My friend Jade had her heart set on going abroad with her beau, but then they sat down with their maps and calendars and budget. “I love traveling in other countries,” said Jade, “but this time it just felt like the stress-to-enjoyment ratio was way out of whack. Maybe we started planning too late, or were overthinking it, but whatever: we really hit a wall. Then out of the blue, Rick just said, ‘Staycation?’ Um, YES PLEASE.”
Our conversation got me thinking about low-stress vacation options even closer to home. I’ve lived my whole life in California and I still hear about “new” world-class destinations right under my nose. I, like many, don’t take full advantage of local tourist attractions because I live right on top of them and never think about visiting.
So I thought, what if my family were to put on our Tourist Hats with a week to play in the San Diego area? Assuming we’d stay mainly in our own home and mostly day-trip, I worked up a rough seven-day itinerary touching both the familiar and new.
Day One —Balboa Park. Confession: we are already frequent flyers here. Shakespeare under the stars at the Old Globe, the Nighttime Zoo, Spanish Village for artwork and unique gifts, summertime’s plethora of events — it doesn’t matter what specific things we do, we ALWAYS have a great time here as a family!
Day Two — Ocean Beach, Tidepools. It’s a beautiful trip down Point Loma to visit the Cabrillo National Monument. TIP: The tidepools are a hidden gem, accessible only by a road winding downhill from the site’s more popular attractions, the museum and old lighthouse. We’ll take a picnic, hike out to see the sealife at low tide, then head back to Ocean Beach for fun in the sun, dinner, and a sunset.
Days Three & Four — Julian and Anza Borrego. Julian’s famous for apple pie, but have you been to the California Wolf Center? Me neither! Let’s fix that. We’ll spend the afternoon poking around the quaint town, then retreat after dinner to a vacation rental where we can soak in the kind of starry night sky you can only see in the clear mountain air, far from city lights. Next morning we’ll see the wonders of the desert before things really heat up, then take the scenic route home.
Day Five — Vacation from Staycation. Seriously, we need a break from taking a break. I’m not making ANY plans for today. Everybody freestyle! Don’t ask me to cook —all of North Park is out there waiting for you. You can fend for yourselves. Bonus points if you bring me back a coffee and pastry.
Day Six — La Jolla. I associate La Jolla mainly with shopping and dining, but there’s so much more to do: sea cave kayaking, hiking Torrey Pines, sea lions, maybe just a little browsing, and then after dinner a show at the amazing La Jolla Playhouse. Heaven!
Day Seven — San Diego Bay. Let’s start the day by learning more about our area from the water on a bay tour. Then we’ll rent or borrow a sailboat and pull up somewhere fun for lunch. Later we’ll explore the waterfront by foot or scooter, then grab dinner someplace with a stunning view — Bali Hai or Coasterra come to mind.
I’m not sure this is exactly what we’d wind up doing. But now that I’ve done all this research it’s sounding more and more fun to be a tourist in my own town. Got any tips for hidden gems? Drop me a line and tell me what I shouldn’t miss!