One Day in San Diego

San Diego is a city on the coast of California best known for its beaches, parks and a warm climate. As well as numerous artist studios, museums and gardens, you will also find a beautiful harbor which is home to a large active naval fleet.  Today on the blog, we have the lovely Lauren, sharing her one day adventure in this fabulous city.

From Lauren: I was recently fortunate enough to spend some time in San Diego, the downside to it being that it was for a work trip. Flying out direct on a Saturday and returning home the following Thursday, work would be the order of the day Monday onwards which left Saturday evening after we landed and Sunday to look around. Given that I love to explore and see the sights, this realistically was one day to cram in as much as I possibly could!

So I knew nothing about San Diego before the trip other than that it has a zoo. Turns out if you ask anyone who’s been to San Diego what’s good to do, the zoo is the first thing they mention. And there’s a reason - it’s easily the best zoo I’ve been to. 

Firstly, it’s huge! So huge that they run a hop on, hop off bus to help you get around. As soon as we walked in we saw a sign for a 35 minute bus tour which I would definitely recommend doing, it gives a feel of the size of the zoo and helps to get your bearings, and also gives you a quick look at a lot of the animals there so you can see which you want to go back to.

Secondly, San Diego zoo is a not for profit organisation. All the proceeds from tickets and merchandise purchased there go towards helping animals and plants in the zoo as well as around the world. Before my trip I had one friend tell me they hadn’t enjoyed the zoo much as the animals looked sad, so I had this at the back of my mind when I first got there, but I have to say I was really impressed. Now of course I’m no expert, but the animal enclosures (all except one which I hope was a temporary holding) were decent in size and what I would consider stimulating environments for the animals. From doing the bus tour we’d learnt that the zoo does a lot of work in conserving species and that was evident with the animals they have there, with many having been rescued from less then ideal situations. All in all I thought the zoo was doing a cracking job and the staff seemed passionate about helping the animals.

Thirdly, the range of animals is really impressive and I saw a lot that I’ve never seen before - the two that standout are the polar bears and pandas! Both looked deceptively cuddly and cute, the polar bears playing with barrels in a big arctic summer enclosure and a panda up close, kicking back on a tree trunk looking effortlessly relaxed whilst chomping on a bamboo stick! Being so close to the panda and watching him move around was really quite special, and I was completely surprised at just how amazing I’d found it. 

The list of animals goes on... bears, giraffes, many koalas (I think more than I saw at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo), flamingoes, many monkeys and big cats, rhinos, kangaroos and even an arctic fox. So many that we didn’t manage to see them all in the 5 or so hours we were there.

The park’s laid out well and nicely leads you into different zones. As well as the hop on bus and bus tour, you can also take a sky safari (cable car) from one side of the zoo to the other from which you can see just how big the zoo is and enjoy fantastic views with the city beyond. 

I loved it, and I’d like to go back with my husband. I think kids would love it too, although I’d definitely take advantage of the bus if I had children with me.

We could easily have spent all day in the zoo, but with only one day of downtime we also wanted to see La Jolla - a coastal area north of the city which we’d heard was very pretty. It’s on the west coast so we headed there late afternoon into the evening (via a taxi for speed) hoping to catch a sunset. Unfortunately for us the day had clouded over completely so we didn’t get to see much of one, but walking along the beach was still worth it. A lot of birds can be seen and so there are countless bird watchers with professional cameras set up ready to catch them, and further up the beach seals can be seen lounging on little rocky islands. On one stretch they were actually on the beach, enjoying the waves lapping over them and talking away to one another, completely oblivious to the people only metres away. It really was lovely down there, and with restaurants nearby for something to eat the evening was complete.

We picked an Italian restaurant called Acquavite, started up by an Italian couple who had moved to San Diego. The food was delicious with good wine and good cocktails. The waiters were so attentive and all this with views of the ocean and cliffs from across the bay. It would be such a romantic setting if you were on a couples holiday.

And that was the end of our day in San Diego. 

Although that was the one full day we had, we ate out each night in the week and went to some great restaurants. One night we took a cab to the Gas Lamp Quarter to go to a steakhouse called Donovan’s. We only saw the area from the taxi but if I were to go back for a holiday, I’d definitely be visiting or even staying in that area. It looked full of stylish bars and restaurants and as the sun was going down it could be seen in between the tall buildings casting an orange glow over the street, it just looked like it had a lot going for it and had a great vibe. 

As for the steakhouse, I tried my first ever steak and it was fab. The portions were generous and the food very well cooked. It was a tad pricey but if you can afford it, it’s a great night with a good atmosphere and exceptional service. Definitely one to try! 

We also got taken to lunch by my company at a restaurant on Mission Beach. Although only a brief look at the beach it was enough for me to gauge that I want to return. It was everything I pictured of a Californian beach, with a promenade for people to cycle or scooter along, powdery sand and a sea with waves perfect for surfers. There were lifeguard towers dotted along the sand and in the distance you could see houses on a hill over looking the beach. The promenade was lined with restaurants and it looked a perfect place to spend the day, making me wish I was staying longer than my quick visit.

Does anyone have their own San Diego tips? It’s now on my holiday list to visit again with my husband, I’d love to know any other must sees or secret gems people have found...

Lauren x

Credit: Gray Malin | Hither & Thither | Karolina Zuraw | Natalie for Flytographer | Val Vesa

My background is as a wedding & lifestyle photographer, shooting both digital and film to create authentic, soft and natural fine art photographs. Working primarily with natural light to give my work a beautiful, light and airy touch infused with soft tones. 

I have always appreciated and valued the simple things in life and finding the interesting in the ordinary.  Coco Lane was founded as I wanted to create something that is about an experience, the slower pace of life, cosiness and candlelight, cuddling up on the sofa with loved ones, being with the people you love, sharing food with close friends, a feeling of home, nurturing a chosen career, wanderlust travels, savouring the small moments in everyday life and just being you and enjoying a cup of tea.

I'm excited to bring you stories that promote all those moments in life that give us value and meaning; inspiring  us to live beautifully.

"I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life.  If you are interested in something, no matter what it is. Go at it full speed.  Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it.  Lukewarm is no good" - Roald Dahl