San Diego: Things to do and eat

Thanks to marZ’s detailed post on the logistics, lodgings, and points, I’ll do my best not to cover the same points. Let’s cover this weekend in a chronological fashion starting with Sunday. The trip covers our activities from Sunday morning through Tuesday afternoon (our return).

Sunday: (Hungry Bear Sub Shop, SD Safari Park, Julian County)

10 a.m. take-off. I get a range of about 360 miles to the tank and did not have to refuel for the entire trip, making the traveling much more wallet friendly than flying. Before getting to the zoo (about 1.5 hours SE of the O.C. when driving like a fugitive), we stopped by Hungry Bear Sub Shop (4.5 stars out of 227 reviews on Yelp as of 7/14/12) and got this:

Hungry Bear Sub Shop - BBQ Steak Sandwich

BBQ Steak Sandwich. It’s like a Subway Steak and Cheese on steroids.

Most of our food places are found on Yelp on the way and this was our Sunday’ lucky winner. The place lives up to it’s Yelp hype and the only complaint I have is that the place smells like burnt steak and toilets. Needless to say, we ate outside.  A short drive later and we were at the SD Safari Park.

Here’s a few interesting things I got to do at the park:

SD Safari Park - Cheetah Sign

SD Safari Park - Marble Earth Globe

We watched 5 year old take control of the world.

Visiting the San Diego Safari Park (which is in ESCONDIDO, not San Diego) was fun and a different experience from going to the San Diego Zoo. As imagined, the part is much more open and the layout of the park is designed to give priority to the animal’s living requirements rather than maximizing the animal-per-space ratio to give visitors’ the most bang for their buck. This picture below should show how spacious the park really is (kidding. kind of.)

SD Safari Park

Look how spacious the park was!

Although the San Diego Zoo is bigger with a wider selection of animals, I’d definitely check out their Cheetah runs (5:30 p.m.) and take a tram tour of most of the park. The tram is the big attraction and you see things like…

SD Safari Park - Giraffes


…and you’ll see other stuff. If you shell out a little more, you can go on the truck tour that takes you right next to these giraffes and probably let’s you call it names. And feed it. SD Safari Park overall is worth going to at least once. It’s kind of out of the way, but it makes a great opportunity for you to go try apple pie from Julian county. It was good, but not something to go back for (since they sell these at albertson’s in SD).

Julian County - Apple Pie.

They also sell this at some alberton’s grocery stores in SD.


That was it for Sunday. Went to the hotel, paid for parking ($15/day at the parking structure literally across from the SD Westin on 400 Broadway) and then watched a TON of TV. No pictures of the hotel room unfortunately. I’ll remember that for next time.

Monday: (Kayaking in La Jolla, Hash House, Neighborhood)

Ate this for brunch:

marZ's brunch - Hash House Agogo

marZ’s brunch. French toast, Eggs, Potato wedges, and stuff.
Note: Hash House serving size for 1 person feeds 2 – 2.5 people..

Every time I go to hash house, I always get too much food. After this, we went up to La Jolla to catch the OEX Dive & Kayak tour for the 7 caves kayak tour. Note that I’ve done the 7 caves tour with the competing La Jolla Bike and Kayak Tour which is located right down the same street the previous month. This time, the waves were calm and we were actually allowed to go into the caves which was cool, but underwhelming. If you do this tour and don’ t get to go in, La Jolla Bike and Kayak will give you a voucher for a free walk in tour to the 7 caves which is as good. Funny story – after we got out of the water, we noticed a couple news vans going to the beach and later discovered that there was a 14-foot great white shark near this beach AT THE TIME WE WERE KAYAKING. Omg, if I knew this was coming to find some lunch (me), I would’ve pooped my pants. (link:

After this, we found Neighborhood on Yelp and went for a test drive..of food. The meal consisted of a mission viejo hefeweizen, spicy mac and cheese, and STEAK FRITES. Let me recount the details in order. Hefeweizen – good, Mac n’ cheese – overrated (save your $ and don’t get this), and STEAK FRITES! The steak frites are like carne asada fries with guacamole, except the fries are sweet potatoe fries. I’d go back to SD just for this dish (and maybe to say hi to the great white).  It was that good. The lighting was horrible so I didn’t end up getting any worthy pictures of this amazing dish. AMAZING! After that, ralph’s,  hotel, sleep, rinse and repeat.

Tuesday (Phil’s BBQ, Balboa Park):

I learned from my last SD trip that Phil’s is closed on Mondays. this is what we ordered:

Phil's BBQ

Turkey Burger – bland, dry, and gross.

Phil's BBQ - Beef Ribs
Beef ribs and veggies.

A tip for the imaginary readers: If you go to a place known for its ribs, don’t get the burger. (So much for being adventurous). For those who’ve had Lucille’s in long beach and haven’t had Phil’s BBQ – you aren’t missing a whole bunch.

To wrap the trip up, a short stop at Balboa Park where everything worth seeing (and those not worth seeing) costs money. I did touristy things like:

Balboa Park - Lily

Took a picture of a water lily.

Balboa Park - botany guest sheet
saw an interesting entry from a Dublin tourist. Look at the writing – it looks medieval.

and last but not least…

Balboa Park - jump shot (me)

Acted like a tourist.

All in all, a fun weekend using minimum $$ and maximum points (refer to marZ’s article for the points). Let’s hope for more entries, imaginary readers. Yay!


p.s. Wanted to leave you with a bit of inspiration. Be positive.


4 responses to “San Diego: Things to do and eat

  1. One note regarding my meal at Phil’s BBQ. I got the combo plate that came with one beef rib, bbq chicken, and my side choice was veggies. The beef rib was tender, flavorful, and overall good…but not amazing. You can tell they didn’t make it to order (meaning they likely make these things constantly and keep them warm until someone orders it), but it was still worth trying.

    The bbq chicken was very good: extremely tender, boneless, and not too much bbq sauce slathered on it. I picked veggies for my side because, well, you can tell we didn’t exactly eat healthy the entire trip!

    The highlight of the visit was definitely the onion rings, though. Make sure you order these with the ranch dipping sauce!

  2. Pingback: Now I Know Why Everyone Blogs About Bluebird and Vanilla Reloads | Travel Summary

  3. StartInSanDiego

    Around here we call it “San Diego Wild Animal Park”, not Safari Park. It is technically in “Escondido”, which is about 40-45 minutes north of Sea World or the airport.

    • Yes, it was quite a bit further out of the way than I was expecting! I’ve heard it referred to as both the safari park and wild animal park, but believe the official name is safari park.

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