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I'm an OC girl at heart, but I consider San Diego a second home. The city makes a perfect weekend quick escape, although my visits have always seemed too short! This lively beachside city has it all Ã¢ great weather, lots of culture and a happening scene. Here's a collection of my favorite spots in San Diego that make the most of its sea, sun and fun!
Start your trip by unpacking those weekend bags at a beachside resort. San Diego is a city built along the ocean, and one of the best ways to make the most of your stay is by rooming near the water. Paradise Point on Mission Bay is an upscale resort where you can rent your own bungalow and enjoy the stunning ocean views, as well as the lush tropical environment of the grounds.
For the budget traveler, you may want to check out the Inn at Sunset Cliffs on the Point Loma Peninsula. Splurge on one of the deluxe oceanview suites, which'll put you near the edge of a dramatic cliff overlooking the water. It'll be a treat to hear the waves crashing as you fall asleep at night! This budget inn will give you generous bonus amenities and lots of charm. You'll also be steps away from Sunset Cliffs, which is where you can catch a stunning --you guessed it-- sunset.
Kick off your Saturday morning with the Great American Pastime: antiquing . This sleepy San Diego beach town is the perfect setting to do so -- Ocean Beach is a genuine and unadulterated peek into California's 1950's beach cities, complete with a quaint main street and a mom-and-pop ice cream shop. Come here to enjoy the famous antique shops, including the Ocean Beach Antique Mall, where you'll finally be able to get your hands on that special find.
Recharge from your shopping adventures with a hearty lunch at the Barb-B-Que House, located on Ocean Beach's main vein, Newport Ave. You can't go wrong with their specialty, the ribs, but I love the chicken -- with extra barbecue sauce, please!
Then, follow your nose a few stores over, where you can get a delicious ice cream sandwich made of fresh, piping-hot waffles and your favorite flavor of ice cream. Stroll down to the beach as you savor this unusual yet scrumptious treat, and catch a glimpse of Ocean Beach's endlessly long pier.
From Ocean Beach, head to North San Diego County and make a stop at Torrey Pines State Park. Just down the street is the world-famous Torrey Pines Golf Course, but I prefer to hike the trails -- after all, the unique Torrey pine only grows in this part of the world (true fact)! There's a trail for everyone to explore, from beginners to hard-core hikers. Ask the ranger for an easy, 1-2 hour trail that takes you to a view of the ocean -- some of the bluest waters I've ever seen! The rock formation of the cliffs is also breathtaking. Stop and enjoy the vistas and cool ocean breeze, then head back south for a dinner to remember.
There's dinner, then there's a dinner CRUISE. Because San Diego is built so close to the ocean, take advantage of the opportunity to see the city from a different point of view...from the water! You'll also be able to see interesting wildlife and other city architecture as you sip champagne and enjoy food, music and dancing aboard the ship. Special occasion? Don't worry! Hornblower Cruises are known for their excellent service and their staff is always extremely accommodating.
After dinner, hop on over to San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, THE place to be on a Saturday night. Those San Diegans sure know how to party! Wind down your day with some real, live jazz music at Croce's, which is run by jazz singer Jim Croce's wife. This is where the locals go to get their jazz fix, and a great place to sip a gin and tonic and take in good music and a fun crowd. It'll seem as though you're in the hip West Coast version of New Orleans!
You may need to sleep in after a full day of shopping, hiking and going out on the town. If you do, you'll wake up just in time to catch the best brunch in San Diego at Terra Retaurant & Bar in the dynamic neighborhood of Hillcrest. Their menu of seafood brunch dishes is fresh and innovative, and the Bloody Marys can't be beat! Grab an outdoor table if weather permits and take advantage of that San Diego sun. After brunch, take a short drive through Hillcrest to experience the colorful sights and sounds!
Walk off brunch at Balboa Park. "Park" just isn't enough to describe this sprawling collection of museums, gardens, restaurants and attractions. Covering more than 1,200 acres, there is something here for everyone -- from niche museums with rare exhibits to theatre performances to rare botanical treasures to playgrounds, you can spend weeks discovering all that Balboa Park has to offer.
Stop by the Visitors Center in the House of Hospitality or do some research in advance to choose one or two of their museums, gardens, and theatres to visit during this trip. Or, simply wander the grounds and admire the architecture, art and landscape. You'll feel like you're discovering whole new world!
After your visit to Balboa Park, head to Old Town San Diego. Old Town is the historical heart of San Diego and an ideal place to grab some lunch and explore. El Agave, which means "the cactus" in Spanish, serves up a modern Mexican menu with some edgy dishes on top of your standard old favorites. Sip a margarita or try one of their more than 400 flavors of tequila as you enjoy the authentic hacienda charm of the restaurant. Like Hillcrest, this area is also great to explore after your meal!
Wrap up your weekend trip with a trip to Coronado Island. Located directly across the bay from San Diego, this quaint and perfectly manicured island is lined with shops and restaurants. Take the bridge to see some great views!
Once you're on the island, you can rent a bike and try the bike path that winds throughout the island or visit one of the many pristine white-sand beaches to get your dose of nature. Or, visit the historic Hotel del Coronado, which has an intriguing vintage sensibility and equally intriguing collection of ghost stories. The best views of San Diego are from the Ferry Landing Marketplace, where you can enjoy the city, beach and some good shopping.
Grab a martini and some dinner at this famous restaurant in the landmark Hotel del Coronado, where you can swap stories about your weekend trip over gorgeous, sweeping views of the Pacific.
Although you may be a bit tired from your weekend of adventure, I'm sure that you'll already be planning your next trip to this beautiful city of sea, sun and FUN!