From brunch to happy hour, eat your way through San Diego

Take a 24-hour eating tour of San Diego? Sounds like a job for an over-energized 20-something on an empty stomach.

From a morning breakfast on the beach to a night cap downtown, San Diego is the perfect place to explore and play, live like a 20-something and taste-tour the city for a day.

Breakfast in La Jolla

8:30 a.m | Vanilla latte and muesli la jolla Start your vacation with ocean views and coffee. La Jolla is located in the Northwest section of San Diego and is home to one of the best cafes in the area. You can find Brick and Bell along the shores of La Jolla and listen to sea lions while you enjoy your morning coffee. The café is a local favorite for its scones and other baked goodies.

Just a short walk away, Warwick’s bookstore is the oldest family-owned and operated bookstore in the country. Full of good reads and unique gifts, anyone can shop there and their staff recommendations can always be trusted.

Brunch in Little Italy

12:00 p.m. | Pizza and mimosas 

Little Italy is a neighborhood in central San Diego. The streets are lined with unique stores and places to have brunch. If you’re lucky, you might find a farmers market with fresh fruit, coffee, flowers and as many samples as Costco.

When you’re done roaming the streets, go to Davanti Enoteca for a Sunday brunch. Their pizza and mimosas make an unexpectedly great combination. Or, if you prefer, take advantage of their make-it-yourself bloody mary bar where guests pile their drinks high with veggies, bacon and spices.

An afternoon on Shelter Island

2:30 p.m. | Margaritas and fish tacos

Shelter Island is one of the last well-preserved areas in San Diego. There aren’t any huge buildings or streets, most of the island is sand and grass with hotels and there’s only one street that runs through the area. Resorts and marinas line both sides of the island and the ocean is visible in every direction. You can rent a kayak, paddle board or speedboat and spend your afternoon on the water before heading back into town for dinner.

If you’d like to stay on the island, most of the hotels have restaurants with an ocean view. The Kona Kai Resort has Vessel Restaurant that overlooks the bay and a beach. There are also parks and playgrounds for families looking to picnic along the shore.

Top Gun dinner downtown

8:00 p.m. | A few pints and a pulled pork sandwhich

Remember the bar scene in Top Gun when Tom Cruise and Meg Ryan sing “Great Balls of Fire” at the piano? Downtown San Diego has that bar and it’s a shrine to the movie and military men and women across the country. Kansas City Barbeque serves only beer and wine, no spirits, and barbeque favorites (think ribs and pulled pork sandwiches). The walls are lined with license plates from every state, the ceiling is covered with military hats, bras hang from the ceiling fans. The special back room is lined with Top Gun pictures, memorabilia and the piano from the movie.

A night cap on the roof

11:00 p.m. | Champagne mojitos, berry mojitos and “iced out” mojitosIMG_2589

burning chairs
One of the coolest features of the W Rooftop is a stack of burning chairs that are lit each night.

One of the best things about visiting a warm city is that you can drink and dine outside almost anywhere. Downtown San Diego is home to several rooftop bars and restaurants. The W Hotel has a rooftop bar, lounge and pool, or, Level 9 Rooftop Bar in Hotel Indigo is another good choice. Both have music and are lit up once the sun goes down.

If you’re looking to have a hip night but want to avoid loud and crowded nightclubs, a rooftop bar is the way to go.