By Marissa Willman
August is here, and if the triple-digit temps are putting a damper on spending quality time with your girls, it’s time to head out for a last-minute summer escape. Round up your best gal pals and set your sights on San Diego for this summer getaway for the girls.
Best Beachside Stays
There’s certainly no shortage of hotel options for a girls’ weekend in San Diego, but two seaside options offer all of the modern luxuries you and the girls could ask for. The well-appointed Omni San Diego
is just steps from the San Diego Trolley, San Diego Convention Center and Gaslamp Quarter. You can soak in the views of the water from your room or take a dip in the heated outdoor pool on the rooftop terrace before heading out for cocktails in the Gaslamp Quarter. And if you need to keep up with your workouts, you can choose between the full-service onsite fitness center or the in-room Get Fit Kit, which includes a floor mat, dumbbells and elastic bands.
Just down the street, the recently renovated Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
places you just steps from the harbor and Seaport Village. Two towers of oceanfront rooms offer views of both the bay and Coronado Island from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, plus plush pillowtop beds, flatscreen TVs and June Jacob bath goodies help you and the girls unwind by the water. Add access to the hotel’s Grand Club on the 33rd floor to your stay, and you’ll be able to enjoy complimentary light breakfasts, mid-day snacks and evening hors d’oeuvres and cocktails before heading out for a night on the town.
Dining All Around Town
While you’ll be steps away from the lively nightlife options that overflow from the Gaslamp Quarter, head out to Normal Heights for a range of unpretentious watering holes. Our pick? Sycamore Den (sycamoreden.com), a Normal Heights newcomer with an old soul. The tavern was designed to recreate a 1970s-style bar where the men of the times would head for their after-work drinks, and the owners of Sycamore Den
have encapsulated this nostalgic feel with orange pleather couches, stone walls, wooden accents and a proudly hanging rifle collection. In the bathrooms, you’ll even find a mural of ‘70s-era dads on the walls. While the tavern might sound like a guy’s hangout, women will enjoy the humble atmosphere and specialty cocktails like the Swiss Bank, made with rum, lime, pineapple and a dash of absinthe.
Also not to be missed at Sycamore Den? The “Popcorn Program,” whose kernels have earned a cult following for their various flavors. On any given night, you might snack on popcorn topped with Lawry’s Seasoning or nutritional yeast and Mediterranean salt.
Depending on which neighborhoods you’re headed to in San Diego, you’ll want to put a few of these restaurants on your must-hit list. First up is Isola Pizza Bar (isolapizzabar.com)
in Little Italy, where local ingredients delivered fresh daily create flavorful pizzas and antipastas. Especially of note is their creamy and fresh burrata mozzarella, served with parma prosciutto, vine-ripened tomatoes and fresh basil pesto. Try it with a glass of their Nino Franco Prosecco as you sit under the sun in the enclosed garden for the perfect start to your meal. Then it’s time to move on to one of Isola’s famed pizzas. You can’t go wrong by sharing the Salciccia pizza, topped with house-made fennel sausage crumbles, caramelized red onions, crimini mushrooms and mozzarella. Forget the calories for this one and try it with a glass of red barbera d’alba by Pietro Rinaldi, whose Italian winery is owned by the brother of Isola’s owner.
If you’re headed downtown, you can pop into the 1920s-esque Chaplos (chaplos.com)
for classic American fare with a vintage twist. The corn, spinach and mushroom-stuffed empanadas and the fresh fish ceviche are both solid choices for starting off your meal, which could include a Mahi-Mahi sandwich or apple ale pork ribs, depending on your mood. Try a selection from the cocktail menu, inspired by San Diego’s most iconic neighborhoods. The Gaslamp Quarter cocktail blends Knob Creek bourbon with amaretto and Benedictine, while the Hillcrest mixes tequila with lime juice, grapefruit juice and spicy blackberry coulis.
In the South Park neighborhood, duck into Alchemy (alchemysandiego.com)
for fresh fare that ranges from vegan curry to a whole roasted suckling pig dinner. The modern and creative menu rotates regularly to take advantage of seasonal ingredients, but you’ll always find the beloved quinoa hush puppies on the menu. Other favorites include the Brussels sprouts (sautéed with brown sugar, butter, sunflower seeds and applewood bacon), kimchi fried rice (with pea sprouts, egg, bok choy kimchi and shrimp) and roasted beets with tarragon and goat cheese. The cocktail menu includes handcrafted selections like the Dirty Pickle (vodka and pickle juice) and the Carmen’s Kick, a mix of tequila, lemon, mescal and sweet orgeat syrup.
If your girls’ weekend includes a stop at Solano Beach or Del Mar, don’t miss the newest hot spot to open in this beach town just north of San Diego: Sublime Tavern (sublimetavern.net).
This is gourmet comfort food at its finest, including a mac and cheese menu with a handful of grown-up takes on the classic dish. Owner James Limjoco takes his mac and cheese to the next level with varieties like the Ecstasy, which includes a gorgonzola sauce, applewood bacon, mushrooms and red peppers, and the Infatuation, which includes a heavenly combination of mushrooms and truffle oil. The pizzas are taken up a notch too, with the crown jewel being the Get Figgy With It (figs, prosciutto, arugula, parmesan and balsamic glaze). Do your taste buds a solid and start with the Ahi poke tostada or the grass-fed beef tips, and don’t skip out on the impressive selection of local craft beers on tap.
San Diego-Style Fun
What’s a girls’getaway without wine and spa treatments? Luckily, the Manchester Grand Hyatt has you and your gal pals covered on both fronts. The Kin Spa offers a range of massages, facials and salon services, but you’ll feel especially pampered with the new body wrap rituals. The nourishing 80-minute orange blossom ritual includes an orange blossom mask rich in exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), a Fijian hot oil scalp treatment and a warm sugar scrub, while the 80-minute royal coconut milk and honey treatment starts with a full-body exfoliation, followed by a coconut milk and honey mask, a Fijian scalp treatment and nourishing oil application. Both treatments will leave your skin feeling renewed and refreshed.
After your treatment, you’ll have your choice of champagne, white wine or red wine with a cheese plate or fresh fruit. An adults-only outdoor pool and wet and dry saunas tempt you to spend an entire day living it up at the Hyatt’s spa, where free-flowing cookies, juice and other light bites fuel an afternoon of relaxation.
You can get a glimpse into the beauty and history of the San Diego Bay aboard a yacht on a Flagship Harbor Tour (sdhe.com). The two-hour tour takes you through both the north and south ends of the bay, or you can opt for a one-hour tour along either the north or south end.
For a drier look at San Diego, hop aboard a trolley and make your way across the city with Old Town Trolley Tours (trolleytours.com/san-diego). This hop-on, hop-off tour hits all of San Diego’s most iconic attractions, including San Diego Harbor, Coronado Island, Horton Plaza and Seaport Village.
Speaking of Seaport Village, this seaside shopping plaza is the perfect place to load up on souvenirs and gifts for those back home. Spend a girls’ afternoon browsing the quaint, locally owned shops of this outdoor plaza, where you’ll stumble upon local finds like handmade candles, seashell wind chimes and freshly pressed olive oils and balsamic vinegars. As you and your girlfriends enjoy the ocean breeze while strolling through Seaport Village, you’ll be glad you swapped triple digits for this cool seaside escape.