Spring Break Travelogue: San Diego

I never imagined myself living or studying in a place where San Diego would be a “cheap and easy” Spring Break destination, but, here we are; Spring Break 2014! I spent six days and five nights jaunting around San Diego with one of my best friends, and, though I had been here before (just once when I was a kid) I was really impressed by how much the area had to offer and how much we were able to pack into our short trip!

We stayed at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Circle, which is essentially a mile long strip of every hotel and motel chain imaginable located on either side of I-8 Freeway. It’s not the most scenic location, but it did end up being incredibly convenient, and the hotel itself was immaculately kept, an incredible bargain (thanks to Expedia!), and staffed by some of the friendliest and most helpful people I’ve ever encountered in the hospitality industry. Hotel Circle is also just a few minutes from Old Town San Diego, “The Birthplace of California.” I love Mexican culture, and I’m a sucker for anything Western or Old Time-y, so I really enjoyed this little tourist area. There have got to be more Mexican restaurants, bars and gift shops per capita than anywhere I’ve ever been in Southern California–not that I’m complaining.

Old Town San Diego sits along the historic California 101.

Old Town San Diego sits along the historic California 101.

The first night, we grabbed dinner at Fred’s Mexican Cafe, one of the many brightly colored, chili-pepper lit Mexican dining establishments located along San Diego Avenue. But Fred’s definitely stood out as one of the best restaurants we tried in Old Town; fresh chips and salsa, tasty fish tacos, and hot, sugary churros to cap off the meal, what more could we have asked for?

Our second day was mostly a beach day, and the hottest day of our trip, so we decided to take a short jaunt up to La Jolla. The coastline is absolutely gorgeous and the water a beautiful crystalline turquoise-blue. Plus, the beach city surprisingly wasn’t very crowded, despite it being a weekend. We intended to make our way to the main beach by the pier, but upon arriving found that we had parked far from the actual beach and instead close to the park, rocks overlooking the ocean, and La Jolla Sea Wall where tourists can get a glimpse of the adorable, pudgy seals who sunbathe there. There was, however, a small beach adjacent to the Sea Wall where we were able to sunbathe, but not for too long! We knew it would be a hot day, but within a matter of minutes even lying on the beach was unpleasant and we realized it was not in the 80’s, as we had anticipated, but rather 92 degrees–in March!

After our failed sunbathing attempt, it was time for a proper meal and a cold drink to cool down! We chose Aroma Bakery and Cafe, where the food was fresh and fairly good, but nothing special, and the service was rather slow. The desserts seemed to be more their specialty, with glass cases of tiramisu and chocolate cake tempting us from our table, but sadly I didn’t have a chance to test out that theory!

Our third day, we ventured out toward Downtown San Diego to Balboa Park, a sprawling arts and culture plaza which is home to art museums, a Japanese friendship garden, botanical garden, Natural History Museum, and so much more. It literally felt like we’d been transported from Southern California to a beautiful old city in Spain, and everything was so lush and well maintained. We easily spent a few hours just roaming around, taking everything in, and snapping countless photos (of course!)

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The Hotel del Coronado appeared significantly creepier before the sun broke through the clouds.

Next up was Coronado Island, just across the harbor from Downtown San Diego. It’s home, of course, to the infamous Hotel del Coronado, which has been featured on countless travel and ghost hunter shows, as it’s supposedly haunted by the spirit of a young woman. As a lover of anything paranormal, I was eager to visit. When we first arrived, the day was gloomy and overcast and the del Coronado definitely gave off a rather creepy vibe, but once the sun broke through and we made our way to the beautiful white sandy beach, all thoughts of ghosts were forgotten in favor of sunbathing and collecting seashells. The beach was definitely different than any I’d ever been on in Southern California; the sand was soft and white, and as I would later learn, it’s one of the only southward facing beaches in California, and there are no landmasses directly between Coronado Island and Antarctica–crazy!

Sunset Cliffs was absolutely stunning at, well, sunset.

Sunset Cliffs was absolutely stunning at, well, sunset.

On our last day in San Diego, we definitely had to try out the city trolley tour, as we saw trolleys nearly everywhere we went around San Diego. The Old Town Trolley Tour costs about $30 for the day, but this allows you jump-on and off privileges all day long, with stops at Balboa Park, Little Italy, Downtown, Coronado Island, the San Diego Zoo and more. It was a really memorable experience and a great (if windy!) way to see the city and cover a lot of ground without walking or driving everywhere, and the tour guide was very informative and entertaining. I wish every city I visited offered these tours!

Our last little adventure in San Diego was to Sunset Cliffs, which I had just happened to find on a map, and was really the best possible way we could have ended the trip. Sunset Cliffs, as the name suggests, overlooks the ocean and allow for an unobstructed view of some of the most beautiful sunsets. We were able to walk right out onto the cliffs, lay out a towel, and read for a while as the sun sunk over the horizon. It was really beautiful and such a relaxing was to end an incredible Spring Break in San Diego!

If you’re visiting San Diego, don’t miss: Coronado Island, Sunset Cliffs, Balboa Park, Old Town Trolley Tours, Old Town San Diego.

Be sure to check out more of my San Diego photos over on my Flickr!

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