We recently went to San Diego. Just for fun — no special occasion or big event, just a much-needed vacation. A much – much – needed vacation. I even stopped checking my work email after a couple of days.
We had an early morning flight. I’m not normally happy about early mornings, but the nice thing about this arrangement was that we had several hours in the afternoon and evening to just unwind and bum around. We stayed at the Bristol, which is a pretty nice little place within walking distance of the old Gaslamp District.
We ate dinner at Asti Ristorante, an amazing little Italian place on 5th Ave. We liked it so much, we went again later in the week with Gary’s parents. We also walked around Balboa Park for a little while, but we saw much more of it the next day.
Balboa Park is a massive park and cultural center in the middle of San Diego. Besides a bunch of paths and your typical parky bits, it includes several small museums and galleries and shops and things.
We went to the Museum of Man, which is, well, what it sounds like — a collection of exhibits focusing on the natural and cultural history of the human species.
They were hosting a special exhibit called Instruments of Torture. The lady who sold us our tickets suggested that we go through that exhibit first and return to the main museum afterwards so as not to end our visit with bad feelings. I’m glad we took her advice. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t regret going. But it was a bit of a downer, to put it mildly. I had to stop reading the descriptions about halfway through because I was afraid I might cry or barf… there’s a reason they won’t allow young kids in this exhibit. No photos allowed, either.
The rest of the Museum of Man wasn’t nearly as depressing. A new exhibit was under construction, so we didn’t get to see the whole place. But we did see BEERology (an exhibit about the history of beer, natch), some Mayan stuff, some native California tribal stuff, and some Egyptian stuff. This museum was much smaller than what we’re used to, but I think they definitely made the most of their space.
That afternoon we went to the Birch Aquarium out in La Jolla. This aquarium is actually part of UC San Diego. It was absolutely lovely. We got some great photos!
That evening we walked down to the Gaslamp District again and had dinner at a place called The Tipsy Crow. We shared a mac’n’cheese bread bowl — yes, just a giant bowl made of bread stuffed with mac’n’cheese and topped with bacon. It was just as delicious and terrible as it sounds.
This was our first day at the San Diego Zoo. We got a 2-visit pass; this would also have been good for 1 visit to the zoo and 1 to their Safari Park, but we decided to just stick to the zoo. I’m glad we did. Anyway, I’ll be writing a separate zoo-only post pretty soon, so if you’re interested in animal pictures keep an eye out for it!
We had dinner at Yard House, a huge 2-sided bar with about a bazillion beers on draft (my husband’s idea of heaven); I had my first ever shrimp ceviche, which was delicious, and we shared some spicy queso, which was pretty good too. We stopped at The Hopping Pig “gastropub” for dessert (amazing chocolate cake, and yes I ate the whole thing by myself, and no I’m not sorry) and then went to Tipsy Crow again afterwards. I confess that I didn’t feel so hot the next morning….
I convinced Gary to take me to the San Diego Central Library on Friday morning. This library is nine (!!!) stories tall — it even houses a high school on 2 floors. The building is only about a year old, and it seemed pretty well-funded as far as public libraries go. They even have a 3D printer! Color me impressed.
We wound up at Seaport Village in the afternoon, where we did a bit of shopping (shoutout to the Upstart Crow bookshop!) and had lunch at Edgewater Grill. We met Gary’s parents at Asti Ristorante for dinner. We stopped in at a highly recommended, trendy little place called Analog for drinks, but they were converting to a dance club for the rest of the evening so we ended up at the Blarney Stone Pub instead. And I’m glad we did. It was much more laid back and the friendly, attentive bartender was actually from Ireland!
This was our second visit to the zoo, this time with my in-laws. I’m so glad we got to hang out with them at the zoo all day. Spending time with far-away family and seeing super interesting animals from all over the world? Yes, please! Again, keep an eye out for an upcoming post of just a ton of San Diego Zoo photos.
The four of us wandered over to a simply amazing Thai restaurant called Rama for dinner. I had the special duck curry and I can’t even begin to describe how delicious it was. And the atmosphere was perfect; the entire back wall was actually a waterfall and even though the tables were a tiny bit crowded they were separated by long, sheer curtains so it felt pretty private anyway.
Our last day in San Diego was pretty relaxed. The first stop was Coronado, a little (but upscale) beach town town near the main city. I think my favorite shop was Bay Books. Probably no one is surprised that my favorite shop was a book store.
Later that afternoon I popped into a dress shop that caught my eye earlier in the week — Tatyana, a little retro/vintage style place with some super cute stuff and a BOGO sale going on. Alas, I couldn’t find anything that fit. Oh, they carry up to size 4XL, but the problem is that they’re all straight sizes and I’m just too weirdly shaped for them. So that was disappointing but it is incentive to get back to my sewing projects!
The bartender at the pub we went to the night before actually recommended another bar to us: The Shout House, a dueling piano place. You know if a bartender recommends another bar it must be pretty good. I was not disappointed. We got there a little after 7 PM and we stayed until they closed the place at about midnight. The musicians were super talented and very funny, and the food was fantastic too — I tried the Belgian waffle and got a side of fried chicken and this meal was a close second to the Rama curry!
The flight home on Monday was uneventful (thankfully), and our cat was super happy to see us. We picked up the dog the next day. Now it is time to return to “real life”… and yes, this special little face was one of the things that we came back to!