Almost as soon as finals ended, my friend and I began our long-awaited trip to San Diego. Prior to the trip, we created a working itinerary of our daily activities, but made adjustments to it as we saw fit. Now, I am sharing a brief summary of our trip with lots of pictures. Enjoy!
Day 1: Joshua Tree National Park and Cabrillo National Monument
Starting in Phoenix, we followed I-10 to Joshua Tree National Park. The drive through the park was easy and straightforward, with only one major fork in the north towards I-62. We chose to go left for better views of Sand To Snow National Monument, which we attempted to visit after exiting the park. However, the road leading to the Monument was rocky and ultimately closed. In retrospect, we suggest using the Forest Falls Welcome Center address rather than the GoogleMaps location.
In San Diego we checked into our hostel, then headed to Cabrillo National Monument and Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery where we watched the sunset.
Day 2: La Jolla
On the second day, we took a morning stroll along Mission Beach, enjoying the morning mist and watching surfers ride the subtle waves. Next, we explored the coast of La Jolla, starting at La Jolla Cove and passing through the Children’s Pool, Cuvier Park, and ending at the Tide Pools. At the Cove, we (and many other tourists) were able to get up close and personal with the native sea lions. At the Children’s Pool, we saw a small group of harbor seals, but did not spot any sea life at the Tide Pools. Along the way, we saw countless marine birds, including seagulls, Brandt’s Cormorants, and Brown Pelicans.
After this, we took a kayak tour of the Seven Caves. Our tour guides were very friendly and knowledgable about the unique aquatic ecosystem, and our group had only about 10 people total. Some fun facts: (1) Footage from the Green Seas episode of Blue Planet 2 were filmed at the San Diego-Scripps Coastal Marine Conservation–which is known because a production camera was reportedly found washed up inside one of the sea caves and a $5,000 reward was given for returning it. (2) Giant kelp can grow up to 18 inches per day and prefer cold, nutrient-rich waters, but are threatened by climate change. Unfortunately, the waters that afternoon were too turbulent for us to go inside any of the Seven Caves, but the company gave us free passes for Sunny Jim Sea Cave.
Before going to dinner, we stopped by Scripps Pier at Scripps Beach for a quick photoshoot. That night, we visited Old Town, regarded as the birthplace of California. There we explored shops, listened to Latin music, eat churros, and sipped margaritas.
Day 3: Balboa Park and Sunset Cliffs Natural Park
On our final day, we headed back to La Jolla to use our passes to see Sunny Jim Sea Cave, which requires a 144-stair descent from The Cave Store. While in La Jolla, we also spotted sea lions playing and a small pod of dolphins.
We then visited the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge and took a walk through Balboa Park.
Named after Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa in honor of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, Balboa Park was declared a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Landmark District in 1977. The park features Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, museums, and other attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Botanic Building, and Japanese Friendship Garden. For lunch we eat at El Prado restaurant and recommend ordering the walnut salad.
On the way to Sunset Cliffs, we took a quick stop at Dog Beach. If you go there hoping to get some doggie love, you’ll be out of luck because the dogs there were all very much in “play mode,” with too much energy to stop and let you pet them. At Sunset Cliffs, we spent our time exploring the tide pools, admiring the adjacent houses, and watching the crimson sunset.
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