• ella

    Tips from a native San Diegan:

    * I, like Leta, am not really into animals. But the zoo is pretty much all it’s hyped up to be. Even with all that walking.

    * Unless you truly miss Drakkar Noir and tube tops, avoid the Gaslamp.

    * I’m Mexican, so I feel I have the authority to say that real, true Mexican food can not be found in Old Town. The hole-in-the-wall suggestions are your best bet.

    * La Jolla is beautiful, but eating dinner along Prospect Avenue has a very richie rich quality to it. We like to have picnics at the park right there on the beach.

    * The suggestion of Influx Cafe is right on. The coffee and croissants are amazing. And they have fancy waters and colas from Africa in the fridge. We take our 18-month old there because there’s a low, wooden table she loves to climb (not that we are the kind of parents who let our child climb tables at restaurants to avoid tantrums).

  • Kris

    Museum of Creation? Te he.

  • Anonymous

    San Diego has the best damn shrimp tacos in the world at El Zarape


    there also are a few brilliant dog parks – if you check out the dog beach, folks shouldbe able to direct you to the other dog parks – the dog beach in San Diego apparently has some dogs that aren’t so well behaved (rumor – haven’t actually been there) but there is a fabulous dog beach on Coranado – go all the way to the Hotel Del Coranado (where Some Like It Hot was filmed). take a right on the street that goes along the beach and drive until you are about to go onto the military base. the dog beach will be on your left. it’s beautiful.

    have fun!! San Diego is a great city. I wish that I could be there!

  • Rachael

    Sea World would be a blast… I will give you 2 FREE tickets (no strings attached). Check your email if you’re interested!

    They have kennels for your pups.

  • Valerie Little

    The zoo has hippos. And as a hippo lover it is my favorite place to sit and just watch.

    My mom was raised in San Diego and we visit often. My favorite places are Balboa Park, The Zoo, and Old Town(buy warm handmade tortillas and eat them with butter and honey).

    My Mom loves the boardwalk. Leta would most likely love it too! :)

    Have a great trip!

  • http://thesuperbongo.blogspot.com/ The Super Bongo

    The gas lamp district . . . fun stuff to see . . . good food.

    Coronado Island . . . the movie Some Like It Hot was filmed at the Hotel Coronado . . . and I got the best sunset pictures on the ocean off their back deck . . . and the drinks are nice too.

    We skipped the Zoo and went to the wild animal park . . . you ride through the park and the animals are minding their own business . . . and maybe you can see them and maybe you can’t . . . it seems less like cages . . . and there isn’t all that pesky walking.

    Of course, you could always try your hand at Mexico . . . I hear the pharmacists aren’t at all picky.

  • http://thesuperbongo.blogspot.com/ The Super Bongo

    Oh my gosh yes. . . if Triple Espresso is still playing . . . go see it . . . I nearly peed myself at the end . . . although, it’s fairly clean and you won’t be able to blame the Leta’s new vocabulary words on it.

  • http://www.honest-planet.com Jen

    I’m not reading 200+ comments above, so if this is a repeat of info, sorry — but you should definitely visit Balboa Park and all the museums up there — not only is it gorgeous (perfect for pics) but they have so many museums and exhibits, there’s something for everyone!

    Also, the Gaslamp district in downtown is really cool, too.

  • MsKnow

    You MUST go to Old Town San Diego and eat at one of several fabulous Mexican food restaurants! I swear to god sometimes we make the trek to Old Town just for the food! And the margaritas are pretty good too…

  • http://blog.enpointephotography.com Susan

    Holy crap! A ton of people beat me to it.

    Either way, San Diego will be glad to have you guys here! The weather is pretty awesome right now.

    Dog beaches – I live near Del Mar, so I go to that one, an people say it’s snooty, but I’ve never had that feeling, plus you can actually avoid paying parking if you park south of the beach/bridge. If you park north, then yes, you will have to pay for parking. here’s a photo i took there… http://flickr.com/photos/oceantsunami/281059355/in/set-72157594346712276/

    Food – many places have already been mentioned:
    - Sushi Deli (I frequent 2 near Horton Plaza)
    - George’s
    - Swami’s Cafe (great surfer/local place in Encinitas with awesome food)
    - Casa Gudalajara (in Old Town – I actually haven’t been here, but hear it’s great)
    - St Tropez (french bistro type place – there’s sevearl locations – food is SO good!)

    Places to visit:
    - Mt Soledad (highest point closer to the ocean)
    - La Jolla Cove (has the seal beach)
    - Encinitas (sleepy surfer town, but I love it cause it has charm. if you’re into environmentally friendly stores, definitely check out Environgentle!)
    - Balboa Park (of course)
    - Old Point Loma Lighthouse (it’s seriously stunning – the view from here and if you love lighthouses! I have some photos from this place here: http://blog.enpointephotography.com/archive/kristine-eric-2/)
    - Salton Sea (if you have time, this is definitely a day trip. it’s about 3 hours east of san diego and it has AWESOME photo opportunities. I just did a shoot here, which you can see on my blog – http://blog.enpointephotography.com . it’s pretty much an abandoned place. pretty awesome.)
    - Gaslamp (lots of eateries and shopping)

  • http://jessdeputy.blogspot.com Jes

    Hash-House-A-Go-Go. It’s a restaurant in Hillcrest. They serve the biggest portions I have ever experienced. I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

  • http://blog.enpointephotography.com susan

    and i totally forgot Coronado – the Hotel Del, and there’s a resturant right on orange avenue that has the BEST mojitos.. but can’t remember the name for the life of me! it’s pretty large – with patio seating.. haha like that helps.

    here are some photos i took of a friend’s wedding and after session at the Del!



  • Pam

    Not that anyone is going to read the 248th comment, but let me second everything said by aaryn b, and reiterate that the best Mex is NOT found in Old Town. Mediocre food, poor service and tourist trap-y.

    You really should try Ponce’s on Adams Avenue. It’s family-run, decent food, and loud enough that a noisy 3 year old won’t turn heads. It’s right down the street from a beautiful neighborhood park (sorry, no dogs.)

    Adams Avenue runs through some of San Diego’s coolest neighborhoods-Kensington, Normal Heights, University Heights-and is filled with the kind of shops and restaurants I think you and Jon would be into.

    Maybe we should convene a Dooce-lovers playgroup while you’re here? Trolley Barn Park, anyone?

  • http://blog.enpointephotography.com Susan

    Okay, I simply keep forgetting to add things – like I think that the Del still has ice skating by the ocean right now. You can see the photos there.

    And Hillcrest is AWESOME for food locations. Another nice spot is called Arrivederci (I’m sure I’m butchering the name) and Crest Cafe are some of my faves

  • Jillian

    Everyone keeps mentioning the Old Town Mexican Cafe, but i actually prefer the Cafe Coyote (www.cafecoyoteoldtown.com). it’s less crowded and I think the food is better.

    also, continue down San Diego ave in old town, away from the historical park, and behind the water gun cowboy fountain (can’t miss it) and you’ll find the old town root beer co. it’s got *amazing* root beer on tap, and all kinds of sodas in glass bottles. even if you don’t like root beer, it’s worth a visit just for the photograph opportunities!! shelves and shelves of bottles! it’s great.

    and be sure to buy some fresh tortillas from the ladies on the street. they are the best things you will ever eat, all hot and buttery and carb-y. mmm, makes me hungry just thinking about it!

  • Manda F

    This made me SO ANGRY that you can’t snuggle things via the internet! When Coco was whining all I could think was, “oh my god, my Charlie girl use to sound just like that 3 years ago” Now she’s 85 pounds and has a deeper bark than any male dog I know.

  • Anonymous

    As if you didn’t know, you have a very peculiar sense of humour and the G.d. word doesn’t make it any funnier.

  • Terri

    You’re welcome to come to my house. We’re in Oceanside, CA. About an hour north of San Diego. I’m not sure if they have hippos at the zoo but I have a certain pair of stretch pants that if I put them on and turn in a specific direction you’d never know the difference!

  • Mike

    Heather, I thought of you when a friend sent this hippo video.

    Hippo Jessica

    San Diego is wonderful. If you like Mexican you will find many good places (as many have said, avoid Old Town for better options).

  • http://jumpwithfaith.blogspot.com Kim
  • Jen

    It’s been many years since I’ve gone, but the hippo tank is one of the very BEST parts of the San Diego Zoo in my opinion. I have tons of the cutest hippo pictures EVER from the last time I visited. Provided that nothing’s changed, you’re in for a treat!

    Re things to do, La Jolla Cove is very pretty and there are a lot of rocks to amble around on and examine the tide pools. Hillcrest is a fun part of town. And Encinitas (north of San Diego) has some nice beaches. If you like breakfast food, be sure to hit the Potato Shack in Encinitas.

  • Anonymous

    Showing my husband all the video and pictures you post of Coco has him ALMOST convinced that we should get another dog, so please keep posting them :) Also, I’m jealous that you get to go to a warm place that easily, I’m stuck in the Northeast which pretty much requires a plane ride or a REALLY long drive to get anywhere warm.

    It’s been quite a few years since I was at the San Diego Zoo but I do think I remember seeing hippos there, so enjoy!

  • Anonymous

    OK…I read them all and as I grew up in SD, OB in particular…my recommendations:
    1. Old Point Loma Lighthouse, the *only* place I ever wanted to go when I was little
    2. SD ZOO
    3. Cafe on Park SERIOUSLY THE BEST BREAKFAST IN HILLCREST and you will be mere minutes from the Zoo – they have Capn’ Crunch Pancakes and awesome egg scrambles {3831 Park Boulevard (at University), Hillcrest, 619-293-7275}
    4. Gaslamp is over rated, unless you are a frat boy
    5. Spanish Village is a must see
    6. Balboa Park is wonderful
    7. Mission Beach is not worth it. Unless you like to look for parking.
    8. Ocean Beach and Hodad’s for burgers. The pier is great to walk on, and the tide pools are right there, as well as Sunset Cliffs.
    9. Point Loma Seafoods – very fresh, great fish sandwiches
    10. any taco shop with “bertos” at the end
    11. Extraordinary Desserts
    12. Parkhouse Eatery in Hillcrest – wonderful dinner and good beer on tap
    13. Karl Strauss Brewery – their beer is great
    14. Nunu’s – a total dive bar, I wouldn’t trust Lena there, though
    15. Coronado is great to stroll around
    16. La Jolla is also great to walk around
    17. Fashion Valley and Mission Valley are good malls
    18. Julian for apple pie
    19. San Diego Mission in Mission Valley
    20. Old Town and Mission Hills are great.
    Have a great time!

  • Christina

    If you’re looking for some damn good sushi, they just opened a Nobu in the Hard Rock in downtown San Diego, and it is FABULOUS. Best sushi I’ve ever had in my life.

  • Anonymous

    Balboa Park is a must.
    Go to the zoo right when it opens at 9:00 or in the late afternoon – not as crowded and the animals are all up. Pygmy hippos are creepy – the real hippos are great though.
    Extraordinary Desserts is…well…extraordinary
    If you want to be outdoorsy then Mission Trails regional park is great for hiking and the have an interpretive center that is really nice and interesting.
    Don’t eat downtown, way to overpriced – go to Hillcrest or North Park for great food. The Linkery in South Park is really pretty fabulous.
    Have a great time and maybe me and the kids will see you at the zoo :)

  • http://www.darrenbarefoot.com Darren

    Er, just make sure you keep everybody well away from the tiger exhibit, eh?

  • debbie

    i love going to san diego, and i’m sure you will, too! a few hours at a time is definitely not enough. i didn’t read through all the comments, and i’m sure it’s already been said, but if you can make it to Sea World, then you definitely should. they have a dog kennel for 5 dollars, and while it’s not fancy, the people are really nice. my dog’s stayed in one 3 times so far, and she hasn’t had too many complaints. and for the people, the park is amazing. the animals are so exciting to see, and it’s fun, as well. and there’s plenty of things for Leta to enjoy, even a part just for kids.

    if you’re looking for something a little less intense, defintiely go down to the pier and see the ships in the bay. there are even a few that you can go on, like ‘the Star of India’. it’s pretty sweet. and right next to it is the Gaslamp District, which is really nice to just walk around.

    but if all else fails, visit Balboa park. everything is there: the zoo, the most amazing carousel ever, and the arts district, which is outrageous. and if you’re familiar with ‘Anchorman’, then you’ll notice the street he roams down after he’s been rejected from the news team.

    okay, i think you have more than enough suggestions from me, and everyone else. have fun!

  • Genny

    That’s hilarious! I guess now you will have to count Chuck’s barks on two hands.

    BTW – I just wanted to say thanks for your blog. I get a ton of enjoyment reading it every day. Keep up the great work and have fun in San Diego!

  • http://chopstickbunny.blogspot.com angela

    Kono’s in Pacific Beach for breakfast. You have to be patient as there’s always a huge line wrapped around the building, but I think that’s a positive testament. They’re only open for breakfast (and brunch I think, I’m not sure), so it pays to get there early.

  • http://www.aniowamom.com An Iowa Mom

    Can you swing by Iowa and throw my kids in your backseat too?


  • Lori

    Okay so if you’ve read this far down the comments in your quest to discover all that is good in San Diego, I commend you. I just moved to Salt Lake after spending the first 26 years of my life in San Diego so I pretty much know it like the back of my hand and can appreciate you needing to get out of the freezing and the snow.

    1. Yes they have hippos at the San Diego Zoo. You can even view them under water and they are usually pretty funny.

    2. You should go to Sea World. The Zoo is awesome if you’ve never been but Sea World is the best park in the city. My brother gives behind the scene tours there and, though it costs more than the price of admission, the tour is pretty amazing and I am sure that Leta would love it.

    3. Where are you staying? If you’ll be near the airport, you have to go into Point Loma. If you like Mexican food you have to go to Miguel’s in Point Loma. They have the best white sauce for dipping tortilla chips. Also, if you are near there, Gus’s is the best sandwich shop. Gus’s is on Rosecrans and Miguel’s is right off of Rosecrans.
    Also good near the airport is Tom Ham’s Lighthouse. If you go into Mission Valley, Bennigan’s is fantastic.

    4. Also visit Coronado and walk around the Hotel Del. They used to have an awesome candy shop inside the hotel that I loved as a kid.

    5. Other possibilities include walking around Sea Port Village or driving up to Julian (would take about an hour and a half if you were staying downtown) and having pie and shopping (although it may not interest a preschooler much). I’ve never been to Legoland but I know that kids like it a lot. If you haven’t gotten enough ideas from other people and this comment, feel free to contact me. I love San Diego more than life itself, I think.

  • http://deepthoughtsfuzzymemories.blogspot.com/ Terri

    PS We have six bedrooms, five baths, three car garage, two kids, so if you want a zoo without driving all the way to San Diego, stop by the 5 and the 76 and we’re right around the corner. We can Dog sit too.

  • http://yespleasenothankyoudropdead.blogspot.com/ Brooke

    You are sooo coming here at the wrong time. It’s been nice this week, but it’s supposed to rain Monday and Tuesday.

    I feel bad that you’ll probably be wondering why you even came.

    Well, ok. It won’t be snowing though.

  • http://inblognito.blogspot.com Nicola

    Hehe, I love the way they’re both kinda giving you sideways glances like ‘are you gonna do something here? help me out!’

  • diana

    One of my favorite brunch spots is The Linkery in South Park (I think). They are a hip sausage place– what more can you ask for, except bacon, which they do have?
    The zoo is so perfect for toddlers and there are several museums and lots of green, open space there in Balboa Park, where the zoo is located.
    Also, I hear Legoland is great.
    Have a great trip!

  • elspeth

    i dunno about hippos, but they do have an adorable new baby panda.

  • http://ellenelmarry.com ellen
  • Melanie

    I have to stop and think before I watch your videos any more… my chocolate lab went APE downstairs while listening to Chuck. She’s certain that we are hiding dogs and bacon upstairs, where she’s too scared to go…..

    Last night she taught us a lesson and got down a whole bottle of bacon salt (best stuff EVAH!) and ate it.

  • http://ciaosamin.blogspot.com samin

    not sure you’ll make it all the way down the list to see these suggestions, but i grew up in san diego, so here goes:

    –bread and cie in hillcrest is probably the best bakery in town
    –if the sea lions haven’t taken over the children’s cove in la jolla, it’s a pretty great beach (so’s the adult cove less than a mile away).
    –the zoo is pretty great, and they definitely have hippos. a little one like leta might not love the wild animal park as much.
    –el indio at the foot of hillcrest is a pretty classic mexican place, and there’s a great gelato shop down the block.
    –leta might like seaport village in downtown.

    and i think the dog friendliest beaches are in mission beach (where there is also a boardwalk with a rollercoaster), mission bay, and pacific beach.

    hope you have a great time!

  • Jen W.

    Aww…Chuck has a girly bark! :)

  • http://imdependent.blogspot.com Caitlin

    At least one other person has said this, but I can’t recommend George’s at the Cove enough! It’s in La Jolla (learn how to pronounce it ahead of time, or people will mock you) and the ‘upper deck’ of the restaurant has glass walls that make you feel like you’re on the edge of the ocean. Getting a reservation around sunset requires a bit of advance planning, but can be one of the most memorable dates of your life. Try and wrangle a babysitter for this one.

    Also, the SD zoo is cool, but was honestly a little disappointing. There are hippos, and A LOT of creatures that look like pigs crossed with other animals. Like…pigsXmice, and pigsXkoalas. Pigs, pigs, pigs, everywhere. The Wild Animal Park was MUCH cooler, and you can pick your distance from the animals, all the way from a remote trolley ride to hand feeding.

    San Diego is beautiful, I hope you enjoy it. My one week visit put it on my top ten cities to live in list.

  • AJ

    I can attest to the presence of hippos at the San Diego Zoo.

  • http://www.joeprose.typepad.com HeyJoe
  • http://patti-cakes.blogspot.com/ Patti

    Go eat at Croce’s (as in Jim Croce’s. . .) Fabulous.

  • http://misspriss.org becky


    Yes, the zoo has hippos. You may want to check out Sea World, too.

    While there’s no snow and it’s not freezing, it has been chilly near the coast.

    Make sure you go to Extraordinary Desserts while you’re here (there are a couple of locations). For good Mexican food, try Miguel’s in Pt. Loma; in La Jolla, try Alfonso’s (excellent margaritas) or Jose’s.

    You should go to Seaport Village, which is in downtown. Great shopping, and the views of the bay are terrific. Lots of great things to explore downtown. For a great Irish pub, try the Blarney Stone or the Field (food is good @ The Field).

    If you have time, go to the Hotel Del Coronado. Even just driving around Coronado is nice; it’s beautiful there.

    Really, I could go on & on w/recommendations. Also, talk to LeahPeah. She used to live here, and I just recently found out that we have mutual friends. I’m sure she can give you some great tips.

  • Bess

    Oh, I’m so excited you are coming to San Diego! You will LOVE it here! The weather right now is perfection. I hear there might be a storm coming in on Monday, so hopefully the weather people are wrong. For some reason, they usually are!
    The zoo has really cute pygmy hippos. They swim right up the glass and turn and do flips in the water. So cute! I could sit and look at them for hours (as long as they aren’t sleeping!)
    The Wild Animal Park is really fun too! You ride on a train and see animals in natural habitats. They also let you feed giraffes.
    I always think it’s nice to bring visitors to the Hotel Del Coronado and walk around there. The beach is really nice there too. I also like to take people to La Jolla Cove to walk around by the ocean.
    You can’t beat Hillcrest for good restaurants!
    Welcome to our wonderful city from a former resident of Bartlett, TN!

  • http://.peachguzmans.blogspot.com Jenn

    For fun kids stuff. La Jolla beaches. The parks are not too crowded and if Leta wants to get in the water it is shallow. Also really cool kayaking we have done with our boys 6-4 and 2 to the caves. She might like it. San Diego Zoo has hippos. Also go to Old town, there are some craft shops like candlemaking and sand art that Leta would like. Have fun. Our boys love it there.

  • Brandy

    I think I had the same conversation with my little sister when she was 6 and I was 13 every time she went near my stuff.

  • http://misspriss.org becky

    Someone above mentioned Cabrillo National Monument. That’s another great one. You can look at the tide pools, and the views of the bay are spectacular. Balboa Park is a must-see also. Tons to do there.

  • Anonymous

    In Ocean Beach:
    Eat breakfast on the pier at the pancake stand
    Rocking El Gigante Burritos at Rodeo (a stand)
    Great mexican at Ranchos
    Great coffee at Java Jungle (it’s a nursery too)
    Great burgers at Ho-Dads
    Great live music at Winstons

    In town:
    Balboa Park museums/park
    Old Town

    Out of town:
    Go to the Wild Animal Park and/or Zoo. Both are gorgeous