For Rob’s 30th birthday, we travelled to spent 3 days in Mission Beach, San Diego. Actually we went to L.A, Vegas, then San Diego, but I will save the first two destinations for blog posts another time. Here is a quick summary of our short, but amazing time in San Diego – we will definitely be back!
Day 1: Fish Tacos
After we landed (we flew in from Vegas – just one hour in the air), sitting in the Uber to our hotel, we felt immediately at home. I just fell in love with Mission Beach right away and knew we were going to enjoy our time there.
We stayed at the Bahia Hotel just about a 15 minute drive from the airport and were pretty wiped out from Vegas so were looking forward to some chill time by ourselves (we spent our time in L.A and Vegas with family). The Bahia didn’t disappoint.
We had a great room with its own living room, mini kitchenette and a private patio with the most beautiful view.
As well as a gym, pool and all the water sports hire you can think of, the hotel also had a pair of rescue seals called Gracie and Billy. They were both blind so couldn’t survive alone in the wild. You can watch them being fed twice a day!
After checking in (we arrived about 14.00), we walked around part of the beautiful bay area in search of food. It was so peaceful, probably because it was off season, but compared to the electric chaos of Vegas, the sound of the ocean was a welcome contrast.
We stumbled across The SandBar on Ventura Pl (off W Mission Bay Drive), just a few minutes walk from the hotel and ordered some beers and the best fish tacos I have ever had.
There is a little strip of bars that The Sandbar is part of that were all really friendly and reasonably priced. They overlooked a beachfront amusement park, which included a huge working wooden roller coaster, more bars, shops, amusement arcades and wave machine. As it is was off season, this was pretty quiet and the wave machine was closed, but I can imagine it gets really busy in the summer months.
The beach was typical California beautiful and we timed it just right, finishing our late lunch and drinks at sunset, watching some kite surfers ride the breeze.
The Bahia has a lovely Morrocan themed bar, including an open fire which we loved cosying up in front of with a glass of wine before heading out for the evening.
Day 2: Exploring on two wheels
After catching up on some much needed sleep we started day 2 with a run around the bay – seriously, it’s not hard to get up and just get outside when you have views like this to enjoy.
Buying some cereal and fruit from a local supermarket (just near The Sandbar) the night before for our breakfast was easy and cheap and we ate it post run, on our patio.
We really wanted to explore the area a little more, so we hired some bikes from the hotel (about $20 each for 4 hours) and set off.
We cycled all around the Mission Beach area and explored a little further up the coast. Cycling for a couple of hours along Ocean Front walk towards Bird Rock, stopping for a vanilla caramel latte on the way.
After a couple more hours of cycling, we definitely deserved some beers and a massive portion of nachos at this cool craft beer bar, Draft (near the roller coaster and amusement arcades). Then we headed back to the hotel to chill on the patio with our books and a snooze.
That night we headed out to the GasLamp Quarter for more drinks and some dinner! It’s such a cool area, a bit like SoHo in London we thought, with loads of trendy bars and restaurants. We could have walked round there for hours.
Day 3: Whale watching!!
Whale watching is something I have always wanted to do so was something we couldn’t pass up on whilst in San Diego. We were actually really lucky to get a place on this popular trip as they were fully booked for the week when we called up on our first day. I called San Diego Whale Watch around 6pm on our second night to see if they had had any cancellations, and they had! It cost us about $50 each for a 3 hour trip.
The crew were really informative and gave us lots of info about the marine life as we headed out to sea. They knew what to look for and were constantly scanning the horizon for the spurts of water the whales produce when they surface. We were just out of season for whales however, and despite the crew seeing a few whales that same week, most had now completed their migration past San Diego. So we went whale watching and didn’t see any whales. We did however, see some huge pods of dolphins and some enormous sea lions.
San Diego Whale Watch gave everyone 50% off vouchers for their next trip because we didn’t spot any whales, which was a nice touch. Next time we are in San Diego, we will be using our vouchers to try our luck again!
After our trip out to sea, it was time to head to The SandBar again for some more fish tacos – we couldn’t resist – before heading back to the hotel to freshen up and watch the sunset from our patio, before heading out for a final walk around the bay, stopping in at a cool friendly little locals bar (away from the tourist hustle and bustle) – Guava Beach for a couple of beers before heading home.
That final night is one of my all time favourite holiday memories. We just walked and talked our way around the Bay – via Guava Beach to watch some basketball – and sneaked glances (maybe not as subtly as we thought) into the amazing beachfront properties – each one more luxurious than the next – as the residents watched TV and ate dinner.
San Diego, you stole our hearts and we will see you again very soon!