Lions and Tigers and Bears: San Diego Vacation Part II
Despite cloudier weather, our second day in San Diego was still filled with good food and even some activity that went beyond lying by the pool. After a delicious Friday night dinner that kept me safe from gluten, I woke up bright and early Saturday morning, due to A) my inability to sleep in, ever and B) the fact that the west coast is three hours behind my east coast brain. I will say Coronado Bay is quite lovely at 5:30 in the morning and I had the opportunity to enjoy it wandering outside. By 7, Brittanny was ready for the day too so we enjoyed some coffee and fruit at The Market at Loews, while reading the less than impressive local paper.
Saturday was not going to be optimal tanning weather, so we decided to be touristy and check out the San Diego Zoo instead of tanning and reading, my preferred vacation activities. Many people recommended that we check out the SD Zoo and I must say, it lived up to expectations, and the $37 (!!) price of admission. (We DC folks are spoiled by all of the free museums we have so the ticket cost caused a bit of sticker shock for me.)
After deciding to venture to the zoo, we then chose our mode of transportation. Being that our hotel was in Coronado, cab rides getting into the city are pretty pricey and since Britt used to work for the American Bus Association, it only seemed fitting to take advantage of the public bus system. We were quite successful in navigating the city via bus. It took a little longer than a direct cab ride but our wallets thanked us.
Our bus route required us to switch buses so we stopped at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to get a coffee. Apparently Coffee Bean is a very trendy spot for Hollywood celebs, but we didn’t see any at 9am on a Saturday morning. I, of course being less than trendy, had never heard of Coffee Bean but loved the coffee. and Britt’s smoothie looked great. I’ve since learned from the website, Gluten Free in SD, that all of Coffee Bean’s, “Coffees and Teas are Gluten Free. Our Special Dutch Chocolate Powder, and our French Deluxe Vanilla Powder are both Gluten Free, so any drinks made with these powders are gluten free as well. Our Caramel sauce is also gluten free. My guess is that their smoothies are probably GF too, but I’m not sure.
Once we arrived at the zoo, Britt and I took advantage of all of the perks that came with our ticket, including the guided bus tour and tram ride over the park. Call me a tourist, but I loved getting to see the zoo and the amazing number and variety of animals. My favorite zoo residents were definitely the meerkats. They even had little baby meerkats. Isn’t it amazing how the zoo can make you feel like a kid again? Other highlights included the giraffes, sea otters, and reptile house. The koalas were not that exciting since they sleep 22 hours out of the day, but still very cute asleep in the trees.
After a busy morning, it was time for lunch so we wandered around Balboa Park, the area surrounding the zoo, and decided to eat at The Prado. For those of you who know me, I’m always thinking about my next meal. So after our early breakfast we investigated potential lunch possibilities in the zoo vicinity since I knew I wouldn’t be able to just grab a hot dog at the zoo. The Prado is part of the Cohn Restaurant group, and their menu looked awesome, full of lots of fresh, potentially gf choices. We sat outside and even though it was a little cloudy, the cool air was perfect.
Our extremely helpful waitress went back to the kitchen multiple times to check with the chef about my gluten-free options. I decided to go with the “Prado Pressed Salad,” a beautiful array of baby arugula, shaved asiago cheese, strawberries, figs, and candied walnuts with a sherry shallot vinaigrette. I couldn’t get the candied walnuts because they sprinkle them with flour, but the salad was still yummy. It was a tough call between the salad and the naturally GF fish tacos, but since I’d eaten Mexican the night before, I went with the pressed salad (And I’m a sucker for figs and arugula!)With the guidance of our server, I got grilled shrimp on top of my salad and the combination provided a refreshing and flavorful meal. Delicious! After enjoying an outdoor lunch, we began our trek back to the hotel via the bus. While not the most time efficient, we minimized our carbon footprint and our spending. We returned to Loew’s with enough time to catch up on the college basketball scores for the day, and get ready for our evening in downtown San Diego.