I’m a firm believer that the best trips are planned in an hour, a week before it’s time to leave. This past December, I texted my friend, Courtney, frustrated with the horrible weather in St. Louis — 5 gloomy days in a row + snow before Veterans Day? No thank you! I didn’t need long, just a couple days to soak up enough vitamin D to last me until spring. (Also, enough time to grab some photos on the beach. ;))
We had a short list of destinations to choose from. The requirements? Southwest had to fly there, it had to have cheap AirBNBs, and there needed to be a beach. After about 5 minutes of deliberation (you won’t ever find me guilty of indecisiveness) we settled on San Diego. We compared calendars, booked flights (bless you + your companion pass, Southwest), and found an AirBNB. That was it. Efficient trip planning at it’s finest. We were both extra busy in December – her with finals, me with Christmas orders, so the trip snuck up on us and before we knew it, we were on the flight to California.
What We Did
We didn’t have a ton of time to scope out what to do in San Diego, due to the fact that we were leaving a week after booking, but we knew we wanted to try surfing. (key word: TRY)
Our awesome AirBNB hosts offered lessons at a discounted rate for staying with them, so we decided to do one lesson + one day on our own. If you are interested in trying to surf, I definitely recommend going this route. It was great to get the basics in a lesson and then head out the next day to see how we fared on our own!
We surfed at Pacific Beach, which is considered a beginners beach. No rocks. Fairly small swells. (I’m told that’s a surfer term??) I can’t totally say whether or not this was a good decision, because I haven’t tried other beaches, but it was great for us + we loved it! We rented wetsuits from a local rental shop called Ray’s Rentals for $12 a day (you can find a coupon on their website) and we rented boards from our AirBNB for $15 a day. You could also rent a board from Ray’s.
Aside from surfing, we had a great time exploring other areas of San Diego. We did one day in the La Jolla area – we saw the seals, hiked around the area for a bit, checked out the pier, and had lunch here. This whole area is definitely worth checking out and exploring.
On your way to or from the airport, be sure to check out Sunset Cliffs. We spent about an hour here, hanging out, enjoying the view, and flying the drone. I wouldn’t make a whole day out of this, but it easy to check out right after you land, depending on where you end up staying! Especially if you have a rental car and can leave your bags in the car. If not, all the more reason to pack light. 😉
For nightlife, we had an awesome time hanging out in the Pacific Beach area. According to locals, it’s the up and coming spot where younger people are moving, so it was perfect for us to go out and grab a drink!
Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of things to do in San Diego, just what we decided to do during our short visit there! 🙂 There are tons of other things to do if you are there for a longer time (and aren’t on a college student budget) including the Zoo, Sea World, the USS Midway Museum, PetCo Park, and more! A quick google search will churn up about a thousand options!
Where We Stayed
By a stroke of luck, we opted to stay in the Pacific Beach area. We had no idea what area to stay in and didn’t feel like researching during our short planning session, so we took a shot in the dark and bet on PB. If I had to do it again, I would stay here again every time! It is an awesome area for nightlife, fairly central, and close to the beach.
Not only did we luck out on the area, we lucked out with an awesome AirBNB. We stayed at this private room AirBNB in PB and LOVED our time there. It was inexpensive, clean + cute, and the hosts, StevieAnn + Adam, were amazing. They had great local recs, good communication, and like I said, we opted to do a surfing lesson with Adam, which was awesome.
How We Got Around
Courtney and I are both 22, so renting a car is hardly an option without being super expensive. Thankfully, our AirBNB was pretty central and Lime scooters are abundant in San Diego. We took an Uber from the airport to our AirBNB the first day and then hopped on Lime scooters for almost everywhere else. This only worked because of our awesome AirBNB location.
Where We Ate
So full disclosure, I am NOT a foodie. When I travel, especially to California, my main objective is to strike the balance of being filling, cheap, and somewhat healthy. Other than that, I am not too picky about where I eat. That being said, there were a few places we loved in San Diego and would recommend checking out! First off, obviously In-N-Out. It strikes out on the whole healthy thing, but hits the nail on the head for cheap + filling. We aren’t from SoCal, so it’s still exciting to us. Oscar’s Mexican Seafood in Pacific Beach was awesome + inexpensive. Afterwards, we got ice cream at Afters in PB, which was delicious. Other than that, we just ate at some local coffee and sandwich shops, which were nothing special! Sorry for not scoping out the restaurant scene a little better. I promise to do better in the future. 😉
All in all, we loved our weekend trip to San Diego and we are both itching to get back there and surf again — especially because it’s still freezing in ole Missouri! Have you been to San Diego or are you planning on going soon?? Let me know in the comments! 🙂 -Andrea