With temperatures rising past 110 degrees in Phoenix in June, San Diego is a quick, easy getaway to enjoy the cooler air and dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean. With a family friend coming in town, we planned ahead and booked a beach bungalow in Ocean Beach on VRBO.com. I have been renting from VRBO since 2008 and never experienced any issues, and find it sometimes more valuable than booking a hotel due to the fact that you have a kitchen, privacy, and extra amenities.
My mother, sister, her almost-one-year-old, my three-year-old, and I packed into my vehicle, and a friend and her mom packed into another car to relive a family vacation like we used to go on when we were children. The kids are used to traveling, so are good in the car, however the best advice is to stock up on new toys to keep their attention for a while. Also, make sure all tablets, iPads, phones, etc. are fully charged. They become lifesavers while traveling!
After about 5.5 hours, we arrived at the beach house in Ocean Beach, where we would call home for the next 5 days. Traveling to San Diego multiple times a year, I have explored most areas and could probably navigate through the city like a local, however find Ocean Beach to be the most relaxing. Although there is a decent-sized homeless population and hippy culture, the shopping, breweries, and restaurants are all reasonably-priced. Also, the beach is rarely overpopulated and they have a dog beach there, which puts a big smile on your face.
After unpacking and relaxing a bit, we threw on our jackets to walk to town only a few blocks away. We window-shopped and stopped for ice cream at Lighthouse Ice Cream, then called it a night after touching our toes to the sand for a brief moment.
I don’t know what it is, but I can’t sleep in on vacations. I woke up at 6am every morning and walked to Starbucks to get a Coconut Milk Chai Latte at 140 degrees, followed by a morning stroll. It was nice to hit 10,000 steps before noon! We spent the day at Ocean Beach and Dog Beach, building sand castles, recreating old photos, and walking along the water. The shore was filled with tuna crabs brought in due to El Niño, however they are harmless.
The next morning, we ate at my favorite place in San Diego, Shades Oceanside Bistro, where I enjoyed a Crab Cake Benedict with Homefries. However, we learned that as of September 5, 2016, after 13 years, Shades will be under new ownership and will be called OB Surf Lodge after renovations. Fortunately, I will be able to enjoy Shades one last time in July, but have high hopes for OB Surf Lodge!
We spent the rest of the day exploring La Jolla. La Jolla Shores Beach gave me a Florida vacation feel, with the way the sand looked and waves hit the shore. If you want to see seals, sea lions, and beautiful water, venture to La Jolla Cove. Downtown La Jolla gave me an Old Town Scottsdale meets the beach vibe. I would advise to go early or during the week. Mid-day Saturday becomes very congested, with limited parking available.
During our vacation, we also ventured to Mission Beach. Mission Beach is not my cup-of-tea because it is so full of tourists, however you can get Dole Whip there! While parking, there is a large lot off Mission Bay Drive by Mariner’s Way, across the street from Belmont Park, that is rarely full. Belmont Park is an amusement park off the boardwalk with a wooden roller coaster, rides, shops, games…and yes, Dole Whip! The same Dole Whip that you get at Disney Parks.
There are restaurants and gift shops right outside Belmont Park as well. If you aren’t afraid of a little cheese (well, a lot), Cheesy Express was delicious! I had the Veggies Goodness (wheat bread, caramelized onions, sundried tomatoes, spinach, basil pesto, and swiss) with tomato soup and was not disappointed!
The vacation seemed like it flew by, and on day 5, I took my final stroll to get Starbucks and we packed up and headed back to the Phoenix heat after a cool, relaxing trip to San Diego. Although we will miss the beach and the sound of the ocean waves, we will be back soon to explore more in July!
-Travel Food Mom Nikki