Beaches and Brews: Two weeks in the San Diego area

After the Hoover Dam came and went, Mike and I made a beeline for the West Coast to San Diego for some beautiful weather and quality family time. We were both ready for coastal settings again, and to be at sea level was a breath of relief.

Coronado Bridge View

We arrived in San Diego on a beautiful day, and decided to bounce around the city a bit. First stop was the marina, and a walk around the Convention Center, and exploring the Gaslamp District. Crowd watching with a pint of beer on the outdoor patio was definitely a good way to start our California stint. A word of warning for our fellow travelers: It isn’t the most kid-friendly area, but there is a cool Children’s Museum in town not too far from this particular area.

After a long day in San Diego and awesome dinner with Grandma, we set out for Ballast Point Brewery, where my cousin’s roommate recently became a Brewmaster (shoutout to Matt!) He gave us an awesome tour of their newer location, complete with a glass of Sculpin right from the vat.

The pour.
Best view in the house.

I recommend this beer to basically anyone, but their IPA is the absolute best, and has even won multiple awards. They now also have a Grapefruit Sculpin and Habanero Sculpin, for the sugar and spice crowds.

We also stopped at White Labs Tasting Room around the corner, which is an awesome spot for anyone who is interested in brewing, home brews, and the different types of way to brew beer. The premise behind their tasting room is that you get a flight of one kind of beer (e.g. Porter, IPA) and the only difference is a different type of yeast. You can also go there to buy their yeasts and homebrew goods, which are very popular.

The next five days were spent in the Carlsbad area, bouncing around different beaches. First stop was La Jolla Beach, a beautiful cove beach that is shared between humans and sea lions. We had a wonderful time down at the beach, but beware: The sea lions are right on the beach with you, and it isn’t smart to make them angry. The water was crystal clear, and we saw many snorkelers; I was jealous! We went swimming, but the riptide is very strong. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that isn’t a strong swimmer. During low tide, the tide pools are spectacular and so much fun to go exploring on, but be careful: The tide comes quick, and there’s not much left when they come in.

They kind of blend in.
The Cove.

Next was Carlsbad State Beach, a long stretch of white sands and calm waters. Mike and I stayed until the sun set, and sat with some kids who had a beach fire going. (Side note to east coasters: California beaches all allow beach fires; it blew our minds! Not even fair how restrictive NY is.)

After fun times in the Carlsbad area, we traveled back down to Chula Vista to spend time with my aunt and uncle, and to enjoy some good Tex-Mex. Since our first day there was a Tuesday, the first stop had to be Imperial Beach for beachside cocktails and dinner at the lovely Sea 180, a restaurant in the new Pier South Hotel. Here we had Taco Tuesday and Cocktail Hour, a little indulgence that both of us found to be worth it on such a cloudy day.

The view.
Delicious.

We hit up Ocean Beach for its awesome Farmer’s Market next, which happens every Wednesday all year. Here you can find all sorts of goods, from jewelry to clothing and the freshest produce in the area. While we weren’t in the market for produce, if you are from the area I recommend checking it out!

All the ‘shrooms you can eat, too!

Mike and I bought some Watermelon juice and strolled the town, waiting for the sunset over the pier. We people watched all of the surfers trying to catch some late-day waves, and generally enjoyed the salt air. If you are into hooping, there is a big population for that also.

I didn’t take my chances.

This is always one of my favorite stops, since my hometown is Ocean Beach, NY, across the country. There always seems to be a certain symmetry, and it makes me feel at home even while miles away from home. A word to fellow travelers: Try to stay grounded. It is always nice to remember where you came from, even when you are far away.

One of our last stops was Coronado Island, another one of my favorite places in the San Diego area. We drove the bridge over the bay and parked as close to the beach as possible. I was very excited to show Mike the glistening sand, which he didn’t believe had fool’s gold in it until I dragged him down to the ocean.

golden sands.
Cute crabs, too.

We walked the beach and the bluffs, then settled in for some delicious gelato at one of the gelato places on the island. A word of caution for fellow travelers: Everything is a little pricey here, but it is worth the trip. The views are beautiful here, and it is cool to see the planes fly by (there’s a Navy base near the island.)

Parting image.

When not being beach bums, Mike and I spent beautiful times with my family, who welcomed us with open arms. I appreciate everything they did for us, and hope they come visit us on the East Coast sooner than later!

Cousin bonding

Next Stop: Lovely LA!

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