Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Evolution of a Honeymoon

I know that there are a lot of people out there who think their honeymoon is their chance for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure; that it is a great excuse to spend a ton of money on a trip to Austrailia or Africa or Europe.  They want their honeymoon to be memorable and special.  I don't fault them for that, but it's not really how we roll.

We knew when we signed up for a wedding three months after the bar that it would be difficult to plan an elaborate honeymoon based on not knowing what my job status would be.  So we tried to plan a trip that was as open as possible and didn't have to be booked six months in advance or use frequent flyer miles.  I also really wanted to do a domestic trip - because when we travel with our friends or family, we tend to do the more exotic trips.  A domestic trip appealed to both of us because it meant that we weren't spending $2,000 on airfare and could stay in nicer places.  It also meant not having to worry about the exchange rate, about any kind of shots/medications, any iffy food/water requirements, or crazy packing restrictions.

The original plan involved very little flying - we wanted to do a cross country train trip, starting in Chicago, heading out to the Pacific Coast, down California, and over to New Orleans.  This appealed to us because while both of us are well traveled internationally, we are not well traveled domestically.  I've never been to New Orleans or San Francisco (this is the part where my Dad pipes up and comments that "we took you to SF when you were two!" Um. Doesn't count.) and ever since I was 10 years old, I've wanted to see the Redwoods.

The plan got further revised when I didn't have a job yet and my vacation status was still up in the air.  We also revised the plan based on our train trip to NJ over Christmas - for only 3 hours, we spent the time reading and ignoring each other, and we both decided that our honeymoon should be spent doing things, instead of sitting.

Eventually the honeymoon became California.  It's a trip that will be fairly easy to plan closer to the day that we leave.  It will allow us to sit on the beach, then go adventuring.  We planned to hit two destinations, one on Mark's to-go list and one on mine - San Diego and San Francisco.  We hoped to camp out at Big Sur and go see the Redwoods.

Then we looked at doing either just San Diego or just San Francisco.  Both had merit, and San Francisco had Redwoods.  (I'm serious about the Redwoods, guys.)

Mark suggested going on a bike trip - we go to San Francisco, rent bikes, and then bike down to Half Moon Bay where we would spend three days gallivanting around.  We were both pretty excited and were ready to book.

When we went to book though, a funny thing happened.  The only direct flight out was through San Diego.  So we changed our minds and scrapped the bike trip aspect (in all fairness, my friend had told me to look up Devil's slide before I agreed to bike from SF to HMB, which I did...) and decided to go to San Diego for three days instead.

So that's where we are now.  Where we go next will evolve as well.  There are three things I want to do: The  Aquarium of the Bay, the Muir Woods Bike Tour, and the San Diego Zoo.  (Stingrays! Redwoods! Koalas!)  But all of you gave some very good advice that we should relax and not plan too much to do on our honeymoon, which we appreciate and are taking.

What we need from you now is some suggestions.  Not suggestions of "things you MUST do in SF/SD" but a suggestion of things we might like to check out, and a list of reliable and delicious places to eat.  I hate paying for meals that aren't spectacular, and I feel like I have heard a lot about restaurants in San Francisco, so bring on the suggestions!


  1. We took this vacation this summer! How are you getting between the cities? If you are driving, I recommend the Monterey Bay Aquarium over the one in SF -- amazing.

    SD -- Coronado is definitely worth a visit. I also recommend South Beach in OB for fish tacos and the like, and Urban Solace in North Park for something nicer.

    SF -- Best overall meal of the entire vacation was lunch at the Slanted Door. I would consider it a can't miss place. Zuni Cafe was also good -- best squash I ever tasted. I also really, really enjoyed the strawberries at Trader Joes! :)

  2. Oh hooray! My best friend lives in San Diego and I've spent a TON of time there over the past few years...

    For breakfast, The Broken Yolk in PB (Pacific Beach) is my FAVORITE. They also have a Gaslamp (downtown) location, but I've never been there.


    For dinner, my number one place to eat, if I have a little money to spend on something nice, is a place we stumbled upon in the Gaslamp District called the Strip Club. The bike carriage guys know it is "the one with the steaks, not the girls." Basically, you order your meat (or fish, or veggies) and grill it up yourself on huge grills running down the center of the restaurant. Sides and such are done for you. And the bartender's creations (every time I've been there) were amazing.

    It sounds like a lot of work, but it really is a blast. And it gets people talking and having a good time ... plus, the food is amazing.


    Other than that, it depends on what you would like to do ... people watching is a favorite pastime of mine, and there's definitely plenty of it. PB and Ocean Beach are fun during the day for getting out and seeing the ocean ... and there's a great little hole-in-the-wall pizza place in OB called Newport Pizza.

    If you need other "local" suggestions I'll bug my friend. She loves the city and surrounding areas. Enjoy!

  3. Awesome! We should definitely collaborate. because on the 29th, we fly out to San Fran...pretty much for the same reason. To see Redwoods. :)
    So far, the most concrete suggestion that I've heard that doesn't fall into the 'MUST DO' category is to go to Chinatown in San Fran. My mama says its fun. Other than that... I got nothin so far! But if you remember to write to me after the 5th (when we get back) hopefully I'll have some suggestions of nummy places to eat and fun things to do that aren't super touristy. And if you get some good recommendations along the same line, please share!


    Oh, and I've mined people here at work for recommendations because I work for a university forestry program. The word is that Muir Woods is ok. I think a bike tour would make it much better, but its the paved kind of forest. If you want more off the beated path, one of our professors recommends Big Basin Redwood State Park. Its maybe an hour and a half drive south of San Fran but he says it will bring you through some amazing country and great mountain passes on the way or you could take the famous highway 1 down. And then redwoods!

  4. I highly highly recommend Cafe 21 (used to be Cafe 2121). http://www.yelp.com/biz/cafe-21-san-diego I went here for a bridesmaid post-wedding brunch and it was incredible. Large portions for what you pay & great service (not sure if either of those things has changed over the last year). Based on other yelp reviews, lunch is a good bet too.

  5. an alternate suggestion to the aquarium by the bay would be the academy of science. it's newly renovated and pretty stinkin' awesome. tons of fish. and a 'green' roof with plants all over it.

    also, i too am more fond of the redwoods in the santa cruz area. but muir woods is closer to wine country though..lol.

    other than that..sf has some great theater, if you're into that sort of thing.

    for the san diego zoo, you should also check out the wild animal park next door to it. It's one of my favorites since they put all the safari animals in one huge area all together (not the predators though, of course!) and then they run you around a tram to look at them all 'safari style'. it's pretty cool.

    good luck and sounds like an awesome hm!

  6. A few of my favourite places (I've been in the Bay Area for about 3 years now)

    Tartine Bakery (Magnolia, eat your heart out)
    Slanted Door
    Sushi Groove (not cheap, but really delicious)

    If you get sick of the fog, head across the Bay to Sausolito/Tiburon (via Ferry or bike across Golden Gate). Sam's in Tiburon has a great waterfront patio and really good brunch.

    If you make it to the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area, I also recommend the Counter and the Oaxacan Kitchen.

    Have fun!

  7. We live in San Diego, and I'll second the recommendation for Urban Solace -- very delish. For special occasion dinners, we also like Island Prime, which has great prime rib & seafood and spectacular views from Harbor Island (near downtown and the airport) or The Prado in Balboa Park. The zoo is right next to Balboa Park, which has several interesting museums and the Old Globe Theatre (awesome productions, including outdoor Shakespeare through September). The Wild Animal Park is nice but it's about 45 minutes away to the north.

    Rent bikes, take them across the bay on the Coronado Ferry (a cheap way to take a harbor cruise), and bike around Coronado Island. Have lunch at the Hotel Del Coronado, historic and beautiful. Enjoy the lovely beach there and have a fantastic afternoon.

  8. I love coincidence - I live in San Diego and I emailed another bride whose blog I follow (http://anotherdamnwedding.wordpress.com/) for tips, since she lives in Santa Barbara and we're headed that way for our honeymoon. Now I get to return the favor to you for San Diego!

    Our wedding is the week before yours here in San Diego, so I've been thinking a lot about "can't miss" stuff for our guests... I put some details on our wedding website: http://rsvpmagicwedding.com/activities/

    Also, your website said my comment was too long so I reposted it here:

    First part of my comment...
    -Stay at the Porto Vista hotel in Little Italy (our reception is here!). Stay for as little as ~$100/night, enjoy the view from bar/ restaurant The Glass Door on the 4th floor, walk to charming Italian restaurants (don't miss Benecotto, worth every $$), wine bars, shops, grocery RIGHT outside your door. You're also only 1.5 (walkable) miles to the Gaslamp/party district. Be warned, Gaslamp can be pretty touristy/$$/see-and-be-seen, but you might like it for a diversion.

    - Walk 1.0 mi from Porto Vista to the Broadway Pier to catch the Ferry to Coronado Island, visit historic (1880's) Hotel Del Coronado (rumored to have a ghost), lay out on one of the best beaches in San Diego (groomed by the hotel, free to the public! October here is perfect for the beach) and sip (pricy) lemonade/wine/beer from one of five shaded beach-front restaurants. Leave "the Del" (as locals call it) for lunch to save cash and eat instead at nearby Burger Lounge or Miguel's Cocina. Head back to where the ferry left you and splurge a bit for a bay-front glass of wine at Il Fornaio while you wait.

    (more on Balboa Park and favorite restaurants at my link)

    Enjoy your stay!

  9. I haven't blogged about this yet, but we're headed to San Fran and Napa for our honeymoon. These suggestions in the comments are very helpful :) I'm looking forward to the redwood trees as well!

  10. i love the way things work out! and being flexible always helps. people get so caught up in the honeymoon (much like folks tend to get caught up in weddings) that they forget it's about spending time together to relax, have fun and enjoy.

    um.. so i have no suggestions as i've only been to san diego for a day. we did walk the beach and boardwalk outside the hotel del coronado and that was beautiful.

  11. I lived in the Bay Area for 4 years and either did the touristy thing ourselves or heard about my classmate's/friend's experiences.

    Muir Woods - a convenient way to see redwoods since it's so close to San Fran. most paths are paved and there are quite a few people there on the weekends.

    Clarion Alley on 17th between Mission and Valencia - meander up and down an alley covered in beautiful artistic graffiti that's always changing. It's free. My favorite go-to .

    Academy of Sciences - Living roof, cool exhibits. It's in Golden Gate park so you can wander through there and see the Japanese garden or walk to the ocean and the windmills on the edge of the park. There's often things going on in the park; sometimes free music or performances.

    Lombard Street- it's the curvy road with gorgeous landscaping. It's a tourist spot. You can take the trolley up to the top and get out to take pictures

    Painted Ladies - if you loved Full House have a picnic in the park across the street from the Tanners house ;) On Steiner Street.

    I'd recommend Monteray's Aquarium too - drive down Highway 1 from San Fran. Hang out in the aquarium for several hours. Walk along the beach. Watch sea lions.

    Double Decker bus tour - a good friend found a cheap way to see all the sites in the city. I'm not sure which company he used.

    Ghiradelli Square - near Pier 39 and all of the tourists. Free chocolate square just for walking in!

    If you like hiking (easy to moderate) Joaquin Miller park in Oakland is pretty amazing and has great views of the bay and San Fran. You would need to drive across the bay bridge to get there.

    Remember to bring a sweater and pants for the evenings. It gets really cool once the sun goes down.

    Email me if you have any questions: palershade at gmail

  12. Well, I've lived near both of these cities, soooo...


    SF: Italian--Macaroni (my fave), Michaelangelo's (my fiance's fave), The Stinking Rose (if you like garlic)
    Touristy--no trip to SF is complete without eating soup from a bread bowl at Boudin Bakery or at least stopping somewhere along Embarcadero. And you really must stop by Ghiradelli Square for some chocolate. The sundaes are worth the wait.
    Markets: I love the Ferry Building. They have lots of little food shops that make for a nice lunch. My fave is a loaf from Grace Baking Company (or any of the SF bread companies really) and some Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese (best cheese I have ever eaten.
    Outside the City: When you go to Muir Woods, stop by Guayma's in Tiburon. High class Mexican food. It is AMAZING! Try the quesadilla.
    Also, if you want really good, cheap gourmet food, I can give you some really awesome places to go in Berkeley. There's not much to see there, but the campus is beautiful (and filled with redwoods), and from what I've read, I think you'd really like it there. If you think you might stop by, email me, and I'll tell you what's worth seeing (and eating): danicole2011@gmail.com.

  13. Activities:

    SF: Touristy--I love Embarcadero and Pier 39. It's just nice to walk along the water. If you go to Pier 39, make sure you see the sea lions on the docks nearby. I'm also a big fan of Ghiradelli Square. Yummy chocolate, cute shops, and a nice little garden in the surrounding area.
    Not So Touristy--My favorite place in the city is the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. It's beautiful and a great place for pictures. The nearby Shakespeare Garden is also very nice. I also just like walking around. I feel like that's the best way to take in the city.
    Beyond the City--I'd skip the SF aquarium in favor of Monterey Bay Aquarium. It's world famous and really can't be beat in the aquarium world. It's about 2 hours from SF, but the drive is gorgeous, especially if you continue down to Carmel and the 17 Mile Scenic Stretch near Pacific Grove. That area exhibits the quintessential beauty of Northern California, and I'd take it over SF any day.

    SD: Touristy--The zoo and the Wild Animal Park would definitely be my top priorities though I also love Sea World. Balboa Park is also a great place to walk around.
    Beach--If you want to go to the beach, the best place in the area is probably La Jolla though I should warn you that the water will be pretty cold by October. If you head up there, the Melting Pot is a nice place to eat, and there is also a beach that is cordoned off for sea lions that is pretty cool to check out.
    Other--My favorite CA activity is just driving along the coast, looking out over the water and feeling the sea air. If you can rent a convertible while you're in SoCal, you won't regret it.

  14. General Advice: Keep in mind that CA is not warm all the time. Count on having to wear pants and sweatshirts the whole time you're in SF. SD will be warmer, but you'll still probably be in pants. Also, renting a car is pretty much necessary in SoCal and still helpful in NorCal to get out of the city.

    I'm sure you've gotten way more advice that you wanted already, but I love my home state and spend a lot of time exploring it, so if there's anything else you want to know, email me: danicole2011@gmail.com.

  15. Oh hey, also (I swear this will be my last post) if you guys would like to drive up to Disneyland, I would be happy to give you a free tour. I know it's your honeymoon and you probably will want to spend it alone, but I know an awful lot about the park and could get you on all the major rides in 2 hours and then send you on your way, if you're interested.

  16. Woot woot! I am a dearth of information regarding Cali, having only been there once in middle school. Strangely enough, it was on a cross country train trip. It looked cool and I've always hoped to go back. So no advice from me, just a hearty yay that your honeymoon is jelling into something awesome that fits you two.