La Jolla Mom is your guide for things to do in San Diego and La Jolla, from fun events and luxury hotels to the best beaches and kid friendly restaurants. The goal of La Jolla Mom is to inspire people to enjoy the world abroad and at home with their kids. Here, I document my love of five-star hotels, premium class cabins, and kid-friendly destinations.
Celebrate the end of winter than with a trip to see the myriad of spring flowers that bloom around the world during this cheery season. Three cities in bloom during this cheerful season are highlighted in Air France’s Destination of the Month feature, and I’m delighted to share more about each of them here.
One of the most famous places in the world to visit in spring is Japan, notably Kyoto to see the sakura (cherry blossom), considered the most beautiful of Japanese flowers. While it’s difficult to predict peak blooming times, this usually happens at some point between late March and the first few weeks of April. According to 2018 cherry blossom predictions, there is still time to plan a quick trip.
The food-obsessed city of Osaka is the gateway to Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Kobe and other famous points of interest in Japan. Cherry blossoms bloom abundantly in Osaka too, especially at the Osaka Castle which is one of the country’s most famous castles and played a significant role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century. While admiring gorgeous spring blooms, you’ll be able to
There is still time to catch hanami season, the practice of enjoying spring in Japan, which of course involves appreciating the many cherry blossoms. Blooms are predicted to last through March and to the end of April if your plans include traveling north from Osaka which is easy to do via shinkansen (bullet train).
Have kids with you? Did you know that there is a Universal Studios Japan in Osaka complete with Harry Potter World?
Take a day trip to Nara with its temples dating back to the 8th century and famous resident deer.
Visit Dōtombori, a 400-year-old canal now lined with pedestrian walkways and restaurants.
Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto: A new luxury hotel with an 800-year-old ikeniwa (pond garden) at its center that has been built to blend in with nearby temples.
St. Regis Osaka: A skyscraper with a zen garden and elegantly-appointed rooms located on the Champs-Élysées of Osaka, Midosuji.
Ryokan Kurashiki: Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns that have been in existence since the 18th century. Kyoto is famous for them, and this particularly well-located one is a bit more modern with WiFi and flat-screen TVs in the rooms.
kushikatsu: Kebabs of pork, chicken, seafood, or vegetables that are skewered on bamboo sticks, breaded, fried and served with dipping sauces.
hakozushi: Known as “Osaka sushi” it’s compressed into perfect square and rectangle shapes.
Okonomiyaki: Japanese savory pancakes usually with eggs, green onion and meat topped with condiments. It’s often referred to as Japanese pizza.
I love the bright white color and that every seat has direct aisle access. The seat transforms into a fully-flat bed that is a generous 6’5” in length. Full-sized down pillows and soft duvets are provided for a good night of sleep in the sky. That is, after you’ve sipped champagne and dined on cuisine created by Michelin-starred grands chefs (great chefs) like Régis Marcon, Michel Roth and Guy Martin.
The hills north of Nice bloom with spring flowers, which makes sense as Grasse is often referred to as the world’s capital of perfume, which has been big business here since the 16th century. The city produces of a third of France’s aromas which also includes aromas for food flavorings. The traditional Provencal town is full of pastel orange buildings that house shops, cafes and restaurants. Grasse is only about 40 minutes from Nice by car.
Fly Air France to Nice, the gateway to the rest of the French Rivera, one of my favorite places. It’s impossible not to relax here and while exploring nearby towns like Grasse.
Musée International de la Parfumerie: Inside this 18th-century building, there’s no better place to learn this history of perfume through bottles, videos, and other artifacts. Explore the Les Jardins du MIP onsite which is home to plants used during perfume making.
Grasse Cathedral: It’s a national monument and 12th-century Roman Catholic church with three works by Rubens and one by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, a French painter native of the town, inside.
Visit one of the several perfumeries (Fragonard, Molinard, and Galimard) that offer daily tours and demonstrations.
Hotel du Cap Eden Roc (Antibes): Glamorous accommodations bordering the Mediterranean Sea that are favorites of dignitaries, royalty and celebrities alike.
Le Saint Paul (Saint-Paul-de-Vence): It’s a Relais & Chateaux hotel with stunning hilltop views over the Medieval village and Mediterranean.
La Bastide Saint-Antoine (Grasse): Another Relais & Chateaux hotel in the center of a five-hectare olive grove overlooking the Cannes bay.
Salade Niçoise: Eat this famous salad of olives, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs and anchovies in the city where it originated.
Pissaladière: Order this delicious caramelized onion tart typically served as an appetizer.
Petits Farcis: A stuffed vegetable dish that traditionally uses leftover meat and rice as the filling. Vegetables used could be peppers, tomatoes, zucchini or onions.
While any time of the year is a good time for Paris, spring is a particularly fantastic time to explore the city’s over 100 gardens in bloom. The weather is also perfect for outdoor cafes, sightseeing, day trips to Versailles, carousel rides and more.
It’s the city on this list that you’re perhaps most familiar with, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of the many fabulous things to do in Paris. Fly Air France to Paris, the gateway to the rest of France and beyond.
Book a scavenger hunt in the Louvre or Musee d’Orsay (fun for kids and adults, trust me).
Shop the flea markets (Les Puces de Saint-Ouen and its seven hectares is the largest antique market in the world).
Take a private Seine River Cruise (we took one in a Venetian water taxi specially retrofitted for the Seine) with champagne in hand.
Eat (this list could be miles long):
Macarons: This goes without saying that the best macarons are in Paris from Ladurée to Pierre Hermé.
Crêpe: There’s no better way to enjoy Parisian gardens in spring than with a sweet or savory crêpe in-hand.
Baguettes (and all the other baked goods): I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing like a proper Parisian baguette eaten plain, in a sandwich, for breakfast, etc.
Esprit Saint Germain: This intimate left bank boutique hotel is a favorite of many travel agents for its top-notch service and attention to detail.
Le Royal Monceau: This palace hotel (one step higher than a five-star hotel) is just steps from the Champs-Élysées with Philippe Starck designed rooms and suites.
Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg: A fashionable five-star property in the heart of Rue de Faubourg’s designer shopping that was an 18th-century townhouse. It’s been redesigned by Didier Gomez and has some excellent larger rooms and suites for families.
Air France has all of the information you need to plan your next trip to the City of Lights from top places to eat now to day trips from the city.
If you’re planning a family vacation in California but aren’t sure where to go and what to do, we have a solution for you. #KidsNTrips is partnering with Visit California to chat about all things Kidfornia on Twitter this week. Spring break and summer vacation season are both right around the corner and our state has tons to offer families.
To give you some ideas, here’s a list of my daughter’s favorite things to do in California. You just might win one of them for joining our chat.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Have a Harry Potter fan? Good, because Universal Studios Hollywood is a bucket list destinations for those who are into HP and movies in general. In addition to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, not to be missed is the World-Famous Studio Tour which takes you through sets from movies old (Jaws) and new (Fast and Furious).
There’s no doubt that the Happiest Place on Earth is one of the most popular spots for a family vacation in California. Disneyland Park is the original Walt Disney theme park with its eight themed lands and classic rides like Space Mountain and “it’s a small world.” Disney’s California Adventure across the way is home to seven themed lands including the super-popular Cars Land and World of Color light show.
Stay and Play: The newly-renovated Disney’s Grand Californian (my top pick) or any Disney Resort Hotel provides guests with access to Extra Magic Hour privileges. That extra hour in the park before it opens to the public dramatically enhances a visit (less line waiting). Read tips for buying Disneyland Resort tickets. It isn’t uncommon for families to spend an entire week enjoying all things Disney.
Knott’s Berry Farm
It’s effortless to pair a visit to Knott’s Berry Farm with a trip to Disneyland as they’re quite close to each other. Here, there are more roller coasters for older kids to enjoy but also Camp Snoopy for the younger ones. The park has a fascinating history as it was once an actual berry farm (the boysenberry was created here) and chicken restaurant. The people waiting for their chicken dinners needed something to do so the Knott’s family created displays to entertain and then the entire operation grew over the years into a full-fledged theme park.
Stay and Play: While there is a Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel, it’s only a 30-minute drive from Orange County’s beach cities and a 15-minute drive from Disneyland. Read how to buy Knott’s Berry Farm tickets.
Have kids under 12? Head to LEGOLAND California in North San Diego to enjoy the LEGO-themed park, water park, and SEA LIFE Aquarium. There are over 60 rides, shows and other attractions for the entire family to enjoy. Bring mini figures to trade with staff and keep an eye out for character meet and greets.
Stay and Play: The new LEGOLAND Castle Hotel opens in late April and we’re giving one lucky #KidsNTrips a one-night stay plus four LEGOLAND park hopper tickets. (Speaking of tickets, I’ve also written about the best ways to buy LEGOLAND tickets.) Guests of LEGOLAND Hotel and LEGOLAND Castle Hotel receive priority access to the park before it opens to the public.
San Diego Zoo
Having personally been to more zoos around the world than I can count, the San Diego Zoo remains our favorite with its open-air cageless enclosures and over 700,000 rare and exotic plants. Top highlights include the pandas, polar bears, koalas, children’s zoo and Skyfari aerial tram. Be sure to check their unique experiences such as Early Morning with the Pandas that occur before the zoo opens.
Stay and Play: There aren’t hotels within walking distance of the zoo so best to stay in downtown San Diego which also happens to be within walking distance to some of the city’s best shops and restaurants. I have a list of downtown San Diego hotels and also top tips for buying San Diego Zoo tickets. And, did you know that the San Diego Zoo is next door to Balboa Park, our nation’s largest urban cultural park? It is also a must-see San Diego attraction.
Santa Monica Pier
The over 100-year-old double-jointed Santa Monica Pier at the end of Colorado Avenue offers up tons of family fun between an aquarium, carousel, trapeze school, Pacific Park and lots of restaurants. Santa Monica is a fantastic base for a Los Angeles family vacation.
Stay and Play: Fairmont Miramar, Shutters on the Beach or Loews Santa Monica are my top hotel picks. A lot of families who want to visit Universal Studios Hollywood also stay in Santa Monica to enjoy the beach and it’s not too far from the shops and restaurants of Beverly Hills or the airport (traffic permitting).
I grew up in Huntington Beach so admit to being a tad biased. But, this is one of the best beaches in the state (and 10 miles long), hands down and, of course, one of the best places in the world to surf. It’s called Surf City USA for a good reason. Casual surf shops and restaurants line the coast here in addition to the International Surf Museum. Away from the pier, waves break more gently and you really can spend hours boogie boarding, digging for sand crabs and enjoying Southern California sunshine.
Stay and Play: Pasea Resort and Spa (a new boutique hotel) or Hyatt Huntington Beach are both right across the street from the beach. Strips with cheese (freshly-made chips with grated cheddar cheese on top) from Jack’s concession stand have been a local favorite for decades. And be sure to rent a bike for riding along the boardwalk.
Join #KidsNTrips to Win a LEGOLAND Vacation!
We can’t want to share more tips for your next family vacation in California and you might win a fantastic prize just for participating.
Who: @lajollamom, @jenleo, @travelmamas and @VisitCalifornia When: Thursday, March 22 from 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. PT Where: On Twitter using hashtag #KidsNTrips Prize: Four 2-Day Resort Hopper Tickets to LEGOLAND and a one-night stay at the NEW LEGOLAND Castle Hotel (prize package is valued at $1037).
Terms: Must be 21+ to win. Open to U.S. residents only. No purchase necessary to win. Bearer must present the original winning certificate upon check-in. Complimentary stay dates are5/14/18 – 5/25/18, 5/29/18 – 6/1/18, 9/4/18 – 11/16/18, 11/26/18 – 12/20/18 and 1/8/19 – 2/15/19. Reservations must be canceled at least 14 days prior to scheduled arrival date. Other restrictions may apply. Certificate valid at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel at LEGOLAND California Resort only and has no cash value. Reservations must be made in advance. Does not include incidentals or other room upgrades. Read additional prize terms and conditions.
Some people procrastinate by reading magazines or shopping online. My way of taking a mental time-out involves trying to find airfare deals including discount international flights.
This is how I wound up doing my Christmas shopping in Seoul. I used the techniques I’m about to outline below to score a business class international flight from San Diego (via DFW) to Seoul that was about the same price as an economy class ticket to Asia can be.
Why There Is No Need to Pay Full Price
With airlines tightening mileage ticket availability, redeeming mileage to fully purchase or upgrade flights is becoming increasingly hard to do. Miles, in my opinion, also have a dollar value. If an economy or business class ticket is at a low enough price point, it may not make sense to use them.
The lack of premium seat mileage ticket availability used to mean that we’d buy business or first class tickets through the airlines, but there is a better way. An entirely different option involves purchasing unpublished fares that the general public does not have access to without going through an authorized agent, which I’ll detail below.
There are plenty of services that have access to these fares but it incredibly important do book through a trustworthy agent who isn’t a reseller of mileage tickets (a service that isn’t technically allowed by many frequent flier programs).
Where to Research Discount International Flights
I am a huge believer that knowledge is power though. You need to feel good about the price you pay no matter where you buy or what class of service you book. This means that you need to do a little legwork. I am overly-obsessive about researching airfare so here’s what I do.
Check Prices on Google Flights
In my opinion, Google Flights is the best way for the average person to research airfare. Take a few minutes to learn how it works because it can perform several helpful tasks from monitoring flight prices (and emailing you when they change) to showcasing destinations on a map with pricing from your home airport on specific dates.
The latter is helpful for people who want to travel but don’t know exactly where to go. It’s called the Explore Destinations feature. For example, I randomly plugged in business class flights from San Diego to Mexico and this is what popped up.
You can also scroll through an entire year’s worth of airfare on your preferred airline so that you know when the cheapest time to fly to a preferred destination is.
This short video is a little cheesy but showcases how Google Flights works.
Google Flight Search - YouTube
Google is not a travel agent so they’ll send you directly to the airline for booking if you click on a link. I read that the only airline not represented is Southwest because they do not allow external programs to access their ticket pricing information.
Google Flights can send email alerts when prices rise and fall. This service is invaluable since, for example, business class flights from San Diego to Shanghai have risen and fallen between $1800 – $4500 per person over the last few months that I’ve been watching them.
Other price comparison sites like Skyscanner, are less reliable than Google Flights (in my opinion) because some of the airfare discounters they populate in their results (usually the cheapest ones) do not display real-time price fluctuations. This means some of the data may be old. And, they show results from lesser-known travel sites some of which, when you dig deep, have significant online complaints.
Bookmark the premium class thread in FlyerTalk thread. Here, members post premium class deals they’ve seen, booked or already traveled on. Usually, these fares are geared toward earning the most amount of miles per dollar spent. The threads look like this.
This is where I saw the Google Flights link for a deal on business class to Seoul, which I eventually booked.
Note that many FlyerTalk members are savvy flyers who are keen to see the world while maintaining frequent flier status and earning and many redeemable miles possible. You’ll see a lot of airline lingo. For example, it’s worth knowing what fare classes like “J” or “I” mean because this determines how many frequent flier miles you’ll earn.
Know Your Fare Class
Tip: I always, always know my fare class before booking a flight. I then refer to the American Airlines fare class chart (each airline frequent flier program has a similar chart) to see how many miles and elite qualifying miles I’ll earn based on the fare class I book.
When you buy discount business class tickets or discount first class tickets, these do not always earn miles and often times you won’t know if you’ll earn miles until after the trip is complete. Asking what the fare class is before you book will help eliminate the risk of zero miles earned.
Talk to Regal Wings
Regal Wings sources heavily discounted international flights in premium classes originating and concluding in the United States or Canada. Basically, if you normally purchase first or business class tickets and are crossing continents, they can help and we’ve used their services personally. Regal Wings works with large blue chip companies, lifestyle concierges and travel agents. It’s their buying power that allows them to secure these NET fares.
The best way to book through them, and I’m saying this as a travel agent, is to work directly with them. I’ve partnered with Regal Wings so that you can do just that by submitting an online request. What you’ll save depends on the route, airline, and dates. Tickets booked with Regal Wings earn full airline mileage.
Looking for a La Jolla happy hour? Here are over 25 current options, listed in alphabetical order.
The rule of thumb though is to check the menu or call before you go to make sure the special you’d like is on offer as things change quite quickly at San Diego restaurant especially with seasonal menus en vogue. Most La Jolla happy hours happen in the bar area of restaurants, however, you can make reservations at a few spots and enjoy happy hour at a table.
Times: Food, 3:00 – 6:30 p.m. daily | Drinks, 11:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Monday – Friday and 3:00 – 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Specials: Street tacos and sliders, 2 for $8.50 or 3 for $10.50 | $6.50 mules, mojitos, margaritas and house wine | other food and drink specials Ocean View: No Why Go: Beaumont’s is popular with locals in Bird Rock as you can sit anywhere in the restaurant (main dining room, covered patio or bar) to enjoy a mellow La Jolla happy hour Neighborhood: Bird Rock Address: 5662 La Jolla Blvd. San Diego, CA 92037
Time: Tuesday – Friday from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. Specials: $2 off of appetizers and other food and drink specials Ocean View: Panoramic ocean view Why Go: Counter-serve café serving mostly Italian cuisine adjacent to UCSD with views in addition to indoor and outdoor seating Neighborhood: Torrey Pines/UCSD Address: 2880 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla, California 92037
Time: “Social Hour” is daily from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: This “Wine by the Sea” includes a buratta board and house-selected bottle of wine for $30 Ocean View: Yes, as it’s across the street from La Jolla Cove Why Go: Fantastic sunset ocean views and shared plates in a historic cottage Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 1235 Coast Boulevard, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Daily from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: $5 house bubbles, wine and well drinks | $10 artisan cheese board | $8 La Rue sliders | $9 salt and vinegar chicken wings | more Ocean View: No, however, it’s located inside the La Valencia Hotel which does have ocean views from its lobby Why Go: It’s a modern bistro and bar with a French village theme, modern Mediterranean cuisine, indoor seating, and patio seating along bustling Prospect Street Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 1132 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Daily from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. and in the bar area only on Fridays and Saturdays Specials: Food specials enumerated on their website Ocean View: Yes (in the distance) Why Go: Rooftop patio with panoramic views of downtown La Jolla with the coast in the distance and coastal Italian cuisine Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 7863 Girard Ave #301, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: “Aloha Hour” is Monday – Friday from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. in the upstairs Barefoot Bar Specials: $2 off all pupus | $4 off all local favorites | $7 barrel to glass wine | $14 carafes | $5 select beers on tap |$8 cocktails (mai tai, Duke’s margarita, wind n sea breeze or lava) Ocean View: Yes Why Go: Ocean views in family-friendly restaurants with Hawaiian roots that has hula pie Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 1216 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Daily from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. in the bar Specials: Half-shell oyster specials, other food, and drink discounts, including on cocktails and wines by the glass Ocean View: Yes Why Go: High-end steak and seafood with great views that is popular for special occasions and date nights Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 1270 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Monday – Friday from 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. Specials: $8 cocktails | $4 draft beers | $7 wine by the glass Ocean View: Yes Why Go: Famous views and a great location in downtown La Jolla with excellent California cuisine and an upbeat vibe (you’ll love it) Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 1250 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Daily from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: Discounted small plates including $12 Caesar salad, $18 octopus tacos, and more Ocean View: Yes Why Go: Great views and a well-regarded remodel a couple of years ago for this mostly-seafood high-end spot Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 1250 Prospect Street, STE B10, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Monday – Friday from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Specials: $5 drinks, including mules and wines by the glass |$5 menu items, including boneless buffalo bites Ocean View: No Why Go: If you’d like an evening at a casual, Irish-style pub that’s also a chain Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 7811 Herschel Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: “Oyster Hour” is daily from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. in the bar and lounge Specials: $1 freshly shucked oysters | $5 beers | $6 house wines | $8 premium wines | $5 well drinks | other food specials Ocean View: No Why Go: $1 oysters and a vibrant, after-work crowd at this Brian Malarkey restaurant Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 7837 Herschel Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Tuesday – Sunday from 2:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: $6 Margherita pizza | $5 bruschetta | $5 wines by the glass | $4 draft beers | more Ocean View: No Why Go: Enjoy a $6 Margherita pizza at this casual La Jolla restaurant in between shopping on Girard Avenue Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 7734 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Monday – Friday from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: $3 beers | $4 margaritas, wines by the glass, and well cocktails | $5 appetizer specials Ocean View: No Why Go: Casual, festive sports bar featuring Mexican food Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 1037 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Monday – Friday from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: $5 beer, bites and flights Ocean View: No Why Go: You want to try local beer from one of our larger well-known brewers Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 1044 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Monday – Friday from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m in the bar and lounge only Specials: Special deals on ‘Social Plates,’ cocktails and other drinks including $12 mushroom flatbread, $6 truffle parmesan fries and more Ocean View: No Why Go: Grab a discounted drink and bite to eat before catching a movie in La Jolla’s deluxe theater, however, if you’re hungry during the movie, they can deliver food and drinks to your chair Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 4836, 7611 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Sunday – Friday from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. in their Lounge. Specials: $9 glasses of wine and bartender’s daily drink | $14 bar appetizers Ocean View: Yes Why Go: Famous, oceanfront, panoramic views at this local institution set in the sand of La Jolla Shores Neighborhood: La Jolla Shores Address: 2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Monday – Friday from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: $2 off beer, wine, and cocktails | as well as food specials detailed on the Happy Hour menu posted on their website. Ocean View: No Why Go: A casual neighborhood bar/restaurant with a front and back patio, TVs for sports, and local food Neighborhood: Windansea Address: 6830 La Jolla Boulevard #103, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Monday – Friday from 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. in the bar and lounge Specials: Bar food menu 1/2 price | $5 select glasses of wine | $2 off beers. Ocean View: No Why Go: Excellent food in an elegant space well-located in the Grande Colonial on Prospect that also has a half-priced bottle of wine night on Wednesdays and a seasonal menu (love the half-baked chocolate cake and short ribs) Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 910 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Daily from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: $5.95 cocktails, glasses of wine, beers, and sangria | $25 pitchers of sangria Ocean View: No Why Go: Well-regarded seasonal comfort food enjoyed on a casual, pet-friendly, outdoor patio (and maybe you want a pitcher of sangria) Address: 7556 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: “Halfy Hour” is Monday – Friday from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: Half–off tap beers and select wines by the glass | $5 sliders, grilled chicken tacos, Caesar salad, smoked pork belly street tacos Ocean View: No Why Go: ACasual spot with a trendy, innovative menu served with wines and craft beers. Neighborhood: Windansea Address. 6984 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Monday – Friday from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: $2 off craft beers and glasses of wine | 7 apps for $7 each Ocean View: No Why Go: For burgers and ales in a pub setting with rotating taps of Belgian and German beers, local San Diego beers, and hard to find craft beers and microbrews from all around the globe Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address. 830 Kline Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Daily from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: $2 off beers, cocktails, and wines by the glass | ½ priced long list of shareables that include $11.25 chicken lettuce cups, $8.75 meatballs and marinara, $7.75 truffle fries and more Ocean View: No Why Go: Happy hour in a family-friendly restaurant that kids love offering pizzas, salads, pasta and more Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 702 Pearl Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Daily from 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. Specials: $1 off draft beers, well drinks, signature cocktails and wines by the glass | food specials including a $9.95 cheeseburger, $2.50 jumbo pretzel and more Ocean View: No Why Go: Family and dog-friendly place to watch sports and grab a burger, but also more bar than grill Neighborhood: Windansea Address: 6941 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Sunday – Friday from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: Their “Eight for $8” happy hour menu features 8 drink and 8 food specials including sea salt pretzel bites, Angus beef short rib sliders, bay scallop ceviche and more Ocean View: Yes Why Go: Inside the oceanfront La Jolla Shores Hotel, very close to the sand so the sunsets flood the windows… kind of a hidden gem with good food and you could take a walk on the beach before or after Neighborhood: La Jolla Shores Address: 8110 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Daily from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: $3 off appetizers | $5 well drinks, draft beers, and house wines by the glass Ocean View: No Why Go: Casual pub centrally located on Prospect with a good burger Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 1005 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Monday – Friday from 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. Specials: $3 off wines by the glass | $2 off bottled beer | plus food specials | Wine Wednesday of 1/2 wines by the glass Ocean View: Yes Why Go: Great ocean views, from above La Jolla Cove in this gem of an olive oil shop (so many varieties to sample) with a neat cheese, charcuterie and wine menu to enjoy on its back patio Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address. 1158 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Monday – Friday from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. Specials: Discounts on an extensive list of wines, beers, and cocktails, as well as food specials including a Margherita pizza for $9 Ocean View: No Why Go: Wood-fired pizza and shared plates at a discount in a casual spot with an outdoor patio Neighborhood: Bird Rock Address. 5737 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Daily from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. in the bar only Specials: Specially priced appetizers, salads, wines, beers, cocktails from a seasonal menu that focuses on high-quality ingredients with minimal prep Ocean View: No Why Go: The food, wine list, service, craft cocktails (love the cucumber mimosa) is excellent but the menu changes because it’s seasonal though favorites include the cutting board cheese and charcuterie platter, mussels frites and butterscotch budino dessert. Neighborhood: La Jolla Village Address: 1044 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
Patience on road trips or while running errands can run thin on the part of parents and passenger kids. One way to curb fuss is by keeping those in the backseat entertained for as long as possible. Here are some ideas for road trip activities that span beyond the tablet and smartphone.
Boogie Board Jot LCD Writing Tablet
The cool thing about LCD writing tablets is that they totally erase with the touch of a button. We’ve always been fans of the Boogie Board but its newest version finally has what was lacking in previously… a built-in stylus holder. Kids can draw, make lists, use the tablet as a homework helper and play games like hangman or tic-tac-toe as road trip activities. It’s light enough to slide into a purse or backpack. I’d recommend that you also buy its sleeve for safekeeping.
Activity trays are must-haves as kids get older and are into coloring, drawing and playing in the car. This one by Skip Hop has a pocket on the side for crayons and rounded edges for safety. The whole thing can be wiped down.
Kids can play the license plate game even when driving around town. Melissa & Doug’s version can be kept in the car perhaps for kids to complete throughout the normal course of driving or for a road trip activity.
A pack of Wikki Stix alone can be good for hours of fun but this kit comes with sheets for tic-tac-toe, road trip bingo and more. These bendable sticks are super fun for kids and also don’t leave a residue.
Children’s audiobooks are a fantastic road trip activity. Kids’ Bible stories, nursery rhymes, and even Harry Potter books are all available in audiobook form. You can even try them out first to see how the kids like them with a free Audible trial.
When lyrics on the radio aren’t yet suitable for kids, but they’re desperate to hear the latest Bruno Mars song, this is where Kidz Bop comes in. These are CDs that transform the lyrics of current songs into ones that are G-rated and also sung by kids. Truthfully, these CDs are more enjoyable for adults than you might think.
Maybe you’re not in the mood to hear Kidz Bop or an audiobook. This is where keeping kid-safe headphones in the car will help. Good headphones also prevent kids from becoming frustrated by your music interfering with whatever they’d like to listen to. Many, many professional quality review sites like Wirecutter recommend Puro headphones as the best on the market for protecting young ears.
A car lap desk can actually be something as simple as a sheet pan, if you think the kids can hold onto it. Most of them are magnetic so why not stick some alphabet letters or other favorite magnets on it or let the kids have at it with dustless washable chalk (if you think they can keep the chalk on the pan, that is).
Coronado is more than just a pretty place to visit. Located on San Diego’s peninsula nestled between the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, Crown City offers a wealth of things to see and do, as well as eat. There are several restaurants located in the historic Hotel Del Coronado but why limit yourself to one area? From BBQ and burgers to seafood and steaks, here are ten places to grab a bite to eat.
Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill
In San Diego, you can’t go far without spotting a place specializing in seafood like this spot a walk away from Hotel Del Coronado. This waterfront restaurant serves regional seafood delicacies like Maryland-style crab cakes, seafood ceviche and ahi tuna poke for lunch and dinner.
Insider tip: Diners in your group who don’t eat seafood will appreciate their selection of meat and poultry dishes.
If eating fresh produce from San Diego’s farms is at the top of your list, hit up this restaurant that offers a taste of the region’s best seasonal ingredients. Open for lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends, the restaurant’s popular menu items include deviled eggs topped with mango chutney, a signature burger and truffled fries.
Insider tip: Beer and craft cocktails are also big here so don’t miss out the restaurant’s daily social hour from 3-6 PM for discounts on drinks and half-priced appetizers.
This casual mini-chain with a location in Encinitas proves that you can find worthwhile lobster rolls on the West Coast. Along with made-to-order rolls filled with imported Maine lobster, the shop also serves versions filled with scallops, crab or shrimp. Flights of soup, coleslaw, baked beans, and salads fill out the rest of the menu.
Insider tip: Indulge in a bit of everything by ordering the shop’s Maine Feast for Two Combo. It includes lobster, crab and shrimp rolls with your choice of four sides.
If the fresh ocean air has you ironically craving BBQ, head over to the Coronado Ferry Landing for pulled pork, brisket, sausage, ribs, and chicken. Served as a sandwich or plate with your choice of three housemade sauces ranging from sweet to spicy, this casual spot is a popular choice to get your BBQ fix.
Insider tip: Tables can be hard to come by during the lunch and dinner rush so come early or order online.
Locals know this sushi spot for its sustainable seafood but you should head in because it’s all delicious. Traditionalists will enjoy nigiri and sashimi while diving into the restaurant’s new-style rolls incorporating ingredients like black garlic aioli and blood orange kosho.
Insider tip: Sake plays a big part in the menu with the option to order flights paired with your meal.
It’ll be hard to miss this two-story restaurant nestled in the heart of Orange Avenue but keep it in mind when you’re in the mood for steak. Specializing in hand-cut steaks like American Waygu, bone-in ribeyes, NY strip and tenderloins, the restaurant fills out the rest of the menu with a variety of traditional steakhouse sides.
Insider tip: Enjoy the restaurant’s daily happy hour available 4-6 PM for specially priced drinks and half-off appetizers.
Don’t fall prey to the fast food establishments around the island, instead head over to this San Diego chain known for its grass-fed hamburgers. Other menu items worth checking out include their cage-free turkey and chicken sandwiches, quinoa veggie burgers, sustainable fish sandwiches and selection of salads.
Insider tip: Visit their Facebook page for food offers like BOGO and special menu items.
You’ll feel like you’ve been blasted to the past at this iconic coffee shop. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Clayton’s stays true to its roots serving popular diner classics such as biscuits ’n’ gravy, malted shakes, chili cheese fries and tuna melts.
Insider tip: In a rush? Grab coffee and pastries from the shop’s takeout window.
No trip to San Diego is complete without a brewery visit and this dog-friendly brew pub is walking distance of the Ferry Landing. With 20 craft beers to choose from (plus three guest taps), this hot spot also offers a diverse menu of appetizers, salads, pizzas and sandwiches.
Insider tip: The brew pub offers an extended happy hour menu Tuesday-Friday from 2-6 PM featuring $2 off all pints, food specials and discounted growler refills.
WestPac Noodle Bar
Dive into noodles galore at this casual restaurant on Orange Avenue. Rice-, wheat- and even yam-based noodles make their way into your choice of broth base and protein. Other Asian fusion foods that make an appearance include housemade gyoza, Korean fried chicken, and poke, as well as sake, wine, beer and cocktails.
Insider tip: The restaurant features table and bar seating inside but grab a seat outside for prime people-watching.
Darlene Horn is a San Diego-based freelance writer and designer who has contributed to Zagat San Diego, BizBash, Mission Publishing Group, Nescafe, andActive.com. You can find her documenting her favorite food spots on Instagram as @DarleneEats.
La Jolla Shores is quaint and relaxed neighborhood surrounding a beach of the same name. Popular with locals and out-of-town visitors alike, it’s just short drive from La Jolla Cove and perfect for a day at the beach in addition to enjoying the natural beauty that the city has to offer.
La Jolla Shores beach is a peaceful place to walk in the mornings.
La Jolla Shores Location
Contrary to what most people think, La Jolla Shores isn’t actually a part of La Jolla Village. La Jolla Shores refers to the popular La Jolla Shores beach, but the name encompasses rather the business district and neighborhood that surround the beach. This area is a little quieter, and definitely has a more laid-back vibe than you’d find in the bustling Village. The Shores is a great place to go if you’re looking for a day of relaxation and exploration.
The beach area is expansive, sandy, and a perfect place for water activities. Its boundaries are roughly from UC San Diego’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography to the La Jolla Shores Hotel. But, there are also shops, restaurants and tours on the water to enjoy.
To get to La Jolla Shores, you’ll need to take Torrey Pines Road to La Jolla Shores Drive. Depending on where in the Shores area you want to go, you can either head west on Avenida de La Playa (to the beach and hotels) or stay on La Jolla Shores Drive (to get to some restaurants and Birch Aquarium).
La Jolla Shores Beach
This is our favorite beach in all of San Diego.
Dogs are allowed on La Jolla Shores beach before 9:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. depending on the season.
La Jolla Shores has been described consistently as the best beach in the area (and also as one of the best beaches in the nation on TripAdvisor) for good reasons. With calmer waters, tons of water sports and on-land activities including a playground, it’s a fantastic spot for the entire family. There are options for everyone from toddlers on their first visit to the beach to older children to adults looking for fast-paced adventure.
Did you know there is also an underwater park here? Created in 1972, the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park was built as an ecological reserve to enhance sea life. It’s also what makes the waves usually small, so access to the park as either a snorkeler, kayaker or scuba diver is a breeze. This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience as it’s even been known to draw migrating whales.
The beach is staffed by lifeguards from 9:00 a.m. to dusk.
If you’d like to go the beach here but don’t want to drag the gear, Surf Diva also has beach chair, umbrella and boogie board rentals in addition to soft surfboards, hard surfboards and SUP gear. Here is their list of Surf Diva’s rentals.
A variety of La Jolla Shores businesses offer tours, lessons, and rentals for those wishing to enjoy a day out in the area. I’ve mentioned briefly who offers what in the sections below and have randomized them as not to favor anyone. They’re all good but my experience is mostly with Surf Diva and Everyday California.
Surfing is one of the biggest sports in San Diego, and it’s no wonder that La Jolla Shores is where locals come to enjoy the “stoke.” With sandbars and easy waters, this is the place to get on a board, whether you’re a complete beginner or seasoned veteran. You’ll even see some little ones out there catching a wave.
Looking for a lesson? Surf Diva is a great option. The knowledgeable, fun staff will help you learn the basics if it’s your first time. If you’re more experienced, they’ll help you take your performance to the next level. In addition to individual and group lessons, they have weekend clinics and women’s retreats. Kids aged 5–17 can also take a lesson or attend one of the many camps offered during school breaks. There’s even an after-school program for the very dedicated young surfer. Menehune Surf is also popular for lessons.
Stand-up paddleboarding is a great alternative to body surfing. It’s perfect for beginners, and a little more easy-going than spending the day trying to tame the waves on a surfboard. You can take a lesson or just rent the gear. Check with:
A recent kayaking adventure I enjoyed courtesy of Everyday California.
Sea kayaking might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the beach, but as soon as you arrive at the Shores you’ll see how incredibly popular it is. You can also book combo kayak and snorkeling tours.
Want to go deeper? Dive in with a scuba tour. La Jolla Shores has unparalleled access to marine life and natural aquatic beauty, including a breathtaking 600-foot drop into a natural underwater canyon. There are options for tours if you’re not an experienced diver, too, including SD Expeditions.
Dike Rock Tide Pools
Do take the Birch Aquarium tide pooling tours, if on offer during your visit.
The Dike Rock tide pools are located just north of Scripps Pier on La Jolla Shores beach. They reveal themselves during minus tides in winter and are fun for all ages to explore. Common critters include hermit crabs, sea stars, sea cucumbers, small fish, rock crabs, the occasional octopus and more. The Birch Aquarium leads guided tide pool excursions that I recommend because the naturalists are excellent at spotting sea life.
One of the best parts of La Jolla Shores is how kid-friendly it is. For youngsters who might be a little water-shy or just want a break from the excitement of the waves, Kellogg Park and its playground are steps from the sand. A huge grassy area here is also perfect for picnics, yoga, and games.
Other On-Shore Activities
The Shores are wide and spacious. There’s a lot of room to build sandcastles, set up a volleyball net, toss a frisbee, or just soak up the sun on your towel.
Birch Aquarium’s kelp forest tank
Kids will also love the Birch Aquarium, part of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Located on the northern end of La Jolla Shores Shores, the aquarium offers exhibits, hands-on learning experiences, live shows, live tide pools on a stunning ocean view deck, and even a summer concert. Children under two get in for free, so this is an affordable and fun way to spend the afternoon if you’ve got some tiny companions with you.
Bonfires and Barbecues
During the day, you can use any of the beach-side grills on the grass at Kellogg Park to whip up some burgers or hotdogs. But the fun doesn’t have to end with the sunset you can also use one of the fire pits on the beach to roast marshmallows over a roaring bonfire. Just make sure to get there early enough to secure a spot, since there are only six pits. Unfortunately, there’s no overnight camping, but you can have your fire going until midnight.
La Jolla Shores Shopping
Don’t worry if you forgot to pack something. The casual shops of La Jolla Shores have flip flops, swimwear, sunscreen, sweatshirts, sundresses and more. They’ll have you looking like a San Diegan in no time.
Izzy and Coco Tihanyi in front of their fabulous shop.
Run by sisters and La Jolla natives Izzy and Coco Tihanyi, Surf Diva is the boutique storefront for their popular surf school. They sell pretty much everything you can think of related to surfing or the beach, from surfboards (designed by Coco) and skateboards to Rainbow flip-flops and Hydro Flask water bottles. There’s plenty of “dude wear” for the male surfer, too, and swimwear for kids.
Rusty Boardhouse is owned by another life-long local, Rusty Preisendorfer, along with his wife Annie. He’s been shaping surfboards since the 60s, so he knows his stuff. This an old-school boardhouse with one simple goal: provide high-quality surfboards to the people. While Rusty crafts and sells his own artisan boards, he also offers rentals of any equipment you might need. This is the place to go for anyone wanting a taste of authentic surf culture.
Ocean Girl is the one-stop shop for stylish female surf fashion. The staff are always happy to help, and the store has a friendly and hippie-ish vibe. There’s apparel for all ages at this family-friendly boutique. You can even pick up a copy of a kids’ picture book authored by the owner.
The owners of Everyday California, Chris Lynch and Mike Samner, started their business in 2008 renting kayaks out of a car. Now, they’re one of the most popular gear rental and tour businesses in La Jolla. Everyone at this grassroots company is passionate and knowledgeable, so it’s a great place to book an adventure! You can book everything under the sun, from stand-up paddle boarding to whale watching. The store is full of high-end surf apparel, so check it out if you’re in the market for a warm hoody or pair of comfy shoes, too.
This independently owned supermarket is a neighborhood favorite. Quaint and small, it’s known in the Shores for its friendly staff and good prices. Although the selection is pretty basic, it’s great for visitors who have a mini fridge to stock and has a nice stock of beer and wine. The real reason you’ll want to visit though is that you can build your own ice cream sandwich. For that reason alone we consider this little market a can’t miss!
La Jolla Shores Restaurants
The Marine Room
The Marine Room, winner of multiple awards including AAA Four Diamonds, is one of the most refined dining experiences you’ll find in San Diego. And, its building is set literally in the sand which means that the waves crash on the windows during high tides. Here you’ll find decadent options like Macadamia Blue Crab Cakes and Amarone Braised Lamb Osso Buco. The Marine Room also offers fun events like cooking classes, High Tide Breakfast, Lobster night (which is, you guessed it, an all-lobster menu) and of course, Happy Hour. It’s while it has its own entrance, The Marine Room has been a local institution since 1941 and is a part of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club.
The Shores Restaurant offers top-notch cuisine with fantastic views of the water. Part of the La Jolla Shores Hotel, it’s a sophisticated spot with a more casual feel than its sister restaurant, The Marine Room, Come during the day to watch the waves crash on the beach as you enjoy lunch, or visit at night for a glass of good wine and tasty appetizers at happy hour. If you decide to drop by for the three-course Sunday brunch, don’t miss the Shores Benedict and the Tres Leches Cheesecake. For lunch or dinner, the Kaffir Lime Spiced Mahi Mahi is a must.
Locally known for their amazing overstuffed sandwiches, this deli is perfect for a quick lunch or to go order that is perfect for taking to the beach. Cheese Shop crafts its sandwiches from their homemade slow-roasted meats served with a side of freshly made salads. A must try is their famous homemade flourless oatmeal cookies. They also have some fun vintage and imported candies and sodas that will bring you back a couple of decades, at least.
Piatti is a charming Italian eatery in the heart of La Jolla Shores. In addition to lunch and dinner, you can join them for a full Italian-style breakfast. Everything on the mouthwatering menu is amazing, but the dipping sauce for the fresh bread is what you’ll be dreaming about for the next few nights. Top off the meal with one of their many artisan wines. If you want to sit inside, you can see your food being made in the exhibition-style kitchen with includes a woodfired pizza oven, but otherwise, there’s plenty of outdoor seating on the cute covered patio.
Out of the three Italian spots on this list, Barbarella is definitely the most relaxed and kid-friendly. Filled with an eclectic collection of art built into the architecture, it’s a fun place that has something to offer everyone. There’s lots of outdoor seating, where they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For dinner, they’re famous for their Earth Stone Roasted Whole Fish. If you’re there for breakfast, you’ve got to try the Brioche French Toast. If you’re around during October or December, make sure to stop by, because they completely transform the restaurant for Halloween and the Christmas season. They also have free movie nights for the whole family, with free popcorn! Dogs are very welcome as they even have their own menu.
Sushi Mori offers fresh fish at a very reasonable price. La Jolla locals and visitors alike appreciate this little sushi bar for both the laid-back atmosphere and the creative menu. Some of the top recommendations are the Pink Roll (salmon and tuna) and the Popcorn Lobster Roll (lobster, crab, avocado, and spicy mayo). There’s also a generous happy hour from 4:00–8:00 p.m., where you can choose from beer, wine, and ten different kinds of sake.
Having recently opened in 2017, this dog-friendly cafe is a new addition to the La Jolla Shores community. Named after the owner’s French Bulldog, you’ll always find a little jar of treats for your four-legged friend here. For yourself, you’ll find coffee from local specialty roaster James Coffee Co., and fresh food made from organic and local products. The pleasant and plentiful outdoor seating, along with the free wifi, make this a nice place to get some work done, although you’ll need to factor in the time you take to pet all the cute dogs that wander in. Cooper’s is also known for its block parties, which it holds throughout the year for anyone in the neighborhood.
With a whole “doggie menu,” Shorehouse Kitchen is another great place to bring your pup. Open for breakfast and lunch every day, this relaxed morning hangout kicks up your standard American fare a notch. Luckily, they serve breakfast all day, so you can still get the Salted Caramel Waffle if you roll in at 1:30 pm. If you are feeling something a little more savory, definitely go for the LJ Burger.
On your way to the beach bright and early? Brick and Bell opens at 6:00 a.m. every day and is just a 5-minute walk from La Jolla Shores Beach. They have a full breakfast menu, but in La Jolla, this cafe’s name is synonymous with one thing: scones. Brick and Bell bakes them fresh every morning, and they sometimes sell up to a thousand of them in a single day. Ask to have one of them warmed up. You won’t regret it.
I love this crusted seared ahi tin.
Shore Rider describes itself as “an extension of the beach,” and it’s hard to find a better title. It’s the ultimate mix of surf and turf, with burgers, chips, and guac, and poke tins. Don’t let the chill vibe fool you though because this is some seriously high-quality food. The Crispy Little Squids (Calamari with parmesan and a lemon..
Business travel is a trillion dollar industry with companies of all sizes spending money on airfare, dinners, dry cleaning, hotels and more. It’s also tends to be an excuse for employees to expense more than if there were using their own cash. TravelBank, a free solution for small to medium-sized businesses, promotes careful employee spending while also streamlining the expense and flight booking process.
How? TravelBank uses a rewards system. Rewards are earned when users come in under budget on an entire trip or book a flight that is less than the average cost of the flight across multiple airlines. For instance, if a user came in $200 under budget, they’d split the savings with the business owner and receive $100 in dollar for dollar rewards to use for personal travel with Lyft, Uber, Amazon, and Airbnb.
The newest TravelBank feature helps business owners and employees book flights. Here’s how it works.
I’ve been tracking flights from San Diego to Shanghai and San Diego to JFK and was delighted to see that the cost of the flights is exactly the same through TravelBank as they are through the airlines.
If I had an employee traveling and enabled the rewards feature on his or her account, I could split any savings with him or her. For example, if the average cost of a flight to from San Diego – JFK is $923 and my employee chooses a flight that costs $740 (perhaps it has an extra stopover), I can split the $183 savings with him or her. This means my employee receives $91 in dollar for dollar rewards that can be used toward Lyft, Uber, Amazon or Airbnb. I pay $91 in addition to the $740 but it is less than I would have paid should he or she have chosen the $923 flight.
WiFi, Baggage and Other Amenity Notifications
The app will display whether there is WiFi onboard, how many bags are free, whether there are power outlets and other things that frequent travelers need to know before booking that they may otherwise have to search on their own. If I have one wish list item for the app, it’s to also tell me what fare class I’m booking on this same screen so that I can know how many frequent flier miles I’ll earn.
Fast and Easy to Use
It’s possible to search and scroll through a variety of flight options in a manner of seconds. It’s actually a faster way to search for flights than most online services that I use.
If other employees book flights through TravelBank, the app will see you next to each other.
24-Hour Customer Service
TravelBank offers a concierge that is available 24/7 to address service issues which can come in handy during weather disruptions when the airline’s phone lines will likely be jammed.
Expense Tracking and Budgeting
When you’re on the road, if you photograph receipts and track spending through TravelBank, the app can automatically create an expense report and send it to whoever needs to approve it.
Enter the TravelBank/Away Sweepstakes (Starts February 28)
To help get the word out about TravelBank’s flight booking service, they’re giving away a blue suitcase from Away! Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.
Modern Mexico City, one the largest cities in the world by population, is located on the site of the former Aztec capital city, Tenochtitlan. When the Spanish arrived in 1519, Tenochtitlan was an island city in the middle of a large lake. Many of the top things to do in Mexico City have some link to the Aztecs. Knowing these links may enhance your visit.
We’ve traveled to Mexico City multiple times as a family and love it. Fortunately, most attractions on this list appeal to all ages.
Bosque de Chapultepec (Grasshopper Park)
From their island capital, the Aztecs constructed four causeways to the mainland. One of these causeways contained an aqueduct that ran fresh water from a lakeside spring to the city. The site of that lakeside spring is today part of Chapultepec Park, the Central Park of Mexico City. The name of the park is from the Aztec language, not the Spanish language, and means “Grasshopper Hill.” (That’s why the cartoon mascot of the park today is a grasshopper.)
Today, this park is also one of Mexico City’s top attractions with its Zoo, lake recreation (including paddle boats), vendor stalls to shop for everything from tattoos to toys, Chapultepec Castle, and the world-famous National Anthropology Museum.
National History Museum Chapultepec Castle
Atop Chapultepec hill in Chapultepec Park is this amazing castle featuring fantastic, panoramic views of the city. Formerly a sacred site for the Aztecs, the Spanish viceroy Bernardo de Gálvez ordered its construction in 1785. Much later, it was even more famously the official residence of Emperor Maximiliano I beginning in 1864. Today, it is the National History Museum with exhibits tracking the amazing, tragic, and sometimes bloody, history of Mexico over the last 500 years from the time of the Aztecs through the 20th Century. Original artifacts, furniture, paintings, and documents bring this history vividly to life.
National Museum of Anthropology
You absolutely must visit one of the world’s most famous museums, located within Chapultepec Park. Highlights of the National Museum of Anthropology include:
Piedra del Sol, the famous 24-tonne Aztec sunstone, mistakenly called the “Aztec Calendar” for decades
A replica of Moctezuma’s Headdress, purportedly worn by Moctezuma II at the time of the Spanish Conquest (the original resides controversially in Vienna)
Statue of Xochipilli, a 16th-century Aztec statue was discovered in the 19th century
El Paraguas, located in the central courtyard, it’s a towering water feature of sorts constructed in 1964
Jade mask of the Zapotec Bat God in Oaxaca exhibit room
Pakal’s Tomb, a replica of the original, which is still in Palenque in Chiapas, tomb of the famed Mayan ruler. The replica features an impressive display which includes his jade funerary mask and many beaded articles
Giant stone heads of the Olmec civilization found in the jungles of Tabasco and Veracruz
Mayan treasures recovered from the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Xochimilco is one of the last remnants of Lake Texcoco. Visitors typically hire a trajinera (flat-bottomed boat, propelled by a boatman with a pole, in a way reminiscent of Venice, Italy) for a few hour excursion here. The prices for these rentals are fixed, based on various routes marked on a map at the Embarcadero adjacent to the parking lot, where these boats load and unload passengers.
There are various routes to take on a trajinera. Some pass by chinampas, another throwback to Aztec times. The Aztec capital Tenochtitlan did not have arable land, so the Aztecs created it. Chinampas are artificial islands formed by woven mats underneath the water’s surface topped with mud from the lake bottom, on which the Aztecs grew various crops.
Today, you may take a route that passes almost entirely by the agrarian, wildlife refuge portion of Xochimilco. But by far the more popular way to experience the area today is to take a ride through other more touristic areas where on weekends visitors may rent mariachi bands and buy beers, sodas, and foods from stands on the islands, as well as those on other, passing boats. On weekends, this part of Xochimilco can be loud and festive. You may also buy food and drinks at the shops adjacent to the Embarcadero before you depart.
One suggestion from personal experience: it will be a big help here if someone in your party speaks Spanish, both to help arrange the hiring of a trajinera (and deciding upon which route to take) and then also when buying food and drinks from vendors along the way. If you want a quieter experience there, consider visiting on a weekday, when it can be nearly empty.
Zócalo (or Plaza de la Constitución)
The central square of modern Mexico City, perhaps its primary tourist destination, is today called the Zócalo, or more formally, Plaza de la Constitución. It is located at the center of the Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de México.
Many street signs in Mexico City reference either the Centro Histórico or the Zócalo. For a casual tourist, they are mostly synonyms. The central square itself is enormous and is ringed on all sides by picturesque multi-story buildings. It features a vast Mexican Flag, and, in winter, an artificial ice skating rink. The three primary tourist attractions here ring the outside of the square itself.
Five hundred years ago, the Zócalo was the ceremonial center of the Aztec capital. Here, on the top of their grandest temple, the Templo Mayor, Aztec priests sacrificed tens of thousands of human beings over time in ritual ceremonies as elaborate as they were bloody. Visitors may tour the archaeological site of the Templo Mayor today, as well as the adjacent, excellent museum that features artifacts from and about it.
This is also the site of the Metropolitan Cathedral, which was built in sections starting in 1573 and still stands today and can be entered by visitors.
The third and last major tourist attraction in the Zócalo is the Palacio National or National Palace. Today the home of many important federal government offices, it also features several Diego Rivera murals. These murals depict stages of Mexican history. Admission is free, but be aware that you will need to show (and leave) a passport or other government-issued ID (not a copy) to enter.
Palacio de las Bellas Artes
Located in the Centro Histórico, but not in the Zócalo itself, this Cathedral of Art in Mexico is housed in a beautiful art deco/art nouveau building with equally stunning, marble interiors. Most famous for murals by Diego Rivera and Siqueiros, it also hosts various temporary exhibitions of art and literature, as well as dance, theater, and opera performances intended to support and highlight Mexican culture and art.
Walk Down Paseo de la Reforma on a Sunday Morning
One of the significant, broad boulevards of Mexico City, the Paseo de la Reforma is closed to road traffic (except at some intersections) on Sunday mornings until 2:00 p.m. It’s a unique, memorable experience to be one of the throngs of pedestrians and cyclists who walk, jog, cycle, and people-watch in the middle of the picturesque boulevard designed in the European style on a Sunday morning. Several significant and photogenic monuments are also located in the middle of several intersections, including the Angel of Independence.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Freshpet. All opinions are 100% mine.
I grabbed a package of Freshpet dog food from the refrigerated section of our local pet store as a last resort. Scooby was recovering from TPLO surgery (basically, a torn ligament in his knee that required rebuilding his leg) and wasn’t taking his antibiotics or pain pills. I was looking for something new to hide them in. He’d become a master of spitting out pills and thought they were in everything we tried to feed him. He started to refuse all food.
Freshpet proved to be a game changer. I’ll never forget how his love for the bright red cranberries in the salmon and spinach recipe helped him forget about the pills. (In fact, I’ve read plenty of accounts since then about how picky dogs turn a corner after trying Freshpet.) Scooby inhaled this all-natural pet food with his medicines tucked inside, which allowed him to heal much faster than most dogs do from this invasive surgery.
I hadn’t considered fresh dog food before this but noticed that it does agree with his somewhat fragile system. He has skin issues due to allergies. So, this got me thinking about why Freshpet dog food is different than other high-quality dog foods.
Why Fresh Is Best
I tend to feel better after eating fresh food so it only makes sense that dogs may, too. The “fresh” in Freshpet means that the food is made from scratch in their Bethlehem, PA kitchen using real vegetables and meat. Absent are meat meals or by-product meals (the mysterious scrap meat renderings that wind up in a lot of dog food), and Freshpet is cooked at low temperatures to retain nutrients. I didn’t realize that a lot of dog food is cooked at extremely high temperatures, which evaporates nutrients (that are then sometimes artificially added back in). They also do not use any chemical or artificial preservatives.
It’s the closest dog food I’ve fed Scooby so far that resembles something we might make for ourselves. Except, with Freshpet, there isn’t any preparation involved. We open the bag, measure the food and pour it into his bowl. Pictured above is one of Freshpet’s Beef Roasted Meals, the Tender Beef Recipe with shredded sweet potatoes, vitamin-rich green beans, and carrots. Scooby loves fresh carrots.
It’s pretty much like a fresh homecooked meal for your pet, without the effort of actually preparing it yourself.
Who Is Freshpet For?
Freshpet is for people who want to feel good about what they feed their dogs. It’s for picky dogs, as mentioned above. Dogs with sensitivities, like mine, may also respond well to it. I can read and understand the ingredient label to identify any ingredients that he is supposed to avoid. It’s for dogs that like food that tastes good, which is basically every dog. The other good news is that it’s easy to Find Freshpet near you (it’s sold at our local pet stores and the two major grocery stores I shop at regularly, to give you an idea). You can also learn more by following Freshpet on Facebook and Instagram.
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