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9 Things To Do In San Diego

9 Things To Do In San Diego
Carly Jacobs

t the beginning of last year, Mr Smaggle and I packed our little minimalist bags and headed off on a road trip through California. We actually had no idea where we were going – we just rented a car and hoped for the best. I cannot recommend this kind of travel enough – after all you can’t get lost if you don’t know where you’re going.


I didn’t really know much about San Diego before I got there (except they have a history of some pretty hardcore serial killers but I only know that because I’m a creep) and I was really pleasantly surprised. It’s such a delightful place to visit. Here are my top 9 things to do in San Diego.


1. Go on a Horn Blower Boat Tour

We were very kindly given tickets for a Hornblower tour of the bay and it was quite beautiful but honestly a little odd. It was a dinner cruise with a disco so the vibe was definitely not what we were expecting. I met a lovely group of sorority girls who were having their yearly catch up and I had a very colourful conversation with a Trump supporter. There was even a prom boat that sailed around next to us and provided a solid hour of drunken teenage entertainment. It was also our ten year anniversary and one we won’t forget in a hurry.  I would actually definitely recommend going on the tour but perhaps go when it’s summer and the sun sets a bit later. It was a wee bit dark as we left the bay because it was in winter.


2. Visit the Seals at La Jolla

There are two things you need to know about seals.

a) Seals are adorable.

b) Seals really stink

We went for a drive to La Jolla to see these guys and they were everywhere. I swear there were more seals on the beach than in the water. They’re so sleepy and snuggly I had to stop myself from lying down next to them to spoon them. I also learnt that you shouldn’t get too close to baby seals if they’re on their own because if their mother’s see them near humans they’ll think they’re in danger and swim off and abandon them. It was fine to get close to these ones though because their adults were with them and also they’re totally use to it.


3. Stay at the Sofia Hotel

We were lucky enough to stay at the historic Sofia Hotel and it was beautiful. Right in the heart of the city, walking distance from every where, beautiful rooms, friendly staff. Honestly, I’d live there if I could. Gorgeous.


4. Have lunch at Cafe Gratitude

This place was a crack up. They had ‘feelings’ on the menu. So there was a sandwich called Happiness and they encouraged you to order in a statement like ‘I am happiness’. I’m not into hippy chakra stuff but I really enjoyed my experience at Cafe Gratitude. Even just people watching there was amazing. These incredibly tanned, glowing women being all peaceful and shit. It was a beautiful thing to watch.


5. Visit San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo was easily the highlight of our trip. The main reason why we went there was because they have bonobos. Mr Smaggle’s company is called Bonobo after the great apes. They’re the most peaceful creatures in the ape world. There’s only a handful of zoos that have them and one of them is San Diego. We must have spent at least 3/4 quarters of the day at the bonobo exhibit. We even got chatting to one of the zoo keepers and she taught us how to ‘play’ with the bonobos and they’d come running up and start tapping on the glass and making laughing faces at us. They’re really flirty too – the teenage boy bonobo liked me the best and the girl bonobo liked Mr Smaggle the best. Bonobos are so fascinating. They’re kind of monogamous and polyamourus at the same time. They’ll have a mate that they spend their life with but they all have sex with each other all the time. As in all day – they’re really into it. They also engage in oral and front facing sex which is unusual for non-humans. Bonobos are also very peaceful – they never fight and there’s been no recorded incident of a bonobo killing another bonobo.

Tip: If you have any allergies go to the Wholefoods up the road on the way to zoo. We got gluten free sandwiches and snacks and didn’t have to wait in line or eat gross unhealthy food while we were there.


6. Have coffee at James Coffee Co

This was our most favourite coffee place – we went there most days to work. It’s just a big warehouse style cafe with delicious and totally drinkable coffee. They also welcome dogs. We met about 20 awesome dogs while we were there. One day these girls came in with two enormous great danes. They were the size of horses, so beautiful and majestic. A great spot for dog watching.


7. Eat tacos at the Taco Stand in La Jolla

These were the best tacos we ate in the US. Hands down. We were totally starving so that may skew our test but they were bloody delicious. I even had a cactus taco, which to be honest, I wouldn’t order again because it tasted like rubbery capsicum but I’m glad I tried it. You can’t get more Mexican than a cactus taco right?


8. Pat all the dogs

San Diego is dog city. There are dogs everywhere and they’re allowed to go everywhere. In Australia you can’t take dogs anywhere but in the US they’re walking around in shops, in chemists, in cafes. It’s great! And there’s no issues because all of the dogs are totally used to being around other dogs. I honestly don’t know what Australia is so afraid of – I love walking around the US supermarkets and seeing all the dogs.


9. Visit Balboa Park

Balboa Park is an absolute gem in San Diego – we got an all inclusive visitors pass and we were able to go in and out of all the attractions. We also went on a Saturday which made for a very lively experience. There were heaps of street venders and performers out and about and it was such a fun and energetic vibe.

That was our trip to San Diego!

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Have you been to S.D? What did you get up to there?


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P.S If you’re looking for something to do over the holidays, make sure you sign up for my free Crochet Coach granny square intro lesson. It will give you something to do on those long car and plane rides!


  1. Arnette 7 years ago

    If you’re a craft beer fan you have to visit the many breweries and no matter the weather, visit the beaches. Coronado is lovely!!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Oh I love beer but Mr Smaggle is gluten free so we spend a lot of time in breweries. I should make him do it for me though!

  2. Jodie S 7 years ago

    Loved, loved, loved San Diego and was pleasantly surprised at how spectacularly wonderful it was. Will have to go back now and tick all of your recommendations off my list. We just wandered and enjoyed and didn’t get up to much in the way of the touristy things, other than a tram ride down to Tijuana, which was an eye opening experience

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      It was so gorgeous – like a movie! We just wandered around it such a treat for the eyes.

  3. Jodie 7 years ago

    San Diego sounds amazing – Thanks for sharing your must dos! How did you go with the car hire? Did you pick up and drop off at the same place? We are planning a west coast trip, planning on picking the car up near Seattle and dropping it back in San Diego, but heard they charge an absolute fortune to do this. Just curious! Thanks!!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Oh we rented out Car through DriveAway from Australia – so cheap and they don’t charge a huge drop off rate!

  4. Starlene 7 years ago

    Yay!! So glad you enjoyed our beautiful city! I agree with Arnette, our craft beer scene is fantastic and a must try, even if you aren’t a beer drinker. I guarantee you’ll find something you like. We’re also a 15 minute trip to Mexico (the trolley takes you right to the border!) where you can go wine tasting or shop for fun touristy gifts, and an hour from the cute little mountain town of Julian. I see you were in Little Italy, next time you’re here, check out False Idol, the coolest tiki bar with a speakeasy vibe.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      Oh we’ll def do Mexico next time – I’m such a sucker for Mexican food and beer! Honestly, I could just get in a car and drive around the US forever. Love it.

  5. Hannah 7 years ago

    LOVED the San Diego Zoo when I visited a few years back! That place is massive and amazing.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 7 years ago

      One of the most extraordinary places I’ve been – the monkey’s they have are incredible.

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