Celebrating Valentine’s Day the Julian Way.

Surprisingly, I’m not a fan of celebrating Valentine’s Day but, my bf likes it and had made plans for us to go to Julian for the day. He thought I would actually like the town and since I’ve never been before it was a perfect getaway for both of us.

Julian is about a 2 hour drive from Orange County. It is a gold mining town, with approximately 1,000+ population, and 1 hour east of San Diego. The town is famous for its apples which explains the amount of options to find apple pies and apple ciders in town varies.


We arrived by noon in downtown and the traffic was already visible. Even though there were a ton of street parking, our luck was not on our side and opted for a paid parking lot for $5 (not too bad). After we parked, we walked through downtown perusing through stores and restaurants. I was surprised of how busy it was in town. I saw people crossing the streets everywhere, lines formed outside the restaurants and car jams on the streets. It seemed that everyone had the same idea in coming to Julian that day.

The downtown area itself had a ton of restaurants to choose from. We saw various types of shops that sold soaps, guns, clothes, jams and food. If you want a quick order of an Apple Pie go to Julian Cafe. There’s a to-go order section where you can buy a whole Apple Pie or slice (they have other flavors too), drinks and other types of food. I am not a big fan of pies in general so I can’t speak for the taste of their pie. However, this was the only place we saw that didn’t have a very long line in compare to other places nearby.

Julian Grille

Finding a restaurant in town was tricky because everyone was busy and had a wait of 30 min. to an hour long. Also, I was picky in wanting an outdoor dining with a quieter scene, good food and with a shorter wait. We looked at a few places and decided on Julian Grille. They seemed to have the shortest wait, definitely an outdoor dining option and had great reviews online. As it turned out, we were not disappointed.

Julian Grille is a mix of French, Italian and American classics with a bungalow style restaurant. I enjoyed the ambiance there and the food was pretty good! We ordered their Trout special with mushrooms and caper sauce, a starter with a Butternut Squash Soup and an Apple Cider to drink. I definitely enjoyed our meal and I can’t seem to stop thinking about how good the hot apple cider was.

Eagle Mining and Co.

After lunch we decided to do the mining tour. It was located a few minutes away from downtown, through narrow streets and hidden behind a few residential areas. The overall tour took about 40 minutes long that started with a bit of history, followed by a walk through mining tunnels and finally the tour ending outside showcasing how they used to dig for gold. The mining tunnels were cool and probably the best part of the tour.

One thing to note is to double check the admission fees prior to visiting the site as the website may not reflect the current rate. We were lead to believe that it would cost $10 (as promoted on their website) but, once we got there it was actually $15 pp. That part was disappointing, although, not the end of the world.

Lake Cuyamaca

Our last stop was Lake Cuyamaca. We decided to do a mini picnic here for the rest of the day and we were well prepared for it with a basket full of foods and drinks. The lake was quite a beautiful scene. The water was serene, birds were chirping, kids were playing, the trees all around us reflected in the water and there were fishermen at the small dock waiting to catch fish. We were ready to relax ignoring the fact that there was still snow and the weather was very cold. A few minutes into our snacking we started shivering under our sweaters and tried to brush off the cold except it was unbearable. Sadly, our picnic outside ended and had to move everything back in our car. We finished off our picnic in warmth of the car heater and eventually headed home. All in all, I’d come back again to Julian on a different day and try out a few other restaurants. I think the town is not enough to explore in one day.

A few hours in beachside Carlsbad, CA.

carlsbad village

Carlsbad has been on my radar for quite some time now yet, never have I ever made it down here for many reasons until now. In just a mere of an hour (ish), I finally made it to downtown Carlsbad where I roamed the beach side to the village area fulfilling my inner Carlsbad itch.

Carlsbad Village, the city’s commercial district right off the Pacific Ocean was my favorite part. There were plenty of parking, the public restroom was decent, and I found plenty of boutique shops and eatery options during my stroll. One store in particular that caught my eye sold handmade face masks which the owner claims was the only reason they were open. Considering they were a bit pricey I ended up buying two to help support local businesses. I was pleased to finally wear a proper mask compare to my handkerchief.

As a beach city, Carlsbad’s coast line was busy with people on bikes, skateboarding, jogging and much more. It is hard not to love the view of the ocean from the sidewalk. I couldn’t help but, stare out into the horizon of the ocean as I walked along the coastline. Eventually, I decided to turn back around to the village.

Other nearby attractions in Carlsbad are:

The Flower Fields
Experience fifty acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers bloom at best from early March through May. One can easily spend 2 hours here so, make sure to bring plenty of water and an umbrella or a cap.

Admission $18
$1 discount on AAA

GIA Museum
If you like gems and jewelries this is a place for you. The museum holds a free self-guided tour (reservations are required) to learn more about the stones and minerals.

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Visiting the Sunset Sea Cliffs, San Diego. (Video)

I’ve had my share of views for sunsets and I can tell yeah that watching it from the Sunset Cliffs is a one of a kind experience.

I arrived without too much expectations but, it turned out to be more than what I anticipated. My first initial thought was that I would walk along the cliffs and sightsee. Doing so allowed me to peak over and enjoy the view. It was quite mesmerizing with the expansive views of the ocean and the dramatic formations of the cliffs.

In the distance further down the coast were people walking down a staircase that lead to the water. My curiosity got the best of me and I followed their path. At the bottom of the stairs was a tiny cove with the waves of the ocean literally moving right under your feet. Surfers used this area to make their way into the water which, I thought did not look safe. However, they were pros at it and made entering this way looked seamless. I didn’t stay long in the area and decided to go back up to where I started.

Once I was back at the top I walked even further down the coast leading me to another area where there was way to get down to the bottom. This time it looked to me that this path was way riskier than the staircase route I had just gone on. After seeing people make it to their point of destination, I decided to do the same.

Basically what happens is that you have to walk down through large boulders of rocks and then there’s this rope to make your way down to a beach area. I don’t recommend this at all but, the reason I did it was to find a cave that I saw online. I thought I would find here but, sadly I didn’t.

What I did find was a secluded beach area and tide pools that allowed me to have a closer look at the rock formations. That part was pretty cool.

On my way back, there was a bit of traffic using the rope. Please note that this is the only way back up; which is what makes this beach so secluded. Once I made it back up I decided it was time to go. At this point, the amount of visitors had increased in preparation to watch the sunset. I stayed for a few minutes and then, decided to head home.

See my previous posts on Visiting Sunset Sea Cliffs, Visiting the Skyline & the Gaslamp District, Staying in at Hotel Del Coronado and must see spots in San Diego.

Visiting the Skyline & the Gaslamp District, San Diego.

After checking out of my hotel, I walked around Orange Ave. street for a bit. It was near the hotel and thought it was worth exploring. I found out that they actually had quite a few shops and cafès. I took a break and got a latte at 1134 Coffee shop. Orange Ave. has a ton of stores and restaurants to see but, on this trip I did not have enough time to see everything. I left and made my way down to the skyline that I hear had a great view of the city.

The view here is definitely not to be missed! I found myself approaching the edge of the harbor and looked out into the water. I saw boats, kayaks and jet skiers along the water passing by with a backdrop of the skyline buildings in the back. It really was one of the best view around.

After I was done at Skyline, I made my way to the Gaslamp Quarter. About 20 minutes drive from Coronado was a neighborhood town known for its nightlife, Victorian-style buildings, a mix of chain and independent restaurants, pubs, cigar bars, cafes and shops. I walked down the main area where a few blocks were blocked off. It looked like they had a mini fair going on and a few vendors were situated selling various items from food, fashion to paintings. At some point, I made it up to the Hard Rock Hotel and walked around the lobby. I didn’t find anything too interesting, therefore, I left and decided it was time to eat.

I found myself having lunch at the Searsucker restaurant. The food was very tasty. I highly recommend going here if, you’re ever in town. I ordered the Green Eggs and Ham which consisted of poached eggs over a bread with pork inside it. It was very good. I ended my meal with a gelato as a dessert a few doors down at the Ghirardelli store. Totally worth it but, on to the next!

From one district to another, I thought Little Italy was the hip family hangout that everyone should visit. They have a square where everyone gathered, ate, hung out and basked in the sun. I felt like I was back in Italy for a minute sitting outside in the open air and enjoying myself as I watched people go by.

There’s a food hall at the square with various food options. However, I ended up eating a pizza to go from a restaurant across the street (sorry, I did not get the name) and it was very good. Too bad there’s no pizza places around where I live that can match its taste. In any case, if you want good food you’ll sure find it here.

To be continued…

Staying in at Hotel Del Coronado, San Diego.

It took me about 2 hours tops to wander around Seaport Village before I decided it was time to check in to my hotel at the Hotel Del Coronado.

I arrived around 4pm and the hotel property was full on busy. Entering the hotel required elbowing past tourists and the line to check in was long. Luckily, I was able to bypass all of that through a digital check in method. My room wasn’t worth discussing on here but, customer service provided a voucher for dinner to compensate for the issues and I made sure that I used it.

Dinner was at Serea restaurant conveniently within a few steps away from my hotel room overlooking the beach. Yes, it was quite a nice view with the sunset and all. I ordered mushrooms as my starter and the lamb chop plate with potatoes as my main dish. It was more than enough food for myself and it was ok. Honestly, I wasn’t too impressed with it. Although, the view won me over.

After dinner I walked around the hotel. I liked that the hotel has a history with famous celebrities who’ve stayed here and they’ve done a great job of restoring the building. The rest of the night I explored the hotel and went through the shops downstairs, passed the ice cream parlor at the end of the hallway and then came back up to walk around the hotel room hallways.

The creepiest story in this hotel that I heard is about this woman who killed herself. Her name was Kate Morgan and to this day, her room is the most requested guestroom in the hotel. Would you stay in a room knowing that someone died there?

The next day I strolled down the beach with a coffee in my hand. That was one upside to my hotel room was that the beach was just a few steps away from me. I took an hour or so to take a walk and then decided it was time to leave. I only stayed 1 night as this trip was a quick weekend getaway. I packed my bags and checked out.

To be continued…

Checking Off Must See Spots in San Diego.

Truth be told, I’ve been to downtown San Diego and in the Coronado area in the past but, I’ve never really seen all of what this city has to offer until now. On this trip, I had time in my hands to dig deep and find what I desired to see that I’ve never done before. Oddly, this was the first time I made a list which I ended up checking off and completely completing.

La Jolla

When I arrived in San Diego, my first stop was La Jolla. I read about this cave being there and I wanted to see it. It turns out this cave was dugged up by 2 Chinese laborers hired by a painter name Gustauf Schultz back in the early 1900s. It is a small cave in my opinion with several steps that’ll take you to an opening overlooking the ocean at the end of the stairs. Is it worth it? Yes. Would I go again? No. I thought it was cool but, this is one of those one time experiences.

Entrance Fee: The cost to enter is $5 for adults, $3 for 3-17 years old & FREE for infants 2 or younger. The earlier you go the better as it can get quite crowded.

Parking: I parked in the neighborhood area a few blocks up the road from The Cave Store for FREE. Otherwise there are a few metered parking spots along the coast.

After the cave exploration, I walked along the coastline. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were people already in the water kayaking, snorkeling, doing stand up paddles and lining up at the rocks watching sea lions sunbathing. I joined the crowd and took a couple of shots. I made my way towards the shops a few minutes later and found it quite similar to Beverly Hills with its upscale shops and restaurants. I didn’t bother going in to any of the stores as I had other places in mind that I wanted to see but, La Jolla was definitely worth visiting.

Liberty Public Market

Around lunch time my stomach started complaining. I left La Jolla to grab some food at the Liberty Public Market, a market with hip eateries, craft vendors and specialty foods.

When I arrived, I made a loop to check out the different types of food and decided on empanadas from Paraña. I ordered 3 kinds of empanadas; 1 with cheese, 1 with beef & 1 with chicken. The beef won which I was not surprised at all as it was slow cooked for 24 hours. I probably could’ve eaten 5 of those easily, however, I wanted to try these steam buns from another vendor. Those were also good but, not as good as the empanadas.

Outside the market are various galleries. I walked around the quad area for a few minutes then decided it was time to head towards the hotel.

Parking: they have a free parking lot area and it is busy.

Seaport Village

After 20 minutes of driving from the public market, I arrived at Seaport Village around mid afternoon and the place was packed. Parking was difficult and found a metered parking spot across the street near some condos. I walked over to the main area of the village and immediately understood why so many people flocked here.

Seaport Village is a waterfront shopping and dining area housed with galleries, shops and eateries. The view of the sea is the main draw of the crowd but, I think the best view is truly from the 40th floor at the Hyatt hotel. I didn’t eat here but, I did stay a few minutes for the view.

This area was compact with a few tables for eating and drinking. I can’t comment about the food and drinks because I didn’t stay long. However, it looked like a great place for happy hour. They also seem to get booked pretty quickly so, make sure to reserve (if possible) or come early right when they open the doors.

To be continued…

See my posts on Hotel Del Coronado, Visiting The Skyline & The Gaslamp District, viewing the best sunset at the Sunset Sea Cliffs and more.

4-Day Work Event Bonanza at Loews Coronado in San Diego.

Whenever I can combine work and travel together, sign me up. This year, my work trip brought me to San Diego where I would be spending 4 days staying in at Loews Coronado Hotel and 1 day dinner on a boat. How cool is that?

San Diego weather did not disappoint. The sun was as bright as it could be at every angle. It was beaming at 80 degrees. And the view…..

room view

The VIEW! I could not get enough of.

terrace view
conference room view
back of the hotel view

Oh, the food was also quite good. I tried their fish tacos as well as a couple of appetizers from calamari to the pizza dish. Everything was fulfilling and quite tasty.

fish taco plate

On our last night, we had our last dinner party at the USS midway. Even though it was quite cool and windy, I still enjoyed it. We also got the chance to take a look around the museum and see the historical collections of aircrafts. I think it is one of the must-see activity in San Diego.

sunset photo op
top of the USS Midway
view from the USS Midway