A Rejuvenating Weekend Getaway to San Diego

A week ago my friend Laurel texted me, “Want to go to San Diego?” I’d never been, so being the traveler that I am, I instantly said yes! We both took off Friday so that we could have a long weekend in San Diego to frolic and play, and thank goodness we did because this weekend was exactly what I needed without actually realizing I needed it.

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Friday we left about 10:00 am from Los Angeles and headed south. Being from Los Angeles, Laurel has quite a few family members in the area so we made a stop in San Clemente where her Aunt Bobby and Uncle Mike live right near the San Clemente pier. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The sun was shining (in California, what a crazy notion ;)) and it wasn’t that hot but rather there was a slight cool breeze to the day. Uncle Mike was very nice and inviting when we arrived to the house before Aunt Bobby did. Once Aunt Bobby arrived, us three girls hopped into the car, and drove down the block to the pier.

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My first impression of San Clemente was how beautiful the water was. It was more blue and aqua and clearer and crystal than the areas of sea off the coastal beaches of Los Angeles (such as anything north of Newport Beach). I was mesmerized by how beautiful it looked and I’m sad to say that I don’t think my cameras had the ability to capture it’s stunning shade of blue.

We made our way to The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar on the pier and found a seat outside on the deck so that we could take in the gorgeous sights of the beach and the ocean. Laurel and I devoured our fish and chips and had such an awesome talk with Aunt Bobby. I love talking and getting to know people and Aunt Bobby was pretty cool in my opinion. Following lunch, we walked down the pier, which is one of the longer ones that I’ve been on, chatted and took in the sights.

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San Clemente was a grand time and I’m so glad that I could meet Aunt Bobby and Uncle Mike and see the beauty that this little beach town had to offer. We gathered our purses and were off to aunt number two, Michelle, who lives in a suburb of San Diego.

We arrived in the afternoon, settled in, got to know one another, and took a second to catch our breath before heading out into San Diego! Our first stop was an outlet style mall. What kind of girls weekend getaway is it without a little bit of shopping? Laurel scored big with a dress and sweats from Urban Outfitters that totaled less than $20! I found a cute romper that wasn’t the best clearance deal of my life but it was a must-add to my changing wardrobe.

After shopping we headed to Encinitas which is actually a small coastal city outside of San Diego. I loved the main street. There were a lot of cute restaurants and bars that lined the main street and were full of patrons hanging out for the evening. We stopped at Union Kitchen & Tap, a very packed restaurant and bar that was filled with patrons, many who were waiting, many of whom were very attractive. Laurel and I were probably some of the youngest in the joint. The place had a late 20’s, early 30’s professionals kind of feel which I enjoyed since I don’t like being the oldest when I go out.

We sat at the bar and had the nicest bartender serve us. She was so sweet and cool and honestly I was like, I would totally hang out with you. Haha. The other bartenders were nice to us too. So five stars for service!

The hamburger I ordered wasn’t that impressive (especially not for $14.00, and I had to pay an extra dollar for tomatoes and lettuce–major deduction) but Laurel’s fish looked awesome. I ordered a margarita and Laurel had a beer. The evening was enjoyable as we chatted and amused ourselves with a lot of people watching. We decided to take it easy the first night (don’t judge us!), and returned to Michelle’s house around 10 pm.

The next day we woke up 7:45 am. Not the highlight of my weekend but it did allow us to get an early start on the day. Naked Cafe was our first stop to fill our stomachs up on breakfast. I had the pancakes but my favorite part of the meal was the Mexican hot chocolate–superb!

The beach was a-callin’ after breakfast and we headed to La Jolla beach in San Diego first. Now let me begin by saying this beach is spectacular! If you visit San Diego and you want to see some pretty cool things, you have to go to La Jolla beach, no ifs, ands, or buts about it–GO!

We parked and started walking through a small grassy park area to the beach area and what do we see? People walking on stilts! Random, but cool.

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So La Jolla is a very cliffy and rocky area. The beach sand is very fine and squishy but most of the beach area is surrounded by tiny cliffs and large rocks that meander out into the sea so to reach any beach area you have to walk down stairs and many times over rocks. Laurel had to run back to the car for a jacket so I headed down my first set of stairs.

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I took off my sandals so that I could better move across the large, uneven, and wet rocks and began taking pictures of the area I stood in. The contrast between the rocks and the even bluer ocean (it seems to get bluer the more south you go in California) was fascinating to me and I tried to capture it on camera. As I’m standing there taking pictures, virtually alone for a few minutes, I turn to my left and suddenly see that the rocks are moving and at closer examination I discover, it’s a sea-lion! This cute fella decided to sun bathe on the rocks and was camouflaged.

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Laurel returned and we took pictures of the sea-lion and then I got brave and stood out near the ocean for some cool shots. As you can see I wasn’t scared to get a little wet.

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Before we left that little area, we did witness a guy heading toward the beach part of the section. I assumed he had seen the sea-lion and wanted to take a picture because he was walking straight for it but luckily he saw the sea-lion before he stepped on it and jumped back in great surprise. It was pretty funny.

Our second section of La Jolla beach was more of a shallow cliff protruding out into the ocean. Laurel showed me tide pools and we somehow managed to not get wet even though the water would burst over the side of the rock. Although the biggest fear that we had was slipping on the moss that coated the large cliff rock. And I got to witness my first baby sea-lion who proceeded to pose for me by stretching her neck in angles that seemed almost impossible. Watch out LA fashion, this girl’s going places!

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As we were leaving that cliff area, we saw some divers getting rescued by the lifeguards. Reminds you to always be careful! The last section of La Jolla beach that we visited hosted a lot of sea lions and a lot of people as well. It was a small cove and both humans and sea lions played in its waters. The sea lions even spread out among the beach goers, throwing sand on their backs, which I assumed was meant to cool themselves down.

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And since I’m on the subject of human and sea-lion interaction, I was asked by someone if I touched a sea-lion. I didn’t for many reasons. First, a sea lion’s bite is 10 times the strength of a Pit bull. I like my hands the way they are, not crushed. Secondly, it probably doesn’t help that sea lions have so much human interaction. They are wild animals and let them be that because that is what makes them so fascinating. And it doesn’t help that this weekend some jerks harassed and then stole a baby sea-lion from a beach in California and the authorities have not been able to find them. I don’t like to wish bad ill on others but I wouldn’t mind finding out that those people suffered a bite or two because when the police find them they’re getting a federal conviction…don’t mess with wild animals, yo!

After we left La Jolla beach we decided to head to Solana beach for some old-fashioned suntanning since La Jolla doesn’t provide a lot of sandy area to do so. Good thing we chose Solana because it was virtually ours. There was a very, very small crowd at the beach which afforded us an expanse of space to lay out and not be bothered by anyone. We laid out until we couldn’t stand the heat, then we went into the cool ocean (extra perk was that the sand wasn’t rocky beneath the water, super smooth!). We looked for crabs, sea shells, washed up sea weed, and rocks.

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I even decided to jump head first into the sea and came up freezing with a mouth full of water. I must have forgotten the first principle of swimming, keep your mouth shut, thanks to the cold, cold temperature.

We left Solana around 2:30 pm starving. So we headed to a Mexican restaurant close to Laurel’s aunt’s house with the promise of some good margaritas. Casa de Bandini did not disappoint. This was my favorite food place of the weekend. Why?

  • It had a lot of Tex-Mex elements.
  • I got to have a delicious lemon lime margarita in the fish bowl mugs that I’m used to AND it was frozen. (So not an “on the rocks” fan).
  • There was so much food–homemade frijoles, guacamole, and tortillas! And my shrimp fajitas were bomb too!
  • Our waitress loved Texas and proceeded to tell me her cool story about going to Corpus Christi to visit the Selena museum and how she met Mr. & Mrs. Quintinilla and Suzette and how she felt Selena’s spirit. How cool!
  • The margaritas were only $8. Notice how I keep returning to the margaritas…

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Casa de Bandini was so delicious and so filling that we didn’t eat the rest of the day.

That evening, after lazing around for a few hours and making ourselves get dressed, we headed to the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego. It reminds me of Oklahoma City’s Bricktown or Austin’s 6th street, a centralized area filled with bars, clubs, and restaurants where you can easily walk around n a fun and exciting atmosphere.

We began our evening at a speakeasy called Prohibition. The jazz band was really good and the singer sang some great tunes (Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…I know, I know, I know, I know…) but there was a lot of couples in the mix and as two single ladies, it just wasn’t what we were looking for that evening.

So we headed down the street to a cool bar that I had seen on our way to the speakeasy, Barley Mash. After seeing the long line, I decided to try to work some magic and found one of the door men. Basically, I asked a lot of questions I already knew the answer to (How does this work? What kind of place is this? Is that the line? Is it fun? Other silly question [insert here]) which seemed to work because he gave us tickets to get in for free. As we walked to the end of the line, we heard a girl behind us go up to the same guy we were talking to and use a similar line, “So how does this work?” We couldn’t stop laughing.

We finally made our way in and found ourselves in a very happening place (do people say happening?). Everyone ranged from 20-30’s and all seemed to be having a great time. The DJ was spinning some good old school and new school mix which Laurel and I danced to pretty enthusiastically.The kind of dancing where you just fun and don’t care if you look sexy.

Our evening at Barley Mash was a pretty great success. Our goal of the evening was to be more approachable and it seemed to work because we had some interesting and fun conversations with a few good-looking guys. Unfortunately we had some odd conversations too like a guy from New York making that “Oh” face when we said we were from LA. Another guy repeatedly said we lived in the hood of LA, and then when I asked if he knew LA neighborhoods, he said he didn’t.

But we did meet two guys that made up an elaborate but very funny story about being famous YouTubers whose channel was called “Dogs 101.” There is a Dogs 101 on Animal Planet but they were obviously not hosts on that show. We were quite impressed by how long they went on with the story and how many details they had worked out. They must watch Animal Planet often… It was pretty fun to jab and joke at his story.

We even had guys buy us drinks, a rarity in Los Angeles, but perfect manners in San Diego (at least in my opinion lol). After hanging out at Barley Mash, the guys who bought us drinks invited us to a club down the street with better music. Luckily they knew the people working the door, so we skipped a huge line and having to pay and walked right in. Score!

Side bar was very packed but played some awesome hip-hop and rap music although I was surprised by the small pockets of EDM that graced the speakers. Regardless, we had so much fun dancing. Dancing was my workout for the weekend.

Saturday night was an absolute success in the Gaslamp Quarter. I enjoyed the fact that a lot of guys approached us and offered us drinks which boosted my confidence, something I hadn’t realized that I had sort of needed. There is something freeing about going on a weekend getaway to a new city. I think you lose all caution and assumptions that hold you back in your home city. I definitely experienced that in San Diego and I’m glad I did because I was able to evaluate and consider how I can have more fun when I go out in Los Angeles.

Sunday was a very relaxed day. We headed out to a farmer’s market in Solana Beach and had some brick oven pizza and browsed the shops and stalls with Laurel’s aunt and uncle.

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I even got to experience my first wine tasting at Carruth Cellars. I absolutely was a fan of the price–$10 for tasting 6 different wines. I wasn’t an actual fan of the wine that I tasted. I only enjoyed two of the six but, hey, that’s why it was a tasting and I enjoyed the experience more than anything.

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When I returned to my apartment Sunday evening, I flopped onto my bed and looked back on my weekend in San Diego. I felt mentally rejuvenated. San Diego made me feel connected to wildlife and nature at the different beaches; it allowed me to breathe in a new atmosphere with different people who have different lifestyles; and it gave me a little boost in feeling beautiful and confident in who I am, something that I think everyone needs a little reminding of.

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