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.

  • Chloe

    I’d steer clear of Extraordinary Desserts. Yes, looks fabulous but was waiting in line to use the restroom and saw a huge critter moseying around in the storeroom, not a hippo nor a dog but had a long skinny tail. I realize that all places have critters but in the daylight?

    Hippos at the San Diego Zoo: don’t get too close. That’s where the cute little babies were rubbing their behinds against the wall, spraying everyone with urine.

    Have a great time.

  • Anonymous

    At the San Diego zoo, at the right times, you can feed the giraffes. Coolest thing ever!

  • You know what this video totally reminds me of?

    This story. Dog: STARVING!

    (I haven’t ever been able to stop quoting this story. It’s amazing.)

  • Katrena

    Go to STUDIO DINER. Open 24 hours a day. You won’t regret it!

  • Owen P

    Dang it, I forgot a few eateries. Blue Water Grill on India st. in Mission Hills has great fresh fish. I second the recommendation of Miguel’s, though I would recommend to steer clear of Rubio’s and look for non-chain restaurants to get your fish tacos at. Like Blue Water.

  • sylvia

    1) there are hippos
    2) balboa park, right near the zoo, is lovely to stroll around in
    3) the torrey pines beach area is small,lovely and often times not crowded

  • holly

    Please eat the FRENCH TOAST at Mission Cafe…right in Mission Beach. Please do this for me! I lived in san diego for nearly 4 years and couldn’t get enough of that stuff. Now I am in San Francisco and I am cold.

    Also, I added your entry today about Gold’s Gym to my long laundry list of reasons I no longer consider myself Mormon…

  • Sarah

    I know it’s been said, but Birch Aquarium in La Jolla is a great place to visit. It’s small, but has a “petting” area for Leta, where you can hold starfish, etc.

    Also, I second the recommendation for World Famous, great restaurant, great atmosphere. Plus, there are lots of fun shops nearby.

    And if you make it to the zoo, they have a whole Children’s Zoo with lots of activities for the little ones. But sadly, the animals will definitely try to make eye contact with Leta.

  • So, I’m watching the video and my beagle puppy starts running around like a crazed maniac wondering where I’m hiding your crying puppy. Thanks for the laugh.

  • Nicole ——> lots of great maps, walking tours, discount coupons, restaurant recommendations, etc. you can pick up an actual copy at lots of grocery stores/newsstands/hotels down here. it’s also compact so you can carry it around without that unfortunate “giant floating map” look that so many tourists bring with them.

  • Valeri

    Extraordinary Desserts, 2929 Fifth Avenue, SD. It’s right next to Balboa Park, and down the street from Hillcrest. Has the most amazing things you will ever put in your mouth. Hillcrest is a fabulous little place all on it’s own. It’s the West Hollywood of San Diego and if you walk down Fifth you will find a handful of used bookstores and thrift stores (as well as one fabulous soap store called…dammit. I forget). At the back of one of the books stores (it’s the biggest one on the same side of the street as WaMu) is what I call “Deathrow of Books”. It’s this sad little back room (a hall, really) where they put all the books that no one wants. Everything in there is 50 cents. Save them! Save them for me, Heather!

  • YES THEY HAVE HIPPOS AND THEY ARE AWESOME!!! I have pictures of our recent trip to the zoo on my blog and there are pics of the hippos!! You are only a thin piece of glass away from them!! You’ll love it!! It was my favorite part that day (besides the Corona stand which we didn’t see until 1/2 through our visit).

  • How cool to learn that so many San Diegans read Dooce! I’m adding some places that haven’t been mentioned yet to the long list of excellent recommendations you’ve already received.

    Ponce’s Mexican restaurant in Kensington, right off the 15 at Adams Ave (

    the Big Kitchen in South Park, owned and operated by Judy the Beauty on Duty (

    Las Olas in Cardiff, can’t beat their margaritas (

    Also, if you want to hear some original local music, check out Citizen Band ( at Dublin Square Irish Pub ( in the Gaslamp on Thursday night at 9 pm.

    One last thing, please pick up my sister on the way down. She lives in West Valley. thanks 🙂

  • jorgi

    If you are looking for an out-of-the-way-of-the-tourist type spot for dinner, try Terra Fantastic food and not horribly expensive. I also recommend Fairouz Cafe, if you like Lebanese food – it is beyond good and there’s gorgeous art to look at while you eat. There’s a drum circle in Balboa Park every Sunday near the World Beat Cultural Center, and it happens to be right next to the most fantastic park we have – tons of play structures and things to crawl over and just a general good time, plus places to sit!There are two really good dog parks near Balboa Park – Morley Field and South Park. And Dog Beach in Ocean Beach – Chuck would probably like that.

  • Stefanie

    You’d probably enjoy OB. There are great places to eat and quite a few antique/consignment stores where you should be able to pick up a new trinket or two.

    Leta will go bonkers for Legoland, for sure, and it’s not half-bad for grownups, either.

    As for Balboa Park, the Reuben H. Fleet science center is interesting, but probably not so much for a 3-year-old; the fountain in front of the building is cheaper and far more interesting to kids.

    Between Balboa Park and the zoo is a little-walked path. Near the zoo end is a verrry old carousel (one of the last with the brass rings) and a mini-train. Toward the park end is Spanish Village; it’s a collection of artist’s cottages and you can find some wonderful art and handcrafted stuff there.

    A bit of zoo trivia (which may be out of date): as of a few years ago, the value of the zoo’s botanical holdings was greater than the value of the animals.

    If you do go up to Encinitas on the coast, stop in at Lou’s records, then Ducky Waddle’s Emporium next door for kitsch and art stuff.

    There is absolutely nothing on Earth that is better than San Diego taco shop food. You MUST have some carne asada or machaca; Leta can get a quesadilla that’s bigger than her head, and maybe she’ll stuff the leftovers in her backpack for you (or probably Coco) to find later.

  • Sethonious

    Eat at any mexican food joint that ends in -bertos. Adalbertos, hummbertos, michael jackson-bertos. Crispy chicken tacos that make you wanna slap yo momma.

    Also Pokez is pretty good too.

  • Valentine’s (corner of 9th and Market, downtown) makes *uniquely* fantastic burritos. They do things with their potatoes that are out of this world (especially noticeable in the breakfast burritos!).

  • Anonymous

    I highly suggest getting yourself to a Santana’s burritos, where you will dine on the best Mexican food ever. Honestly.

    And check out Coronado! Beautiful beach, great shops, and usually nice locals. I should know… I lived there haha. But seriously, GO TO SAN DIEGO! It ain’t called america’s finest city for nothing.

    And as for the zoo, check it out, but DEFINITELY check out Balboa Park. And the Reuben H. Fleet center! And the Birch Aquarium!

    well, just check it out.

  • Anonymous

    The Zoo definitely has hippos!!!!

    If you’re looking for a fun place to walk along the beach, Del Mar and La Jolla are fun – and good for people watching too (by people watching, I mean making fun of superficial california people).
    For fresh, creative sushi, there’s Japengo in La Jolla.
    There are some fantastic restaurants in the Gaslamp district…
    Coronado is a nice walk-around type of place. The park at the end of Point Loma has gorgeous views on San Diego bay and the Pacific Ocean – thought it might be a tad early for whale watching.
    Balboa Park is a great place, as it has a bunch of different museums (art, hands-on science, natural history, railroad), gorgeous gardens, and trolley rides.

  • Can I just say I am so jealous of you living in the winter wonderland of snow in Utah..and of course getting away to the sun too. In London all we has is rain, wind and more rain.

    With dogs there are never enough bones, balls, or toys. At Christmas my three each got a tennis ball, yet there was still trouble. Some day I am going to buy a hundred, throw them all over the living room floor and say “now let’s see some complaining”

    (see my flickr for ball stealing confirmation)

  • Christina

    I love reading your blog everyday at work, it keeps me sane. I live in San Diego about 15 minutes from San Diego Zoo near SDSU. We have two pups as well, Nala and Otis. The zoo does have hippos, so hopefully they will be out. A year ago, there was a baby and it was so cute I about crapped my pants. Be prepared for lots of walking and the gondola is worth the trip up the big hill. Del Mar dog beach is the nicest, but Ocean Beach is closer for us and it’s a lot bigger, plus there is a river there that feeds into it so it’s a bit calmer in that part, plus the parking is free and since it’s winter, it shouldn’t be bad. There are quite a few good ethnic restaurants around town, but they can be a bit hidden. Shoot me an email about what you like and I can suggest stuff depending on what you are in the mood for. Now, I know it’s not a beach, but the Dog park in Balboa Park is my favorite, just because it’s close and we don’t have to deal with sand, also Otis our new dog considers water Satan.

    Just cruising walking around Balboa Park should be pretty fun, plus lots of places to take some cool pics. Leta would also like the Ruben Fleet Science Center, tons of hands on stuff for the kiddies.

    If you would like to hang out, meet at the dog park, that would be great, shoot me an email and I’ll give you my number. It’s probably odd to have your readers know so much about you and you know nothing about them, but I have a feeling like we have lots in common. It will be a big crazy animal, crazy husband, running around child, good time. also has good recommendations from reviewers on some of the better restaurants.

    Have Fun!

  • Jaxon

    Chuck really IS a bit of a turd isn’t he? That is definitely a turdy bark. So I would just give the Coco the bone on principle. As a matter of fact I would give Coco anything she wants. All the time. Even though she eats poop. (I’m still not over that.)

  • Kathy from NJ

    Jenna (& Charlie & their 4 children) of Amazing Trips live in San Diego.

    They have annual passes to all the great family friendly places – I’m sure she will steer you in the right direction.

  • I live in San Diego and here are a few of my suggestions for families.

    -I didn’t recall seeing Legoland on the list but if your daughter likes legos, highly recommend.

    -Zoo is a must see

    -Balboa Park has a great exploritorium for kids

    -Great dog park bordering Del Mar/Solana Beach (exit Via de la Valle)no leashes this time of year

    -La Jolla has a great area with seals hanging out on the beach (called children’s pool, don’t ask). And LJ also has lots of great restaurants/shops/ easy to walk around.

    Have fun!

  • Anonymous

    King’s for Breakfast.
    You gotta go to Trader Joe’s and put in a plug for one in Utah.

  • jms

    San Diego has the best bloody marys. I don’t know why, but it’s true. There’s one place in particular, the Turf Supper Club, where you grill your own steaks at a little station in the center of the room. The food is fine, but the bloody marys are phenomenal.

  • Cathy

    Sea World, definitely. You can PET the DOLPHINS, which never gets old. Also you can pick up sea stars and stuff at a “petting zoo”-type, see penguins and sea lions, watch the Shamu show…..I love Sea World. (careful, there’s music on the site)

    Balboa Park is pretty cool as well. If no one’s explained what it is, exactly, it’s a beautiful area down by the Zoo with a ton of museums (art, natural history, science, aerospace, etc.) as well as a big fountain and some lovely open-air plazas with people playing music or reading fortunes or whatever. Also, a few museums are usually free on Tuesdays (which ones change every week).

    And yes, you MUST go to Old Town, this small area dedicated to preserving the Mexican influence that’s so strong in Southern California (it’s touristy, but lovely). Best Mexican food you’ll ever eat, and in a fantastic area.

  • Danielle

    I don’t know about San Diego but I do know that I want to stick my face in the top of Coco’s head because oh my god the softness!

  • Places to check out:

    Balboa Park:

    Cabrillo National Park has some great tide pools that our kids (myself included) found particularly fascinating:

    Walk around Del Mar- good shopping and more eye candy – check out the massive 90′ mosaic wall outside the library:

    Eye Candy: The Salk Institute – this is an incredible architectural wonder and I think you’d enjoy it. Walk inside some of the buildings to get the full effect. This is where miracles happen and the buildings and site convey that rather well.

    Up the road from the Salk is Charlie’s by the Sea

    Check out Old Town Mexican Cafe:

    Head on over to Coronado: and after walking and exploring, quench your thirst at the Coronado Brewing Co. (unless you don’t like beer?) or maybe a fine lunch at the Hotel del Coronado:

    Have a blast and travel safe! Hope Jon feels better and you and Leta don’t catch what he has!

  • ben

    TOTALLY agree on the tacos, though carnitas are my personal taste. That and t-shirts at Thanksgiving are the only things I really miss about San Diego (I grew up in Portland, so the necessity of having a car is a huge turn-off for me WRT the entire state of California).

    I second Torrey Pines, though the intertubes are very clear that it’s not dog-friendly.

    The Wild Animal Park is out in the boonies, but the route is clearly signed from the instant you cross into S.D. County on the 15. The San Diego Zoo is next door to Balboa Park, so if you go to one it would probably make sense to go to both.

    If you’re keen on Vietnamese food at all, that too can be found in abundance around SDSU. No need to deal with Orange County, hooray. (Portions of the local family unit routinely go into that neck of the woods for just that reason.)

    Also don’t forget that you’ll be passing within easy driving distance of two Fry’s stores en route (if gadget-geeking is at all a priority).

    Everything else that’s occurred to me has already been raised… all of the ideas I’ve seen here sound like really good ones.

  • Sue

    hippos = yes
    wild animal park is also lovely
    and i seem to recall if you buy your tickets online you save money YAY!

    seaworld is also kind of fun, somewhat cheesy at times, but you can feed dolphins, and pat manta rays.

    Balboa park is free and there is so much to do here, it stretches forever

    and for kids there is something called lego world?

  • Kim

    Hey Heather,

    Looks like you’ve got a lot of San Diegans taking care of you in the What-to-do department. But I just wanted you to know that, should you come to Balboa Park, there are two hard-core Dooce fans who will be working in the large domed building called The Old Globe theatre while you’re there. And we have a kick-ass boxing play we’d love you to see. I know seeing live theatre may not be your idea of how to spend your vacation (what with Leta and the dogs and all), but the offer’s out there, if you want it.

    Have fun while you’re here!

    Kim (& Bernadette)

  • Chuck’s not a turd, he is just narky that they got a new dog – he’s thinking, “you’re stealing my bed, my treats, my face time with the humans and now you want my bone…what next, my souuuuuuuul??”

    It’s like if you brought home a new wife…what is the old wife supposed to think.. although I guess it is Utah 😉

  • Of course we have hippos–we actually have Hippo Beach. If you don’t get your fill of animals there, take another day at the Wild Animal Park. Of course, Sea World & maybe Legoland (if you’re into the theme park thing). You also have to wander through Balboa Park; visit the Botanical Gardens and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. There’s also a great Children’s Museum downtown. Nikki’s recommendation for the tidepools is excellent, this is a great time of year. My favorite beach for little kids is La Jolla Shores–in addition to the beach, there’s a grassy area, playground, and excellent bathrooms (something I consider a neccesity with little ones). If you go to Old Town, you have to visit the shops and eat right outside Old Town at Bazaar del Mundo–you’ll love the shopping. We like to eat at the Old Town Mexican Cafe.

    And I have to warn you, it’s been pretty chilly (for us). Highs of 60-65. So at least pack your sweatshirts. If you get bored or stuck while you’re here, drop me an e-mail. I want everyone to have a great time in my hometown.

  • 1) Skip Sea World in favor of the Wild Animal Park, which is wonderful, and low-tech.

    2) If you take the tram tour, make sure no one has a 48-ounce slushee beforehand, and make sure everyone uses the bathroom. Trust me, there are no bathroom stops, and no easy way to jump off. We tried.

    3) Try to get to the W Hotel, if only for martinis and a shirley temple. It’s well worth it, and if you can shanghai a maid and steal one of their Bliss toiletry kits, all the better.

  • Wendi

    My dog just vaulted off the bed when I started watching that video, ran over to my computer and stared at it, tilting her head as if she could understand (and relate to) every intonation in Chuck’s voice.


  • Garret

    The best fun we had in San Diego was at Sea World! It’s really not that bad of a deal, we got the two day pass and there was more than enough there to fill the two days with fun for everyone from me to my 2 yr old son. I must say, though, there were no hippos there.


  • Darnit, that video set my dogs to barking. Barking? No. HOWLING at the office door. One might have peed herself.

    Go, Chuck, go!

  • Shelba

    Yes, they have hippos. I remember seeing a hippo swimming when I was there.

  • daisy

    As a SD resident and serious foodie I humbly recommend the following:

    Pacific Beach has the best antique shopping ever, as well as fantastic fish tacos at South Beach – the bar right down by the water
    5059 Newport Ave.

    For a more upscale walk try La Jolla Cove – complete with Sea Lions. If viewed from the street side of the walk you can’t tell if they’re looking at you or not.

    Good comfort food can also be found at
    Urban Solace
    3823 30th Street
    San Diego, CA 92104

    Excellent place for an afternoon tea:
    (I can’t recommend the passion fruit cake enough – truly sublime)

    And for the great decor (food is good, not great) I recommend the Starlite to satisfy your design needs:

    And the zoo has the best hippos ever.

  • Lily

    If you end up going to Sea World, the “Dining With Shamu” is worth the money. The food’s better than the other junk they serve in the park, and you sit poolside while trainers walk around answering questions and having Shamu come right up next to guests.

    Also, if you guys like Mexican food, make sure to hit Old Town…look for the restaurant where people are making tortillas right inside the front window.

  • Lesley

    Git your adorability right here folks! Pleeeeeeeease give us a video of these two every week, at least.

    Coco reminds me of a mini Sylvester egging on a big Sylvester ala Bugs Bunny.

    I love how Chuck gives you the side glance as if to say “You ok with me growling at the peon like this?”


    “Do something about this annoying peon RIGHT NOW!”

  • I’m with you on the hippos, but the San Deigo Zoo is worth it for BABY PANDA Zhen Zhen alone.

    You can check it out/swoon over her here:

    Have a lovely time! I live in Southern California, and it has been absolutely beautiful out lately. (Lately = past 20 years or so.)

  • Ciara

    SD is my hometown. I love Influx Coffee Shop downtown. 21st and B St. It’s run by a husband and wife that live up above with their daughter Violet. They kind of remind me of you and John….I love The Big Kitchen in South Park for breakfast and the South Bark Dogwash is just a few blocks away. They give blueberry facials to the dogs and they LOVE it. Leta may not like it though. Too many 4-legged beasts. Pokez on 10th and E St. has amazing, authentic Mexican food, family run. I have baby hippo pictures from last time I went to the zoo. They are totally edible.

  • Anonymous

    Pipes in Cardiff by the Sea. Super yummy breakfast burritos.

    Unfortunately my favorite coffee shop, Miracles (which was a stone’s throw from Pipes) was razed a couple of years ago 🙁 boo

    have fun!

  • lindsay

    Most of my favorites have been covered (Bronx Pizza, Old Town Mexican Cafe, South Beach Bar & Grill in OB for fish tacos, carne asada from hole in the wall ending in -erto)

    I will add Rocky’s as the best burger in SD. Located in Pacific Beach, its also one of the best lunch deals in down (cheeseburger, fries and a beer for like $7).

  • I think someone else mentioned this, but Encinitas – just 22 miles north of SD is a great place to stay. It’s like Mayberry done by die hard beach lovers. I lived there and if you are looking for a place t stay call my old landlord, John House, at 760-801-9006. He rents out our previous house in week long rentals. It’s right on Neptune Avenue (street parallel to the beach.
    Encinitas beaches are quiet and fucking beautiful. You can stay there and SD is a short drive south. Much easier. And it’s cheaper than La Jolla, which is a majot tourist destination. Here’s some of my own pictures from when I lived there:

  • Sorry, but I didn’t have time to see if someone already mentioned this but here is my $1.50. I moved to San Diego from Utah 10 ago years and really, truly honestly (no offense to the zoo) The Wild Animal park is much, much better (especially for kids Leta’s age in my opinion)and they have HIPPOS. I live not too far from there and my 16 year old daughter who adores Chuck (and now Coco too) will not let me live if I don’t tell you she would be glad to dog sit (we live on 2.5 acres so I think they will fit). Since we have lived here we have hit every beach (we have had up to 7 dogs at a time) and Cardiff State Beach is the most fun for dogs.

    If you want to take us up on that dog sitting thing just email me. My daughter is in independent study so she is home during the day except Wednesday.

    Have a great time!

  • Rebecca Loesch

    When I played the dog video my cat ran into the room, stood on her hind legs for about 15 seconds, heard them bark, then crouched down – with her hair standing up on her back and tail all poofed out. 5 minutes later she keeps looking at me like I brought an evil beast into our home and resents me for it.

    Thought you’d like to know your dogs are scaring cats, all the way through the Internet. Thanks for the entertainment.

  • I was recently in San Diego for a veterinary conference and followed a friend’s advice on where to go and eat.

    I had the best, the BEST, burrito of my ENTIRE life at Alfonso’s in La Jolla. Oh. My. You know what. Not to mention the shoreline in La Jolla is just gorgeous:

    In terms of downtown, Cafe Zucchero offers great Italian and in the Gaslamp District there’s a Ghirardelli chocolate/ice cream place that serves incredible decadent desserts.

    That’s my nickel’s worth. Have fun!

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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