I received complimentary accommodations to one or more places mentioned in this post, but all opinions are my own.
It’s been a couple of weeks and I am finally recovering from a kinda fun, kinda crazy trip. As you know, we home school our kids and are really looking to do more road schooling. Road school is where you take your home schooling show on the road and teach your kids in the open classroom of life.
So far, we’ve gone to California (L.A. area), Memphis and the Dominican Republic. This year, our kids have been studying sustainable living with the help from our friends and neighbors at the Chicago Eco House.
Due to getting a sponsor to cover all expenses to the financial bloggers conference (FinCon) in San Diego, we decided that it might be a good idea to piggyback on this free ride and wrap up the girls’ unit studies on sustainability. In addition, we had the points from our Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards card plus the Southwest Companion Pass for hubby. It seemed like a no brainer. As a blogger, I was also able to negotiate some additional complimentary accommodations. So we received a free stay at both of our hotels, a couple restaurant meals and tickets to the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego. These are the times I am glad that I became a blogger!
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The plan was to go to stay in San Diego for 9 days but that plan got interrupted when my oldest daughter booked a studio recording job back in Chicago. So I sent the family back after four days and I stayed another three for a total of 7 days in beautiful San Diego. This actually worked out better because I was able to concentrate on my conference and networking efforts at FinCon.
Warning: contains graphic images of food and fun. I’m a totally foodie, so there will be lots of food talk interspersed here.
So where did we start off?
In and Out Burger, of course!
It was our first stop off the plane, as there aren’t any of these in the midwest. In my opinion, the burger are delish, but the fries meh…
Moving right along.
We arrived at the super-cute Kings Inn Hotel late in the evening and checked in with no problem. If I had not read about this place, I would have been very concerned about the motel-like appearance that makes it look like it came out of 1970s. But that’s the theme. Rest assured, the structure has been totally revamped, updated and modernized. There’s a nice work-out room, clean pool and highly rated waffle house right on the premises. The staff are efficient and friendly and we’d definitely visit again if given the chance. The price is right and it was comfy and convenient. I should also mention that the location is perfectly convenient for shopping, and trips to the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego.
The Sunday after we landed was my birthday! So we had a light day planned that consisted of donuts and pizza (is there any other way to celebrate a birthday?)
We started off the day at the renown Donut Bar (the highest rated donut place, per Yelp.) Again, super cute with pretty good donuts….coffee was just ok. I’m just a spoiled brat who loves my own Chi-town, Donut Vault, which for me is a 5 start spot for donuts AND coffee. But this is not about that place! All in all, it was nice, plus they give the kids free donuts on Sundays.
We got pretty full on donuts but still moseyed over to San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood to eat even more!
According to Wikipedia, San Diego’s Little Italy is, “a somewhat hilly neighborhood in Downtown San Diego, California that was originally a predominately Italian fishing neighborhood. It has since been gentrified and now Little Italy is a scenic neighborhood composed mostly of Italian restaurants, Italian retail shops, home design stores, art galleries, and residential units.”
This is a really charming oceanside community with lots to do. There’s even a Little Italy San Diego App for guided tours and more information on how to make the most out of your time there! The proximity to the ocean just makes it a pleasant place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon. Note: my kids had to take a picture in the iconic red chair before the stuffing their bellies, however.
Filippi’s Pizza Grotto is where we enjoyed a delicious family-sized salad (the Italian-parmesan dressing was outstanding) with cheesy garlic bread. Then came the pizza. We had veggies with meatballs. It was a rather tasty pizza. In fact,my husband said this was the BEST pizza he ever had in his life! I thought it was pretty delicious, but had to call it quits at one piece because it was so hearty and filling. (Maybe it was the donut and cheesy garlic bread that got me so full before I ate it? Hmmm, we’ll never know:) Our waitress was so nice and attentive. It’s a family fun place and you definitely see why it’s rated 115 out 3,747 restaurants in San Diego.
While in Little Italy, we meandered down to the oceanfront for a leisurely walk. We found the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and ran into the Sunday Waterfront Farmer’s Market close to the waterfront park (where my kids played for quite a while.) I still found room in my stomach for more food and hubby got some gourmet smoked garlic salt from La Jolla Salt Company while there.
Later in my trip, I had the chance to visit another restaurant in Little Italy called BenCotto. We had a meal with a few courses, compliments of the Center for Financial Services Innovation. We started off with a scrumptious cheese and charcuterie board with all types of candied fruit and jam. I think I was downing that puppy at break-neck speed! A Caesar salad came soon after followed by main course options that included squid ink pasta with seafood or brasato di manzo con polenta, a stewed seasoned beef served served atop a polenta cake. I chose the latter and enjoyed it thoroughly. The dessert options were an almond cookie type biscuit and tiramisu. I picked the almond cookie and regretted it. Someone has mercy on me and let me taste the tiramisu, it was the best I had ever tasted!
Luncha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop: This Mexican freedom fighter-themed taqueria is tops. The kicker here is their outrageous salsa bar. In fact, I might dedicate the rest of my life to lobbying for a law that mandates all taco places have a salsa bar. I mean, it’s what makes the taco! Please eat here if you can.
Snooze: We waited almost an hour on a Tuesday morning to eat at this breakfast joint in the city’s Hillcrest neighborhood. It was worth the wait. The food was all around amazing. I’m not a drinker but it looks like the bellini’s and mimosa’s were flowing and people were pretty happy. Hubby and I had a yummy egg dish while the kids chomped on pancakes. Highly recommend!
Coasterra Restaurant– We attended a FinCon kick-off party thrown by my favorite trading platform, TradeKing. This was about the best taco party I had ever been to. There were stations upon stations of fish, beef and chicken to stuff inside of your fresh tortilla while topping it with queso fresco, guac and endless salsa options. I’m pretty sure you won’t get a taco bar when you go (unless you rent out the two patios and large meeting room to accomodate about 1,000 people) but I can bet that the fare I enjoyed was indicative of how good their food would be for a normal dinner.
The San Diego Zoo was, without a doubt, a highlight of the trip. I felt like this was one of the best zoos I had ever visited. Though the animals didn’t talk like in the movie Zookeeper, they were out and about. I feel like we saw so many more animals out and active than we ever have at any other zoo. You get great views of elephants, tigers and gorillas. The monkeys put on great shows and impressive acrobatics. There’s so many ways to get around: the zoo app, buses and even a sky lift! You’ll find a lot to do here and enjoy your day for sure.
SeaWorld San Diego was the perfect way to end our trip and wrap our studies about sustainable living and caring for different types of ecosystems. We watched Shamu, the dolphins and even saw sea lions and seals dancing! Besides all the entertainment and fun, there were some really informative displays that taught us more about the way our intricate ecosystems are connected. It was such a wonderful place to help cultivate a deep respect and admiration for nature, animals. We got to witness, firsthand, the delicate biodiversity that keeps our environment running and in tip-top condition for generations to come. I think it’s so important that our children get to know nature up front and in-person to realize how important it is to be a good steward of our environment. What better way than to put book knowledge with real-life experience to drive these lessons home?
The Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina was the site for our FinCon meeting. It was nice for a meeting spot, but there wasn’t much in the way of things to do nearby (not that I had time to do much of anything else anyway.) There just wasn’t that much in walking distance. My family only stayed one night, while I remained another 5 evenings to finish out my conference. The staff was nice and the grounds were meticulous including the pool and workout area. The food was good most of the time. There were just a few other downsides: 1) The on-site Starbucks served very watered down coffee. 2) The shuttle between the Bay and Marina towers seemed to run at weird, unstable frequencies 3) Parking was $36/night, thought I heard there was $10/night parking close by. It was really a gorgeous place. I would stay again if I had the chance.
All in all, San Diego was great place for a family vacation. For us, it was a wonderful experience to take our home school show on the road and truly broaden our children’s horizons. If you are interested in crafting your own road school adventure, check out this book on the subject- Roadschooling: The Ultimate to Education Through Travel. If you are interested in home schooling your children, then check out the online curriculum we use: Liberty University Online Academy.
Dumping all of our debt was the best thing we could have ever done so we could live this type of flexible life. If you want to home school and road school, but think you might not be in the position to do so because of money, download my free eBook on getting out of debt.