Sunday, September 22, 2013

Los Angeles to San Diego

This is Day 4 of the 6-days Las Vegas- Los Angeles- San Diego road trip via Death Valley National Park and Palm Springs.  I have not personally done this road trip but just using my experience of these 3 cities on what natural wonders can be more realistically explored with these 3 cities in 6 days. This series of posts is in response to several queries for a nature + cities sightseeing tour of Las Vegas-Los Angeles-San Diego for 6 days.

A little bit of summary:
Day 1- getting to Las Vegas. Las Vegas is the closest international or major airport for Death Valley National Park and also the Grand Circle (Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, ++ more ).  Probably this is the reason why most queries usually are for nature exploring that starts and ends at Las Vegas, because it is the busiest international airport (which means more airfare deals) closest to most NATIONAL PARKS. Not all who go to Vegas stays in Vegas, they explore nature's wonders.

Day 2- Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park

Day 3- Death Valley National Park to Los Angeles
            first half of the dayDeath Valley to Alabama Hills
            2nd half of the day: Alabama Hills to Los Angeles

Now, on to day 4, which is from Los Angeles to San Diego, my home sweet home.....
Los Angeles (top), San Diego (bottom)
Though there may be a lot of places to explore in these two cities, both cultural and natural, however, I will be sharing only places here which I believe could be realistically explored in such a short time. 

The challenge is the drive from Los Angeles to San Diego. If it falls on a weekday, though these two cities are only 120 miles apart ( 2 hours drive ), but the drive could be 3 to 4 hours or more for an unknowing traveler because of the heavy work commute traffic in Los Angeles. To avoid the work commute or peak traffic, one must drive from Los Angeles to San Diego between 10:00 am- 1:00 pm. One can leave early in the morning, say at 5:00 am too, but it sounds tough considering you may have spent night wandering in LA!

This post, assumes you leave Los Angeles at 10:00 am, and what could be realistically explored.

First, if you happen to get up and already up and about at 8:00 am, what should you do if driving to San Diego at this time is not yet recommended because of crazy LA traffic? First, you could have an early morning brunch at LA, actually, whenever at LA, I always have early morning dimsum at Chinatown because their dimsum there is really like no other! After dimsum, you could goof around downtown LA again, one of the places I love goofing off at LA for some fun photography is at Disney Hall. It may still be closed, but you could wander around the vicinity.
Me, Goofing Around @ Disney Hall, Los Angeles, CA
( this was taken early morning, the Hall was still closed, went here actually, before going home to San Diego )

After brunch, climbing up and down Disney Hall, am sure it is about time to leave for San Diego. Take Interstate 5 South To San Diego, if without traffic, you should be in San Diego about noontime, if you did not stop anywhere else. However, if you are not in a hurry to reach San Diego, and would want to drive along the coast to experience what Southern California beach cities are like, you can take the connecting freeway to Huntington Beach or Newport Beach, then, drive along Pacific Coast. This drive may be long, but oftentimes, I am asked "can I drive along the coast most of the time from Los Angeles to San Diego?" The answer is yes, . If you do love the ocean so much and want to experience the character of every Southern Californian beach city, you can follow this driving itinerary: Los Angeles to Huntington Beach-Newport Beach-Balboa Island-Corona Beach- Crystal Cove State Park- Laguna Beach-Dana Point- San Clemente, then, back to Highway 5 for San Diego. 
Huntington Beach-Crystal Cove State Park-Dana Point- San Clemente, Orange County, CA

If you'll take the coastal route ( Pacific Hwy 1 instead of I-5), you'll probably reach San Diego in the afternoon. If you so happen to take this road trip in spring ( best to do this road trip is from late fall- early spring, November to April, because Death Valley and Palm Springs would be very hot May-October being in the middle of the desert ), your first stop once in San Diego is Carlsbad Flower Fields.
Carlsbad Flower Fields, San Diego County
( spring time only )

In San Diego, I would want to recommend you stop at Torrey Pines State Reserve even just for a short hike in my kind of paradise.
Torrey Pines State Reserve, San Diego, CA - my top 1 hike in San Diego, and also my most favorite place to enjoy nature, and my little piece of paradise at home sweet home 
( these vistas though needs some hike, and if you explore Torrey Pines, the rest that follows below, could be explored the next day, before you leave San Diego for Palm Springs)

However, if you are pressed for time, and prefer non-hiking vistas and to see more of San Diego, I highly recommend Torrey Pines Gliderport instead for a quick stop-over.
Torrey Pines Gliderport, San Diego, CA
( these are non-hiking vistas, except the top right picture, which needed a little hike )

After Gliderport, you could head off to La Jolla Cove. If you saw some of my underwater pictures, they were mostly taken from La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores. La Jolla Cove however is not only a place for snorkeling and diving, it is actually one of the most picturesque stops and most visited by tourists in San Diego for the rugged coastline scenery, and abundance of ocean wildlife. 
La Jolla Cove
( this is my favorite place for snorkeling in San Diego, but one does not always have to swim here to appreciate the beauty of the Cove, though according to my niece, the best view in San Diego is underwater at the Cove )
Wildlife @ The Cove
( an outdoor ocean wildlife for free, you don't need to pay $60 in Sea World to experience ocean wildlife in San Diego, in fact, it is a lot more interesting to observe wildlife in their natural habitat )

You must probably be by La Jolla Cove by sunset, and if you are thinking of seeing more of San Diego at night, you could proceed to downtown's Gaslamp Quarter for more of city wandering. However, most of the time, I am asked, "where do we dine in San Diego, like enjoy seafood and steaks, with San Diego Skyline view? If you are interested on dining with a skyline view, there are three options: Harbor Island, Shelter Island or Coronado Island( among the three, I recommend Coronado Ferry Landing because of more dining options from $ to $$$$$). 
dining option 1: Dining View if From Harbor Island 
( at Island Prime Restaurant, a steak and sea food restaurant )
dining option 2: Dining View from Shelter Island
( there are many restaurants here, but closer to the shoreline for these view are: Bali Hai, Humphreys By the Bay )
dining option 3: Dining View from Coronado Ferry Landing
( many restaurants here, from $ to $$$$, I prefer this place over the Harbor Island and Shelter Island, because of more choices, and if someone wants to just picnic, you could buy foods at the many eateries, listen to music as you dine sitting on the grass overlooking downtown San Diego. However, if you want a more formal dining, then, I recommend Peohe's or Il Fornaio. For a casual dining, Spiro Gyro is very inexpensive with a view. If you want picnic, there are many chairs outside for people to just enjoy the city and music while dining from their own to go boxes, or picnic boxes. )

How about Gaslamp Quarter dining? Gaslamp Quarter dining is probably the most popular in San Diego, where you would see more of the party goers hanging out at night, however, it only has the city streets view. 
within the city streets view ( from Horton Plaza Mall )

Up next....

Day 5- San Diego to Palm Springs
Day 6- Palm Springs to Las Vegas

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  1. awesome sample itinerary Beth. yung knowledge (gained from actual experience) mo about many places, daig mo pa sigurado ang ibang professional travel agents.
    love, love, love collages nos. 2,4 and 6. the happiness radiates in your beautiful smile and fun poses. :)
    hope you fully recover from your sprain ASAP. take care and hi to KTL.

  2. From Los Angeles to San Diego, takes me only a few minutes.

    Just because of you.

  3. Through this post and the photos, it feels like I'm exploring some places in US already (but still wishing to be there someday). And by the way, wouldn't it be nice if it's spring always to see those beautiful flowers all year round?

  4. Betchai, Spectacular shots. I've never been to San Diego and would love to visit there sometime. The Carlsbad flowers looks amazing and I love your photos and seeing you in them. Thanks so much for sharing all of this with us.

  5. wow how can these people get a stunning shot like those above? envy them for making it look so good and give justice at those pretty lights at nigh!

  6. I'm walking down memory lane right now. I will surely be back to experience it all over again.

  7. another magnificent view and tour, surely you did enjoy every single bit of it sis. i love the flower fields the most..just fascinated with all the wonders of nature.

  8. oh my geee! there's so much to see!!! good for you because you have all the time in the world to do so!!! and your photos are stunning!!! it makes me want to win the lotto so that i can stop working and then just see all these beautiful places, lol!!!

  9. Good heavens, those are stunning scenery AteB!

  10. I hope to visit these 2 places someday.

  11. Gorgeous photos Betchai. I believe your route is very well thought out and is of great mixture in terms of land and fun, so when I have the opportunity, I would love to explore it.

  12. Oh my gosh! The flower field is soooooooooooo amazing!!! I hope someday I can go there, as well as the other places you have posted here. Thanks for the lovely pictures! ^_^

  13. Nice photos of the flower fields! And what a lovely trip you had :)

  14. The best itinerary,Betchai, everything well plan and you see a lot on your road trip. Disney would be my first choice ( for my daughter and love to stay for a couple days).

  15. Oh how'd I wish I can also travel to LA and San Diego because I have lots of relatives (dad's side) there and for sure they'd take me to all these wonderful places there. Ahhhh.. those flower fields are just awesome!!!

  16. Love the Carlsbad flower fields! Someday I will make this trip with hubby so I don't get envious with all the photos he shows, nor the photos you show. lol! Enjoy!

  17. Stunning view and places. Hope I can visit Las Vegas in a year or two.

  18. How I love to visit these two cities. Thanks for the virtual tour sis, at least nakapunta na rin ako to these cities, kahit sa photos lang. La Jolla Cove caught my attention. I love to see or may even play with its beautiful inhabitants.

  19. more than all the pictures, that even after reading i have to go back and forth to look again at your pictures. :) looks like its a perfect itinerary for anyone...i hope our family can visit these places someday! :) thanks for sharing. xx