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Things to do in San Diego: San Diego Zoo

attractions parks photos

Trip Advisor recently named the San Diego Zoo as the #2 zoo in the world. I’ve been there a couple of times (and recently bought an annual pass), and I can tell you that ranking is well-deserved.

The San Diego Zoo (2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego ▴ (619) 231-1515 ▴ Trip Advisor) is one of the largest zoos in the world, with over 4,000 animals, and because of San Diego’s consistent temperatures year-round, most of the animals are not enclosed in buildings and instead are housed outside in the open air.

The first time I visited the zoo was back when I was visiting Adam in February of last year, when I saw the happiest gazelle in the world:

san diego zoo gazelle

I knew I definitely wanted to go back a second time, and since my mom loves animals as much as I do, I knew she’d enjoy her time at the San Diego Zoo when she visited.

Here are some of my favorite photos from our afternoon there:

A very tired koala

san diego zoo koala

A hippo that loved swimming around…

hippo san diego zoo

A sleepy serval

san diego zoo serval

Two giraffes, just hanging out…

giraffes san diego zoo

The baby giraffes were the cutest.

One of the many elephants (my mom’s favorite) roaming around…

elephant san diego zoo

A passed out lion (which was HUGE)…

san diego zoo lion

And my personal favorite, the polar bear

polar bear san diego zoo

We saw probably 2/3 of the zoo, and when my mom comes back in February, we plan on going back to see the rest of it, as well as some of our favorite animals.

Parking is free, and it’s $46 for an adult, 1-day pass, which includes the Skyfari Aerial Tram (which takes you over the whole zoo and offers views of San Diego and Balboa Park). And FYI: there’s also a 10% AAA discount.

And, if you plan on going to the Safari Park or visiting either park more than once in a year, the one-year membership is definitely worth it (since membership covers admission at both parks and you get coupons to use at both parks as well).

If you’re planning on visiting San Diego, the Zoo is a perfect place for kids and adults. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon and I will definitely be taking full advantage of my membership and plan on visiting many more times this year.

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WoodDot Designs Whiskey Sampler Review

product review


I recently entered to win a giveaway on 20 Something Bloggers. What was the giveaway for, you ask? A Whiskey Sampler Flight Tray from WoodDot Designs.

For anyone who knows Adam, this won’t come as a surprise, but the man loves his whiskey. So when I saw this giveaway, I was all over it, because I like to surprise him with things and I knew he’d love it.

I’d like to point out that I’m sharing this product with everyone because I want to and I know that someone spent a lot of time making this and it shows.

Here’s what it looks like:

 

wooddot designs

And here’s how Maeby felt about it:

She was intrigued.

While I don’t have any pictures of it in action, I can tell you that we are loving the flight tray so far! Adam has used it to sample various whiskeys, and since I’m more of a beer gal myself, I’ve used it for some beer flights.

Some of the things we love about it:

  • It’s well-made. This product is obviously hand-made, and the man who makes them, Bob, clearly takes his time with each individual one.
  • The holders for each mini glass are the perfect size and depth. By this, I mean that each glass fits in perfectly, and won’t spill. Seriously. Adam even held the tray with empty glasses over the couch, and begin tilting it. It wasn’t until it got to about 90 degrees that the glasses fell out onto the cushions. Again, Bob clearly took his time carving this and putting it together to make sure every glass fit perfectly.
  • I got a note from Bob himself! Bob wrote a nice little note at the bottom, and asked for feedback about the tray. He wants to improve his designs and products and takes customer feedback into account.

If you haven’t had a chance, please go check out WoodDot Designs on Etsy. I’m loving these coasters and this tea light holder, and I think they would make great gifts!

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I’ll be back on Thursday with some info about and photos from the San Diego Zoo. In the meantime, I’m off to enjoy our new flight tray.

Are you or your significant other a whiskey/scotch drinker? Or are you more of a beer lover? Share your favorites below!

My all-time favorite beer? Magic Hat #9.

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This Weekend in Photos: September 5-7

dog things friends hiking

Brenna came to visit this weekend, so I took Friday off…so I had another long weekend, which I can’t complain about (though it will be the last one for awhile!).

We spent our weekend hiking Iron Mountain, paddle boarding in Mission Bay, eating lunch at my favorite park, watching dogs surf and eating delicious food.

Friday

In the morning, we drove out to Poway to hike Iron Mountain. Reviews on Yelp said this place gets busy on the weekends, so we decided to do it on Friday, while most people at work. Yelp also warned that this hike is intermediate, and lacks any real covering/shade, so it can get really hot.

I was excited to do this hike because it’s pretty long, has over 1,200 feet elevation gain, and is dog-friendly! Anything that tires Maeby out makes me happy, and she was excited to explore a new area.

iron mountain san diego

dog hiking iron mountain san diego

top of iron mountain 2

It definitely got very hot out (and Maeby wholeheartedly agreed), so I’d recommend if you’re planning on going out there to go out on a cooler day, or go earlier in the day.

I’d also recommend that even if it is hot, you do this hike, because the views up top were completely worth the ~6 mile roundtrip trek.

top of iron mountain 1

top of iron mountain san diego 1

top of iron mountain 3

top of iron mountain san diego

(photo courtesy of Brenna)

After our hike, we headed to Clairemont Coffee, where Brenna purchased her first Acai Bowl. No pictures of this, as we got them to go, so they weren’t super photogenic. But, 10/10, would (and will) eat again.

In the evening, we drove out to Pacific Beach to enjoy tacos at Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, and catch the sunset.

oscars mexican seafood tacos san diego

san diego sunset pacific beach

We wrapped up our day with a low-key night in, made possible by Yogurtland.

Saturday

No pictures of paddle boarding, or of lunch. But here’s a picture of Mission Bay Park.

mission bay park

We headed to Mission Bay Sportcenter to rent out paddle boards for an hour. Since we knew it would be busy on a Saturday, we made reservations in advance for noon (to ensure we’d have paddle boards available to us), but we didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to find parking. After driving around for 25 minutes, we finally managed to grab a spot.

Paddle boarding was definitely something I’d do again. We enjoyed it, but the problem we had was the amount of wind we experienced. We ended up getting carried out pretty far into Mission Bay, and though I was able to paddle back to shore where we picked up our boards (after 25 minutes of effort and struggle), Brenna and my other friend had a hard time getting back and had to stop off at a shore that was on the other side of where people would pick up the jet skis or boat rentals. Staff at MBSC weren’t happy about that…but we weren’t the only ones that had this issue. As we waited in line to get out paddles, we heard one woman telling the front desk that her friend had gotten taken out really far into the bay and after trying for a half hour, she had made no progress and was unable to get back to shore. I’d return to MBSC, but would hope that they would be aware of wind conditions and help people out a little more, or at least give some kind of warning and encourage people to be aware of where they were paddling to.

Saturday night, Adam, Brenna and I grabbed dinner at Hinotez, more froyo (why not?), and watched Naked and Afraid. I’d say it was a quality evening.

Sunday

Brenna and I woke up early and drove up to Del Mar Dog Beach for the Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon (which I highlighted on Friday).

surf dog surfathon hwac

That’s Brenna’s picture again. It was hard to get photos but we loved watching the dogs surfing, and also enjoyed checking out the vendors. One vendor I was especially impressed with was Dogly, an new app where you take and upload pictures of your dog (and add fun stickers or text), and shelters/rescues of your choice have a chance of receiving donations based on the number of “likes” your photo gets. It’s still a little glitchy (I think the woman said they will be finalizing the app in the coming days), but I definitely plan on downloading it.

After the Surf-A-Thon, we headed back down to my house, where we picked up Adam and drove down to OB to get brunch at Wonderland. Any excuse to eat there is always welcome.

wonderland ob brunch

We made a reservation beforehand, which helped a lot because it was packed since it’s officially football season. I strayed from my usual order of pancakes and went with the eggs and enchiladas, and I have zero regrets. Good food, sangria, and an ocean view? Can’t be beat.

The rest of Sunday was spent taking it easy (it was really, really hot out), a trip up to the beach in North County (once it cooled down)…

san diego beach pacific ocean

san diego beach

…baking some blueberry nut bread for work tomorrow, and a quiet night in.

Brenna left this morning but it was so, so good having her visit.

Now it’s back to reality and a pretty crazy work week…

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How was your weekend?

Did you see dogs surfing? Or sweat excessively due to the summer heat? Spare no details.

 

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This Weekend in San Diego: September 5-7

this weekend in san diego

As I mentioned yesterday, Brenna is here for the weekend! I’ve definitely done some research on things happening this weekend, and while I know we won’t be getting to all of these, here are three events I think are worth checking out this weekend:

Brews and Barkers (event website)

Saturday, 11:00 am-1:00 pm

PetBox recently mentioned to me that they were having this awesome event at the Coronado Brewery Tasting Room. Enjoy craft beer and time with your dog, and make new friends (because let’s be real: dog owners are the best people out there). This event is free and definitely worth checking out!

Treasure Chest Fest (event website)

Saturday, 12:00 pm-6:00 pm This annual event, which serves as a fundraiser for local breast cancer charity, Susan G. Komen San Diego, is definitely for foodies. With craft beer and local chefs and food vendors, this is a great opportunity to taste some of San Diego’s best food and drink options, while also helping to raise money for a great cause.

Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon (event website)

Sunday, 8:00 am-2:00 pm

dog surfing

It’s no secret I love dogs. It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that I follow a lot of animal rescues and shelters on social media, including Helen Woodward Animal Center (HWAC). So when HWAC shared a little photo and blurb on their Instagram about this fun event, I was all about it. It’s a dog surfing competition taking place in Del Mar, the proceeds of which go to an incredible cause. Will you be there? Share your photos with #hwacsurfdog.

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Have a great weekend!

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So it’s Thursday but it’s my Friday.

friends

Ummm…this week has been great. Monday off, two solid days at work, a third solid day today and then tomorrow off.

Why did I take another day off?

Because my friend from college Brenna is coming to visit! My first visitor!

So…she’ll be here tonight. And then we’ll have three days of enjoying America’s Finest City before a very full and busy work week next week.

Here’s to a fun weekend!

grumpy cat fun meme

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Liebster Award + Survey

Miscellaneous

So Ashley, over at Twe1ve2, nominated me for the Liebster Award.

liebster award

Here is what the award entails:
– Post 11 facts about yourself.
– Answer the questions provided by the person who nominated you and then create questions for the next group of nominees.
– Choose up to 11 (or more or less depends on the rules you follow) bloggers to nominate and link them in the post!
– Let your nominees know that they’ve been tagged- and no tag-backs!

11 facts about me:

1.  I really hate soup spoons. And I refuse to use them.
2.  I love field hockey and played throughout high school in college.
3.  Injuries resulting from the aforementioned sport: plantar fasciitis, 2 black eyes, 5 stitches, a fat lip and a broken thumb.
4.  I’ve never smoked any sort of tobacco product – cigarettes, cigars, or hookah.
5.  I danced for 10 years, from the ages of 3-13. I did ballet, tap and jazz.
6.  When I was in first grade, I made a boy laugh so hard he peed his pants.
7.  I’m a pro at parallel parking. So much so, that if Adam is driving, he gets out so I can parallel park it.
8.  The first time I ever went on an airplane, I was a sophomore in high school.
9.  I spent half of my junior year studying abroad in London, and loved that city so much that I applied for jobs there after I graduated.
10.  I’ve been skydiving…in the Swiss Alps.
11.  My favorite season is fall, and I definitely miss the changing temperatures and crazy foliage that we had back in New England.

Below are some of the questions that Ashley asked me. At the bottom, I will ask my own questions and nominate some other bloggers…

What is your favorite food?

Burgers and bacon. Combined. Perhaps that’s why I’m such a big lover of Slaters 50/50. Also a huge fan of sushi.

How do you de-stress?

I do something fun with Maeby. Whether it’s taking her to the dog park, to Dog Beach or Fiesta Islandfor a swim, or for a run, seeing her smile makes a stressful day 1000% better.

Where do you get your ideas for new posts?

Since That SoCal Life is supposed to highlight my life in San Diego and the best things to do and places to go in this city, I get my ideas from my days and nights in America’s Finest City. Sometimes, I look to other bloggers to see what they’re up to, but usually I gather inspiration from my own experiences.

Cookies or Pie?

Either/or. My favorite dessert is actually brownie sundaes (ice cream + toppings served over warm brownies). I’ve had that for the past three years for my birthday instead of cake.

What’s your favorite movie?

I think Clueless will always hold a special spot in my heart. Also a big fan of The Wedding Singer.

What is your least favorite chore to do around the house?

Putting folded laundry away. There’s been times when I’ve left it folded, in the basket, for a couple of weeks just because I couldn’t be bothered to put it away.

What’s your favorite hobby/activity to do in your spare time?

I really enjoy baking and running.

Do you play or watch any sports?

I love going to baseball games in the summer, and especially love that I’m in a city with a professional sports team. I also really like watching football but I’m not sure if I’ll make it to a Chargers game this fall. I feel like football should be watched in cold weather and that’s just not going to happen in San Diego. I also played field hockey throughout high school and college. I found a pick-up league out here that I go play at occasionally.

Are you a country or city girl?

I like having everything in close proximity, and love the hustle and bustle of cities like New York. Studying in London was a dream come true for me and I definitely consider myself a city girl.

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I nominate KaylaJerseysjov, and Lyndsay. And here are my questions for them:

1.  What is your typical morning routine like?
2.  What is one talent you wish you had?
3. I f you could be any animal, what would you be?
4.  What are your pet peeves?
5.  Who is your real-life hero?
6.  What is your greatest fear?
7.  What do you consider your greatest achievement?
8.  What is your idea of perfect happiness? OR Where and when were you been happiest?
9.  What is your most treasured possession?
10.  Which qualities do you look for in friends? In relationships?

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This Weekend in San Diego: August 29-September 1 {Labor Day Weekend}

Miscellaneous this weekend in san diego

I might’ve won $100, laid out poolside, and had a ton of fun in Vegas, but wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been sick all week. Maybe I had a little too much fun?

Either way, I’m still looking forward to Labor Day weekend here in San Diego. There are no guarantees I’ll get out and do much (as a result of me feeling so blah), but San Diego residents and visitors will not be disappointed (unless it has to do with traffic, because I can only imagine how bad it’s going to be all weekend long).

Here are three events that I think are worth checking out this weekend in San Diego:

Festival of Sail (event website)

Friday-Sunday, 9:00 am-7:00 pm
Monday, 9:00 am-5:00 pm

The largest tall ship festival on the west coast begins on Friday and lasts through Monday. This event, which is particularly good for families, will feature a petting zoo, arts and crafts, food, vendors, a beer garden and more. Tickets range from $5-7, and children under 3 get in free.

Padres vs Dodgers (Padres schedule)

Friday, 7:10 pm
Saturday, 5:40 pm
Sunday, 1:10 pm
Monday (vs Diamondbacks), 1:10 pm

petco park section 303

If I’m feeling up to it, this is definitely something I’ll be getting to this weekend. Not only are Padres games always a good time, but if it’s going to be against the Dodgers, it’s going to be an exciting and fun game. People from LA will definitely be coming down to watch (especially with the long weekend) and it’s sure to get a little crazy at Petco Park.

U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge (event website)

Friday, 9:00 am-7:00 pm
Saturday, 9:00 am-9:00 pm
Sunday and Monday, 9:00 am-7:00 pm

Live music, dancers, food, a beer garden, and…sandcastles! I have a friend who went to this last year and the photos looked amazing. “Master sculptors” (as they’re called on the website) from all over the world are coming to San Diego for a sandcastle competition. Apparently these people start building days before and have until Saturday afternoon to finish. This is another one that, if I’m feeling up to it, I’d love to attend.

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Long weekend or not, what are you doing this weekend? Any exciting plans?

I’m definitely planning on taking it easy and getting over whatever nonsense I have been dealing with for the past week. Possible movie + junk food night with some friends on Sunday. Maybe some beach time. But mostly just taking it easy. So exciting, I know.

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FlipBelt Review + Promo Code

product review running

One of my friends from the east coast is coming to visit in mid-November, during which, we will be running a race together. I think she mentioned she wanted to do the 10k, but I’m hoping to do another half marathon this year and I think this race will be the one.

In the past, I’ve used two other brands of running belts (one for half marathons, and one for the marathon, which holds more energy gels). Since I’ll be training again and my running belts are old and worn out, I was thrilled when I was given a chance to try out and review the FlipBelt, as part of my being a Sweat Pink Ambassador.

I hurried on over to the website, and picked out the hot pink FlipBelt, which arrived in my mailbox two days later.

That weekend, I decided to head out with my new FlipBelt and go for a short run and see how it felt.

photo2

{Running Skirt: Adidas, $40, purchased at Marshall’s for $20!; Top: Forever 21, $10.80; FlipBelt}

Loved the key ring…

flipbelt key ring

And then it was easy to tuck my keys inside….

wearing flipbelt

And flip the belt over…

flipbelt flipped

Once I left for my run, I found that the items in the belt (my keys and cell phone) stayed in place, didn’t bounce or slide around, and I think this may be a perfect running belt for my race in November.

While I was running, I began thinking of other times I could use this product, and I can definitely see myself using it while paddle boarding (just to hold onto my keys), hiking, and even just to hold my stuff when I go to the dog park or dog beach.

And now it’s your turn:

Interested in getting your own FlipBelt? Fit Approach and FlipBelt are teaming up to give readers 10% off an entire online purchase at the FlipBelt online store with the discount code: sweat33

Share the code on Twitter:

Tweet: Run, play, explore with #FlipBelt! Use the code sweat33 for 10% OFF your entire purchase! http://ctt.ec/fW6Kc+ @flipbelt @fitapproach

Disclosure: I received this product for free as part of being a Sweat Pink Ambassador, in exchange for a review on my blog. All opinions are my own.

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This Weekend in Photos: August 22-24 – Vegas!

attractions photos travels

What a weekend. I’ll keep it short, with a lot of photos…but basically we left for Vegas on Friday morning, drove all afternoon and met up with a group of 10 other people for a weekend away. We all stayed at the Wynn / Encore, which was definitely a pretty big step up from Excalibur, the only other hotel I’ve stayed at in Vegas. We’ve already talked about meeting up again in November for one of our friend’s birthdays, and mine as well, so that should tell you how awesome this weekend was.

Friday

Aside from the traffic, the drive out was beautiful…

drive out to vegas

And we stumbled upon this sign, which actually seems like a pretty cool place to pull off next time (the history of which also made me think of Oregon Trail)…

We arrived at our hotel and got up to our room…

wynn casino interior wynn hotel room

It’s definitely the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. And the view wasn’t so bad either…

view from wynn room

We met up with our friends at the pool, before we all headed back to our rooms to get ready for dinner and a night out.

fri night outfit

(This whole outfit was under $40! #wynning [do you see what I did there?])

I didn’t get a picture of where we went for dinner but just so you know, we went to La Cave in Encore. To say it was delicious would be an understatement; it was undoubtedly some of the best food I’ve ever had. Six of us split a bunch of different plates, but the stand-outs were the beef carpaccio, the beef filet crostini, the sea scallops, and the sirloin. 10/10, would recommend and if we are back at the Wynn in November, I would love to go again.

We got cabs to Paris

paris hotel

 And bottle service at Chateau

chateau bar

chateau bar drinks

Where we had views of the Bellagio (and its fountains)…

view from chateau

And honestly? I was a little overwhelmed by the cost of doing bottle service but at the end of the night, I have to say it was completely worth it. We had so. much. fun. Our group was full of such fun people and we were all dancing and hanging out and it was the best.

A few of us headed back to the hotel around 3 and once Adam and I got back to our room, we immediately fell asleep.

Sunday

To put in perspective the kind of night we had before: Adam slept until 1:30 pm. I was up by 10, and spent the whole morning laying in bed watching Catfish on MTV. Once Adam got up, we headed down to gamble for a bit…

roulette at encore

Adam walked away from roulette $325 richer, and me $60 richer. I’d say it was a win. Then we met up with everyone else at the pool, many of whom were struggling just as much as Adam.

view from encore pool

Didn’t take any shots of the pool, as I thought that would be creepy, but here’s one view from the pool we hung out at at Encore. They have several pools, and we spent several hours relaxing poolside. We eventually all went back to our rooms to shower and get ready for dinner.

bartolotta at the wynn

Again, didn’t want to be that person, so here’s a quick shot from when we were all done eating. We ended up eating dinner at Bartolotta. This place was good, but in contrast to the night before, I didn’t really feel it was worth the cost of the food. The night before we got way more food, that I enjoyed a lot more. If you’re into seafood (and willing to pay a pretty penny), this place is probably right up your alley. But for me, as much as I liked the food, again, I didn’t think it was worth the price. I’d go again, but wouldn’t want to pay the prices.

After dinner all 12 of us squeezed into an Escalade (not sure how this happened, but it did) and we got a ride to the Stratosphere to view Vegas from the observation deck, and so some people could go on the rides up there. Since we had more the 10 people, we were able to get a group rate for $10 per person, as opposed to the regular $20 admission.

view from stratosphere

The views of Vegas from up there were absolutely stunning. It was really quite beautiful.

Most people stayed up there, got some drinks and went on some of the rides, but a few of us headed back down to the casino. I figured I had made $60 so I might as well keep going with only that amount. If I lost it, I’d break even, but it was worth a shot.

I somehow won another $40 at the roulette table, and decided it was time to stop since I had gotten to my goal of $100.

100 chip at the stratosphere

We got back to our hotel around 2, and set our alarms for 8 so we could get up and drive back to San Diego.

Sunday

No pictures from the drive, since I drove the whole way, but leaving early was totally worth it. By 3:00, we had picked up Maeby from Camp Run-A-Mutt (aka the best dog daycare in San Diego), bought all our produce for the week, gotten Chipotle, and unpacked.

I’d say the weekend was a success.

Have you ever been to Las Vegas? Did you do anything fun this weekend? What’s your favorite casino game? And why do people play Craps (your money goes so fast and it seems like your odds are pretty awful)?