San Diego is a city full of countless inexpensive or free things to do – the beach, Balboa Park, hiking, art exhibits, public concerts, street fairs… pretty much all year round! Sometimes though, I get in the mood to go all out. I mean, not ALL out like order bottle service at a club for me and 10 friends. Or hopping on my yacht and cruising around the bay (mainly because I don’t have a yacht). By all out, I just mean kicking it up a notch. Adding a little spice to the day’s agenda. Tom and Donna put it best:
In case you ever feel like getting a little fancy, I’ve put together a list of my 3 favorite fancy things to do in San Diego that won’t break your bank account too much. But hey, you deserve it. TREAT YO’ SELF.
1. See a movie at Cinépolis and get drinks delivered to you at your seat.
I just recently went here for the first time and it blew my damn mind. Cinépolis (see, it’s so fancy it contains un accent aigu) is a luxury movie theater chain available in select cities in California and Florida. I now feel extremely lucky to have one so close because it really is awesome.
Okay, first thing’s first – the tickets are expensive as fuck. $20 for regular movies, $25 for 3D flicks. Now, you’re probably wondering, ‘Why in hell would I pay $25 to see a movie that I can get later on RedBox for $1?’ You got a point there. But before you throw the idea away completely, let me tell you what you’re paying extra for:
- Super comfortable, gigantic reclining chairs – Have you ever watched a movie in a theater with reclining lounge chairs? It’s life changing. There are other, less expensive theaters that also offer this incredible feature. Once you try it, you’ll never want to sit in one of those awful, regular movie theater seats again.
- Seat-side service for food and drinks – There is a little blue button that you can push to request a server to your seating area. They will quietly take your order and come back with whatever you want, and will get you the bill in the process so you can be all paid up by the time the feature ends.
- Full bar – Alcohol in the theater without sneaking it in a flask in my purse?! Yes please! You can even order a full bottle of wine or champagne for those really long movies (or movies you didn’t want to see in the first place).
- Speakers and rumble features built into your seat – Not overpowering or distracting, but just enough to enhance your movie-watching experience.
Photo credit to SFGate.
I saw Mad Max the other day (which was amazing and I’d recommend it to anyone) at the Cinépolis in Del Mar, and had the best time. My boyfriend and I ordered a Margherita flatbread and a half bottle of red wine. My only regret is that I did not order a full bottle of wine, because I just ended up ordering another half which probably cost me twice as much. Regardless, I had a wonderful time. It’s not something I would cough up the dough for all the time, but it’s definitely an awesome once-in-a-while treat, especially for movies you’re particularly excited about.
2. Have a sunset dinner and drinks on the Ocean Terrace at George’s At The Cove.
This place is insane. If you’re from San Diego and have out of town friends or family coming to visit, this is the place to take them for dinner or cocktails. The view overlooks the entire ocean and La Jolla cove. On a warm spring or summer night with a cold drink in your hand, it’s the perfect place to be.
George’s At The Cove is split up into two parts – the Ocean Terrace and the California Modern main dining room. The main room is down below and enclosed, as well as a little darker. It’s also a lot more expensive. The Ocean Terrace is above and out in the fresh air. It also has a killer view. It’s also considerably cheaper! The menu is not as long or fancy, but I’d take the beautiful view and more social ambiance any day.
A few tips for your magical La Jolla evening:
- This is absolutely a reservations place – Plan way ahead, especially if you want to start your meal in sync with the sunset (which, duh, why wouldn’t you?) You can make reservations online, so do it as far ahead as they’ll let you.
- Ask one of the bartenders to make you a special drink – This is the kind of establishment where they don’t care if you ask that. In fact, the only reason I know that is because the bartender I encountered offered to! And what he made was delicious. They all really seem to love wowing their customers, so take advantage of it while you’re there.
- Rent a kayak beforehand – No, seriously! If you’re thinking of something to do during the day before dinner, renting a kayak and going out near the La Jolla coves is always a beautiful outing, and a great way to work up an appetite for dinner. Plus, it’s super close by. La Jolla Kayak is always a good place to rent from.
3. Book a spa service at The Grand Del Mar
Lastly (on purpose, because it’s fucking amazing), The Grand Del Mar, ladies and gentlemen. I haven’t been to that many super fancy places in my life, but this has got to be in the top 3. Like, I almost feel like a fraud when I go here because I’m pretty sure that most of the other guests walking by me are local millionaires, or like, Real Housewives of Orange County stars. This hotel is absolutely gorgeous from head to toe, and lavish in every sense of the word. There are real hand towels in neat little stacks in the bathrooms for drying your hands, and they’re somehow refilled every time you return. I think elves do it. The floors are made of marble. There is the most incredible, gigantic display of fresh flowers in the center of the main lobby. Everything is pristine.
Their big claim to fame, however, is The Spa at The Grand Del Mar. It is one of only twenty seven 5-star spas in the entire country. And it’s right in our backyard! I promise that if you take a trip here, you’ll feel like a real-life movie star. Even when I book my appointments over the phone, they talk to me like I’m the most important person in the world. They have perfected the art of customer service and it is a wonder to behold.
This tip that I have for you might be my best local’s tip yet. Are you ready? Alright, here it is: If you book a spa service at The Spa at The Grand Del Mar, any spa service, you are allowed to spend the rest of the day using their other spa facilities for free. This might be the best deal in all of San Diego. While their spa services are extremely expensive, you could potentially stretch out your entire day using the other facilities, and then it suddenly becomes a great deal. What other facilities, you ask? Let me regale you:
- The bubbling, salt-water hot tub
- A eucalyptus steam room
- A traditional Finnish sauna
- Gorgeous sunny patio with long lounge chairs
- Luxurious showers with everything you need to take the best shower of your life (towels of all sizes, organic body wash, shampoo, individually packaged razors, conditioner, multiple shower heads)
- Marble bathrooms, complete with complimentary blow dryers, curling irons, hair pins, hair ties, toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Complimentary lockers
- Complimentary robe and slippers
- Complimentary snacks, including house made granola, assorted nuts, infused water and 15 kinds of herbal tea
- A full gym complete with complimentary group classes
- Pool side lounge chairs where you can order lunch and drinks if you wish
- The pool itself
I know I look pissed, but that’s just my relaxed-into-oblivion face.
So you see, if you made an effort to use all of these things during your stay, that $200 massage won’t seem so crazy after all. It’s such a relaxing and wonderful place – the staff is beyond courteous and will go to great lengths to make you feel at ease.
There you have it – my personal guide to treating yo self in San Diego! Free or cheap is always preferable, but it’s okay to take yourself out once in a while – like I said, you deserve it 🙂