San Diego for the 4th

On Friday, I took a half day at work then headed straight to SeaTac, which is known for having extensively long security lines, so my dad and I made sure to get there well before our flight, even though we have TSA PreCheck. The regular security lines were absolutely insane, which is to be expected for a holiday weekend, but luckily ours wasn’t too bad. TSA PreCheck is seriously worth the investment if you A) travel frequently or B) just hate waiting in lines.

When we landed, my brother picked us up and we checked into our room at the Westin before heading to a delicious ocean-side dinner at Ruth’s Chris. We had a long weekend ahead of us, so we called it a night and went to bed at a decent hour to prepare for an early morning of paddle boarding.

SATURDAY

Saturday morning, we woke up, swung through Starbucks like the true Seattlites we are, and headed up north to Mission Bay to go paddle boarding. My brother and I had both done it before on a lake but my dad never had, so we knew it would be entertaining at his expense. We arrived around 10am, which was the perfect time because it wasn’t too hot, wasn’t too cold, and there was still plenty of parking. We rented the paddle boards from Mission Bay Sports Center at the decent rate of $15 per hour per board. With it being a holiday weekend, I reserved them ahead of time online, which is a great tool, but when I arrived, I saw that they had at least 100 boards, so it wasn’t entirely necessary. Once we signed the waivers and were given boards, off we went into the bay. We just paddled along the shoreline and about an hour in, came across a nice beach, so we paddled ashore and lounged on our boards for a half hour break, before making the trek back. The current was a bit exhausting, keeping me paddling on my right side initially then only my left side on the way back, but I knew going into it that it would be a great work out.

When we finished around 1, cars were circling the parking lot for spots, so we decided to just leave our car where it was and walk to lunch. Just down the short street onto the main road was Miss B’s Coconut Club, which I highly recommend. My brother had a great burger, my dad had a delicious salad (he was a huge fan of the dressing) and I had the coconut shrimp, which I could’ve easily eaten two orders of. They had so many specialty cocktails that it was hard to choose, but I had the Hotline Ting, which was almost like an alcoholic orange soda and came in a glass soda bottle, as well as the We Don’t Practice Santeria, which I have no idea what was in it, but it was delicious and refreshing. After lunch, we made our way back to the hotel to rest, shower, and get ready for the baseball game.

My dad and I met my brother at his apartment then started walking towards Petco Park to see what dinner we could find on our way to the game. (I promise it had been a few hours and we did more than just eat this trip.) We came across Half Door Brewing Co, which is in this cute old southern cottage-looking building among the skyscrapers. My brother had a traditional sausage roll which came with a scrumptious mustard sauce on the side, I had a sausage flatbread, and my dad had wonton ahi tacos, which were odd to be served in a wonton taco shell rather than a regular one but my dad said “it works.”

After dinner, we finally made our way into Petco Park to watch the San Diego Padres take on the New York Yankees. We didn’t really care who won, but the home team ended up winning with a walk-off home run. I was excited about the home run because I was nervous the tie-game would head into extra innings, which I was too tired to stay up for, yet I wanted to watch the post-game laser show. Yes, I said laser show. I have seen firework shows after games before, but a laser show was something completely new, and it was awesome! Because of the holiday weekend, it was accompanied by USA-themed music as well as few fireworks and definitely worth the wait.

SUNDAY

Sunday was going to be a lazy day for us, so we slept in a bit then grabbed brunch at the Zanzibar Cafe. I had a traditional American breakfast with eggs, toast and bacon and my brother had a very delicious cinnamon raisin French toast that reminded him of our favorite restaurant at home, which is the highest compliment he could ever give.

After brunch, we went onto the USS Midway for a tour. We bought our tickets online, which is something I suggest doing because you get to bypass the line, which by noon was about half the length of the ship. It took us about 3 hours to see the whole thing, including the bridge from where the air captains would direct the planes taking off and landing on this aircraft carrier. It is a ship full of lots of narrow stairs and low ceilings, so be aware of any health restrictions like that when planning your trip.

Leading up to the weekend, my dad was talking endlessly about going to Coronado Island. We wanted to go there for dinner after the tour, and after seeing the craziness of people trying to park at Mission Bay as we left on Saturday, we decided that Uber was probably the best choice of transportation for least amount of frustration, and it only cost us $12!

Once we arrived, we were starving and stopped in at any restaurant we came to with a decent menu and ended up Costa Azul. We ordered chips, salsa and guacamole to start. The chips and guac were amazing but the salsa tasted like it was mixed with coffee or something, so it was really off and unappealing to my brother and I, who aren’t coffee drinkers. My dad loved it. I had a yummy chicken enchilada that had an excellent cheese-to-chicken ratio with a great margarita. After that heavy of a meal, we had to walk it off for a bit so we went for a stroll along to beach to check out the Hotel Del Coronado. On our way to the beach, we passed Moo Time, which must have been a delicious ice cream shop because the line was out the door. Luckily for me, the line was much shorter as we made our walk back and each grabbed a cone. If there still had been a line, it definitely would’ve been worth the wait.

By the time we were heading back, it was later in the evening and everyone was trying to get off the island, so Uber was at surge pricing but it still only cost us $18. If you, too, are going to take Uber, I suggest setting your pick up location on a side street to get away from others waiting for their ride and to make spotting your car easier.

MONDAY

Because it was a holiday, we made sure to wake up early to get up to hike the Torrey Pines trails, but apparently 10 was not early enough. First off, my phone that was directing us to the Torrey Pines State Reserve told me “my destination was on the right” which was over a cliff… so we just kept driving down the hill to find a parking spot and there were a ton of cars parked along the beach and in the state park lot already. We decided to turn around and head back to park across the street from the golf course instead. Tip: do NOT park in the Torrey Pines golf course parking lot. It may be closer, only slightly, but their security is quite on top of ensuring that cars are only for golfers. There was a nice sidewalk that took us along the side of the driving range and still had the gorgeous views of the water and the course as we approached the trailhead.

I had read that there were a few different trails, the longest of which was Broken Hill Trail, but this was the only one I saw the sign for so we just went for it. We followed it out to a nice viewpoint, took some pictures, and noticed that there were more viewpoints below and even a path to the water, so when we backtracked, we turned left toward the ocean at any fork we came to. The trail was full of stairs, rocks, and mini-canyons from previous storms, so this is not somewhere I would take my 80-something grandma, but it was easy enough for my dad, brother & I, though everyone who was coming the opposite direction was huffing and puffing on their way up. The trail ended up looping to the “upper reserve” parking lot that everyone had been waiting in the long line for, and while it was nice to have the restrooms there, our parking spot was still close enough that it validated saving that $15 park entrance fee. Also, the path that we took was the opposite of those that paid for parking and I think we lucked out with going down the side of the loop that was a struggle for those coming up, then when we were walking up, it was definitely easier than the other side would’ve been. The whole thing took us about two hours and my brother thinks it was about a 3 mile loop, but I’m thinking it was closer to 2, just with a bit of elevation change. Tip: keep in mind the tides if you plan on going down to the beach. Tide was slowly coming in as we were there and we had to scurry across some rocks to avoid getting our tennis shoes wet. And wear a lot of sunscreen! The breeze keeps you cool but the sun is still beating down on you!

After our hike, we drove back south toward town but made a detour at the La Jolla Coves to check out the sea lions and grab lunch. Parking was crazy because everyone was getting there to set up their site to watch fireworks, but the sea lions were so worth it! They were so cute and there was one that was just swimming from rock to rock making the sea lion noise to wake up the others to play with him, at least that’s the happy story I told myself. Then it was finally time for lunch. There were so many restaurants and shops in La Jolla that I could’ve easily spent a day there, but we didn’t have the time. We popped into the Prospect Bar & Grill for a quick bite. We had delicious guacamole before my chicken burger, my brother’s chicken tenders, and my dad’s steak salad, all accompanied by margaritas, of course! My dad loved his steak salad, but my brother and I both thought the chicken in our meals was overdone, but besides that it would’ve been delicious. The margaritas and service were top notch, and the live music was also an added bonus. I normally don’t like it when there is live music, but this guy’s music was calm and quite enough that it was rather enjoyable – very Ed Sheeran-esque.

We wandered around town for a bit before heading back to the car to head home, shower and get ready to go to dinner. Again, I promise we did more than just eat, but we had a gift card for Oceanaire and I was so excited for lobster. My dad and brother both had the ahi tuna and were raving about how delicious it was. Because the restaurant was a little on the pricey side, we opted for just water and soda, but there was a crazy huge beer and wine list for those interested. Also, I’m not sure if it was just us because we were in a hurry to get to our spot to watch fireworks, but the service was extremely slow – at least 45 minutes just to get our food. The couple at the table next to us ordered their dessert before they were finished with dinner so they could get them consecutively in time to make it for their fireworks plans. While me and my sweet tooth would’ve been right there with them, I opted to skip their large dessert menu because we really did need to get a move on. Each dessert I saw being delivered to other tables looked more delicious than the last, but we didn’t have time to enjoy one before the fireworks, so I popped into Ghirardelli for a scoop of ice cream on our way to the ship.

4th of JULY FIREWORKS

While on the Midway the day before, we had been on the lookout for spots to watch the fireworks. Attached to the ship was a floating pier full of parking and we had determined that would be our Plan A, which worked flawlessly. We arrived around 8:30 for 9pm fireworks and there were still tons of spots to sit along the edge of the pier. I do suggest bringing chairs and blankets with you or park early in the morning so your trunk opens onto the bay.

Once the fireworks began, I was in awe. The show was spectacular and coordinated with three other barges so everyone around the bay had the same show. Because of where we were and the Midway being such a popular spot to watch the fireworks, there was a barge right in front of us – about 200 yards away – so it was big, bright, and loud. So loud that some car alarms were set off! And don’t be that idiot that brings a dog that will be terrified of the bomb-like noises.

The next morning, I took the first flight out of San Diego. It was very early, but luckily there was not much of a wait in the airport, which was actually surprising for a holiday weekend. I took the earliest flight possible because I couldn’t miss work on Tuesday, but also wanted to be able to see the fireworks on Monday night. It was definitely worth only getting 6 hours of sleep. Overall, it was a great weekend that we managed to do like locals and not get too stuck in tourist traps. If you’d like to see some pictures, check out my Instagram.

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