Welcome to the California Road Trip 2018 Part 1
Today we start with a small series of our last California road trip in 2018. Our route led us from the southern tip in San Diego to San Francisco with a detour to Reno / Nevada.
Join us on our journey from south to north over the next few weeks with all kinds of surprises and information.
But now we wish you a lot of fun with us in “Sunny San Diego”!
Welcome back to the USA - our arrival
Every trip to the USA begins with a flight that is sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. This year we were able to get hold of a cheap flight from Frankfurt via Amsterdam to Los Angeles with KLM.
Total transfer time from our home to LA: 16 hours (including all waiting times, etc.).
When we arrived in Los Angeles we looked for our rental car in the Alamo "ChoiceLine" off, this time it was a Hyundai Tucson that caught our eye.
With the USA SIM card and Google Maps as navigation software, we first went to Laguna Beach, where we met up with friends. As a location, they had chosen a small restaurant in the middle of the lively art scene of Laguna Beach.
The name “Brusselles” was program, because there was not only typical Belgian dishes but also a “Manneken Pis” 😉 The food was also very tasty!
Then we went straight to our hotel, which was located in the southern part of San Diego in Chula Vista.
for the road trip
There are many things to think about for a road trip.
- SUV as a rental car indispensable for us (Alamo)
- Cell phone holder
- USA SIM card
- Google Maps (for navigation)
- Travel provisions
Seaport Village - Day 1 in San Diego
The first full day of the vacation began with a ride on the San Diego Trolley from our hotel in Chula Vista to the Seaport Village. There is a really nice “open air shopping center” right on the harbor promenade.
The small shops in the village have a lot to offer. From souvenir stands and vintage shops to restaurants and snack bars, there is everything your heart desires.
In contrast to other villages in the USA, there are very few branded shops here. There really is something for every budget. We recommend that you be there from 10 a.m., as the entire area is not yet overcrowded.
The beautifully landscaped gardens and landscapes of the Seaport Village invite you to rest and relax, which we also did later in the day, just to walk idyllically through the small park at the Harbor Restaurant.
Unconditional Surrender Statue
A film sequence from the American newsreel from August 14, 1945 shows the celebrated heroes of World War II. After landing in New York, she steps through the partying crowd in Times Square.
On “VJ Day” (Victory over Japan / Victory over Japan), a marine grabbed a completely unknown woman, took her in his arms and kissed her.
A scene and an unforgettable picture that went around the world, even if both decades later could not be fully identified.
Against the backdrop of the decommissioned and anchored as a museum USS Midway is the "Unconditional Surrender Statue" in San Diego. A piece of American history shown with a 25 foot (7.62 meter) tall statue.
If you haven't looked at the photo of the statue carefully, please scroll down slowly and let it work on you ... 😉
If you can't see it directly, the detail is at the bottom in the middle, just enlarge 😂.
This is where the nightly heart of San Diego beats.
The lively city quarter with the original “HardRock Hotel” and a wide range of restaurants invites you to linger and party.
When the lights go on at night, there is more going on here than during the day, but the camera wasn't there 😉
We can really recommend you to visit one of the bars with live music in the evening, it's definitely worth it!
La Jolla Cove & La Jolla Shores
After an eventful day, there is nothing better than hearing and feeling the power of the Pacific Ocean. We definitely recommend this after every day in the city!
La Jolla is a small town north of San Diego and is known for its breathtaking cliffs. The collected impressions were really breathtaking. A real insider tip for sunsets like in the travel brochure.
If you have enough time, head a little further north to the La Jolla Shores. A long sandy beach with large fire pits awaits you here - a real experience, which we unfortunately almost missed due to the late hour.
This year, especially in San Diego, we've been watching the sunsets most of all. This is what California is world famous for.
But we think the pictures speak for themselves, don't they?
Did you know that many of the films that were supposed to be set on the East Coast were made in California?
The fun fact about the story: In order to show a sunrise on the east coast, the film had to be shot backwards, but that only worked after the film people had previously chased the birds away from the location with gunfire.
Balboa Park is really extraordinary from all angles, regardless of whether it is nature or architecture. Every stressed city dweller will find a haven of peace here, far away from the noisy streets.
Buildings like from bygone days, lots of nature and an environment in which you can spend at least a day. If that's not enough, the world-famous San Diego Zoo is right next to it.
In addition to nature, art lovers will find small museums, architecture fans of various architectural styles and photographers many photo motifs.
A feast for the eyes, for example, is the plant house in the botanical garden and the pond with its beautiful water lilies in front of it.
If you have no idea, the Balboa Park can be compared with the federal horticultural shows, but this park is world-class!
Allow at least half a day, if not a full day, to visit the park and visit the many free museums.
It seems a hop, skip and a jump away but is a little trip. From Balboa Park to Coronado Island, it is around 2 hours by public transport with a single change.
The path leads us across the city and over the 3.4 km long and 61 meter high San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge, which connects the island to the mainland.
Coronado Island is 2/3 a military base, the rest consists of expensive housing developments and luxury hotels. So nothing for people on a budget, but an attraction for tourists.
On the city-facing side, you have a really nice view of the San Diego skyline during the day, but especially in the evening. Since the bridge does not cost a toll, you can simply drive over there.
If you have made it to one of the largest wooden structures in the USA, you will certainly feel transported back to the turn of the century. The classic “Hotel del Coronado” is a Victorian luxury hotel with all imaginable amenities.
The hotel, built in 1887, has been a National Historic Landmark since 1970 and is therefore a listed building. It is one of the few remaining wooden structures of its kind in the United States.
The location right on the beach makes it even more exciting. If you have the change, you can check in here ...
Did you know that on December 24th, 1904, the first electrically lit Christmas tree was in front of the Hotel del Coronado? - Neither do we 😉 but a badge at the said place and other places report about it.
You can already see the navy base on the island in the distance.
On the horizon you can see armed ships and military helicopters flying to the teeth. We had a somewhat oppressive but safe feeling on the beach.
The San Diego Trolley is the means of transport in San Diego.
We recommend that you buy a Compass Card at the machine and top it up with the San Diego City Pass.
So you can get anywhere for 1, 2, 3 or 7 days anywhere in the city using all public transport!
A detour to the “Sunset Cliffs” southwest of San Diego is also an insider tip when you are in San Diego. Of course, as the name suggests, you should go to the sunset.
This is exactly when the most beautiful colors of California appear, the red and gold glow, paired with the blue of the Pacific Ocean.
If you stand near the edge of the cliff, you may well get wet. The high waves in the evening shoot up over the cliffs, really breathtakingly beautiful.
You can sit very well on the cliff itself, if you get there early you will also find a comfortable bench with a view of the sea.
Old Town San Diego & Old Town Market
After the last breakfast in the hotel, we go to our final destination in San Diego with our suitcases packed.
Old Town San Diego is north of downtown and offers a lot to buy and eat in addition to the historic buildings.
Even if the Old Town is very touristy, you should always complement a trip to San Diego with a visit here.
You feel transported back to the time of Mexican domination. Pueblos, museums, Mexican specialties and the whole atmosphere do the rest. If you want to experience old California, this is where it is.
The ideal time is in the morning, at this time there is not so much going on and you have enough time to let the old town of San Diego sink in.
Even if nobody lives here anymore, it feels like a lively village. So by no means is a ghost town waiting for you, but a lively community in “chilled” California.
The open-air museum is open all year round and does not cost a cent to enter.
Old Town San Diego is near Interstate 5, making it ideal for a road trip.
We use it as a stopover from San Diego to Los Angeles, but the other direction is also absolutely conceivable!