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Part One: Adventuring to San Diego

Part One: Adventuring to San Diego

Wondering where to travel to in San Diego while on a budget? Check out part one of adventuring to San Diego to learn more!


4 min read

May 22, 2021

Where oh where can one watch the rolling waves, feast on superb sushi, and admire skyline views while kayaking? San Diego, of course. If it isn’t a lovely weekend well spent in sweet San Diego, did you even go?

I solo traveled to San Diego for the weekend, dined at lovely establishments, and paddled my way around the bay for only $760—including lodging, travel, meals, and adventuring. Are you feelin’ like reconnecting with yourself while traveling? If so, this budget-friendly itinerary has you covered.

The mesmerizing San Diego Coastline awaits!

Day One 

If you’re looking to spend your evenings chillin’ amongst the cool kids, then San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is where you want to be. After finishing a productive day in the office (or more realistically, my work-from-home space), I packed my bags and headed down to spectacular San Diego.

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Leaving no later than 2:30 P.M., I thought I'd escaped the L.A. and Oceanside traffic—turns out I was quite wrong. Ironically, the Los Angeles slowdown wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the one in San Diego County’s Oceanside. The traffic definitely added another hour and a half to my trip. So, if you’re departing from L.A., the earlier you leave the better. But, there’s no such thing as wasted time. On my drive, I caught up with family and hardcore jammed out to the road trip playlist that’s always on repeat.

The Gaslamp Quarter was listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places in 1980, and its famous archway was installed in 1990.

The driving distance between Glendale and the Gaslamp Quarter is roughly 140 miles one way, or about 280 miles total. At four dollars per gallon, I gassed up the car (which cost $28), ready for the roundtrip travel adventure to San Diego. I arrived at the Moxy Hotel—situated one street over from the Gaslamp Quarter’s most poppin’ street, Fifth Avenue—at 6 p.m.

Upon arrival at the Moxy, I valeted the car and checked-in. The service was quick and effortless. When planning my trip, the Moxy was priced at $140 per night, but given delays in booking, I wound up paying $195 per night (not including additional fees).

However, if you’re to book your stay from June 11-June 13, the non-member price per night is currently $183 (not including additional fees). It’s a bit of a jump from $140, though we’re also approaching the summer season—the busiest time to be splashing around San Diego. Given its prime location in the Gaslamp, a stay at this safe and clean eco-friendly hotel is still a pretty good deal.

Though the valet was $54 per day, it was well worth it. If you’d like to save money, however, there are other public parking structures available, where it costs closer to $25 per day (but just be careful not to get ticketed over the weekend).

The hotel is small, yet bustling with life. In regards to following COVID protocol, the hotel did an excellent job. Masks were required upon entry and worn within the hotel. The elevators provided hand sanitizer and were sprayed down hourly. For the gym rats, reservations must be requested—only one guest/party was allowed to workout per scheduled time slot. Definitely a highlight of my Moxy stay, the boxing bag and pink gloves made my day.

I reserved the Queen Guest Room, which had a window view of the hotel courtyard. The room was quite simple, designed in an industrial minimalist fashion—the queen size bed was a perfect fit for me to sleep snug as a bug. The bathroom was spacious and the walk-in shower was definitely my savior after the long drive. However, given that this is an eco-friendly hotel, don’t expect luxurious to-go shampoos or other fancy amenities. 

After Settling in, it's time to hit the streets for some fun in America's Finest City.

If luxury hotels in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter are more your style, Pendry San Diego or the Courtyard San Diego Downtown—which is housed in the former San Diego Trust and Savings Bank Building, a historic landmark—would be your go-to options. Keep in mind that these hotels are pricier compared to the Moxy; they’re also situated in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter.

After freshening up, I headed downstairs where I was given a delicious mocktail on the house. Talk about quality R&R time before my 8 p.m. reservation at Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine. The Moxy’s lounge and lobby is quite inviting—placed on the long communal wooden table were several games, including UNO. What a wonderful way to relax after a long day of travel.

Upon finishing my mocktail, I put on my leather jacket and set out for Pendry San Diego. This well-established hotel is also home to several of the best restaurants in San Diego. Naturally, I had to check them out for myself. The ambiance and menu of the Pendry’s Lionfish appealed to me most, so after checking out the Pendry’s lovely lobby, I made my way to the eatery. 

The restaurant was packed; it’s definitely wise to make reservations in advance (especially if you’re visiting on a weekend). The seating was fully occupied, both indoors and out—even bar space was utilized. Masks were required when entering the restaurant, but if fully packed restaurants make you uneasy, you may want to reconsider most places in the Gaslamp Quarter—everywhere is poppin’, especially places as trendy as the Pendry.

After a lengthy internal debate on tonight’s swoon-worthy meal, I selected the scrumptious All Star Speciality Roll. Crafted with spicy tuna, hiramasa, striped bass, cucumber, radish sprouts, and kosho, it was quite divine. The seafare was fresh; given the high-caliber seafood, this sauce-free roll is arguably the best sushi I’ve had in ages.

Victorian, Italian Renaissance, and Spanish Revival architecture in addition to contemporary buildings make up the nine blocks of Fifth Street.

Following my delectable meal, I strolled Fifth Avenue, and boy was it bumpin’. Packed with college students from nearby universities in San Diego, I felt myself travel back in time five years. It’s nice to see people out and about again; the city’s slowly coming back to life.

This was only the beginning of my journey. Curious to find out more? Stay tuned for more on my adventures in San Diego in my upcoming article! The saga continues...

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