San Diego Part 2: Yummy Eats, Marathon Expo & Balboa Park!

Hey, everyone!! School + other responsibilities are really vying for my attention right now, so it’s gonna probably take a while to catch up on these posts & your posts! Hang tight though- I’m hoping to get a huge chunk done by Thursday or so to take a couple hours to catch up 🙂

In Part One we left off with the four of us- my mom (Momma Jill), step-dad (Pete), DJ and I heading into Gaslamp for the evening. I instantly recognized the Ghirardelli store with its neon lights beaming down the road… the last time we were here I had to stop in and grab some chocolate squares to satisfy my sweet tooth! It’s crazy how long year ago feels, yet also crazy how quickly it flew by.


Time for some authentic Mexican cuisine! This was the one type of food we had to get while we were here.  San Diego is famous for it! Last time we went to La Puerta, probably the most popular spot in Gaslamp. It was pretty good & a unique spot- but I wouldn’t necessarily say worth the wait. We decided to try the place next door that had great reviews- Las Hadas. I’ll say right off the bat- I think it was way better than La Puerta. There was no wait, the food was just tremendous, and the service was impeccable. A+++.


We started with some fresh guac and chips to start.


DJ ordered the Surf and Turf Burrito with skirt steak, shrimp, cilantro rice, pico de gallo, avocado salsa, jack & cheddar cheese. It was topped with a cajun salsa and jalapeño crema! I’m sitting on the couch next to DJ and asked him to describe it in one word- he said, “Really good” … that’s two words, but we’ll give it to him. 😉


My mom and I split the vegetarian fajitas with roasted corn, black beans, bell peppers, onions, cilantro and fresh seasonal vegetables. These were just terrific! I was a little skeptical since they didn’t have red/yellow/orange pepper mix (my personal fave for fajitas), but the combo worked beautifully. We raved about them basically with every bite.


& last but not least, Pete enjoyed the steak fajitas!


After a wonderfully satisfying meal, we went to the Art Gallery of my favorite artist- Tim Cantor. His art isn’t for everyone- it’s certainly unique, but it resonates with me. I was excited to show my mom and Pete! They were troopers, appreciating the fact that I appreciated it, hehe. My mom is such a social butterfly and struck up a conversation with the woman who was working there. It turns out she is Tim Cantor’s wife, and offered to show me the original of my favorite painting Thieves of May in the back of the studio. I had chills. I got emotional when she showed it to me. Magic happens when you take Momma Jill places, hehe.


On the way out, my mom surprised me with his collector’s book, Affinité, as a birthday gift! I was insanely excited- this immediately became one of my most treasured possessions.


San Diego also has great options for rooftop bars and views. We weren’t quite ready to turn in for the night, so we decided to go to Altitude Sky Lounge , home of the best panoramic views of the city last time. (We discovered this last time we were here)


The part DJ loves the most is you can overlook Petco Park.


What a memorable evening! <3

On the morning of Saturday January 16th, we swung open the blinds to see this expansively gorgeous view of the city!


After getting ready for the day, we met up with my mom and Pete in the lobby.


Here is a cute pic of their little coffee bar setup!


They even had Mexican Hot Chocolate available- too cute.


We filled our water bottles up with watermelon water & hit the road!


First things first: Food. Am I right orrrr am I right? We found a cute little spot close to where the marathon Expo was located in Carlsbad called Beach Plum Kitchen. We did call ahead for Yelp, but still managed to try a bit of coffee cake on our way in 😉


That stuff was guuuud.


Such a stinkin’ adorable brunchy spot.


My mom and I both tried their honey lavender latte. Holy cannoli guacamole ravioli- this was SO good. I had to restrain myself from chugging the deliciousness down all at once.


My mom and I split two dishes: The avocado toast and smoked salmon!

img_8696My mom did say that my homemade avocado toast was better- I’d have to agree but that’s because I make it with Oren’s pita bread- can’t top that stuff! 😉

The smoked salmon bagel hit the spot though! So yummy. This is easily one of my all time favorite brunch dishes. If you haven’t tried lox, you gottta. I’ll never forget the first time I had it a few years ago! Life changin’ .


Pete and DJ both tried a skillet hash & gobbled um’ all up!


Expo time!! This expo was a lot smaller than others I have been to- especially the Flying Pigs one in Cincinnati- that one was massive. Even the Big Sur one seemed much larger with more vendors too. Either way it was still fun to frolic around (yes, frolic).


Got our bibs!!!


Funny seeing you here, Mr. Friar! This is the San Diego Padres’s mascot.


We didn’t stay too long, just made one round through the vendors. I mainly like getting all the free protein bar samples haha. The coolest thing I discovered was Ultima. This stuff is like a gatorade alternative, but much cleaner. I had it throughout the race & it really did feel hydrating. Gatorade always makes my mouth feel dry and sticky.  DJ had the idea to take the coast back to San Diego. My gosh the views were beautiful. We briefly passed Torrey Pines too- a famous golf spot.


Next up: Balboa Park!


We strolled around enjoying the bright, sunny afternoon.

First up is the Organ and Pavilion- this is the largest outdoor Organ in the world, prettty cool.


Next up is the picturesque view of the Japanese Friendship garden.


Last time we did the museums but were pretty underwhelmed by them. This time we just decided to enjoy their exteriors, haha.


Afternoon ice cream time!!! Really- is there anything better than soft serve?


We found this spot kind of on the outskirts of the park near the zoo that was like a little art village. I don’t know how we missed this last time, but it was too fun!


My mom and Pete have a travel wall in their home. She found the most beautiful little painting from the park to add to it.


After the park we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I can’t wait to share with you where we went!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite Super Bowl commercial? Ours was the Bud Light & Game of Thrones one! Also did anyone else find the half time show kinda awkward?! They are all so talented but I wasn’t vibin’ the Travis Scott/Adam Levine combo.
  • Since I am sooo behind on reading posts please tell me something going on in your life right now 🙂

xo <3


78 thoughts on “San Diego Part 2: Yummy Eats, Marathon Expo & Balboa Park!

  1. YES! I thought the halftime show was just odd. I get that it was in Atlanta so they were going to have rappers but couldn’t they have mixed it in better? Also neither of those guys are from Atlanta, Travis Scott is from Houston and Big Boi is from Savannah. If they were from Atlanta they I could have understood it. The Bud Light and GoT commercial was a good one. I also like the Verizon first responders one where the coach met the people that saved his life. It made me tear up!

    Mexican food is the absolute best. I love finding good authentic spots too! The brunch sounds delicious as well.

    So cool you met Tim Cantor’s wife and got to see the original version of one of your favorites! Gotta love moms that are so social to give you those opportunities.

    Something going on in my life right now is marathon training! New Jersey Marathon is at the end of April and I’m kicking off week 2 of training right now. Have a wonderful Monday and week Mackenzie!

    1. Ahh I’m so glad I’m not alone in feeling that way! That’s a great point too- they should have tried to recruit some talent out of Atlanta- I’m sure some celeb out there has roots there?! Oh yessss the Verizon one was a tear jerker- oh my gosh ❤️

      I agree! Mexican food is seriously hard to beat.

      I am soooo excited you are training for another 😍 woohoo! You go girl 👏🏻

  2. I just love going on your adventures! But I love seeing your parents too!

    And seeing your favorite artist’s painting behind the scenes was amazing!

    I am pinning this post so I remember to go to these places when we head to San Diego again!

    1. Thanks, Nancy!! This comment means so much to me!

      Glad you found some San Diego inspo here 🤗 thanks for stopping in 💕

  3. I love finding authentic Mexican restaurants! All of the food looks delicious. I have never heard of Tim Cantor, but his artwork is exquisite. It’s hauntingly beautiful to me. I love that your mom chatted with his wife, which allowed for that incredible experience! You know how I feel about brunch, and that restaurant sounds ah-mazing. What a fun selection of food, and I would’ve had to order the lox as well! I love all of your photos from the rest of your afternoon, and I cannot wait to read more! I didn’t watch the Super Bowl, but I heard the game and the halftime performance were both awful. I’m going to lookup the commercials now! Things going on in my life right now is planning a Mindful/Intuitive Eating workshop with Kaci that we are going to co-teach at our Barre3 studio in March! I’m beyond excited. Pushing myself to get out there, spread the message, and leave my comfort zone behind!

    1. Aren’t authentic Mexican spots just the best? You won’t have a single bite of bad food at them 😋

      I loveee how you said “hauntingly beautiful”… such an accurate and perfect description. It warms my heart that you see the beauty in it too.

      I thought if you the whole time we were at that place! Definitely seemed like a place you would have just adored !

      Okay that is soo AWESOME about the mindful/ intuitive eating workshop! I am soo excited/ proud of you! That’s going to make a difference in so many peoples’ lives. I cannot wait to hear alll about it! Thanks for sharing with me, Kori! ❤️ happy Wednesday!

      1. They are! They always impress me.

        I have always been fascinated by this type of artwork. I looove Edgar Allan Poe’s work – dark and mysterious – and I feel like this artwork is like Poe’s writing.

        Yes, I absolutely would!

        Thank you so much!! I’m very excited and will really try not to overthink or think of myself as less than. I believe Kaci and I can and will do right by the studio, hopefully making them grateful they chose to have us give our workshop! Happy Wednesday to you too!

      2. Yess! It is very on par with Edgar Allan Poe- that’s a great comparison- I hadn’t thought of that!

        Ahh yes you will just do amazing! I am so eager to hear all about it- I just wish I could go!!

  4. It looks like you guys had an amazing trip to San Diego!! I love that you got to go to so many places and try all the food! I haven’t yet had a smoked salmon bagel yet, but it sounds absolutely amazing so I just have to when I have the chance!! Also, that soft serve ice cream looks perfect!! <3 Good luck on your schoolwork, Mackenzie!

    1. San Diego is always a guaranteed good time- I just love that city! Oh gurrrlll- you have got to try a lox & bagel sometime ! It’s seriously my favorite brunchy dish- sooo yummy & actually pretty healthy! Thanks for stopping in, Courtney 🙂 Have a great Wednesday!! xo

  5. What a fun trip Mackenzie and not only some good looking food in here (I paused and drooled extra long at that Mexican food then slowly moved on … then I got to that skillet hash) … but you have some great pictures of you and your mom, you and DJ, and the four of you as well. It’s nice when you can hand over the camera to get a shot of all of you, and the pictures turns out … I remember in my travelin’ days, it was a Catch-22, (with no digital cameras to check the spot right away), in those days so would you come home with your head cut off or a crummy picture.

    1. Aw I’m glad you liked the foodie pics 🙂 The Mexican food was a major highlight for sure! There was a really friendly guy that was willing to take our picture- I was so excited to get a group photo!

      Aww believe it or not I remember those days too! I would go to summer camps and come back to develop photos with no clue what you were about to get! Crazy how far technology has come, although I do kind of miss the excitement of getting your stack of pictures back not sure of what would be in there! Haha.

      1. You were lucky you ended up going to the second place for Mexican. They were all great pics. I can remember when I was a kid, you had to send your photos to Kodak in Rochester, New York to get them developed. So, you’d wait weeks and weeks sometimes for that big envelope and the new roll of film to come back. That was before CVS and Walmart and the one-hour photo places … you’d get all the duds shots too … a lot cheaper to take pictures now.

      2. That’s a great point- it is so much cheaper. I remember when I’d pay 0.20 cents I think for a photo, but that really added up! Hope you had a good weekend!

      3. Thanks Mackenzie – I did have a good weekend and got out for some walking and picture taking … this Winter I am taking one day at a time and cheering for nice weekend days, especially when they come with sun.

      4. Aww I am so glad to hear! I bet it helped cure some cabin fever for ya 🙂 I am cheering for sun for you too!

      5. Thanks Mackenzie – I know that people who have SAD must be in dire straits right now, between the endless gray and gloomy days, and the fractious weather.

      6. Ah absolutely. 🙁 I hope you get your daily walk today- I’m sure the squirrelies miss you!

      7. I think the balmy weather likely wiped out the ice on the trail – that’s great as it gets really icy down there since they don’t shovel/brush or salt the trail. So it’s a go.

      8. Thanks Mackenzie – I am afraid to take any chances. A fellow blogger recommended getting crampons, which he said were the ultimate ice cleats. I’d never heard of them, only YakTraks which I have. I ordered them from Amazon – the “teeth” look like something you would see in a wild animal trap. I have not used them, only because it was either treacherous to walk or drive, or completely cleared up and no ice remained They don’t work so great walking on cement though … wears down the teeth, so you’d have to carry them around.

      9. That’s funny- oh man, the lengths you have to go to in order to stay safe in ole’ winter! I giggled at “YakTrak” … smart name!

      10. Yes, some people run in them in the snow – the coils are supposed to be great traction for the snow. Yes, that’s a clever name for sure!

      11. Oh that’s a great idea!! I need to remember that, especially if I’m ever in MI over the winter!

  6. WOW Those veggie fajitas look amazing! So does the avocado toast. I could live off fajitas and avocado toast! I felt the same about the half time show. Interesting combo…. hope you’re having a marvelous week Mackenzie!

    1. They were sooo good! Haha girl you are speaking my language- I could live off those two too, could be food groups of their own!

      I’m glad I wasn’t crazy for feeling that way about the halftime show! It just felt kinda “off”.

      Thanks for stopping in, Shan, and hope your week is going so well too 🙂

  7. Great post as always, what a beautiful gift from your Mum! Ah yes the half time show, weird one ey? Felt more like Magic Mike then one of the biggest sporting events worldwide – if they stuck to the classic songs it would have been fine!

    1. Hi, Sophia! Thank you so much 🙂

      It was so special!

      YESSS hahah- you said this so well. That’s very accurate, lol!

      Thanks for stopping in & have a great Wednesday!

  8. As always, I love all of your pictures! Mexican food is my absolute favorite! DJ’s dish looked so tasty! How amazing that you met Tim Cantor’s mom! Gotta love social mother’s 🙂 I’ve always wanted to go to a rooftop bar. That view looks amazing! What a sweet coffee bar at the hotel! It’s the little things like that that just make me smile! Race expos are the best for collecting samples. I love trying out something new because sometimes it leads me to buying it in the future!

    I wasn’t too into watching the Super Bowl until my box in a pool won me $500 at the end of the second quarter! I did find the half time show a bit weird, though. I’m kinda wishing I didn’t stay up for that, lol. It’s been crazy in my life lately. A pipe burst in our downstairs bathroom on Friday and then our heater stopped working today so I’m pretty much ready for a vacation, haha. But the weather has been so nice so I’m taking advantage of that and getting in some good runs that relieve stress! Just trying to stay positive over here!
    I hope your week is going well, Mackenzie! 🙂

    1. Aww I am so honored that you like these pics! Mexican food really is hard to beat- so so yummy. If you want a good rooftop bar San Diego is seriously your place- it’s just amazing.

      I totally agree- it’s the little touches that can make/break an experience especially at hotels!

      Race expos are so fun for all the free samples! I discovered a fabric softener, of all things, that I was obsessed with from one of my marathons haha.

      Dang- $500?! That’s awesome!! Congrats girl!

      Oh my gosh- that all sounds sooo nuts! Burst pipes are seriously the worsttt. And the heater too?! I love your positive attitude despite it all— but use that money to plan a vacay! Lol. I really hope you can get some rest this weekend! xo

      1. That’s so funny that you found a fabric softener that you love at a race expo! They really offer some good things at the expos! I’ve discovered some good snacks at them!

        I feel like I need to be positive towards the situation or I’ll lose it haha. I think I’ll talk to my fiance about using the money to do something fun once it gets nicer out!

      2. Right? hahha. The snacks are my favorite though for sure! I just had a protein bar today that I got from the expo 🙂

        That sounds perfect! You definitely deserve it !!

  9. That Mexican restaurant looks delicious! You and your mom are gorgeous twins. <3 Wow what an incredible surprise!!! You meet all the celebrities!

    Mmmm I love lox! I had a Trader Joe's salmon poke bowl for lunch today, and I highly recommend it!

    1. Awww you are too darn sweet!! <3

      lol, I think DJ was more excited about the Friar than I was.. He was the one that suggested a photo- hahah.

      Ohhhh I need to get that next time I'm there. I'll probably make a trip in the next couple days! Thanks for the suggestion!!

    1. Right?! I totally agree. It’s such a yummy, filling, and pretty clean breakfast too! I have not tried it- I actually don’t think I’ve heard of it, but it sounds very delectable!

  10. The halftime show was so awkward… I’m still not entirely sure what was happening. HA!!! I also wasn’t a fan of the constant bleeping. The Superbowl is a show that families watch together, and I didn’t like that – even if we couldn’t hear the swears – families AT the game didn’t have that option. Hopefully they’ll have a better pick next year! Ha, ha.
    So flu and cold season has been tough for my family this year, and I am now sick… again! I avoided catching the last cold my family had, but I got sick this week (and it’s a doozy). I told Nate that no one else in this family is allowed to get sick for the rest of the year. We have already met our quota!! Ha!!! I’m definitely on the upswing, thank goodness!
    I want to place an order from the Beach Plum kitchen right now! HA!!! LOVED reading about your travels AND seeing all the foodie pics. Yum, yum!!!

    1. Oh my gosh- I’m so glad you thought so too! I agree- the beeping was so distracting, and sooo true about it not exactly being family friendly. yes, hopefully next year will be better!!

      Ahhh girl that’s crazy! I am so sorry you are sick- hopefully by this point you are MUCH better. And you are right- no more sickness for you or your fam! Y’all have probably developed immunity to everything going around by now, hopefully! haha.

      Oh I so wish I could ship you a latte from Beach Plum- it was the besttt.

      Have such a great week, Nicole, and thanks for stopping by!! xox

  11. Beautiful photos Mack! I love the ones of you and your mama, I can see the love you two have for each other radiating through the pictures! ❤️❤️
    But all your family photos are gorgeous and radiant, you must have the most beautiful loving times together!
    I’d not heard of Tim Cantor before, but it’s honestly amazing how you met his wife and she was so friendly towards you, even showing you the original of your favourite. So lovely!
    And the Japanise friendship garden looks like the most beautiful place in the world? I’m in love 😍😍 Thanks for sharing Mack! Xxx

    1. Thank you, Jennie!! <3 I'm always thankful when I get to see my mom and Pete- it's treasured time for sure.

      I was so thankful to see that original sketch- soo stinking cool!

      Next time we have to actually go through the Japanese garden! It really is just gorgeous. Thank you for stopping in & your sweet comment. XO

      1. You are welcome hun! Aw that’s lovely hun, you sure do always seem to have a great time with them when you do ❤️❤️
        So exciting! And you deserve it hun! All good things should be yours, I’m happy you got to see the original sketch!
        Ahhh please do and share pictures with us! You are so welcome hun ❤️

  12. Oh man!! The food at Las Hadas looks terrific. That’s so so so amazing that your mom made friends with the artists’ wife & that you got to see the original work in the studio. How special! <3 The bar you guys stopped at before turning in that night looks so cool & spacious… & those views!! Wow, just beautiful. I love that the brunchy spot had free coffee cake while you waited. It looks wonderful, too! I get the same dry & sticky feeling from gatorade. So yucky, right?! If I ever see this Ultima stuff, I'll def check it out. 🙂 You look so cute in the dress & white sneakers!!

    Can't wait to see where you guys went to dinner!

    1. It was sooo goood! Seriously some of the best Mexican ever.

      It was seriously special to see the original- a moment I truly will never forget ! <3 Momma Jill for the win!

      The rooftop bar was such a fun spot- definitely a must if you go to SD!

      YES- you get it about the gatorade. I can't do it. I don't enjoy it one bit!

      AW thanks, girl <3

  13. I LOVE authentic Mexican!! Just had some yesterday. I could probably eat it every day…at least the guacamole! That’s awesome that you were able to meet the artist’s wife and get to see your favorite painting. I’ve had a lavender latte before and it was sooo delicious!!

    1. Isn’t it just the tastiest?! I agree- I think I could eat it every day too. Mmm mmm!

      I was so thankful for that evening- so memorable for sure.

      Isn’t it delicious?!? I didn’t know what to expect- but wow- it’s such a calming, wonderful, delightful flavor! The honey is a perfect compliment too. Thank you for your comment, Amy!

      1. Mexican is absolutely the tastiest! 🙂 My lavender latte didn’t have honey, but it’s good to know that it makes a perfect compliment! xx

  14. Hi Mackenzie, I am catching up!! I have the same sweet tooth you have! I love mexican food, that is coming from someone who never grew up eating it, but I am a convert. Las Hadas seems like a great choice. Aww look how cute you and your Mom are together!! Sending on my regards to her. How exciting to see your favorite artists Studio and meet his wife . That was nice of her to show you some originals. What a sweet gift from your Mom of the collectors book. I love the hotel coffee bar!! I like what Beach plum cafe does by having complimentary coffee and cake! All the food looks yummy , I like the avacado toast mmm. Such a cute dress you are wearing! A future dress of the week for sure!! The ocean view is so pretty, good idea DJ! I just love soft serve!! I miss soft serve with this chocolate flake popular in England and Ireland ! I was not impressed with the half time show either! I am happy to get back to youir blog! Have a nice evening, Terri xo.

    1. Hi Terri! The sweet tooth can be powerful! Aw I’ll tell my mom you say hello! We had a wonderful time all together & the Mexican food was beyond delish! The coffee cake was such a nice touch! I see a lot of restaurants that just offer coffee, but not the cake too- so yummy & fun! Aww I’m glad you like the dress 🙂 I bought it last summer, but haven’t had too many chances to wear it just yet. Oh my gosh that soft serve you shared looks like melt in your mouth deliciousness. Definitely will have to try that if we are ever in England. Thank you for sharing & stopping in !!

  15. I love the art village, the place looks like something from a Disney film, so beautiful! Gotta love Mexican food, and you and your mum look wonderful. 🙂

  16. Omg yes. The Mexican food! Glad you found something else that you liked better. AND it was next door lol. I always try to find those authentic little places, you’d be surprised that even here, that’s a bit hard to find lol.
    I think I’ve had coffee cake and it was insanely good.
    Ahhhhhh lavender latte!! I’ve tried something similar, the Rose Garden from Southeast Grind back when Alex and I had our dinner date in January. It was insanely good you can taste the lavender. After that one, lavender has become a fave in my coffee. Haven’t found another place that serves one lol. Anyway, I’m blabbering.
    The food looks incredible as usual. I have always wanted to go to brunch haha and have these kinds of foods.
    And omg a japanese garden! The one here was so relaxing and nice. I’ll have to go back someday, the cherry blossoms are about to bloom as well.
    I wasnt really paying attention to the super bowl in general, the only reason I was watching it was because we had family over and I honestly didn’t know that it was the super bowl that day lmao.
    Anyway, I tried watching the half time show and I was bored. I only watched it because my cousin had said they were gonna do a spongebob tribute and sing sweet victory but no… disappointed! Lol.

    1. it really is hard to find a great authentic spot sometimes- and I was SO glad we didn’t have to wait forever like last time too!

      I think I remember that latte when you had it!!! Isn’t it just an unexpectedly wonderful combo!? I am craving it again now- mmmmm.

      Seeing the garden from when you went definitely motivated me to want to see ours- your pictures were stunnning! I wanted to do it in Portland, but I think it was somewhat pricy & we just kinda ran outta time! Definitely did not disappoint!

      hahah I’m the same way with the Super Bowl.. this year was certainly rough. Bummer that they didn’t follow through with the Spongebob tribute cause that sounds awesome hahahh. Have a great week, Rossy!

      1. Oh my I’ve been gone for like a week haha
        Yeah that latte was exquisite!
        Awh well thanks!! Still a rookie when it comes to nature photography but I love to practice haha.
        Have a great week as well!

      2. It’s so crazy how time goes by, isn’t it?!

        Thanks, girl! You too!!!

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