It’s a tiny bit embarrassing to admit, but even though I have lived in San Diego my entire life, I have explored very little of my own city. To be fair, I relied on my parents to transport me anywhere for most of that time. 😛 So when I discovered a scenic drive all conveniently mapped out for us, I jumped at the chance to play the tourist and see more of our lovely San Diego.
Map of the scenic drive
FREE! [unless you want souvenirs, food, and such]
A little disclaimer: we had to spread this date over two days because the first time, we went out on a beautiful sunny afternoon [read: no parking anywhere]. We only made it to our first couple stops in La Jolla, and then gave up when we saw the crowds everywhere else. On our second try, we left in the early morning instead, and were fortunate that the day proved gloomy and inhospitable to beach-goers. We also stopped and went home after Seaport Village instead of continuing on to Downtown and Old Town, since by then the sun had come out and we would have experienced the same setbacks as on our first venture. Plus, you know, we’re old people at heart, and three hours out and about is quite enough outdoor-time for us. Perhaps on another day we shall return and complete the entire loop.[Map credit: Local Adventurer]
Because of where we live, we started at Mount Soledad in La Jolla [#7 on the map], and looped our way south from there.
I couldn’t believe that Michael had never been to Mount Soledad, as it’s such an iconic spot in San Diego. The views are breathtaking, especially on a clear day.
Next, we went to Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, and Ocean Beach. Although these beaches lie fairly close to one another, they each have their own unique personality. We had fun strolling through them and observing the scenery and people.
Pacific Beach is home to wonderful fish tacos at Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, and delicious ice cream sandwiches at The Baked Bear.
Mission Beach/Belmont Park
Belmont Park at Mission Beach is a great place to hang out and play for a while. It’s home to the historic roller coaster, built in 1925. It’s like a perpetual in-town fair! Purchase ride tickets there, or find a great deal at Costco for unlimited rides!
Michael highly recommends Hodad’s, a popular burger joint at Ocean Beach.
Spanish Landing/Shelter Island
Michael loved all the boats at the Spanish Landing/Shelter Island stop.
Our final stop for the day was Seaport Village. Michael had never been here either, despite it being such a popular tourist location. It’s a cute little village with a number of eclectic shops. Our favorites were: The Mugger, Captain’s Cove, and Upstart Crow Bookstore.
We didn’t actually visit all the stops, especially if we had already been to the place a number of times before. However, this date was an interesting way to enjoy what San Diego has to offer, and discover new fun places to see and explore.
- As mentioned, it’s best to start in the morning, since beaches are always popular and you’re less likely to have trouble with crowds and limited parking if you start early.
- Save the map on your phone so you can refer to it during your drive. It gives a nice description of each stop when you click on it.
- Although the drive is supposed to take three hours, I would carve out more time than that, since you may want to spend more time at some locations. If we only had one day to devote to it, we probably would need the entire day.