California Road trip with American Sky – San Diego
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Kick back & relax in San Diego
The final stop on our California road trip
was a week, yes, a whole week, in San Diego.
After many miles of driving and just a few
nights here and there along the way, the chance to unpack and stay put for a
week was very inviting.
We chose well with San Diego, such a
vibrant city and with so much to offer the visitor that it is hard to remember
that the plan was … to relax!
After much deliberation, we chose the Catamaran Resort and Spa situated on
beautiful Mission Bay. Here we had the best of both worlds, the magnificent
Pacific Beach area was just a step away with long sandy beaches and huge waves,
attracting surfers from across the world. A bustling boardwalk lined with bars,
eateries and music seemed to be busy whatever time of day or night with joggers,
walkers, cyclists, skaters; you name it, the Americans embrace all types of
The Catamaran resort fronts Mission Bay which,
when we visited, was a much quieter beach location surrounding a sheltered bay
with calm waters. The hotel was super friendly and has a tropical atmosphere
with a waterfall in the lobby and surrounded by exotic gardens, complete with a
variety of parrots and chattering birds. The stylish hotel restaurant ‘Oceana Coastal
Kitchen’ serves imaginative cuisine and we enjoyed dinner on a couple of
nights, sitting almost on the beach, overlooking the bay. A further hotel
attraction is the ‘Bahia Belle’ a 74 foot, 3 storey Mississippi style sternwheeler
that ferries guests across the bay as night falls, complete with on board
cocktail bar and nightclub.
First on our list of San Diego attractions
was the USS Midway, a de-commissioned
aircraft carrier that looms high from her berth in San Diego Harbour and hosts
thousands of visitors each day. Known as a ‘living city at sea’ you will need
plenty of time to explore this enormous ship. There are up to 29 different aircraft
to admire on board the ship, plus you can peek into the cramped crew living
quarters, the hospital wing and galley, not forgetting the ships jail. Take
time to wander around at your own pace but be prepared for a tight squeeze
through corridors and doorways. The on-board video “Voices of Midway’ is well
worth watching, and I would advise taking the audio tour, as there is so much
history to absorb. In order to see the bridge, you need to join a tour and I suggest
doing this early on as they book up quickly.
Diego Zoo has a worldwide reputation for its proactive breeding programme
and protection of species. The park area is vast and ideally requires at least
a day to enjoy all the exhibits and, of course, the animals. My tip is to take
the bus tour of the grounds as soon as you arrive. This is a great way to get
your bearings and from the top deck of the bus you can see into many of the
animal enclosures. Then just take your
time to stroll around and learn about the zoo’s commitment to saving some of
the worlds most endangered species.
We spent a morning exploring the area north
of the city known as La Jolla where there are stylish boutiques and galleries
and some great restaurants. The Grande Colonial hotel in La Jolla has bags of
style and elegance and is home to the award winning Nine-Ten Restaurant. Their imaginative
menu is paired with superb wines from an extensive cellar and if you can’t
decide from the menu you can put yourself at the ‘Mercy of the Chef’ and
indulge in a gastronomic adventure.
If Mexican food is your thing, then head
off to ‘Old Town’ where you will find authentic Mexican Cantinas such as the Cafe Coyote. As you sip your margaritas
you can watch the ladies who make fresh handmade flour tortillas at an
Another day and another beautiful area of
the city that is a must see – the very stylish Coronado Island. Get there by
ferry from San Diego harbour, or take the scenic drive over the soaring bridge,
but slow down as you arrive as the speed limit is just 25 mph. Cycling is a
great way to see the island and check out the beautiful beaches and historic
down town area and you will find plenty of bike hire outlets.
Last, but not least, was a memorable whale
watching trip with Hornblower Cruises.
Their ships are very comfortable with good seating inside and out and a great
little bar on board serving hot drinks and snacks. There are whales and dolphin
around the coastline of southern California for most of the year but we had hit
on the time when these magnificent creatures were migrating north towards
Alaska, some with youngsters in tow. Our trip did not disappoint and we were joined
by a lively pod of juveniles who seemed to be just hanging about and were as
curious in us, as we were with them. We had some great photo opportunities and
as always, it was a real privilege to see these animals in the wild.
I have yet to meet anyone who didn’t enjoy
San Diego, and now I know why. As part of a road trip or as a holiday
destination, the city does not disappoint. Even with a week at our disposal we didn’t
manage to see everything, so we shall be back!
If you are tempted to a California road
trip, or a holiday to San Diego, our partner American
Sky has some varied itineraries.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends American Sky
- California Road Trip with American Sky – Palm Springs
- California Road Trip with American Sky – Santa Barbara
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