Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

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.

  • Kristin

    HO-DADS! the BEST hamburgers and it’s right next to Dog Beach in OB. there is also a great bead/jewelry shop across the street called The Black Bead and on the same street there are a bunch of antique shops.

    and i second Hash House. the best best best breakfasts. Also check out Babette Schwartz for some kitschy shopping. Both are in Hillcrest. Hillcrest in general is just great. lots of delicious restaurants, cool shopping, great architecture, etc.

    If you go to Hillcrest, then head over to Balboa Park which is just adjacent. Lots of great photo ops. It’s great just to walk around and there is a wonderful dog park there too. BP is next to the Zoo.

    if you go to Fashion Valley mall, get a drink at Dlush. It’s delicious!

    Have fun!

  • I can hear the “i don’t want to do this, kid, but get the hell away from here” in chuck’s voice.

  • You could send several good vibes to San Diego’s Chargers who will be attempting to do what no team has done so far this season – KILL THE PATRIOTS!

    Okay so you don’t necessarily have to be in San Diego to do this (I’ll be doing it from Seattle!) but it couldn’t hurt – you know, in between hippo kisses and the like.

  • Kristin

    one more!
    Extraordinary Desserts

    also in the Balboa Park/Hillcrest/Downtown region.

    enough said.

  • meredith

    I travel for a living, and San Diego is one of my favorite places. I highly recommend watching the movie Anchorman before you go. It’ll make your trip that much more amusing.

    If you can, take a drive up the PCH to Encinitas. There is a little roadside taqueria there that has the best fish tacos ever. I can’t remember the name of it though … but it’s teeny and is right between the roadside and the beach.

  • They do have hippos! My “homepage” link goes to my Picasa album with a picture of them from Thanksgiving.

    Balboa Park in general very fun with lots of activities and the zoo all right there. I also like Sea World.

    Also old town has good Mexican food. Those are my recommendations.

  • three words: tijuana donkey show.

  • Anonymous

    My dog was licking my speakers as I was watching this…does that mean he can *hear* how tasty that bone is? 😉

  • Tawny

    I would HIGHLY recommend Extraordinary Desserts. There is one in Hillcrest (near Balboa Park) that is cozy and romantic and one in Little Italy that is modern/business chic. The one in Little Italy has non-dessert stuff on the menu, including a more extensive wine list, salads, and snack-type things.

    There is a delightful restaurant in Pacific Beach called Cantina Panaderia, that has Asian-Mexican fusion food, which I realize sounds kind of pretentious/ridiculous, but I had an extremely excellent breakfast there recently (coconut french toast with raspberry puree!). There are also some good Mexican restaurants in Old Town, where you can watch ladies make your tortillas right there in front of you.

    I would say, with a kid, the zoo is a little more practical because it involves less walking, whereas the Wild Animal Park is a bit of a hike. The Wild Animal Park, however, is not nearly as depressing, and I know for sure that you can see hippos there. They breed them, and I’ve seen several baby ones.

    I also recommend a stroll through Balboa Park, because it is lovely and there is a bad-ass dog park right near the entrance, as well as lovely gardens, an atrium, and assorted museums.


  • Kat

    Just make sure Coco is ‘car broke’. It could be a messy trip if she is not.

  • Ash

    They have a boy hippo and girl hippo in the same tank. Last time we were there, they were doing a little dance underwater where they pretended to attack each other ferociously while bouncing up and down on their piggly little legs. It was the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.
    You must adopt them immediately.

  • Today I held one of these lovely australian shephard puppies in my arms. I almost took him home, but reminded myself STERNLY that I already have four dogs, eight cats and two dogs.

    It barely stopped me.

  • Anonymous

    The zoo and the Wild Animal Park are both great; if you can find a place for the dogs for a while, Sea World is probably the MOST fun. If you go to Costco or Costco online, you can usually get a pass for Sea World, the zoo, and/or the Wild Animal Park for a good deal. If you like malls, Horton Plaza is a fun, multi-level mall where you can stroll outdoors and there are lots of shops (including many popular ones).

    Hope that helps and enjoy the time away from the cold!


  • Okay, here’s the deal:

    Don’t miss the zoo. Hippos, v. cool though none available for adoption at the moment. Also, while you’re there, take Leta on Skyfari and maybe check out the petting zoo.

    Balboa Park train museum has a great exhibit of toy trains and apparently, a lego exhibit right now as well.

    SKIP SEAWORLD. Human ride on the backs of whales to rock music. N’uff said.

    Go to Coronado. You can have a drink at the Hotel Del and feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Also, a fantastic dog beach there and a lovely little restaurant called Tartine. Great lunches. You could also eat at Peohe’s right on the water and look back over the city.

    For breakfast, The Mission (three locations, downtown, North Park and Mission Beach) or Brockton Villa (La Jolla)

    For kid friendly dining, The Corvette Diner in Hillcrest. For AWESOME Mexican food, Mama Testas in Hillcrest (1417 University,

    NOW, for you and Jon (since I’m offering JUST THIS ONCE to watch Leta and the dogs for you while you go exploring…ask LeahPeah for references.)

    *Starlite on India Street (, you’ll LOVE the decor and arcitecture)

    *Café Chloe (, on 9th and G Street downtown. Mos def have the pommes frites.)

    *The Guild, 1805 Newton in the East Village downtown

    *Exrtaordinary Desserts (two locations, downtown on Union and in Hillcrest on 5th Avenue—the design freak in you will love the DT location)

    *The C-Level Lounge (c-level lounge, near the airport, north of down town; sit out on the patio for a view of downtown and Coronado)

    Vagabond in South Park (, after, you can hear music and drink beer at the Whistle Stop down the street)

    What?!? You’re not going to be here for a month??? Okay, I’ll stop. Have a great trip. I’ll cross my fingers for no rain.

  • Jennifer

    “Go to any hole in the wall taco place ending in -ertos. Robertos, Gilbertos, Albertos, Adalbertos, etc. will do. Order a carne asada burrito.”

    As a San Diego resident, I believe this is the best advice ANYONE has given you. Seriously, if you miss out on the hole in the wall carne asada, you should leave San Diego feeling ASHAMED of yourself.

    I have a 3 year old, and she LOVES Legoland, Sea World, the Zoo, Balboa Park, all the standards. You can’t go wrong checking any of them out. You’ve gotten a lot of recommendations for food in La Jolla, but one of the best KID FRIENDLY fancy restaurants with a VIEW is Jane’s Del Mar. 🙂 YUMMY!

    Oh, and if you DO go to Hotel Del, don’t forget about the Haunted Room. 🙂

  • Leta is the perfect age for Lego Land!

    Have fun

  • i used to be a zoological member when i lived in san diego.. i’d skip the zoo and go to the wild animal park.

  • Sarah

    I can only reiterate what others have already said, but wanted to add my excitement that you are visiting San Diego!
    Definitely check out the hippos at the zoo. In addition there are some other very cool animals there that I never even knew existed until I moved here and saw them at the zoo. Specifically the Okapi( look like a cross between zebras and giraffes with a coat so velvety soft looking that you just want to rub your face on them and the Tapirs (
    After (or before) the zoo I highly suggest checking out the nearby Spanish Village which is just a small artists courtyard with cute little stores of handmade crafts, jewelry, photography etc… It is part of Balboa Park and you can easily walk from the zoo (where there is free parking!) to the Spanish Village and the Balboa Park museums. The dog park on the other side of the bridge is a great place for off leash play with other pups (as long as Chuck and Coco are fairly obedient and don’t have a tendency to run far off as it is not fenced in).
    And finally, yes yes yes go to the Hotel Del on Coronado. It is my happy place. Before I moved a little further up the coast I used to drive over there if I was having a bad day and just sit and have a drink on their deck overlooking the beach. Heavenly.
    Have a great visit!!!

  • They do indeed have hippos at the SD Zoo, as other people have said. When I first visited here (before moving out for grad school), there was a baby hippo too. Her and mama were hanging out in the water (there’s a clear wall that allows you to see the underwater view), when mama decided to take a big dump. True story. So you can definitely see hippos, but beware of the hippo poo.

    The Linkery in North Park (east of Balboa Park, on 30th and Upas) is a good place to eat if you like sausage. If you like Italian, Alexander’s is across the street. Unfortunately my knowledge of kid-friendly hangouts is lacking, but if you’re able to get out for a night on your own, Hamilton’s has a great beer selection, the Whistlestop is a great bar, and the Casbah can’t be beat for live music.

    As far as beaches go, Coronado is my personal favorite, because it’s usually less crowded and the water is pretty calm. Ocean beach probably has the best dog beach, though. And Balboa Park is amazing – great just to walk around/hang out/have a picnic, or explore the many museums.

    Ho-Dad’s and Hash House are great places to eat. The Mission Cafe is also excellent for breakfast. If it’s pizza you want, try Bronx Pizza in Hillcrest or Lefty’s (for Chicago-style) in North Park.

  • I have no good advice but can I just say I’m jealous. I sure wish I could drive for a bit and be somewhere warm.

    Have a great trip!!

  • Anna

    We are actually *leaving* San Diego tomorrow to head up to Mammoth and go to the snow for a few days. Crazy, I know.

    Lots of great ideas have been posted here (I actually sent this link to my husband, because I am going to try some of these restaurant suggestions) but I would also throw in the Corvette Diner in Hillcrest. It is a great place to take kids. They have 50’s music, the staff all sing, and the waitress are rude (on purpose) and throw straws at you. The kids can be loud and it won’t bother anyone.

    Hope you have a great trip!

  • The best time to go to the SD Zoo is first thing in the morning. The tour bus (best part of the park — sit on the top and you can see everything!) is empty and the animals are all awake and being fed. We rode the bus all round the zoo first and then walked to see everything up close. You can get pretty close to the pandas, which is really cool.

  • El Rinconcito,+CA&fb=1&view=text&latlng=33191871,-117229394,2718395366560633848
    it’s a ways out, but, you will be the only white people there, there is a live mexican band, and you can order a bucket full of delicious seafood cooked in amazing sauce and a bucket of coronas with fresh lime.

  • HDC

    Coronado Island & the Hotel Del Coronado specifically. The hotel was in the movie “Some Like it Hot” and the interior is still very much the same. Terrific antique stuff everywhere. Dunno how pooch friendly the beaches round there are tho.

  • Tera

    Corvette Diner! Fun 50’s style diner, great food, fun times!

    3946 5th Ave
    San Diego, CA 92103
    (619) 542-1001

  • Del Mar is the dog beach to hit – our guy Augie loved it there. It is just North of the San Diego area.

    The funky furniture shopping for unique finds is in the area just North of Balboa Park.

    And the Mission Hills district is great for family/dog walks – beautiful safe interesting area to explore.


  • Anonymous

    Oh, I almost forgot–be sure to stop at Seaport Village. It is very quaint, has lots of little shops, good food, etc.

    And I don’t know if you have a GPS or are into geocaching, but if you’re interested, there is some great geocaching around the area and it takes you to places you wouldn’t normally see (although sometimes it can be a hike).

    Also, Mount Soledad (I think) at night overlooks the city, is beautiful, and is said to be a very spiritual place.


  • It’s all about LegoLand!! They have outside dog runs there so you can give the dogs a bowl of water and then go play, ride some rides, eat half-way decent food for less than the cost of a european sports car, and not spend all day waiting in line for 2 rides. It is small enough that you are also not exhausted from walking half way around san diego all day. As an animal lover you should definitely avoid Sea World – depressing…

  • Amy

    I’m not going to San Diego, but I’m saving all these comments for when I do…it’s like an insider’s travel guide.

    Heather, each month you should pick another city and ask your readers for recommendations.

    Have a great time in SD. I have family in SLC and they are freezing their asses off with those 12 degree temps. It makes these 40 degree days in NYC seem balmy.

  • As someone who’s only been in SD for 5 months, I love reading the comments for suggestions. I can only second a lot of the suggestion already made:

    Balboa Park and La Jolla are must-sees.

    I love getting slices at Bronx Pizza.

    Best fish tacos ever at South Beach Bar & Grill in Ocean Beach.

    Extraordinary Desserts will knock your socks off.

  • Anita

    I’ve not read through all of the comments, but what about this place

  • Anonymous

    we do the sock-snout thing with our dog too! and the cat, and even the babies(hubby has great beeeg feet)_

  • Love the video. I actually miss that little high pitched puppy bark. Good for Chuck for standing his ground.

    Have fun in SD. I would give anything to get out of the dreary Seattle weather. I’d be thrilled for either sun or snow–just something besides this gray.

  • Valerie

    I second the Sushi Deli recommendations. My husband and I have gone to San Diego on a whim to eat there. Cheap and good. It’s loud–and you should go earlier in the evening if you’re going with Leta. The line to get in gets insane at times…

    For breakfast please eat at The Hash House A-Go-Go. You will love it. That’s all I can say. It’s on Fourth, near Balboa park and just south of the Hillcrest community.

    I lived in San Diego for two years and miss it so badly! Have a great time. 🙂 I wish I was going, too.

  • Nevada

    If you’re in San Diego, you simply must try the lobster tacos. The best are at World Famous restaurant and pub on Mission Beach. They’re about $4/each, or if you go on either monday or wednesday afternoons (i can’t remember which day it is, sorry) after 4pm I believe its their featured appy and they are only $1.50. To die for! Unfortunately they are a good 24 hr drive from Vancouver, British Columbia.

    Have fun!

  • Went to SDSU, love SD!!

    The Zoo is the best in the world. THE BEST.

    Gaslamp = cheesy. Croce’s really cheesy. Cheesy tolerance is all about your mood!

    Little Italy = adorable, great shops and a v. cool furniture store totally your style. and I used to work with the owner in Hollywoodland:

    North Park = also v. cute, yummy restaurants etc.

    South Mish = Beach radness, The Mission for breakfast, total SD

    Pacific Beach, La Jolla = love it all

  • Becca

    I live in the OC and here are a few things that I think haven’t been mentioned:

    Ghiradelli Chocolate Shop/Ice Cream Parlor on 5th Avenue in the Gaslamp District. Hot Fudge to die for.

    Museum of Man in Balboa Park.

    Model train museum is there too, in case Leta is into that. Or Jon.

    Outlets in Carlsbad have a Crate and Barrel outlet, plus Stride Rite if you like their shoes for Leta. No crocs as far as I know.

    Have fun! San Diego is one of my favorite places in the world!

  • Yeah, yeah, it’s commercial and it’s hokey, but LegoLand really is lots of fun and Leta is the perfect age to really enjoy it. You’ll LOVE the zoo – it’s the best one in the country, imho.

    Have a great trip!

  • Yeah, yeah, it’s commercial and it’s hokey, but LegoLand really is lots of fun and Leta is the perfect age to really enjoy it. You’ll LOVE the zoo – it’s the best one in the country, imho.

    Have a great trip!

  • Southern California has missed you. She told me.
    The Gaslamp District is great for wandering and eating. I’ve been in several different areas of San Diego and loved them all, so you’re bound to have fun. I hope you all love it!

  • p.s. I have two Goldens who must be separated during chew flip time else they tear out each other’s throats! Goldens, sheesh!

    p.p.s. and MAKE SURE you eat many many burritos in SD. mmmm, burritos.

  • brittany


    Even if you don’t eat at this restaurant, stop by & get some of the most delicious (don’t call it peanut butter) peanut SPREAD you’ve ever put in your mouth. EVER. I actually haven’t even eaten at the restaurant, but if it’s 1/10th as good as the peanut spread, it will be heavenly. I can highly recommend the butterscotch, the dark chocolate cherry, and the mocha almond.

    My ex boyfriend lived in San Diego while I lived in Seattle & I made him send me batches regularly.

  • Christy

    Welcome to Southern California Heather! We up here in Ventura County are freezing our A@#%!’s off (I think it’s like 55 degrees or something….hahaha!!)Anyway, my whole family lives in San Diego. It’s a great town. ENJOY!!! I know everyone has pretty much covered where to go, but I soooo agree with the Gaslamp district. So FUN!!!! Wonderful martini bars if you can get out just the two of you. If not, it is a really kid freindly town. Hey – maybe the Hippo at the San Diego zoo can babysit for you! She did have babies not too long ago…..Anyway, enjoy!

  • Anonymous

    I just took my two year old to the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla and she loved it. They have a tidepool area outside that overlooks La Jolla Cove that is beautiful. Plus, the kids can handle starfish, fake lobsters and the like. You could couple that with George’s and a trip to check out La Jolla Cove. It shouldn’t be missed. In and Out Burger! Rubios! (You’ve got to try fish tacos no matter how gross you think they sound. Trust all of us on this one.) I’d vote for the Wild Animal Park over the Zoo – they have a kids water play area if it’s warm enough. Skip Ocean Beach – it’s a little sketch. Definitely the dog beach in Del Mar. I am sure Leta would love, love, love Legoland. If you want to go shopping, they’ve got beautiful outlets in Carlsbad that you can bring dogs to since it is an outdoor mall. They even have poopy bags for your convenience. The outlets could be coupled with the dog beach, which is maybe 10 minutes away on the 5. Julian is a beautiful, old rustic mining town that is a little over an hour away. The fire got very close, so hopefully it doesn’t resemble a hellscape now. That is something you might want to find out before investing the time/drive. You’ve got to get apple pie and ice cream there. Good stuff, and there are lots of little places to walk the dogs on the way there (although you might have to get the food to go once there). Have fun! It’s a great city…

  • Abby

    Here’s a picture I took of the hippos at San Diego zoo.. I think they have two exhibits!

  • Anonymous

    You WANT – no you possibly NEED to go here for dinner when you’re in San Diego. They’re north of the city, but the food is excellent, the beer is excellent and it’s just an amazing place to eat.

  • Vegas Baby!

    For a “manly” museum experience, the Midway downtown is pretty nice (it’s an aircraft carrier!)

    If you and the little one like to watch the little choo-choos go around and around, you can’t beat the model railroad museum in Balboa Park.

    And I wholeheartedly second (and third) the Extraordinary Desserts recommendation, which is near Balboa Park (hell, I’m a guy and even MY eyes rolled back in my head after trying one of their chocolate creations).

    And this may not be the trip for it, but if you’re looking for a romantic, tasty dinner (or tapas place), you can visit Cafe Sevilla in the Gaslamp District. Fantastic Sangria and Spanish food (yes, Spanish, not Mexican). Also, Flamenco dinner show packages and a dance club and flamenco in the tapas bar, for much pre-bow-chicka-bow-wow good times.

  • I live in San Diego and go to all the dog beaches. the best dog beach is on Coronado Island. Visit The Hotel Del Coronado (big white old thing of a Hotel that was the backdrop for SOME LIKE IT HOT with Marilyn Monroe) …and down the beach from the hotel is the doggie beach. If you like, email me when you are in town and I’ll meet you there with my pup. that would be a blast to have a doggie party!

    other good dog beaches are: OB dog beach and Del Mar dog beach though you have to pay for parking and I got a ticket last time I was there.

    The BEST fish tacos in San Diego are located at EL CUERVO on Washington and 1st Avenue, in Hillcrest (which is close to balboa park and the zoo). the BEST. Also order a chicken abodabo taco with guac. rocks your mouth like no other taco!

    Best Thai – THAI AMARIN in hillcrest again, and all near the zoo and balboa park.

    good luck, and have a blast! we are having some very decent weather.

  • Forgot to mention – for sunsets check out the Torrey Pines glider port near the Salk Institute. Or Sunset Cliffs, just south of Ocean Beach – I got these shots there last weekend…

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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