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surfing san diego

Everybody’s gone surfing.

Planning three perfect days of family fun in San Diego is easy. Why? Because the Southern California city is, well, pretty much perfect. Think year-round temps in the 70s, its proximity to the beach and mountains, fabulous restaurants and a top-notch cultural scene. Check out these tips for your perfect long weekend in San Diego.

Children's Pool Credit: Lisa Field.

Children’s Pool Credit: Lisa Field,

Day 1

Get your relaxation priorities in order by starting your trip at one of San Diego’s breathtaking beaches. Head to dreamy La Jolla, where you can get an energy boost atBird Rock Coffee Roasters—an award-winning “farm to cup” shop that offers fair trade and organic brews—before hitting one of the distinct local beaches. La Jolla Cove is where swimmers and snorkelers congregate; Children’s Pool is the site of a seawall originally built to protect young swimmers that is now home of hundreds highly entertaining sea lions and seals; and Windansea Beach is known for its breathtaking scenery, fierce waves and topnotch surfing. If you want to try your hand at riding those tasty waves, Surf Diva offers clinics, private lessons and equipment rentals for ages five and up.

Make a late lunch of the crab-and-corn chowder and lobster rollat Cody’s, a favorite local restaurant with ocean views, then stroll the boutiques in the Girard Avenue and Prospect Street shopping district nearby. Not to miss: Tijon Parfumerie & Boutique, where you can design custom-scented perfumes, colognes, massage oils and lotions.


San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo

Day 2

You could easily spend your entire three days in the city’s lush, 1,200-acre Balboa Park, but squeeze what you can into just one day this time. Culture vulture? Choose from 15 museums, including the San Diego Air & Space Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, three art museums, and the anthropology-focused San Diego Museum of Man. Or, catch a performance at The Old Globe, one of the most highly regarded regional theaters in the country. Animal lover? The park is home to the world-class San Diego Zoo and its crazy-cute giant pandas. Outdoor enthusiast? Sixty-five miles of trails await for hiking and biking. Amateur botanist? Nineteen gardens brimming with plants from around the world are here.

Later, get your obligatory taco fix at Luche Libre Gourmet Taco Shop in Mission Hills. The theme is kitschy Mexican-wrestling, but they’re not playing when it comes to the menu, which includes takes on classics that feature freshly grilled meats, seafood and housemade salsas. We like the Undefeated Seafood Taco, made with blackened mahi mahi or grilled shrimp, plus shredded cabbage and creamy poblano chili sauce. Skip the never-ending line to get in (and feel like a VIP) by calling 24 hours in advance to reserve the Champion’s Booth, a roped-off, gold banquette where you’ll get table service from staff clad in wrestling masks.

San Diego Gaslamp Quarter.700

San Diego Gaslamp Quarter.700

Day 3

Start your final day with a scenic drive down the coast to Cabrillo National Monument, which honors Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who led the first expedition to California from Spain in 1542. It’s an interesting bit of history, but the real draw is the jaw-dropping views from the hilltop vantage point of both the Pacific Ocean and hills of Baja California, Mexico. From here, walk along the pretty Bayside Trail, a three-mile easy hiking trail where the scent of native coastal sagebrush is all around you.

Spend the afternoon in downtown’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, a trendy dining and shopping district where beer fanatics will have fun exploring the city’s burgeoning craft brew scene. Favorites include Neighborhood, a gastropub with an extensive menu of local and draft and bottled beer, and Bottlecraft, a boutique beer shop with hundreds of selections.


Tagged: California, Family time

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Judy Sutton Taylor

Judy Sutton Taylor

Judy is a journalist, travel lover and mom in Chicago. Find her on Twitter at @jsuttontaylor.
Judy Sutton Taylor

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