A Few San Diego Favorites (And Places I Still Want to Visit)

Man, I just won’t stop talking about my trip to San Diego, huh?!?! This will be it, I promise! As I mentioned in my last post, I spend most of my work trip up in the La Jolla area, but I did get to do a little bit of exploring outside of that area while I was there and let me tell you… I really liked what I saw! No wonder people love living in San Diego so much and never want to leave – it was great!! The few places I went were too great not to share.

So this restaurant was definitely not my choice, but man was it SO GOOD. I went here with a few coworkers and had the best pizza of my entire life. The restaurant itself, Cucina Enoteca, was up in Del Mar, but I’m still counting it on my San Diego list, anyway. But back to the important stuff, aka the pizza. Look at it. LOOK AT IT AGAIN. Oh, you’re confused because it looks kind of strange and you don’t actually know what is on it? Ok let me tell you! It had dates. Ricotta. Bacon. Smoked almonds. Arugula. Parmesan. Balsamic. WHOA BEST PIZZA EVER. And trust me, I know it sounds kinda wacky but it’s been almost 4 months and I still think about it. A lot. We also tried a few appetizers and desserts and drinks (and basically shared all of them but not the drinks because that seems grosser than sharing a little plate with coworkers you met for the first time the day before…) and everything was delicious!

Hah. Ok. So let me tell you a little bit about the Ocean Beach Pier. Actually first let me tell you about how I ended up at the Ocean Beach Pier. I’m in a Facebook group created by one of my favorite bloggers and one of the things I love about it is that you can ask for recommendations for things and people will CRUSH IT with suggestions! I’ve asked for the best place to buy non-see-through jeans (Vineyard Vines – crushed it) and I asked for recommendations for what to do on a free afternoon in Orlando and they crushed it by telling me to go to Winter Park! So when I asked for San Diego recommendations for places and restaurants, I trusted these lovely ladies who had never let me down before! A few ladies suggested that this pier was a great place to watch the sunset because it goes so far out in the water, so I headed there one day after work.

And I got there. And now, there’s nothing wrong with this if this is the way you want to live your life and spend your time and your money, but personally I do not smoke anything of any kind. And I think I was the ONLY person at this beach that was not smoking a very specific thing. On the entire beach/pier. Like, you know how when you get close to the ocean, you can smell the salty air and the sand and it takes over your senses? Well not at this beach!! I was standing 3 feet from the ocean and COULD NOT SMELL THE OCEAN due to the overwhelming smell coming from one particular other very strong odor. And yes the sunset was lovely and the water was gorgeous and the view was phenomenal, but the crowd did seem a little bit sketchy and again, you can’t smell the ocean due to other special smells.

Also there was a lot of fishing going on all over the pier and I’m not a fan of seeing fish flopping around me so that was also unpleasant. That is all.

Saving the best for last, even though it was the very first thing I did in San Diego! My mom told me that I HAD to find my way to Coronado Island when I was in San Diego, and I’m so glad I did! I literally only saw the Hotel Del, but that was good enough for me. The hotel was huge and gorgeous and I took so many pictures just because I loved it so much! I walked out to the beach behind it and just kind of sat and enjoyed the water for a while. It was nice to just sit and take in my surroundings and not look at my phone for a while. I wish I had more time to explore Coronado, but I had to get ready for my week at work and was trying to be responsible or whatever. Lame.


I told you I didn’t get to do very much exploring outside of La Jolla! But it was just enough to really get me itching to go back and check out all the things I didn’t get to see on that trip. I’ve been keeping a running list of places to go and things to do – let me know if there are any big ones I’m missing that I should add!!

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
See the Navy Seals at Coronado
Liberty Public Market
Balboa Park
Old Town
Gas Lamp area

 

 

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La Jolla Travel Guide

Back in June, I got to go on a (very last minute) work trip to San Diego and I had THE BEST time! Yes I did get a lot of work done, but I also got to do a LOT of exploring while there! Since my company’s office is up closer to La Jolla, I spent most of my time checking out the sights and eats up in that area. It’s such a fun place with so much to see and do, so I wanted to make a little guide to all the best things to check out if you’re in the area (and a few more things I want to check out on my next visit!)

This is going to be a random assortment of things and places, so bear with me and get excited for the trip to La Jolla you’re inevitably going to plan ASAP!

This tiny cute little sandwich shop was recommended to me by a few people in a facebook group, and it is now my new favorite little place. It’s a genuine hole-in-the-wall eatery and I would have walked right past it if I didn’t know to look for it! I got a delicious sandwich for lunch, had a yummy soda to wash it down, and had THE BEST COOKIE OF MY LIFE. They’re known for their flourless oatmeal cookies and y’all… I don’t even like oatmeal cookies but this were so good. It was crispy and chewy and actual perfection. I am still mad that I didn’t get 48 of them. In fact, when a friend said she was going to be in the San Diego/La Jolla area, I insisted she come here and get more than one!

The Cheese Shop is just a few blocks away from the La Jolla Shores beach so you can grab a little meal and then head off to the sand! One thing to note – this sandwich shop closes in the afternoon, so don’t try and go there for dinner!

This gelato was AMAZING!!! I had the watermelon flavor and it was to die for. It was so fresh and delicious – I definitely wanted to get another scoop! But I didn’t because I technically hadn’t eaten dinner yet and I was still planning on eating a real dinner so I only had one scoop as my pre-dinner dessert snack. And so yes that DID mean that I had dessert before dinner! There’s no rules on vacation, right?!? Bobboi Natural Gelato is just steps off the La Jolla cove – I walked there and it took no time at all.

Seal Rock was so worth finding! It made me so happy to see some seals there in the ocean, and I got to see quite a few little seal pups, too! This area is right by the La Jolla Children’s Pool (an area where a wall was built out in the ocean to make a safer, calmer swimming area for kids) and the seals were coming up on the beach there, too, which the kids seemed to enjoy watching!

If you want a little bit of a nicer dinner with an AMAZING view, you’ve GOT to go to George’s at the Cove! The food was very good but the view was even better! I mean, just look at that sunset!!! So beautiful! There’s a few different levels to this restaurant, and we ate at Level 2. The restaurants were so crowded (duh we were trying to eat dinner at sunset) but even on a Monday night they were shocked we didn’t have a reservation. Which we didn’t. We didn’t have to wait too long because we didn’t need one of the tables right along the edge with the fantastic view, but it would have been cool to sit there. So plan ahead and make a reservation!

And you can see from the second picture there where the restaurant is located from the cove below- I was very impressed with myself that I found it from the other side!

Just like Seal Rock, the cove was a fun little area for me because I got to see even more seals!!! But these ones were up close and personal and LOUD and it was fun to see them scooting along right in front of me! The area was very pretty and it is a nice little area to walk around in!

The Taco Stand was another place that kept getting recommended over and over and over and over (even the girl working the front desk at my hotel raved about it!) so I had to go give it a try. This is where I went on my last night in San Diego and I was not disappointed! My taco was delicious, the guac I got was made perfectly, and the chips were even pretty good, too! But you guys… this place was PACKED. I waited in a looooooooong line for probably 20 minutes just to get in the door. And then once I ordered, it was crazy to try and find somewhere to sit down – inside or outside. After one kind of rude family wouldn’t let me sit next to them (not at their table, just next to them at like a bar area because that chair was holding their 2 purses… ok…) a seat at the little bar up front opened up and I got to sit down to enjoy my meal. So definitely check this place out if you’re in the area, but give yourself plenty of line-waiting time!


And that’s it! That’s my little travel guide of what to see and what to eat if you’re ever in the La Jolla area. I clearly didn’t have too much time to explore and see everything I wanted (silly work getting in the way of my travel dreams!) and so I have a long list of places to go the next time I get out there! It’s pretty much all restaurants now that I’m looking at it… and I’m ok with that. So the next time I go back, I’ll want to visit:

Sugar and Scribe Bakery
Piatti
Shore Rider
Puesto
La Sala
Windansea Beach
and more!

I got to do a tiny bit of exploring around the rest of San Diego while I was there for work, so I’m going to share some of my recommendations in my next post!

How to Spend ONE DAY at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Are y’all sick of hearing about the ONE DAY I spent at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter yet?!? No? Oh good! Because I’m back with MORE!!!!!!! I just had so much fun! And even though I was only there for one day, I seriously did everything there was to do. (If you don’t believe me, check out my recaps of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley!) I even did things that I forgot to take pictures of, like eating ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour and and stopping at the Hog’s Head for the most refreshing glasses of water I’ve ever had in my life.

I seriously think that you only need one day to see and do everything at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Yes it will be a fast-paced, packed day, but you’ll be surprised at how much down time you’ll have, too! There were plenty of times we just sat down to rest our feet and have some water, and I got to ride the Hogwarts and Gringott’s rides approximately 4-5 times each.

Here are some of the tips and tricks I used while there that would be helpful if you’re planning on spending ONE DAY in the most magical place on earth (which I refuse to say is Disney World because Harry Potter is about actual magic so it makes sense…)!

– get the multi-park pass –

Even though you’re only going for one day, you really need to get the multi-park pass so you can see BOTH parks. Yes, it’s a lot more money, but it’s 100% worth it.

– get there right when the park opens –

Set your alarm and head over RIGHT when the park opens!! The crowds are actually pretty small right at the beginning and you’ll feel like you have the whole place to yourself. I didn’t stay at the park, so I missed out on getting in the park an hour early, but I thought getting there for the officially opening was more than great enough.

– ride the Hogwarts Express both ways immediately –

This was something my friend made us do and it was totally worth it. There was NO line (seriously, like 5 people in front of us) and so we got to ride the train immediately. The experience is different both ways, so you’ll want to see them both! There can be up to a 2 hour line for the Hogwarts Express, which is totally not worth it, in my opinion. We skipped the line later in the afternoon and just walked around to the other park and it took about 20 minutes. Another bonus of riding the train immediately – you can get a video of you walking through the brick wall without annoying a TON of people in line behind you!

– single. rider. line. –

If you only remember one thing from this post- THIS IS IT!!! Seriously. 99% of the time you don’t need to wait in the “real” line because it’s long and dumb. Just do the single rider line and you’ll only wait maybe 10 minutes. Maybe. (Seriously, there was a 2 hour wait to go on a ride and we waited 10 minutes in the single rider line.) You won’t be guaranteed to sit with your friends, but unless you are planning on buying a souvenir photo from the ride does that really matter? Nope!

– don’t wait more than 45 minutes in any line –

It’s just not worth it! Definitely DO wait in the “real” lines to get to see all the cool stuff through the bank and the castle, but any more than 45 minutes is just not bearable in my opinion. Go through the real line at the very beginning of the day or at the very end of the day – that’s what worked out best for us!

– eat at all the restaurants –

They’re all great and a different experience! Most of the plates are big enough where you can share a meal (my friend Kate and I split breakfast and it was the perfect portion size). Also be sure to try all of the non-restaurant foods! Get some Bertie Bott’s Ever Flavor Beans to try later! Eat ice cream at Florean’s! Have the butterbeer! If you’re only there for a day, make sure you get your fill!

– do the wand experience at Olivander’s –

This was actually pretty cool, and I’m really glad that we got to go in and experience this little show. People might tell you that it isn’t worth the wait, and they’re half right. It isn’t worth waiting in line for… but there are times during the day where there is NO line! The line wraps around the side of Olivander’s so just keep an eye out for when there aren’t any people outside. We did that and headed in and got to go see the wand ceremony almost immediately – and it was the middle of the afternoon, when you’d think the line would be crazy! Just keep your eyes peeled and you’ll be fine.

– don’t get an interactive wand* –

*unless you really REALLY want to. Just know that it’s $50 and there are only like 13 interactive spots and I think it is 100% just as fun to watch kiddos swishing their wands around. So again, I think it’s something you can skip, but if you REALLY want to have that experience then I say go for it!!

– stop for shows if you can –

I got to see two of the shows while walking around (the Deathly Hallows one was awesome!!) and I highly recommend stopping to watch if you see that one is starting up close by! However – if you are only there for one day, I wouldn’t rearrange your whole day/schedule/plan JUST to see the shows.

– stick around for the Hogwarts light show –

THIS WAS SO COOL!!! Do what you want, go where you want, but SERIOUSLY try and end up by the Hogwarts castle at the end of the night! The light show was incredible and I wished it was like 10 minutes longer. I can’t remember what time it started (I’m sure the internet could help me here… oh the internet tells me it is “ongoing from dusk to park close”) but definitely try to catch it if you can!

– share a locker when you can –

This just makes everything easier. One person can go in and compete with the CRAZY CROWDS and throw all the stuff into a locker. They’re a pretty good size, and I think we were able to fit 3 people’s stuff into one locker. (This is JUST bags, no souvenirs.) These lockers are SUCH A GOOD IDEA and I love that your fingerprint is what unlocks them! Too cool!

– save your souvenir shopping for the end of the day –

If you’re staying on the property, you can apparently buy souvenirs and have them sent to your room (or maybe it’s your hotel?) for you to pick up at the end of the day. However, if you’re NOT staying on the property, just save the shopping for the end of the day! You’ll have less stuff to cram into a locker, less stuff to walk around with, and there really is plenty of time to get everything you’ve been eyeing throughout the day. (I made a little note on my phone whenever I saw something in all the shops I’d want to get later, like a Christmas tree ornament, a chocolate wand for coworkers, etc. Some of the items are ONLY available in one shop, so make note of that, too! But some things are available in lots of shops. Just keep your eyes peeled!)

– pace yourself with the butterbeer –

This stuff is SO GOOD but man it is SO SWEET!! I got a little bit of a stomach ache because I had so much of it at once (worth it, lol) so it might be a good idea to share it, if you can. That way you can have more later (or try the slushie kind!) and not have your day ruined by a sugar overload.

– take breaks –

I know there’s so much to do and so much to see and it’s all so exciting, but sit down and take a break if you need to. You’ll be going going going ALL DAY and it’s nice to give your feet a little break! Sit in the shade, have some water, and relax a little. (We went to the Hog’s Head and had free cups of ice water and sat in the shade on the patio and it was glorious!)

– enjoy yourself –

You’re there to have fun, so have fun! Be a tourist! Take ALL the pictures! Be excited! And most of all enjoy the most magical day of your life!! (Until you go back, that is!)

I Went to Diagon Alley and It Was ALSO My Favorite!

Are you ready for more Harry Potter fun?!?!? I sure hope so! Last time I shared all the things I loved about going to Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando, and today I’m going to show all the awesome things about Diagon Alley!

This is one of the 2 Harry Potter-themed parks at Universal Studios, and it was SO impressive! Just the level of detail everywhere was insane. The outsides of the buildings, the insides of the shops, literally everywhere you look was so well thought out and it really added to the entire experience. I’m not sure if I liked this park better than Hogsmeade, since they’re just so different, but it did seem like there was more to do and see here.

Here come more pictures and all the things I saw and loved while in Diagon Alley!

Seeing the dragon BREATHE FIRE!

This was one of the things I was most excited to see while there! The dragon on top of Gringott’s Bank moves every 10 minutes, but only breathes fire every 20 (or that’s the schedule it went on the day I was there)! I saw it a few times and you can really FEEL THE FIRE!!!! Incredible!

Seeing all the things OUTSIDE Diagon Alley!

This included the entrance to King’s Cross Station, seeing the Knight Bus, and seeing Kreacher peek through the window at Grimmauld Place! I was just at King’s Cross a year ago, and I gotta tell you – they did such a great job. The train board was a great detail and it really felt like we were in London! And because we got there so early and there was no line, I even got a little video of me going through the brick wall to Platform 9 3/4!

Trying butterbeer!

Oooh this stuff was so good but it was SO sweet! Almost too sweet… almost… I tried the regular liquid kind (they also have a slushy version) and it definitely lived up to the hype! My friend thought hers was too sweet… so I got to drink a little bit of hers, too!

Seeing a couple get engaged!

This one really isn’t park related, but it was so neat! They had a HUGE group with them (who hopefully were all in on it!) and Kate and I got a little teary-eyed watching! I wonder how many proposals happen here every day… my guess is 3.

Going to all of the shops!

They were incredibly detailed and awesome! I loved seeing the goblin in the money exchange storefront, going in the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, and seeing all the spooky sights in Knockturn Alley!

 Riding Escape from Gringotts!

This one was so great! It was also a 4-D ride (so you really felt like you were riding through a cave) and the details were amazing. We mostly used the single rider line again and the wait time was so short – on average I’d say only 5 minutes! We did go through the “real” line at the end of the night so we could see all the bank details up close, and it was definitely worth it to do so. The goblins moving around were so realistic (or as much as they could be!)

Eating at the Leaky Cauldron!

Kate and I ate lunch here and it was delicious! They had traditional English fare (I had bangers and mash!) and the food was surprisingly very reasonably priced! Or more reasonable than I expected, I guess I should say.

Watching the wand choose the wizard at Ollivander’s!

Ok, this was actually pretty cool! You can just go through the wand shop like normal, but it’s way more fun to wait in line and watch the wand ceremony! We all gathered in this little room and someone from the audience was chosen to find their wand. We had this adorable little girl chosen from our group and she looked SO nervous, and then SO happy when the wand finally chose her!

So there you have it! I hope you enjoyed looking at a million pictures with me – I can’t believe it’s already been 2 months since I was there!! All in all, I’m glad that I only had 1 day there – it forced me to really make sure I saw EVERYTHING and made for a wild and adventurous and fun day!!

I Went to Hogsmeade and It Was My Favorite!

At the end of March, I went on a work trip to Orlando, FL. Since I was already going to be in the area, I decided to stay a few days longer and I went to what people affectionately call “Harry Potter World!” I had a BLAST! I only went for one day and I actually got to go with my friend, Kate! It’s such a small world, because she was already planning on going to Universal Studios when I was going to be there! She was such a great guide (she’s been there multiple times) and helped to make sure I experienced every little thing.

So get ready for a ton of photos, y’all… I’m finally starting to share my time at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando! Oh yeah! I’ve decided to break it up by area, so it will be a little more tolerable. I’ll post about Diagon Alley next, but today let’s start with all things Hogsmeade!

Actually first let’s back up. For anybody who doesn’t know, let me explain the park setup a little bit. So the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is part of Universal Studios in Orlando, and it’s broken up into 2 parks: Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley. Since they’re *technically* 2 different parks, you need to get the (much more expensive) multi-park pass to get to go to both. (But it’s 100% worth it!) You can walk around a lot of other parks to get from one to the other, OR you can take the Hogwarts Express train (which they count as a little ride) between the two! But the kicker is that you can’t ride the train unless you have the multi-park pass. So again, it’s totally worth the extra money- just do it.

Ok. On to ALL THE PICTURES!!! Here’s what I did and saw and loved while in Hogsmeade!

The village is ADORABLE!

The snow-topped buildings! The streets! I really felt like you’re in a quaint little English town – especially in the afternoon when it got cloudy and grey like it would be in England, the land with no sun.

The first glimpse of Hogwarts!

STUNNING. It literally took my breath away. I seriously felt nostalgic for a place I’ve never actually been, and I loved getting closer and getting to see more details of the castle. I love that you can see Hogwarts from most areas in Hogsmeade – it definitely helped keep the magical feeling alive!

The Hogwarts Express!

I’ll go into more detail about this on the next post, I think, but it was so easy to ride the train between the 2 parks!

Hearing Moaning Myrtle!

This is one of the little “secrets” that really isn’t secret at all – if you go into the women’s bathroom you can hear her talking! I’m sure you can hear her in the men’s bathroom, too, but I didn’t go in to check!

Eating at the Three Broomsticks!

The level of detail in the entire park was so incredible, and that includes the restaurants! I was so excited to go in the Three Broomsticks and I ended up having breakfast there. I got to try pumpkin juice (actually REALLY good!) and loved getting a side view of Hogwarts from the patio out back!

Seeing a little show!

I’m not sure what this little show was called, but it was starting as we walked by, so Kate and I stopped to watch! We got to see little dances from the two other schools participating in the Tri-Wizard Tournament and they did a great job! But it was VERY hot out and I can’t even imagine being up there dancing in those hot uniforms all summer. No thank you.

Riding the Flight of the Hippogriff!

I just need everyone to know that I 100% spelled hippogriff wrong the first time there. Thanks for the assist, Google. This was the only outdoor ride they had, and it was definitely for a younger crowd, but still pretty fun! You got to see Hagrid’s hut close up as you waited in line which was pretty neat! This was the longest line we waited in all day (maybe 45 minutes) which isn’t too bad at all, really!

Riding the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey!

I think this was my favorite ride at the parks! I loved how it spun you around, lifted you up and down and back, made you feel like you were in some real danger (but in a safe way), and let you feel what happened around you. It was honestly just so cool! I don’t really get motion sickness, but I definitely didn’t want to ride this more than once in a row. We went through the single-rider line 4 out of the 5 times we rode it and it was amazing – we waited maybe 5 minutes tops.

Walking through Hogwarts!

Later at the end of the night when the crowds were a little more manageable, we walked through the regular line for the Forbidden Journey ride and got to see all the details inside the castle! I loved getting to see the house points, Dumbledore’s office, a classroom, the talking and moving pictures, and so much more! It definitely made waiting in line seem a little more bearable.

Seeing the Hogwarts light show at the end of the night!

As we were leaving the ride/gift shop (I had to get a Christmas tree ornament!) we got to see the light show!! It was fabulous! So bright and the music was awesome and there were even some fireworks, too!

I mean, how pretty is that castle, tho?!? I’m swooning over here!

I hope you liked seeing all the bits of Hogsmeade I loved! If you’ve been, what was your favorite part of this park? If you haven’t been – what are you waiting for?!??!

Be sure to stay tuned for my photo dump/recap of the Diagon Alley park next time!!