Imagine a life where you are surrounded by the most beautiful landscapes, ocean blue waters, and palm trees galore? We might call this California Dreaming as you may think that no such place exists in your world. Well, this is our attempt to bring that world to you.
San Diego is a vacationers dream with so many exciting attractions, amusement parks, the famous San Diego Zoo, and exquisite dining. However, San Diego offers so much more for you other than the average everyday tourist hot spots. Here are a few different things to discover and see less traveled areas in the San Diego area. Enjoy this photo journal series capturing some of San Diego’s hidden treasures that you may wish to explore. Happy Viewing.
Torrey Pines State Reserve: Hiking and Views
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
Torrey Pines Hiking
This is a peaceful, beautiful trail for visitors to enjoy in a clean, natural environment, and stunning landscapes and views. This is a reserve; according to torreypine.org, a reserve is not a park. This reserve is a targeted area protected for conservation and also has other restrictions different than a park. Read more here:
Torrey Pines State Beach
The beach is at the bottom of 300 foot sandstone cliffs of white and golden stone, with a greenish layer sometimes visible at the very bottom.
La Jolla Cove and Shores are one the most photographed beaches in San Diego County!
It is home to several species of sea life including seagulls, seals, and occasional spottings of Orca killer whales. See more photos of this area here: La Jolla Cove
Sante Fe Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest
Del Dios Gorge Hiking Trail: Coast to Crest
The Sante Fe and Del Dio Gorge Trails are both segments of the San Dieguito River Park area and the Coast to Crest trails. Three pre-historic cultural periods describe parts of this region and portrays a peak at how Native Americans explored through this valley. The Harris Site is noted as one of the most significant archaeological sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
Miramar Air Show: Marine Corp Air Station
The Miramar Air Show was spectacular this year and certainly did not disappoint. This years air show theme was honoring 100 years of women in the Marine Corps. Also feature highlights were some impressive aircraft such as the F-35 Lightening II, F/A -18 Hornet, MV-22 Osprey, AH-1Z Super Cobra/Viper, and of course, the infamous Blue Angels! Miramar Air Show is an annual event usually scheduled for some time in late September or early October.
Petco Park and San Diego Padres
If you visit San Diego, you must experience watching a baseball game at Petco Park with an unbelievable backdrop of the city surrounded by the ocean and spectacular sunsets!
You can watch airplanes arriving for a landing in the distance behind the city buildings as you watch the game.
San Diego is an exquisite city to visit and experience. It’s a vacation and travel destination for millions of people. And yes, there are the popular tourist attractions that visitors love to see but there are also the less traveled amazing spots that will leave you speechless. So when you make your trip to San Diego, be sure to explore one or two of the hidden gems that will make your dream vacation more complete. Thank you for reading! California Dreaming!
More Exploration and Adventure in San Diego!
Coming Soon: California Dreaming Series | Palm Springs
Recently, there have been several spotting of killer whales gracing the coastal regions in Southern California. Whales have been known to roam in the southern Pacific certain times of the year. I’ve also seen several local news outlets capturing video of these majestic animals and their calves as they search for food in these waters. So, of course, seeing this inspired me to go out on a little adventure and do some of my own searching. I hopped in the car and cruised my way over to La Jolla, California.
La Jolla, California is a quintessential smaller coastal community located in San Diego County. It might be one of the most beautiful beach towns I’ve ever seen.
I have perused around this quaint community several years ago, but I was too focused on this short road trip to browse around the shops and boutiques again. I was in search of whales and surfers, since it was officially California Surfer Day.
I spent the afternoon pondering the coastal walkways and sidewalks, staring and glancing for hours out at the mesmerizing blue green waters.
It was getting late, and with disappointment and frustration, there were still no whales or surfers in sight. I did however, have a great time capturing all the beauty and wildlife that make these coves home. There were seagulls, pelicans, and seals soaking up the sun everywhere you looked.
Take a preview of what my day at the office consisted of below. Enjoy!
Shell Beach, Lajolla, CA
The park here in La Jolla Cove area is beautiful and peaceful to enjoy a quiet afternoon or a lunchtime break.
More gorgeous scenic captions here.
Did you know that La Jolla Cove is one of the most photographed beaches in Southern California?
If you look close, the small rock island is covered with seals and birds lounging as they soak up the sun and relax.
Sealife is an abundance here at La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores area.
If you are visiting the San Diego area, you might consider adding La Jolla Cove to your itinerary, it will certainly not disappoint. This was my office for the day.
Koko Crater Head Trail: ‘Koko Head Stairs’: The spectacular views will not be the only thing that gets your heart racing during this extraordinary hike up the Koko Head stairs.
This climb of approximately 1,050 stairs (or railroad tithes) is a challenge for any exercise enthusiast and will definitely offer a cardio workout like no other.
Koko Head is the eastern side of Maunalua Bay and the southeastern side of the Island of Oʻahu in Hawaiʻi. On its western slope is the community of Portlock, a part of Hawaiʻi Kai. You will enjoy wonderful views of Haunama Bay and beyond. The climb can be grueling and scenic, so its a good idea to take a rest and take in the views.
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View from Koko Head
There is a section where a larger drop to a ridge is located below, so you take your time and go slow if needed. You may be huffing and puffing half way up the climb, only to learn you have quite a ways to go and are getting higher and higher.
When you reach the summit you will be blown away! It seems to always be windy up there, so be prepared to hang on to your hat or water bottle and be safe.
Things to remember:
1.Wear sunglasses and sunscreen
2. Drink plenty of water
3. Bring camera
4. Hike may take between 1-3 hours
Koko Head stairs is not your average hiking trail. It’s location is centrally located close to all your other fun activities not far from downtown Honolulu.
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So when you break away from your snorkeling, surfing, lounging, shopping and dining; go out and conquer this heart jumping amazing hiking trail!
And then there were trees Our adventurous expedition continues, as our plan today was to spend time hiking and exploring these massive trees and nature trails. Redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest tree species on earth! And then there were trees, lots of trees. They were big, small, wide, corked, and even drive through with a car trees. Gigantic trees were everywhere you turn. We did get a little tease earlier in our drive as we started venturing through these magnificent specimens starting around a little town called Leggett, California. We browsed our way through Smithe Redwoods SNR, Humbolt Redwoods, and then onto the Avenue of the Giants.
Avenue of the Giants was a peaceful less traveled path to take to explore these natural wonders. This particular area is the greatest accumulation of biomass, which is comprised of both living and dead organic material, ever recorded in a coast redwood forest in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Did you know that coast redwoods are taller than any other living thing! Here are a few interesting stops we made on this tour:
Stop 2: Bolling Grove where many of the redwoods take interesting shapes and sizes.
Stop 3: Visitor Center
Stop 4: Weott
Stop 5: Mahan Plaque is where there have been reports of people seeing an elusive large creature across the road (Sasquatch, Big Foot).
Stop 6: Dyerville
Stop 7: Chandler Grove
Stop 8: Drury/Chaney Grove where a nice 2.4 nature loop trail takes you through these massive species of trees.
We continue our journey north passing through Eureka and arriving into our resting destination of Arcata, California. But before arriving in Arcata, we also stopped for a rest at this neat stop in Klamath, California where a giant Paul Bunyan and Babe statue stood. We went into the museum and shop to browse around a bit and glanced at all the historical photos of characters from the old Wild West including the Indians and other explorers.
We arrived early but yet late enough to check into our hotel and we dropped off our food and personal items, then headed back out to explore a new area. We returned to a scenic spot we passed by earlier to re-capture a few more photos of these extraordinary vistas and views.
After capturing a few eye catchy coastal view photos, we headed back to our hotel in Arcata, and while on the way we stumbled upon a quaint Mexican restaurant while driving through Eureka. We are usually very hesitant to try new places, but it was a sit down restaurant and we thought we’d give it a try. If you have food allergies or food sensitivities, they will do whatever you ask them to suit your needs. They mentioned to me that most of their sauces contain milk, except for one kind and that is what I chose for my Enchilada sauce. The food and sauces were made of quality ingredients. Hence, our meal did not disappoint, and was very delicious! If you are traveling through this area, you may want to check out this restaurant.
After inhaling the scrumptious dinner at Tres Pecosos, we thought we would try to seek out another photo op before the sun goes down. A scenic area for a sunset at the beach and coast area would be perfect. But there were still a couple of hours of sunlight and we were just too tired to mill around until sunset so we captured a few stunning shots and made our way back to the hotel and hit the sack.
Sunset at beach area, near Eureka
The excitement level at this time was through the roof
And we had not even made it to the Oregon border yet. We’ve heard the most wonderful things about Oregon and especially about the coastline and its remarkable beauty. We awoke to a morning full of sun and fresh breezes. It was an absolutely beautiful day in Northern California, and we were ready and set to charge our way into another Redwoods area *Jedediah Smith Redwoods SP area and on into Oregon with our excitement level maxed out at this point. We topped off the gas tank and hit the road running. We also noticed that the California Redwoods parks are considered both the National Park and State Park areas.
This particular area of Redwoods is named for an American explorer, Jedediah Strong Smith, who traveled across the lands of the Sierra Nevada to the Pacific coast in the early 1800s. There is also the Smith River that provides such elegant beauty and crystal clear waters.
Side Note: There are a couple things we noticed as we traveled further north along the coast into northern California, Oregon, and Washington. There are several homeless (or look like they were homeless) folks wandering around the streets, parking lots, roadways and highways. We also noticed several folks appear to live in their vehicles and made lengthy stays at every rest area we stopped at. A few rest areas had posted signs that stated parking in this lot for only a minimum number of hours are allowed or vehicle will be towed. We also noticed that free coffee was offered at the rest stops in Oregon and Washington. Another thing we made a note of and something to be aware of is know where your rest stops or bathroom breaks are. The number of rest stops in California seems to be limited and the ones they do have several of them were closed. This is something to keep in mind as you travel on a road trip through California.
We could hardly believe our eyes As we cruised through the massive Redwood National Park near the Klamath area, and again were in awe. From the enormous trees to the amazing shoreline beach vistas, it was a nature photographers dream.
We finally crossed the California border and into the beautiful state of Oregon. We drove down the roadway for a period of time this morning, and came upon a nice facility that was one of the Oregon Visitor Centers. We used the restrooms, browsed around the shelves full of pamphlets, brochures, and magazines about Oregon. We took a few info brochures, and then spoke with the woman working behind the counter and she provided us a few tips about the scenic stops and photo opportunities along the coast. These are some of those points of interest we made sure to stop and explore as they are described here:
Natural Bridge Cove: Trail
Port Orford Heads State Park
Heceta Head Lighthouse (Viewing area)
A quaint little farming town with an air museum with a large blimp hangar, cheese factories, and agriculture fields.
This little beach town was spectacular and was alive! It appeared quite busy for how small it is. Several folks crossing the roads, on sidewalks, restaurant parking lots were full, it seems this beach town jewel had it all going on! The beach is wide and offers quite a scenic treasure accompanied by the large rock formations and is home to the word’s third largest monolith Haystack Rock standing 235 feet high, home for birding and natural beauty wonder. This coastal area made for incredible filming scenes for several movies and films. Examples include The Goonies, Point Break, Free Willy, Overboard, Twilight movies and many more.
As we departed the Cannon Beach area we felt a little sad, as we really wanted to stay longer. But we knew we had to make our way on to Portland, which was our resting point for the night. We proceeded north on highway 101 and reached highway 26 which took us all the way into Portland and definitely did not disappoint, as it was quite a scenic roadway. We enjoyed glancing at the natural surroundings and tree lined road as well as the open fields as we watched the sun set.
We couldn’t have asked for a lovelier day the next day. We woke up to a beautiful Portland morning and hit the road towards Seattle. We arrived in Seattle a handful of hours from Portland and prepared to make our way downtown to find parking. We pre-purchased baseball tickets to see the Seattle Mariners play on July 4th and it was a blast! The stadium was full of cheer, music, excitement, and patriotism!
Safeco Stadium 4th of July Fly over from McChord Field: C-17 Flyover: WOW!
The Seattle morning offered to us was unbelievable! Full sunshine, blue sky, gorgeous temperatures, and not the Washington temps I remember. (in a good way). (I lived on Whidbey Island, WA 20 years ago).
We walked around the city for a while, then filled the car up with gas and started our return trip. San Francisco was our final stop, return the rental car, and catch a flight home. But of course, before that flight departure, we took in another baseball game and saw the San Francisco Giants play ball! That was certainly a thrill to see! I don’t know how people watch the game when they have such a gorgeous view looking right back at them in the stadium!
Our road trip back through Oregon was sort of a detour path as a result of the fires on I-5 near and around the borders of Oregon and California. Our detour included taking us onto Highway 99 South through several beautiful open landscapes, Mt. Shasta, Diamond Peak Mt., and other gorgeous vistas for our viewing pleasure and an overnight resting stop in Eugene. To cap off the evening, we enjoyed a stunning sunset!
This coastal road trip was truly a remarkable experience for us! I remember always hearing about Highway 1 and PCH (Pacific Coast Highway); the scenic views, landscapes, and beautiful beach towns along the path. And I have only seen photos of places like Pebble Beach (or watching golf tournaments on TV), but for many years it was just a dream or a thought. It is remarkable that I have lived in the West between California and Washington for more than 20 years and have never driven this route. Well, now it’s not just a dream anymore, it became a reality for this wandering adventurer!
Thank you for reading!
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Coastal Road Trip Expedition Part 1: California Coast * Mavericks and Pebble Beach* Streetart
It’s an adventurers dream to make the road trip of 2700 miles, visiting 3 states, and sleeping in 7 different cities. Not to mention capturing over 1000 images of stunning landscapes, blue crystal waters, and impressive giant trees and nature trails. I hope I got your attention, because that is exactly what we did to kick off our first timer experience on this extraordinary coastal road trip route. We went road trippin along the coast on PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), Highway 1 the path along the pacific ocean coastline consisting of some of the worlds’ most beautiful scenery.
The scenery along the southern California coast is magical, although overcast conditions were presented to us as we began on our journey through southern to central California. Which is sometimes typical of southern California weather, the marine layer can come in along the coast and is usually burn off by noon. We proceeded onward with our trip heading north.
But before I continue to share more of our incredible experience, I want to explain a brief overview of the planning and preparation we put into this trip.
Our goals and dilemmas consisted of the following:
Quality of sleep and rest in a comfortable, safe, and clean hotel.
Allowing for about 6-8 hours of driving a day only~making sure to get enough rest.
Not paying too much for lodging.
Food and meals: I have food sensitivities so I am limited to which restaurants and types of food I eat. (Gluten, wheat, dairy, peanut/legume)
The quantity of food for all breakfasts and lunches. (Great for budget travel)
Return flight – limiting the number of bags and other things. (since I had to bring all this food)
The type of cooler to bring: disposable one. (Since we had a return flight).
The meals planned for each day were as follows: Breakfast: Hotel breakfast for my husband, I ate Cheerios and granola together with the
Almond Milk of which I brought. Lunch: Deli cut lean turkey meat (I brought this also)-using Gluten Free bread for me;
and a peanut butter sandwich for my husband. And tortilla chips. Dinner: Denny’s or Mexican Restaurants Snacks: Fresh carrot, celery, cucumber slices. Almonds and Cashews. Tortilla chips, fruit
Lodging and Transportation: The planning of this trip was not that easy.
My husband is a premier member to the Choice Hotel chains, so one of our stays was free and we gained more points again for the entire week to receive another free room or two for another stay. We found that the most comfortable hotel that offers more value among the choice hotel chains is Comfort Inn. My husband made reservations in 7 different cities and researched on Google maps to the location of that hotel to see what restaurants were nearby, and if it appeared to be in a somewhat safe area. All of this went into the planning and preparation for our exciting coastal road trip on PCH Highway 1.
We also rented an economical car instead of driving our own vehicle. This ended up being affordable and saving wear and tear on my own vehicle, and our rental car was much more comfortable for those long days of sitting. Our plan was to drive back from Seattle to San Francisco and drop off the rental car and fly home from there. For some reason the Portland airport didn’t allow Dollar Car Rental return, and it was quite expensive to fly out of Seattle to return to San Diego, so San Francisco was where we drove back to and reserved a flight for $72 one way ticket for each.
Meals: Now this was a little tricky. Considering we had a car, we’re thinking we could bring everything that we needed for a road trip, but with a dilemma of an airline flight return home. So, I thought about the foods and snacks we eat and gathered enough for each day of the week using zip lock baggies, the amount of bread for sandwiches for each day’s lunch, and breakfast meals for me since I have food sensitivities. We would seek out certain restaurants for our dinners, and those include places such as Denny’s and Mexican Restaurants of which I can usually find healthy, gluten free options from those places.
We finally hit the road around 8:45a.m. after leaving our personal car at the car rental place nearby the airport and picked up the rental car. I noticed a few pieces of art in this car rental facility which I thought was very interesting. Look closely now, this art piece is comprised of several vehicle tail lights attached to the wall. Check out these photos:
Here is another art piece that caught my eye nearby the airport and they were moving as the wind speed increased.
As I mentioned earlier, the day was a bit overcast with some clouds and haze but at least the traffic was minimal driving through the LA area. It was quite a scene driving through Santa Monica, Malibu, and Santa Barbara as we proceeded making our way towards Monterey and the Pebble Beach area.
There are so many California towns and cities I remember hearing the names of over the years, but never really knew exactly where they were until we drove through them. It certainly was a treat to see some of these smaller cities and beach communities as we passed on by.
We finally made it to our goal stop and point of interest at Pebble Beach. My husband has already experienced Pebble Beach and has played Pebble Beach Golf Links many years ago and paid $250 for the round of golf and waited 8 hours to tee off. We learned how much a round of golf is today at that same course while chatting with the starter and it is not cheap, a whopping $525 for a round of golf.
Golf hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links
PHOTOS: Pebble Golf Course
Prior to wondering in awe around the clubhouse and shops at that Pebble Beach golf course, we cruised on our way through the infamous 17-Mile Drive along with a $10 park entry fee. This is one of the most famous scenic drives in the world. We drove through a couple of the viewing stops such as Shepherds Knoll, Huckleberry Hill, and Poppy Hills Golf Course but made a quick visit at China Rock, Bird Rock, and Cypress Point, and not to mention the spectacular Lone Cypress. This is one of California’s most enduring landmarks and has withstood this rocky post for more than 250 years.
After a long day of driving, we rested for the night in Marina, California then awoke early and hit the road onward towards San Francisco. Santa Cruz was a neat town to buzz through as we saw quaint coffee shops and surfing boutiques. But our eventual place to see and visit was Half Moon Bay and Mavericks, the place where surfers take on epic big wave challenges and the Monster Mavericks big wave international surfing contests. Waves can sometimes reach up to 60 feet high!
There is a beautiful lighthouse on this point, of which the surfers head out to sea for about another couple miles then hope to catch that dream of giant waves.
Not only do surfers face the challenge of rough and cold waters here, but the climate is quite cool and cloudy many months of the year in this particular area.
After wandering around the surfers territory of Mavericks, we made it up to San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge. We missed our photo opportunity that day as it was fogged in and overcast so we just pressed onward heading north. At this point we are on the 101 freeway and found our next pit stop to rest. Santa Rosa was quite charming as we walked around for a bit and encountered a little street fair event with live music and vendors. I noticed a couple pieces of street art of which are a couple of my favorite characters in the cartoon Charlie Brown series. The weather in this part of California was spectacular feeling the breeze of refreshing coolness and the warm sun simultaneously.
To be continued…