Travel - San Diego, California Part Two

March 31, 2015

Part Two, continued from last week..

We'd had a great time in San Diego but oh my gosh when we got to La Jolla it was a whole other world. I just wanted to live there forever!

We checked into La Valencia Hotel, a gorgeous pink palace on Prospect Street in the heart of La Jolla. I've talked about it in the wedding venue post but it was a real mix of a relaxed Mediterranean hotel with the Spanish tiles everywhere and the ocean breeze coming through but equally some serious hollywood old school glamour. I loved it, and you can't get a better location with La Jolla's shops and restaurants out the front door and the beach out the back with a pool in the middle! 

We were kindly given the Sunset Suite for our stay, one of the best rooms in the hotel, with doors and a balcony that you could watch whales out in the ocean from. We were mesmerised and stood for ages just watching the waves.

We could have quite happily stayed at the hotel and not needed to leave for the next two days! It had two amazing restaurants, we had loads of room in our suite and of course that pool was so idyllic. But we also wanted to see La Jolla so went for an explore before my first wedding venue tour. 

La Jolla is a village by the ocean, it's called the Beverly Hills of San Diego with it's only mini Rodeo Drive of lovely shops and restaurants. But crucially without the bling or drama that goes with the real Beverly Hills, it was just such a chilled out place with everything you'd want from America in terms of the streets lined with palm trees and full of shops/pharmacies to stock up on cosmetics/fro yo shops/burger joints/sushi restaurants etc whilst all being pedestrian friendly {something that is rare in America} and beaches filled with seals and pelicans just minutes away. It had such a nice feel about it too and everyone I know that's been there doesn't have a single bad word to say about it. It's probably one of my favourite places in America now and I wasn't joking when I said I was thinking about living there. Well until I saw a villa for sale for $28 million... 

We were scheduled to go on a kayak whale watching tour in the afternoon, San Diego is one of the best places to see whales from December to April and La Jolla is usually amazing for kayaking but the sea was extra choppy that day so the trip was cancelled. Cue a lazy afternoon by the pool!

La Jolla has a series of pretty coves for it's beaches compared to most of California's huge open expanses. I loved them with wild flowers growing on the banks, seals with their pups and some with large rocks to sit and watch the sunsets.

This was Shell Beach, one of my favourites.

We had dinner that night at Nine Ten, an award winning restaurant at The Grande Colonial Hotel. I'd looked around the wedding spaces there earlier in the day and had been looking forward to dinner. The chef is San Diego's chef of the year. 

Nine Ten is one of the finest bistros in the village and presents market fresh, seasonally evolving Californian cuisine.

It was a struggle to know what to order, everything sounded amazing. We shared all of our dishes so we could try more of the menu. One of the starters was the best starter I have ever ever eaten in all of my life and Ben agreed that all of the food was spectacular. If you're in the area please promise that you'll go. Truly amazing stuff. 

We were so full by the time we left but of course I had room for the truffles left in our room back at La Valencia!

Every Sunday morning La Jolla has an open air farmer's market. It was our one drizzly morning {and no joke The Californian's put out sand bags! They just never have rain out there} so we had a nice browse around the fresh produce and flowers, mmn those Californian strawberries.

We had lunch that day with the lovely Rita in The Med Restaurant at La Valencia and were given an absolute feast! We met with the chef too a few times which is always nice. Everything was so incredibly delicious. I had never really thought of Americans doing fine dining before but wow this trip proved us wrong. Rita, the Director of Sales and Marketing, was lovely too and we had a good old wedding chat!

How beautiful are these desserts? Chocolate sin and a lavender creme brulee <3 <3 <3. They tasted even better than they looked.

We walked the coastal path around the bay that afternoon to La Jolla Shores to view two hotels on the beach - La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. The walk there and the beach were super gorgeous even on a cloudy afternoon so imagine when the sun is shining. The houses around the area are just as spectacular. 

The real highlight though was dinner at The Marine Room, famous for its on the surf location and award winning menus from Chef Bernard Guillas. He's written one America's best selling cookbooks of all time.


It was a treat to wake up on a Monday morning and go for an early morning walk along the coast, I don't think you'd ever get Monday blues if you lived in California.

We were sad to check out of La Valencia but excited to head up to Torrey Pines for a couple of days. The Lodge at Torrey Pines has a complimentary guest car with a driver that you can use for your stay and travel anywhere within five miles. We called the car and got dropped off at the Westfield UTC open air mall en route, no trip to America is complete without some shopping first, before we checked in.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines was really incredible, definitely the most luxurious of the hotels for the trip. The service was truly 5* and all the men wore kilts! We were shown to our suite, one of the best in the hotel {it rents for $1200 a night!!} that looked over the 18th green much to Ben's delight and had three fireplaces! We've stayed at some nice hotels in our time but I think a fire in the bathroom was a first. 

We had a big balcony, with yep another fireplace, and comfy loungers.

Torrey Pines is part of a state reserve home to the protected, and famous, Torrey Pine Tree. There are miles of unspoilt beaches below forest and hiking trails on the rocks with incredible views. California is so varied and has everything from deserts to palm lined beaches to mountains and huge national parks.

After getting unpacked we went for an explore around the grounds, my Dad was uber jealous as he's a huge golf fan and the course at Torrey Pines is world famous. How amazing is this hot tub with those views?

After a tour around the wedding areas we relaxed in spa pool waiting for the sunset. H E A V E N. 

The pool was just as impressive too.

We were treated to strawberries and champagne in our room before dinner at the hotel's signature restaurant - the renowned A. R. Valentien. The food was incredible and certainly lived up to it's reputation. Look at Ben's lemon meringue pie! 

We had a morning being pampered in the Lodge's spa the next day and were treated to a rather indulgent couple's massage before relaxing by the pool for a while.

I had a meeting at The Estancia Hotel for a resort tour around lunchtime so Ben and I drove down there. I really loved this hotel with it's rancho California feel and stylish decor.

It was a really beautiful day without a cloud in the sky. Ben came on all of the wedding tours with me, I think he quite enjoyed them! All the venues were stunning away so it's hardly a chore to walk around them. There were some impressive cactus and royal palms around the grounds.


The Estancia treated us to lunch at their Mexican influenced restaurant Adobe El Restaurante - we had amazing fish tacos, turkey burgers and sweet potato fries before spending a couple of hours in the sunshine by their gorgeous pool.

We walked back to The Lodge via Torrey Pines State Beach and up through the reserve's hiking trails. It was about a six mile walk but when it's that sunny and beautiful I could walk forever. 

There's a glider port on the rocks at Torrey Pines, at first we said omg we'd never do that how scary but then after watching them for a while it looked seriously fun. Like a big chair swing in the sky just floating around over the ocean.

The beach was breathtaking and went on for miles and miles. One part was a nudist section so we averted our eyes {old nude men eww} and walked swiftly past that bit!

A cute old man from Chile saw Ben taking this photo of me and insisted that he take one of both of us.

After a while we reached the steps that would take us up to one of the trails for Torrey Pines. The views got better as we got higher.

And these wild yellow flowers were everywhere.

We got back to The Lodge just in time for sunset and watched it hit the ocean from the top of the golf course.

We had an amazing two nights at The Lodge but I was pining for one more day in La Jolla before we went home. It was our penultimate day and we wanted to make the most of our last couple of days. La Valencia let us base ourselves by their pool for the day which was perfect for a last bit of wandering around the coast and seeing the village. We tried to go to the Contemporary Art Museum but it was shut on a Wednesday, it's on our list for when we go back.


These pretty poppies were at the side of a road, so colourful and bright against the blue sky.

Turquoise ocean love.

There were so many seals with their adorable pups on the beaches.

We stayed by the pool and sat on the beach for the afternoon before walking through the village one last time to buy some sushi for dinner to watch the sunset with. 

We were sat on a bench above the beach with our sushi watching the sky turn orange as the sun hit the sea, we really didn't want to leave.

We said goodbye to the lovely La Valencia hotel and took an Uber taxi downtown for one final day in San Diego before flying home. 

Oh California, you're the best.

La Valencia details here.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines here.

R <3 xx

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