My Favorite Picks For Visiting San Diego City Guide

I am going to sound like a super jerk here but I actually dislike city guides from non-locals to a city, lol.  Why?  I have seen so many local guides to Scottsdale and Phoenix that are totally wrong or what you see everywhere from non-locals, so they are boring or just overly popular because of insta & non-locals & not for quality.  So, basically I need to do some city guides for here in Arizona, lol. 

So I am calling this my favorites from what we did in San Diego and our amazing Legoland adventure!  Scroll to skip Legoland information for my favorite San Diego spots!


picture from Legoland- Cole is a character in Ninjago so the kids loved seeing this sign

We loved, loved, loved Legoland and could have spent the entire day there (we nearly did) Cole is 3 and the girls are 7 and 10, there were rides for everyone and I think a perfect place for their age groups.  Disneyland we would have been so spread out with what rides the kids could do in a huge park, as Cole is too young to do a lot of rides.  

Reserve N Ride

There are 3 tiers for reserve and ride.  We chose the middle option, it was an additional add on of $55, so it was expensive but we felt very worth it.  After downloading the Legoland app, we were able to reserve a spot in line and given a time to be at the ride we picked.  We loved the reserve as we could walk around the park and do other activities without waiting in even a reserve line.  We walked right up and went on every ride pretty much instantly.

I especially loved this because of COVID.  We were not in the long lines and were distanced from everyone.  Worth the money to choose a safer means of getting on rides.

Legoland App

Even if you do not have the reserve n ride, the app allows you to see the wait times in real time of each ride and can help you plan your ride strategy!

COVID Crowds-  

You have to reserve your day ahead of time to go to Legoland in order for them to control the number of people in park.  I still thought it was crowded, but have no idea what to compare it to.  However, we avoided lines, could mostly be outside and the inside activities the number of people were limited. 

For instance, when Cole and I went to race lego cars, you were given 15 minutes and only 5 groups (families) were allowed at a time and when we were in there it was more 2-3 people a group (probably other youngsters who had older kids on the big rides!).  The one INSANELY crowded place was Knights Smoking Restaurant, I waited in line for the food and Nick and kids stayed outdoors in the shade.  If my kids were not starving and hangry, I would have skipped it.  Pack a lunch if you can!  On the bright side, the food was delicious and not crappy amusement park food- we all had grilled chicken.  There were other places to eat, but we had not noticed them until later and many were closed (assuming because of COVID)

We chose not to do any of the movie type things they have at Legoland to avoid being inside for a long period of time.

Our Favorite Spots for San Diego

Liberty Station

One of 3 Shop Pigment locations and such a cute area with tons of shops and mini restaurants to walk around in (and large sit down restaurants) My favorite pick is Moniker General coffee shop with such cute items to purchase but the real hit was a vanilla mint unsweetened cold brew there that was DELICIOUS and I can still taste it and I want it all the time.

Some goodies I found within all the shops I visited:

North park

My favorite pick- We visited Siamo Napoli and it was an authentic Italian, modern, cute spot to eat. We ate early (as we do with kids) but the restaurant got very crowded towards middle of our dinner.  Get reservations (for anywhere, we had a lot of trouble getting them since we did everything last minute).

Covid Mitigation for restaurants- San Diego has a ton if not all outdoor dining, seriously, I did not see any restaurant without outdoor dining.  The historic Gaslamp District had streets and streets of outdoor dining (we only did takeout from a restaurant there and I was not a fan so it is not going in here, lol) 

That is all I feel qualified to speak of, simply my favorites from what we did!

Little Tips-

Grocery Outlet (multiple locations)– We do not own a beach umbrella and purchased a huge cheap one here.  Rentals add up fast $$$ and if you are doing multiple days at the beach, we found purchasing one to be the best option.  Also, pick up cases of water here- much cheaper!  I hate that we have to use plastic bottles but there is not much alternative on vacation, I carried my huge water bottle around, but rarely found a place to be able to fill it.  We did drive to San Diego, so we ended up keeping the umbrella, but giving it away at end of trip is still money saving and you can help a local!

What I wished we skipped-

San Diego Safari Park– Nick & I used to go here all the time about 20 years ago (nick lived in San Diego when we first met)-  It has gone downhill since then.  The park was huge- definitely need a stroller.  Not a ton of shade on hot days either.  If you spend the money to do the safari I think that would have been the best idea.  You get to see animals up close in a jeep (a rhino came straight up to us!)  We would have done only that and left the zoo.  The final straw was ordering food at a stand and getting a moldy hot dog.  I almost threw up when I unwrapped it for the kids.  I wanted to leave immediately.





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