D St. Beach Encinitas

If you follow my Instagram, you know I love a good weekend getaway from Los Angeles. For our latest min vacation from L.A., we chose to hit up the beautiful coastal life of Carlsbad and Encinitas, California. Exploring these beach communities is full of outdoor pleasure; from ocean view restaurants, to gorgeous sea cliff beaches and open air live music — our weekend getaway was just what the self-care doctor ordered.

I absolutely love coastal North County, San Diego. I lived in Carlsbad for a few years after college. It was nice to revisit my old stomping grounds and remember some fun (and blurry) memories from those wild days. I showed my husband Bryan the apartment I used to live in, as well as my favorite bar at the time, Hensley’s. It was here that I got my start in booking shows and events.

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While the drive through memory lane was an awesome dose of nostalgia, you know what was even more awesome? Getting away for two full days. During these very challenging times, it’s crucial to give your soul some rest and recovery; especially for parents. With the pandemic, fight for equality, upcoming election, and now these horrible fires burning so much of our beautiful California — mental health is of the utmost importance. Not to mention, we really needed to some fresh air. The Bobcat fire has really impacted the air quality in Pasadena, and not being able to enjoy our usual outdoor lifestyle was bringing me down.

Bryan and I have always been advocates for vacations without our child (we also take her on many of our vacations). And right now, with what so many parents and families are going through, it is seriously important to give yourself a break and find happiness.

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The lobby of the Cassara Hotel in Carlsbad

Where to Stay on Your Carlsbad Vacation

We normally stay beachside on all of our coastal vacations, but for our 1-night and two-full day trip to Carlsbad, we opted to stay a couple miles inland at The Cassara Carlsbad (a Tapestry Collection by Hilton). They had great reviews, a big pool, the price point was awesome and the rooms were stylish and modern. I can’t stand out-of-date hotels.

We spent $176 after taxes, which is a great deal for us. I booked the room via Hotels.com because I love their rewards system and it offers plenty of variety with all of our future hotel stays, while still racking in free hotel stays.

Moto Deli Encinitas

Where to Eat

Our dining options were pretty great. Our first day we spent in Carlsbad and our second day we spent in the neighboring beach community of Encinitas (which is my favorite). Here’s where we ate:

Vigilucci’s Seafood & Steakhouse – Love the ocean view dining and people watching. The drinks were not the greatest, but the food was good. We ordered their Cesar salad, calamari and bruschetta. All very tasty! They also have a happy hour so be sure to ask about it (we weren’t told about it, we overheard another table).

Park 101 – Awesome open air, roofless restaurant; total beach vibes here. We were still full from our late lunch so we didn’t order any food here. They have a good selection of beers and some yummy frozen drinks. Best of all, we got to experience some live music.

In N Out – This is what I call Southern California comfort. You can never go wrong with some 10pm In N Out. Well, it might not feel the greatest in the morning … There was an In N Out near our hotel which was super convenient, especially during this Covid climate where all restaurants close pretty early.

Valentina restaurant oysters

On our second day of our Carlsbad vacation we spent all of it in the neighboring town of Encinitas. It’s seriously such a cute beach community. I was amazed at how much its grown.

Ironsmith Coffee Roasters – Excellent coffee and breakfast snacks. We grabbed a coffee and walked the downtown area of shops before heading to the beach.

Moto Deli – The sandwiches here are delicious! Bryan got their Italian sandwich and I ordered their smoked turkey salad sando. They also serve up a variety of wellness drinks including kombucha. You can also have Saint Archer beers delivered to you. And if you’re into vintage motorcycles like we are, you’ll love the decorative motorcycle accents.

Valentina – This was such a charming, elevated dining experience. It’s actually the sister restaurant of Moto Deli! The food was outstanding and so was the service. We wanted to order the entire menu but we limited ourselves to the following items: oysters, cauliflower raclette, vegan yellow corn soup, wasabi Cesar salad, Spanish sashimi, and arroz negro. Seriously so damn good and perfect for sharing! We saved money on our hotel stay so we splurged on our final dinner. And to be honest, Valentina is very fair priced, especially considering the quality of food and service.

A young mixed race couple enjoying the beach in Carsbad

Things to Do

If you’re looking for things to do on your Carlsbad vacation, the answer is simple: the beach! We came for the beach and that’s what we did (D St. Beach is our jam). Obviously, all the aforementioned dining options were coastal (minus our late night In n Out). There’s also the Carlsbad flower fields, LEGOLAND, the Carlsbad shopping outlets and of course all the lovely independent small businesses and shops that line up the downtown streets of Carlsbad and Encinitas.

How To Save Money on Your Vacation

We almost always book two hotel nights on all of our weekend getaways, however, for this Carlsbad vacation getaway around we booked 1 night. It’s kind of a waste of money if your second night of your hotel stay is just to sleep in a bed, especially when you live just two hours away. We weren’t planning on enjoying the pool all day since we are living in a pandemic and there were no service amenities, so it did not make sense to stay a second night. Instead, we explored outdoors all day again. After dinner, around 8pm, we drove back to Los Angeles. Had we booked our second night at the hotel, we literally wold have just used it to sleep. Food for thought on your next local weekend getaway.