If you are visiting San Diego from another metro, you have probably heard of Sea World, Legoland, The San Diego Zoo, the Wild Animal Park, and the beaches in San Diego. These are all wonderful places to visit. But, San Diego has a wealth of other travel possibilities for those with an open mind. If you do an initial trip to San Diego, you probably want to do everything on “The A list”. But, I find it relaxing and rejuvenating to visit San Diego regularly, so I have developed a repetoire of other things to do!
A drive in the hills
San Diego has many hills to drive around in. It is fun to just drive, and see the scenery. The wealthy town of Rancho Santa Fe is conveniently — well, actually inconveniently located in the hills east of Solana Beach which is North of Downtown San Diego. You can see beautiful hillscapes, multi-million dollar homes, and even have a nice meal up there. Don’t forget to purchase some racing grade gasoline for $10 per gallon at the top of the hill.
A drive to the mountains.
Don’t go in the winter or early spring. I made this mistake and got caught in a blizzard in March just miles from the Mexican border. The mountains near Julian have many resorts and places to go hiking. Not the best place to be in a horrific snow storm, but great in warmer weather. There is a place that makes home made pies near Julian too! There are other mountains. Palomar Mountain State Park is another great mountainous region in Northeastern San Diego County. There are many orange orchards on the roads near there. After returning home, I had dreams about oranges! Further South From Julian is Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.
A walk through Old Town
I wrote another quick article on the salient features of Old Town San Diego. There are many small shops, eateries, ice cream places, Mexican restaurants, galleries, and more, not to mention the historical state park and the haunted Whaley House! Old Town is small, and parking is not always easy, but at least manageable. In two hours, you can extract a lot of enjoyment out of this quaint and wonderful neighborhood!
A hike at Torrey Pines
One of the most popular beach areas in San Diego is at Torrey Pines. This is about 30 minutes North of Downtown. Once again, parking is a nightmare, but you can pay $12 or $15 to park in the paid section. You can walk along the beach, or enjoy a hike up the hill and enjoy the rare species of trees called Torrey Pines. These trees are so wonderful, they named a chain of banks after them! There are many hiking trails to choose from with great views of the ocean.
A walk through Encinitas
Encinitas is a little quirky town where yoga is popular and unusual restaurants abound. It doesn’t take long to walk from one end to the other, but you can enjoy many small shops, restaurants and more. I enjoyed cardamom gelato at a small shop there called Bubby’s gelato, and cardamom ice cream is now my favorite flavor! East Village Asian Diner is another favorite of mine with great dumplings and stone pot monk bowls. There are many places to get smoothies and fresh juice. Don’t neglect sticking your head into Whole Foods either. On my most recent village to Encinitas, I sampled some Jamaican food at Jamroc 101. The beef patties were fantastic and the spicing was perfect!
Oceanside is a fun place!
They often have street fairs at Oceanside. Maybe I lucked out, but when I was just passing through, there was a street fair with fun people and lots of foods to try. You can visit the beach there as well.
Going down to the border
I drove around the border region just to do it. There is a little state park near the border. I drove down near there. The ground is a bit more muddy down there it seems. There is a hill on the border where I was driving, but as I drove further, I started seeing the tops of tall buildings on the other side of the border. I began to feel like I was in Tijuana. I got a very bad feeling. The drug war makes TJ a very dangerous place. I drove to the 5 where I could overlook the border crossing. I was very cautious not to make a wrong turn and end up in the wrong country! If you want to see a foreign country without technically being in it, a drive near the border can give you an experience to remember.
This hidden and neglected gem is near Encinitas. It is not huge, and not anything to compare to the zoo, but if you want a nice walk in a beautiful garden, you will get an hour of pleasure. I’ll leave the rest to experience!
Infinite Golf Courses
I don’t play golf, but if you do, there are dozens of golf courses in this county. You will never run out of golf courses!
The food court at the La Jolla Mall?
Enjoy great shopping and a really unusual food court at the mall in La Jolla near the 805. The food court features Teriyaki much better than any other place I have been to. Korean hamburgers — bulgogee style? Amazing! You can get Indian, Indonesian, Thai, and many other types of food at this food court as well. If you have never been, visit, and enjoy all of the free samples that will be offered to you!