must see san diego

An Out-of-Towner's Guide to San Diego

(PS for the sake of this post, I’m not going to be including iPhone photos, so there will be a mix of edited and unedited images!)

This is a guide to San Diego. Do I know enough about the city to write an entire guide? Absolutely not. I’m just a New Yorker that likes to travel! In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m gearing up for my next trip. I’ve already taken 3 trips this summer (NJ shore, Ohio, and San Diego). This weekend, I’ve got another trip to the NJ shore planned, and then next week I head off for Denver. Then 3 more trips and summer will be over! So you know… one might say I get around ;) I travel by myself pretty frequently these days, but my favorite trips are the ones I get to take with my husband, Zach (cue the mush) (it’s our third anniversary so y’all will have to deal).

Zach told me that this wasn’t the Grand Canyon (he was like “Uh I’ve  been  to the Grand Canyon. I would know. That is  not  the Grand Canyon.” Well guess what. I still don’t know, but I think it definitely has to be, right??

Zach told me that this wasn’t the Grand Canyon (he was like “Uh I’ve been to the Grand Canyon. I would know. That is not the Grand Canyon.” Well guess what. I still don’t know, but I think it definitely has to be, right??

On the fourth of July, Zach and I woke up and stumbled half asleep into an Uber, on our way to the airport. I used to be so scared of flying, and tbh I’m not totally over that fear. I’ve been to so many aviation museums, and my dad used to fly planes when I was younger….. but I will NEVER understand how an airplane stays up in the air. I know its simple science and engineering. I’m mostly just unwilling to learn. LEAVE MY IGNORANCE BE.


We touched down and picked up a Jeep Wrangler :’) Zach rented this for me as a birthday gift :’) Maybe it’s the Midwesterner in me, but I’ve always loved Jeeps. We made off toward the Zoo and Y’ALL!!! The San Diego Zoo is historic for its innovation in animal rehabilitation and display, but also it’s HUGE and so cool and educational!! At over 100 acres, it’s best to use the buses to get around the zoo… but I’m a New Yorker, so naturally I walked the whole thing. No lie…. we made a point to see each of the 650 species. By foot. It took us all of 4 hours, but we did it! New Yorkers walk quickly, so take that into consideration if you’re planning on also walking the whole zoo (but I have faith in you!). The zoo is located inside of Balboa Park, and if you catch the sky ride, you can get a beautiful view of the entire park and the surrounding city!


We noticed the sun was starting to fade, so we literally ran out of the zoo and hit the road super quickly so that we could catch the sun setting over the ocean. Something about a west coast sunset, you know? We went to Sunset Cliffs and were able to stand over the ocean from above the cliffs and look down toward the beach. Talk about gorgeous. 


OH! And can we talk about these cuties on a cliff?? Hiiiii, hit me up for your cliffside couples session!


Since your girl is broke af, I’m always looking for a cheap way to travel. I don’t want to give up traveling entirely, so I’ve gotten pretty good at finding ways to cut costs. I don’t need a 5-star hotel to stay in, and I usually save most of my money by renting out ~alternative accommodations~ ex. this super adorable Airstream!! Can you believe it was a fraction of the cost of a regular hotel or Airbnb!?


We spent the next few days exploring the beaches, hills, and neighboring cities. We drove up and down the coast, stopping at all of the vegan fast food restaurants (there are SO many!!!) (my favorite? the chicken and waffles sandwich from Plant Power Fast Food) and surf shops. We spent time in North Park, which is like the Brooklyn of San Diego (or so I’m told). I probably ate at least 30 donuts from Dark Horse Coffee. There was a beautiful bar that I’d recommend to every single person that visits SD, called Polite Provisions and WOW. Gorgeous. Beautiful interior, unbelievable drinks, and amazing service that takes you back to another place and time!

We kayaked out in La Jolla, which I definitely think is a must-do for all tourists. It was incredibly busy, but I think you could attribute that to the holiday weekend (again, do I know enough about San Diego to say this? Absolutely not!). La Jolla cove kayaking is on the top of every other blog’s to-do list, and I can’t argue. Tack on the snorkeling, too, and you’re set! Better yet- if you go to San Diego in August, you can view the shark migration. We were a little early for this (and yeah right- Zach would NEVER!), but the snorkeling was still worth it.

Head across the giant bridge to Coronado to do a whole lotta nothing if you’re under 65! There is Hotel Coronado which is famous for something I guess, but I felt as if this had the least culture to offer. Same things goes for Carlsbad! But the drive up to Carlsbad will make you realize what all those west coasters are talking about when they bring up smog! Bottom line: stick to San Diego.


Oh and did I mention I’m now married to a sk8r boi? We hit Slappy’s Garage, which is a local skate shop, where we met a super cool videographer, and Zach got a new board (we spent a lot of time at skate parks).


And of course, the whole trip was centered NOT around the 4th of July, but around THEMOST IMPORTANT JULY HOLIDAY: my birthday :) I turned 25!! We started the ~special~ day hiking out in Mission Trails Regional Park on the Climber’s Hike. At the top of the hike, there’s a few different routes for climbing (hence the name of the trail). We don’t know how to lead climb, but we did sit and watch for a while! How cute is my husband, by the way!? I’m so gross and am totally drooling while uploading these photos.


Something that was so important to me when I started seriously considering marriage with Zach was that he and I would be able to travel together. Our first adventure was to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day and it was a disaster. He touched all of my stuff and cleaned the hotel room even when I told him I prefer the mess. I thought we’d break up right then and there. But we have gotten so good at traveling together! We both know exactly what the other will want to see and do, and we tend to settle on amazing compromises. I haven’t found a better traveling buddy! This entire trip was like a dream, and if I’d taken my camera out more instead of trying to ~live in the moment~ I’d have more photos for you! Maybe on my next trip!