Tuesday, September 13, 2011

West Coast Road Trip - Day 9: San Diego to Washington, DC

The next morning we awoke in San Diego to beautiful sunshine, blue skies, and warm weather. It was like California had transformed over night into an Annette Funicello movie. Since the weather was so beautiful, we decided to spend the day outside walking around before we had to check in for our red eye flight.

We started the day on Pacific Beach, my favorite neighborhood in San Diego. Long ago, it is where I got my nosed pierced and spent many a night in the PB Pub, a great alternative to San Diego's upscale nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter. We spent some time in the sand, did some people watching on the boardwalk, and then decided it was time for lunch.

Before we left for our trip, our friends, Chris and Karen, that used to live in San Diego gave us a list of places to eat and drink while visiting. Since we wanted to check out Balboa Park after lunch, we decided to stop at Mamma Testa an authentic Mexican kitchen tucked away small store front in University Heights.

When we stepped inside, were greeted by bright colors, friendly staff, a basket of warm tortilla chips, and a salsa bar featuring about twenty different varieties. Yum.

We perused our menus and decided to start with some home made guacamole.

Next, we both got an order of the del muñeco, crunchy shredded beef tacos with salsa fresca, queso fresco, and sour cream, served with rice and refried beans.

The tacos were incredibly delicious. So savory, with a little hint of spice from the salsa, topped with cool, creamy cheese. They were melt in your mouth fantastic.

After lunch, we headed to Balboa Park.

Since it was a gorgeous Saturday, there was practically no place to park. We ended up driving around for awhile, but then spotted a lot on the very edge of the park. Thankfully, once out of the car, we found a map. The map had a few hiking trails that would take us to all of the sights. Our first stop, the Balboa Park Rose Garden.

Then headed over the Cascades Fountain toward the visitors center, Alcazar Garden, and Spreckles Organ Pavilion where we got to see an enormous, three-quarter scale replica of Paris's Palais de la Légion d'Honneur.

Next we stopped at the Balboa Park Botanical Gardens. We didn't step inside, too determined to enjoy the nice weather, but we did spend some time at the Lily Pond.

The ponds were teaming with colorful fish and adorable turtles.

We paused to take a few pictures with some of the slightly depressing looking fountains, and then headed on our way to the California Bell Tower.

Last but not least, we checked out the California Bell Tower and the view of San Diego from the Cabrillo Bridge. The 200 foot tower is one of the cities most notable landmarks and houses the San Diego Museum of Man. We skipped going inside this building also, especially when the clerk in the gift shop told us the tower was not accessible.

On our way out, we stopped to check out the views of downtown San Diego from the top of Cabrillo Bridge.

Since we ended up having more time to kill than planned, we decided to take a trip over to Coronado to see the hotel.

The Hotel Del Coronado is one of my favorite spots in southern California. Though we could never afford to stay in this luxury, beach front hotel, it is fun to see the sights and poke around the halls.

When it opened in 1888, it was the largest resort hotel in the world and the first to use electrical lighting. It has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities throughout the years, as well as being featured in many films like Some Like It Hot.

After stopping for a drink and some light dinner at The Tavern just down the street, we knew it was time to say goodbye to the West Coast and head back East to Washington, DC. Such a fun trip, it's going to be hard to top it next year.