After a seven day Muscat layover the rostering gods continued to maintain their festive spirit with the gift of a little pre Christmas California sunshine. My best friend, Lisa, was coming home from Mexico for the holidays so what better way to hang out than to fly to San Diego together. Only frequent fliers will understand that journeying from Mexico to London to San Diego within the space of 48 hours is no biggie. She is ex cabin crew after all.
We only had two nights but that didn’t stop us from doing and seeing as much as possible. With a saved Instagram folder of many coffee shops, cool hangouts and landmarks we wasted no time seeing what we could fit into 48 hours.
After the 11 hour flight it was straight to the nearest taco joint for yummy Mexican food and margaritas at La Puerta. The 8 hour time difference meant we felt like we’d done an all nighter and were in bed by 11pm. Up bright and early the next day to hire a car and set off on our Cali road trip.
Hitting the jackpot with a little upgrade to this beauty we put the top down and headed out on Interstate 8 along the Mexican border to tick off our first landmark.
But first, breakfast!
And none other than San Diego’s ultimate breakfast / brunch joint – Breakfast Republic. I don’t think I’ve ever been to San Diego and not eaten here. Everything on their menu is scrumptious. Great eggs – done any way, amazing coffee and an extensive and decadent French toast list. The peanut butter French toast being my absolute favourite. Cant decide what to have? Order the trio sharing platter!
I’d seen this place all over instagram so we absolutely HAD to make the 2.5 hour journey west of San Diego. It was an easy drive, however it took longer than we anticipated. Arriving at Salvation Mountain was a weird feeling. The landmark is literally in the middle of nowhere and until you see the vivid pop of colour glistening like an oasis in the middle of the desert you’d be mistaken for thinking you were completely lost.
The actual landmark is stunning. Leonard Knight wanted to peacefully spread love of Jesus. Regardless if you are religious or not I’m all about celebrating love in a world with so many negative things going on. However as two non religious bods we did feel a little awkward being there. It had been freshly painted so we unfortunately we couldn’t explore in and out of all the little cubbies. Our feelings walking away were – glad we went but huge journey and effort to get to a place that you’ll spend no longer than 30 minutes at. Truly a “doin it for the gram” experience. In hindsight we wished we’d made this our last stop on the tour as Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park definitely ranked higher up on our bucket list.
We left Slab City and headed North to Palm Springs. We wished we could’ve spent more time in this cute time warped town. This place is a midcentury modern dream. Everywhere you look skinny palm trees tower over the retro pastel coloured houses.
There’s not much to Palm Springs apart from just soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying this retro town at the foot of the stunning San Jacinto mountains.
We had lunch in a 50s diner and had a wander around the incredible Saguaro Hotel then jumped back in the car and drove to Joshua Tree in a race against time to arrive before sunset.
Not taking into consideration the December sunset time – way earlier than expected at 4.30pm!?
We managed to soak up the very last of the light before returning to San Diego.
All in all this was a long day with a ridiculous amount of driving in between, however we wanted to see as much as we could in such a little amount of time. We had a truly memorable and fun day out not to mention hours of car singalong to a questionable playlist.
First on the agenda of day 2 was copious amounts of coffee. We scouted out a few gems in the North Park neighbourhood. We both agreed this was hands down our favourite area of San Diego. It swarming with great coffee shops, hole in the wall taco stands and epic brunch places.
First up was oat milk mochas at Communal Coffee. Part coffee shop part flower shop. It felt like something straight out of Byron Bay, and had we not been on a strict timeframe we could have easily spent all morning here order thirds and fourths of their delicious coffees.
Next up was Holy Matcha. The ultimate instagram heaven. Plant based milk matcha lattes, millennial pink interiors and heavy on the palm prints. The avocado toast was also delicious!
Brunch and copious amounts of matcha was followed with a stroll through San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park.
Followed by lunch at an insanely good hole in the wall taco shop Las Cuatro Milpas. The 30 minute queue was absolutely worth it for delicious Mexican food which is as cheap as it is authentic. We had pork tacos and chicken flautas (deep fried tacos rolled like cigars stuffed with chicken and covered in guacamole, sour cream and cheese.)
Lunch was followed by a wander around the Barrio Logan neighbourhood. This artistic and industrial area of SD has huge Mexican influence. Stunning murals that all tell a different story give this area a vibrant feel.
Barrio Logan also houses many great coffee shops, restaurants, breweries and art galleries and stores. It was such a pleasant afternoon just soaking up the atmosphere of the place.
This trip completely reignited my love for the US. Usually our trips are only one local night and can be fairly tiring. Having a two day layover, getting perfect weather and spending time with my bestie meant that even the jet lag and long flights couldn’t stop us from having such a wonderful time.