We got the opportunity to take a little vacation before Dmitry begins his new position at work. To celebrate a promotion and a year spent of hard work, TOO MANY moves and a lot of changes we wanted to take a spontaneous family trip to San Diego. We cant help it, spontaneous is our M.O.
We jumped straight to the web to search for the right home for us. In a matter of a few clicks we booked our perfect home away from home. We were just SO LUCKY to find a dreamy Spanish cottage a street up from the beach and a short drive to downtown all under budget! (One of the many perks to go travel during the week. We saved a lot just by going on off days.)
I grew up an hour North San Diego in O.C. and it has always been a mysterious city that I never quite got to experience fully. A day trip here and there and the rare stop at the San zoo or Sea World where the only memories to have there. Until this trip. We decided that a house would best fit our family needs and what better way to experience a locals perspective than to stay where one would live.
It was the perfect trip! Just a short drive with the kiddos both sleeping and happy. We had amazing Instagram worthy photos taken of us for us. We got to dive in and experience some amazing fine dining and the weather was sunny not a cloud in the sky. From start to finish it was ALL PERFECT.
Nope. I lied. I was the start of what could have been a catastrophic disaster of major proportions. Well the recipe was there for it from the start. We all happen to catch a cold so the kiddos were just more cranky than usual, therefore we heard all but silence for the NOT so short drive to the rental house. We get to a very beautiful but overcast cold beach, not kid friendly, couldn’t check in early so a lot of trunk makeshift diaper changes, a lot of vitamins, tissues, cold medicine and ZERO tropical drinks with little umbrellas vibes happening. Many places to eat yet never the right time of day for the kids and the hostesses at these restaurants take one look at us with a double stroller and written all over their faces is, “umm… can you leave them at the door?” Please and thank you.
Vacation with the family at the moment isn’t so much vacation with kids, its just kids.
I love my family and all we are but sometimes whole reality vs. expectations thing really gets the best of me and it can be a soul crushing in the moment. THIS IS REAL LIFE. But I just need that time to myself, that time to ourselves or that magic button for the kids to be on their perfect behavior and all be super put together so they don’t shame us and just be mirror images of perfection we as parents are. BUT, that’s not real. Its not us. Its my character being formed.
So instead of trying really really hard to pretend like it was that kind of vacation: feet up drinks with umbrellas kind of vacation, we embraced every part of the unexpected and just made some beautiful memories from the hot mess we are.
Crossing out a lot of plans and lists we had made we started from scratch and went to the market to get some meals cooked from home. It was a dream come true, a kitchen to cook in hasn’t been a reality for the last year, so I got to pretend that this viking stove, sparkling subway tiled & farm house sink kitchen was all mine! I was in heaven.
What better way to spend time together but to cook together also? We decided to make our favorite build your own homemade pizza and Naomi’s favorite Caesar salad. We had so much fun together! It topped any 5 star yelp reviewed restaurant in San Diego.
It was so easy and fun, I should say its semi-homemade for an easy quick meal.
Here is what you need for build your own pizza night:
- Pizza dough (I like the garlic herb one from TJ’s), marinara sauce, shredded cheese blend like mozzarella & provolone, I used salami instead of pepperoni & veggies like mushrooms and bell peppers.
- Spread out the dough with some flour nice and thin. Don’t be shy and really work the dough to make it stretch out nice and thin, remember it expands when it bakes.
- One dough makes two small pizzas or one large pizza.
- Add ingredients as you wish, Naomi and Dmitry like a lot of cheese! Its fun and economical as the dough costs less than a frozen pizza and the ingredients can get fun by using what you have on hand.
I highly recommend the following places to see when in San Diego with kids or not, its just must see spots!
- Coronado Island. So much charm and history here. We unfortunately had to leave shortly after arriving due to a very grumpy Naomi but worth coming back to for sure. You get gorgeous views of the city and its just so darn cute. Loved driving and coveting the houses the yachts and just people watch. You can also rent bikes, swim on the sandy shore or take a ferry to and from the island into downtown. Very nostalgic of Seattle for us which is a whole other post I will share. As my husband Dmitry put it, “San Diego is like a tropical Seattle.” It has a similar look and layout just with the touch of California vibes everywhere.
- Seaport Village Perfect for families and couples to get some gifts and souvenirs. I can remember my parents taking me here upon one of my first visits to San Diego. There is a giant gorgeous carousel to ride for any age, cute shops, darling village to explore, specialty foods.
- Puesto – right across from Seaport village there is an outdoor courtyard of newer resraurants and shopping. We stumbled upon this AMAZING DELICIOUS MUST HAVE Mexican restaurante where we ate the best gourmet tacos! You have to come here.It was packed on the Wednesday night so that means something. SInce it was getting late we order them take out and it was well worth the extra step because we devoured them. Pork belly, lamb barbacoa, fillet migneion and surf and turf all AMAZING! GO HERE!
- Gas lamp district its the hipest place in downtown forsure! You got restaurants on top of restaurants, pubs, gastropubs, every cultures food, fancy, divey, nightlife. Its all here including some shopping and plenty of people watching. We were amazed at how busy this place was on a Tuesday so make reservations in advance! I here Juniper & Ivy is the hottest spot for some fine dinning and for your late night cravings the crack shack is a popular place. We will go here for a weekend getaway as a couple and dive striaght to this mecca of Downtown San Diego.
- Tall ships They are just beautiful there are about 5 of them parked at the port and you can get a tour or just stand next to one and take a picture. We also spotted a soviet submarine and down the street the USS Midway which is also a facinating museum. For families there is a giant fun park for kids right accross from the ships we certainly made use to get some fun in for my toddler.
- Old Town I can be a tourist trap so watch out for that but its a historic place with some charm. We made this our last stop before leaving SD and it was fun getting transported in time to a REAL village. We were so hungry and needed to grab some lunch before we headed home and there was this unexpected gem we stumbled upon right in the heart of town. It was a real old small building and was converted into a coffee roasting house and Bavarian bakery. They are well known for their hot sandwiches on yelp. By the looks of this place from the outside and not gonna lie the inside you would not believe how good these hot pressed sandwiches were. I love roast beef so I got that one and Dmitry got the caprese salami and they were equally amazing and they came with these delicious house made spreads that just added a depth of flavor to the sandwich. I don’t know the name of this place but its right next door to the old hotel and accross from the courtyard. (you will see it when you are there). That fresh herb baked bread was just all too good and it came with a little old fashion licorice and gummy candy to top off the experience. TRY IT!
- Ocean Beach (O.B.)- This is the small beach city we stayed in just a short 12 minutes from down town. When we first pulled up to the cliff side with the sprawling waves and sea breeze looming in… it was love at first sight. Simply gorgeous views known for the cliffs and majestic sunsets, you must got here and take a long walk and be mesmerized by the ocean. During our stay we needed that hipster coffee place to make our mornings a little easier, so we were recommended by our host to come here and now to you, to go to the nest coffee company. It was just spot on. This little town was the slow rhythm we needed that was accessible to us with kids and within walking distance to the near beach and its own downtown.
It wasn’t bad at all it was perfect the way it was. The highlight for us for sure was the house we stayed in. Upon arrival to our oasis we were greeted to a spotless, gorgeous home including a welcome package catered just for us with cold juice, a thank you card, extra towels, everything and more than we would need or use for the three night stay. Some highlights was a soaking tub for me, a roof top deck with an ocean view and the private patio off the master suite. We were lucky that the kids slept through the night all three nights so we got to watch a couple movies like La La Land & binge watch some shows on Hulu. Dmitry hand selected this “cheap red wine”. It was just what we needed. To do nothing. Enjoy our kids and just go with the flow.
Thank you so much for reading, following my new blog, & going on this adventure with me.
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