California/ Travel

Magical weekend in San Diego with kids

San Diego with kids

We had the most magical weekend in San Diego with our kids. We were living in Phoenix at the time so we took a labor day weekend getaway to San Diego. San Diego is just a five hour drive from Phoenix. I picked Matt up from work and we drove straight to San Diego. By we driving straight I mean Matt drove and I sat next to him for moral support (if someone sleeping next to you counts as moral support). He likes to drive and I don’t so it works out pretty well. Who drives in your home?

Since Matt grew up in California and we still have extended family there I feel like it’s a place we will always go back to. I don’t feel the need to see everything. It was a relaxing weekend but we still did a lot and there are still things in San Diego I want to do when we go back.

First, we knew we didn’t need to go to the San Diego Zoo for this trip. Matt and I have both been to the San Diego Zoo. We were “zooed out” from living in St. Louis where the zoo is free and having recently been to the amazing Omaha Zoo. I want to see Mission Beach in San Diego. According to another hotel guest, “Mission Beach is the most crowded beach that he’s been to.”  We found some less crowded beaches for this trip. At some point I want to see large beach crowds. Matt told me the most crowded beach he’s seen was in Waikiki Beach in Hawaii.

After looking through these photos and thinking about everything we did, I wanted to nail down what made this trip magical for me. I wanted to know so that I can recreate it in the future. I’m glad that this trip wasn’t out of the country because we definitely couldn’t go out of the country frequently. Could this magical type of weekend be recreated in a cold location or was the fact that this trip was in Southern California where temperatures are temperate all of the time be the key?

San Diego with kids


Let’s see what we did:

Itinerary for San Diego Weekend

August 31, 2019

La Jolla Cove

Din Tai Fung

Torrey Pines State Park

September 1, 2019


The Taco Stand– Encinitas California

Balboa Park

Terra Mar Beach- Carlsbad.

September 2, 2019

Parisan Bakery for breakfast and headed home.

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove was definitely the highlight of the trip for everyone because of the Sea Lions. We found free parking (and it only took ten minutes) we had to walk to the cove about 15 minutes. The coastline is beautiful and weather temperate so we were fine walking. It’s amazing we are allowed to get so close to them. There are quite a few little inlets and places the kids could wade and check out the creatures in the tide pool. A woman we met who was on a business trip in San Diego befriended my kids. I think she missed her own kids. She showed them all the different crabs and sea life she found. It was so nice of her to show them all the nooks and crannies in the rocks she found.  La Jolla Cove was great because the kids could climb all over the rocks. San Diego Sea Lions Kids Travel

San Diego


Din Tai Fung has great food and packed! It was neat to watch them form the dumplings while we waited to be seated. I love getting ethnic food and dumplings is something that is time consuming to make at home so we don’t have them at our house often. Once we were seated, our food came

San Diego Food


We definitely recommend the Taco Stand. I had a cactus taco. I think it was my first time eating cactus.

Encinitas Taco Stand

The last place we paid for food was a french bakery. This french bakery was actually inside of an Asian grocery store. After breakfast, we walked around the grocery store. I always like going to different grocery stores to see all the different things that people eat. What’s normal for me isn’t normal for everyone else and I want to expose my kids to all different kids of things. Do you like going into different grocery stores?

San Diego PAris BAkery

We walked around the beautiful Balboa Park. We just walked into the areas that were free and some outdoor gardens.

Balboa Park San Diego

San Diego

La Jolla Cove On the way home, we noted that not too far from the coast the temperature rose pretty fast to 90 degrees whereas by the coast it was 76-80 degrees. If you can’t tell from the above picture I love my Teva’s. They are comfortable to walk in (and walk a lot in). We liked them so much that we got them for the kids. Teva’s are perfect for the beach because they can get wet and dry quickly.

When we travel we try to eat out just once a day to keep costs down and SAVE TIME. We do breakfast at the hotel if they have it or bring our own. Then we do snacks/sandwiches that we bring for lunch.

So what made this weekend magical for me?

1) It was full (we didn’t have a ton of “wasted” time).

2) Everything we did was new to the kids and I. Matt had been to La Jolla but everything else was new to him. Doing new things is always fun for me.

3) Outside and active in nature (we saw animals in their natural habitat and walked a lot)

4) Played in the ocean ( I don’t think an ocean is necessary for me to have a magical weekend but it sure doesn’t hurt).

5) Good Food (I love going to places where the food is good and eat things that we don’t normally eat at home).

6) We didn’t have any car problems or anyone sick.

As I’m looking over my list I thought of a several trips that don’t include all of these things but I still consider magical or great trips. Overall, I love experiencing new things and a full weekend. What makes a magical weekend for you?


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