Local Adventurer >> San Diego Travel Blog » Local Adventures in San Diego + Worldwide

Can’t believe it’s already been 2 weeks since we moved to San Diego. We made a decent dent on our city bucket list for Las Vegas during our 15 month stay, but getting through our San Diego list will take a lot more strategic planning. Food is always high priority on our list, but we know not everyone travels for food, so all the food and breweries are listed towards the bottom.

This list will continue to change and evolve as we discover new and better things to eat, see, and do in San Diego. I imagine the longer we stay, the more hidden gems we’ll find. Don’t forget to check the date at the bottom to see when this post was last updated. :)

Ultimate San Diego Bucket List / 101 Things to Do in San Diego.

THE ULTIMATE SAN DIEGO BUCKET LIST (101 Things to Do in San Diego):

1. San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo (Ultimate San Diego Bucket List / 101 Things to Do in San Diego)San Diego Zoo (Ultimate San Diego Bucket List / 101 Things to Do in San Diego).
2. San Diego Wild Animal Park / San Diego Zoo Safari Park
3. Balboa Park
4. Cabrillo National Monument Tidepools – full post coming soon
Cabrillo National Monument Tide Pools (101 Things to Do in San Diego).
5. Sea World
6. Gaslamp Quarter
7. Comic Con
8. USS Midway Museum
9. Maritime Museum of San Diego
10. Hike up Cowles Mountain (highest peak in San Diego) – full post coming soon
Cowles Mountain Hike (Ultimate San Diego Bucket List / 101 Things to Do in San Diego).
11. Whale Watching
12. Paddle Boarding
13. Key’s Creek Lavendar Farm
14. Ocean Beach
15. Oceanside Beach & Pier
16. Coronado Beach – full post coming soon
Coronado Beach (Best Things to Do in San Diego).
17. Torrey Pines State Beach
18. Imperial Beach
19. Mission Bay Beach
20. Mission Beach
21. Kayaking through La Jolla Caves – full post coming soon
Kayaking through La Jolla Caves (101 Things to Do in San Diego).
22. Cardiff-by-the Sea Beaches
23. Pacific Beach
24. Solano Beach
25. Windansea Beach
26. Moonlight Beach
27. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park
28. Carlsbad Beaches – full post coming soon
Carlsbad Beaches (101 Things to Do in San Diego).
29. Point Lomo Beach
30. Silver Strand Beach
31. San Diego Museum of Art
32. San Diego Museum of Man
33. San Diego Harbor
34. Old Point Loma Light House
35. Pacific Crest Trail Hike at Cleveland National Forest

Ever since reading Wild, I’ve been thinking if she can do it, maybe I can too! I’d love to check out portions of the hike this before attempting the full thing.

36. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
37. Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala
38. Petco Park
39. Belmont Park
40. San Diego Air and Space Museum
41. Reuben H Fleet Science Center
42. Wildflowers at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
43. Botanical Building at Balboa Park
44. Spruce Street Suspension Bridge
45. 25th Street Bridge
46. Hiking at Mission Trails
47. Jump into the Devil’s Punchbowl
48. Del Mar Fair Grounds
49. Little Italy Farmer’s Market
50. Hillcrest Farmer’s Market
51. La Jolla Open Air Farmer’s Market
52. Carlsbad Flower Fields
53. Split Mountain Hike
54. Lego Land
55. Birch Aquarium
56. Horton Plaza
57. Old Globe Theater
58. Hike Cuymaca Peak
59. Mt Woodson / Potato Chip Rock Hike
60. Land Sailing at Silver Strand Beach
61. Intertubing at La Jolla Indian Reservation
62. San Diego Derby Dolls
63. Hops on the Harbor Dinner Cruises
64. Hike the Santa Margarita Trail
65. Palomar Observatory Hike
66. Los Penasquitos Canyon Hike
67. Cedar Creek Falls
68. Stonewall Peak Hike
69. Shopping / Dining at Seaport Village
70. Noble Experiment
71. Lucha Libre
72. Doner Kebab at the Kebab Shop

The doner box is on a lot of lists, but when we went Jacob got the doner box and I got the doner kebab, and we both think the kebab is much better. :)

Doner Kebab at Kebab Shop (101 things to do in San Diego).

73. WhisknLadle
74. The Cat Cafe
75. Carne Asada Fries at Lolitas
76. T-Deli (local fave lunch spot)
77. Tacos el Gordo
78. Urban Solace
79. Apple Pie at Julian
80. Juniper and Ivy
81. Extraordinary Desserts
82. Nomad Donuts
83. Ironside
84. Urbana Cucina
85. Alpine Beer Co
86. Societe Brewing Company
87. Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
88. Green Flash Brewing Company – full post coming soon
Green Flash Brewing Company (Ultimate San Diego Bucket List).
89. AleSmith
90. Rip Current Brewing Company
91. Stone Brewing Co
92. Amplified Aleworks
93. Prep Kitchen
94. Great Maple
95. Soda and Swine
96. Puesto
97. Donut Bar
98. HashHouse Hillcrest
99. Alforon
100. Coop’s West Texas BBQ
101. Oscar’s Mexican Seafood

Anything I’m missing that you feel belongs here?
What would be at the top of your Ultimate San Diego Bucket List?

xoxo estherJacob
Updated: May 25, 2015

We’ve always lived in the burbs, and one of the biggest draws to moving to North Park was that there is a lot to explore within walking distance. As we strolled through our new neighborhood, one of the first things that caught our eyes (and noses) was Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream. As you walk by, you can smell the fresh waffle cones being made.

Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream North Park San Diego.
HammondHammonds San Diego Ice Cream.
Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream (Best of North Park Food).
Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream (Good Places to Eat in San Diego).Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream Flights (Where to Eat in San Diego).
Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream (Best Eats in San Diego).

On our first visit, we tried a flight of 6 flavors. If you know us, we always have trouble deciding what we want to eat and love trying a little bit of everything, so the flights were perfect for us! They come in mini cones, and you can pick either waffle cones or sugar cones.

Ice Cream Flights at Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream North Park San Diego.
Hammonds Ice Cream Shop San Diego.
Hammonds Ice Cream (Best Places to Eat in San Diego).Hammond
Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream (Best of North Park Food).

Well, I guess the 6 wasn’t enough, because we were back to try the 32 flavor ice cream flight. Yup, all 32! There are over 100 flavors that they rotate regularly and 32 flavors available at any given time.

32 Flavor Ice Cream Flight at Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream North Park San Diego.32 Flavor Ice Cream Flight at Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream North Park San Diego.
32 Flavor Ice Cream Flight at Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream North Park San Diego.32 Flavor Ice Cream Flight at Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream North Park San Diego.

Pro-tip: Don’t take half an hour to take photos, because this….

Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream (Best of North Park Food).

As we chatted with the owners, we learned that they loved going to a specific ice cream shop in Hawaii but couldn’t find it anywhere mainland. This led to pursuing a dream of opening an ice cream shop right in their own neighborhood (and thankfully ours too)!

Our Favorites:
Raspberry Cream (Esther’s)
Banana Cream (Jacob’s)

Owner’s Favorites:
Chocolate Peanut Butter and Oreo Cookies (Ryan’s)
Lychee Cream (Trang’s)
Brown Sugar (Dan’s)

Most Popular Flavors:
Chocolate Coconut Macadamia Nut
Toasted Coconut
Lychee Cream
Ginger Cream
Tahitian Vanilla
Lilikoi Sorbet

Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream
3077 University Ave
San Diego CA 92104


Other Fun Facts about Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream:

  • For you ice cream buffs out there, their ice cream is made with 18% butterfat with low air infused in the mixing process making it rich and dense.
  • It’s the only ice cream to attain the Hawaii Seal of Quality, which means that at least 50% of its ingredients are from the Island itself. You can taste the premium quality and a lot of the flavors use local ingredients like Kona Coffee Beans, fruits, and nuts.
  • The shop helps reduce the carbon footprint through transporting the ice cream from Hawaii (most of the time shipping containers are full going to the island but empty on the way back).
  • The chandelier is made out of repurposed wood and vintage sundae cups.. The countertops and tables are repurposed fallen trees from around San Diego.

32 Flavor Ice Cream Flight at Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream North Park San Diego.

Apparently, we were the first two to finish the 32 flight. Usually people come in bigger groups. We set a record!!! If you’re up for the challenge, let me know if you can outdo our 32. ;)

Is your mouth watering yet?
Would you try the 32 flavor flight?
What’s your go-to flavor of ice cream?
Do you have a favorite ice cream shop?

xoxo estherJacob

One of the most iconic structures in the US is the Hoover Dam. It’s located less than an hour away from Las Vegas, and we knew we couldn’t leave without visiting.

Attractions in Las Vegas.
The Hoover Dam Las Vegas.The Hoover Dam Las Vegas.

There are a couple tour options, but we decided to take the full hour tour. Throughout the tour, we got a chance to hear about the history of the Hoover Dam, see the huge pipes that transport almost 90,000 gallons of water each second through the generators, enjoy a panoramic view of the Nevada wing of the power plant, and get access to the visitor center.

Las Vegas Tourist Attractions.
The Hoover Dam Las Vegas Tour.The Hoover Dam Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Hoover Dam Tour.
The Hoover Dam Las Vegas Tour.
Las Vegas Tourist Attractions.

The visitor center is made up of different exhibits and galleries that educate you on how everything works. There are some great interactive displays that kids can enjoy and test their skills.

Las Vegas Hoover Dam Tours.

Our favorite part of the tour is the observation deck where you get to see an amazing view of Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, and the Colorado River.

What to see in Las Vegas.
What to See in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Hoover Dam Visit.The Hoover Dam Las Vegas.
Hoover Dam Observation Deck.
The Hoover Dam Las Vegas.

The sun was so blinding! Don’t forget your sunglasses. :O

The Hoover Dam Tour Reviews.

After spending about two hours on the tour and exploring the exhibits, we headed outside to see the views from the street.

The Hoover Dam Tour Reviews.Las Vegas to Hoover Dam.
What to Do in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas to Hoover Dam Tour Reviews.Las Vegas Hoover Dam.
Hoover Dam Location.
Boulder City Hoover Dam Visit.Things to do in Las Vegas.

Lake Mead is really beautiful, but at the same time, it was sad to see how low the water is getting. You can really get a sense of the drought from here.

Lake Mead Drought in Nevada.

Regardless of what route you decide to go, you should definitely check out this American icon. It does so much to support the southwest in both electricity and water, plus the history of how this behemoth was built is fascinating.

Hoover Dam Las Vegas GPS Coordinates

Parking Garage: 8AM to 5:15PM, $10 Fee
Powerplant Tour (30 min guided tour): 9:25AM to 3:55PM $12-15
Hoover Dam Tour (1 hr guided tour): 9:30AM to 3:30PM $30
Visitor Center Admission: $10

Have you been to the Hoover Dam?
What other American icons have you visited?
What’s next on your list to visit?

xoxo estherJacob

Summertime is almost here, which means it’s time to prep for the beach, pool, and sun! Also, now that we’ve moved to San Diego, we’ve also been hiking and enjoying the outdoors every chance we get.

The older we get, the more we realize how important it is to protect your skin from the sun. Who wants premature aging, right? Last year, we did a post of the 10 best and worst sunscreens and were surprised to learn that many of the most toxic sunscreens are the big store brands. It’s important to know what you’re putting in and on your body, so we’ve been slowly but surely swapping out our existing products.

Most Popular Natural Sunscreens You Must Try.

EWG Safe Sunscreen Guide 2015.
EWG Safe Sunscreen Guide 2015.

We tested and reviewed the most popular safe sunscreens according to EWG to see how they fared for us. There are a ton of guides out there already telling you about the ingredients and why each one is good for you, so we focused on our own pros and cons for each sunscreen.

1. Honest Company Honest Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30

Honest Company Sunscreen Reviews (Sunscreen Guide 2015).

Pros: Unscented and absorbs well.
Cons: Feels more oily and leaves you shinier than the others. It’s fine on your body, but I would never put it on my face.

2. Badger Sport Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Cream, SPF 35

Badger Sport Sunscreen (Safe Sunscreen Guide 2015).

Pros: Feels dry and is very water-resistant. We like the thick, creamy consistency.
Cons: Leaves you looking the most pasty out of all the sunscreens we tried. Zinc sunscreens are great, because they’re natural, but they never absorb into the skin and leave a visible layer.

3. Badger Damascus Rose Anti-Aging Face Sunscreen, SPF 20

Badger Sunscreen for Face (Best Natural Sunscreen Guide 2015).

Pros: This one has a nice, light scent. It absorbs well, feels dry, and I don’t notice it on.
Cons: I prefer my sunscreens less watery and slightly thicker in consistency.

4. Climb On! Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30

Climb On Mineral Sunscreen (EWG Sunscreen Guide 2015).

Pros: They have nice packaging and all their ingredients are coral reef safe.
Cons: This one feels grainy like it has exfoliants inside. It’s unscented, but still has that sunblock smell. It feels a bit oily and it does lighten your skin, so it might not be the best if you’re tan.

5. Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen for Body, SPF 30 (Jacob’s Top Pick)

Suntegrity (Organic Skin Care Products and Sunscreen Guide).

Pros: This sunscreen has a thicker consistency with a citrus smell. It rubs on dry and absorbs well.
Con: Esther doesn’t like the scent as much.

6. Juice Beauty Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30 (Esther’s Top Pick)

Juice Beauty Sunscreen (Best Natural Sunscreen Guide 2015).

Pros: Has a light herbal / citrusy aroma, this sunscreen rubs in well and doesn’t feel oily or greasy.
Con: It’s not as waterproof as the others.

7. Raw Elements Water Resistant Sunscreen, SPF 30 – Most Waterproof

Raw Elements Susncreen (EWG Sunscreen Guide 2015).

Pros: Has a creamier consistency that we like. It is the most effective at being waterproof and was hard to wash off.
Cons: Leaves you a little pasty. There’s a strong aroma that is kind of mix between tea and weed (it has hemp oil), but it goes away after a while. It does not leave you feeling dry.

8. All Terrain AquaSport Water Resistant Sunscreen, SPF 30

All Terrain Sunscreen (Safe Sunscreen Guide 2015).

Pro: It’s unscented and is very waterproof.
Con: We had issues with the consistency of this one. The ingredients seemed to separate in the bottle, and it was hard to mix together again. It was a pasty consistency and feels like glue from a gluestick when applied.

9. All Terrain AquaSport Face Stick, SPF 28

All Terrain Sunscreen Stick (EWG Sunscreen Guide 2015).
Pros: It’s waterproof and very effective.
Cons: Similar to the sunscreen, this one feels sticky and has issues with its consistency.

10. Babo Sport Stick for Face, Lips, Nose, Ears, SPF 30

Babo Sunscreen Stick (Safest Sunscreen Guide 2015).

Pros: This smells like fruity lip balm, applies on in a thin layer, and doesn’t leave you feeling oily.
Cons: The sticks feel stickier and more uncomfortable than the lotions.

11. Babo Sport Stick for Face, Lips, Nose, Ears, Sensitive Skin, SPF 30

Babo Sunscreen for Sensitive Skin (Safe Sunscreen Guide 2015).

Pros: This doesn’t leave you pasty and applies thinly. Good for ears, face, and other sensitive areas.
Cons: Smells like cheap lipstick.

12. Raw Elements Eco Tint SPF 30

Raw Elements Sunscreen (EWG Sunscreen Guide 2015).

Pros: This one absorbs well and feels dry.
Cons: Smells a little like weed, and the tint has too much of a reddish tone that doesn’t work with our Asian skin tones.

13. Raw Elements Eco Stick SPF 30

Similar to above but without the tint.

5 Tips to Help You Pick Sunscreens:

  • Don’t trust sky-high SPF claims. EWG (Environmental Working Group) recommends that you avoid anything higher than SPF 50 and that you should reapply sunscreen often.
  • Avoid oxybenzone. It messes with your hormones and could trigger allergic reactions.
  • Don’t try killing two birds with one stone (or lotion). Avoid combined sunscreen and bug repellant products. You don’t need to reapply bug repellant as often so this helps you avoid unsafe levels of chemicals.
  • Use creams, not sprays, powders, or wipes.  Sprays and powders pose an inhalation risk, while wipes don’t necessarily transfer to your skin. Also, it’s hard to tell if you have full coverage.
  • Your makeup is NOT an effective sunscreen. Although more products are adding sunscreen ingredients, they are not effective. This is also true with moisturizers and body lotions.

Any others we need to check out?
What’s the current sunscreen you’re using?

xoxo estherJacob

We received these products free of charge to facilitate this review. All opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the awesome brands that make local adventures possible.

When it comes to nice hotels, we haven’t stayed anywhere that compares to the luxury of The St Regis Bali Resort. We’ve been fortunate enough to stay here two years in a row as a gift from a family friend.

The St Regis Bali Resort in Nusa Dua Indonesia.

As we arrived, we immediately knew our stay was going to be special. We were served a selection of fresh squeezed juices during check-in. We never felt rushed to head anywhere, and we enjoyed the Balinese gambang music and ocean breeze coming through the lobby.

The St Regis Bali Resort Lobby in Nusa Dua.
St Regis Resort - Best Bali Resorts.
The St Regis Bali Resort Lobby in Nusa Dua Indonesia.
The St Regis Bali Resort in Nusa Dua Indonesia.

There was a basket of fruit and a handwritten card waiting for us in our room. They addressed it to Jacob’s Chinese name. The rooms are beautifully crafted. The design and décor was inspired by the local Balinese culture, and you could see they paid attention to every detail.

The St Regis Bali Resort Suite.
St Regis Hotel Suite Bali.5 Star Resort Bali Indonesia.
St Regis Bali Reviews.
Hotel St Regis Bathroom.St Regis Resort Bali Indonesia Bathrooms.
The St Regis Bali Resort in Nusa Dua Indonesia.
St Regis Resorts.

The resort has a large lagoon/pool that flows throughout the property and a private beachfront. We pretty much spent most of our time hanging out at the pools. I practically lived at the pool when I was a kid, and I don’t think I spent as much time swimming since until I came here. Next time we return to Bali, we’ll explore the rest of the island, but we barely left resort on our first visit because of how amazing it was.

The St Regis Bali Resort in Nusa Dua Indonesia.
St Regis Hotels.
St Regis Hotels - Best Bali Resorts.
The St. Regis Hotel Bali Resort.
St Regis Hotel Nusa Dua Resort.
Nusa Dua Beach - St Regis Bali Reviews.
Best Bali Resort.
St Regis Bali Pool and Swim Up Bar.
5 Star Resort in Bali Indonesia.
Bali Indonesia Resorts.
St Regis Bali Pool.
The St Regis Bali Resort in Nusa Dua Indonesia.Nusa Dua Beach Bali Indonesia.
Private Nusa Dua Beach part of St Regis Resorts.
Nusa Dua Beach part of Hotel St Regis Bali.
Private Nusa Dua Beach at the St. Regis Hotel.
Nusa Dua Beach at the St Regis Resort Bali Indonesia.
Nusa Dua Beach St Regis Hotel.
Nusa Dua Beach at the St Regis Hotel.
St Regis Hotel - 5 Star Resort in Bali Indonesia.

There’s even a cute wedding chapel that I dreamed we’d have our destination wedding. We ended up doing our wedding in Atlanta, because too many people would have been excluded from a destination wedding here, but we’d love to do a vow renewal here someday!

St Regis Bali Resort Wedding Chapel.
St Regis Bali Resort Weddings.

The resort has a few restaurants we got to try. You can also book rooms that include breakfast, which was easily our favorite part. We’re not normally big on breakfast, but the breakfast buffet at The St. Regis was the best we’ve ever had. Forget Las Vegas buffets, it was so good that it deserves its own special post! :)

The St. Regis Bali Resort
Kawasan Pariwisata, Nusa Dua
Lot S6, PO Box 44
Nusa Dua, Bali 80363

Book your stay at the St Regis Bali Resort here.

This was our very first 5 star hotel experience, and I had to look up what it was about 5 star hotels that set them apart from others. According to wikipedia:

  • Reception opened 24 hours, multilingual staff
  • Doorman-service or valet parking
  • Concierge, page boy
  • Spacious reception hall with several seats and beverage service
  • Personalized greeting for each guest with fresh flowers or a present in the room
  • Minibar and food and beverage offer via room service during 24 hours
  • Personal care products in flacons
  • Internet-PC in the room
  • Safe in the room
  • Ironing service (return within 1 hour), shoe polish service
  • Turndown service in the evening
  • Mystery guesting

Have you ever stayed at a 5 star hotel? Where?
What set them apart from the rest?

xoxo estherJacob