An Easy Guide to Planning a Vacation in San Diego, California | Rhyme & Reason

How We Spent Our Perfect San Diego Trip

San Diego, California
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If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve seen that I’ve been in California for a few weeks. I shared a little in this post about the reason for our extended stay up and down the coast of Southern California. We’ve been staying with family and friends in Los Angeles, Newport, and San Diego. We’re basically vagabonds but we’re super thankful and fortunate to have so many people we love to stay with! We’re planning to spend another day or two in San Diego this weekend but, by and large, the San Diego portion of our trip is finished.

We love San Diego so much…

It used to be our go-to getaway from the hectic nature of Los Angeles before we moved to Charleston. I have to preface the rest of this post by saying that, when we’re in San Diego, we spend the majority of our time at the beach. However, we do definitely try to get out and about too! A highlight this trip was trying the new Carlsbad restaurant, Jeune et Jolie!  Today’s post is dedicated to how we spent our perfect San Diego trip along with a few things we’d like to do next time we’re in town!

How We Spent Our Perfect San Diego Trip | Rhyme & Reason

Dress (c/o, also comes in pink!) / Purse / Ballet Flats / Scarf (similar)

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Outfit Details

Where do I even begin with this dress!? The silhouette is so flattering and comfortable that I keep reaching for it time and time again. I must have worn it five times on our trip already including on this day in La Jolla! I love all the little details of it too. From the ladylike pleats to the adorable pockets, the dress is perfect! It also comes in pink! Someone commented on the dress on Instagram saying that they think the dress is perfect for a summer day of sailing and I couldn’t agree more. Doesn’t that sound like a dream!? It pairs perfectly with my light blue ballet flats too. An all around win!

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Perfect San Diego Trip

When taking a trip to the west coast, it doesn’t get much more relaxing, bright, and beautiful than San Diego. What was once quite a sleepy city as turned into a mecca for California food, art, and culture. The seafood and Mexican food in San Diego is pretty hard to top! Add in the gorgeous landscapes and the pristine beaches and you’ve got yourself a wonderful place. Keep reading for the scoop on our perfect San Diego Trip!

Beaches

As I said, we spend most of our time at the beach. My favorite beach is Del Mar beach because I have the best lifelong memories from there! As kids, we spent full days in the sun, surf, and sand with frequent visits to the Snack Shack… honestly, not much has changed! Another favorite San Diego beach is La Jolla Shores. It’s a long stretch of beach that’s perfect for picnics, swimming without huge waves, and sunbathing.

I used to spend a lot of time here with one of my best friends who spent summers in the La Jolla Shores area! For surfing, Edwin likes surfing Oceanside, Cardiff by the Sea, Windandsea Beach, Black’s Beach, and Hospitals. Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are very popular beach options also but they are a bit too crowded and touristy for me although I do understand the appeal of the boardwalk in Mission Beach (I loved it in high school as a lot of my friends stayed there!).

Hiking Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Hiking the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve makes for a perfect San Diego trip! When I’m waiting for the beach to warm up for the day, I love to spend the morning outside doing the hikes in the reserve. There are 6 different trails that lead down to the beach so you have beautiful views of the water the entire time as the reserve sits above Torrey Pines Beach! A few other hikes of note are Sunset Cliffs, Cuyamaca Peak Trail, Big Laguna Trail, Los Peñasquitos Canyon Reserve, Iron Mountain, and El Cajon Mountain Trail.

The Flower Fields

If you plan a San Diego vacation in the Spring like we did, then a trip to The Flower Fields of Carlsbad is a must! The Flower Fields is the most magnificent 50 acre flower garden that is only open every year from mid March to mid May so it is a true spring treat. Your eyes will not believe the colors of the giant ranunculus! Remember this sundress outfit I snapped at The Flower Fields!?

Shopping

San Diego has some wonderful shopping that I’m always excited about when I’m in town! This trip was no different! A few of my favorite shopping spots that I’ve visited this trip are Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach (Pink Lagoon, Tucci, Bixby & Ball, and Solo are musts!), downtown La Jolla, and One Paseo in Del Mar (the store Pigment is a must!). One Paseo is new so I visited for this first time on this trip. If you’re looking for a mall experience, then don’t miss the outdoor UTC mall in La Jolla and Fashion Valley in San Diego.

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Del Mar Racetrack

Now, I know I’m talking about how we spent out San Diego trip but I also wanted to include some broader San Diego recommendations (keep reading for hotels and family friendly ideas!). The Del Mar racetrack, known as the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, is one such recommendation as we didn’t go on this trip. The Del Mar racetrack is a must when visiting San Diego in the summer! The track can be summed up as where the turf meets the surf and the best thoroughbred horse racing in Southern California. Opening day of the track in July is quite a party complete with a hat competition. Pro tip: grab lunch at the Brigantine before heading down the street to spend a fun afternoon betting on horses!

Hotels

San Diego has a handful of wonderful hotels that are super special with rich histories and/or beautiful ocean views or landscapes. I have four favorite San Diego hotels that I have and would stay at again in a heartbeat. We spent some time at La Valencia on this trip!

First up: La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla.

La Valencia Hotel is an incredibly picturesque pink hotel nestled in the heart of La Jolla up on a cliff overlooking La Jolla Cove. From the moment you walk in, you will feel as though you’ve been whisked away to Europe with the Mediterranean vibe, Spanish tile accents, and walls speckled with oil paintings.

Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa in Rancho Santa Fe is a jewel of Spanish Colonial architecture.

The grounds of Rancho Valencia are beautifully kept and dotted with bright bougainvillea and orange groves. A girlfriend of mine did her bachelorette weekend here and it was such a dream!

L’Auberge Del Mar is a fresh, bright slice of seaside heaven.

I love the coastal feel present at every turn at L’Auberge and the gorgeous ocean views to go along with it. The pool, pool cabanas, and poolside restaurant/bar are so lovely that you’ll have a hard time pulling yourself away.

The Hotel del Coronado is one of the most iconic hotels in all of California for good reason.

Old Hollywood loved Hotel del Coronado (it was featured in Marilyn Monroe’s film ‘Some Like It Hot’) and the grand nature of the hotel has stood the test of time where it now blends nicely with a feel of new age luxury. The Coronado Bridge you take to get to Coronado is quite iconic too.

I’ve also heard amazing things about and am anxious to check out are the Pendry Hotel in downtown San Diego! Also to note, if you want to stay on the beach, then check out La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. If you are looking for golf, then also check out the Lodge Torrey Pines and Aviara Resort.

Family Friendly San Diego

I think San Diego is one of the most family friendly destinations to go for a trip! We did so many activities when we were growing up and visiting San Diego. I can’t wait to do them all with my future kids! Families will love the beaches, hikes, and The Flower Fields that I already mentioned but there is so much more to see too! I highly recommend a visit to Petco Park for a San Diego Padres game. We used to go once a summer with friends! It also doesn’t get any better than the San Diego Zoo.

The San Diego Zoo is such a magical place for families to explore as it is one of the very best zoos in the country! It is nestled in the Balboa Park, which is a great family friendly spot to spend a day in San Diego. Balboa Park consists of the zoo, walking trails, gardens, museums, performing arts centers, and more. A trip to the aquarium is also a perfect plan for a family outing. The Birch Aquarium was one of my favorites growing up.

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San Diego Bucket List

I’ve explore a lot of Southern California and San Diego County over the years but there is still so much I haven’t seen or really gotten to know well. In San Diego, I’d really like to take another visit to a few places in particular! I’d really like to go restaurant and bar hoping in the Gaslamp Quarter. I’m also dying to go out for a night of Italian food in Little Italy. In addition, I know that Downtown San Diego has a ton to offer so I would really like to get to know that part of town more.

My family has gone sailing before out of Downtown San Diego but its been about a decade so sailing is at the top of my San Diego bucket list! Finally, a trip to Liberty Station is on my San Diego bucket list because it’s one part of town that I really have never experienced and I know it’s a must-visit.

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Dress (c/o, also comes in pink!) / Purse / Ballet Flats / Scarf (similar)

If you are craving a trip to the west coast, then San Diego should definitely be on your list! The fish tacos all over the city are reason enough to go, ha! Thanks for reading! xx

Photography by Edwin Eversole

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