April 2011 Archives


Four More Fantastic Things to Do in San Diego

Where would you like to spend time in San Diego? Mission Bay, paragliding in Torey Pines, Old Town shopping, or a visit to Fry's Electronics?

San Diego offers a wide variety of treats to its visitors and full time inhabitants. I have written before explaining the delights of the San Diego zoo, SeaWorld, the Wild Animal Park, and Legoland; and given you fair warning of the dangers to entertainment and intellectual satisfaction posed by the Balboa Park museums. However, it has to be said that San Diego offers much more than these four famous venues.

For a start there are the beaches. However, these like the museums, come with a warning. The Pacific Ocean is cold, because it is very deep until rather close to land. So the waves that come crashing in on the beaches are cooled by the oceanic depths. Hence even the hardy surfers are clad in wetsuits. There is a further aquatic hazard. Pollution from the fertilizer used in coastal farming up and down the Californian coastline runs off into the water near the shore, is gently chilled by the rolling waves, comes back to shore, and there assaults those who venture into the water. So the ever hardy wetsuit clad surfers are generally on a constant course of antibiotics to thwart the resulting bacterial onslaught. For visitors gentle paddling is the best advice, and perhaps a quick online Google for water quality before more extensive immersion. But instead of the beaches why not invest some time visiting the following places?

Mission Bay. Mission Bay is an area of water based activity south of La Jolla (pronounced 'la hoy-ah', for those not versed in Spanish pronunciation). There are innumerable picnic grounds, places for paddling, and swimming. For the slightly more adventurous you can hire kayaks, bicycles, jet skis, and a variety of small craft. The Pacific Ocean is far from mission bay so the waves are gentle and the rowers in the family won't find themselves fighting against an ocean swell. The area known as Pacific Beach abuts Mission Bay. Pacific Beach is a beautifully vibrant area of surf shops, sunglass emporiums, tattoo parlors, and the occasional Starbucks. You will have a wonderful wander and as soon as it gets to be too rowdy or vibrant you can head back to the aquatic charms of Mission Bay.

Paragliding. If you have the slightest interest in walking on beautiful cliffs, taking up paragliding, or watching people paraglide, head over to the glider port on Torrey Pines road. Once there on a typical summer's morning you will be able to marvel at the site of people in parachute harnesses launching themselves off the cliffs and cruising around effortlessly making use of the stiff breeze coming in from the West across the Pacific. The sights are majestic, and through a craftily constructed double harness, you can even take a trip aloft yourself, assuming you are willing to place your trust in a co-pilot sitting half an inch or so behind you in midair. At this part of the San Diego coastline the cliffs above the beaches are quite high, and from your vantage point above the cliffs, you will have a view of the Torrey Pines park to the North and La Jolla Farms to the South. Your view to the South will include the famous 'clothes optional' Black's Beach, so depending on your disposition ask you pilot to turn either North or South on takeoff.

Old Town. A closely guarded San Diego secret is that Old Town is not actually particularly old. If you hunt around you may find something which dates from the 1820s, but most of Old Town was constructed in the twentieth century. However, that being said, it is a lovely place to walk around interesting stores, none of which are overtly touristy, and more importantly to sample excellent restaurant food. As long as you are prepared for a not particularly old collection of reasonably tasteful curiosity and ornament shops, with excellent restaurants, you will be in good shape in Old Town.

Fry's Electronics Store. As a further non-touristy activity while you are in San Diego track down the nearest Fry's Electronics Store. There are two in the San Diego area, one close to down town, relatively near Qualcomm stadium and a second more modern store in the Palomar area to the North. If you have never visited a Fry's you are in for a very pleasant experience. Everything electronic and electrical arranged in a warehouse format with an unusually knowledgeable staff on hand to answer questions. Of course, you will find that the knowledge levels vary, but generally they are superior to those on offer in most electronics stores. If you are visiting San Diego from Europe, and find the goods priced in dollars attractive, you will have a hard time resisting the purchase of a video camera, laptop computer, or washer dryer. Just be careful about the voltages and your responsibilities to pay duties on your return. Both the San Diego Fry's stores are large and contain a fast food restaurant so that your electronic searching can be sustained for at least half a day.

So there you have another three and a half days of happy vacationing and sight-seeing in San Diego sorted out. Mission Bay, a touch of paragliding, a period of gentle recovery in Old Town, then the reward of a visit to Fry's electronics. It is going to be a great vacation!

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