A Sucker for a San Diego Sunset
In 2010 I had only been back stateside for a few months (after living in South Korea) before being asked to join my best friend out in San Diego for a few days. He was there for a work conference downtown, so with a free place to stay it was kind of a no brainer to show up. The minute I set foot in that city I fell in love. It was just so accessible, beautiful, clean, and sunny. We stayed in the Gaslamp Quarter downtown so everything we needed was within walking distance, including being just across the street from Petco Park, where I did get a chance to take in a game with a local friend of mine. We also did some exploring, and enjoyed spending an afternoon on Coronado beach - rated one of the best beaches in the US. By the end of my five days I was convinced I’d move there someday. Fast forward to 2018 and I hadn’t yet even been back once - something I felt the need to fix.
I was supposed to spend a week in Mexico City in the first week of November, but due to a series of unfortunate mistakes I had to cancel which left me with a United airline credit to use up. I happened to need 4,000 miles to keep my airline status for the year, and over Thanksgiving I had some vacation days to use up. I also just wanted somewhere sunny and warm to zone out for a week - which led me to San Diego. After changing my flight, and cashing in 80,000 Chase Points (a $1200 value) for a week’s stay at the Blue Sea Beach Hotel right on Pacific Beach, I was well on my way to a 7 day / 6 night solo trip to just relax and unwind.
I flew in on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, checked in early to my room, sat down on my balcony overlooking the ocean and literally said out loud, “Now what?” I had planned literally nothing for the week - which is 100% unlike me. I walked outside, put a blanket down on the beach, and just relaxed.
I made it my goal to catch a sunset in a different location each day, and try to treat my week as much like a local (and not a tourist) as possible. I went to Whole Foods and got a week’s worth of food/snacks on Day 1, and narrowed down spots not-downtown to go and explore that would be new to me. Day 1 brought me to La Jolla Shores Beach to watch the surfers during sunset (one of my favorite travel past times!). I thought I’d take myself out to dinner but jet lag got the best of me and I was dead asleep by 8pm!
Day 2 I went and hiked the majority of the trails at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Easy, long hikes and breathtaking views. I did four miles over four hours and even did a little impromptu picnic on the beach.
Day 3 began with a half day at The Lodge at Torrey Pines Spa, and it was exactly what I needed. A relaxing, tranquil, beautiful old hotel with a luxurious spa. Unfortunately the rest of the day included working from my hotel, but at least I had a good view - and I did catch the sunset over Mission Beach.
Day 4 I had a bit of a sleep in, then wandered the local neighborhood. Took myself out to lunch at Waterbar (recommend) and wandered Crystal Pier. Then decided I wanted to go for a bit of a drive and went north to Solana Beach to hang out at Fletcher Cove for another sunset. This might have been my favorite spot of the whole week.
Day 5 was Thanksgiving, and even though it was quite bustling on the beach, not much was doing. Day 6 I went to read at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park during the day, and then popped over to La Jolla for lunch and my second to last sunset. It’s a little touristy along the water (everyone’s there for the Sea Lions), but it’s pristine, and clean, and palm trees for days. A very cute part of town. Ended the evening in Hillcrest, San Diego’s gayborhood, and wandered around before grabbing a bite at Crest Cafe.
Day 7 was sadly my last day and I hurriedly and begrudgingly packed up my hotel room as I was in complete denial that I had to leave. I took myself to lunch and was annoyed that evening I’d be on a plane back home. However, not before at least one more sunset, so I drove back to Fletcher’s Cove and went for a 3 mile walk along the beach to assuage my impending blues.
It’s incredible how a week of salty sea air, sun, and relaxation in a place you love can completely rejuvenate you. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. And if you need some more details here’s my Foursquare List of places to peruse.