Getting around southern California is certainly not difficult, the Coaster is a high speed train that takes passengers up and down the coast multiple times daily and along with trolley service in and out of San Diego mass transportation is easy and cheap. For the more ambitious there is a paved bike path that leads straight out of San Diego up the coast to Oceanside. If you want to start your bike ride up the coast the trolley and coaster stations are very accessible so it is usually only a few blocks to jump onto the path. We, decided though to take to the road so that we could massage our own schedule and have ultimate freedom- and space for the shopping!!
We headed out of the city to La Jolla. The rugged cliffs and pounding surf kept us fascinated for hours, seals birds and natural caves held our attention all morning long. With some of the most incredible views we have seen to date, we played in the water, climbed through crevices and listened to waves crashing upon themselves. We were considering kayaking the caves, but the surf was too high so we decided to forgo the tour this time. If you do decide to kayak ensure that you take a change of clothing as you will get wet and the early morning time slot is the best as you will likely see more ocean life. Because it was early morning and we were itching to get up the coast we didn’t spend much time in the town but boy if you are looking for high end shopping then you have found the right place. High end cookies, rugs, clothes and art galleries La Jolla has it all! http://www.lajollabythesea.com/about/index.php
We refueled with a latte and headed on to Mount Soledad. Mount Soledad is a prominent landmark in San Diego as it is topped by a gigantic cross that sparks constant controversy over the intermingling of religion and state. Mount Soledad though has becoming an amazing tribute to the veterans who fought and died for their country. The memorial is made of six concentric walls that ultimately hold 3,200 black granite plaques purchased by donors and engraved with the names and photos of war veterans – currently more than 2,700 are in place. Each plaque ‘tells the story’ of a veteran’s military service or that of a group’s military service, the plaques also tell stories of love, marriage, loss, joy and honour. I honestly could have spent the whole day reading those plaques. It is a beautiful way to honour the human stories that live behind the face of military. For any history buff, anthropologist, sociologist or military enthusiast Mount Soledad is a must! http://www.soledadmemorial.com/
Next stop was Torrey Pines beach, the Torrey Pine tree is the rarest native pine tree in the US and the beach is a fantastic stretch of rugged coastline. We had a great walk chasing waves and outrunning the tide. Beyond the beach there are 8 miles of trails and it would be easy to spend the day exploring the place. It is a state park and there is paid parking but you can park on the highway for free!
By this time we had worked up an appetite so on to Del Mar where we found a great little gem called Prep Kitchen. http://prepkitchen.com/about.html. Darek had calamari and I had a fantastic salad, everything was so fresh and flavourful. Oh and the ice tea- amazing! I love how americans make ice tea- so fresh and not sweet at all- YUMMY!
With full stomachs we drove along the 101 up to Cardiff by the Sea, where we again went for another fantastic walk along the coastline. Cardiff boasts some great looking restaurants right on the beach that I would love to check out next time. We spent a lot of time at Cardiff by the Sea as there were a lot of surfers out and most of them catching some pretty good waves! http://www.cardiffbythesea.org/
We meandered along the 101 up to Oceanside and the headed to the Spanish Mission of San Luis Rey. Founded in the 1700’s the mission boasts classic Spanish architecture and is most famous for being the birthplace of the California Pepper tree which is really the Peruvian Pepper tree first planted in San Luis Rey in the 1800’s. It was a fun side trip not too far off the 101. We headed back into Oceanside and found our way to Oceanside Boulevard beach, this was neat as it boasts oceanfront homes all along the beach and some were pretty darn swanky! It was a change from the rugged and wild beaches we had been walking all afternoon. As the sun began to set we recognized that our beach day was over and it was now time to head to the outlet mall!!
Carlsbad is home to a Chelsea Premium Outlet mall, yes radar finally took me to my natural habitat! The mall is not too big but we were able to put in a solid 5 hour shop! Darek found some great buys and I picked up a few things, while I wouldn’t drive out there specifically it was definitely worth it since we were in the area. We hopped on the I-5 back to San Diego which took about 45 minutes so it really is not to far to venture up the coast and check out the beaches of Southern California!