Long Weekend in San Diego

We did a short trip to the San Diego area visiting Erika’s aunt who lived there at the time. This worked out well since we had a place to stay and basically a free tour guide during our trip! She actually lived in Carlsbad so we did not stay in the city of San Diego, we were just outside in the surrounding areas for most of our trip. We did some site seeing, got to do some kayaking, surfing and beach time and finally ended our trip with some wine tasting in Temecula Valley which is about an hour outside the city (we will talk more about that in a separate post). We don’t have as many food recommendations in this post since we did a lot of eating in or packing picnic lunches since we were staying with a local. We will share with you a couple places we did enjoy.

One of the first places we went was to Mt Soledad National Veterans Memorial. The memorial sits on top of a hill which offers great views of the city, the surrounding mountains and the coastline. The memorial is meant to honor all veterans ranging from the Revolutionary war to more current events. The memorial is open for visitors daily and admission is free.  It is a nice place to go to get some great views of the city.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From there we headed to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. This is a park that overlooks the ocean near the La Jolla area. We spend some time walking around and taking in the ocean views from up on the top of the cliffs along the coast line.  There are multiple hiking trails in the park to explore. If we had more time we would have loved to spend more time here and do some hiking. We were told that often times you can see people hang gliding from the cliffs. We didn’t see any the day we visited but it would definitely be a beautiful spot for this if that is something you are interested in doing.

We spent the rest of our first day in La Jolla which is along the shoreline. This area offers lots of shops and restaurants as well as beautiful views of the ocean. While wandering through this area we stopped at the Sunny Jim sea cave which was an old bootlegger cave during prohibition. There is a cave store where you enter and you can buy souvenirs it is about $5 per person to go down into the cave. From the store there is a tunnel that was dug out by hand to allow access to the sea cave. It is a pretty short path, less than 5 minute walk from the store to the cave. The stairs in the tunnel are pretty steep and small and can be slippery with the water. From the cave you get views out to the ocean and you can see the water coming in and out with the waves. We would highly recommend visiting if you’re in the area!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One of our favorite things we did in La Jolla was sea kayaking. We did this through a company called La Jolla Kayak. They had tandem kayaks and single kayaks available. We went in a tandem. The hardest part was getting out past the wave break. We were instructed on how to do this and most people in our group got past it without a problem. After you are past the wave break the water is calm and it is pretty easy to kayak around the area. We had two guides and a group of about 8-10 people. The guides educated us on the history of the area and the wildlife in the area. They brought us over to where the sea caves are so we could get a good look at the caves. It was a bit wavy by the caves the day we went so we couldn’t get up super close. If the water is calmer you can kayak right up to and into the caves. We did get to kayak by several sea lions as they were sun bathing on the rocks nearby. The water is fairly cold, on average 55* to 61* F. If you do want a wet suit to help you stay warm during your tour they are available to rent. Coming back in with the waves was a lot of fun because you are basically surfing them. That being said about a quarter of the people went sideways and got a bit wet. Check out their website for specific tours and pricing options. https://www.lajollakayak.com/tours/.  

La Jolla has great park spaces near the waterfront to take advantage of. After we did our kayaking tour we had a picnic lunch in the park and spend some more time walking along the coastline.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next day we headed to the beach in Carlsbad for some surfing. I don’t know if you’ve heard about it but surfing is big in California!  There are multiple companies to do lessons, and people that offer surfing lessons. We booked a lesson ahead of time online with Carlsbad SoCal Surf Lessons. This was a private lesson that was one hour followed by an hour of surfing on your own. Rusty the instructor was a great teacher and awesome guy in general. If you’ve never surfed before, this is a great place to learn (not too crowded).

After surfing we headed into San Diego. We spend the afternoon in Balboa Park. This is where the zoo is located if you choose to visit. The park has a lot of other attractions worth seeing as well. This is a 1,200-acre urban cultural park that is absolutely beautiful to walk through! The park has many gardens, walking paths and open green spaces to sit and relax as well as museums and theaters. There are also several restaurants and shops in the park to enjoy.  We would definitely recommend visiting if you are in San Diego. For a full list of events happening in the park you can check out their website. https://www.balboapark.org/Sunset is a really pretty time to see the buildings and the theaters in the park.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Food: We do have a couple recommendations

In-N-Out Burger: This is going to sound funny to anyone on the West Coast. But In and Out is a must try while in California. It’s a fast food burger place offering burgers, fries and shakes. It is a chain that you can find throughout California and maybe in other states as well. We do not have them in Michigan or anywhere we have been in the midwest of the U.S. If you are craving a good, greasy burger this is your place! Yes it is fast food which we normally do not enjoy but this place is worth a try. 

Harbor Fish Cafe: This place is right on the beach in Carlsbad. It is a causal place with great fish tacos! Fish tacos are definitely a must eat while in California. The tacos here are huge! There are fried and grilled fish options available. 

Cardiff Crack: This is a term used locally to describe Burgundy Pepper Tri Tip. You can buy this at the Seaside Market– here is the address 2087 San Elijo Ave, Cardiff, CA 92007. This is a tri tip steak with a Burgundy Pepper marinate. Our last night we picked one of these up and grilled it up for dinner with a nice bottle of wine. It was really good! We will be attempted to recreate it at home at some point. It isn’t easy to find tri tip steaks in markets/grocery stores where we live in Michigan so that will be a challenge. We would highly recommend getting this while you are in the area!

IMG_4409

Our final full day we spent heading out to Temecula Valley for some wine tasting. We will do a separate post on that with more information.  After that we unfortunately had to head home the next day. This was a pretty quick trip for us,  we would love to spend more time in this area at some point. California has a lot to see and do. We will eventually make it back to the west coast!

-TFWYs
Advertisements

Exploring The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a great summer destination in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We have only visited in the summer but it would definitely be beautiful in the early fall as well when the leaves are changing. Late spring would also be a good time once the weather has warmed up but we have heard it is more buggy earlier in the summer. When we went in August the mosquitos were not bad at all during out hike or at night while we were camping. Lake Superior is cold even in the middle of the summer  so don’t expect warm water for swimming. But summer is definitely the best time to enjoy the lake, the beach, the hiking and some kayaking or other boat tour.
IMG_1280
Munising is likely where you’ll want to stay to be closest to the hiking and the waterfront. This is a very small town, don’t expect 5 star hotels and restaurants. There are a couple hotels and a couple restaurants but that is about it. We camped during our trip so cannot recommend any specific hotel. There are a lot of camp grounds in the area. You can go very rustic and camp within the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. You will need a permit so planning in advance is necessary to stay within the park itself.
We camped at a nearby camp ground. You can find campgrounds ranging from ones with a bathroom, shower, grills , electric plug ins and picnic tables on site to more minimal vaulted toilets available or no toilets/showers available just depending on what you are comfortable with. We would recommend booking in advance as this is a popular destination in the summer and camp grounds do tend to fill up.
In order to see the rocks from land you do need to hike/walk through the National Forest to the lakeshore. There are several different options for where to start your hike and how far you want to go. We parked at the parking lot on Chapel road and started the trail from there. We went past Chapel falls, Chapel lake and Chapel rock before heading all the way to Spray falls. Spay falls is a waterfall that comes jetting out of the rocks and then down into the lake. This was our favorite waterfall we saw on this trip. There is an open area on the rocks where you can sit and enjoy the view before starting your hike back or continuing on further. We packed a lunch which we enjoyed at this location, taking in the view of the waterfall and the lake. The hiking is not strenuous with any huge hills to climb. The paths are fairly well marked as you go through and chances are you won’t be the only people hiking so expect to run into other hikers as you go. We did past one or two vaulted toilets in the park during our hike but they were not super clean so that is something to be aware of. We took a different path back going by Mosquito falls. We were not in any huge hurry and we stopped multiple times to take photos. The whole like took us 4-5 hours. We would recommend starting your hike in the morning so that if it does take longer than you expect you are not stuck in the park after dark if you aren’t camping there.
See the source image

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kayaking
One of the best ways to see the Pictured Rocks is from the water. We did a kayak tour when we were there. We were bummed the morning of our tour because it was cloudy and rainy. Our tour guides assured us it is actually the best time to see the rocks because when they are wet from the rain it actually brings out the different colors much better. It sprinkled the first half of our kayaking but then the rain stopped and the sun actually did come out towards the end- so don’t let rain or clouds deter you. One other note on weather is that pending weather/water conditions they may take you to another location to kayak. You are dealing with Lake Superior so you don’t want to be stuck out there on a kayak in bad waves. There are several tour companies that offer kayak tours at various different lengths. We went through Paddling Michigan- https://www.paddlingmichigan.com/kayaking-tours/
You can do anywhere from a day long tour to a couple hours. You can also rent kayaks in the area and head out on your own. We did a tour that was a couple hours long and we felt it took us a good distance down the shoreline and back. It was nice to have a guide so we know what areas to stay further back from the rocks in case anything fell into the water and they told us when we were in areas where it was safe to get right up close to the rocks. Our tour group was about 8-10 people and most of us were in tandem kayaks. We had two guides with us to help keep the group together.
We would highly recommend kayaking while you are there, it was the highlight of our trip despite the rain! if you have a go pro definitely bring it with you. We got some great photos and videos while kayaking. The water is also super clear so you can see the bottom as you kayak along and get some great shots from in the water as well.
There is also a boat tour you can take which will drive along the shoreline offering views of the rocks. We did not take this tour so we cannot recommend a specific company but know that it is an option if you are not up for kayaking.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Waterfalls in and around Munising:
There are several waterfalls you can see very close to Munising. We had a car since we drove from the lower peninsula. We would recommend having a car for this trip. Because there is no major city there aren’t taxi services in the area and we aren’t sure if you can get uber or lift rides from Munising. On the rainy morning before heading out for our kayak tour we drove to some of the waterfalls close by. We visited , Munising falls, Alger falls, Miner’s falls and Scott’s falls. These 4 are all very close to each other, only a few minutes drive in-between each one so you can easily see them all in a short amount of time. All of these also have only a very short walk from the parking lot to the falls so there is really no hiking involved. Horseshoe and Wagner’s falls are also within the Munising area.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_1248

The pictured rocks is a great destination for anyone wanting to be outside and enjoy the beautiful Lake Superior lakeshore. It is a great place for an active summer vacation! A must see for anyone coming to Michigan.

-TFWYs