March was a rough month on my side of the screen so I needed a quick escape last weekend so I clear my head. I wanted to get out of the house so I wouldn’t keep staring at the piles of papers I need to file/shred/recycle or trying to unpack all the things (which really needs to happen).
So Alex and I took off early Saturday morning and headed south to San Diego.
San Diego is just a few hours away from where we live, I lived there part-time during graduate school, and it is our default “We need to get away but be home tonight” day escape. After a quick breakfast at home, we jumped in the car and we were on our way.
Grotto Climbing & Yoga
Our first stop was to a new bouldering gym (and climbing studio and training center) that opened a few months ago. I received a press release from the San Diego Tourism Board highlighting all the climbing opportunities in San Diego and Grotto Climbing & Yoga in the Grantville/Mission Valley area of San Diego was highlighted in the release. If you are familiar with the 8 freeway, it is across the freeway from San Diego State University and right next door to Adventure 16.
We were welcomed by co-founders Bryan and Matt and I got an in-depth tour of the facility while Alex immediately went to start climbing. Matt gave me a brief overview of the gym, how the gym hosted a Setter Showdown in March, and we chatted a bit about how San Diego State University students were slowly finding the gym and enjoyed studying in the lounge area (free wifi, plenty of workspace, and just a few feet from your next project? I wish this was around when I was in grad school!). Bryan took me through to the dedicated yoga studio and “the yard” which is the outdoor training center that has a 60 degree and 30 degree overhang area, giant peg board, campus board, TRX bands, kettlebells, and a bunch of other equipment that climbers embrace for training.
If you’re looking for longer bouldering routes, Grotto Climbing & Yoga needs to be on your list of places to visit. The grotto climbing area allows for longer routes…think 20 feet of routes that traverse, climb, and meander their way up and under the grotto walls. The setters work on a 6 week calendar so you’ll always find something new as they make their way around the gym, putting up new routes on Mondays and Thursdays.
We also met Justin of Local Juice Co. at the gym, he’s a member and he brings his son on the weekends to run around and to give climbers samples of his awesome cold-pressed juices. We tried all the different types he was sampling and ended up going home with the watermelon one (I can’t remember the name!) and a great green juice called Renew. So good.
After stopping in ad Adventure 16 for a quick look, Alex and I headed Downtown to the Gaslamp location of Cafe 21. We were welcomed by the manager, Angelina, and were escorted through the eclectically decorated restaurant. It was really warm outside so I was happy that we got a window seat inside. After ordering, our server made a few suggestions for things to try and explained how Chef Layla Javadov focuses on fresh, local ingredients and that Cafe 21 is known for their different infusions…from different cocktails to the sangria they proudly display in the lobby, to the custom tea blends featured on their menu.
I’m nosey as hell and as I looked around to see what others were ordering for brunch, I declared that Alex and I would return during Comic-Con weekend for one of the Bloody Marys with grilled cheese skewers, the Sangria flight, or maybe the mojito flight, because why not. The omelettes that come in skillets looked amazing and I had a hard time not staring at the stuffed French Toast.
What we ordered: Madonna Mule (a gin-version of the Moscow Mule with lots of citrus), Pomegranate Pai Mu Tan iced tea (what I’m brewing in the photo at top), roasted eggplant sandwich with poached eggs, stuffed flatbread (one veggie and cheese and one braised shortrib with red bell peppers), side salads, and for dessert we had the creme brûlée cheesecake, and the (seasonal) bread pudding French Toast with kiwi and raspberry compote.
After lunch, we walked around the outdoor mall downtown called Horton Plaza and had a good time seeing all the big groups of people enjoying the fantastic weather as we walked around the Gaslamp District. We are only ever in the Gaslamp area of San Diego during Comic-Con weekend so it was interesting to see it on a normal weekend. Less crowded, less stressful, and it was easy to find whatever we wanted (hello, iced americano).
If we had a little more time in San Diego, we wanted to visit the Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego and possibly go paddle boarding. We will have to start with those places next time we need a quick day away from home and see what else San Diego has to offer.
More places to consider for your microadventure in San Diego:
- Favorite Hike: Iron Mountain (okay, so this is the only hike I’ve done in San Diego)
- Favorite San Diego Breweries: Stone Brewing, Coronado Brewing Company, Ballast Point (San Diego is a craft beer Mecca, there are more breweries than I can count)
- Favorite Family-Friendly Attractions: Self-Realization Fellowship, San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park & Museums, Birch Aquarium, the beaches!
This quick escape to San Diego was made possible through the San Diego Tourism Authority, which connected us with Grotto Climbing & Yoga and Cafe 21. The opinions and views shared in this post are my own.