Thoughts By Natalie

Wanderlust: North County San Diego


A few weeks ago, our dear friends Patrick and Jenn came into town for the weekend. They had only been to San Diego once—for our wedding—so we made sure to show them all of the best parts of north county to ensure they came back to visit again soon :) Read on to see my favorite places and recommendations for things to do when you’re in town (plus, scroll down for some recommendations from readers via Facebook)…

Wine Steals

Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but Brian and I spent more time at Wine Steals than any other restaurant in San Diego. We love the Cardiff location because it’s super close to us, and also has a beautiful patio area to sit on and watch the sunset. If you’re in town for the weekend, you must check out their Saturday night wine tasting event—$10 for 10 tastings from 4-6pm! Be sure to show up by 3:45 or so to be sure you can snag a good table outside. Also, be warned: get some food, too, or you will not leave remotely sober.

Wine tasting at Wine Steals in Cardiff.

Del Mar Beach

Though we live closer to Moonlight Beach, Brian and I always go to Del Mar to spend time by the water. It’s less crowded and since the beach is more stretched out, it just feels like you have more personal space. This is a great place to go if you have a pup with you, as there’s a dog beach on one end where dogs can play in the water off leash and feel free. If you spend the day at the beach, you might want to take a lunch break at Board & Brew, and perhaps snag an iced tea from Starbucks on the corner of 15th.

A sunset in Del Mar.

Pannikin Coffee & Tea

Imagine the most adorable yellow house set on the 101. Inside, it smells like delightful pastries and fresh espresso. Outside, the sun shines enchantingly on green adirondack chairs, and the cutest dogs you’ve ever seen always seem to be nearby. Heaven? Almost…it’s Pannikin Coffee & Tea. If you are ever in north county San Diego, make a pit stop here. Bring a friend, bring a book, or bring just yourself and an appetite for caffeine and sugar. You can thank me later.

Morning treats & lattes at Pannikin in Encinitas.

La Jolla

I love La Jolla for so many reasons—the spectacular views of the ocean being number one. The coastal downtown area is perfect for wandering, shopping, eating and taking in a spectacular sunset. Also worth seeing is the seals—they are so silly! Find out more info about that here.

Taking in the view in La Jolla.

Watching the seals play around in La Jolla.

Now, for some reader recommendations…

>> “balboa park! It is the largest collection of museums in the US outside of the smithsonian.” – Meredith Grant

>> “Definitely Bo-beau Kitchen for a nice dinner/the nobel experiment for crafty cocktails with speakeasy vibes.” – Tracy Le

>> “Up the coast to north county, Carlsbad is definitely cute, take a walk on the sea wall. Also hiking Torrey Pines.” Keegan Kania

>> “Hodad’s in Ocean Beach for the best burgers fries and malts you will ever have in your entire life or to Blue Water right off the freeway next to El Indio for the freshest most delicious fish tacos :)” – Haley Beuligmann

>> “Uss midway! We toured it and had the best time.” -Kim Groomes

>> “Blacks Beach! The Pannikin! Old Town for Mexican food!” -Kate Gary

>> “Il Fornaio or Peohes’s in Coronado! (especially at night). Yummy dining while enjoying the best view of downtown SD! They used to do fireworks in the summer on the weekends which was an added bonus. Not sure if they do it anymore?? I also second Shout House and Blue Water :)” -Kayla Blanco

>> “For eating I would say dinner or lunch at The Brigantine in Del Mar, the place looks great & the view is really nice & you can see the Del Mar Race track :)” Jacqueline Manfre

>> “Gotta go to to Hodad’s! Any time i traveled there for work that as a must stop for dinner one night. Well worth the usual hour wait.” -Matt Curran

>> “San Diego Wild Animal Park-JoAnne Baldwin

P.S. Whether you live in town or are just visiting, I recommend signing up for MOGL. It’s free to sign up, and you’ll get rewards on your credit card when you eat at participating restaurants, including 10% cash back to your card and MOGL donating a meal to those in need when you spend over $20. Sign up the MOGL website, or download the mobile app (iPhone or Android) and use the referral code NatalieBorton to get $10 just for signing up (credited to you once you use your card and get cash back at a participating restaurant).

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