My first time on the west coast was when I was younger and I went on a family trip to San Diego. I remember seeing people skateboarding near the beach and how the weather was always perfect. I got the chance to go back recently to visit family and I loved it! I knew all about California from various bloggers and youtubers so I had a list of places to eat and sites to see before the trip even happened. Here I share what to do, and where to eat. The only two things I care about when I travel.
What to do
USS Midway: (San Diego) For most of us, being able to board a ship from the U.S. Navy isn't a regular occurrence and this site is worth a stop. The USS Midway is a Maritime museum located in downtown San Diego docked right at the Navy Pier. Its gigantic filled with over 60 exhibitions, a flight simulator, cafe, and what seems like miles of corridors and rooms to explore. I had so much fun getting lost deep inside the ship and seeing the lodging quarters of the Navy as well as the giant mechanisms that make this ship float and move. The best exhibition is their Battle Of Midway augmented reality theater. They use crazy special effects and holograms to throw you right inside the famous battle. You can easily spend 3-4 hours aboard the ship.
Balboa Park: (San Diego) This stunning park inside San Diego is a cultural hub filled with beautiful architecture, loads of green space & gardens, cafe's and is a wonderful spot for people watching. The park is home to 17 museums. Yep, you read that correctly, 17! So it was basically heaven for me. The beautiful buildings and mains square make you feel like you're inside an old city in Spain. My favorite there was The San Diego Museum of Art which houses a beautiful collection of European and American art as well as objects dating back to 5,000 B.C as well as various rotating exhibitions through the year. I was memorized.
Biking on Venice Beach: (LA Area) This is a tourist hot spot filled with people selling souvenir junk and street performers. If anything, head over for the people watching. The infamous muscle beach you can watch men flex their man cards and out lift each other. I was't super into it all, but I did find something amazing to do! The beach is HUGE! And along side it are bike paths. Skip the walk along the shops and rent a bike instead for a breezy ride along the coast. I just happened to have my first tandem bike experience with my BF and it was crazy fun.
Citrus Orchards in California: Much like northern California is known for their wineries and orchards the south is home to beautiful patches of citrus fruits. This might be hard to do if you didn't' have a family connection with a orchard like we did but if you get a chance to at least drive though you won't be disappointed with the scenery. Here in Temecula, California we were able to sample so many fruits straight from the vine that my lips and mouth started burning! I brought home almost half a suitcase of blood oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and even some pomegranates!
Where to eat
Te Mana Cafe: (San Diego Suburbs) I had found this place while searching for vegan/vegetarian friendly places in the San Diego area and since we were headed out to the beach that way we decided to stop by. I was so impressed! This place is Hawaiian BBQ fair inspired complete with a smoothie bar, fresh salads, and acai bowls. I got an acai bowl which was totally delicious and drizzled with local honey. This place has a really great care free vibe with a sort of tropical island atmosphere. Its decorated very eclectic on the inside and is staff with all young people just looking for a carefree hangout spot where they can get local, handmade food.
Lemonade: If you're from the west coast you might not even like this place, but if you aren't you must try it out. I had heard a lot about it from countless youtubers and bloggers but was pleasantly surprised when I tried it myself. The food is served cafeteria style where you can select from tons of salads, sides, hot soups and entrees. The best part is the end where you can chose from a ton of beautiful decorated and delicious deserts, and of course lemonade. I got the blood orange lemonade and it was so delicious.
Pressed Juicery: Cold pressed juiceries are all over the place in southern California. This chain uses local ingredients to create their many different combinations of juices. I tried their charcoal drink which contained; activated charcoal, maple syrup, lavender, and lemon. It was amazing. Ever since then I've hit up my local juicers to get my hand on their activated charcoal detox drink but nothing seems to compare. Also, it was only 6 dollars! Six dollars for a cold pressed juice when the typical price range at home is anywhere from 9 to 12 dollars. That is what may have made me most excited.
Pipes Cafe: (Encinitas) - This local mom & pop breakfast place had a line out the door! Thats when you know its good. The place is like a surf shack complete with plastic chairs and tacky beach vibe decorations. They specialize in their many variations of breakfast burritos but also have excellent coffee, pancakes and breakfast sandwiches. Huge portions and a great atmosphere with quick service. Plus, you are supporting a local business and not a restaurant chain which I am always a fan of.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: As a certified addict of coffee I spent some time searching around for a great cafe with an equally great vibe and drink selection. This is a chain in California much like Starbucks is everywhere else but I really enjoyed it. They have a huge selection of drinks ranging from espressos, teas, cold smoothies & coffee. They also have tons of seasonal drinks depending on the time f the year you are there. I was there over christmas and got this special winterized drink that I'm having trouble remembering but I want to say it involved white chocolate and chai? Much too sweet for me typically but I was in the mood for a treat. Plus, the coffee cups are super cute which ascetically pleases me.
For those of you who live or have visited SoCal what are you recommendations? I am headed back out west this October and am craving some great food and outdoor experiences.
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