San Diego is about as far away from home as I can get and still be on the mainland of the US. Where we have trees and creeks and lakes, they have no so many trees, desert, beach and lots o’ salt water. The brings surfers and the southern California boardwalk we’ve all seen in movies. And it really is a bit like the movies show it to be. But, once you’re there, it’s obvious why people love it! We stayed at the Catamaran Resort & Spa, on the northern edge of Mission Bay, across from Mission Beach and very close to Pacific Beach. It’s a pretty lively area, mostly younger people, with lots of beach activity and surfing going on in the Pacific, while Mission Bay has a lot of sailing and paddle boards. Since every day is great there, every day sees a lot of water activity, even paddle board yoga and crew!
Our room was on the 11th floor of the tower at the Catamaran, with this view:
The next morning, we took my uncle’s advice and drove up to a small town, Rancho Sante Fe, only about 35 minutes from our hotel. The town is small and quiet, the Inn at Rancho Sante Fe. It was sunny, and the inn has great landscaping and a really great restaurant, Moray’s. Brunch was eggs and short ribs for me and bananas Foster French toast! Yum!
It was a peaceful morning, having a really good brunch, and we didn’t even feel like we shouldn’t be there!
After that, we headed back to San Diego, to the Gaslamp Quarter. This is an area of downtown with lots of restaurants and bars, not far from the Padres’ stadium. Honestly, we were a bit disappointed in this area, but we did stop at a restaurant called Searsucker… LOVED it! I would make a point of going back there any time I’m in the area! Our waitress was great, and really made the meal even better. Dominique really knew the menu and was obviously a bit of a foodie herself. We split small plates and had more than enough, spending just $40 with a good tip! We started with duck fat fries with crispy proscuitto and a bit of Parmesan (next time, we’ll try the bar’s browned butter fries, too!). That was followed with egg and bacon pork belly… Perfect! and we also split a Caesar salad, complete with anchovies (good anchovies are worth a try, by the way). Next time, I want to try the bone marrow with fresno bourbon glaze!
We stayed within a nice walking distance from the pier at Pacific Beach, which has surfers and sunsets going for it.
Another great thing about where we stayed was that we could see fireworks from Sea World every night at 9:50. They were just far enough away to not be too loud, but close enough to see well enough.
I should have gotten some shots of La Playa, where they have great fish tacos, but it’s a bit of a dive. The guy taking orders is great, though, and the food is great. However, the bar menu at the Catamaran is pretty good, too, with a pretty good burger and great fish tacos! During the week, when not at the hotel, we typically took a short drive to La Jolla… Lots of restaurants and shops, and a rockier shore with seals, sea lions and sea gulls! Pelicans, too, but that just ruins my alliteration, wouldn’t you say? We tried what we were told was one of the best pizzas in the area, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza. And it was good!
Last, but really not least, we drove to Temecula on our last day in town. It was about 90 minutes north of where we stayed, and it’s the wine country in souther CA. What we found were 3 dozen or so small wineries of varying sizes and varying tasting rooms. Wiens Family Cellars had great red wines along with an orange-enhanced sparkling white, but our favorite stop was at a Frangipani Winery, in the even-more-rural area of Temecula. The tasting room, manned by Nick, was very unassuming, and a short walk down the steps in front led to a pergola with bocci ball lawns and tables and chairs. We shared a glass of Claret and thoroughly enjoyed it… They’re also one of the few US wineries that does a Malbec. If we were in the area more, I could see us at Frangipani on a Friday evening, enjoying some food with some great wine, and getting to know the people at the winery. If you get to Temecula, go to Frangipani!
Not knowing much about San Diego, we found some places we really enjoyed, and we’ll see even more next time we’re there!