Dream Travel Destinations: San Diego, California

Why San Diego?

We have two milestone events in the Prada household this year, one big birthday and one big wedding anniversary! With that in mind we would really like to go away somewhere special and not the usual package holiday! 

I've always wanted to go to California, so I've been dreaming of where we can go and what balance we can strike with the adults having a memorable trip but also keeping the little ones occupied. I've been checking out San Diego vacation homes, where the best beaches are, wine tasting at the vineyards! And obviously a few child-friendly places. 

I've always been drawn to California not due to any celebrity hang outs but for the scenery, beaches, mountains and weather. It seems to have the best of everything and appears the perfect retreat where we can mix the feeling of a proper holiday for us, with the added bonus of it suiting families as well. So what does San Diego have on offer? 

Silhouette palm tree

1. Beaches

Given that San Diego has 17 miles of coastline there are a lot of gorgeous beaches to choose from! The ones which stand out for me as a parent are Coronado Beach which is very clean, sandy and has gentle waves. La Jolla Cove which is quite small but has lots of rockpools for little explorers! La Jolla Shores is also recommended as it's so long and flat which means children have space to run around.

If you want to feel a proper Californian vibe, Mission Beach has volleyball nets, rollerbladers and skateboarders along it's boardwalk. 

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Designed by Freepik

2. Mexican food

One of the greatest things about eating in San Diego has to be that being so close to Mexico the food is so much more authentic. Some of the greatest places to eat Mexican food are also the most casual which really suits us! Lolita's in Downtown San Diego is a family owned restaurant where locals go to eat. Another popular choice is Puesto at La Jolla. The menu focuses on a variety of grilled foods such as fish, shrimp or chicken and vegetarian dishes such as delicious courgette flowers. Las Cuatro Milpas in Downtown is a apparently a must try food establishment. You always have to queue, the menu is quite limited but apparently the food is oh so worth it and people drive for miles to get their fix! 

3. Shopping

Credit: Quirkytravelguy.com

Credit: Quirkytravelguy.com

Sometimes on holiday you need a bit of civilization and retail therapy! I always love checking out what trends there are in different places. San Diego has lots of different shopping malls which suit every budget. I'm really drawn to the Westfield Horton Plaza. It's funky architecture and different levels make it a must see destination. It has all the usual stores you want to find when making the most of shopping in the States such as Macy's, Levi's, Banana Republic and Victoria Secret. The mall also has a cinema if the little ones are getting bored! 

4. Nature

If you're an outdoorsy family San Diego is perfect as it has such an incredible landscape. There are some beautiful national parks to explore such as the Tijuana River Valley. this is protected land with miles of trails. 

A popular hike is to the famous Potato Chip Rock! This is a bit of an uphill challenge but you are rewarded with amazing views when you reach the top. It's so called as the rock has a thin outcrop which looks like a potato chip!

5. Child friendly

Once you've spent some days at the beach and being out in the countryside there are several other great places to take children. One is watching the seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove. You can see a beach full of them sweetly napping and sunning themselves.

You may have heard of San Diego Zoo as it's is one of the best zoos in the world! Apart from visiting the great variety of animals they take care of, they also run lots of cool experiences for people of all ages. I especially love the Kids Wild Night Out where you can go to the Zoo in the evening and meet Dr. Zoolittle and his animal friends!

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6. Wine Tasting

I'm really looking forward to trying some Californian wines. San Diego is slowly establishing itself as a region to watch as many of its wineries are winning awards and accolades. Carruth Cellars, has a long history of wine making experience, and has won many awards since it opened five years ago. It has a summer wine bar and shabby chic tasting room. 

Another great winery is Orfila Vineyards which has a tasting room and runs free wine tours daily to learn about the wine making process and sample their wines.

7. Sunsets

As this trip is partly for our wedding anniversary I definitely want to do something romantic! I've heard the most breathtaking place to go is Sunset Cliffs. It's the best spot in San Diego to watch a sunset whilst looking over the ocean. It sounds amazing. On a good day you might see dolphins or whales!

I would also love to have a very Californian beach bonfire! Any outdoor bonfires or BBQs are so restricted in the UK so the thought that you are encouraged to do this is brilliant. There are lots of fire pits up and down the various beaches for use on a summer night. They are first-come, first-served though so stake out your territory early!

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8. Exploring

If you're not completely exhausted by all these activities take a ferry to Coronado Island, which you can see here on the right. You can drive over a large bridge to get there but it makes it more special to take the boat and then spend the day at Coronado. 

For another proper day trip visit Balboa Park. This has miles of trails to hike, gardens to visit and museums in the center of the city.

9. Experiences

To finish your vacation on a high note go whale watching! San Diego is is on route to catch the annual migration of lots of species of whales. There are various companies running tours and some do this all year round. The minimum age is two years old so most families will be able to do this together and have an incredible memory to take away with them. 

I hope I've inspired you to do some California Dreaming!

Have you been to San Diego? I'd love to hear your recommendations!


San Diego Dream Holiday

*This is a collaborative post