San Diego is a gorgeous destination known for everything that makes California the Sunshine State. Stunning beaches and ocean views; laid back luxury; year round sunshine; natural beauty and so much more make it a wonderful place to vacation, even if just for a couple days. Not to mention thanks to its proximity to the ocean, its home to an excellent selection of seafood restaurants.
One such beach front dining destination is JRDN located in Tower 23 on the boardwalk of Pacific Beach in the downtown area. Executive Chef Stephen Gage works with local purveyors to bring guest a unique menu filled with the best ingredients this area has to offer — much of which comes straight from fishermens’ boats!
The menu has a nice selection of sushi rolls such as the Lobster Roll with spicy lobster, avocado, yamagobo, jalapeño, spicy mayo and ponzu; Yellowtail Roll with mango, spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber, tempura shrimp, sweet chili ponzu; and the Roulette Roll with torched salmon, crab, avocado, fried shishito peppers and eel sauce.
There are also selections of shellfish and fish on the menu, featuring favorites like the Steamed Mussels with chorizo, garlic and chardonnay and the Grilled Hamachi Collar with scallion pancakes and Octopus with chorizo and marble potatoes. For the carnivores, they have a “not fish” selection that includes Grilled Lamb Lollipops with a smoke honey baba ganoush; Pork “Bacon” Chop and more.
Of course you can’t visit San Diego without trying out the California Burrito, one of the area’s best know specialities. This unique burrito style has carne asada, cheese, sour cream and pico de gallo and some form of potato, usually French fries. Before heading out to hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve, you should make a stop some where local, like Roberto’s Mexican Food, which has a huge selection of dishes, and of course a satisfying California burrito. They also have a selection of local favorites like the carne asada plate, the chile verde plate and asada fries or nachos.
Post-meal, work the calories off at Torrey Pines State Reserve which is a gorgeous, 2,000 acre coastal state park with views of the ocean, coastline and rugged terrain. If there’s only one hike you do, make sure it’s Guy Fleming Trail, one of the most popular hikes there. It’s a relatively easy hike that’s under a mile loop, which yields awesome vantage points without much effort.
For those looking to venture out of San Diego can do so with a day trip to Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles. This is a magical place that looks like another country—think the Amalfi Coast. This island is a charming, lively resort island that offers the laid back vibes of SoCal; rugged activities for adventure seekers; outstanding views of the Pacific Ocean; boutique shopping and upscale dining; a selection of vacation rentals and villas and beautiful hotel properties; unreal scenery of both land and sea and more.
The best way to get to Avalon, the only city on Catalina island is via ferry. The Catalina Express can be booked at three locations: San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point, being the closest to San Diego.
After an easy hour-or-so ride on the clean, from the mainland, you arrive at Avalon which is home to lots of things to do including touring the famous Catalina Casino; zip-lining through the lush terrain; a number of water sports such as scuba diving, parasailing or kayaking; renting a golf cart to explore the island solo and so much more.
While there, there are lots of great places to eat and drink while enjoying views of the ocean and boardwalk.
Located inside of the Bellanca Hotel is The Naughty Fox which offers guests fresh California fare with patio dining overlooking Avalon Bay. Popular starters include the Ahi Poke Nachos with avocado, mango, fresno chilies, seaweed, cilantro, and crispy wonton chips; Frito Misto with fried calamari, scallops, shrimp, seasonal vegetables; Korean Spicy Calamari with green onions, sesame seeds, chili peppers; and the Blackened Shrimp Bowl with mango and coconut rice. There’s also a selection of “handhelds” that are served with choice of papas bravas, broccoli salad, fruit, or sticky rice with Thai chili sauce.
Standouts include the Lobster B.L.T with beer battered lobster tail, avocado, lettuce, tomato, aguachile sauce, spicy aioli and the Harbor Burger with caramelized onions, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, fancy sauce, on a brioche. Their cocktails are delicious and range from the fruity ones like the Svelt Strawberry made with fresh strawberries to smokey libations like the Ilegal Smoke with lime.
You can’t visit the island without trying the island’s famous drink at one of the bars whether it be the Descanso Beach Club on the shore; at Avalon Grille or at Harbor Reef Restaurant and Saloon (it’s pretty much everywhere!). The official drink of Catalina Island is the Buffalo Milk which comes from the fact that the island is home to a herd of wild bison, or American Buffalo. The recipe involves cree de cocoa, Kahlua, creme de banana, vodka and half and half — it’s similar to a White Russian and absolutely tasty.
There’s also a nice selection of sweet shops on the island such as Sailor’s Delight Ice Cream Shop, Lloyd’s of Avalon and Scoops serving up freshly churned ice cream and gelato, perfect for a sunny day on the island.
If you’re looking to extend your stay, book a stay somewhere unique via Campspot, the leading online marketplace for premier campgrounds, cabins, glamping options and more. One of the best places in the area is at Sun Outdoors San Diego Bay, Southern California’s newest upscale RV Resort, just outside San Diego. This RV Resort feels like a country club thanks to its amenities that include a pool with cabanas; a juice and breakfast bar; a cocktail bar; and gym.
They offer guests beautiful double decker cottages complete with a kitchen, patio and rooftop deck, and fire pit, that offer unobstructed views of the wildlife preserve that’s adjacent to the property.