Best Day Trips from San Diego

Best Day Trips from San Diego

Best Day Trips from San Diego

day trips from San Diego, Blue Eyed Compass

San Diego is so wonderfully located that it’s a perfect place to head out for various day trip excursions. The city is truly surrounded by beautiful destinations such as national parks, beach towns, wineries and islands. So not only is San Diego an incredible vacation destination, but for those who live here, it’s a great place to venture away from and explore other parts of Southern California and Baja Mexico.

The following best day trips from San Diego are organized by area via north, south, east and west of San Diego.

San Diego Day Trips that are WITHIN San Diego County

– San Diego Safari Park –

Distance from San Diego: 45 minute drive north of central San Diego

The San Diego Safari Park is the sister zoo to the world famous San Diego Zoo. Located in the northern area of Escondido, this refuge away from the bustle of Balboa park (where the San Diego Zoo is located) provides much more open space and traditional landscapes for the animals here.

It is well worth the drive for a day trip to the San Diego Safari Park, especially when you arrive at the exhibit that hosts their giraffes, rhinos, antelope and other animals, all in one large open space (larger than I have ever seen in a zoo before).

As a sustainable travel blogger, I am often not a big fan of zoo’s, as they often feature small enclosures and unnatural breeding habits for the sake of making money, but the San Diego Safari Park is no such place. It has become a haven for animals from downtrodden zoo’s and is focused on conservation of their animal species.

– Carlsbad, California –

Distance from San Diego: 45 minute drive north of central San Diego

While I consider Carlsbad to be a part of San Diego, its distance north of the main parts of the city leaves many to assume it is its own entity (and it’s possible the residents of Carlsbad prefer it that way too). Carlsbad’s downtown area is quaint yet modern, with plenty of delicious eateries (including one of my favorite San Diego local breakfast chains Swami’s cafe!).

Carlsbad is host to many hiking trails & beautiful beaches with its most popular & easiest to access beach being the Tamarack Beach. The city has also become well known for its Carlsbad Flower Fields that bloom every spring. And while yes, the blooms can bring with them a flock of instagrammers capturing their perfect shot, it’s nonetheless a beautiful place to explore. And for families in the area, Carlsbad is also home to Legoland.

For anyone who loves a good spa escape, Carlsbad’s Omni La Costa Resort will be perfect for you. I’ve walked throughout the property of this resort and it is absolutely stunning.

– Palomar Observatory –

Distance from San Diego: 1 hour & 30 minute drive from central San Diego

Located at the top of Palomar mountain lies the astronomical research center, Palomar Observatory. It hosts visitors year round to visit & learn about the Hale Telescope. Another reason to visit this area is to camp and hike the Palomar Observatory hiking trail. The drive to the hike is curvy, but well worth it as there is a great chance hikers can see wildlife while they hike to the top of the mountain.

San Diego Day Trips that are EAST of San Diego County

– Salvation Mountain –

Distance from San Diego: 2-2.5 hour drive from central San Diego

Salvation Mountain has become a trendy destination for road trippers and San Diegans to take photos of. Salvation Mountain is not actually a mountain, it’s a man made, colorful monument located in the middle of the desert.

The ‘mountain’ was created by Leonard Knight who built it with natural materials and then painted over it with vibrant colors, bible verses & christian phrases. While it may not be the most exciting place to visit in the world, it is a sight to see the bright colors against the beige desert backdrop.

If you chose to visit Salvation Mountain, you are also close enough to explore the Salton Sea. I don’t have it listed here as it’s own day trip destination, as I don’t feel it warrants it’s own trip. Salton Sea has quite a sad tale – the area was once being built out to be a resort destination as the area had become a large lake. But due to agricultural runoff & other issues, the sea/lake became polluted and its salinity levels were too high for animal life. If you drive out to Salton Sea you will see abandoned homes, cars, and more. Imagine an eerie ghost town but with fish skeletons included.

Stay with me here, the remaining day trips from San Diego are much more exciting than Salton Sea…

girl in front of Salvation Mountain California | Day Trips from San Diego

San Diego Day Trips that are NORTH of San Diego

– Laguna Beach –

Distance from San Diego: 1 hour & 15 minute drive from San Diego

If you grew up watching MTV’s ‘Laguna Beach’ then you may already know that Laguna Beach is a stunningly gorgeous destination. The area is like something out of a postcard. The downtown area has adorable shops and is known for its art galleries, but if we’re being honest, you need to visit Laguna for its beaches.

Yes, traveling from San Diego beaches to Laguna beaches sounds redundant, but trust me, it’s worth it. Here are a few of the beaches in Laguna that are well worth the day trip drive from San Diego:

  • 1,000 Steps beach (it’s easy to get down to, and a workout to get back up)
  • Crystal Cove State Park
  • Victoria Beach – known for its Disney princess-like tower
  • Crescent Bay Beach (which may be my favorite beach in Laguna!)
Laguna Beach cove | Day Trips from San Diego

– Catalina Island –

Distance from San Diego: 1.5 hour drive to Dana Point harbor, then a 1 hour boat ride on the Catalina Express

Catalina Island is a romantic escape for many Southern Californians. This rocky island reminds visitors of vacations to the coastal towns of the Mediterranean. Santa Catalina island is the main island of a cluster of small islands known as the Channel Islands of California.

This place is a car-free destination, so visitors can rent bikes, golf carts or boats to explore. There is snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and groups that will take you to find the island bison. The main area of Catalina island hosts quite a few bars & restaurants that are perfect for ending your day before hopping on the ferry boat back to Dana Point harbor. While Catalina Island can be better for overnight stays, it’s close location to San Diego makes it a very doable day trip destination.

Catalina Island | Day Trips from San Diego

– Temecula Wineries –

Distance from San Diego: 1 hour drive from central San Diego (more or less depending on which winery you choose to visit)

Temecula is Southern California’s Napa Valley, it’s our wine country (as is Valle de Guadalupe, discussed below!). The Temecula area has over 40 delicious and beautiful wineries to enjoy. You can also spend time walking around Temecula’s Old Town or finish your day with a hot air balloon ride that Temecula has also somehow become known for… could either be a really fun or potentially dangerous way to end a day of wine tasting, but regardless, a hot air balloon ride would definitely be a beautiful way to catch the sunset.

– Julian –

Distance from San Diego: 1 hour drive NorthWest from central San Diego

Julian is a town known for apples and it’s homemade apple pies. You can start your day picking apples at one of the many apple orchards, and then spend your afternoon exploring the quaint town of Julian. It almost feels like a step back in time with 1960 themed soda shoppes and boutique stores. A day trip to Julian from San Diego wouldn’t be complete without stopping at Mom’s Pies. I suggest you enjoy a fresh slice while there and then bring home a pie to enjoy for later.

Julian is also near Cuyamaca State Park which is a great area for hiking too.

– Disneyland –

Distance from San Diego: 1.5 hour drive north of San Diego

Disney is a household name around the world, so I won’t dive too far into what Disneyland is. However I will share that there are two parks that Disney hosts in Anaheim – Disneyland and California Adventure Park. If you are looking for a traditional Disney experience, then visit Disneyland. If you prefer more rollercoaster-type attractions, then check out the California Adventure Park. As with any major theme park, visiting on a weekday will mean smaller crowds.

Disneyland day trip from San Diego

– San Juan Capistrano –

Distance from San Diego: 1 hour drive from San Diego

San Juan Capistrano is a small historic California city. There is the old town area or Los Rios Historic District to explore, which has small shops & cafes. The main attraction here is the Mission San Juan Capistrano. The mission is an 18th century Spanish chapel that is still beautifully maintained.

San Diego Day Trips that are  SOUTH of San Diego in MEXICO

– Tijuana, Mexico –

Distance from San Diego: 20 minute drive south of central San Diego

With a quick drive south, you can be across the border in Tijuana, Mexico and enjoy mouthwatering food for a fraction of the price in San Diego. Tijuana is a vibrant city that San Diego locals enjoy visiting for delicious lunches and dinners. The main street is Avenida Revolucion, but it’s been suggested that visitors explore areas outside of this main tourist street. My suggestion – enjoy a beer and lunch at Telefonico, a food truck destination that offers vegan options and it’s own brewery!

– Rosarito, Mexico –

Distance from San Diego: 50 minute drive south from San Diego

Drive a bit farther south from Tijuana and you will be in Rosarito, a popular Baja coastal town. Visitors to Rosarito can easily walk around town and walk to the beach. However, I don’t believe Rosarito to be a great place for everyone. It seems to be home to a big party scene and I’ve witnessed horses being used for tourists on the beach, which I strongly disagree with.

If you drive a little outside of the main area of Rosarito you can find some beautiful & quaint resorts to stop at for margaritas and delicious meals.

– Ensenada, Mexico –

Distance from San Diego: 2 hour drive south into Baja Mexico

Ensenada is a seaport town further south from Rosartio, but with a lesser party scene. Ensenada is great for outdoor activities like kayaking and mountain biking, as well as plenty of restaurants to enjoy delicious mexican cuisine.

– Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico –

Distance from San Diego: 1.5 hour drive south east from central San Diego (more or less depending on which winery you choose to visit)

San Diego is happily book-ended with two wine areas, Temecula & Valle de Guadalupe in Baja Mexico. This area of Baja Mexico has over 100 wineries to enjoy (compared to Temecula’s 40+ wineries). You can book a wine tour company to pick you up in San Diego & chauffeur you around to their favorite wineries in Valle de Guadalupe or book a nights stay at a boutique hotel for two days of wine tastings & delicious Mexican food.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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day trips from San Diego, Blue Eyed Compass
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day trips from San Diego, Blue Eyed Compass

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Top Craft Cocktail Bars in San Diego

Top Craft Cocktail Bars in San Diego

Top Craft Cocktail Bars in San Diego

It’s no wonder that there is no shortage of unique & delicious craft cocktail bars in San Diego. As one of the best vacation destinations in the United States, the city has become known for its incredible bar and restaurant industry, keeping locals and visitors excited to try the best quality & most ambient-filled places.

Below is a list of the best cocktails bars in San Diego. And don’t worry, in San Diego our bars don’t choose between ambiance and amazing quality. Here we pride ourselves on outdoing both. So no matter which location you choose to frequent, know that you’ll be getting a feast for the eyes & your taste buds.

Here are the:

San Diego’s Top Craft Cocktails Bars

Starlite

Starlite calls itself a hidden gem, and is true to its word. Few non-locals would happen to wander past their front doors, as it’s not central to the Gaslamp district or Pacific Beach’s beachside bars. And honestly, I’m more than okay with that. Starlite has an incredible architecture design starting with a hexagonal hallway and a sunken bar, and embedded lights throughout to create a truly ethereal experience. Their bar staff craft amazing cocktails & they keep an incredible menu of spirits. Another perk is that they serve drinks until 1am and food until midnight. It’s by far one of the best places to get a late night meal paired with a beautiful cocktail.

Trust

Located in Hillcrest, Trust Restaurant is community forward, with a focus on a fine dining experience that feels approachable. This may be the spot to round out a date night before heading out for the evening in Hillcrest, North Park or University Heights. Come in for fresh, local food fare and order yourself a craft cocktail here… and maybe one of their beautiful desserts as well.

Ironside

Ironside is part of a restaurant group called Consortium Holdings, who creates “public gathering spaces that help cultivate our neighborhoods through the fostering of creativity, dialogue, questions and conversations”. I don’t often put entire quotes in these posts, but their dedication to the San Diego community is felt throughout their spaces. Ironside is well known for their oyster & seafood menu, but as a vegetarian I go for the cocktails & interior design. With their large, open spaced warehouse-like interior that hosts soft teals and the perfect lighting, you’ll feel like you’re under the sea here.

Lion’s Share

Lion’s Share is known for serving uncommon meat options on their charcuterie boards, but more importantly for their deliciously fresh cocktails. Their staff prides themselves on giving customers their undivided attention. When you visit Lion’s Share be sure to keep an eye out for their unique artwork that will be sure to spark up conversation.

Kettner Exchange

Kettner Exchange has become a San Diego must visit due to their beautiful rooftop lounge, that is elegant, yet approachable. The ambiance adds an air of austerity that effortlessly pairs with their refreshing cocktail menu. Seasonal libations and views of Little Italy make Kettner Exchange perfect for an evening out.

The Grass Skirt

The name may give it away, but The Grass Skirt is a Pacific Beach tiki bar staple. This place has some of the best cocktails in San Diego that are perfect for celebratory occasions. It’s also one of the city’s speakeasies, so guests can enjoy the element of finding their way into the restaurant and reward themselves with a tropical cocktail.

Born & Raised

for table side cocktails

Born & Raised is praised as being the best steakhouse in San Diego, but I prefer the title of best cocktails in San Diego instead. Considered to be both swanky and elegant, I feel it’s best to enjoy your craft cocktail on their rooftop with panoramic views of Little Italy. Born & Raised may possibly have the largest scotch menu, but if you prefer a classic martini with your meal you can have it prepared on a rolling cart right at your table.

Tanuki

best saki list

A bit outside of the typical tourist area of San Diego in the Kensington neighborhood lies Tanuki Sake Bar. Tanuki is a great cocktail bar in San Diego, and you can feel confident with that as the owner was once the chef at San Diego’s upscale restaurant, Nobu. Tankui offers over 100 different saki’s, and is also a coffee bar by day!

False Idol

fun cocktails

False Idol hosts a fully immersed environment that celebrates the tiki lifestyle. Their cocktails are beautifully made and range from classic to tiki-eccentric. And better yet, False Idol is another speakeasy bar for you to explore in San Diego.

Craft & Commerce

Another Little Italy top cocktail bar is Craft & Commerce. Craft & Commerce embodies that feeling of ‘enjoying a craft cocktail while lounging in your library staring deep into your taxidermy work’. And not to reveal too much, you could visit both Craft & Commerce and False Idol in one afternoon.

Kindred

Kindred boasts its incredible cocktail menu alongside a delicious vegan menu. Their food menu often reflects their cocktail menu and aligns with seasonal availability, giving patrons a seasonally exciting menu to choose from. Located in South Park, Kindred has some of the most bold and eye-catching interior design in San Diego.

You & Yours

vodka & gin tasting

Personally, I love You & Yours as it’s a female run business that has masterfully intertwined delicious spirits with a beautifully designed tasting room. The tasting room is located in East Village and offers the city’s best vodka and gin tasting.

Sycamore Den

late night

Sycamore Den is a neighborhood staple in Normal Heights that serves classic craft cocktails while embracing a ‘feel at home’ atmosphere.. This place is loved for its 1970’s interior design that pays homage to the living room style of our grandparents, offering a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy your drink.

The Guild Bar

The Guild Bar lays inside the lobby of one of San Diego’s newer boutique hotels, The Guild. The entire hotel was previously a YMCA that’s been completely transformed into one of San Diego’s top hotels, while maintaining its historic 1920’s exterior. Visitors can enjoy their craft cocktails at the chic lobby Guild bar or at Luca, their outdoor Mediterranean restaurant.

Rendezvous

Located within the historic US Grant hotel, lies Rendezvous, a vintage French cocktail bar in San Diego’s Gaslamp district. This hotel bar offers a historic feeling as it was opened just after Prohibition was repealed and continues to offer the quality of service and cocktails that many feel has been left in the past.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Travel Guide to Kauai Hawaii

Travel Guide to Kauai Hawaii

Travel Guide to Kauai Hawaii

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!  You can view our disclosure page for additional details

Kauai is one of the smaller islands that travelers frequent in Hawaii. It’s known as the ‘Garden Isle’, and for good reason – this island is extremely lush & still feels a bit wild. We loved the wildness of Kauai, especially since it’s the oldest of Hawaii’s islands, and travelers can still enjoy a less crowded Hawaiin getaway (compared to Oahu’s Waikiki beach).

Who is Kauai best for?

Kauai is best for those looking to explore the great outdoors. There are endless hikes that lead to gorgeous view points, and stunning beaches worth the two hour drive to get to for beautiful snorkeling & scuba diving.

While you can, of course, enjoy some epic lounge time at a five star hotel in Kauai, if you visit here you should enjoy the lush landscape that locals proudly boast about.

Getting to, in and around Kauai

As it’s an island, you need to get to Kauai via airplane. You can fly from another Hawaiian airline or from the US mainland.

If you need help finding great airline deals save your destinations & dates here.

The Kauai airport is quite small, which makes it easy to navigate for travelers who feel anxious when traveling. The airport is shaped like the letter ‘T’ with the airport gates essentially being open spaced/outdoors.

Visitors to Kauai will immediately notice that the whole of Kauai is stunningly green as soon as they walk out of the airport doors. If you’ve visited any other Hawaiin islands then you know there will be frequent sightings of wild chickens. Well in Kauai, the wild chickens are even more prevalent!

Enough about the adorable wildlife… Kauai does not have a ton of infrastructure (which is something to love about the island), so you will need to rent a car if you wish to explore the island beyond your hotel.

If you’re a fan of saving money & good deals, then I’d recommend renting a car through your Costco membership.

 

There seems to be two versions of getting around Kauai; either seamlessly with no traffic or being stuck in traffic behind the same car for hours. This is because Kauai has only a few main roads on the island. Single lane roads, not highways. So, when it’s commuting time for the locals, traffic will be dense. Keep that in mind when you drive around on your trip to Kauai. *Also, as much as we innately dislike traffic, try to keep an open mind & love the fact that Kauai is still somewhat underdeveloped compared to its counterparts like Oahu & Maui. You can still enjoy a more laid back and authentic time in Kauai than you can elsewhere. Embrace that!

Top things to do in Kauai

Every Hawaiin island has so much to offer to travelers, and Kauai is no different. Except, think of Kauai as the wild, older sister to the other islands. There are over 60 beaches & so many less traveled hikes waiting for you to explore them!

This list of top things to do in Kauai is in no particular order, so be sure to create a map to visualize the best way to spend your time here.

Enjoy cocktails at Lava Lava Beach Club

Located at the Kauai Shores Hotel Club, Lava Lava Beach Club is a beautiful mix of hotel comfort without the extreme price tag, plus it’s the only ‘toes in sand’ restaurant you may find in Kauai.

I’m still in awe over their ‘Skinny Dipper’ cocktail that has fresh passion fruit juice & mint. Order one of those bad boys and sit at one of the tables in the sand under their gently swaying string of lights. All while enjoying your view of the ocean, Kauai’s mountains, and live music strumming in the background. 

*Dress is low key

Catch sunrise on the beach in Ka’paa

The sun rises near Ka’paa so it’s the best area to catch a gorgeous sunrise 

 

See Kalalau Valley from above

Drive to the Kalalau lookout & witness the view point that’s been in many feature films. This peak into the Kalalau Valley is what any novice Hawaiin traveler would expect to experience, and an excellent way to fall in love with Hawaii easily.

View Waimea Canyon from above & below!

Waimea canyon is known as ‘The Grand Canyon of the Pacific’! And it does not disappoint.

It’s located about one and a half hour drive from Kapaa. If you aren’t a fan of hiking you can enjoy the gorgeous views of the canyon at the Waimea Lookout. There is a short trail to get to the good view point & it can get muddy, but is only a short five minute walk from the parking lot.

There are multiple hikes down into the canyon. I almost always use the All Trails app to find hikes when traveling. You can find Waimea Canyon hikes here.

Relax on Kekaha Beach

I love that Hawaii has a variety of beach types, but I know many who prefer those miles of soft sand, smooth water type of beaches – which is exactly what Kekaha beach is like.

Spend an afternoon lounging at Kekaha’s long, soft sand beach and teal, calm waters.

When you’re ready for refreshments at Kekaha go to…

 

Waimea for lunch

There are only a handful of local joints in Waimea, and I can happily recommend the thai food place. They offer fresh smoothies & coconuts which will make any vegetarian traveler happy.

Visit the Na’pali Coast

Visitors can explore the 15 mile stretch of the Na Pali Coast from a boat or hikes. The hikes are quite strenuous & will require careful planning to do, where as a visit by boat is much more manageable for many.

Capt Andy’s was recommended by quite a few people when we researched which boating company to use in Kauai. And they have a great compilation resource about hiking around Na Pali here

Be adventurous & get to Palihua Beach

I love this wild beach. The journey to get to Palihua beach is a blast (worth the laughs & jostling) and you never know what kind of weather you will get here.

Be sure your rental car can handle terrain, as driving to Palihua beach requires three miles of dirt road and then some sand. In fact, once you find the large tree near the beach, park your car there. We found a poor guy who tried to drive the sand dunes & got his car stuck. Insert hilarious video of Marcus helping with the car.

Palihua is a long, sandy beach with gorgeous views. However, as it’s on a more secluded side of the island has the possibility of lots of wind.

Don’t let the dirt road or the wind deter you. As Palihua is more difficult to reach, it means you will basically have this beach to yourself. If you know of or have experienced Over Tourism before then you know that having a beautiful Hawaiian beach to yourself is a rarity.

Stock up on Kauai Coffee

Once you leave Palihua beach you’ll be close to the Kauai Coffee Company! Yes, there will be tour groups here, and there is a strong possibility it will be a lot of elderly, but there are free samples of every flavor they offer, and typically a bulk discount. Imagine, a one stop shop for all of your souvenir gifts for friends & family!

 

Hike the Sleeping Giant Trail for sunrise

I’m a sunrise lover, sorry to those who aren’t fans of early birds. But, I promise hiking in mud, in the dark, is worth it to get the sunrise views at the top of the Sleeping Giant Trail.

We took the Nounou Mountain WEST trail, so I can’t speak to the other trails to the top. The west trail was muddy, involved rock climbing (not very high, at most four feet tall) and stellar views. And I can’t forget all of the wild chickens we saw!

Check out the viewpoints of Wailua River State Park

Soak in the views of the Wailua river on one side & ocean views on the other

 

Spend a day (or more!) in Hanalei Bay

Hanalei definitely feels like a local neighborhood. Located on the northern side of the island, it requires driving a winding road to get down to the bay. En route you’ll experience stunning views and quite a few scenic overlooks.

*If the weather is rainy or stormy the main road to get to Hanalei Bay could be closed.

Relax on the beach at Hanalei Bay – you may even catch a local surfing competition. The north side of Kauai has much moodier weather than you may anticipate any Hawaiin island to have. It reminded me of the beaches in the US Pacific Northwest, but the low key vibe is extremely relaxing, so worth a visit regardless of clouds.

Taste the local flare at the Hanalei Bay food trucks

While all of the food trucks had delicious sounding menus we chose Fresh Bite & Tumeric for vegan & vegetarian friendly fares. My advice, try the house made hot sauce from Fresh Bite (I may have tried to convince them to sell me a bottle of it, it’s that good).

 

Make your way to Makua “Tunnels” Beach

Makua Beach is best known for its stellar snorkeling, and gorgeous backdrop of the island. It’s located near Hanalei Bay, so plan your trip to this area accordingly. Parking can be difficult to find at the actual beach, so if you see a spot at Haena beach park there and walk to Makua.

Enjoy Kauapea Beach

Kauapea beach is a bit difficult to get to but so worth its secluded views. Set your GPS to the trailhead at Secret Beach. You can park your car along the dirt path. Wear shoes you’re comfortable getting dirty since you have to hike down a muddy path to get to the beach. (I did it in men’s flip flops – typical hawaiin lifestyle where I forgot my shoes at home – and was fine on the hike down, albeit shaky). Once down to the bottom you’ll enjoy a relaxing afternoon soaking up the sun on this secluded & pristine beach.

Sample local kombuchas at Potions

Potions is a kombucha bar located near Kapaa town. Each one is handmade by the owner & delicious.

 

Walk around Kapaa town

The store fronts in Kapaa town are reminiscent of an old western town but with far more color. Here you can find restaurants, water adventure rentals, an antique shop & so much more.

 

Walk along Shipwreck beach & the Heritage Trail

Located on the Hyatt’s property, Shipwreck beach is the start of the Heritage Trail – if you go to one, you might as well visit both. The trail offers beautiful coastal views & is a nice easy walk along the cliffs. Know that the currents at Shipwreck beach are powerful so it’s not ideal for casual ocean swimmers.

Snorkel at Poi’pu beach

Poipu beach is such a fun & cute beach area. There will be more tourists here, but that’s because the water is clear and calm. Be sure to bring your snorkel gear to Poipu! There are two bay areas that combine to form Poi’pu beach. One is best for children & novice snorkelers… I’ll be frank, I’m a fan of calm waters for snorkeling, so feel confident knowing I swam in both. Visitors can easily find parking across the street.

Interested in sustainable travel? Learn about how you can help prevent Overtourism

Where to Stay in Kauai

You can read about where you should stay in Kauai, Hawaii in this post:

Where to stay in Kauai, Hawaii

Tips for visiting Kauai

✔ Stock up on fresh food & snacks at Papaya’s Natural Food Store, outside of Kapaa town. Kauai is expensive at many restaurants, so enjoy local fruits & vegetables and splurge your money on water adventures instead. Papaya’s has a fresh made to order area too that was great for our flight home.

 

✔ There is only one road to all places on Kauai, so there may be traffic. Plan your days accordingly so you don’t waste time sitting behind the wheel of your car.

 

✔ Kauai is a much more laid back hawaiin island compared to Oahu and even Maui. I would suggest visiting Kauai if you are interested in lush settings, lots of outdoor activities & discovering hidden beaches.

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Where to stay in Kauai

Where to stay in Kauai

Where to stay in Kauai

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!  You can view our disclosure page for additional details

There is no one answer for where you should stay in Kauai. The best answer you could get would be- it depends! It will depend on your personal preference & travel style based on the type of accommodation you prefer, what activities you want to do while there and the overall vibe of the area you’d like to experience.

Overview of the areas/regions of Kauai island

There are four main regions to the island of Kauai:

North Shore

South Shore

East Coast &

West Side

Each area of the island has its own unique vibe, typical weather & sights to see.

Keep reading for details on each area to help you choose where to stay in Kauai.

North Shore

South Shore

East Coast

West Side

Hanalei Bay

Kilauea

Princeville

Koloa

Lawai

Poipo

Kapaa

Lihue

Wailua

Hanapepe

Waimea

Don't Forget to Pack:

click image to find out more!

Zip Up Snorkel Top

Flowy Boho Dress

Reusable Cloth Bags

Where to stay in Kauai

NORTH SHORE

✔ beautiful, lush greenery & mountain backdrops

✔ waterfalls

rainy from November through March

 

Most well known for Hanalei Bay, the north shore area of Kauai is the most verdant on the island. Upon entering this area you’ll see waterfalls and mountainscapes as your backdrop, and be well within the more popular beaches such as Kee & Haena.

*Keep in mind that ‘rainy’ weather in Hawaii can often mean rain for a few hours & then sunshine soon after.

Check out these sustainably made travel backpacks! – Sustainably Made Travel Backpacks

SOUTH SHORE

✔ sunny & dry year round

✔ plenty of beaches to enjoy

✔ lots of dining available

beaches are popular with visitors, so they can feel crowded compared to other parts of the island

 

The south shore of Kauai is home to the warmest & driest parts of Kauai. It’s definitely popular with travelers, but you can’t beat the stunning beaches here.

Interested in sustainable travel? Learn about how you can help prevent Overtourism

EAST COAST

✔ more affordable lodging compared to other areas of the island

✔ in between the North Shore & West Side, so is convenient to access most of the island

many beaches here are local – some think they are less beautiful/accessible compared to the North & South parts of the island

 

The east coast of Kauai is the second most popular area of the island which means there are lots of accommodation options. It’s also close to many beautiful areas such as Wailua Falls & Wailua River and the Fern Grotto

WEST SIDE

✔ great home base for those looking to do lots of hiking

much more isolated than the other parts of Kauai

 

You could technically split the west side into northwest & southwest.

The northwest area, also known as the Napali coast, is essentially inaccessible save for boats, which makes it a beautiful place to experience as there is no infrastructure there. Whereas the southwest part of the west side is dryer and has beaches like the stunning Polihale beach.

This area isn’t built for tourists, so it still maintains that local Hawaiin vibe.

With so many beautiful options to choose from where would you choose to stay in Kauai?

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Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Valentine’s Day in San Diego, CA

Valentine’s Day in San Diego, CA

Valentine’s Day in San Diego, CA

This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!  You can view our disclosure page for additional details

Ladies, fellas, whoever you’re planning for, I’ve got your back for how to best celebrate Valentine’s day in San Diego – and for those looking to celebrate single-hood, I have a stellar recommendation for you as well, don’t go anywhere.

If  you’re lucky enough to live in or be visiting this beautiful, coastal city then I suggest we all take advantage of the many opportunities we have around us in San Diego for a wonderfully romantic evening (or day) out in the city.

Keep scrolling for the best creative ideas for Valentine’s day in San Diego

Valentine’s Date Ideas in San Diego :

If you’re on a budget:

Who’s to say you have to dip into your savings to make your girlfriend/boyfriend feel special on this holiday? You can set the mood just as well as any fine dining experience with these budget ideas for Valentines day.

Have a picnic at Balboa park 

Pack up a delicious spread & a blanket and head over to beautiful & historic Balboa Park. There is plenty of open grassy area throughout the main area of the park where couples can lay out to enjoy Valentine’s. Bonus is the parking is free, and when the sun sets there are twinkling lights that come on to help set the mood. 😉

Watch sunset at the famous Sunset Cliffs

Honestly, you can’t go wrong with a default sunset beach walk, but Valentine’s day is about the ambiance so take it up a notch and head to Sunset Cliffs. Better yet, bring your own charcuterie board fixings and blankets (or be low-key like I did once and pack peanut butter sandwiches, with no drinks, and watch everyone who clearly put more effort in their celebration as you sit in the dirt haha).

Go on a hike 

Get those endorphins going and take your significant other on a hike. There are plenty of hikes within and surrounding San Diego, but for this holiday I would recommend  hiking Torrey Pines for the views or Los Penasquitos Canyon for a more rugged scene.

For the New Couple:

Only been seeing your significant other for a few months or weeks? And the timing is borderline between wanting to do something special without going over with name writing in the sky, but still show that you care? The following are unique ideas for any new couple looking for something exciting to do in San Diego for Valentine’s day.

Visit a winery in Temecula

San Diego is close to its own version of Napa Valley, and it’s called Temecula. There are a whole host of wineries that you can drive up to in less than an hour from San Diego.

Go out for the classic, drinks & dinner

San Diego is a foodie city, so there is no shortage of excellent dining options throughout the city. Here are my picks for where to go based on the neighborhoods they’re located in:

Liberty Station (plenty of restaurant options here) & then a movie at The Lot

-in Little Italy: Starlite, Bencotto Italian Kitchen, Barbusa or Cafe Gratitude

-Downtown/Gaslamp district: US Grant Hotel ($$$), Provisional or Biga

-La Jolla- Catania or Cusp

-North Park- Siamo Napoli

-Point Loma- Cesarina

Skip dinner & go for dessert, Extraordinary Desserts

Known for its show stopping pastries and cakes, Extraordinary Desserts is a must visit for Valentine’s day if your significant other is a fan of sweets. Bonus! They have an entire vegan & gluten free menu too!

Cozy up at a Drive-In Movie Theatre

There are two drive in movie theatres near San Diego that are a perfect way to spend the holiday together. And you can make the evening romantic by stuffing your car with fluffy blankets and yummy snacks (maybe even some wine for the one who won’t be driving!)

South Bay Drive In

Santee Drive In

Here are San Diego’s best coffee shops to work remote in 

Unique/Off the beaten path:

See the city from above, take a private helicopter tour of San Diego

What’s more unique than flying above the major sights of San Diego in a helicopter? Best part is, this company linked here offers a few different romantic packages to choose from!

Go off to sea on a sunset cruise

Hornblower Cruises offers the best harbor cruises in San Diego. And the way the sunset colors the downtown skyline will leave you speechless. They offer Valentine’s themed cruises that come with champagne, a multi-course dinner and live music.

Sneak your way into a speakeasy

San Diego is home to a handful of speakeasy’s. I can attest that discovering them and enjoying a specialty cocktail made just for you and your date is a really fun way to spend the evening, especially for Valentine’s day.

Don’t fret, I’m working on a list of San Diego’s speakeasies as you read this!

Test your dance skills at Cafe Sevilla

Cafe Sevilla has live music and dancing lessons throughout the weekdays. Even if you’re not a skilled dancer, salsa dancing close to your date is an exciting way to celebrate Valentine’s… and also a good laugh!

Galentine’s:

Any working guy or gal should be sure to celebrate Galentine’s day. As Leslie Knope put it, Galentine’s is a day to celebrate the women in your life. But for my interpretation I’m going for either celebrating your friends or yourself!

Whether it be with friends or for some much needed self-care time, you can’t go wrong with a massage or facial appointment at Saffron & Sage. Saffron & Sage is a unique holistic health club that offers yoga classes, acupuncture, massages and so much more. Do yourself a favor and book you (and your friends!) an appointment for a self-care treatment ASAP. You deserve it!

Don't Forget to Pack:

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Insulated Wine Tumblers

Vintage Salsa Dress

Wicker Picnic Backet

Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

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Santa Fe, New Mexico Weekend Getaway

Santa Fe, New Mexico Weekend Getaway

Santa Fe, New Mexico Weekend Getaway

Travel guide to New Mexico’s beauty, Santa Fe

Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links to products and tours that I have used for my own travels, purchased & enjoyed. Clicking these links does not cost you anything, however doing so will support Blue Eyed Compass and allow the site to continue.  THANK YOU!

Santa Fe New Mexico is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway at any age. Known for its unique architecture & art scene, Santa Fe will keep your eyes & stomach full. The city combines modern healthy lifestyle with historic spanish charm, which makes it feel like something out of this world.

Included in this post:

  • Best time to visit Santa Fe
  • How to get around the city
  • Top Things to do in Santa Fe
  • Excursions outside of the city
  • The best places to eat & more!

Travel guide for a Weekend Getaway in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Best Time to Go

Santa Fe is a perfect weekend destination year-round! Depending on what you want to do while visiting will help to decide when to go. In the winter months, Santa Fe is chilly and dry, with snow in the nearby mountains, so is a great time to visit for skiers. Where as in the summer, the days are hot and the nights are warm. Personally, I prefer fall & spring, as the weather will be warm without the heat.

 

 

Weather in Santa Fe

A great thing about Santa Fe is the 350+ days of sunshine each year. There is a monsoon season towards the end of summer but visitors will most likely only see rain for an hour or two in the afternoons. With temperatures ranging from 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to 85 degrees in the summer, travelers are almost guaranteed to experience a wonderful mild weather setting no matter when they visit.

 

 

Transportation/Getting Around Santa Fe

Downtown Santa Fe is very walkable, however if you stay outside of town you will need a car or need to use a ride share service. Luckily there is plenty of parking in the downtown area. There is a bus system in place for public transportation but with most of the major sites being within walking distance you may not even need it.

Top things to do in Santa Fe:

There is no shortage of unique things to do in Santa Fe. Here is a list of places to see and things to do that I wouldn’t miss when visiting Santa Fe:

 

 

Stroll along The Plaza

The Plaza is the central historic district of Santa Fe. It’s the hub of the city, and on weekends there are often events in the streets. This 400 years old center is where you’ll spend most of your time, so go slow and soak it all up.

Purchase turquoise jewelry along the Palace of the Governors

The Palace of the Governors is the historic building where Spain ruled over the American Southwest in the early 17th century. While you can pay $12 to enter the building, I think it’s more fun to spend your time underneath the outdoor arches of the building. You’ll find beautiful turquoise jewelry pieces handmade by locals here. These outdoor vendors typically have better prices and you can barter with them.

 

 

Walk through the Loretto Chapel

While I can’t claim this to be the coolest church I’ve ever been into, the Loretto Chapel holds quite a bit of history for the Santa Fe area & is worth a visit.

Enjoy a tasting at Santa Fe Spirits

Known for their barrel aged whiskey’s this distillery creates delicious spirits that embrace the spirit of the Southwest region.

*Santa Fe Spirits is a short drive outside of the historic district & opens at 3pm daily

 

 

Mesmerize your senses at Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf is an immersive and interactive experience that embraces weirdness & challenges societal norms. For $30 you can spend an afternoon in this multi-sensory exhibit and be delighted for hours by the designs.

Sun-Thurs 10am-8pm

Fri & Sat 10am-10pm

Cost: $30 general admission

Noisy Water Winery; green Chile wine

New Mexico has a thing with green chiles. And by ‘thing’, I mean they’re obsessed with them. You’ll find green chiles (and red too) in almost every dish. Noisy Water Winery took it a step further by creating Green Chile Wine! Stop in to their tasting room in Santa Fe and enjoy a sample of this spicy wine, along with their other delicious options.

Kakawa Chocolate House

This specialty chocolate house just outside of The Plaza is a chocolate lovers dream come true. Kakawa Chocolate House makes chocolate elixirs dating back to Mayan & Aztec times. Stop in for a tasting and order yourself a cup of your favorite elixir. Don’t worry the staff here are extremely friendly and offer plenty of samples so you can find your favorite – mine was the Jeffersonian flavor made with nutmeg. There are more unique flavors like coconut hibiscus and french lavender. And if you like it purchase a bag to bring home with you or for your friends.

Santa fe Railyard Arts District

The Santa Fe Railyard Arts District houses many of the art galleries that travelers come to explore in the area. It’s well worth a walk through, and houses a brewery and delicious coffee shop too. The last friday of each month the area hosts an Art Walk where artists display their work, musicians play and more.

Visit the Santa Fe Opera & Tailgate beforehand

There is a local known tradition of tailgating at the Santa Fe Opera before the performance begins. It’s like a combination of class with cowboys, so don’t feel as if you need to pack your gown or tuxedo, come dressed in what you’re comfortable wearing and enjoy the performance.

The parking lot opens about three hours before the start of the shows, so you have plenty of time to enjoy your dinner and sunset from your tailgate.

Where to eat in Santa Fe

Here are the places that we tried and where locals suggested we dine in Santa Fe:

Outside of Santa Fe

New Mexico is home to so many unique & hidden gem spots. Here are the places around the area that we took time to explore during our weekend trip to Santa Fe:

 

Kasha Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument:

An hour outside of Santa Fe lies this 1.5 mile (one-way) hike. It’s best known for its tent rocks, which are unique cone shaped rock formations. The landscape here reminds me of Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatoowein in Star Wars. My advice, go when it opens so you can enjoy the hike & views without the crowds. *Check if the trail is open as it often closes during the winter months due to weather and snow.

Taos, New Mexico:

If you’re visiting Santa Fe in the winter and are a fan of skiing and snowboarding, I would suggest scheduling time to visit Taos, New Mexico. Travelers take the high road to Taos from Santa Fe and will be greeted by a town with charm similar to Santa Fe’s but on a smaller scale. This area has access to great mountain sport slopes, and a quintessential plaza area. *Be warned, the restaurants in this area are lacking in existence and in healthy food fares, so plan accordingly.

*On your way to Taos you’ll pass the El Santuario de Chimayo. This is a Catholic pilgrimage site on road to Taos, and worth a quick stop to explore.

 

Classical Gas Museum:

Probably one of the bizarrest and yet coolest places to see, the Classical Gas Museum is a great stop on your way back to Santa Fe from Taos. This ‘museum’ is free to enter and features classic gas pumps, neon signs and so much more from times throughout American history.

Fun Facts about visiting Santa Fe, Nex Mexico:

-Sopapillas should come for FREE at the end of your meal. If you see otherwise the food may not be traditionally made New Mexican food.

-Northern New Mexico is known for blue corn, southern New Mexico for white corn. So be sure to try blue corn tortillas with your meals.

Don't Forget to Pack:

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Laura of Blue Eyed Compass, a Sustainable Travel Blog

Hi!  I’m Laura, a sustainable travel blogger, as well as freelancing online brand strategist. I share real & honest information about traveling, how to do so sustainably, and ways to earn an income while working remote.

Follow Along!

Start your own blog today!

Set up your blog today by using my discount code for Bluehost – Click the image to get started.

THE Best WordPress theme for bloggers & businesses

Get $15 OFF your AirBnb!

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