San Diego Weekend

San Diego Part 2: Balboa Park and Coronado by Courtney Stewart

Read Part 1 of this trip here.

Saturday
We got up early and walked a few blocks to Lucky's Lunch Counter. It wasn't busy when we got there around 9:30, but it soon filled up. I had a pancake, fruit and hash browns, because I can never turn down hash browns. The fruit was legit because it had mostly pineapple and strawberries with only a little bit of cantaloupe. Alex had the Sunrise Bagel Sandwich. Maybe it's that we've gotten used to the high prices of SF, but this seemed like a fairly good deal for breakfast/brunch especially since it filled us up so much we weren't hungry until late afternoon.

We planned to stick pretty close to our hotel that day, so we took an Uber up to Balboa Park. This park contains several museums and attractions including the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man and of course the San Diego Zoo. Most of the buildings there were built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and were done in the Spanish Colonial style, so walking around really made me feel like I was back in Spain.

For our afternoon adventure, a friend had recommended that we check out Coronado while we were there, which is an island just off the coast of San Diego. You can get there by car, but we opted for a more fun mode of transportation: the ferry! It was $4.75 per person each way. There are two places you can catch the Coronado Ferry: the Broadway Pier and the Convention Center. We opted for the Convention Center pick up point because it was walkable from our hotel. The pick up was really difficult for us to find. We walked up and down a zillion stairs at the Convention Center until we finally figured out it was on the back side of the Convention Center across the road. Look for the signs that say "Ferry". 

Additionally, "ferry" is a misleading word for the boat we took. I guess if you leave from the Broadway Pier, you do take an actual ferry. However, since the Convention Center stop doesn't have as many people, they took us on a water taxi. It was a short ride over and we were rewarded with views like the ones below. 


Our friend had told us we needed to check out the Hotel Del Coronado because it was a beautiful, historic hotel built in the Victorian style. We originally intended to eat a late lunch there, but the restaurant menus looked kind of pricey, so we would eat on the way. Alex and I ended up walking the width of the island from where the ferry dropped us off to the area of the hotel. We Yelped and found Miguel's Cocina. They had a large outdoor shaded patio that was perfect for the warm afternoon. Biggest plus: Along with the free chips and salsa, they gave us a little bowl of cheese dip!! We ordered a couple of margaritas (which seemed expensive at first, but they serve them to you in a shaker which really holds more like 1.5-2 margs).

Then, we continued on to Hotel Del Coronado which definitely lived up to the hype. It is beyond gorgeous. You can just walk around the side of the hotel to a wide open courtyard that leads right to the beach. Many people were just hanging out on the lawn and enjoying the sun. 

We took the ferry back to San Diego because we had reservations at Jsix in the Gaslamp Quarter. When we arrived and realized it was in the bottom of a hotel, we were a little wary of it (especially because there were only a few other groups eating and our reservation was at 8PM). Hoping that these things weren't bad signs, we got seated in a really cozy little booth next to the wall. We skipped appetizers since we had a late lunch, but Alex ordered the Squash Raviolis which came with pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts, both of which really complemented the butternut squash flavor nicely. I got the Roasted Scallops and Mussels which came with some of the biggest mussels I have ever seen. 

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Jsix ended up being a solid choice, and we were glad we didn't let the awkward location scare us off. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel to get some sleep because we had a big Sunday ahead of us. 

Check back for our adventures at La Jolla, Green Flash Brewing, and Modern Times Brewing.

San Diego Part 1: Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy by Courtney Stewart

We are doing our best to maximize our time on the West Coast by traveling to cities close by while we live here. On our list are LA, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, and San Diego. This past weekend we got to check San Diego off that list. 

The Flight
While Virgin and United do have nonstop flights from SF to San Diego, we try to stick to Delta because we both have status with them (me: Silver, Alex: Gold) and Delta gives us the most schedule flexibility when we fly home to Atlanta. So, we took a flight that had a connection at LAX. The flight from LAX to San Diego was only 24 minutes which we found pretty funny.

Where we stayed
We chose to stay right downtown at the Hotel Indigo Gaslamp Quarter. The location of this hotel was perfect. The Gaslamp Quarter is so named as a nod to the gas lamps that stood there in the 19th and 20th centuries. Several of these lamps are still there today.  We could see Petco Park down the street and were in walking distance to tons of bars and restaurants. The staff was super nice and we loved the modern decor of our room. 

Alex getting a little work done before happy hour in out hotel room.


Alex getting a little work done before happy hour in out hotel room.

Friday
When we got to the hotel on Friday, we dropped off our stuff and headed straight for the hotel's rooftop bar, Level 9. I had read online that it was a great place to watch the sunset, and maybe it would have been but there was a large partition up in the middle of the patio that blocked the sunset. That, combined with drinks on the more expensive side, just made this an okay experience. At least we were still able to enjoy the great weather. 

My wine and Alex's girly-looking drink (an Apple Spice Mule). It was kind of chilly but the bartender turned on the cozy fire for us.


My wine and Alex's girly-looking drink (an Apple Spice Mule). It was kind of chilly but the bartender turned on the cozy fire for us.

After that, it still wasn't quite dinner time so we headed across the street to Half Door Brewing Company. It's in a cute little white house and as soon as you walk in the door, you are greeted with a view of the amazing two-story bar.

Half Door Brewing Company


Half Door Brewing Company

I enjoyed the House of Hops IPA and Alex had the Peanut Butter Gimmick Ale. Because we were a tad hungry we ordered the Fried Goat Cheese to snack on which was delicious and came with a sweet chili soy glaze. YUM! We ordered our drinks are food just after Happy Hour ended at 6pm but the bartender was nice enough to only charge us the Happy Hour prices. Win!

For dinner, we had reservations at Ironside Fish and Oyster Bar in the Little Italy neighborhood. It wasn't far from where we were staying, but was too far to walk so we took an Uber (our main mode of transportation for the weekend). To say we were highly impressed with Ironside would be an understatement. This was one of those restaurants where every single detail was considered when it was designed. From an octopus arm lamp, to a wall covered in (fake) fish skulls, they didn't overlook a single thing.

Dining at Ironside


Dining at Ironside

Close-up of the wall of fish heads.


Close-up of the wall of fish heads.

We ordered two each of the Carlsbad Luna oysters, the Fanny Bay oysters, and the Ironside Select oysters. The Fanny Bay oysters from British Columbia were our favorite. For our main entrees, I got the Fish and Chips, and Alex got the Shark. We both devoured our entrees. Instead of dessert, I opted for after-dinner coffee (one of my absolute favorite things) and Alex chose a Hot Buttered Rum. His drink was sweet and creamy, and we couldn't get enough of it.  Both drinks came in these cool mugs that we were tempted to keep for ourselves (but didn't!).

Alex and his Hot Buttered Rum


Alex and his Hot Buttered Rum

We weren't ready to turn in yet, so we headed over to a bar I had been dying to check out called Fairweather. This bar is actually on top of another bar/restaurant called Rare Form, so you have to go through Rare Form to find the stairs that lead up there. We didn't realize this at first and ordered drinks at Rare Form before a bartender showed us the way to Fairweather.

Rare Form in itself is cool because it has these long, dark wood tables with green lamps that make you feel like you're in a library at an Ivy League school. The vibe upstairs at Fairweather is completely different; when you walk out, it feels like you're at a beach bar. The bar is adorned in blue and white tiles, and there is a wall covered in green plants. There are plush booths with seats covered in navy fabric with white polka dots. It was one of the cutest bars I have ever been to. I ordered a margarita which was pretty good, but when I saw they had frozen piña coladas, I was disappointed I didn't have one of those! Frozen drinks are my jam.

More to come on our adventures at Balboa Park, Coronado, La Jolla, Green Flash Brewery, and Modern Times Brewing.