San Diego

The sunny city that I cant quite compare to anywhere else – San Diego really does have it all from sports and shopping to surfing and sensational dining. On my recent trip with family, I made a point of hitting up a few new spots that have been on the ‘must do’ list for a while.

The nightlife hotspot – King and Queens Cantina
If you are looking for a dinner spot with friends or family that packs a punch in music, vibe and cuisine – look no further. King and Queen Cantina brings a Latin flavor to San Diego’s Little Italy with colorful skull décor and a Dia de Los Muertos theme all year long. Seat yourselves at the downstairs bar or follow mood lighting upstairs outdoor bar where you can take to the San Diego skyline as you sip hand-crafted cocktails at this modern Mexican cantina. Creative owner and founder Jorge Cueva brings the ‘Mexican Cantine’ style and hisipanic popular menu from Orange County’s hotspot Tempo Urban Kitchen to create an eclectic menu from sushi to tacos as well as popular Latin dishes combined with inspiration from around the world. My choices include the sHISHITO PEPPERS (Soy glazed, malted salt, lime crema) the NO TORTILLA TACOS (Stuffed tempura jalapeno, spicy tuna, cheese, spicy aioli, pear and cucumber slaw, radish, cilantro, wrapped in jicama tortilla) and the DIABLO ROLL (Avocado, cucumber, crab meat, and shrimp tempura, wrapped in seaweed and rice, topped with spicy tuna and crispy onions.) Pair these with their famous Margarita Flight or a couple Modelas – and your set for a unforgettable night.

The ambient spot – Havana 1920
Havana 1920 brings Hemingway’s Cuba to life with authentic Cuban dishes, drinks and entertainment. Located just south of Market Street in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, you will find an atmospheric hideaway and hotspot serving up a most entertaining evening. Start your night with an aged rum, overlooking the street scenery from the upstairs balcony – and dig into their CEVICHE TROPICAL (shrimp, grilled pineapple, jalapeño, cucumber, tomato, onion, and cilantro.) For mains dig into the classic SANDWICH CUBANO (Cuban Sandwich Slices of slow roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on Cuban Bread) or a BISTEC HAVANA 24 (Angus skirt steak topped with our own chimichurri served with grilled Cuban bread, plantains and a side Caribbean avocado salad.) Once your done, head downstairs for a nightcap and soak up the buzzing scenery.

The brunch spot – The Mission
The Mission is a casual, local eatery with a brunch choice for everyone. Their concept specializes in simple, healthy, tasty food with a whimsical edge and a focus on artful presentation at an affordable price. By focusing on the use of simple and fresh ingredients, this vibrant urban bistro promotes living in an increasingly health-conscious world – which includes everything from classic pancakes and sandwiches to modern Chino-Latino cuisine! A few of my favorites include the SOY CHORIZO BURRITO (Black beans, crispy rosemary potatoes, scrambled eggs, jack cheese, cilantro, scallions, tomatoes and chipotle crema in a large whole wheat tortilla) and the ZEN BREAKFAST (Scrambled egg whites, braised tofu, brown rice, grilled zucchini & squash with tomato & onion garnish) but if you want to indulge there are every kind of pancake imaginable from blueberry to banana. This concept in healthy dining, combined with pleasant surroundings, is The Mission’s specialty and has made The Mission a huge favorite among local San Diegans and travelers from around the world.

The happening hotel – The Kimpton Solamar
This hotel boasts both a great location and great presentation- explore, indulge and recharge right in the center of the Gas Lamp District. This Kimpton offers an all-inclusive vibe with rich décor. Our regal-meets-vibrant, urban refuge provides modern comfort, a rooftop pool oasis, dazzling dining destinations, genuinely engaged service, plus a central location ideal for exploring some of the city’s latest dining trends and sizzling nightlife options. Of course, being a Kimpton, expect all the generous quirks – like happy of complimentary wine for guests at night, cold brew at 6am in the lobby and dog cookies for traveling fidos. By far, one of my favorite spots to stay in SD.

The activity- The San Diego Zoo
This is a great activity for all ages, aside of beaching it and shopping. Set in Balboa Park, The San Diego Zoo houses was a pioneer in the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats. Walk around the park, jump on the Skyfari aerial tram or hop on a guided bus tour of the entire zoo – and experience live talks, feedings, and demonstrations. Meet over 4,000 rare and endangered animals, and over 650 unique species from all over the world in this 100-acre site.. You’ll get up close to koalas as well as gorillas, elephants, crocodiles and more in exhibits from the African Rocks to the Australian Outback!

Travel Safety – this summer

There has been a lot of talk lately about travel safety following certain incidents abroad – https://nypost.com/2019/06/10/tourist-death-count-at-dominican-republic-resorts-rises/ While we don’t always know what exactly behind terrible tragedies, this brings to question certain things we can do to best protect ourselves while abroad. Here are some of my tips..


1. Don’t always trust the mini bar – I have myself opened mini bar bottles and found someone had replaced the alcohol with another substance. Equally be careful with water and ice cubes.

2. Make copies and secure your valuables – share your itinerary with a friend or neighbor at home. Also make copies of your passport and your credit card and any other important documents. Let your bank know your travel plans as well. 


3. Tag your luggage – one way to stay safe is to use luggage tag covers or to put your office address on your luggage tag instead of your home address. And if you do decide to go for the carry on route, pack a few travel essentials in case of flight delays or such like a toothbrush and toothpaste. 


 4. Where you decide to travel is up to you, and while you cant always let stories like this change your generalized view of a destination, keep yourself up to date and educated as a traveler ALWAYS – especially about any local news or scams. Vet reviews of resorts and destinations to know your risks of traveling there.


5. Be adventurous but also sensible with what you ingest or drink in another country (especially medication) and if you have any doubts stick to what you KNOW is safe.


6. Check your health (get screened) before you go and understand fully any risks both from your own previous health conditions and anything that you could come into contact with when there. Check as well any banned prescription medication as you could find yourself subject to harsh penalties. 


7. Plan your arrival – especially if you are arriving late at night or have never been to this destination. You might want to consider a pre arranged transfer so as to avoid any dodgy cabs that could overcharge you or worse – get you lost.

Making summer travel easier for parents…some tips!

Let the kids help plan travel

It’s certainly one way to avoid problems – let the kids plan the family vacation. Have them decide where they would like to go and what to see. Maybe they would like to stay in a tree house, or see the world’s largest ball of twine. If you provide a map and a little information, you can let them have some input into planning a road trip. If you’re thinking of a beach vacation, most all-inclusive resorts have kids’ programs where they can learn to surf, snorkel or sail. This gives parents a little time to themselves.You can use a travel booking website to find deals and have the kids look through ideas with you online!

Time is key

When it comes to summer travel with family, time is your most valuable asset. If you’ve traveled 10-plus hours and only have a few days to explore, don’t try to do it all on your own via google, especially when you have kids. You’ll most likely end up in touristy areas, waiting in long lines or even worse: a big red bus with 85 other tourists doing the same thing. Instead, pay a little extra and find a local agency who can create experiences that save you time.

Choose easier destinations with a bit of everything

Look at destinations that aren’t as ‘wild’ but respectively have a bit of something for everyone; consider a resort or resort style city like San Diego (zoos, beaches, bars.) Choose places and are easily accessible from the USA or even within it. Less is sometimes more; Instead of trying to see the top 20 best sites in a city, focus on strolling the streets and picnicking in a park. Over plan meals and under plan the schedule.

Get finances in order

Plan well ahead, sometimes 9 to 12 months in advance to get the best rates and availability. Airline companies will run flash sales months in advance. Taking advantage of these sales will expand your budget for hotels and tours. Also, be clear about budgets especially when traveling as an extended family with different budgets. Work with a tour company or travel agent and ask to pre-pay for as much of your trip as possible. This will allow everyone to relax and be on vacation with no worries about compounding expenses.

Prep well and pack smart

Pack the bare minimum when you travel with kids because you can always buy what you need in your destination. Roll clothes and stuff socks and underwear inside shoes. Wear your heaviest clothes on the flight. Encourage kids to choose and pack their own clothes to minimize complaints and to teach travel skills. Select versatile and comfortable clothes and color-coordinated separates so if something gets dirty you only have to change part of the outfit. And pack bags with what is needed first on the top — a change of clothes for dinner, pyjamas, or what is needed during the day including a change of clothes in case of accidents!