How about a little sightseeing trip through San Diego to get your summer vacation plans started?
Let's start with the real fun....…the beaches!!!
What I originally thought was an island (Coronado Island, right?) is actually a picture perfect relaxed Southern California beach town, boasting one of the world's best beaches, endless sunshine, one of the coolest old resorts I've seen and a bay side overlooking the San Diego's skyline.
We had been in San Diego for almost 40 hours already and we hadn't stepped foot on a beach yet.
What the heck were we thinking?
We followed the line of traffic around the island until we got close to the Hotel Del Coronado and quickly found a parking spot in the residential neighborhood next door. I was impressed by the beautiful architecture of these homes and the incredible landscaping. I'm sure most of them cost a pretty penny to own.
A short walk around the back of the "Del" and we are on a magnificent white flat sand beach with soft rolling surf and a late morning view framed by the silhouette of Point Loma.
All that was missing was David Lee Roth singing in the background …"This must be just like living in paradise and I don't want to go home."
We spent the next couple of hours walking down the beach and in and out of the Hotel Del Coronado trying desperately not to start drinking Bloody Mary's this early in the day.
Our better judgment won out and we stopped at the Starbucks next to the bar for some coffee treats.
With its iconic red turrets and beautiful landscaping and graceful architecture, the "Del" radiates with a confidence of gracious Victorian splendor that is without equal.
I can only imagine what it felt like to wander this place back in the 1800's when it was first built. Like many great examples of late 1800's architecture, this beauty has been modernized and updated but it is still a monument to our distinguished lifestyle of the past.
Built in 1888, this classic beachfront respite has long been heralded as one of America’s most beautiful beach resorts.
It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1977.
What is even better is 2013 is the 125th anniversary of the opening of the hotel so everything is being treated as a little more special.
Plus you can buy any little tourist gift you want in the gift shop with the 125th anniversary logo on it from coffee cups, to t shirts to your own special bottle of wine.
Supposedly, Coronado has a mile-long tree-lined main street that is a pedestrian's paradise.
My girlfriend has been here in the past and said it definitely worth the trip with a multitude of restaurants, art shops, antique stores and boutique markets.
We instead opted to continue our walk south down the beach.
It is lined with upscale condos and private housing.
Not far from the hotel the beach takes on a radiant glow almost as if there is gold flake mixed in with the sand…it is the damndest thing you ever saw.
The beach's history dates back to the turn of the century, when the famed "Tent City" opened, offering an alternative for those who wanted to enjoy Coronado's beaches but couldn't afford to stay at the Hotel Del.
I found out that this location is unique in that it offers visitors the chance to swim in both the Pacific Ocean and the San Diego Bay.
I found my first sand dollar ever on the beach (unfortunately I destroyed it getting back into our truck later) something I have been searching for years to find.
After a couple of hours walking on the beach and relaxing we decided to head further south and grab a bite to eat. Next stop was Imperial Beach.
The town is nestled between miles of nice beaches, big surf (saw plenty of surfers) and unparalleled open space and wetlands teeming with wildlife.
There is enough to do in Imperial Beach from swimming or surfing at the beach, to a walking tour of public art, to a nature walk and bird watching experience at the world-renowned Tijuana Estuary.
Yep, the Mexican border is just a stone's throw to the south.
We stopped at a local Mexican food stand that Darla knew about called Don Panchos Taco Shop. It's a friendly enough hole-in-the-wall with some pretty good food. I do recommend the carne asada torta. It was big, juicy and flavorful. My girlfriend had a burrito and as she put it "I remember it tasting much better the last time I was here."
I guess you'll have to be the judge when you visit.
We found parking pretty easily and decided to check out the Imperial Beach Pier.
The old wooden pier extends out about 1500 feet into the water.
Walking out along the ocean pier is an adventure, over the slightly uneven wooden planks.
From the pier, you can catch a good view of the beach on both sides, along with the beach houses and beach goers. To the southwest of the pier, you have a great view of the Los Coronado's Islands.
The Mexican border is also visible and within walking distance.
And at the end of the pier is The Tin Fish, a small, dirty little cafe specializing in seafood.
It appears that the favorite activity of the locals is fishing off the pier.
Overall, Imperial Beach wasn't that exciting so we decided to head north to a whole new adventure in La Jolla.
But the real jewels in La Jolla are the beaches, which are freely available for visitors and locals alike.
The La Jolla coastline varies dramatically - from 300 foot sea cliffs, to rocky reefs, to golden sand coves and even an unsanctioned nude beach.
We stumbled upon(remember from yesterday we have no game plan) La Jolla Cove and the Children's Pool two wonderful and completely different environments from the beaches we visited to the south.
La Jolla Cove is an ocean paradise with picture postcard views.
Nestled between steep sandstone cliffs and accented by tall flowing palms, soft sandy beach, gentle waves and stunning sunsets makes the Cove a popular subject of scenic photographers.
You can swim, scuba dive, snorkel, picnic or just sunbathe in tranquility.
Or if you’re the romantic type like us a sunset walk will surely set the mood.
Now, however, the area is a protected area frequented by seals and sea lions who beach themselves on the sand with their young.
We saw at least 50 seals and sea lions basking in the sun and playing in the waves.
Standing and walking on the break wall is an adventure for us baby boomer types. There are huge rock and sandstone formations that the waves crash over sending spray over the walkway making it slick so be careful when visiting.
The motion and sound of the waves crashing is mesmerizing in itself and you can easily become hypnotized by the rhythms.
Thanks for joining me.................