San Diego: the birthplace of California and currently the state’s second largest city.
Only a 5 hour drive from Phoenix, it was time for me to visit “America’s Finest City”
. TUBS and I packed up the Dew Mobile and made the drive out after work for a little getaway. Fueled on Dew, we got to within 20 miles of the city where we spent the night at the Wal-Inn. Up and at em in the morning, we headed straight to the San Diego Zoo. Before the gates officially opened, we took a stroll through nearby Balboa Park. The site of two World’s Fairs, the park is home to over 15 museums, numerous gardens, the Old Globe Theater, and the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world.
At 9AM, we shuffled our way through the crowds into the zoo. Over 3,500 animals our housed at the San Diego Zoo and we meant to see them all! Starting with the koalas, we circled the exhibits enjoying the exotic animals and impressive designs of their enclosures.
For all the hype that it receives, the zoo seemed pretty ordinary. It was larger than most and had a nice tramway and some great restaurants, but otherwise it was a pretty typical zoo scene. After six hours of wandering, we felt we had covered most of it and headed downtown. Here we checked in at our hostel, found a cheap parking spot, and hit the streets. The Embarcadero was interesting, especially the giant yachts that were tied up in the floating marina.
The Gaslamp Quarter
Just east of there was the exciting Gaslamp Quarter. This historical section of downtown is one of its most lively. For 16 blocks restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and hotels line the streets providing an endless amount of nighttime entertainment. The Dublin Square Irish Pub & Grille
quenched our thirst and filled our tummies with a wonderful Irish infused pizza. Incredibly, the bar had been built in Ireland to replicate a bar in Kilkenny before being shipped over to the U.S and finding a home in San Diego. The wooden carvings and authentic European design created a fun atmosphere we enjoyed almost as much as the food and drink. After a long day of walking in the sun, we crashed hard.
La Jolla, California
The next morning, we were off to La Jolla, a ritzy northern seaside neighborhood. We walked the beach, million dollar homes perched above us on the cliffs. After scrambling up a rope ladder, we came across a nice path that traced the cliff side and led us to La Jolla Cove, a popular beach area. After grabbing a bite to eat, we returned to the cove to do some snorkeling in the mild Pacific waters. The underwater scenery wasn’t spectacular, but it was an enjoyable afternoon. A couple of sea lions even swam right by us! For the most part though, they lay perched on the rocks, soaking up the rays and yelling at anyone who got too close. That night we headed back to the Gaslamp for a real night out. Midway through the night, we met a bunch of Irish guys and gals on the rooftop hangout of our hostel. We ended up dancing the night away with them and talking about the various differences of our countries.
The U.S.S Midway
Feeling the major effects of a hangover, the next morning was a late one. Once up, we headed over to the U.S.S. Midway Museum. Once the largest ship in the world, the Midway served for 47 years including tours in Vietnam and Desert Storm. We shuffled around the inner cabins, reading information signs and watching videos. It was interesting to learn about life aboard the ship. Feeling a bit like a mouse in a cardboard maze, I escaped to the top deck where a host of old U.S. fighter planes sat. Planes from every era were present and even someone like me, who knows nothing about planes, was impressed. There was also an option to climb a view tower aboard the deck, but the long lines didn’t seem worth it. It was a beautiful day out and the view of downtown was good enough from where I was standing. Altogether, it was an awesome museum! TUBS and I wandered back to our car and made the drive back to Phoenix.
Stay classy, San Diego.