Sun-up through sun-down there is always something exciting to experience in San Diego — by land and by sea. It feels like every day is 72-degrees and sunny here, so make sure you start each day by slathering on the sunscreen. Maybe bring some extra with you to reapply, because these next 2 days in San Diego are going to be jam-packed with sun, fun, and a little learnin’ some.
Kick off your weekend itinerary in San Diego with what is arguably the best breakfast in the city: The Mission, East Village. The restaurant was built into a converted craftsman-style home — and it doesn’t get any more San Diego than that. The urban bistro serves healthy dishes with a whimsical flair. The menu is robust, so take a cue from the locals and try the Mission French Toast. Sprinkled with cinnamon and smothered with berry puree, the decadent dish will fuel you for the busy day ahead.
Catch a cab and zip north up the interstate to La Jolla for a Seven Sea Caves kayaking adventure. Your 90-minute tour starts around 10:00 a.m., but you’ll need to arrive a half-hour early to grab your gear and secure your valuables, then it’s off to the cove. Paddle your oars over the thriving ecological preserve that has a concentration of marine life nearly unmatched in all of California. Try not to rock the boat too much as you cast your glance up and down to catch all the wildlife — bird, turtles, fish, sea lions. Oh, my.
Take a bit of time to walk off your sea legs and go for a stroll along the sun-soaked cliffs in La Jolla, or kick off your flip-flops and sink your toes into the sand. San Diego’s efforts to conserve the biodiversity of this space comes into full view as you watch the blubbery, bewhiskered sea lions flop about on the rocks.
Rest your jelly arms and legs and head over to Iron Pig Alehouse in Pacific Beach. With a broad menu of southern comfort foods, narrowing it down for your order is a challenge, so how about we do it for you? Get the Smoked Taco Trio. The BBQ takes on a local culinary specialty will have you eying the kitchen door until it arrives. Order a pint of beer from the long list of draft and bottled options to keep you company while you wait—make it a light one and save room for the brisket, pulled pork, and smoked chicken.
With your appetite satisfied and your arms and legs rested, it’s time to monkey around. Really. You can secure a ticket to the San Diego Zoo ahead of time and skip the line to get straight to exploring. The zoo is ranked as the best in the world. And for a reason. Where else you can see penguins and polar bears along with gorillas, leopards, tigers, and Kangaroos—and get up close and personal with many of them?
Grab an early, light dinner at one of the most exciting ocean-side restaurants in San Diego, Wrench & Rodent. The owner and chef, Davin Waite, plays with local ingredients, like fresh seafood, to present a truly inventive menu of sushi dishes.
When you’ve had your fill of sushi and sake, scoot over to catch a schooner from Seaport Village, for a City Lights Night Tour. Watch the city lights emanating from Tijuana, San Diego Bay, and the city’s downtown. The views from the boat are a perfect way to see in panorama where you’ve been and where you’re about to go.
You’re already halfway through your 48 hours in San Diego, so you’ll want to make sure you’re up with the sun and ready to tackle the day. Slather some aloe on that sunburn and head out to grab a cup o’ joe at Harry’s Coffee Shop in La Jolla. The restaurant is a staple in the area, serving traditional breakfast foods all…day…long. Try the Egg Benedict, made with perfectly grilled ham and rich, creamy hollandaise sauce.
Spend the mid-morning hours exploring the USS Midway Museum, a monument to America’s naval prowess in the 20th century. The site pays tribute to what is known to be the longest-serving aircraft carrier that’s ever been in operation in the American fleet. Peruse the exhibits and watch history flicker before your eyes with black and white films. Just outside, pose with the iconic replica of a sailor, home from war, stealing a kiss from a beautiful nurse.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite with all that walking, you’ll be ready for meal two of the day. Pull up a stool at the Crack Shack to grab a snack. With delectable chicken and egg-focused meals, the menu is anything but foul. While you can’t go wrong here, we recommend the ever-popular Coop Deville, a culinary wonder assembled with fried Jidori chicken breast, topped with pickled Fresno chilies, Napa cabbage, and lime mayo. And need we mention that it all comes tucked into a soft and savory Brioche bun?
Okay, Sherlock, grab your pipe and hat and head out to Balboa Park for a 3-hour scavenger hunt. The hunt is designed to help you traverse the massive property at the heart of the city uncovering hidden gems. The clues and challenges effectively transform the park into a life-sized Hasbro game, making its wealth of attractions accessible. When the hunt is over, take some time to explore independently. If you’ve been bit by the biology bug, check out the Living Lab at the San Diego Natural History Museum, where there are bees, scorpions, and a ton of other slimy, slithery creepy-crawlies.
Shimmy on down to Hornblower Pier to catch your dinner cruise. Onboard, enjoy champagne, chef-prepared meals that include surf and turf, delicious dessert, and stunning vistas of the sun setting out at sea. From the boat, you can cast your eyes on Coronado Bridge. You’ll catch photo-worthy glimpses of the Cabrillo National Monument. You’ll see more sea lions splashing in the California sun. And, we’ll wager a bet, you’ll start making plans for the next time you’ll get to spend 48 hours in San Diego.
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