An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

What part of GROWL does she not understand?

Coco very much wants Chuck’s bone, and Chuck very much does not want her to have it. Keep in mind that we can count on one hand the number of times Chuck has barked in his lifetime.

Also, Jon and I just got a wild hair and decided that we desperately need a break from the snow and the freezing temperatures, so Monday morning we’re throwing Leta and the two puppies in the back seat and heading to San Diego. I visited San Diego a couple of times when I lived in Los Angeles, but only for a few hours each time, so I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to what we should do and see and eat while we’re down there for the week. We will certainly be taking everyone to the dog friendly beaches, and hopefully I can convince Leta that it would be awesome to visit the zoo even though it will be filled with animals who will most likely want to look at her. Also, does anyone know if they have hippos at the San Diego Zoo? Because that would be like Christmas in January.

  • themotherboard

    They do have hippos! Very very cute hippos.
    Then, if Mexican food is your thing, Old Town Mexican Cafe is MUST (best damn food ever!) As is The Cosmopolitan in Old Town. There is another Mexican joint called the Rockin’ Baja Lobster and it has an amazing salsa bar! There is this great little double decker red bus deal, that for $25pp takes you all over San Diego, and you can get on and off as much as you like for like 3-4 DAYS… its a great way to see the entire city, then plan your attack on the city! You can pick that up in Old Town, and they have stops all over San Diego… all the major attractions anyway, and you can use it to go from site to site sans car! You MUST go to Balboa Park on Sunday (not Monday’s because its rather dead and boring on Mondays) because they have all sorts of concerts and food and stuff… its an amazingly great place! Then Seaport Village has not only great shopping, right on the water, but great food as well! I have eaten at an awesome restaurant on Catalina, the name escapes me now (it wasn’t the Coronado, but that is great eating as well), but it was right on the water, and the food was to DIE FOR! It was very posh! I hope you have fun! San Diego is my favorite place on earth. I want my ashes sprinkled there. Is that morbid?

  • TriptikGirl

    I really liked the San Juan Capistrano mission: beautiful grounds, excellent photo ops.

  • Hey Heather!
    Yay – come to San Diego!! Try the dog beach in Coronado or Del Mar, but avoid the dog beach at Ocean Beach – it’s not usually very clean and can have a rough crowd. There are dog parks galore – Nates Point at Balboa Park, a fenced park at the end of the 8 freeway near Sunset Cliffs, and there are several more inland if you want head to east county area.

    I am a local dog trainer, and would be happy to assist you with any doggie activities, or referrals to any dog thing you may need. – if you need anything at all.

    Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Perhaps you’d like to have a celebrity tour! I drove through Salt Lake over the holidays and couldn’t help wondering if it would be creepy if we wanted to say Hi! I decided it would be, like the whole Mystery thing “HI, I’m your #1 fan!”

    Anyway, welcome, enjoy the sun, and know you have doggie friends here if you need them!!

  • amanda

    Drive over the Coronado bridge and visit the Hotel Del Coronado!

  • The science museum (ostensibly for children)!!! I believe it’s in Balboa park…

    It’s possible that my to-be-erstwhile husband and I had more fun than any kid there…

    I have to admit that we also went to Sea World (for nostalgia’s sake (I’d been as a kid) and the penguins are to die for and the Leta might be entertained by the shows.

  • Kitten Froggington

    Go to the Mission district for breakfast one day and hit Nirvana (it’s family friendly too). They have the most fabulous granola waffles and the best huevos rancheros I have ever had in my life. It’s a great location for a stroll, and enough window shopping for beautiful trinkets to keep you thinking about it for years to come. Enjoy!

  • Jody

    Stop in Santa Barbara while you’re at it. You will not be Disappointed!

  • Coco sure has “pitiful” down pat!

    San Diego is soo wonderful! If you go to Fishermans Warf there are a lot of fun shops and you can take a ferry ride. There are pedi-cabs that are fun, too!
    The Gas Lamp District is beee-utiful. The Horton Grand Hotel, in the Gas Lamp District, is a lovely place to stay. Rumors say it’s haunted! Each room has a diary that guests can write in. I’ve read several of them and I find them to be fascinating.
    As far as restaurants…have you ever seen a taco stand that is open 24 hours a day and almost always has a line going out the door??? “Juanita’s” on Pacific Coast Highway in Encinitas is such a place. Please read the reviews on this website:

    This place looks like a greasy spoon from the outside but the food is delicious!!

    I hope you enjoy your time in southern California. If you happen to eat at Juanita’s on the weekend…lunch is on me!

  • Anonymous

    Come to Phoenix instead! Okay, we are missing the oceans…but you’ve got ME!

  • If you & Jon get out for an ‘adult beverage’, you should go relax at Lahaina’s, which is literally in the sand on Pacific Beach. You can watch and applaud the sunset, enjoying a delicious Pacifico beer or 10, which could be why the entire place, uh, applauds the sunset.

  • Awww, Coco is so sweet, even if she annoys Chuck. Would you consider renting her out? I’d pay by the minute.

  • Alissa

    There are a few of these throughout San Diego and they have a delicious breakfast (went to SD in May for 5 days and we ate there THREE of the 5 days!…..although I don’t think they have poptarts 😉

  • Anonymous

    I’m usually just a comment reader, but I just had to say something when I saw that you and the family are headed to San Diego!!

    It’s been clear for the most part lately so I would definitely recommend heading to the following places to see some spectacular views of the city and the ocean:

    Sunset Cliffs (Ocean Beach)
    Mt. Soledad (La Jolla)
    Point Loma/Cabrillo

    Ditto on the Balboa Park/Zoo/Wild Animal Park comments, all are great for families. I would also suggest trying breakfast at either The Cottage or Harry’s in downtown La Jolla – both are delicious! And I think there’s a beach just for letting the pups run sans leash in Ocean Beach. Enjoy your trip!

  • I just watched this on my laptop, and as soon as Chuck started barking, my dog got up and dashed over to the door, hackles up, to see what evil dog was outside. Past me, past the computer, past the speakers. It didn’t even register to him that he’d walked right by the source of the sound.

    I think I’ll watch it again and again and again.

    Playing with dogs is fun!

  • Debra

    I love the Hash House a-Go-Go in Hillcrest for breakfast. The portions are the hughest you’ll ever see for breakfast – pancakes are literally the size of an entire plate. Took my boyfriend’s little newphew there when he came to visit and he was mesmerized.

  • We were just in San Diego for a week back at the end of August. I posted several entries on my blog about our trip including restaurants where we ate and side trips (Temecula is awesome and I highly recommend going). We also visited the zoo where they do have hippos and there was even a baby. I’m so jealous, sounds like a fun trip! Safe travels.

  • not only do they have hippos, they have PYGMY HIPPOS, at the SD zoo…which are better than baby hippos because they stay tiny forever!!!

    also, avoid the gaslamp…it’s a tourist trap and is six kinds of gross. there are some radical restaurants in the east village area (north of the ballpark)…mission is great for breakfast, pokez is great for mexican. sushi deli in hillcrest is famous and pretty awesome (and better than the other sushi delis).

  • Anonymous

    You should visit the discovery science center in Santa Ana!

  • San Diego… Spanish for “a whale’s vagina”

  • Lauren

    You must definitely eat at the Old Town Tortilla Factory in the Old Town/Gas Lamp area. It is an extremely authentic Mexican restaurant…and they have the ladies in the front window hand making the tortillas. It’s famous!

  • Check out – he lives in San Diego and probably has some great places listed on his blog.

  • Will

    As a former San Diego resident who’s now back in Nashville, I can say I miss two things (excluding family) so much it makes me wish I never left. Sadly, both are food. 1.) Go to any hole in the wall taco place ending in -ertos. Robertos, Gilbertos, Albertos, Adalbertos, etc. will do. Order a carne asada burrito. You’ll be surprised by the size and cheap price, and they probably won’t give you the correct change back. Yes, they’re run down looking, but don’t be skeert. 2.) Hit a Rubios and get fish tacos.

    Last trip we took to San Diego, my then-two year old who is now four wanted to go over the Coronado bay bridge a few times a day. Coronado’s a nice enough beach, so it’s not a bad idea to try it. I don’t recommend hanging around various malls with all your remaining free time, which is pretty much all we did for the time that wasn’t allocated to eating carne asada burritos, fish tacos, and driving across a big bridge.

    Love your blog. Been reading for years now, but this is my first comment.

    BTW, my daughter says “crowns” instead of “crayons”. If you hadn’t mentioned it once, I would have no idea what she’s saying. Um, thanks?

  • I think all they have at the SD Zoo are hippos.

    Chuck and Coco are working it out.

  • e

    I went to Sea World for the first time a few years ago, and it was FANTASTIC. Shamu and the otters were just awesome. I felt like a kid again, scampering around and seeing all the animals. Much better than an aquarium.

  • Stephanie

    ooh….San Diego is so fun with a little one. Our son (10 mos. younger than Leta) loved it when we lived there last year.

    Check out the Bonobos at the Zoo. Super social, matriarchal, oversexed chimps. What could be better? Sometimes they’ll touch hands with you through the class. Better still, they’re around the corner from the hippos.

    Sea World is worth the trip to feed dolphins, touch stingrays, and the Shamu show is fascinating for preschoolers.

    Sushi Ota has the very best sushi in SD. I heard that they fly the fish in daily from Japan. Either I’m very gullible or it’s that good. Plus, it’s in a hole in the wall strip mall, the true sign of sushi goodness. It’s located near Sea World. Here’s the address:
    4529 Mission Bay Dr
    San Diego, CA 92109-4920

    I love the beach at La Jolla Shores. There’s a great playground right next to the beach and you can watch the scuba divers go in and out of the water. There’s also a great playground in Del Mar at Powerhouse Park. But, you have to put up with the Del Martians. Hmm…not sure if I could say much more without causing trouble.

    Swami’s for breakfast in Encinitas. Banana pecan pancakes are awesome and it opens super early for the surfers. Surfer hours and toddler hours are pretty much the same. You can then head over to the Self-Realization Fellowship Garden.

    A hike up to Torrey Pines state reserve can be really fun with dogs and little ones and the view is amazing.

    I really love Ortegas in Hillcrest for Mexican. Yummy tortillas. Oh! and Fish Tacos. God, I miss them so much. Rubios is pretty darn good, cheap and great to take kids even when they’re not on their best behavior.

    I completely agree with the other comments about Hotel Del Coronado. It’s so beautiful there and the brunch is amazing but pricey.

    Have fun in SD! I can’t wait to go back and visit friends.

  • You should go to the Wild Animal Park and Sea World too. The Wild Animal Park is almost like being in Afica – everything is spread out. At least that’s how I remember it – course it’s been 10+ years. Sea World is really commercial, but I really think it’s a great place for landlocked kids (young and old) to see some awesome creatures. I find your site very entertaining – thank you for sharing.

  • The zoo has hippos and pygmy hippos. Plus, I highly recommend the monkey and otter area, as their interactions are pretty funny.

    On the beach front, Dog Beach is popular with the dog owning crowd.

    If you are looking for random shopping, Clairemont Mesa has all sorts of random Asian boutiques (as well as tons of restaurants).

    I also second the recommendation for The Eggery, but caution you that parking in Pacific Beach is often a bitch, so be prepared for a walk.

    Pacifica Breese Cafe, in Del Mar, is also a really neat place to eat. It’s right on the hill in Del Mar, so when you’re sitting on the patio it seems as though you could just fall into the ocean.

  • The San Diego Zoo is magnificent. Wonderful animal exhibits (including hippos ginormous and pygmy), and the landscaping is just beautiful. Leta would probably freak out at this, but on certain days for a few bucks you can feed the giraffes – my nieces and nephews thought that was almost as good as seeing monkey butts. Just down the street from the zoo is a park with a great jungle gym area for kids. It’s a good place to break up your zoo visit if Leta needs to run around for awhile. You can get a hand stamp for zoo reentry.

    The zoo is in Balboa Park, which others have mentioned. BP has some lovely gardens, including a Japanese Garden. The Old Globe Theater is a fun place to see a play, but probably not the best option for kids unless they have a kids production going on right now.

    If you do go to Balboa Park, then very nearby is Extraordinary Desserts, which you don’t want to miss. Their creations are both lovely and delicious.

  • I was in SD a couple years ago for the Super Bowl but the only thing I really remember about it was that my hotel was in La Jolla. (Which isn’t even pronounced “la-JOL-la” but “la-HOY-a”.) Right by the Mormon temple. Which you’re probably not all that anxious to visit, living in SLC and all.

  • I liked the Wild Animal Park even better than the zoo. But I’m not sure they have hippos. They do have giraffes you can feed though. I bet Leta would just love to have a long giraffe tongue take food from her hand. 🙂

  • We honeymooned in SD in ’05; it was great! The zoo is a must; I think they had one hippo when we were there, and I think she mighta been pregnant, so maybe there’ll be a baby hippo!

    We also did Balboa Park, Sea World, Old Town, and the Gaslamp District, all fun. Didn’t have time for La Jolla (sea lions, I think…) or Torrey Pines, supposed to be great scenery. Coronado Island has a great beach, too. Enjoy!

  • Anonymous

    I second the vote for fish tacos at Rubio’s.

  • jill

    Tapas and sangria anyone?

    My in-laws live in San Diego and it’s worth dealing with them for the chorizo and lobster bisque. And that’s saying a lot.

    Of course, they are a bit easier to handle after a few pitchers of sangria.

  • Best Pizza EVER: Sicilian Thing
    (sometimes we drive to SD from the OC just for the pizza)
    Groovy Coffeehouse: Clair de Lune

    Have Fun!

  • I second what Anonymous (:-) said about Ocean Beach (great neighborhood) … and the recommendations are good.

    Would like to add a recommendation slightly further up North for Pizza Port (the one in Solana Beach only):

    Great, authentic surfer pizza hangout and outstanding small-batch unique brews:

    The only bar and pizza joint I know that is so welcoming to kids. A must in San Diego. Here’s a map:,+CA&fb=1&cid=0,0,3369772060495543211&sa=X&oi=local_result&resnum=1&ct=image

    Also, Swami’s Cafe in Encinitas for breakfast or lunch if you’re there … and Swami’s beach across the road (next to the groovy white temple – not Mormon unfortunately … but you’ll get great photos and sunsets there) is awesome:

  • I always go to Miguel’s on Coronado when we got to SD:

    also Top of the Market (that’s a fancy romantic dinner night out):

    And my favorite margarita place in the Gaslamp District is La Fiesta on 5th Avenue.

    The last one is a touristy, but I suppose most of downtown SD is anyways. I wrote a bit about SD here:

  • Oh my goodness, this video just cracked me up! Thank you so much for sharing it with us :).

    When I used to go visit my boyfriend at the time in San Diego, one of our favorite places to hit up for breakfast/brunch was Panniken’s. It is a cute yellow house in Encinitas on the 101, and they also sell beautiful coffee and teacups :).

  • Cheryl

    You must eat Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. The antipasta is to die for and awesome pizza. They have several locations, but the best one is the original restaurant at 1747 India Street in Little Italy.


  • Sarah in LA

    San Diego is my hometown….

    Balboa Park rules
    Old Town Mexican Cafe rules too (someone above called it the “OT Tortilla Factory” – it’s been a while so maybe they changed the name?) the food is excellent.

  • @Terri: You must live right around the corner from me! I’m closer to the Mission Ave exit. Maybe Dooce needs to make a stop to see her fans in Oceanside!

    San Diego has great hippos. They had a baby when I was there last.

    Have a great time!

  • Tory

    There’s a cute design district in Solana Beach if you’re up a shopping afternoon. Check out Leaping Lotus for a large collection of shops with all sorts of things under one roof.

  • Brook

    I’ll add a vote for Balboa Park- it’s lovely, has dog-friendly bits, has a photography museum, puppet theater, and when you get tired, the youth symphony holds open rehearsals on Saturdays.

    The gift shop at SADI museum is dangerous. I rarely make it out of there without a pretty bowl or a new pair of earrings. Some may find the Spanish Village Art Center a little hokey, but for me, it’s like etsy-in-person, having a bunch of artists working and selling in the same space. I remember being obsessed with the glassblowing demos as a kid.

    I worry that some of the things I’m thinking of are summer features of the park, you’d have to google the site.

  • Todd

    There is also dog beach which is the beach where all the dogs can run free, no leash, just watch your step!

  • Bethany

    I second what Amanda says. Go to the Coronado Del Mar hotel on Coronado island. It is totally worth go over there for brunch. The brunch is great and the views are spectacular from the hotel.

  • Supercute

    If you guys are going to be here in San Diego the week of the 27th you will be just in time for Restaurant Week!
    It’s around 130 restaurants, all serving a signature 3 course meal for either $30 or $40. It’s a great way to try out a ton of great places without spending a small fortune, plus you can check out the menus to see what looks good. (My Favorites: Bondi is a great, fun Australian place, and Island Prime is an amazing steakhouse right on the water).

    I would second the Wild Animal Park, I think it’s much more fun than the zoo, and you can take a tram tour where you go into some of the animal exhibits.

  • fancydancer

    LEGOLAND, for sure. And you get priority parking if you drive a Volvo.

  • Ginny

    My kids and I enjoyed watching the tuna fishermen sitting on the docks mending their nets on the bay there.

  • Anonymous

    there is a special show on tv sunday night on the national geographic channel on hippos! i saw a blurb on it during the today show…

  • Another San Diego county resident chiming in:

    1. Zoo is a must. Run don’t walk to the Hippo Beach section and plan to press yourself against the glass and smooch a big hippo mouth. You will fall in love. If you won’t be back soon, I strongly recommend the Wild Animal Park. The tram ride is amazing. You really do feel like you’re on safari and watching the circle of life play out in front of you.

    2. Skip Sea World (over-priced and not much fun).

    3. A day at Balboa Park is essential. Lots of great museums, architecture, and there is even great theatre (The Old Globe). The Prado restaurant serves great mojitos and Latin-influenced dishes.

    4. Good Eats: I second the recommendation of Ho Dads in Ocean Beach for casual, All-American good eats. There are tons of fine dining choices in the Gaslamp District, which is where the beautiful people hang out in the evening. Your sweet tooth will be best satisfied at a place called Extraordinary Desserts in Little Italy. You can get great Mexican food at many places, but the classic recommendations are El Indio and The Old Town Mexican Cafe.

    5. Geeky stuff: There are Apple stores at UTC (805@ La Jolla Village Dr) and Fashion Valley (163 @ 8). I think UTC is the better choice, but it’s further away from central San Diego. It is however, very close to ultra-geeky Sorrento Valley (805 @ Mira Mesa Blvd), the land of office parks that inspired the movie Office Space.

    6. Doggie stuff: I’m most familiar with the dog beach at Del Mar, as I used to pass it every day on my way to work. Here are a list of all of the leash free parks in the area:

    7. Hang out with me. I’m fun, kinda.

    Enjoy your time. Can’t wait to see the pics.

  • Natalie

    While in SD

    Wild animal park over the zoo
    Balboa park for sure!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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