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Trip Report J's San Diego Trip Report

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Hey everybody. My husband and I just got back from a weekend in San Diego, so I thought I would write a report :)

The main purpose of our trip was to celebrate a friend's birthday, which was why we ended up going in August when normally we would go when it was less crowded and hotel rates weren't as high - LOL.

Thursday: We left San Jose in the morning and had a relatively traffic-free drive down - cut over to I5 at Los Banos and took that all the way down. Hit LA about 1pm and had slow traffic through the middle, but it wasn't bad.

Stopped at San Clemente state beach for a break just south of LA. Really pretty area - picnic tables and campgrounds on a bluff overlooking the ocean. We took a paved path from the parking area down to the beach. A lot of people were swimming in the ocean and the weather was nice and warm. We didn't stick around too long though since we needed to get down to San Diego.

Our hotel was the Marriot La Jolla just east of I-5, which we got for $140/night through Priceline. The hotel was very nice - it is an older Marriott, but has been completely remodelled. The beds were quite comfortable - pillow-top matresses, down comforters, nice linens. The hotel is in a business area rather than close to the ocean and attractions and it clearly caters more to the business traveler than the tourist. There is an indoor pool and a whirlpool in the fitness center and an outdoor pool just outside there - definitely geared more toward people who are interested in a workout than hanging around. Probably not the hotel I would choose if I hadn't done Priceline, but it was a fine hotel.

After checking in, we went to downtown La Jolla for dinner. We walked around a bit first - it is a very nice area with a beautiful coastline, a little too upscale for my tastes though. We checked out George's on the Terrace as recommended, but their menu didn't move us - we were pretty hungry and California cuisine just wasn't going to do it - LOL. So we went to the Karl Strauss brewery restaurant, which turned out to be an excellent choice. The beer and the food were great and the service was excellent.

Friday: This was a free day, so we decided to go to the zoo.

We had breakfast at the hotel buffet because it was easy and quick. The buffet was good, but not a good value - again, aimed at business travellers who generally are interested in the convinience over price.

The zoo was great - we had a terrific time. And there was a coupon on one of the books at the hotel for $5 off admission, which beat the AAA discount by a little bit. We spent about 5 hours at the zoo just wandering around - took the sky tram a couple times, which was really fun. There is also a tour bus that we could have taken, but the line was really long, we we decided to skip it. The line for the pandas was very long too, so we didn't see them. Definitely anybody going to the zoo, if you want to see the pandas or take the tour, do that early in the day.

After the zoo we went to the Corvette Diner in Hillcrest - we absolutely love this place and go every time we are in San Diego. The burgers and shakes were good, as always, and the people are a kick.

Originally we planned to head down to the beach to take some pictures (my husband is an avid photographer), but the weather was not cooperating - the fog had come in, so we decided to wander around Balboa Park instead. This is a large park just north of downtown which a lot of really interesting buildings and gardens. There are quite a few museums there, which were closing up when we got there, so we just wandered around. There were a lot of people out and about, so the people-watching was great.

Saturday: In the morning we went to Pacific beach for breakfast and to wander around. Again, we had fog, so the photography wasn't that great, but my husband did get some good shots off the pier there.

We had originally planned to go to Cafe Kono, I think it was, which is right near Crystal Pier, across the street from the beach. The line was literally half way around the block, so we decided instead to to to the Broken Yoke Cafe of Garnet, which we passed on the way to the pier. It looked like a popular place, but not overrun. Turned out to be a great choice - good food and a nice variety of choices, and we didn't have to wait very long. And my husband was very pleased to see that they serve refried beans with breakfast :)

After breakfast, we went down to the pier and wandered around a bit. There is a hotel there called Crystal Pier Hotel, which is basically 2 rows of cottages on the pier, each with a deck area overlooking the ocean - looked like a really neat place to stay. I will definitely have to research them for next time :)

About noon the fog started to burn off and it looked like it was going to be a really nice day at the beach, but it was also time to go to our friend's party, which is why we were really in San Diego in the first place, so we grudgingly left the beach ;) We liked Pacific Beach a lot - casual, relaxed place, typical California beach town vibe, lots of people riding cruisers around town, just a fun place. Definitely want to spend more time there in the future.

Sunday: This was our day to drive home, so we pretty much just packed up and hit the road. It was a foggy morning again - we were hoping that we would get at least one morning without fog so we could get some early morning coastal shots, but no such luck.

We stopped for breakfast at Al's Cafe in Carlsbad, which was a fun place. We sat at the counter, so we had a front fow seat for all the activity - barely controlled chaos seems like a good term for it. The place was really jumping and the staff was really on their game - and even with everything so busy, they joked with customers and were very friendly.

After breakfast, we went down to the beach to walk it off a bit before climbing into the car for the long drive home. Another really nice town with a great beach for hanging out and it was shaping up to be another really nice day. But we had to get home - I wished we could have stayed longer.

Overall, it was a really good trip - we had a lot of fun. San Diego is a great place. We love it there.

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