North County, San Diego
Carlsbad is not only home to Legoland, it is also the site of a natural mineral water spring that has connections to the Czech Republic, not to mention plenty of restaurants, The famous Flower Fields in the spring, the Museum of Making Music, the Sea Life Aquarium Carlsbad and if it is golf you're interested in check out La Costa Resort and Spa, especially during a world class golf tournement.
Known as Fraizer's Station, this beautiful section of California coast was simply a railroad stop until the spring waters were discovered and proved to have healing properties and the town began to grow. Now it is called Carlsbad and is known to be a lovely seaside resort area.
A day trip to Carlsbad, which is about thirty to forty minutes north of downtown San Diego might be turned into an over-night stay if Legoland is included.
I've built a full page on Carlsbad Take a look at it if you're interested in taking a day tip up here while visiting San Diego.
If you want a little fun and adventure on your trip...trying staying at a campground located on the beach cliffs of beautiful Cardiff by the Sea. This is a great campground within walking distance of restaurants and bars. This is a perfect option if you are low on cash, but still want to stay in a beautiful area. My favorite little breakfast spot, Pipes Cafe is just a few minutes walk away. Have a fire, take a walk along the beach, go out to a bar or restaurant and stumble back into your cozy tent on the ocean.
Exit Interstate 5 at Encinitas Blvd., head WEST.
Turn LEFT on So. Coast Hwy. Follow the Coast Hwy. south, about 2 miles.
Del Mar is a twenty to thirty minute drive north of downtown San Diego and it would be a great day trip.
There is a nice feel in Del Mar and besides the shops and restaruants on the main street, or the beach and cliffs of coastline here, there is a unique complex, offering such diversions as shopping the boutiques or eating at one of their great restaruants, my favorite is Il Fornaio, located at the top level of the Del Mar Plaza.
Del Mar Plaza is an interesting setting for shoppers, it is fashioned after a type of Mediterranean hill town, full of rocks, steps and glorious views of the ocean. The beach is surrounded by a more rustic landscape and parts are below jutting cliffs which Grove Park sits at the top of and sometimes parking is a problem.
In the summer, the San Diego County Fair is held at the Del Mar Race track and throughout the year there are all kinds of convention type activities, such as the ever popular Orchid Shows.
However, just after the SD County Fair closes it's doors, the Del Mar Race Track opens for the best of all sports, horse racing, and at the races, betting is allowed. Good Luck!
For more information see my Del Mar. page. Here I give my impressions and an idea of what to do or see in this small beach town that might inspire you to visit.
While visiting San Diego a day trip to the Escondido/Rancho Bernardo area might be fun. The main attractions are The San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Fromally known as the Wild Animal Park,) Bernardo Winery and Orfila Winery. Orfila is my favorite winery.
I come with a friend, taste a few wines and buy a bottle of their fine wine to go with the picnic lunch we brought along. This is a great idea for lunch time. There is a nice shopping center up the road and a drive through the back roads in this area can be interesting.
Tours are given of both wineries, throughout the day for those interested. More about this on my Rancho Bernardo and my Escondido pages if you'd be interested in visiting this area during your time in San Diego.
It is a nice morning's activity to drive to the base of Mt. Palomar and then take the short hike (mile or two) up to the summit and poke around the observatory. It is also possible to drive all the way to the top.
The observatory used to be the big cheese of world observatories prior to WOrld War II. And it still is an impressive achievement and some scientists still utilize the facilities. It is associated with Cal Tech. However, the observatory while situated in thin air with relatively few nights of cloud cover, is also situated within the umbrella of Los ANgeles' light pollution. Unfortunately, this light pollution makes the observatory a fraction as useful as it would be in a more desolate location.
It's always fun to go wine tasting at wineries. You can find wineries in the area around Escondido, Fallbook, Ramona, and Julian.
One of my favorite wineries is Orfila which is located off I-15 on the way to the Wild Animal Park. It has a nice gift shop and lots of great wines.
If you drive to Julian through Ramona there will be a few interesting wineries in Ramona and then more around Julian. This makes a great day trip. You can browse the cute shops in Julian and have some of their famous apple pie.
Another casino that you might want to try is Valley View...located in the northern part of San Diego County (on the way to Palomar Mountain), this facility offers food, fun and fast action without making the long drive to Nevada. I was lucky in that I got to eat for free at the Market Square Buffet (awesome food although the wait can be long) and play with $20.00 of the casinos funds (for my birthday). Overall, we had a great time and will return soon.
The Dog Beach at Del Mar/Solana Beach is a great place to take your pets so that they can have fun in the waves. This beach is open to dogs from September 15th through June 15th and they must be on a leash until you get down to the sand.
There are parking meters along the road, so bring lots of change (4 quarters will get you an hour of playtime and you can stay a maximum of 4 hours). Also be aware that Del Mar is aggressive with ticketing, so don't try to slide by. Some free parking is available just south of the river.
While many of us think the best selection is in the local mall, it is worth a trip up the coast to see what thousands of North County residents already know but keep to themselves; "You can look like a million on a pauper's budget by shopping at the outlet stores." With name brands such as Barney's of New York, Donna Karan and Jessica McClintock, you'll be raking in the goods while saving up to 70 percent of department store prices. If these names aren't enough to get you excited about the 40-minute trek north of San Diego, how about saving on North Face, Banana Republic and OshKosh B'Gosh?
Is modeled after the ancient hilltown marketplaces of Europe. Shops and dining delicacies are tucked around every corner...Up the stairs & down. There are 3 levels, 4 oceanview restaurants and 34 unique shops to choose from. The Del Mar Plaza is located at 1555 Camino Del Mar (in the coastal city of Del Mar, CA).
In addition to the beautiful weather we have here in San Diego and the many things that you can do while here, many people don't know about water sports activities. At the California Water Sports Facility (at Snug Harbor/Carlsbad), you can rent boats, go water skiing, go jet skiing, go kayaking and rent canoes/peddle boats.
Drive up to Mt. Palomar and visit the Mt. Palomar Observatory. Mt. Palomar has a 200 inch Hale Telescope and a great shop where you can buy posters of photos taken with it! There was still snow on the ground at 5600 feet too..chilly to me...brrrr,, lol
Mission San Luis Rey built 1798 was celebrating its bicentennial when we visited in 1998. California's oldest pepper tree can be seen through the original adobe arch in our picture....it was planted in 1830.
Places off the beaten path are local fairs in and around the San Diego area. The last time i went to San Diego, i went to Del Mar, which is only a few minutes out of SD, and went to their Fair, which was very fun.
Well, I don't know if I would exactly call this "off the beaten path" as over 1 million locals visit this regional fair every year. (It used to be called the "Del Mar Fair").
This fair usually begins in the middle of June and ends soon after the 4th of July. It's a standard regional/county fair, but some heavy weight performers star there every night it's open.
There is so much to do at this fair, it's hard to list them all. Most locals like eating the food. The cinnimon rolls are the featured food items that almost everyone gets there. There's also funnel cakes and a very good bbq.
Also, there are carnival rides and animals. I especially like the horse shows which are done in a fabulous arena. If you are adult, you can go to the satellite wagering for free if you are visiting the fair.
I also like the arts and crafts show, of which I have entered several and won ribbons. Many local and regional residents exhibit there. And, their art show is open to all artists who can hand deliver their works.