Author: luckaduck

Every veteran traveler knows that food is an intrinsic and extremely enjoyable part of traveling; sampling the local cuisine in a new place is like sightseeing for your taste buds, and in order to really fully experience the vibe of a new city, it’s necessary to dive in flavor-wise and savor the local gastronomy.

Unfortunately, however, eating out every meal isn’t an option for most travelers on a budget—thus enter Happy Hours, the frugal traveler’s best friend.


For those uninitiated, Happy Hour—aka “a cocktail hour or longer period at a bar, during which drinks are served at reduced prices”—takes place during a bar or restaurant’s slower times, usually in the afternoon on weekdays. It’s a way that restaurants can coax in customers during a typically dead time of day, which they do so by slashing prices and offering discounts and specials on food and drinks.

For those of us penny-pinching nomads, it’s a way to sample a restaurant’s offerings for a fraction of the price. Aside from being a steal pricewise, happy hour is generally a far quieter time of day, as it starts during traditional workday hours—meaning that you and your significant other, best friend, and/or new friends you met at Lucky D’s (woot woot!) can enjoy yourselves in a quieter, more relaxed setting. No having to put your name in the queue at the host stand, bumping elbows with other tables while trying to find a seat, or losing your voice from having to talk over the loud din.

It’s the perfect mid-afternoon interlude—a quick bite and tasty beverage to ease you into the late afternoon after a lengthy hike at Balboa Park, a sun-inundated afternoon bronzing yourself on the beach, or just to treat yoself because you’re on vacation.

Here we’ve compiled a list of our favorite Happy Hours in the East Village/Downtown area, along with a little bit about what makes each spot so special.


Located catty-corner from Lucky D’s is Neighborhood, a rustic-chic bar and restaurant that boasts an impressive selection of craft beer, both local and imported. The inside has a relaxing, artisanal vibe to it, filled with earthy, dark and wooden materials that are highlighted by the bar’s intimate mood lighting; the small astroturf padded patio outside is great for people watching along the corner of 8th Avenue and G Street. The menu flaunts a variety of vegan/vegetarian options, and the mac ‘n’ cheese remains a requisite favorite, particularly hamburger helper style if you’re up for it. In the back of the restaurant lies a speakeasy, which on weekends tends to get filled up pretty quickly—make sure to put your name in early!

HH Deal: Monday through Friday, enjoy 2 for 1 local beers from 4-7 p.m.!



A staff favorite, Half Door is an Irish-pub style brewery with a cozy, vintage ambience. Situated in an old house, the bottom patio that greets you upon entry is reminiscent of the old verandas from grand hotels of the Gilded Age, perfect for catching some sun and people watching on 9th & Island. Walk inside and it feels like you’ve entered a much cooler version of your Grandfather’s study, filled with unassuming upcycled cool—comfortably worn love seats, floral wallpaper, distressed coffee tables and repurposed church pews. The two-story ceiling to floor liquor cabinet creates a dreamy effect when progressing to the second level, the afternoon sunlight playing through the different bottles to cast a kaleidoscope of colors while walking up the stairs. The second story is even homier, full of leather chairs, couches and bookshelves filled with classic tomes; walk out onto the beautiful twinkle-lit outdoor patio and get a premier view of Petco Park and the intersecting streets below.

Normally pretty busy, the ‘happy hours’ are a more mellow time at Half Door; it’s an ideal place for solo happy-houring as much as social outings. Bring a book or laptop and ride solo, or come with friends and pick out a classic board game from upstairs! They brew their beers onsite, with most of the menu items being modern updates to classic Irish cuisine.

HH DEALS: Monday through Friday, from 4-6 p.m.
$5 house beers, $6 draft beers
$5 well wine
$5 well cocktails, $6 specialty cocktails
$5 fried goat cheese, $5 truffle fries, $5 mac & cheese
$6 pretzel bites
$7 ahi tuna taco
$9 sausage flatbread

Pro tip: We recommend the Mac ‘n Cheese with the Roark Red Ale.

Bubs at the Ballpark


Located on the same block as Petco Park, Bubs is a convenient stop for food and drinks before a Padres game. The Sports bar offers standard American bar fare, a wide variety of local craft beer on tap, and plenty of plasma screen TVs for gameday viewings. The garage door windows open up on sunny days, and the elevated patio provides a great boost for people-watching. They have an in-house basketball court, shuffleboard, and video games at the ready, a fun way to pass the time while waiting on food or a table. The kitchen is open til 1 a.m., for those nights when you need a feed a little later than usual. We recommend the burgers and the wings (half off during happy hour)!

HH DEALS: 3-6 p.m., Monday through Friday
$4 select local drafts
$5 well drinks
50% off wings, 50% off all red baskets (chips, salsa & guacamole / seasoned fries / onion rings / regular or special tots)


Of course we couldn’t leave our downstairs neighbor off the list! Bootlegger has a laidback speakeasy-esque vibe and is a convenient place to grab a quick bite before heading upstairs for that much needed nap after a day full of San Diego sightseeing. Full of comfortable booths and trendy old timey décor, the place comes alive during weekend afternoons. In addition to have a daily happy hour, they have specials on certain menu items throughout the week, with two of our favorites being $2 tacos and $10 nachos (beer included!) on Tuesdays and $10 build-your-own-burgers on Thursdays (draft domestic also included). For Saturday and Sunday brunch, they have $15 bottomless mimosas from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

HH DEALS: Monday, Wednesday, & Friday from 3-7 p.m.
$5 wells & calls, house wines and draft specials
$5 small plates

Knotty Barrel


HH DEALS: Monday through Friday, from 3-7 p.m.
Discounts on select appetizers
$6 potato skins / house-made beer cheese
$7 Chipotle BBQ sliders / 3 way fries / fried pickles


The MO of Basic is simplicity, summed up in the name of the restaurant itself and evident in everything from its menu offerings to the general feng shui of the place. Simple, uncomplicated thin crust brick oven pizza is the order of the day at Basic, a restaurant that feels more like an open-air lounge with a chic industrial aesthetic. The building was converted from an early 20th century warehouse, with straightforward, efficient décor comprised of brick, wood and metal elements; the shag carpet is made from recycled rubber tires, and the building still has its original brick walls, with large garage door-style windows that stay open on beautiful days. Munch on free pizza samples while shooting pool during happy hour, or check out their Art Nights on Tuesdays evenings.

HH DEAL: Every day from 4-7 p.m.
$4 bottles and cans
$5 all draft beers & well cocktails
$6 Absolut or Jack Daniels cocktails
$7 all house wines
Free samples of Basic pizza (except on game days)

Tin Roof

Just a short 5 minute walk from Lucky D’s, Tin Roof brings a little bit of Southern charm to San Diego; though spacious, the Nashville inspired bar is an intimate spot where you can enjoy live local music and great people watching! They have tables for beer pong, jenga, and cornhole; on the patio outside is a large place to play shuffleboard. Bonus: they serve weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, with bottomless mimosas and $5 bloody mary’s!

HH deals: Monday through Friday, 3-7 p.m.
Half off all drinks and appetizers

Weekly specials: $5 Jameson & Fireball all day, everyday
Tuesday: $2 Tacos, $3 Mexican Beer
Wednesday: $5 well drinks
Thursday: $3 Tall Boys
Saturday and Sunday: Brunch 10am-2pm, bottomless mimosas & $5 signature bloody mary

Gaslamp Quarter

Social center of the downtown area, with lots of bars and restaurants and a bustling nightlife. Stroll down 5th Avenue, the central vein of the Gaslamp, filled with fun bars, fabulous restaurants and quirky breweries.


LGBT heart of San Diego, with lots of great brunch spots and locally owned businesses including thrift stores, restaurants, bars, cafés and clubs. Amazing farmer’s market on Sundays with live music!

University Heights/Normal Heights/North Park


The hipster trifecta of San Diego, all with cool retro neon signs greeting you upon entry. Lots of trendy bars and breweries with unique atmospheres, cute vintage boutiques and art galleries

North Park

Named one of the best hipster neighborhoods in the US by Forbes, North Park is a culturally diverse neighborhood with lots of art galleries, coffee shops and boutiques. Thursday farmer’s market!


Normal Heights
Adams Ave (between Texas St on the west & Ohio St on the east) known as Antique Row, after all the antique stores there.

University Heights
Lots of restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, and artists’ studios.

South Park

Family oriented and very pedestrian-friendly area, with lots of grocery stores and great restaurants; 30th street has been called the nation’s ‘craft beer boulevard’ by Men’s Journal.

Pacific Beach



Ocean Beach


Often called the “Haight-Ashbury” of San Diego, Ocean Beach has a laid back bohemian vibe. The beach is a great spot for bonfires!

La Jolla


Called the Beverley Hills of San Diego, La Jolla is a beautiful suburban area with plenty of natural beauty and opportunities for outdoorsy fun. Check out the sea lions in the Children’s Pool, sunbathe in the buff at Black’s Beach, or go kayaking or snorkeling through La Jolla’s seven caves and swim with leopard sharks.

Old Town

The oldest settled area of San Diego and first European settlement in California, Old Town is full of Wild Western/Chicano cultural heritage. It’s an absolute must if you want to experience the culture of the American Southwest, and the center of the town almost feels like you’ve crossed the border.

Mission Beach

A great spot for young families, run, bike, or skate along the boardwalk to Belmont Park, the beachfront amusement park there.

Seaport Village




A beautiful beachfront shopping area, with lots of boutiques and souvenir opportunities; there is a century old carousel still in use today.

Little Italy

Full of charming little ‘piazzas’ as well as award-winning Italian eateries. Lots of good coffee shops, boutiques, artist galleries. Lots of festivals throughout the year, a weekly farmer’s market every Saturday, “el mercato”—the market, in Italian.

South of the Border


Just a 20 minute trolley ride from San Diego, every visitor should treat themselves to at least one day in this vibrant jewel of a border city. Formerly known as the Vegas of Mexico, TJ has been experiencing a cultural renaissance over the last 20 years, a bustling urban hub where you can experience an authentic taste (and drink!) of Mexican life and culture. With gorgeous, colorful murals and rustic kitsch shops around every corner, TJ offers some of the best street tacos in all of Mexico; incidentally it’s also where the Caesar salad originated, a Prohibition era treat which you can watch whipped up tableside at Caesar’s on Avenida Revolución.

Although Tijuana has shirked a lot of the murkier elements of its past, it’s still recommended to visit during the day and stick to the more populated areas—don’t stray out into the neighborhoods, and stay away from the Zona Norte. If you’re uneasy about going by yourself, there are a variety of quality guided tour companies—Turista Libre, Club Tengo Hambre, and Let’s Go Clandestino are all highly recommended companies that offer a variety of different sightseeing opportunities. Check out our posters around the hostel for information on the Tijuana craft beer crawl, which meets at San Ysidro (the last stop on the blue line) every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Lead by a bilingual guide, the ticket price includes pickup, drop off and everything in between.

Other spots worth investigating are Telefonica Gastro Park—a semi-permanent food truck park with an array of savory Mexican street food—and Mercado Hidalgo, Tijuana’s permanent public market, full of colors and different tastes and smells that definitely merits a visit. Plaza Fiesta is worth a look as well, a veritable craft beer paradise.


Drive an hour and a half south of Tijuana and you’ll hit Ensenada, a dreamy little coastal town on the Baja California peninsula known for its fresh, delicious seafood, gorgeous oceanic views and plentiful vineyards. Check out the the sea cliffs of the famous marine geiser La Bufadora in the Punta Banda pensinsula with a fresh, savory fish taco in hand while gazing over the sapphire blue Pacific. Ensenada’s brewery and wine game is nothing to sneeze at either, with Valley Girl Tours and the Bodegas de Santo Tomas being great options for all the hard-core wine-os and the Old Mission Brewing and Wendtland brewery a must for all craft beer aficionados.

Northern Neighbors

Los Angeles

About a 3 hour drive from San Diego is one of the most famous cities in all of the states, the city of Angels. A large metropolis with a reputation that precedes it, we recommend taking a bus or the Pacific Coaster train for a no-hassle experience, though renting a car is always an option as well.


About an hour’s drive north of San Diego lies Temecula, a favorite among SoCal visitors. Known for their enchanting wineries—many of which offer tasting rooms and private tours—that’s not all you’ll find in this charming little town: Temecula is full of sensory delights, boasting many wine-centric resorts, artisan olive oil boutiques, a modern casino with a rooftop nightclub and pool, and a variety of luxe, verdant golf courses. Old town Temecula is certainly worth a look while you’re there, with a host of shops, museums, and restaurants to peruse. The first weekend of June is the annual Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival, which features hot air balloon launches and wine tastings from over 20 of the area’s vineyards

San Clemente

Called “the Spanish village by the sea,” San Clemente is located halfway between LA and San Diego; known for its phenomenal views of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, and beautiful ‘Spanish colonial architecture,’ San Clemente is also a major surfing destination with great swell year-round. One of the most visited state parks in California, San Onofre state beach is an idyllic spot to while away an indulgent, sun-drenched afternoon; on Del Mar street in the downtown area you can find many boutiques, restaurants, and artisanal shops in the charming mission style streets. If your consumer lust hasn’t yet been sated, on your way back to San Diego be sure to check out the San Clemente Outlet Mall!

Orange County

California’s third-most populous county (which includes the aforementioned city of San Clemente) is the infamous Orange County, which is included in the greater LA-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA metropolitan area. Being home to several legendary SoCal cities, you’ll hardly have trouble finding things to do; spend the day hanging out with Belle, Snow White and the gang in the original Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, or live out your Game of Thrones fantasies in the sidelines of a jousting match at Medieval Times in Buena Park. Visit the iconic Huntington beach pier, one of the longest on the West Coast, or the stunning old Spanish mission of San Juan Capistrano, the oldest building in California that is still in use today. The striking red sandstone cliff faces of ‘the sinks’ in Limestone Canyon Nature Preserve are not to be missed, nor is a visit to Watson’s Soda Fountain & Café, a throwback classic retro style diner.


Less than an hour north from San Diego lies Oceanside, a beautiful laidback SoCal beach town with wide sandy beaches and charming beach bungalow neighborhoods. Check out the 130 year old Oceanside Pier, one of the longest wooden piers on the West Coast, and the Mission San Luis Rey, a pristine example of Spanish colonial architecture. The California surf museum resides there as well, chock full of the evolution of the art of surfing, and the Oceanside Sunset Market, where thousands gather each week to peruse specialty food, gifts and jam to live music.


Often called “the Village by the Sea” by locals, Carlsbad is a charming seaside resort city just north of San Diego. Legoland California is based there as well, a theme park and aquarium based on the Lego toy brand, kid-friendly but equally fun for those young at heart. There’s plenty of opportunities for surfing in this gorgeous seaside town, with the quiet beaches there offering a more private experience of the Pacific. Every spring California the floral ‘superbloom’ takes place, creating a stunning array of brilliant ranunculus blossoms, sweet pea fields, and rose gardens in the Flower Fields at Carlsbad. Swoon!


Less than an hour north, downtown Encinitas is a salute to California beach culture, an embodiment of the bohemian SoCal surfer vibe with plenty of surf shops, record stores and cafés. The San Diego Botanical Gardens features more than 37 acres of exhibits, with a variety of forestry and vegetation from all over the U.S. and the world! Check out the ‘surfing Madonna,’ a creative mural depicting a surfing Virgin of Guadalupe in downtown Encinitas; initially an object of ‘graffiti’ over which opinions were starkly divided, it has now been accepted as a treasured installation of the area. Have a nighttime barbecue or bonfire at Moonlight Beach, or check out the swell at Swami’s Beach, which inspired the iconic Beach Boys hit “Surfin USA.”

East of San Diego

Borrego Springs & Julian



For all the nature lovers, head east!

Don’t miss the Anza Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs—the largest state park in California, the park boasts 110 miles of hiking amid the Colorado Desert. Hiking and biking are permitted, and the august life-size metal sculptures of prehistoric creatures in Borrego Springs are incredible—the perfect backdrop for an Instagram-worthy photoshoot. Just make sure to bring lots of water!

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park offers a completely different outdoors experience altogether; due to its higher elevation it is considerably greener there, with pine, fir and oak filled forests covering the hillsides and snow capping the peaks of the Laguna mountains. Trails for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking can be found there, as well as a number of lush campgrounds.

The park is located in Julian, CA, about a 45 minute drive from downtown. Julian is also known for Julian Apples, and renowned for making the best apple pies—be sure to treat yourself to one on the way out!


In one day’s time, you can find yourself wandering the desert in Borrego Springs, hiking the snowcapped Laguna mountains in Julian, and be back on the beach in time for sunset.

Breakfast Republic of California


Also located around the corner from Lucky D’s is the Breakfast Republic of California, a Zagat-rated breakfast joint with tasty takes on traditional American classics, such as Oreo pancakes, Shrimp & Grits, and S’mores French Toast. They keep a steady rotation of 20 California beers on top, and offer a clean, simple interior with lots of vibrant greenery lining the walls; if you’re looking for a hearty brunch on-the-go, this fast-paced joint is the spot for you.


The Mission

A Mexican inspired brunch spot, The Mission strives to provide “simple healthy, tasty food with a whimsical edge,” offering delicious fresh breakfast food with south of the border flavor and great drinks in a chilled out ambience. It’s a simple space with art hanging from the walls and is a favorite among San Diego locals.

Café 21

If you’re in need of a hair-of-the-dog after a long night out clubbing, Café 21 is your best bet. Try one of their creative Bloody Mary’s to start off a boozy brunch, then mix it up with a flight for a little more variety—mimosas, house-made sangrias, and mojitos all available—while lounging on their patio which borders the vibrant central vein of the Gaslamp Quarter. All of their food is locally sourced and prepared in house (even the breads, all of which are made from scratch and gluten free!) and all meat on their menu is hormone free and free range. They offer a variety of egg dishes, skillet omelets, and original renditions of eggs benedict, as well as tiramisu pancakes and an array of crepe cakes for those with a sweet tooth!


Café de L’Opera

With from-scratch croissants known to rival the best in France and organic fair-trade coffee from locally-owned vendors, Café de L’Opera is a laidback café with a quaint, simple and clean interior. Just a short 5 minute walk from the hostel, they’re extremely considerate of all types of diet and food sensitivities while also providing a perfect spot for a quiet workday or a quick and tasty lunch break.

Copa Vida

An open café filled with natural light, the interior style is modern classic elegance, with large open windows for a refreshing breeze and plenty of tables for work. They serve breakfast, brunch and lunch, as well as rich, high-quality coffees and specialty lattes. Copa Vida provides free wifi and an outdoor patio as well as great people watching, inside and out.


Bean Bar

Bean bar is a quiet little café located smackdab in the middle of the bustling downtown area. It’s relaxing, uncomplicated and cozy with lots of seating and eclectic décor to feast your eyes on while sipping your beverage of choice. A great neighborhood coffee shop offering locally made sandwiches, pastries, and sweets.

The Cat Café

What goes better with a strong cup of coffee than adorable kitties? The Cat Café offers a wide variety of coffee drinks as well as a large open play area with lots of cats roaming about, many of them available for adoption! Entry to the café is free, though they ask that you purchase a drink before going in to play with the kittens. Practice Cat’s Pose while cute kittens frolick about during their Cats on Mats, a yoga class occasionally offered at the Café.



Coffee house by day and bar/lounge by night, Halcyon is a large luminous space—a cool industrial ambience with a retro flare and large garage style doors that blur the lines between inside and outside. With lots of seating and hours that stretch til midnight, Halcyon is a great day or night alternative; get some work done in a cozy lounge chair on a breezy, sunny afternoon or mingle at the busy bar during golden hour. They have a variety of options as far as both caffeinated and alcoholic beverages and a spacious patio with outdoor fireplaces, perfect during cooler nights.


Lofty Coffee Little Italy

A little bit further away (but definitely worth the trek), Lofty Coffee in Little Italy is must for all serious café-goers and wannabe beatniks. The architecture feels very Fallingwater, incorporating natural elements and open air into the composition for a very fluid indoor to outdoor transition, a space where interior and exterior blend seamlessly. We recommend checking it out on Saturday morning—when the weekly Little Italy farmers’ market, Il Mercato, takes place—for some stellar people-watching. Locally owned and sustainable, Lofty Coffee offers plenty of vegan and gluten-free pastries made from scratch, with a locally sourced organic breakfast and lunch menu.

Parq Restaurant & Nightclub

Parq offers a unique ambience via their stylized aesthetic, with different textures and moods throughout the space; it’s the biggest nightclub in San Diego, with great attention to detail regarding their sound, lighting and design, in order to evoke different sensations as you navigate Parq’s expanse. Competing with the most opulent clubs in Vegas, famous acts can be seen on their stage in addition to traditional go-go dancers, aerial dancers and a gyrating robot. It’s a really grandiose, visually enticing locale that draws you in, with a restaurant connected to the club as well.




multi-level club with live DJ, main level and middle you can see the stage. There’s a rooftop lounge with a separate DJ, and at Lucky D’s we get a special deal every Thursday, any vodka mixed drink free from 9:30-10:30.

Onyx Room

The Onyx room offers a more diverse musical experience, with opportunities for both hip-hop aficionados and Latin music lovers. If you’re looking to shake your tailfeather to popular hip-hop beats and top 40 hits, the upstairs is where it’s at; for those who prefer Latin rhythms a la Despacito, check out the downstairs—they even have salsa, bachata, and merengue dance lessons in the back on certain nights, with inexpensive options for bottle service.


An intriguing blend of neo-Victorian vamp and carnivalesque décor, elaborate bird cages and disco balls dangle from Side Bar’s ceiling while avant-garde paintings and louche vintage portraits line the walls. They have large, comfortable booths for lounging that provide a bird’s eye view of the dance floor, and they offer a mixology class the first Saturday of every month.


Sevilla Nightclub

Sevilla Nightclub also offers a more Latin ambience, with live music certain nights of the week and DJs druring others. Wednesdays are salsa and bachata night, and on Tuesday they offer basic dance lessons in both!

Whiskey Girl

If you’re looking for something a little more casual, Whiskey Girl on 5th is the place—with no cover charge and no strict rules regarding attire, it’s something of a mix between a sports bar and night club. There is a large dance floor and bar area and are located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter

Altitude Skylounge

Also offering free admission is the Altitude Skylounge, highlighted by its gorgeous décor and phenomenal views of the downtown area. Located on the 22nd floor of the downtown Mariott, Altitude Skylounge provides panoramic views of the city—from Coronado Island, San Diego Bay, the downtown skyline and Petco Park. The bar’s atmosphere is nothing to sneeze at either, with glass fire pits and lots of comfortable chic lounge style seating.


American Junkie

This is the place for TacoTuesday, with $5 all you can eat tacos; choose from beef, chicken, or vegetarian option, plus required purchase of a beverage ($3 Corona, $5 Margaritas, Jameson & Don Julio Shots). At 10 the place turns into club until 2 a.m, giving you plenty of time to dance off your taco food-baby.

Hard Rock Pool Party

Every Saturday, the Hard Rock San Diego throws a luxe rager of a rooftop pool party. Come experience Southern California at its finest, sipping beverages and lounging poolside in the abundant sunshine. Lucky D’s gets an exclusive discount, and many guests rave it’s the cherry on top of their SoCal vacay.

Barley Mash

A cross between a sports bar and a gastropub, Barleymash is a high energy bar with a menu focusing on local craft beer and bourbon. They have a large dancefloor, as well as plentiful TVs for gameday; a great spot for day-drinking and people-watching along one of the busiest streets in the Gaslamp.



House of Blues

Built on a foundation of Southern musical traditions, the House of Blues tries to find and support local artists as much as big name performers. Inspired in part by Southern juke joints, the House of Blues “is dedicated to educating and celebrating the history of Southern Culture and African American artistic contributions to music and art.” Underneath the stage in every House of Blues is a box of Delta Mississipi mud—a sort of talisman “to ensure that every artist has the roots and spirit of the South beneath their feet.” They have an eclectic assortment of art on the walls, ranging from folk art and self-taught to ‘outsider style’, constantly striving to mix it up and feature more off the beaten path styles. If you’re looking for live folk, rhythm & blues, or rock music in San Diego, check out the House of Blues itinerary.

Tin Roof

Just a short 5 minute walk from Lucky D’s, Tin Roof brings a little bit of Southern charm to San Diego; though spacious, the Nashville inspired bar is an intimate spot where you can enjoy live local music and great people watching! They have tables for beer pong, jenga, and cornhole; on the patio outside is a large place to play shuffleboard. Bonus: they serve weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, with bottomless mimosas and $5 bloody mary’s!

Café 21

Also a popular eatery, the Mediterranean inspired restaurant features live local musicians every night of the week starting at 7 p.m. Grab a seat and a cocktail in their earthy and arabesque space and enjoy local acts ranging from jazz, big band, and flamenco to folk music. Best of all, it’s free! (Though we do recommend at least a minimal purchase as a gesture of gratitude.)


Big Thyme Sandwich Co

A four-minute walk from Lucky D’s, Big Thyme is a local favorite for fresh, tasty sandwiches with locally sourced ingredients. The dining area is a simple and rustic little cave, with ochre red walls, wooden tables and beautiful local art on display. They offer Domino’s, cards, and Nintendo 64 to entertain yourself before the big feed, with outdoor patio seating also available. All sandwiches are well-portioned and served with a side of house-made potato salad or fries; they have a variety of vegan and vegetarian options, and all of their sandwiches are available on gluten free bread.   Their beverage offerings including craft soda, fresh juice, beer and wine—even a kombucha float! Try the Reuben or the grilled cheese, which many say is the best they’ve ever had.



Azteca is a hole in the wall, no-frills over the counter taco shop, but what it lacks in ambience it makes up for in rich and authentic flavor. If you’re looking for a quick meal of fresh, homemade Mexican food at a very friendly price, look no further. They’re open late and it’s worth the four-minute walk from the hostel, but be wary that the outside area can be a little ‘colorful’ at certain hours—maybe best to bring some company with you while getting your grub on. Try the breakfast burrito, a real crowd pleaser.


Also within walking distance is Pokez, Classic Mexican fare with an herbivore-friendly twist. It’s a more upscale version of a traditional taco shop but still in a very welcoming price range, with free chips and salsa included when dining in. Their focus is on vegan/vegetarian and gluten-free Mexican cuisine in a hip and edgy atmosphere, a ruggedly chic update of a traditional cantina with lots of exposed brick and wooden design elements.




Featured on The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” Hodad’s is a San Diego local favorite— Guy Fieri calls Hodad’s as the best burger he ever ate! The “good old fashioned run-down-your-arm sloppy hamburgers” offer very generously portioned beef burger patties—be advised ahead of time that a single is more like a double, and even that can be hard to fit in your mouth! The store itself is full of California kitsch, with skateboards, surfboards and license plates from across the states decking the walls and picnic table style benches. Enjoy huge milkshakes and malts topped with a heaping scoop of ice cream, as well as house-made potato wedges and onion rings. The Ocean Beach location is packed around the clock, whereas if you catch the downtown location at the right time you can squeeze in without a wait.


Of course we couldn’t leave our downstairs neighbor off the list! Bootlegger has a laidback speakeasy-esque vibe and is a convenient place to grab a quick bite full of comfortable booths and trendy old timey décor. In addition to a daily happy hour, they have specials on certain menu items throughout the week, with two of our favorites being $2 tacos and $10 nachos (beer included!) on Tuesdays and $10 build-your-own-burgers on Thursdays (draft domestic also included). For Sunday brunch, they have $15 bottomless mimosas from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sushi Deli

Considered the best of the Sushi Deli stores, Sushi Deli 2 features Japanese inspired cuisine, a creative twist on classic sushi. Known for their great prices, Sushi Deli 2 offers lots of daily specials and generous portions of high quality seafood, all wrapped up in an aesthetically pleasing presentation. Leave feeling satisfied and without putting a dent in your wallet!

Tin Roof


Just a short 5-minute walk from Lucky D’s, Tin Roof brings a little bit of Southern charm to San Diego; though spacious, the Nashville inspired bar is an intimate spot where you can enjoy live local music and great people watching! They have tables for beer pong, jenga, and cornhole; on the patio outside is a large place to play shuffleboard. Bonus: they serve weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, with bottomless mimosas and $5 bloody mary’s!


Tajima Ramen

Considered one of the top Japanese restaurants in San Diego, Tajima Ramen maintains consistently quality throughout their restaurants, with rich, flavorful broths and a variety of enticing appetizers. The décor feels very Shinto-chic, with lots of dark wood, ambient orb lighting and gilded mandalas; the Gaslamp spinoff is rumored to have less of a wait than the other stores, with wooden booths and picnic table style seating.

Grapes & Hops

Across the street from Lucky D’s lies Grapes & Hops, a deli and spirit vendor offering a variety of fresh sandwiches, salads, beer and wine. The place has a neighborhood deli shop feel, reminiscent of something you’d see in a New York borough. They use top quality Boar’s Head cold cuts, along with flavorful bread and fresh veggies, and the service is fast and efficient. While they don’t offer indoor seating, there’s outdoor tables available for munching in the San Diego sunshine. Even better, grab one and have yourself a picnic in Balboa Park!


Another hole-in-the-wall, Oscars offers authentic Mexican seafood at a very agreeable price. Known for their shrimp ceviche, they also offer $1 fish tacos Monday through Thursday from 2:30 to 5:30—a delicious bang for your buck.

Rockin’ Baja

Rockin Baja Lobster is inspired by the lobster village of Puerto Nuevo in Baja California, a pacific paradise of lobster fare which the owner visited frequently as a child. With décor modeled off of the traditional Puerto Nuevo style, they offer delicious Mexican seafood at great prices. Our manager recommends the sizzling garlic shrimp!


Gaslamp Pizza

Located in the heart of downtown San Diego, this family owned and operated pizza joint offers pizza by the slice and delivers! Go here for late night New York style pizza.

Ciro’s Pizza

A chill pizza joint with a full bar and a wide variety of local craft beers on tap, Ciro’s is a staple for Lucky D’s patrons. They offer large New York style slices, Stromboli, chicken wings, and garlic knots with great happy hours! Ciro’s is open late on weekends, with a DJ’d dance party in the back, and all Lucky D’s guests receive a 20% discount when they present their key card at the register.

Brooklyn Bagel Company

A counter-serve bagel shop serving breakfast and lunch sandwiches with a variety of toppings, Brooklyn Bagel Company is a very American sandwich shop with great coffee drinks and free wifi. It can be a little busy at peak times, but the service is always quick and efficient. (10th & Island)


Essential San Diego sightseeing. Where culture, science, and nature collide, Balboa Park is home to more than 17 museums, multiple performing arts venues, lovely gardens, trails, and many other creative and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo. With a variety of cultural institutions among its 1,200 beautiful and lushly planted acres, there is something for everyone.



Explore the diverse textures and vegetation native to California–meander through the Old cactus garden, the rose gardens, or sit and have a picnic in the grass with friends.

For those who enjoy more naturalistic jaunts, Balboa Park also offers a number of scenic hiking trails which removing you from the hustle and bustle of the downtown area–you’ll forget you’re even in an urban area as soon as you find yourself on one of these trails.

During the summer Balboa Park offers a free concert series, Twilight in the Park–here you can experience an eclectic array of acts, ranging from swing music to jazz and salsa.  These concerts take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Cabrillo Bridge

The Cabrillo Bridge in San Diego, California is a historic pedestrian and automobile bridge providing access between Balboa Park and the Uptown area of San Diego. It was built for the 1915 Panama–California Exposition. The bridge was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.


Airplane landing taken from the Cabrillo Bridge (Laurel Street)

With 17 miles of coastline and 4,600 acres around Mission Bay Park, San Diego offers a wide variety of beaches and amenities. San Diego Lifeguards patrol the beaches from nine permanent lifeguard stations (Ocean Beach, South Mission Beach, Mission Beach, North Pacific Beach, Pacific Beach, Children’s Pool, La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Shores, Black’s Beach) and dozens of seasonal stations during the summer.

We have maps and bus routes to all beaches at Lucky D’s Reception. Public transport in San Diego is a breeze. Jump on the bus and you will be at the beach in no time.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is a vibrant, bohemian neighborhood, with a classic SoCal beach vibe. Surfers and sunbathers fill the namesake beach, while Ocean Beach Pier is a popular local fishing spot with sweeping views. Nearby, Newport Avenue is lined with antiques shops, beachwear and surf boutiques, organic groceries, taquerias and brewpubs. The Ocean Beach Farmers Market features live music.

Mission Beach

Family friendly and also popular with 20-somethings, Mission Beach is San Diego’s lively take on the classic boardwalk beach town.


Pacific Beach


Pacific Beach’s namesake stretches for miles from the Mission Bay jetty to the cliffs of La Jolla. The boardwalk, officially called Ocean Front Walk/Ocean Boulevard, is a pedestrian walkway that runs approximately 3.2 miles along the beach from the end of Law St. in the north down into Mission Beach, ending at the mouth of Mission Bay in the south. There are numerous local shops, bars, hotels, and restaurants along the boardwalk, and it is generally crowded with pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, and shoppers. Adjacent to the boardwalk is the Crystal Pier, a public pier and hotel at the west end of Garnet Avenue.


La Jolla

La Jolla’s grandeur is nowhere more evident than along its coastline, where you’ll find some of the most breathtaking beaches in California. Dramatic cliffs, sandy expanses and secluded coves, La Jolla offers a range of beaches to please everyone—whether your interest is sunbathing, swimming, surfing… or seals!

Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach is a residential beach city in San Diego County, California, with a population of 26,324 at the 2010 census. The city is the southernmost city in California and the West Coast of the United States.

Get information on all the key beaches and bays here.

San Diego is home to more than 90 golf courses in every conceivable setting – from oceanfront to desert to mountains. Golf in San Diego is a year-round pursuit with more playable days than anywhere else in the United States. Hailed by Golf Digest as “one of the top 50 golf destinations in the world”, past host to the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and home to the annual Farmers Insurance Invitational (formerly known as the Buick Invitational), San Diego is a favorite destination for golf-lovers.


Browse San Diego’s featured golf courses, and more great information on visiting San Diego.

San Diego’s varied terrain offers a perfect fit for every type of cyclist. Whether you’re an avid mountain bicyclist, a road bike warrior, or a breezy beach cruiser, there are plenty of paths, trails and roads in San Diego to explore on two wheels.

East County San Diego

About an hour’s drive east of Downtown, Laguna Mountain sits at 6,000 feet above the sea on the edge of the Cleveland National Forest. Mountain bike through the Jeffrey Pineson one of several trails based on level of difficulty. Head even further east to Borrego Spring and the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Here you’ll find the popular Indian Head – De Anza loop, a 14 mile paved ride that will lead you past the magnificent metal sculptures of Ricardo Breceda – larger than life creatures jetting out of the desert sand. Or, for the more extreme rider, try the 100 mile loop through the badlands or the Montezuma Grade where you’ll climb 4 thousand vertical feet in just ten miles.

Located just minutes from Downtown San Diego, Mission Trails Regional Park offers numerous mountain biking trails, beautiful scenery, and a family friendly visitor center.

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, stretches up the San Diego coastline and passes through some of the area’s most beautiful beach towns like Del Mar, Leucadia and Encinitas. Cyclists can begin their journey at any location north of the Mexican border, but the most popular rides start in La Jolla or Del Mar, as cyclists travel as far north as Oceanside before turning around and heading south again. The route combines miles of flat surface along with challenging hills like the Torrey Pines grade, all with picturesque ocean views.


Mission Bay and Beaches

The 27 miles of winding, paved bike paths that circle Mission Bay are car-free and provide a great experience for family bike rides and sightseeing. Cyclists can pick a range of distances along the bay, or branch off on side trips to explore the communities of Pacific Beach, La Jolla and Ocean Beach. View details of a 12 mile Mission Bay Bike Route or the laid back Ocean Beach Bike Path.

San Diego Bay


The Bayshore Bikeway is a 25-mile ride along San Diego Bay. The majority of the ride runs along bike lanes or separated bike path. Riders can start at the Embarcadero in downtown San Diego and head south to National City and Chula Vista. Loop around San Diego Bay into Imperial Beach, and then catch the Silver Strand into Coronado. Once in Coronado, riders have the option of turning around and following the trail back, or hop on the Coronado Ferry to cross over San Diego Bay back into Downtown San Diego. Map out your adventure on the iconic Bayshore Bikeway or ride from the Gaslamp Quarter to the historic NTC at Liberty Station via the San Diego Bay Bike Route.

Silver Strand in Coronado

The Silver Strand on the peninsula of Coronado offers an easy 10-mile ride between Coronado and Imperial Beach along a portion of the Bayshore Bikeway. The path on the strand parallels the beach and San Diego Bay, which is often referred to as the most beautiful and cyclist-friendly bike route in Southern California.

Point Loma Cabrillo Monument

The hills surrounding Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma offer intermediate and advanced riders a vigorous coastal path. After powering up the hill, you can gain insight into early San Diego history at the Cabrillo Monument as well as enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Diego Bay, Downtown San Diego and Coronado to the east. Try the Cabrillo Ride from Mission Bay Visitor Center for the whole experience.

From the fine arts, including classical, contemporary and folk art, to science and natural history, San Diego’s museum and galleries world offers an abundance of experiences. Wherever your interests may lie, you’re sure to find a collection that will provide you with deeper insight, engagement and inspiration.

Balboa Park

Often referred to as the “Smithsonian of the West,” Balboa Park is the largest urban park with cultural institutions in the United States. Fifteen museums devoted to topics as varied as anthropology, art, aviation, natural science and technology are spread throughout the pristine gardens and historic Spanish Colonial architecture in Balboa Park.

The USS Midway Museum

A former naval aircraft carrier, the Midway was America’s longest serving naval warship; it is the only carrier to have served through the entire length of the Cold War and beyond, active from 1945-1992.  Consistently voted the best museum in San Diego, admission includes a self-guided audio tour of over 60 exhibits—access to the crew’s former sleeping quarters, the ship’s jail, a grandiose galley, the engine room, etc., as well as a tour of 29 restored aircrafts.

Unconditional Surrender Statue

Lifelike waterside sculpture resembling the famed “V-J day in Times Square” photo from 1945

National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military

Outdoor bronze statues depicting armed forces personnel listening to comedian Bob Hope


Thanks to its mild, sunny climate and a wide array of landscapes and natural features, San Diego County contains diversity so spectacular that it takes even local residents by surprise. Hiking is one of the best ways to get close to nearly all of it. Blessed with over 2,100 plant species, over 500 species of birds, and hundreds of species of reptiles and mammals, San Diego County’s 4,261 square miles are the most biologically diverse in California, if not the United States. In few other places can you watch the sun rise from a palm grove in the desert, build a snowman in a pine-shaded meadow at noon, and watch the sun set into the Pacific Ocean.

On San Diego’s coastline, you’ll find miles of sparkling beaches overlooked by hikable sandstone bluffs containing the rare Torrey pine. Head inland just a few miles, and you can climb rugged peaks to attain panoramic views of landmarks over 100 miles away. A trip to the mountains will let you wander tranquil, stream-lined meadows under the shade of oaks and pines. You can discover hidden palm oases and contemplate silence and space in the vast expanses of Anza-Borrego Desert. This hiker’s paradise truly has something for everyone.

San Diego has routes appropriate to hikers of all ages, skill levels, and ambition, as well as routes that are perfect for dog lovers and families. You can also experience some of the county’s famous natural events, including the wildflower bloom in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the arrival of migratory birds traveling the Pacific Flyway, the best times to experience fall color in the county, and peak spring times when every living thing is vibrant with fresh growth and kaleidoscopic color.


Anyone can enjoy kayaking from their very first outing, with challenges ranging from two-hour coastal tours to epic multi-day expeditions.  Couples and families with small children will particularly like the tandem models that can accommodate two or more paddlers. On any given day, hundreds of visitors and locals paddle these brightly-colored vessels all around San Diego’s coves and coastlines. For those who want to learn the ropes from a pro, the Mission Bay Aquatic Center offers courses for beginning and advanced paddlers.

Kayak Tours

While you can kayak virtually any place along the San Diego coast, La Jolla Shores beach is among the most popular. Protected from the brunt of the summer swells, it’s an ideal launching point to explore kelp beds, sea caves and sea lion colonies.

Everyday California

Everyday California offers kayak tours of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve, giving you an opportunity to explore one of Southern California’s richest and most diverse marine ecosystems.

  • Original La Jolla Kayak tour – kayak around the beautiful sea cliffs and explore the seven sea caves of La Jolla, lead by an experienced EC guide. (90 minutes)
  • Kayak/Snorkeling tour – kayak through the reserve lead by a senior guide to find the ideal spot for snorkeling, then drop anchor and get up-close-and-personal with marine wildlife including sea lions, sea turtles and leopard sharks.  (2 hours)

They offer private group tours as well, and a whale watching kayak tour during the winter months (from the beginning of December through the beginning of March).  In addition, Everyday California offers a 20% discount for all Lucky D’s guests!

La Jolla Kayak

La Jolla Kayak offers a variety of oceanic and dry land activities, including a sunset kayak tour, a kayak/snorkeling combination tour, bike/kayak tour, and more!  Head over to their website to figure out which expedition will best suit your needs.


Summer and fall are prime time for kayaking in San Diego. The conditions are generally calm and the air and water temperatures are warm enough to wear simply a bathing suit or light wetsuit top. Launch ramps and beaches within San Diego’s protected bays are the surest bet for easy launching and landing any time of year. Any local kayak service or the lifeguards can advise you about when and where it’s safe to go paddling at coastal beaches.




One of the first things that comes to mind with Southern California is surfing. When the surf is up, you can be sure to find a steady stream of grommets and pros alike slipping into wetsuits to shred some barrels and ride the gnarly tubes of the Pacific Ocean. When they’re not in the water or on the beach they’re in their cars, boards strapped to the roof and heading for such fabled breaks as Bird Rock, Oceanside Pier, or the legendary Windansea (featured in the Tom Wolfe bestseller, The Pump House Gang).

The California Surf Museum in Oceanside celebrates San Diego county’s deeply ingrained surfing tradition, where you can see historic boards and exhibits honouring legends who have carved the waves over the last 50 years. Throughout the county, especially in beach towns like Leucadia and Encinitas, you’ll find plenty of board shops, including Hansen Surfboards (open since 1961), where you can stop by to get tips on local lessons. Even if you never plan to get in the waves, you can still buy a pair of board shorts and power up with breakfast at such classic surf hangouts as Pipes Cafe in Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Beach Break Cafe in Oceanside.

Surfing Lessons / Rentals

Eager to give it a try yourself?  Everyday California in La Jolla offers surfboards and paddle boards for rent, and all Lucky D’s guests get a 20% discount!


Our staff recommends Surfari in Mission Beach.  Their lessons are traditionally 90 minutes long, and they offer private, semi-private, and group surfing lessons.  Private lessons (1 instructor: 1 student) are $85, semi-private (1:2) are $65, and group lessons (1:5) are $55.

Next Level Surf School


Highly rated on Yelp and other websites, Next Level Surf School in Ocean Beach offers the longest surfing lessons time-wise and also the best bang for your buck.  For a more personalized learning experience that won’t break the bank, we recommend checking them out.  Lessons are two hours long, with both private and group options—private lessons (1:1) are $75, while group lessons (2-5 students) are $65 per student.


San Diego Surf School

Located in Pacific Beach, San Diego Surf School offers private surfing lessons as well as bundle packages.  1 hour private lessons (1:1) are $75, though with 4 or more people the price drops to $55 a person; private 90 minute lessons (1:1) are $95, though with 4 or more people drops to $70 a person.  If you think you’ll need a little more time to learn the ways of the waves, they offer a special of four 90-minute lessons for the price of three ($285).  Group surfing lessons are an hour and a half in length, at $55 a head.

Ocean Beach Surf School



Ocean Beach Surf School guarantees that you’ll be able to surf your own wave by the end of your session, or the lesson’s on them!  Their lessons are 90 minutes long, with private, semi-private and group class offerings.  Private lessons are $89, semi-private lessons (class of 2-3 people) are $69, and group lessons of 4-5 people are $59.

Not quite ready to tackle the waves of the Pacific?  Check out WaveHouse in Mission Beach.

A 7 acre beachfront entertainment complex with an artificial wave pool, WaveHouse embodies the quintessential SoCal vibe—sunshine, surfing, and beautiful oceanside views in an entertaining and chilled out atmosphere. Located in the heart of Mission Beach, it’s renowned for its premium people watching; eyeball surfers tackling waves in the ocean with a cold beverage in hand, and with a quick turn of the head check out others squaring off with simulated barrels in the wave pool. WaveHouse epitomizes the surfer lifestyle, and is a must-see for out-of-towners, providing a low-key, relaxed environment with plentiful opportunities for fun in the sun.

Been through one of these beginner surf programs (or another) and loved it? Let us know!

Petco Park is spectacular in every way, combining the best sight lines in baseball with breathtaking views of San Diego. Architecturally magnificent, it celebrates the sea, the sky, the natural beauty, cultural diversity and unique spirit of our region. Innovative design features evoke the timeless traditions of baseball in an intimate setting, with state-of-the-art fan amenities to suit every taste and budget.

Voted 2015 #1 Zoo in the world, the San Diego Zoo is an absolute must see. Founded in 1916, the Zoo has been an icon in San Diego for nearly 100 years, not to mention the scene of the infamous Baxter versus Bear face-off in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.

Spend the day monkeying around in our tropical oasis as you visit beautiful habitats that are home to gorillas, eagles, tigers, sun bears, Asian leopards, rare reptiles, a palette of colorful birds, and more. Visit the Australian Outback to delight in our colony of 24 koalas, and travel along Panda Trek to experience giant pandas and other animals that share their bamboo forest habitat.



Go on the Elephant Odyssey to discover what animals used to roam Southern California and see what the elephants are up to. Enjoy a guided tour on a double-decker bus or the scenic view from the Skyfari aerial tram, and dine in the peaceful surroundings of Albert’s Restaurant.

Discover the wonders of wildlife with animal encounters, interactive experiences, and keeper chats. A leader in animal care and conservation, the San Diego Zoo is at the heart of the San Diego experience.

We offer discounted tickets for all of our guests in Reception!  Ask a staff member to learn more.