My family opted NOT to do a holiday cruise this year, instead, we decided to stay in the USA and visit California- still a little sea and sand, but we wanted to try to stay in one spot this time. We chose San Diego as it’s an easy, direct flight from Atlanta, but also temperate weather in the winter and a fairly easy town to navigate.
We stayed at Pacific Terrace Hotel, a beautiful beachfront property right on Pacific Beach (just about 10-15 minutes north of the San Diego airport). There is something about being “right” on the beach and listening to the crashing waves that just brings a new level of calm to life, and this place has it! I filmed the above surfers right from the deck in our room- this was a daily morning show for me 🙂
The room was a Master Suite, and the video walkthru is below.
The hotel is very nice, yes, it’s an older building, low ceilings and such, but they’ve kept it up very well, our room was spotless and everything was in working in order too. We had a refrigerator, a microwave, a toaster and a few dishes, so unless you’re doing cereal and milk for breakfast, really can’t do much cooking here, but it’s nice to have a place for cold beer and a bottle of wine 😉
The hotel does have a buffet offering in the morning ($14/person), and they give you a coupon to try it out for 50% discount on one day. With so many great breakfast spots comparably priced, I’d take the time to explore vs. eating at the hotel every day (see below restaurants from some great choices)
The patio and beach views were just marvelous from this room; which has TWO decks, one off the living room and one off the master. Our daughter said the pull out couch was ‘comfortable enough’ and she had plenty of room to stretch out. There are quite a few drawers/shelves for clothing in the living room area as well.
Things to Do:
San Diego Zoo: Yes, it’s a classic thing to do in San Diego, and it did not disappoint! Even though our daughter is 16, yep, she wanted to head to the zoo. Alot of hills/steps here, winding paths, etc., but there were elevators and escalators situated around- best to have a map as the signs weren’t all that clear to us. It was 62 and sunny today, so perfect day for a visit. $168 for the three of us (considered adults). The Zoo is located in the Balboa Park area- lots of parking available and several other attractions/museums nearby. They do have open-air bus tours that were part of our tickets, but we opted to walk today.
USS Midway Museum (Navy Aircraft Carrier): We like geeky things, so this was fun. Alot of stairs though (long line to the elevators filled with strollers), so be prepared for some climbing if you’re not patient. Pick up the electronic guide and it’s super simple to activate at each station. The museum was very busy on this holiday week! Make sure to do the ‘inside’ tours so you can see the control / comms rooms, the admiral and captains quarters, etc. Pretty interesting! Total cost for the 3 of us was $63.
While we were walking to the entrance, we had a visitor 🙂
Fleet Science Museum: The museum was open on Christmas day- so we thought it might be fun to explore vs. a movie. It was a rare stormy day in San Diego anyway, so best spent indoors. There is a Mythbusters exhibit (extra $5 each), pretty cool if you’re a fan of the show and want to try out some of their tests yourself. Cost was $81 for the three of us.
Coronado Island: Don’t miss a day trip to Coronado Island! It’s an easy (and toll free) drive across the bridge, we found a free parking spot near the visitors center and then we started exploring. There are tons of little shops and restaurants too.
Be sure to walk (or rent a golf cart and drive) to The Hotel Del at Coronado. The beach is absolutely stunning, as well as exploring the history of the hotel. We had lunch “on the boardwalk” (see below ENO pizzeria).
Day trip to Hollywood: If you’re ok driving 5-6 hours in one day, take a drive up to Los Angeles and check out the Grauman’s theater, the Walk of Fame and Rodeo drive in Beverly Hills. We parked at the Dolby Theater and took a Lyft to/from Rodeo drive. Sip a cappuccino and have some tiramisu and people watch at ORO Caffe. To break up the drive back to San Diego, we stopped in Newport Beach (Fashion Island) for dinner at Cheesecake Factory – the place my hubby and I met many years ago!)
Lane Field Park Market: Cool little market right on Harbor Drive in San Diego- grassy area with blankets & umbrellas, lawn games, live music and arts/crafts & food vendors. We had coffee and breakfast and enjoyed sitting in the sun listening to music and people watching. Check their website for the current schedule as I believe these are held most Saturdays. There was a public parking deck about two blocks walking distance.
Pacific Beach: In addition to the beach right in front of our hotel, the rest of Pacific Beach is just as gorgeous. It’s a HUGE beach, plenty of room, there is a boardwalk and many shops/restaurants along the way. We enjoyed hanging out here, enjoying the sunsets and playing some ball.
Konos: (Pacific Beach) This little ‘surfer’ breakfast spot was inexpensive, hearty portioned and efficient. There might be a line out the door, but it moved pretty quickly. Hubby had an extremely spicy breakfast burrito, said it was amazing. This spot is right down the boardwalk from the hotel- appx 10 minute walk.
Breakfast Republic: (Pacific Beach) Yep, we ate here three times this week. Such a creative menu and wow, off the charts flavor on everything we ordered. My favorite ended up being the Breakfast Sammie, hubby ordered several different benedicts over the course of our visits. VERY creative breakfast menu. Such a funny place- cool bar for brunch time- think lots of different mimosas and bloody marys. Elaine “spare a square” audio playing in the bathroom; hipster spot, great food and inspirational quotes on the wall. Loved it. Great concept and I wish they’d migrate East! Easy 3-4 block walk from the hotel as well to burn off some of the calories! Breakfasts are big enough to share, cost was about $40.
Del Friscos: (San Diego) We had a late lunch here- gorgeous location right on Harbor Drive and the patio was the perfect temperature. The Lane Market (noted above) was happening simultaneously, so you get to listen to the live music from the patio too! Bonus! This is an upscale restaurant, with upscale prices (~$90), but you can’t beat the ambiance. Their crab cake was fantastic!!
Supernatural Sandwiches: (Pacific Beach) It’s pretty cool to see a sign that says Zagat recommended for a super small sandwich shop, so we had to put this on our list to visit. Very creative seafood sandwiches, yummy fries and rice cakes. ~$50 for three entrees. This location is a very short walk from the hotel.
Baja Beach Cafe: (Pacific Beach) My daughter found this spot while she was “scooting” down the boardwalk and we decided to visit for breakfast. They have an outdoor patio that is right on the boardwalk/beach, heaters were on this morning so we were toasty warm, and we had a million dollar view. This location is about a 10 minute walk from the hotel; cost was ~$35 for two entrees and a bowl of fruit.
Waterbar: (Pacific Beach) Abby was craving oysters, so we decided on Waterbar for our Christmas Eve dinner. They were doing early seatings, and our bodies were still on Eastern time, so this worked out well for us. The oysters were fantastic! They also offered a special Christmas turkey and stuffing dinner, which my hubby enjoyed. This location is about a 10 minute walk from the hotel (straight down the boardwalk)
ENO Pizzeria: (Coronado Island): After walking around the island a bit, we wandered onto Coronado beach at the Del Coronado hotel. Beautiful oceanfront hotel with alot of history! Take some time to explore the photos along the boardwalk and in the hotel. We opted for pizza by the pool area; they have a cool outdoor pizza oven and the smell was tantalizing! We shared a pepperoni pizza and a proscuitto/fig creation. The crust was AMAZING. Bubbly 🙂 Expensive $110, but can’t beat the views.
Tech and Tools
Hubby FINALLY got himself a drone that we will start to use for our blog sites. He spent weeks researching what would be best for us, small for our travels, but one that will take excellent video. He is now in practice mode, learning all the rules and I am looking forward to embedding even better video in future posts!!
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