With the type of winter we’ve been enjoying suffering through in Ontario this year, being able to escape to sunshine and warmer climates is not only nice, it’s crucial to maintaining one’s sanity. This past March Break, we flew into Las Vegas and did a 10 day road trip to Southern California.
Since we fell head over heels in love with San Francisco on our last visit to California, we were excited to check out The Golden State a little farther south. Our first stop on our tour was beautiful San Diego. Here are a few of our favorite San Diego attractions.
If you’re looking for a fun and lively area in San Diego with a combination East Coast Coney Island like vibe and unmistakable California cool, look no further than Mission Beach. Built on a sandbar bordered on one side by the Pacific Ocean and on the other by Mission Bay, this area is a playground for those that love the sand and surf.
We really enjoyed walking along the coast and checking out the seaside villas, trendy restaurants, surfers and street performers. Throw in the Belmont Amusement Park and the Giant Dipper roller coaster, and you have the makings for a fun-filled afternoon.
San Diego Zoo
Although I have mixed feelings about Zoos and animals in captivity, the San Diego Zoo is far from a roadside attraction. The sprawling 100-acre Zoo is home to over 3,700 rare and endangered animals representing more than 650 species and subspecies. There is also a pretty amazing botanical collection on the grounds with more than 700,000 varieties of exotic plants.
In addition to being a very well maintained facility, I really liked the focus on educating people concerning wildlife conservation and the various threats to endangered species around the world. A little awareness can go a long way to helping people make better decisions about things like the food they eat and the products they use. We really enjoyed our visit.
Located right next door to the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park is a must visit attraction. If you appreciate unique architecture, nature, history and culture – this place is for you. Spread over 1200 acres, this urban cultural landmark contains 15 museums, numerous shops and art studios, gorgeous gardens, fountains, restaurants and stunning architecture. Basically, a photographer’s paradise.
We spent an afternoon here, but could have easily spent the whole day. Pack a picnic lunch and explore!
Located across the bay from downtown San Diego, Coronado Island is described as a quaint but sophisticated beach town, and that’s a good start. Awesome shops and restaurants, a spectacular beach and a strong arts and culture community had us dreaming about relocation! One of our favorite afternoons was playing on the beach and visiting the historic Hotel del Coronado – a must-see landmark when visiting San Diego. Loved the tropical island feel.
There’s something incredibly magical about watching a spectacular sunset. And there are few places in the world that rival the beauty of Sunset Cliffs which stretches along the Point Loma peninsula’s western shoreline of San Diego.
Hundreds of people congregate like attending mass each evening to share the spiritually uplifting experience of witnessing the sun descending below the horizon to mark the end of the day. Make sure your camera battery is fully charged to capture some once-in-a lifetime shots.
La Jolla Cove
Another awesome San Diego coastal community. Would you like to get up close and personal with a giant hoard of sea lions? Then this is your place! La Jolla is a very hip and trendy area of San Diego, and a big draw is the visually stunning La Jolla Cove.
Home to numerous seals and sea lions frolicking on the beach and basking in the sun, its’ a great place to enjoy nature and take some fantastic shots of the coast.
Torrey Pines State Park
And when you’re up for a little exercise, Torrey Pines State Park is an excellent location to get out for an invigorating hike along the coast amidst spectacular views. The most popular trek is the Beach Trail hike which takes you down 300 feet to beach level for some amazing views of the coast.
And do yourself a favour – many people seem to want to avoid the $12 parking fee and park along the highway. This leaves you with a pretty boring and exhausting hike up the road to the trail head. Save your energy and plan for a longer hike with much better views along the coast and pay your fee and drive up to the upper parking lot. You’ll be glad you did.
It was pretty easy to see why San Diego is one of America’s most popular cities and consistently at or near the top of U.S. most fittest city lists. Tons of fun activities to get you outdoors enjoying nature in all its amazing splendour. Stay tuned for reviews of some of our favorite San Diego restaurants. For now, back to the cage.