Eight Things San Diego

The boys & I just returned from a fun-filled fall break trip to San Diego, visiting the beautiful city Audley was once stationed in while in the Navy, and visiting with some of his extended family.  The weather was amazingly gorgeous plus we had a fantastic tour guide with Audley’s cousin sharing fabulous highlights over 3 1/2 days!

I totally fell in love with southern California and wanted to share a few of our highlights for a little travel inspiration for your next trip!

I absolutely love history (it was the other half of my double major in college), so when we travel a lot of sights we visit are related to history.  This has always been a fun way to teach our kids to appreciate and learn about the country in which they live without spending as much time in books as I did!

  1. The Hotel Del Coronado.  This National Historical Landmark on Coronado Beach built in 1888 is one of the very few wooden Victorian hotels left in existence. IMG_E7082       This resort hotel has hosted celebrities, royalty, and presidents for nearly 130 years as well as been the location of many literary efforts and even movies sets!

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{Think Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, & Tony Curtis in “Some Like it Hot“!}

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While the hotel has been added on to and grown much over the years, the original Victorian structure still stands and is used for lodging.  We chose to stay in the original Victorian Building mainly because I am such a romantic and loved the historical element.

Our room was so lovely and very roomy.  They have been renovated in recent years, and the more modern decor mixed with the Victorian architecture was tastefully done.  The staff was so friendly and very helpful which always makes a difference in a lodging experience.

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If you love architecture, the Hotel Del has it!  I love the towers, curves, colors and stairways.  It is a step back in time; most definitely one of my favorite time periods of all.

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Oh, I can’t forget… the elevator!  The old fashioned cage-style elevator is still run by an elevator operator which of course totally amplifies the atmosphere!

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The Hotel Del Coronado is family friendly, BUT I’m not real sure that I would take small children (TOTALY MY OPINION) as there are so many couples there for romance, older couples for the resort vacation, and expensive restaurants where the atmosphere is not really for children.  While trying to enjoy an early quiet morning on the patio sipping coffee and savoring the atmosphere, I was really irritated by parents allowing their children to run wild; screaming, yelling and fighting (UGH) and another parent with a screaming toddler who did nothing but make the situation worse by telling her how bad she was.  I try to be understanding, but respect for those around you goes a long way.   Young children in an unfamiliar and more of a grown-up environment really can ruin for those who appreciate and desire it.

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The Hotel Del offers fabulous shopping options (the B&S Emporium could’ve easily emptied my checkbook AND DID cause my suitcase to need a “Heavy” tag on our return flight) from home decor to formal and resort wear!

The Del Coronado is owned by Hilton Properties now, so those who are brand specific when booking lodging will really enjoy the perks! They do not have a shuttle service, so if you have not rented a car, you’ll need to use Uber or a taxi service for transportation.  Many restaurants, galleries and shops off of the resort are in easy walking distance.  The town of Coronado is so cute and definitely pedestrian friendly.

2.  San Diego Zoo. Don’t let the ticket price throw you or even balk at the idea of a two day ticket ($52 for one day/adult & $83 for two day/adult); the legendary San Diego Zoo is so much fun and absolutely worth it!

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I wish we could’ve had two days to visit, but we managed to make the most of one and enjoyed every minute of it.

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After all, a zoo is not necessarily for the kids; big kids and children at heart love them as well.

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With temperatures in the upper 70’s it wasn’t so hot the animals were hiding out.  We were awed, entertained, and mesmerized by the variety of animals and the show many were happy to put on for us.

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We laughed quite a bit as well since I think some of the animals know you are watching and do things like pose for pictures.

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Do these ginormous reindeer make anyone else want to decorate for Christmas in October?

Some tips for visiting the zoo….

**Go early in the day & purchase advance tickets.  There are MANY school and day care groups that visit the zoo so getting in can be crowded and a little chaotic. Parking is free and appeared to be plentiful and despite the crowds of children the zoo was very clean!

**Wear comfortable walking shoes and prepare to get your steps in for the day… uphill, downhill and everything in between.  We managed over 15,000 steps each on our zoo visit!

**Food is available inside the park.  They have several options that fit the theme of whichever area you may be strolling through at the moment, but like most parks, it’s a little pricey.  We did a “snack” which included a kids meal for me.  I mostly wanted the cute little bag, but it was tasty as well!  If you don’t mind the extra bags, you can bring in your own food and drink.

**We didn’t do the bus tour, but having a guided tour around the entire zoo would definitely be an added bonus, if you have the time.  It does cost extra to do this, though.

**Right now (October 2017) the zoo is undergoing some construction work, creating new exhibits.  This also creates a little confusion when following the map and signs.  Be flexible and don’t be frustrated over it.  Progress can sometimes be a pain, but changing up the park makes for a new adventure each time you visit!

3.  Balboa Park.  If you still feel like walking, right next to the zoo is the beautiful Balboa Park.

San-Diego-Balboa-Park | ohfiddledeedee.com

{The zoo is actually a part of the park, but you don’t have to do both at the same time.}

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Named for the Spanish explorer, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the park was originally built in 1915 for the California-Panama Exposition, which left behind beautiful architectural delights that were restored after vandalism, arson, and neglect several years back.  The park has had a storied history, but it is now well-maintained with a Prado for strolling, a theater, shops, restaurants, museums, fountains, a conservatory and grassy areas for picnicking and enjoying the day.

Balboa-Park | ohfiddledeedee.comBalboa-Park-Musician | ohfiddledeedee.com

The park is a National Historic Landmark (since 1977) and well worth spending time inside!

4.  Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma.  This gorgeous National Park overlooking the bay commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542.  This is significant as it was the first time a European explorer landed on the west coast.  There is a fee per car (unless you have a National Parks pass) , then stop in at the visitor’s center for a brief history of the area and monument to give you an idea of what you are seeing.

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Walking is easy around the monument and up to the Point Loma lighthouse (the highest point in San Diego) completed in 1854.  There are often reenactors and historians around the area to answer questions and do demonstrations.  Unfortunately we missed them the day we visited, but check their website or with the visitor center for times.

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The monument of Cabrillo was commissioned in 1939 (to accompany a stone marker placed years earlier) by the Portuguese government and donated to the US.  It is so imposing when you look at it up close.

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This beautiful park is not huge, but worth a stop.  The views overlooking the Naval Air Station and Coronado Beach are stunning and make for a pretty picture.

5.  Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery.  Registered a California Historical Landmark in 1932, The National Cemetery is on your way to Point Loma and covers over 77 acres.  Stop, Pay your respects, and honor the many brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms.  If you have your family with you, take the time to explain how important the sacrifice of those who served and/or killed in war, those who served in peace and those who stand ready to defend our nation at any time.

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Read the tombstones and the monuments; there are many scattered throughout.

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Let the magnitude of sacrifice soak in.

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Then teach your kids to respect all those who serve our nation, for without them, we would have truly lost our freedoms generations ago.

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6.  Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.  Yes more history and another nationally registered Landmark, but its history mixed with shopping and food and from time to time costumed reeenactors sharing tales of early San Diego!

Old-Town-San-Diego | ohfiddledeedee.com

This historic park represents the early days of San Diego and is home to many historic building from the years of 1820-1870.  Some buildings are original to the area, first a mission and military area, while other buildings were moved to the location and preserved.

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Cosmopolitian-Hotel

You can still dine and lodge at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, check out an old schoolhouse, courthouse, and a private home showcasing a little upperclass living in the old west, or shop for local goods from Temecula Olive Oil Company.

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Located in Old Town San Diego, and built in 1825 by lieutenant José Maria Estudillo, Casa de Estudillo unveils the lifestyle of a prominent San Diego family.  Standing as the most famous of the original adobe buildings in Old Town, it’s furnished with representative items from the 16th to 20th centuries and is was built with a Catholic Chapel included within its 13 rooms.

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It was a religious and social center during the early years of San Diego.

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I loved the horseshoe shape of the home with the beautiful courtyard at it’s center.

Old-Town-Casa | ohfiddledeedee.comOld-Town-San-Diego-Catholic-Chapel

 

Portions of the casa are under construction, but you are still welcome to tour other areas.  It is free to tour as you are strolling through Old Town.

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There are also several authentic Mexican restaurants for you to choose from for you cravings dining pleasure.

7.  La Jolla Cove.  Only pictures can describe this picturesque beach area.  Breathtaking and stunning are the only words I can come up with.

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It is well worth spending a day or two, just swimming with the sea lions!

8.  USS Midway and Seaport Village.  While we were unable to tour the Midway itself, I absolutely loved this area of Naval history.  Our visit to San Diego happened to coincide with the Navy’s Fleet Week so we spent a lot of the weekend doing things related to that with Bradley. With his plans of joining the Marine Corps after graduation he was totally taken in by all of the military activity going on.

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The military police demo with the dogs was wonderful & the marines spent a good bit of time talking with Bradley.

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Bradley was a last minute in a “Run Where the Marines Run” obstacle course & 3-mile run… He did so good!

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This boy of mine will make a wonderful & dedicated Marine.

Around the Midway are several monuments and memorials to sailors or ships from the WWII era and even a tribute to Bob Hope and his work with the USO!

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“Unconditional Surrender”

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US Aircraft Carrier Memorial

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Monument for the USS San Diego and her crew.

If you just want to relax and stroll by the harbor, this is a wonderful park to do that!  You can also catch a trolley (it does cost) and take a guided tour of San Diego near the harbor area.

Seaport Village with architecture from Mexican to Victorian is great for touristy shopping, sweet treats and just strolling through for fun.  There is a gorgeous and historical 121 year old carousel with hand-carved horses!

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The harbor is right near the airport, so it was the final destination of our trip before catching our afternoon flight back to Atlanta and I’m so glad we were able to enjoy it.

Have any of you ever visited San Diego?  What did you enjoy most?

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