hotel del coronado
balboa park museums
Fun day. And what a difference a good walking tour can make! I visited The famous Victorian resort Hotel del Coronado last time I was in San Diego some 30 years ago but didn’t remember much except that it was charming. This time I decided to take a 90 minute walking tour of the area around the Hotel, led by a woman in her 60s who has lived on the Island (or isthmus) for decades. She was terrific. (Coronadowalkingtour.com) Granted she has a lot of good material to work with but her presentation was great too. She was enthusiastic but also funny and offered lots of interesting insights.
We started at the pretty Glorietta Bay Inn, across the street from the hotel, which turned out to be the former home of John Spreckels, a sugar magnate who bought up just about everything on the island including the hotel by the turn of the century. Gorgeous place with a lot of original elements still in place (light fixtures, marble kitchen, brass and marble staircase.) The tour went around (not in) the hotel and then over a few of the huge mansions on Ocean Blvd. and to a pretty side street, Loma Avenue.
I had breakfast at the counter of Clayton’s, a popular unpretentious coffee shop on the main drag, Orange Avenue, and picked up some takeout fare from the Bayside Market, an excellent store on the bay side of the island that our guide Jerry steered us too.
It was a surprisingly quick drive to North Park and South Park, both neighborhoods with lots of interesting independent shops and galleries and restaurants, plus small well tended or revived craftsman bungalows. It’s the neighborhood I could see myself living in…Did a quick tour of Balboa Park and was particularly impressed with the lovely Spanish style buildings housing the various art museums. must remember to visit the international art museum next time. it looked really interesting. (Also next time, I will pay the $5 and hike the trail at Cabrillo national monument!)
For dinner we had excellent fish tacos, grilled Ahi tuna and lobster bisque at the Blue Water Grill on India street (a two block restaurant row with ethnic places but none Indian.) It’s a casual order-at-the-counter place. Nothing fancy but fresh fish and cheerful service. Gelato Vero happened to be a block away. Oh happy day!
I drove myself silly today, heading north to La Jolla for breakfast at The Cottage (soy chorizo with scrambled eggs) then north to Leucadia where I found Beacon’s Beach, a near empty stretch of beach except for several surfers. perfect for a stroll once you wind Your way down a packed sand trail Carved into the high sandy bluff. The bluff looked like
Sunset Ocean Beach Pier
a giant version of a kids dripped sand castle and residents clearly were trying to shore up the bluff in spots. I had iced coffee at the charmingly funky Pannikan cafe on 101 Highway, then followed the scenic highway signs as often as I could find
Military cemetery, Point Lomo
them, all the way down to the Cabrillo National Monument, which offers a stunning view of the city. I was too cheap to pay the $5 fee to go to the end of the monument but I did linger nearby at a mesmerizing military graveyard, rows and rows of white tombstones on a bright green grassy slope leading down to the ocean.
I ended up at somewhat seedy Ocean Beach near sunset so I parked the car and walked down the very long concrete pier along with others. Tonight we had a terrific meal at the carnitas snack shack, which seems to be on everyone’s list of where to eat. It’s a little boxy building with a window where a very friendly guy took our order which was delivered to our table in the open air dining courtyard
pannekin coffee house, Leucadia
behind the shack. The braised Duroc pork belly was a stand out!
Oddly, the last time I drove from LA to San Diego, about 30 years ago, it was also raining as it was today. But California needs the rain (and hey, California rain bests Iowa deep freeze.) The drive was easy from Burbank to SD on Highway 5, with a detour to drive along historic 101 highway south from Oceanside to del Mar. I stopped in Rancho Sante Fe, an elegant area east of the coast at a spectacular private home filled with contemporary art where the owners were hosting a soirée. In Solana Beach I stopped to catch the last minutes of the Farmers Market in the design district (raspberries! Satsumas!) and caught a good sale at a nearby boutique.
Next stop the Marriott Marquis & Marina where I am in a room high over the water. The sun is coming out. Must get crackin.