As you know from my recent Instagram posts, I went to San Diego a couple weekends ago with my friend Adam. This was my first time visiting San Diego, and it was such an amazing city. Looking back now, I’m so grateful for the timing of this trip because things with the Coronavirus escalated so quickly after we returned. Here is a recap of our days, everywhere we ate, drank and shopped.
When we arrived in San Diego it was lunch time and we were starving, so we took an Uber downtown to La Puerta, a Mexican restaurant with walls covered in celebrity mug shots and a bathroom dedicated to Jim Morrison. It was a cool vibe and the food was solid too. I had a margarita and cheese quesadilla. We walked around the downtown area a bit before jumping in another Uber to The Kings Inn where we were staying. You can read my post all about our stay here.
After checking in and taking some photos by the pool, we took another Uber back downtown. We wanted to do happy hour at The Pearl, another hotel with a bar/restaurant, but unfortunately they were closed for renovations. So instead we got back into an Uber and went back downtown to Trailer Park After Dark, a dive bar decorated kitschy with mobile homes inside. After grabbing a $5 well drink, we got some food at Cold Beer and Cheeseburgers before calling it a night and heading back to the hotel. It was pretty much a sports bar, but the food was solid and they did have some vintage decor, which I of course appreciated.
The next day we were up bright and early (thanks time difference) and headed to Rudford’s for breakfast. Rudford’s is a classic diner which has been open since 1949. We learned there is even a famous photo of JFK in front of the historic diner from when he drove by in a motorcade on his way to give a commencement speech at a local college. I got pancakes and they were delicious.
After breakfast we took an Uber to South Park to meet my friend Amanda. Amanda and I have been Instagram friends for years now, so it was so great to finally meet her in real life and have her as our tour guide. The first store we went at was Bad Madge, which was so adorably curated and had a mix of vintage clothes, jewelry, home decor and knickknacks for both men and women. There is also a super cute record store called Vinyl Junkies a few stores down, so we stopped in there as well, but they only sell new, modern records, no used, vintage records.
After South Park, Amanda was kind enough to drive us to North Park. The first store we went into was The Girl Can’t Help It, which had amazing vintage pieces for both men and women, but was very expensive. Next we went into another store called Mila, a women’s wear store that was a mix of modern and vintage women's wear that was also pricey. Last, we went into Hunt and Gather, which was funkier and more affordable with mostly 80’s, 90’s and modern pieces.
After North Park, it was back in the car to the Normal Heights neighborhood. We went to La Loupe, which was definitely one of my favorite vintage stores of the day because it was very well curated and super affordable. I found an amazing red handbag that was in almost perfect condition for only $24. There is also a super cute record store next door called Nickelodeon Records.
After shopping we went to Soda and Swine for some food. We all ordered Coke floats and mac and cheese. The food was really tasty and affordable and they also have an amazingly priced happy hour for food and drinks. Soda and Swine is sort of a speakeasy because it connects to a cocktail bar called Polite Provisions. This is my one regret of the trip not having a drink here because it looked adorable and you can even order food from Soda and Swine and have it next door at Polite Provisions.
After lunch, Amanda had to go to work, so Adam and I continued on our own. We walked to Zack’s Attic and did some more shopping here, where I found 2 Coca-Cola thimbles. Next we walked to Frock You! and I’m so glad we did because they were having a huge sale. The pieces in the store were a bit on the pricey side, but outside they had pieces that were very affordable. I got 2 dresses, a belt and sunglasses here. Down the street from Frock You!, La Loupe has another location which we went to next. I didn’t find anything here, but like their other location, it was still very well curated and affordable.
After shopping, we decided to grab a drink at Sycamore Den. This bar was super cozy with a fireplace and ‘70s decor. They also had skee ball machines as well. After a drink, we went next door to Nozaru for ramen, which was delicious, and probably one of my favorite ramen places I’ve even been to.
The next day, Amanda came to meet us at our hotel to have breakfast at The Waffle Spot, located right in The Kings Inn. The waffles were really good, I got a plain waffle with whipped cream and strawberries.
Next we went to Kobey’s Swap Meet, a flea market that’s been around since the ‘70s. I scored a record, dress and a few t-shirts here. Across the street from the flea was a giant antique mall called Consignment Classics. This antique mall was clean, bright and super well curated, we honestly could have spent hours here.
After the antique mall, we drove to Ocean Beach. Ocean Beach is super hippy and reminded me a lot of Venice Beach. We went into Ocean Beach Antique Mall here as well, where I found a pin. The owners had two dogs that hung out at the counter too, so that made me really happy to see. After shopping, we walked to the beach and took some polaroids.
After Ocean Beach, Adam and I had to check into the Airbnb we were staying at for the remainder of the trip. We stayed in one in the North Park area, so Amanda was nice enough to drive us and drop us off. After checking in, we went to Ranchos, a Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood. It was a no fuss, authentic type of place, which was just what we wanted after a long day of shopping and walking. I got the cheese enchiladas with rice and beans, which were solid, and a sangria. Their sangria and margaritas are both only $5 all day long. After dinner we hopped in an Uber and went downtown to False Idol, a tiki bar, which did not disappoint. I had The Painkiller, which is usually my tiki drink of choice.
The next day we started with breakfast at Snooze, a mid century modern style eatery. The food was super good, I had the huevos rancheros and the vibe was cute too. After breakfast, we coincidentally walked by Flashbacks, the last vintage store on our list. This one was also super affordable and was a mix of vintage, but also costumes and accessories too. I found a skirt for only $10 here.
We continued our walk to Balboa Park. The park is gorgeous and has so much beautiful architecture, it almost feels like being in Europe. We went to the San Diego Zoo first since we knew this would take up most of the day. Since the zoo is huge, we were a bit overwhelmed when first arriving, so an employee suggested we take a bus tour, included in admission. The bus tour took about 30 minutes and covers the majority of the zoo. You don’t get off the bus, but you can see animals from the bus and it will help you decide which areas you want to go back and see on foot. After the bus we walked around and saw more of the animals. We spent a little over 3 hours here, but you could easily spend all day here. Admission for a standard adult ticket is $58.
After the zoo, we checked out the carousel which is right nearby. Of course we decided to ride it, and a ride costs $3 per rider. Next we walked to the San Diego Automotive Museum. They have classic cars and artifacts on display, but I really wanted to go to because they currently have a 1970’s exhibit on display. It was a really cool museum and admission is only $12.
After a long day of walking through the park, we went back to North Park for dinner. We settled on a bar called Working Class with solid burgers (I had a beyond burger) and beers. After dinner, we walked to get ice cream at Hammond's Gourmet Ice Cream.
We only had about half a day on our last day in San Diego, so we woke up early and went to Donut Bar. I went to their Vegas location a couple years ago and have been dreaming about their donuts ever since. After breakfast we went to the Maritime Museum because Adam wanted to check it out. They have several boats you can go on, one of the boats that acts as more of the museum. It was cool to see and admission was only $20.
After checking out of the Airbnb, we went back to Rudford’s for one more meal with Amanda. This time I got a cheese omelet and a Coke, which was equally as delicious.
If you made it to the end of this post, thank you! I hope you enjoyed this recap of the trip. If you have any other questions about any of the places I mentioned, feel free to ask!
I’m sure it’s no surprise that I wanted to find a retro hotel to stay at while in San Diego. When I came across The Kings Inn, I immediately fell in love with the mid century modern vibes. It looked adorable and seemed super affordable as well. After doing more research on Yelp, I found mixed reviews so I became more hesitant to book it. I spoke to my friend Amanda who is a local and knows people who have stayed there. She assured me it was a good motel, so we decided to take our chances. For some reason every hotel we looked at was booked on Sunday night, so we decided to book The Kings Inn for 2 nights then find an Airbnb for the remainder of the trip.
While we did love the Airbnb, I’m glad we decided to stay at The Kings Inn for a couple nights. It’s definitely not a luxury hotel, but it is a good value for the cost. The rooms were small, but renovated and clean. The pool area was cute and kitschy (although the pool itself was heated, it was still a bit too cool to go swimming). They also have 2 places to eat on the hotel property, The Amigo Spot, a Mexican restaurant, and The Waffle Spot, a breakfast place. We didn’t try the Mexican place, but we did have breakfast at The Waffle Spot one morning and it was delicious. They also give you a discount on your food if you’re a hotel guest. My only complaint is that the walls were very thin and we were woken up by our very loud neighbors one night.
I’d definitely recommend The Kings Inn if you’re looking for a cute and affordable spot to stay in San Diego. You can check out their website here.