Some times, you need a break. Tatyana and I decided on a whim to go to San Diego and we were determined to do it on a budget.
The mission: Two days, one night. Six stops minimum.
Who knew it would end up being quite the adventure. In fact, everything that could have gone wrong did. But we survived.
It started after we booked and saw that the only day it was going to rain that week was Saturday. Next we Googled things to do in Carlsbad and the first article that comes up is about how two people were murdered. We decided that wasn't going to deter us.
Saturday morning we packed the car and headed down. It began to pour the entire drive, so when we reached the Carlsbad Flower Fields ($14 for admission per adult), we decided to wait until the fields had bloomed more and it stopped raining. March isn't the right time to see everything in full bloom. The U-pick strawberry fields are also open later in the year, and it is well-worth visiting so we decided to postpone this part of the trip.
We instead headed to Encinitas for lunch at the Tin Leaf which offers vegetarian and vegan options. You don't need to order a dish per person, sizes are large enough to share. We ordered the Ahi Tuna Salad, tomato soup, and a Kefir ginger lime soda.
The salad was dressed lightly and tasted delicious. There are peels of fresh ginger throughout the salad so beware if ginger is not your thing!
The soup was just okay. The cracker was soft and the taste was average. The Kefir soda however was delicious. They will offer you free samples of the sodas if you can't decide between the flavor options :) Tin Leaf is located in a strip mall but it is beautiful decorated and kids have the option of eating for free on Sunday nights. This isn't a place to come if you want exotic food flavors but if you want lighter options, certainly come here! You'll get tons of parking options. Helpful hint: Encinitas is the place to come if you want good food options. Carlsbad had chains and nothing seemed to really sound out. There weren't tons of obvious Vegan options either.
Since we had a few more hours until check in, we headed over to Lofty Coffee to pass the time. It's a pretty hipster place that certainly serves Vegan options. Tatyana got the Aztec coffee (next to the Prada purse) and I got a Mocha with a chocolate ganache. You can ask for non-dairy milk which will cost you a $1 more. The Aztec coffee has cayenne in it. It is no joke. Simply sipping the froth my ears were ringing, but Tatyana gave it two thumbs up and she finished the whole thing.
My mocha was also delicious but it is a tad sweet. You can certainly ask for less sweet and they will accommodate your needs.
At this point we noticed that people are very nice but in these parts of town they are in there own worlds. There wasn't much diversity but no one treats each other unkindly, which is awesome!
It's the perfect place to wait out the rain which we did until it was time to check into the hotel.
We paid $120 for one night at the Econolodge in Carlsbad which we booked on Hotels.com. The place was cleaning, had parking, a pool, and breakfast in the morning. Each us only spent $60 for a night and had a good place to sleep. After we had checked in, the rain had gotten worse so the plan was to be dressed to go out dancing in the Gaslamp District in San Diego. We were planning to visit La Jolla and see the seals and sea lions, grab dinner, and then head to San Diego.
Our dance party in getting ready took longer than we thought so by the time we reached La Jolla it was pitch black and pouring. Nevertheless we walked along the path and could hear the lonely calls of the seagulls and the chatter from the sea lions. There were several oceanside restaurants that you can choose from, we didn't find one so we headed to the Gaslamp District in hopes of finding something closer to the dancing!
After an hour of driving and finding that parking varies in price depending on how close to 5th & 6th street (where the action is). We ended up parking next to a church and decided to wait out the rain before we hunted for food. After an hour, we decided to brave the rain and headed out. We walked 15 minutes in heels and raincoats and that's when Tatyana said her shoes felt weird. We looked down and saw one had split in half. Luckily, we have the same shoe size so I took mine off and gave it to her. I keep extras always in the car for emergencies, so we were covered!
One Lyft later, we were back at my car and then saw two men dealing drugs in the car behind me. They came out and began to circle my car looking inside for anything. Luckily my car is older so they left. At this point, restaurants were closed and we decided to take a Lyft to a dance club.
Our first Lyft cancelled on us without warning (we were charged but got money back). Our second Lyft dropped us off at Omnia nightclub where it was initially a challenge to get in (they wanted $20-$40) a person to get in. After walking a few different places, a promoter gave us free entry where we proceeded to dance for the next several hours to our heart's content. We were rain soaked, but we had so much fun and that's what counts. It always does. After a fun night, we decided we would walk back to the car. Our feet ached but we trekked on. Pedi cabs passed us but we declined rides. One pedi cab was playing Bollywood music and told us that this was his last ride of the night, so the ride was free. We were after all two blocks away. The ride was filled with laughter, great music, and chatting away. When we reached the car, the driver asked for a tip. He swiped our card and instead of the $5 he requested he took $55, and sped off. Fortunately, we were able to dispute the charge a a while later, but it is a lesson to all that nothing is ever really free.
The 45 minute drive back had both Tatyana and I in laughter at the odd things that were happening. We agreed however that it was going to be a memorable trip and still we had fun all throughout together. The time changed while were driving back (daylight savings) and the rain continued. When we reached the hotel, we slept for a few hours before deciding to head back to see La Jolla in the day time.
Sunlight!!! It was a night and day difference in the weather we had experienced less than 12 hours ago. The day was stunning and we were able to visit the seals and sea lions along the beach. There are so many things you can do at the park from shopping, dining, picnics, running, flying a kite, yoga, and more! Bring friends and family for sure.
There is paid and free parking along the cove. You can park somewhere downtown and walk to this cove. We decided that almost 20 hours from our last meal, it was time to chow down. We're big Yelpers, but after checking several places for brunch we decided to ask locals for their favorite breakfast spots. Duke's La Jolla was the suggestion we received along with the knowledge that the best dance spots in the Gas Lamp is actually in the Little Italy district. Duke's has beautiful views but the place is overpriced. One plate of the ahi tuna was $19. The taste was also okay. You would come here for the ambiance and for the virgin lavender Pina coladas.
We sat and soaked in the sun and the views of the cove. After so much rain and odd events we were happy to take some time to recover. Since we split the ahi, we were still hungry so we headed to downtown La Jolla to get something else to munch on.
Elixir coffee has strong black coffee and a delicious Vegan buckwheat crepe. We added Nutella so although the crepe was buckwheat, the Nutella was not. It was delicious!! I've never had buckwheat so I was very impressed with this sweet.
We also found a Swiss chocolate shop in the same plaza as Elixir which is decadent and has beautiful chocolates you can buy as souvenirs to take home.
And that was our trip. We ate and danced our way through Carlsbad and San Diego for under $90 each that weekend. We could have saved even more had we possibly used Air BnB or brought food with us, but it is possible to have a cheap weekend that includes: gas, housing, food, daytime and nightlife activities.
We are certainly coming back for the flower fields and for the strawberries when things are in season. If you have a recommendation for us, please leave it in the comments!