Hello! Here we go again, this is location number 4 of my
American Roadtrip <– Catch up here!
As the Corona’s song ‘San Diego’ goes:
"We sleep all day, We drink all night, We are not wasting our time, We refuse to hide, We are going out tonight"
This is an accurate representation of one aspect of my trip to San Diego. A Californian city on the Pacific Coast full of beaches, diversity and culture. San Diego is one of my favourite places I have ever been… as in when I fall in love with somewhere I add it to my ‘love to have a house here’ list. Reaching for the stars I know, but this list only has 1 other place on it! Do you want to know why? Then let’s get stuck in and go through all the reasons why you need to add this city to your list of places to see!
I arrived at San Diego’s
Greyhound bus station. I travelled here from
Los Angeles which took about 2 hours. Greyhound, if you have not heard of this company before, is the international bus service in America. It is a great way of getting around and can be a lot cheaper than travelling my trains and ubers. Of course, there are other bus services that you can avail of which prove cheaper again such as
Megabus but the cheaper you go for the more you are sacrificing… Megabus is a company we used once and I still remember it, I’ll share this with you all again, it is a story for another post!
ACCOMMODATION (4 night stay):
This is the main reason I was so so excited for my trip here, the accommodation we decided to stay in was the USA HOSTEL in Ocean Beach (I’ll give you a rundown of the neighbourhoods further on). This was the highlight of my time in San Diego, it was voted the 8th best hostel that year! But I just looked for the link for you all to tag them here and they have closed all of their hostels around America as of March 2020. This is so disappointing! I really hope that they open again in the future. On another note, hostels are of a very good standard in America and provide all the amenities that you need. Private rooms, small dorms, unisex dorms, theme nights, buffet breakfast, beach equipment, vouchers, discounts anything you can imagine, hostels have it. I was always a Hotel girl because lets face it there is a stigma around hostels but after this trip to America, I’m turned!
Hostelworld is a fantastic website to use when searching for hostels!
OCEAN BEACH – This is where we stayed. It is a neighbourhood located along Ocean Beach. This is a very relaxed place, its quiet and it is a very bohemian, surfer location. There are some bars and restaurants, very casual vibes. The beach is very nice and there is a large pier where you can see people fishing and live music can be heard on the street. There were some great vintage shops here too! Sunset Cliffs, a popular location for exactly what it is called; watching the sunset from the sheer cliffs. This is only approximately 2 miles away. OB really brought us back down the earth as our trip up until now was a constant go. Here we took time to have some drinks, not have everyday planned out and browsed around the shops and enjoyed some Mexican burritos (Nico’s). This is a must as you are so close to the Mexican border in San Diego.
PACIFIC BEACH – In my opinion, is the opposite of Ocean Beach. This is a very lively neighbourhood. We spent a short while hear walking the boardwalk and this beach was full of people playing games, skateboarding, rollerblading, it was very upbeat! Even the restaurants and bars were very busy with college/party people! This is much more of a party scene here.
MISSION BEACH – We never visited this beach, but from doing a little investigating seems to be a much quieter beach in comparison to PB. This area would be more family-friendly. There is a small amusement park and it is popular with water sports.
DOWNTOWN – This is moving inland to the city! There are so many sections to San Diego it offers something for everyone! Here you will find the historic section known as the Gaslamp Quarter. There is a real old school feel here nestled in the city. You are moving away from the ocean, relaxed and carefree environment that I have explained about in the previous neighbourhoods. Maybe this will suit you better as nightclubs, restaurants, large retail shops are in abundance here.
THING TO SEE & DO:
La Jolla (hoya) is a seaside town full of wonder. La Jolla is an area that oozes upper class. In fact, if any of you have watched the Netflix series ‘GRACE & FRANKIE’, La Jolla is the location it is depicting to be set in (although if you’ve read my
last blog post you’ll know otherwise). A seaside town set on a cliffside and a beautiful beach which brings me onto the main reason we visited La Jolla…
Sea Cave Kayaking! This was such an amazing experience. We bought tickets upon arriving in La Jolla and tours depart every hour or so! We started by heading to the beach with our instructor and the rest of the group (20 or so people) once you’ve rented your wetsuits and changed at the shop. You are given a safety lesson and then one by one you begin to be pushed out over the small waves and out to sea! We begin following the instructor and exploring La Jolla Cove. We saw a falcons nesting area on the cliff edge, the exposed fault line, seals, pelicans and this is all before you in a group of 2 and depending on water & weather conditions get to kayak into a sea cave! It was a very cool experience! It was tough kayaking back to the beach as it is a bit of a distance but WOW it was very relaxing too! It is now that I remember that I never developed our water camera images from the experience…..
Balboa Park: We did not get to explore the extent of this park which was disappointing. “Where culture, science, and nature collide, Balboa Park is home to more than 16 museums, multiple performing arts venues, lovely gardens, trails, and many other creative and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo” Really you need a lot of time to make your way around this park.
San Diego Zoo: Thankfully we did visit this Zoo… I hadn’t been to a Zoo in a very very long time and this blew me out of the water! The sheer size of it alone was hard to get your head around!
Tickets for a one day pass are expensive coming in at just under $60 per person. However, I would think that is great value if you have the entire day to spend here. This Zoo was like something out of Jurassic Park! There were bus tours around sections of the Zoo (which was very good for us as we were conscious of our time), there are sky cable cars, lifts, escalators all around the attraction. We saw everything from polar bears fighting, birds, koalas, hippos and even dogs and cheetahs together in an aviary. Whatever animal you’d like to see, I have a strong feeling you will see it here! There are different lunch options, lots of souvenir shops, cartoon sketch artists and so much more located here!
Maritime Museum: Another one we did not get too but I have been asked about many times from different people when I came home…. So for all you boat lovers and historians, this looks fantastic and the reviews are great!
Drinks on the beach by a firepit: Its California and this is sell explanatory! Just do it and you will be very happy about it! We did this with about 20 other hostel goers and it was amazing! We met some great people and as the night went on the funkier it got!
Go Clubbing: There are loads and bars/clubs around San Diego! Just go for it, have a ball!
TIPS & TRICKS
- Rent Bird Bikes! These are everywhere in San Diego. These are electric scooters that are just left randomly around, you just download the app and it is a pay as you go system. They do go very fast so you have to be careful! People get into accidents a lot with this so extra caution is needed!
- Get to know your fellow hostel goers! This is one of the most important things from our time here. As we arrived at the hostel they had a foam party/beer pong and a games area taking place that night! We got ourselves ready headed down and met people just like us from all corners of the world. We stuck with these people to go out at night with, to mess around with during the day and to just get to know their stories. While travelling solo or as a group of 4 like we did, you may get on each other’s nerves at times. This is totally normal but as you meet people it opens up your experiences and stories too so much more! We think this has a lot to do with why we all loved San Diego!
- Make use of the hostel discounts/activities/parties/food! Our hostel included some beer at night, continental breakfast in the mornings, free use of beach equipment. Make use of these, they are the things that your wallet/purse will thank you for.
- If you want the dress, get the dress! I remember that we found this really cool vintage shop not too far from our hostel and I loved every item that was for sale. I especially loved these 2 dresses but with a huge suitcase that could not fit anymore into it and the fact that I didn’ NEED them I left them behind. If anyone here knows me and my shopaholic tendencies this was tough so naturally enough I went back to look at them a couple of more times before running in before leaving San Diego and getting them. What I am trying to say is, if you want something while you are travelling just get it, you can always leave an old piece behind, wear extra clothes at the airport just don’t have any regrets!
- Get ready to come across disappointments, you can’t see it all! As I mentioned previously, we took this destination in our stride! We had a list of what we wanted to see before arriving to the city but we ended up sitting on a beach with a few drinks instead of strolling through a park or a museum and tha’ts OK too. The little things we did here turned into the big things that will make me return here again one day!
- Whatever you do, write it down! What you loved best, what you didn’t like, your crazy memories, a good meal you had.. these are the things that like I am doing now is the best journal I have kept and I am literally reliving the trip. I wouldn’t remember all these details otherwise, especially because of the extent of the trip. Make it easier for your brain in the long run 🙂
I hope this inspires you to look into San Diego as a destination, even better, it just gets you in the mood to do some investigating for the future! I saw a picture on my Instagram with the caption ‘Money returns, time doesn’t’. I wrote this a long time ago and although this trip cost me a lot of money, every single penny was without a doubt the best penny I have ever spent!
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask! Thanks for reading!
Shannon (Meraki___travel on IG)