from encinitas to sunset cliffs: 24-hours in san diego 

{Author: Sam Gerard}


San Diego is one of my favorite cities in the world and most certainly my happy place. My twin brother and sister-in-law live there and I’ve visited them and friends more times than I can count. The year they moved out there, I was there so much that people started to ask me if I’d moved in with them. Whether they liked it or not, they couldn’t keep me away.

There are a lot of reasons I love San Diego. It’s obviously beautiful and the sun is almost always shining. There’s no shortage of activities, which means there’s no excuse not to go on adventures and make the most of your day. A mixture of extraordinary Mexican food, salt water therapy, and eternal sunshine make San Diegans pretty happy people. A breathe of fresh air coming from New York.


When I think of some of the best days I’ve ever had {in recent memory}, I always think of this one Friday I woke up in San Diego with not one thing to do, not one person to see, not one obligation. Everyone I knew was at work – and unfortunately for them, the weather happened to be as close as you can get to perfect.

I put on my bathing suit & jean shorts and packed up my backpack with all of the necessities one may need for an adventure – a beach towel, sunscreen, my go pro, a hat, a change of clothes, sweatshirt, water bottle, iphone charger, sneakers, and a good book. I got in Steve’s car (thankfully he left it for me to use) and was determined to have the best day ever. I did just that.

Here’s my best day ever in San Diego:

sunset cliffs/point loma

Early Morning Sweat {Point Loma/Sunset Cliffs}: I wanted to start my day of doing something a little active, so I took a ride to Sunset Cliffs, somewhere I’d never been before. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I heard it was a beautiful coastal lookout you can walk around and hilly enough to get a workout in. I changed into my sneakers and went for a short run down through Point Loma Nazarene University (most unreal college ever) and into Sunset Cliffs. I ended up just sitting on the bench for 30 minutes watching surfers – workout fail. To get there, put the PLNU Lot into your Google Maps ()

Breakfast & Coffee {Turquoise in PB}: I drove to Pacific Beach (about 15-minutes from where my brother lives in Mission Hills) to a coffee & acai bowl place called Turquoise. I got a coconut iced coffee and acai bowl – and for once, I didn’t get it to-go. I sat at a window seat and enjoyed it’s tastiness while people watching.

  • Alternate Option {Fig Tree in PB}: I also have to recommend The Fig Tree for breakfast/brunch, which is right down the block from Turquoise. The bacon bloody mary, cozy outdoor ambiance, and delicious omelettes make it one of my favorite places ever.
swami’s, encinitas


Beach & Surf {Swami’s, Encinitas}: I continued north to Encinitas – a cute town with stunning beach front views and fun waves. I texted a friend in the area (who worked from home) to see if I could swing by and borrow a board. He said he’d just bring it to me because he wanted to surf too – couldn’t have planned it better. There were small, fun waves and the water was almost as warm as the air. I sat on the beach for a while after and almost fell asleep. Plug “Swami’s State Beach into your GPS.”

  • Alternate Option {Tourmaline}: If you don’t have a car and/or don’t want to go that far North, I recommend going to Tourmaline State Beach instead. It’s another one of my favorites – and it’s close to Turquoise and The Fig Tree. You can just park on the street – there’s no public lot.

Lunch {Encinitas Fish Shop}: I worked up an appetite, so I went to one of my favorite spots – Encinitas Fish Shop, just a few minutes from Swami’s. I sat at the bar and ordered a Hawaiian beer called Big Wave (highly recommend), garlic shrimp tacos, and guac (obviously).

  • Alternate Option {Oscar’s Tacos in PB}: f you don’t have a car and/or don’t end up that far north, I also highly recommend Oscar’s in Pacific Beach. The spicy shrimp taco is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten – and it’s close to Tourmaline beach!
la jolla cove

Beach & Swim {La Jolla Cove}: I wanted to get some more sun time in before it set, so I went over to La Jolla Cove. It’s normally very crowded, but I figured if I had any chance to get a spot there, I should do it on a weekday. Unfortunately for me, the beach was flooded with kids that were on a field trip (#blessed), but I didn’t let it stop me. I took my gopro into the water for a swim to find mini lobster looking crab things everywhere. If you’re not lucky enough to find a spot on the street, you’ll have to pay a few bucks to park in a garage.

  • Alternate Option {Sunset Cliffs Beach}: There’s an accessible beach near Sunset Cliffs/Point Loma lookout called Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. It’s one of the coolest beaches I’ve ever been to – because you can’t just walk onto it. You have to kind of shimmy your way down a steep incline to get there (I’ve done it in sandals, but I’d advise bringing sneakers). If it’s a beautiful day and you just want to post up at the beach, go here. If you’re just passing through and don’t want to stay a while, try somewhere else! Also, don’t bring little kids or older folks to this beach – even it it’s easy to get down, it can be hard to get up!
sunset cliffs natural park
sunset cliffs natural park
Screen Shot 2017-01-07 at 12.50.37 PM.png
oysters in la jolla

Lunch #2 {Crab Catcher, La Jolla}: As I was walking back up to my car, I noticed a sign for fresh Oysters at a restaurant that was overlooking La Jolla Cove (Crab Catcher Restaurant). Sold. I asked for a table outside with a view & got a dozen to myself.

Sunset Drinks & Dinner {Cannonball, Mission Beach}: When Steve and Carli got home from work, we went up to Mission Beach to meet some friends for food and drinks. Cannonball has great sushi and Asian fusion – and a killer view for sunset.

  • Alternate Options {Tower 23 or Herringbone}: Another great place to catch the sunset is Tower 23 in Pacific Beach. Herringbone in La Jolla is also one of our favorites. The ambiance, food, and drinks are the best of the best.
dinner at herringbone
dinner at herringbone

Fun and Drinks {Bars in Pacific Beach}: A few years ago Kc & I visited a friend who had just moved out there, and he took us on a bar crawl around pb. I think we went to every single bar in that town and had so much fun. I always have a good time at Duck Dive and Firehouse. Most of the bars are very close to each other, so it’s easy to check out a few!

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 4.15.05 PM.png
sunday funday in pacific beach

I hope this helps if you’re trying to plan a day (or a few days) in San Diego! I have a ton of other favorite places, but these are some of my favorites… and make sense to do in one day based on location and timing. If you have any questions, please comment 🙂

I know I’m not a local and surely don’t know all of the spots – this is merely based on what I know after visiting over a dozen times 🙂 If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments. I’m always looking to have an even BETTER best day ever 🙂








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