From Los Angeles, we decided to make a run down to
San Diego based on some advice that we received and we were definitely thrilled that we did so. San Diego is about 130 miles south of Anaheim directly down the Pacific coast. We made the run down on a Sunday to avoid what we imagined would be very heavy traffic. Be certain to stop at
Torrey Pines (home of the 2008 US Open Golf Tournament) regardless of whether or not you are a golfer. The views from the porch of the pro shop are breathtaking and reminded us of
Pebble Beach. Once at Torrey Pines, don't miss the Torrey Pines Gliderport which is only a five minute drive away from the golf course. You can park your car and watch the gliders soar over the edge of the cliffs as they make their way down the coastline and then turn back, all within 50 feet of the cliffs. This is absolutely breathtaking and a must-see.
We continued down into downtown San Diego and walked along the bustling waterfront area. Be sure to walk around the
USS Midway, a decommissioned naval vessel, and keep your eyes out for other impressive naval
ships docked in the harbour. We returned to the downtown area in the evening (on good advice) and loved our trip over to
Coronado, an island adjacent to downtown San Diego. We strolled along the downtown strip and stopped in at
Hotel Del Coronado, where many US Presidents have stayed...very impressive.
We filled the majority of our day in San Diego seeing
Sea World, another must-see attraction. The park is unlike a standard amusement park since the stars are the animals and their performances in the variously scheduled shows are the main attraction. Highlights included Cirque de la Mer at Cirque Stadium, Sea Lions Tonite and Blue Dolphins. The major attraction is Shamu, the legendary killer whale. Sea World actually has several killer whales that perform and we were awed to watch four killer whales in this massive tank jumping, flipping and splashing the audience on cue. Be warned that sitting in the lower third of the seating bowl will leave you absolutely soaked. The whales seem to take special pleasure flapping their tales and fins so as to drench the spectators! We have been to similar places in the past but the quality of the performances along with the sheer size and scope of the shows made our trip to Sea World very memorable.
We also thoroughly enjoyed going to the ocean while in the area. We did our research and selected superb spots. Be sure to visit
Venice Beach for the collection of odd sights.
Huntington Beach is a great destination to take in all the surfer dudes and rent bikes (singles or tandems) for a picturesque ride along the bike paths up and down the shoreline.
We loved our visit to
Beverly Hills to walk along Rodeo Drive and tour the hills to see some of the
movie star homes. We purchased a $25 souvenir map and followed it quite easily. This saved a great deal of both time and money. If you can swing driving down Sunset Boulevard to the coast at
Pacific Palisades, that would be worthwhile. We then drove along the shore to
Santa Monica Pier which had a carnival atmosphere. Be sure to bring your sweater if you are going anywhere near the coast in the evening as it cools down very quickly.
We spent our last evening up in
Hollywood and walked along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You will find that you spend as much time looking down at the names on all of the stars (we saw those ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Big Bird) as you do taking in the sites. Be certain to make it over to the
Kodak Centre and wander through the concourse area. This building hosts the annual Academy Awards and looks very Vegas-like.
We enjoyed our 'extreme vacation' and jammed many exciting activities into our family's one week LA visit!
Fred Masters and his wife Kathy reside in Kitchener. Fred has performed technical review work for a major Canadian textbook company. Both are avid "last minute" travellers who have attended three Olympic Games. (Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and Vancouver in 2010)