A few weeks ago, I found myself on a discover San Diego road trip mission. I’ve only been to San Diego, California once before but I fell deep and hard in love and I couldn’t wait to go back. Travel is my love language.
This city by the sea is the closest thing to heaven that I can imagine. If you’ve never been, you need to put it on your travel bucket list. What’s not to love about playing in the surf, the smell of the ocean, the best fish tacos on earth and the perfect weather.all.year.long?
When KIA invited me to a ride and drive event to experience the new KIA eco-dynamic line of vehicles, it was a no brainer. Driving an award-winning good for the planet vehicle, discovering one of my favorite cities in the United States, yes, please!
Ladies, start your engines. It gave me the chance to do 2 things I love, explore and drive. There is just something about discovering a city with the windows down, wind in your hair and the music blaring while you find all those hidden gems a place has to offer. It was amazing.
If you’ve never been, I’ve curated a must see list of some iconic places you should explore on your San Diego road trip.
Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island
Built in 1888 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, the Hotel Coronado is an American treasure with more than 125 years of stories to tell. Built as a seaside resort that would be “the talk of the Western World’, it does not disappoint. It’s a gorgeous resort and don’t take my word for it, it’s regularly visited by celebrities, dignitaries and U.S. presidents.
Named for the Spanish maritime explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Balboa Park is a 1200-acre urban cultural park that contains more than 17 museums, gardens, trails and attractions including the San Diego Zoo. I love it for the old Spanish feel of the buildings. There was something for everyone.
I stumbled upon this jewel. It’s a small park located between Coronado and the Gas Lamp Quarter that has underpasses painted with beautiful urban murals. It really is something to see in person.
USS Midway Museum
The Midway is one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers in the United States Navy, operating from September 1945 until 1992 when she was decommissioned. During her commission, she sailed every ocean in the world and fought in the Vietnam War and in the First Persian Gulf War. Now a museum, it features more than 60 exhibits and nearly 30 restored aircraft.
The Unconditional Surrender Statue (AKA the Kissing Statue)
Right outside the USS Midway stands the infamous “Kissing Statue”. True story, the “lovebirds” that inspired the statue were strangers. He was in the service on furlough, she was a dental hygienist. The war was officially over and everyone in Times Square was celebrating. He mistook her for a nurse. Euphoric at the thought of not having to return to battle and associating her with the nurses that had saved so many of his wounded friends, he grabbed her and kissed her. She was in shock. But the statue stands tall as a reminder to all of us that the war ended and so many loved ones were reunited.
Old Point Loma Lighthouse
In 1851, a year after California entered the Union, the U.S. Coastal Survey selected the heights of Point Loma for the location of a navigational aid. What seemed to be a good location, however, had a serious flaw: Fog and low clouds often obscured the light. That could be a problem but there is just something magical about Lighthouses. Definitely worth the visit if you are in the area.
Mission Basilica de Alcala
San Diego de Alcala is the first of the 21 historic California Missions. It marks the birthplace of Christianity on the west coast of the United States. Today, the Mission, founded in 1979, serves as an active parish church and cultural center for people of all faiths! It’s beautiful and photographs wonderfully.
I stayed in a suite at the iconic Hard Rock Hotel in the historic heart of San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter, which was basically the center of everything tucked tightly into 16 ½ square blocks. It is the ultimate walkable urban playground.
While there, I suggest dinner at Rustic Root a restaurant that specializes in American Cuisine made with farm fresh local ingredients thoughtfully paired with timeless dishes to bring out their intended charm and simplicity. And if you really want to take in the Gaslamp Quarter sights at night, I would recommend taking a pedicab. So much fun!
Coronado Central Beach
When in Sand Diego, you must visit the Coronado Central Beach voted #1 beach in America. It’s a 1.5 mile long, wide sandy beach set against the backdrop of the iconic Hotel del Coronado. The beach is popular for swimmers, surfers, sunbathers and beachcombers and the beach is very flat, making it great for skim boarding and walking. Plus, salt water, sunshine and serenity, what’s not to love?
There are tons more places to visit and things to see and do but this is a good starter list for the first time San Diego visitor.I highly recommend road tripping with your favorite people because it makes everything so much more fun. And if you ever get the chance to do Karaoke with a live band like Rock Out Karaoke, do it! Where’s your favorite place to road trip?