Can you believe how long it’s been since I’ve done any travel content? I mean, aside from this trip to Mexico and my New Orleans family vacay, I haven’t really traveled anywhere new in 2017. While it’s certainly nice to take a break and actually be home, I definitely have the travel bug and am itching to plan a trip somewhere! In the meantime, I thought it would be great to finally share a roundup all of our favorite spots and things to do in and around Carlsbad. I’ve been traveling to the San Diego area for nearly two decades for an annual family trip to the Four Seasons Aviara in Carlsbad, so I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to put something together for you!
While I’ve named this the San Diego Area Guide we really don’t spend much (if any) time in San Diego proper. We mostly bop around Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, La Jolla and Rancho Santa Fe. So with that said, here are our must-eats and favorite things to do in the area!
Carlsbad Premium Outlets – if you love to bargain hunt or just like to shop in general, definitely plan to spend a few hours at this outlet mall. These outlets used to have way more luxury brands, but now it’s whittled down to Barney’s New York, Vince, Theory, Kate Spade, etc. I can usually always find stuff at Vince and Theory! Barney’s usually has some good designer bags too. On the more budget-friendly side they have everything from GAP and Banana Republic to Nine West and Sunglass Hut.
The Argyle – while there aren’t too many great restaurants in actual Carlsbad, one place that’s a great spot for lunch or dinner is The Argyle. This restaurant is located on the Park Hyatt Aviara property, sitting right on the golf course. For lunch, grab a table outside looking over the green! Delicious food day and night.
Market – this is my absolute favorite restaurant out of this entire list! My birthday nearly always falls in the middle of our trip and I always request we eat here the night of. It’s THE BEST. The menu is fresh, flavorful and always features a little artful flair when presented. This is a great spot for date night or for a special occasion!
Brigantine – I actually didn’t get a chance to go on this trip, but one of the newer restaurants to the area is Brigantine. My mom and grandmother went the day I left town and said the food was wonderful! My friend Kat who lives in San Diego swears by the fish tacos for lunch.
Jake’s – for a casual dinner spot with friends or family, make a reservation at Jake’s. This popular spot is located right on the beach and always offer beautiful views of the sunset. It is always packed, so definitely make a res! I always order the calamari for my app – it is so freaking good! Also, their desserts are legendary. Don’t leave without trying the Hula Pie!!
Cucina Enoteca – we tried this place for the first time a few weeks ago! Our waitress was wonderful, the food was amazing and the ambiance is lively. The decor and design of the restaurant is really cool and interesting too – for example, plastic horses are strung from the ceiling lining the staircase to the second floor.
Potato Shack – after a big night out, the only place you should plan to go in the morning is the Potato Shack. They are famous for their biscuits and gravy (get an order for the table to share!) and have every other breakfast staple you can think of. Huevos Rancheros, manhole-sized pancakes, Eggs Benedict, you name it. Save this for your cheat day!
Pacific Coast Grill – this spot is technically in Cardiff, which is a little further south of Encinitas. We love grabbing lunch here! Right on the beach, it offers great views and a nice breeze if you sit outside. Everything on the menu is good, but I recommend the Caesar salad (with calamari added!), the lobster tacos, the Rainbow roll, and the white truffle fries to share.
George’s At The Cove – whether you only have time for drinks or you want to have a drawn out dinner, you’ve gotta visit George’s while you’re in La Jolla. For rooftop drinks overlooking the water or a casual dinner, make a reservation on the Ocean Terrace. For a more elevated meal, reserve a table downstairs at California Modern, the lowest level at George’s.
The Marine Room – this is another great spot for a special dinner or date night out! Definitely on the fancier side when compared to the other restaurants on this list. The Marine Room is also right on the water, and at high tide the water laps and splashes the building + windows!
Piatti – if you’re looking for great Italian food in the heart of La Jolla, check out this cute little spot. If it’s nice out, try to score a seat on the patio – such a wonderful ambiance! I’ve only been here one time but truly enjoyed it.
RANCHO SANTA FE
Veladora at the Rancho Valencia Hotel – when I had my friends in town, this is where we went to celebrate my birthday! The Rancho Valencia Hotel is a sprawling estate featuring luxurious villas, the famous Polo Room and a delicious restaurant (Veladora). We usually head there an hour before dinner as to grab a drink in the bar – so fun! The menu changes often, but last time I went I really loved the Truffled Chicken for my entree! It’s always great people watching during the Del Mar horse races, as many parties and events are hosted at the hotel.
Millefleurs – this has long been a favorite restaurant of my grandmothers! Growing up I always used to order the Lobster Risotto (THE BEST), but the last time I went back they had removed it from the menu (sad!). My grandmother and her friends love to go for a nice lunch, but the dinner is also amazing. A very pretty, small and romantic little restaurant! Another great spot for a date night!