Jimmy and I kicked off the labor day weekend on Saturday by heading downtown to spend time along the Embarcadero in San Diego, and while there, we saw tall ships and world class sand sculptures. Happily both of those events were on my, Exploring San Diego Bucket List (#SBLC), under the description, All Things Downtown.
Because we live in north county–and labor day weekend usually means lots of traffic in Southern California–we decided it would be the perfect excuse to take the coastal scenic highway route to the city. It had been years since we had taken the time to meander through all the charming beach towns from Carlsbad south, and much to our delight, it didn’t disappoint.
Saturday was one of those spectacular days that San Diego is famous for, cloudless, warm, and a rolling surf that would definitely keep this ocean-phobic woman beached. Every mile that we drove south found people out enjoying themselves, truly that was just one of the many awesome things about the day.
As we headed toward La Jolla we decided to make a pitstop at the, Torrey Pines Gliderport, and because we did? I have now added paragliding to the fast-growing category on the #SDBLC called, things I am afraid of but want to do. What struck us both was how quiet those magnificent human kites were. And as the pilots whooshed past I couldn’t help but imagine the sense of freedom they must feel while gliding hundreds of feet above the sea.
From there we continued our way south into La Jolla and as we rounded the corner into the cove one whiff of the air told us the seals were out in full force. Minutes later, as if not to be outdone by anyone, we spied surfers too many to count, it looked as if each of them were enjoying the waves and would remember it as having been an epic day.
From there we drove through Pacific Beach. If ever there was a town that would make me want to travel through time and go back to college–Pacific Beach is it. I am certain my 18 year old self would have loved every last thing about it. As we drove past Belmont Park and The Giant Dipper’s shadow was cast over us, we reminisced about bringing our two youngest kids, Kodiak and Chandler, there. We had been on a mission to hit all the tourist spots with Flat Stanley for a friend’s daughter–it was an unforgettable day. Much like our hearts felt suspended all those years earlier as we watched the ancient roller coaster make it’s way up the track with our kids, the idea that Kodiak would be headed off to his first year of college in a matter of weeks, hung in the warm summer air.
Finally we arrived in San Diego, parked, then walked west on Broadway to check out the US World Class Sand Sculpture 3D Competition. World class is an understatement, the sculptures we saw were incredible, our favorite of which was of a marooned boat filled with people caught in the jaws of a great white shark. Of course no event is complete without food trucks in San Diego, Jimmy and I each enjoyed street tacos which brought to mind days when we traveled to Puerto Nuevo–a town famous for its lobster, music and fun. Sadly the days of carefree border crossings for a day, or weekend, feel more dream like than real.
We decided not to go inside the, Tall Ships, exhibit. Instead, from the near empty north end of the boardwalk, we watched them in all their majesty slip through the waters of San Diego Bay. After we’d had our fill of the enormous ships we walked north and crossed over Pacific Highway to check out the newly developed Embarcadero Park.
The park was amazing! All the fountains were filled with young and old alike, all of whom played, laughed and splashed the heat away. The entire park was a beehive of activity, music from a band filled the air, some people picnicked, while others strolled, and the playground looked as if every climbing structure was filled, needless to say it was a far cry from the city parking lots Jimmy and I remembered walking past a few years earlier.
As the sun dipped lower toward the horizon I thought about Labor Day, a day set aside to honor the American worker. There we stood in an incredible new park built by workers–men and women who labored to make all that we had experienced at the park possible. Where once idle cars sat, people will thrive.
Our city finally had the courage to not pave over paradise to put up a parking lot–“America’s Finest City” has her front doors wide open–a sight that anyone arriving in San Diego would love to see.
Oh how fun! I love visiting San Diego and especially the beach! I have seen some of those amazing sand sculptures. Have a great holiday!
Lois Alter Mark says
I’m so glad I live here! I love watching the paragliders but you couldn’t pay me to try it. I definitely want to see the sand sculpture competition – I say that every year and never get around to it. Maybe we can double date next year?!
Janie Emaus says
Hi – We were just down there visiting The Midway. San Diego is such a beautiful place!
Carol Cassara says
We soo love Visiting San Diego–we are overdue. Next year for sure!
Cathy Chester says
I”d love to paraglide, but I’ll only try it with you. Cause I’ll be screaming all the way.
BTW, the next time I visit San Diego (which I wouldn’t plan on ever leaving!) I am hiring you as my tour guide. Thanks for bringing me along on your fabulous Labor Day journey, Elin!
Ruth Curran says
Oh my Elin – I was on a sailboat in the Bay looking back at you! I love everything you highlighted and, most of all, I love the fact that we can share these things :)!
Liv BySurprise says
What a lovely day! And you didn’t have to go to far to enjoy it!
Suzanne Stavert says
What a lovely post! We are headed for San Diego on Thursday! We will squeeze in a couple of your ideas. San Diego is such a beautiful city! I live in South Orange County and I understand how challenging the traffic can be going South!
Elin Stebbins Waldal says
Thanks for visiting Suzanne and for your nice comment too. Yes that traffic can be a bear! But when the company and scenery are great then even the traffic doesn’t matter. Hope you enjoy your visit to SD!
I love the idea of a bucket list of “what I’d try if I wasn’t scared,” my list would be pretty long. I wish we had time to find a beach while we were in San Jose for BH14. Oh well, maybe next time.
Okay, Elin, how’s this for your bucket list? Quiet autumn (but still warm) Wednesday in OB: start with coffee at Newbreak across from the beach. Then take a small walk/hike from Tower 2 towards dog beach and along the inlet until you are good and hot. Return to Tower 2 (or stop at Dog Beach) and dive into waves, swim in the ocean (bring boogie board?), and stretch out in the sun (bring book?). Walk out the pier to the Cafe for a lobster taco lunch. At 3 p.m., the OB Farmer’s Market gets underway so dinner is taken care or you can just grab some goodies to enjoy later at home. Don’t forget to keep your eye on the sun and as it starts to sink, head to Wonderland. Grab a stool by the window, and watch the sun set as you sip a locally brewed beverage. An alternative is to take a really lovely hike from OB along Sunset Cliffs up to Point Loma Nazarene University and then work in the other things. I think that hits a few things on the bucket list. You could organize it by farmer’s market (by the way, do NOT miss the Little Italy market — it is the best).
Elin Stebbins Waldal says
All that sounds fantastic Betsy! You are so nice to take the time to make so many great suggestions, what’s great is your ideas could even be broken into mini trips too. Clearly you have a tour guide gene in you. 😉