Travel Guide: Sunny San Diego Escape

This post comes from our blog intern, Aubrie!

Sometimes I feel as though I’m addicted to traveling. The excitement of exploring a new place thrills every space in my mind. Back in January I discovered in Vermont  that, upon visiting places, I tie specific emotions to my spirit. Since then I feel that I’ve allowed places to encompass my entire being.

In California I am consumed with vitality. Even before I had ever even visited the coastal state, I had an innate sense that I would feel at home there. I imagined such vivid pictures of what life would entail and my imagination proved to be pretty accurate; but what struck me more in reality was how the place enticed me to become the best version of myself. I rose early in the morning and biked to the sandy shores. I removed my shoes and ran to the beat of my heart, letting my feet patter through the foamy, shallow water. I stood atop the rocky cliffs looking down upon the ocean’s sets of waves, drinking in the salty air. I noticed all of the beautiful faces smiling back at me as I crossed the street into the warm rays of the sun. I simply felt so alive.

This past week, San Diego revived a part of my soul. It helped me to remember all the things that motivate me to live positively. With lodging provided by long-time friends on the small island of Coronado, exploring the southernmost part of the state filled my entire agenda for five days. Following my tour guide’s lead, San Diego county proved to be a truly beautiful desert land with so many enriching activities to offer:

Beach Time

When I woke each morning, I felt myself being pulled to the beach. Even growing up a short distance from the ocean, I’ve never taken the beach for granted, there’s something so calming about looking out onto the horizon and listening to the waves forcefully crash into one another. Surfers gathered in packs on top of the water looking for their next ride, while sunbathers stretched out along the shore to relax into a state of bliss. It seemed almost every beach in San Diego was beautiful and pristine.






Bay Cruise

The Bay in San Diego is unlike many I’ve seen before. Crystal blue and glistening in the sunlight, it connects Coronado Island to the downtown area. We went into the city by crossing the water on a scenic ferry ride and watched as boats gently sailed by.



Stretched out across many miles, the city definitely has plenty of neighborhoods and areas with hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. We ventured to La Jolla, Hillcrest, and Pacific Beach to shop around the local stores and score some unique thrifts. You’ll be sure to find everything from outlandish retro threads to authentic antique furniture.



Get the look: FP One Pocket Dress, Head West ButtondownSurfside Sunglasses, Quartz Ankle Boot

Oceanfront Yoga

I’ve probably never felt so amazing than after an oceanfront class with NamaSteve Yoga. The lively instructor teaches a wonderful donation-based class on Saturday and Sunday mornings atop a grassy area in Pacific Beach. I cannot tell you enough how rejuvenating it felt to come into my upward dog and see nothing but the pure blue ocean staring back at me.



Wildlife Spotting

Of course you’ve heard of the San Diego Zoo but alternatively I found wildlife to be accessible from even the most public coves. We ventured to La Jolla Cove and were able to see tons of wildlife in their natural habitats. The seals sunbathe on the water line, while the sea lions gather on a rock formation in the middle of the sea, and the pelicans swoop gracefully overhead.




Farmers Markets

I wish Philly had farmers markets as plentiful as the ones I seem to find in the Golden State. I love how California is so engaged with the local food movement. When strolling through the farmers markets in La Jolla and Downtown, I was able to sample homemade acai bowls, raw, California-grown almonds, sweet Valencia oranges, and just about everything in between.



Torrey Pines State Reserve

Torrey Pines contains trails that climb up a coastal cliff and then back down down to the beach front. While meandering through the rocky terrain I saw so many parachutes and hang-gliders free-jumping from the mountain top. The state park was a gorgeous destination for exploring the natural landscapes of Southern California.


Get the look: We the Free Stolen Baseball Tee, Chelle Cut Off Shorts, Charlie Hi Top Converse, Surfside Sunglasses



Encinitas Day Trip

We drove about forty minutes up the coast to a small, eclectic town called Encinitas, which boasts cute decor shops along beaches with prime surf spots. Encinitas also features a peaceful mediation garden containing trickling streams and koi ponds and a wide range of tropical blooms that shouldn’t be missed.




Sunset Gazing

Ah, there’s something so mesmerizing about a west coast sunset. I absolutely loved catching the sunset from a from atop a lifeguard tower and watching locals walk their dogs along the beach while an array of colors painted the sky.


If you’re planning to visit the San Diego area, try out some of these impeccable experiences. I’m awaiting the day when I can return to the sunny city, so feel free to leave some suggestions in the comments below!

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8 years ago

The photos are stunning and it’s making me want to go these so badly!! Such a great post:)

8 years ago

You forgot biking on the boardwalk! Sure, it’s full of people in some areas but having the sun on your face and wind in your hair as you zip by on a beach cruiser is such a freeing feeling :)

Lovely photos though, that yoga spot looks pristine!

8 years ago

I live in this sunny city of San Diego and I must say that what you did is definitely my favorite things to do on the weekends and try to squeeze in on weekdays! I hope you come back soon :)

8 years ago

So Incredibly Gorgeous! Now I want to do a weekend in San Diego! Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos of your trip!

The Weaver Of Words….give me 15 words and I’ll tell you a tale…

8 years ago

So inspiring! I live in San Diego now & there’s so much more to explore still x

8 years ago

I’ve definitely been longing for a vacation to somewhere warm – it’s been far too long.

Warm Regards,

8 years ago

I’m so excited that Free People finally did a post on my city! There is definitely so much to explore here, even after living here for the past 20 years I still find new places that I adore. Thank you for sharing:)

8 years ago

I love seeing a post about my home town! I have a whole series on my blog called “local tourist” about my favorite adventures and restaurants in San Diego..feel free to check out my series if you are looking for inspiration on your next San Diego vist. Although, wherever you end up here, it is always a great time..

8 years ago

Beautiful recount of my awesome hometown (and still home!). Glad to hear you loved it.

8 years ago

This looks beautiful. I could use a vacation from Michigan and it’s cold temperatures.

8 years ago

I actually saw you at OB Noodle House, which is one of my absolute favorite spots in San Diego! :) I just recently discovered Panama 66, which is an outside bar and grill attached to the San Diego Art Museum in Balboa Park. They have a little grassy area by all the art sculptures and they hand out blankets so you can eat and drink, picnic style. They also have live music on the weekends in the evening. It is absolutely beautiful and a must to check out next time you visit!

8 years ago

Great post, can’t wait to visit SD!

7 years ago

In love with San Diego. Excellent clicks and informative. Love to be a part of the San Diego community.

5 years ago

Very nice article.I am planning for San Diego trip next week.After reading this post i am very excited to visit San diego.Thank you once again!!! Keep posting!!!