top of page


Our final few days on the coast.

In November, we started our time in California at the very top of the state. Now in mid-December, we are wrapping up our time in state #3 at the very bottom. Over a few very short days, we soaked up the warm weather, caught up with friends and ate and drank our way around San Diego.


Budget travel makes for very long days.

We should probably rename “day one” to “night one” in San Diego. We had planned to arrive before sunset, but sadly with delays and track changes along the Amtrak line, we didn’t arrive at the Santa Fe station in San Diego until it was dark. At least the train and bus route along the way was a very scenic one.

At the station, we were met by our friend, who took us on a night tour of Coronado. We saw the extravagant Hotel del Coronado, brightly lit up and swarming with people for the holiday season. We drove down Candy Cane Lane and watched a golf buggy parade drive through the streets. We drove to Chula Vista to get dinner that we would enjoy back at our friend’s place of homemade margaritas. We waited patiently in line for almost 30 minutes, but we were rewarded with the most delicious tacos from Tacos El Gordo.


The boat parade we never got to see.

Our plan for day two involved a lot of walking. So, to start the day and prepare for a whole lot of walking, our first stop was for coffee. We had heard of James Coffee Co, a café that serves their takeaway coffee in jars rather than single-use cups, which you can just wash and return afterwards. When we got there, though, there were a few seats in the sun outside, so we ended up having our coffee at the café. Fuelled with caffeine and pastries, we walked across to Balboa Park, where we spent hours exploring the buildings, gardens, museums and shops.

We walked half an hour from Balboa Park to the Gaslamp Quarter and attempted to pick a bar to stop at for lunch. Overwhelmed by the choices, we continued walking to the convention centre and over to Embarcadero Marina Park South. We were planning to come back to the harbour after sunset to watch the boat parade, so we headed back to the Gaslamp Quarter to pass the time with a drink and some food. We ended up spending the rest of our night at a bar called Happy Does. The bar had a courtyard where we sat by the fire, in the sun and played games like giant Jenga and Connect Four. Sadly, we never saw the boat parade.


Our last day on the coast of California.

The weather was wonderful for our last day on the coast, treating us to a blue sky, 17-degree Celsius (62-degree Fahrenheit) winter day. We started the day running some errands after grabbing a coffee from Lofty Coffee in Little Italy. We walked along the waterfront in the Embarcadero, stopping along the way to see the USS Midway Museum, and the Embracing Peace Statue. We walked around the Seaport Village and then back up to Little Italy for lunch. We ate at Nonna + Zucchero, and left very full after our indulgent lunch involving a lot of garlic and carbs.

We attempted to walk off lunch, heading back to the Embarcadero and along the harbour once again. Deciding we did not need much for dinner, we grabbed a quick microwave meal to heat up back at the hostel and called it a night, packing up our bags ready for a 3:30 am start the next day.


We are travelling on a tighter budget, so sometimes hostels are the best option. We booked a private room, which was spacious and included a fridge. The rooms are located on the second floor, where there is only one bathroom to share. The other bathrooms are downstairs, with the communal kitchen and lounge. The communal spaces were sometimes clean, sometimes in need of attention. The area was quiet and within walking distance of many popular neighbourhoods and attractions. Being a hostel, it was social and noisy until the early hours of the morning. We compromised on the quiet for our budget, but if you aren’t keen on that environment, best to spend a little more for a hotel.


There is less than a week until Christmas, so we are leaving the warm, sunny coast to spend the holidays with Clark’s family in snowy Lake Tahoe.


When planning our travel destinations, we pin our bucket list of sites to see and recommended places to eat and drink on Google Maps. We are then never lost for ideas when travelling, and can easily share these lists for our friends and family to use as well.

Related Posts


bottom of page