24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado

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Once our tickets to California were booked, San Diego was calling my name. I solicited advice from friends, and we ended with two very enjoyable  days in the greater San Diego area.

Most of our first day was spent on the delightful island of Coronado just across from the city. The island, most famous for its fanciful Hotel del Coronado resort, as well as being the birthplace of naval aviation. (You will see/hear planes constantly.)

The hotel, and corresponding beach frontage, were lovely. The whimsical red-roofed structure boasts a rich history of guests, and Frank L. Baum wrote several of the Wizard of Oz books during his time in Coronado. Some say it was the hotel itself that inspired the Emerald City.

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

The town of Coronado offers many shops and restaurants typical of seaside vacation spots and the overall vibe was quite friendly. We lunched at Miguel’s – a local Mexican food restaurant. It was very affordable, offers on-the-house queso, and sold me on a unique and refreshing Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita. Three wins in my book.

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

Another item off the bucket list – next we rented a tandem bicycle from Cruiser King. One hour is $15, but they let us take it out for 90 minutes for no extra cost (just ask!). This was my first time on a tandem bike, and, after the first 10 minutes, I really enjoyed it! We biked around the entire island, and admired the bay, the San Diego skyline, and the marina.

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

The beachfront is Coronado is gorgeous! If only it were warm enough to swim.

Coronado is relaxing and quiet – vacation perfection in my book. 24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

Fun fact: These random green bumps spell out “Coronado” that can be seen by all the aviators flying by. By mid-afternoon we had to cut our Coronado fun short. The one thing I wanted to see in San Diego was Balboa Park – and we made it there just as the sun was setting.

Balboa Park

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

Balboa Park (mostly famous for being home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo) is beautiful! It is also home to several art museums (which, sadly, I did not get to enjoy). Only having about 25 minutes until sunset, we explored as much of the park as we could. There’s always next time!

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively

Gas Lamp District

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively
image source: San Diego Premier


Soon the sun was down and off to the Gas Lamp District we went. I was surprised how small San Diego was – which made parking easy and manageable! The Gas Lamp District is lively and full of restaurants. Having walked the full length to take in the endless options – we ended up at the fantastic Barleymash – a “progressive brewery”.

24 Hours in San Diego + Coronado - DesignLively
image source (because I was apparently too busy eating to take a picture): Erin Jackson at SeriousEats


Barleymash was crowded and loud, in a good way. The inventive brewery-based menu provided so many mouth-watering options it was difficult to choose, but we managed to whittle it down to the All In Iron Fries (short rib loaded fries), The Bleu Shroom Barley Mac (fancy macaroni and cheese), and a flatbread that I can’t remember. All were phenomenal, but monstrous! Truly, splitting two apps would have been plenty.

The scenic drive from Los Angeles to San Diego took about 2.5 hours with a stop in Carlsbad to see a friend. We stayed at the Sheraton La Jolla – while not the fanciest hotel I’ve been in, was perfectly fine and provided an Olympic-sized hot tub. Definitely don’t get the hotel breakfast though. Not worth it. The hotel is easily situation between downtown San Diego and La Jolla – which was our next destination!

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