From the Rockies to the Ocean: Our San Diego Road Trip

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After living on the road for almost a year, we traded in road trips for plane trips when we decided to plant our roots in the Colorado Rockies. Initially, I was excited. I became obsessed with finding the best deals on flights and exploring faraway lands that were impossible to visit without air travel. But after almost three years of jet setting, I had to admit, I was getting tired of it.

The bustling airport that I once found exciting became a place I loathed. From the moment I booked our tickets, the anxiety would soon follow. From coordinating the dog sitter to packing our bags to hoping the weather would cooperate when driving to the airport. Everything made me uneasy. And when my anxiety would settle as I found myself in my assigned seat, on time for departure, the experience in the air didn’t make it any better. The confinement, the uncomfortable seats, or the occasional rude flight attendant would put me over the edge. At the beginning of this year, I told Clayton that I was done flying.

Rest area in Utah

I found myself on a plane two more times after that announcement. But when it was time to take a trip to Southern California to visit friends and family for Memorial Day weekend, driving felt like our only option. As I googled the directions from Silverthorne, CO to San Diego, the almost 15-hour drive seemed intimidating, yet exciting. We were going to make the most of this long drive! Suddenly, I had the same excitement I used to have when we lived in Bear, our teardrop trailer.

Utah

We are no strangers to Utah. We’ve spent a ton of time in this gorgeous state, so we made sure to stop often during our drive. Along the I-70 are plenty of look-out points, scenic views and rest stops that will make you want to rest for a while. In addition to the scenery, there are a couple noteworthy stops like the town of St. George and The Creamery in Beaver.

Seriously, make sure you stop at this adorable shop in Beaver. The food is SO good and the ice cream is so creamy. There is also a small market inside to grab goodies. In addition to the quality food they serve, the prices are not expensive. I wanted to stay for a second ice cream cone!

San Diego

We were so excited for our time in San Diego that we had a long list of must-dos from hanging out at the beach to walking across the border to Tijuana. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with our plans and it shifted from a long list of sightseeing to literally eating and drinking our way around town.

Here were some of our favorites:

Queenstown Public House

This cute little building located near what I think is Little Italy offers a diverse menu to satisfy every craving in your group. The mountain girl in me thought, “wow, this is the classic millennial brunch I always hear about!” High priced alcohol and $15 and up plates of food were on the menu, but luckily, the portions were huge!  The food was delicious and we were stuffed, so my advice is to share plates with your children because they don’t have a kids menu and skip the drinks if you’re not trying to spend a fortune.

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Pizza Port in Ocean Beach

A very lively spot for pizza, wings and craft beer. We loved the vibe and energy of this spot. There are several bench seats and tables so it’s a great place to rub elbows with others and make friends. The pizza was delicious and the selection of beer is vast! If I lived in Ocean Beach, this would definitely be my spot to grab a pizza and a drink.

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Helm’s Brewing Company, Ocean Beach Tasting Room

When the rain and wind wouldn’t let up, we decided to walk around Ocean Beach and grab a beer at every brewery we passed. I thought Colorado had great breweries, but these places were amazing. Helm’s was our first stop. I was obsessed with the Spicy Michelada beer! I really wish I would have taken some home with me.

Wonderland Ocean Pub

I’m typically not the biggest fan of breweries that are also restaurants. When breweries start focusing on food, we find that the beer tends to take a backseat, but this was not the case at this place! It was very lively, the views were fantastic, and the drinks were good. I tried the Kombucha on tap and it was delicious yet dangerous since it tasted like juice, but had 7% alcohol. I also loved how family friendly this spot was. They had a small arcade that kids and adults were enjoying.

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Belching Beaver, Ocean Beach

An interestingly named brewery with some of the best beer I have ever had! We tried the sour and the peanut butter milk stout and were immediate fans. Great beers, great atmosphere, I wish we had this brewery in Colorado!

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Las Vegas

Riley begged us to stop in Las Vegas during this trip. Most people think it’s odd that my 8-year-old loves this city, but he thinks it’s one giant amusement park and I honestly don’t blame him. With the bright lights, fun shows, big pools and the endless selection of delicious food, I think there is something for everybody at every age in Vegas.

We have traveled to Vegas as a family several times, but this was the first time we were here with our dog, Jack. I was surprised to find out that many hotels were not pet-friendly and the ones that were had super high non-refundable fees and nightly rates.  While searching for pet-friendly accommodations, I came across Buffalo Bill’s Resort and Casino. We passed this hotel on our drive to California, and with the rollercoasters and big flashy signs, we figured this would be a good place to stop since it had a low pet fee and was right off the freeway.

I made a mistake of not reading reviews and trusting the pictures on the hotel website because once we arrived, I couldn’t help but laugh at how disgusting the whole place was! As we walked through the hallway, the sight of garbage and old leaves covered the carpet. We walked into the room and the smell of urine was so strong, I had to walk out immediately. After switching rooms, we were so confused as to why it looked like the room hadn’t been cleaned. The beds were made and the bathrooms looked fine, but the floors hadn’t been swept or vacuumed, the tables were sticky with coffee stains and potato chips were scattered across the sticky stains. Basic housekeeping was nonexistent and it was very confusing.

We woke up early the next day eager to get back on the road and spend the morning in Las Vegas. We discovered that dogs are only allowed on the strip from 5 AM to 12 PM so that limited our time for sightseeing. Although it wasn’t hot, we didn’t want to leave Jack alone in the car for long. We took a quick walk down the strip to get him some exercise then we parked at the parking garage in the Cosmopolitan. The indoor garage with the windows rolled down provided a comfortable spot for Jack, so we quickly headed across the street for breakfast better hitting the road again.

Two places that are worth the stop:

Ocean One Bar and Grille

Across the street from the Cosmopolitan, inside the Planet Hollywood, Miracle Mile Shops is Ocean One Bar and Grille, one of the cheapest places to get a solid breakfast. I had a delicious egg florentine for $7.99 and Riley had a pancake for $2.50. In addition, they have an all-day happy hour where you can get 3 drinks for the price of one! Since we weren’t staying for long, I ordered a pina colada which was only $3. On our next trip to Vegas, this will definitely be our spot for breakfast!

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Milk Bar

This is one of those places where you have to try it because you can’t get it at home. I have heard of Milk Bar before, and since we promised Riley some ice cream, we figured this was the place to get it.

Located inside the Cosmopolitan, you’ll find this spot on the second floor along with all the other restaurants. Riley tried the “cereal milk” soft serve with cereal flakes sprinkled over it. It was definitely interesting because it literally tasted like cereal milk. I think Clayton enjoyed it the most out of all of us! For $8, I don’t think it’s worth getting a scoop for the whole family, but I definitely think it’s something to try. My advice is to buy one and share it!

And that concludes the highlights of our long road trip from the Colorado Rockies to the ocean in San Diego. Overall, a great trip with beautiful sights and delicious food with some new discoveries that we would like to revisit in the future. Have you ever done this drive? If I missed something amazing, let me know in the comments!

 

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15 comments on “From the Rockies to the Ocean: Our San Diego Road Trip”

  1. I didn’t know dogs weren’t allowed on the strip but now that I think about it I have never seen dogs there. Any idea why they have this rule?

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  2. That sounds like a fun trip. I love to explore new areas like this and a couple of years ago we went to Colorado, it was breathtaking. I have wanted to go back ever since. It just sounds like a great place to frequent or maybe even live. I may need to try this road trip as well because I have never been to California either. I have a lot to see!

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  3. I’ve never driven to California! I always thought it was too far with nothing to see in between, but this drive looks so beautiful. I can’t believe that picture was taken at a rest area!

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