I’ve never been a big fan of traveling on the holidays. I always enjoyed the comfort of my own home, kitchen and decorated surroundings. Besides, my home was always where the family convened for the main holiday meal, so why go anywhere?

Well, that theory has changed since l I moved from New Jersey to Phoenix. Its not about the setting, but about who you’re with. Yes — as corny and cliche’ as it may sound — home really is where the heart is, and this Thanksgiving my heart was with my family in San Diego. Well…sort of. We decided on a casual Thanksgiving dinner at my house on Thursday but then filed into our rented 7 seater Ford Flex at 5 AM Friday morning enroute to our sandy holiday destination for the remainder of the week-end.

In what seemed like no time at all my feet were in the sand as we were deciding on where lunch would be. You see, I’m not the only food-obsessed one in the family. It was an easy decision really, as my brother had been talking up a storm about The Pacific Beach Fish Shop, since his last visit there. So off we went. You can read all the tasty details on our fresh seafood meal here.

The next morning started off early with a nice brisk walk to Little Italy’s Mercado on Date Street from Kettner Blvd. to Front Street where local merchants pedal farm fresh fruits, vegetables, artisan foods and specialty items. It really added to our day that the weather was unseasonably warm as we worked our way up Date Street sampling healthy green drinks and raw protein bars, and unhealthy baked goods and homemade candies. (Hey — I believe in a balanced diet, and far be it from me to pass over a local merchant with an offer.)

travel reviewHeading back to our hotel we passed by wonderful scents from greenery we’d never see home in Phoenix and even passed by beautiful blooming hibiscus. What a beautiful and unusual way to spend Thanksgiving week-end. Did I mention I love San Diego?!

The rest of the afternoon was spent leisurely by taking a quick boat ride from the Seaport Marina to Coronado Island and walking off the not so healthy treats we enjoyed at the Mercado on the Island’s easy strolling streets. I can never help imagining that one of the cute little homes that line Coronado’s streets belong to me. I come and go from my home in Phoenix at my leisure to enjoy the beach and all the island has to offer and…ummm, did I just say that out loud? OK, back to reality. All of that island walking can work up an appetite so we decided to take a lunch break at Nicky Rotten’s Bar & Burger Joint…and am I glad we did. You can see my raves about Nicky Rotten’s here.

More island walking and I start getting worn out so its back to the hotel to get ready for a night out. The one thing I love about staying at the Manchester Grand Hyatt is you don’t feel bad going back to your room for a little rest while on vacation in San Diego. The beds are SO comfy, the grounds are relaxing and the lobby is gorgeous! I’m so glad I’m a member of TPI Travel — it allows me to stay there for $99/night – an incredible value. (I just checked and the room rates are $219!) OK, so after we’re all rested, it’s up and at ’em again — off to Little Italy.

OK, so I have a confession to make. As a restaurant/travel blogger it was really my duty to try a different spot in Little Italy. But since I was with the family I wanted to do them right and go to a place that I knew had the best food for the dollar, and that place is always Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. We were all hankering for a good Italian meal complete with wine and I know Filippi’s never breaks the bank nor disappoints. See my pick for Little Italy’s best value here.

So after a good night’s rest, what’s the best way to start the day for a long journey back home? Coffee and Winchel’s Donuts of course!

winchells donutsMy brother said he remembered passing one up while cruising around Loma Point so I looked them up to check out the reviews. Hmm…not good at all. Ridiculously mixed from wonderful to lousy. Should we still give it a try? After realizing most of the low raters were belly-aching about rest room inadequacy and the like (come on now, its a donut shop) we decided to forge ahead…we are after all, a donut-lovin’ bunch. Well let me tell you, that was one good decision. My brother and I headed off to the hole in the wall donut shop, which by the way usually end up being the best ones. No exception here…after surveying the nicely stocked case we decided on a good selection of 2 dozen gems — we didn’t want to let any winners slip by us, now would we? So back to the Hyatt we went, grabbed some coffees and a back table in their meeting area and opened the lids to display absolute donut nirvana. OK, so this may not be the smart way to start every morning, but was certainly the way to start this morning. Nothing makes me happier than ending a holiday with my family and an assortment of stellar donuts!