The next day we had to leave early since it’s a 2+ hour drive to San Diego. As usual traffic starts to get busy early in the morning in LA and we definitely wanted to escape further delays.
Best way to get there is to drive down highway 405 and then take highway 5(not sure if they classify them as highway or freeway exactly down there). Almost got on highway 73 which is a toll route. Avoid if you don’t want to pay. It’s not like you’ll be driving on a bad road if you take the free one.
First stop: La Jolla
This gorgeous beach is characterized by fairly long walkway along the beach and sea lions/seals. I couldn’t quite distinguish between both. I think everything we saw was sea lions but I might be wrong.
Finding a parking is tricky. There’s plenty of spaces and plenty of vehicles. We found a parking spot a bit far but it wasn’t too bad. Parking is free.
Over there you can walk, run, sit, watch the seals, and obviously take pictures. While it is a touristy area there are no snacks or anything to find around. Plenty of restaurants in the area but it’s a fairly rich area so expect to pay good money for your meal. It was already 10:30AM when we got there so after a bit of exploration we headed to Old Town San Diego
Second stop: Old Town
We had sushi for lunch. Not the most typical food to find in a place called “old town” but it wasn’t even my choice. Old town is a funny place that, as you can imagine, looks like an old town. It’s more to capture tourists attention and not really an authentic place. Didn’t spend much time after lunch since I wanted to catch the USS Midway before it closed.
Third stop: USS Midway
This is a must see for anyone even remotely interested in ships, history, aviation and the military. I spent 2 hours exploring and this wasn’t anywhere near enough to see the whole thing. The ship is split into 2 main areas: the top deck is full of planes, helicopters and occasionally a few vets telling their stories which are quite interesting. The lower part of the ship is where the kitchens, engineering, telecommunications, and everything else that supported the mission was located. I don’t want to go into details cause there is really a lot to see. You also get an audio tour included so you can listen to stories and aircraft descriptions. There are certain things that you have to wait for so I’d suggest go for those first thing you get on the ship.
A little note on getting there: parking is $10 flat, but you can park around for much cheaper. I found a spot right across from the ship for $2 for 2 hours.
Fourth stop: Balboa Park
Now this was really a surprise. While I expected a nice park this surpassed all my expectations. It is surrounded by so many things to do. There’s a bunch of museums, restaurants, a church, and a botanical garden. This alone can take you almost a whole day to explore. The park itself is big. North of the main area is the San Diego Zoo which we didn’t have time to visit. Considering it’s not something unique to San Diego I guess you could skip it.
Last Stop: Sunset Cliffs
We wanted to see the sunset. Unfortunately traffic wasn’t our ally. We went a bit too late. Didn’t make the view less impressive though. But considering we had to drive back to LA we didn’t spend a lot of time there. Also, it was getting a bit chilly.
Don’t feel stressed if you have to drive at night. Highways in California are fairly bright. Be advised that we encountered a police checkpoint along the way. It’s a really weird thing to someone coming from Canada.