Last week, I posted about our 2nd trip to San Diego where we experienced it more like a tourist would. This week, I want to focus on our 1st trip because we experienced it more like locals would.
We went there for our son’s Marine boot camp graduation, and we stayed in Rancho Sante Fe, which is about 20-30 minutes north of downtown San Diego. That might be too far for some people, but since we’re from Houston, it didn’t phase us.
We flew into San Diego’s airport again, and again it was crazy, but we managed to get all of our luggage and make the long walk to the rental car trams. We rented a car from Hertz Rental, and we didn’t have a great experience with them at all. I’ve contacted them since our miserable experience with them and have been told “someone will be calling” me, but that was weeks ago. I’m not holding my breath. We’ve only used Hertz twice, and this was the second bad experience with them, so we won’t use Hertz again.
On the days when we didn’t spend all of our time on the Marine base, we wanted to immerse ourselves among the locals.
We did a couple of things that were somewhat touristy, but from what I have heard, they’re things the locals do, too. We visited the San Diego Zoo and the USS Midway. In our conversations with people at those locations, we quickly discovered that yes indeed, locals visit both of those places. In fact, locals get discounts at both.
I used this website to get discounted tickets to the zoo–that aren’t cheap. It’s an excellent zoo, however. We took many wonderful photos and enjoyed seeing animals we don’t have in our Houston Zoo. I was bummed that they weren’t interested in adding step stools in the restrooms to help Little People and children properly reach the sinks, but I’m not giving up on them. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. The zoo is HUGE! It’s about 100 acres big!
I suggest taking the tour bus within the zoo. It will drive you throughout the zoo and give you neat facts about the zoo and its animals. Sit on the right side of the bus, however. I sat on the left side and ended up standing most of the time so that I could see. Here are some pictures I took:
The USS Midway was also a bit pricey, but it was money well spent. We enjoyed seeing the history and experiencing what it was like for the military men and women who lived and worked in that city on the water. They actually had step stools in the restrooms, too. How thoughtful!
We loved driving up and down the Coastal Highway. You can see the ocean from the road, and the weather there is so amazing that you’ll want to roll down the windows and cruise. We often saw hot air balloons enjoying the sites, as well.
We visited several beaches, but enjoyed the ones that were tucked in neighborhoods where kids were celebrating birthday parties, and locals were playing volleyball in the sand. After talking to the locals we met on the beach, we discovered that San Diego is more of a lifestyle than a location. Everyone had such a chill attitude.
Our absolute favorite thing we visited was near the Naval Base, and it only cost $5! Cabrillo National Monument and Park
It’s a great place to hike, to picnic, to breath in fresh air, to explore and to just enjoy the moment. My daughter Sierra wished she would have had her guitar with her. She said she could have sat there all day and played her guitar and written songs.
There’s a lighthouse at the park where you can climb inside and see how the lighthouse manager lived and worked. That was pretty crazy. I couldn’t imagine being cramped in there. Surprisingly enough, entire families stayed in the lighthouse.
The neatest part about it is that you can walk on various rocks where the tide has gone in and out, so there are tide pools where various things collect when the tide goes back out. We were able to get up close in personal with thousands of crabs. We even saw a seal swimming when we were exploring the tide pools.
We ate at local restaurants rather than at a chain or franchised restaurants. We found it very easy in San Diego to find food that accommodated Sierra’s dairy-allergy.
Our favorite food was the California Burrito. It’s a burrito stuffed with cheddar, carne asada, sour cream and french fries–yes, french fries! We ate California Burritos at two different locations, but our favorite was Juanita’s Taco Shop in Encinitas. Look at the size of that burrito! It was huge, and it was only about $5. Nice! Yes, it’s loaded with calories, but we walked so much during our trip that I lost weight!
We had two favorite breakfast spots. One was near Rancho Sante Fe. It was called The Naked Cafe. They had so many wholesome options for people with dietary restrictions and didn’t bat an eye when we asked about specific ingredients. They were very used to answering such inquiries. Sierra was able to eat their dairy-free, gluten free pancakes with fresh fruit. I enjoyed the black bean breakfast burrito that exploded with flavor.
Our other favorite breakfast spot was Lockwood Table in Solana Beach. It was quaint. It was wholesome. They had very aromatic coffee that was freshly pressed. To give you a sense of how chill this place was and just how few tourists were there, we sat at a table next to someone famous, and people weren’t even intrigued that she was there. You could tell the fellow customers were used to seeing her there (or at least used to seeing famous people).
We thoroughly enjoyed emerging ourselves amongst the locals, chatting with them, not being around the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas…We got to relax and breathe on this trip by venturing out and seeing what it’s like to live there. I must say, we were not ready to leave and, aside from the high cost of living, would buy a place there in a heart beat.