Once we arrived in San Diego, we rented a car and headed to the Hotel Del Coronado where we would be staying…or so we had originally planned.
Being a weekend and being that the hotel is located on a little island with only one main road leading to it, traffic was pretty congested getting there, and it didn’t get much better once we arrived at the hotel. The hotel parking lot was full, so we waited another half hour in line for valet parking. We were completely surprised by how crowded it was both inside and outside of the hotel–I guess we had both imagined it to be a little more quiet and secluded since it was on an island. Hey, you live and you learn!
While planning the trip, Justin had also contacted the Grand Del Mar hotel to see if he could get a reasonable rate (which he did), however he had ultimately decided on the Del Coronado since it is located on the beach. Before we waited in the long check-in line, Justin called the Grand Del Mar on the off chance that their offer was still available–and we were in luck!
Before switching to the other hotel, we walked around the Coronado grounds a bit, which are very beautiful despite the crowd.
They had little garden patches on the walkway down to the beach, which I had to resist picking some of the delicious-sounding things such as mint chocolate and strawberries.
The beach here was gorgeous and I hope that we can someday visit the Del Coronado again–but perhaps during their off-season:)
The Grand Del Mar
Right away I could tell we were in for a very different experience at the Del Mar. It is located in a quiet, secluded area which is just what we love when we are on vacation.
Did I mention that the Grand Del Mar is considered the #1 hotel in the U.S.? Well, it didn’t take me long to see why.
First of all, this:
I have never stayed in a hotel that had an in-room espresso maker. Coffee is great and all, but espresso is my true love, so this little amenity made me ridiculously happy.
I don’t play golf, but the hotel’s beautiful golf course made me want to give it a try. I never got around to it, but maybe I’ll start practicing (or at least learning how to swing a club) for our next visit;)
I would like the hotel lobby’s flower arrangement for my kitchen table, even though it is as big as my kitchen table.
When we checked in, they asked if we were celebrating anything special to which Justin replied that we had recently celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary. When we got to our room, Justin ventured off to check out the pool while I stayed in the room to do a quick Jillian Michaels workout on YouTube. While I was doing burpees (which are the worst btw) I heard a knock on the door, and answered it assuming it was Justin. Instead, it was one of the hotel staff delivering this:
And a necessary close-up of the dessert:
My verdict? One thumb + one fork up is the same as two thumbs up.
I wish that every once in awhile someone would come deliver treats to me at home like this. I guess I’ll just have to settle for UPS deliveries (which are also exciting, even though I bought it and therefore knew it was coming but I’ll take what I can get)
Since it was around 4:30 by the time we finally got settled at a hotel, we decided it would be a good idea to just stay and eat at one of the hotel’s restaurants, Amaya.
We split a dessert that was rightfully called “the candy bar” and it was heavenly.
When we got back to our room, our sheets had been turned down for bed and there were chocolate covered Oreos on our pillow. By far the best pillow treat I have ever received at a hotel. After this delicious nightcap, it was time for bed because tomorrow was zoo day!
Day 2: San Diego Zoo
I really need to have elephant bushes like these at the entrance of my house.
I have been waiting my entire life to see a real-life panda, one of my favorite animals of all time. So of course, the very first thing we did was wait in the very long line to see them (the wait was about a half hour but I would have waited hours and hours)
It was love at first sight, just as I had dreamed it would be.
And baby panda–eeeeee!!!!!
My life is now complete.
These little guys also made me incredibly happy:
And of course I had to visit with my other favorite:
And check out these monkeys! One of them kept using a stick to get some popcorn someone threw to him–they are so smart!
Starving after a long day at the zoo, we went to chow down on some delicious sushi at a place called Shimbashi in Del Mar.
Followed by a little trip to La Jolla for some gelato.
Yum! Is it weird that I don’t care for ice cream but love gelato?
Day 3: Hiking at Torrey Pines
Hiking is not only great exercise, it is also one of my favorite vacation activities. What better way to explore a new area than going on a scenic tour by foot? Justin and I have hiked some amazing places (Arizona, the Amalfi Coast, Capri, to name a few) and Torrey Pines definitely didn’t disappoint in terms of adventure and beauty.
It is fairly easy hike down to the beach, and the views are incredibly gorgeous. There was a bit more of a challenge on the way back up, and it took us about 2 hours total, which including a nice stroll along the beach.
If you’re ever in San Diego, I highly recommend going to Torrey Pines!
After one last picture on the beautiful hotel grounds, Justin and I ventured out to the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego for dinner.
The Gaslamp Quarter was a bit rowdy (for us elders) and reminded us of Laclede’s landing in downtown St. Louis. We actually saw a fight break out between some girls and guys and one of the girls got Snookied (face punched by guy)—yikes!
We almost left after that debacle, but decided to stay and eat at a Greek fusion restaurant called Mezze that had good reviews on Yelp. We shared a mezze platter for starters (hence the name of the restaurant I guess) and then we each got a kebab (chicken for me, everything for him). It was good, but probably our least favorite of the trip.
After dinner we decided to stop at San Diego’s Little Italy in search of some authentic Italian gelato.
We found just the place called Pappalecco. When the girl at the counter said “prego” (a very commonly used Italian word) we felt like we were back in Italy. And the gelato hit.the.spot. (chocolate + hazelnut= ❤ )
After checking out at noon, we had until 4pm before we needed to leave for the airport, so we soaked up a couple more hours of California sun at the hotel pool.
A glorious ending to an incredible trip (even though I got sunburnt from neglecting to put on sunscreen) 🙂
Until next time, Cali!