF AT THE BEACH
After the grueling hike, I was so sweaty and felt like jumping into an icy bath! So my sister and I drove to Oceanside State Beach. It was on our way back home, so we spent a few hours on the beach sunbathing and enjoying the chilly water. This also gave us a chance to let traffic die down, before we drove back home.
A lot was packed into these two days, but I wanted to make sure I did everything on my wish list. It was my birthday after all, and my poor sister had to keep up with my manic schedule. By the end of these 48 hours, we were beyond exhausted. But we had a blast, and we hope you do too!