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Three Perfect Days: San Diego

San Diego offers perfect weather, spectacular beaches, tasty waves and a host of top-notch restaurants. There's also a zoo, if you like that sort of thing.

Author Sarah Horne

Museum of Contemporary
Art La Jolla

DAY THREE Now that you’ve done San Diego’s neighborhoods and the zoo, it’s time to see how that Audi really drives. It’s 20 minutes north to the ritzy seaside town of La Jolla (“the jewel” en español), and a couple more to La Jolla Cove for blueberry pancakes at 1 The Brockton Villa. From the terrace you can watch seals basking on the rocks. Your next stop is the Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla on Prospect Street, formerly the home of publishing heiress Ellen Browning Scripps. Outside, in the sculpture garden, a monumental piece called Pleasure Point (made from fi shing boats, surfboards and canoes) arches toward the Pacific. Man, that water looks sweet.

Time to find out just what makes these wave-chasers tick. Head to 2 Surf Diva, a shop run by local twin sisters Izzy and Coco Tihanyi, down near La Jolla Shores. Nevermind the hot pink surfboard marking the store and the surfi ng-isa-sisterhood, Blue Crush vibe, Surf Diva also caters to men, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. among them. Before you know it, you’re stomping your feet to scare the stingrays, per instruction. Out in the cool blue water, you paddle your heart out and attempt to maintain your balance as—gnarly!—you actually catch a tasty wave. An hour later, you’re exhausted but stoked. And, as your indefatigably perky coach reminds you, “There’s always another wave….”

George’s at the
Ocean Terrace

Reluctantly, you peel off your wet suit and hop back into the car, belting out some ’80s tuneage (think “Jessie’s Girl”) on the way to lunch at the Ocean Terrace at 3 George’s at the Cove, where the uniform is linen pants, cashmere and diamonds, dahling. Then you roll up the highway to funky 4 Encinitas to watch the real surfers ride Swami Beach and to marinate in the hippie vibe. Then head over to 5 Torrey Pines State Reserve, known for its dramatically wind-gnarled trees and one of the prettiest beaches in California. Drive to the top of the bluff and begin the half-mile loop of the Parry Grove Trail.

Later on, you’ll spruce yourself up and cross the bridge for a night out at the 6 Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego’s most famous beachfront property, then take a final stroll in the surf and bliss out with a cocktail and dinner on the terrace of 1500 Ocean, one of the city’s swankiest establishments.

But first, cruising back down I-5 behind a pack of surfers in their vintage avocado-green Volkswagen bus, you feel the tug of the ocean and follow the van back to La Jolla Shores for one last set. Out past the break, you straddle your “fibro” as the sky turns lavender and let yourself rock. That’s when you see it—not three yards from your dangling feet, a pair of…whoa, are those shark fins? You quickly pull your feet up onto the board as the maneaters disappear beneath the opaque water. And then they leap, six feet into the air—two Californian dolphins, it turns out, just hanging loose in the last light of day.

SARAH HORNE, who has written for Elle, In Style and New York, aspires to a second act on the pro-surfing circuit.

From top, photographs by Philipp Scholz
Rittermann/MCASD La Jolla, Marshall Williams/George’s at the Cove

San Diego

One Response to “Three Perfect Days: San Diego”

  1. Todd Says:
    June 8th, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    A nicely done overview of San Diego. With one glaring omission.

    San Diego has been at the forefront of the craft beer movement for well over ten years. It is home to over a dozen microbreweries and brewpubs, that have been lauded by both professional beer critic associations (e.g. the Brewer's Association, GABF, et al ) and the beer community on the whole (BeerAdvocate.com, RateBeer.com, et al).

    With that kind of gravitas — and at a superb beer-centric restaurant such as Urban Solace, for example — the author instead makes the overly bland suggestion of “…a glass of local wine”? Without even a token reference to the fine wines of Temecula, no less?


    Todd Bissell,
    Premier Executive Member since 1999
    San Diego, CA