I get a bit of imposter syndrome writing posts about San Diego considering I’m pretty new to the area. BUT, my DMs are always flooded with requests for me to share my favorite places for when you guys visit so why not just put it into a blog post, right? Just to preface my list, it’s not going to be super lengthy and there will definitely be more of an emphasis on kid-friendly activities / places since we mostly explore with the kids. I will continue to add to my list as I discover more places I like, but I’m keeping the list pretty tight so it’s truly just the places I find worthy of visiting.
+ Marisi – great Italian spot with beautiful ambiance and nice bar.
+ Senneca – rooftop Italian with homemade pasta, craft cocktails, and a view of the city.
+ Buonna Forcetta – super tiny Italian spot that makes everything homemade and authentic.
+ Ken Workshop – our favorite sushi spot. You must get the smoked albacore cheek!
+ Pony Room – the restaurant within Rancho Valencia resort. Feels like you’re in another country it’s so peaceful & glamorous.
+ Waverly – cute brunch spot. Not the biggest menu but love the vibe & bar.
+ Cucina Enoteca – another Italian spot, but a larger menu and typically easier to get a reservation. We bring the kids here.
+ Cessarina – this spot has lots of character and a cute interior, and you guessed it, homemade Italian (lol).
+ Tamarindo – our go-to post beach Mexican restaurant we take the kids to on the weekends for lunch & margaritas.
+ Vaga – we did sunset cocktails here prior to going to dinner elsewhere and the view is fantastic.
+ Sky Deck – we love coming here when we don’t know what we feel like eating; lots of great options and family-friendly.
+ Herb & Sea – delicious seafood & cocktail; located in Encinitas, so you can walk around after.
+ Born & Raised – this is in Little Italy, so it’s closer to downtown. Delicious food and drinks; think a sexy, moody, Great Gatsby vibe.
+ Juene et Jolie – A French Michelin-star restaurant that has the cutest decor. Pro tip: do bar seating for less of a wait and less $$$ food options.
+ Torrey Pines Hike – cliffside hike along the coast; super kid friendly and they have a parking lot.
+ Suspension Bridge at San Dieguito Park – not a challenging hike, but the steps can get steep. Bring a carrier, not a stroller.
+ Coronado Island – full day kinda place; bike riding, shopping, eating, beach.
+ Safari Park – the kids frequent this park because it’s smaller than the zoo & easy to naviagte.
+ Del Mar Beach – has a playground, large grassy area, outdoor showers, & parking.
+ Slot Canyon – a unique hike through a very picturesque canyon that gets very narrow. I’d say better for older kids.
+ Carlsbad Strawberry Field – it changes seasonally, but love this place for Halloween activities.
+ Carlsbad Flower Fields – such a beautiful place in the spring & obviously very picture worthy.
+ Japanese Friendship Garden – we went here for the cherry blossom festival and it was so beautiful! They have other things going on during the year.
+ Rancho Bernardo Pumpkin Station – so cute during fall for the sunflower fields, tractor rides, petting zoo, & pumpkin picking.
+ Moonlight Beach – can be a sh*tshow in the summer but it’s ideal for families. They have a playground, a parking lot, showers, and decent food options.
+ Rancho Valencia – where we stayed before living here. It’s bougie and completely worth the price.
+ OMNI La Costa Resort – great for families or adult-only trips and on beautiful grounds. They have everything you could ask for in a hotel, for both the parent and kid, including drop-in day care, a spa, courts, co-working spaces, etc.
+ Aviara – I’ve had friends / family stay and recommend this hotel, especially for the views. It’s located on a golf course and has a family-friendly vibe. I’ve heard the spa is pretty eh though, FYI.
+ Alila Marea Beach Resort – I haven’t stayed here but it’s right on the water in Leucadia, which is surprisingly hard to find in SD. I’ve had drinks at Vaga, their restaurant – gorg!