San Diego in July?
In regards to being overcrowded in July, many people question if they should consider vacationing in San Diego. It’s a popular month in this amazing locale. Let me give you some reasons to visit in July. The weather is much better than in June. There is less chance of rain, and warm enough to play in the ocean. Late night walks on the beach are typically pleasant, much warmer than other months. This was our first time in the San Diego area. We flew in from Salt Lake City International Airport. We were limited on time, only having Thursday thru Sunday available, so opted flying over driving.
Salt Lake City International Airport
This mid-sized airport is clean and fairly easy to navigate. It is currently under major redevelopment, and will be adding more restaurants and shops. Expected completion date is September 2020. We departed Salt Lake City on a Thursday morning. The airport was moderately crowded, but security lines moved quickly. Most of the TSA employees were tolerable with the exception of a grumpy older man that was lacking patience and barking out orders. Some of these employees think they are far more important than they are. But, they provide a good laugh.
San Diego International Airport – Alamo Rent A Car
As we entered the airport terminal, it didn’t take long to realize how much bigger it is than SLC International. Navigating the facility is not user friendly, but the employees were happy to help. We waited in line for a while to catch, one of many, shuttle buses that take people to the car rental center. The shuttle bus was very nice and clean. We had a sports car rental reserved at Alamo. It was the typical experience of their agents trying to sell add-ons, insurance, etc. Our reservation was for a Ford Mustang, which they didn’t have besides the more expensive convertible model. We were offered the convertible for the same price we paid for the hardtop and took it. The Mustang was an enjoyable addition to our vacation, good power, and fun to drive.
Best Western Plus Marina Gateway Hotel
The Best Western Plus Marina Gateway Hotel, is conveniently located a few minutes from downtown San Diego. This three star hotel has a 4.4 out of 5 guest satisfaction rating. The hotel provides a friendly staff, free parking, with no hidden fees, that is a plus in my book. It’s a clean, well-kept facility, with nice up to date decor. Landscaped with palm trees, colorful flowers, and shrubs are a nice touch. The parking lot conjoins Goodies Bar & Grill, which is convenient, but could also be annoying if trying to get to sleep early. They have a banquet area which was reserved for a wedding party one night of our stay. The event was outside, as was the band, and loud music played until 11 p.m. The noise ordinance is from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., this is typical in California, although some cities are midnight until 7 a.m.. There is a small pool, and a hot tub, also a little gym, which looked four times bigger on their website. Overall, the experience was good, the air conditioning unit was overly noisy, but this is typical of a three star hotel. The Best Western “Plus” hotels are much better than their traditional hotels.
Shelter Island – Bali Hai Restaurant
We had reservations at Bali Hai on Shelter Island. It’s a Polynesian restaurant with great ocean bay views, and is known for their Mai Tai cocktails. Our dinner was delicious and served in a timely manner. The Mai Tai cocktails left a lot to be desired. The drink has 5 shots of rum, and let me tell you, that is all you can taste. Kimberly kept adding grapefruit juice to help knock down the strong alcohol taste. If your main concern is getting a lot of alcohol in your drink, this is it, otherwise choose something else. While dining, we saw a couple exquisite yachts come into their dock, a nice option for those with the means.
San Diego Bay – Flagship Harbor Cruise
We decided to take a one hour cruise of San Diego Bay with Flagship Harbor Cruise. The ship was well maintained, and clean. The tour guide shared a wealth of information about the bay, including the many Navy ships docked in the bay, and Coronado Island. They also offer a two hour tour, but I felt one hour was adequate.
Little Italy – Filippi’s Pizza Grotto
San Diego’s Little Italy has over 70 restaurants, pubs, and fine dining. We had lunch at Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. This restaurant is combined with an Italian grocery store, which appeared to be well stocked with the essentials. The menu offered a good variety of traditional Italian fare. We opted for a margherita pizza. It was good, but way too big for us to eat it all. The prices are very reasonable here. Service was a little slow, but the staff was very friendly.
Petco Park – San Diego Padres
My better-half and I had never been to a major league baseball game, so it only made sense that we take in a game at the massive Petco Park stadium. On friday night, we watched the San Diego Padres play the Atlanta Braves. This stadium is amazing, the ball field is meticulously maintained, as is everything else on the property. There are many food and drink options. We parked at a parking garage a few blocks away from the stadium. This is a good option, sure you will need to walk a little bit, but it gets you away from the traffic surrounding the stadium when the game ends. Even though it was late at night, we never felt unsafe walking amongst the crowd in downtown San Diego. I do suggest being careful crossing streets, we almost got ran over once, and the next morning the news reported a pedestrian was involved in a hit and run accident. City bicycles and scooters are also for rent throughout downtown, if you are not in the mood to walk.
Pacific Coast Highway
Driving part of the Pacific Coast Highway (California State Route 1) was on our itinerary. The plan was to go from San Diego to Laguna Beach, but not enough time was allocated for this trip. On a beautiful Saturday morning, we only made it to Encinitas; the traffic was too heavy. We stopped at many of the beaches to enjoy the beautiful ocean views. A new bucket list item for us is traveling the entire Pacific Coast Highway. There is so much to see, and the views are absolutely amazing.
The Fish Market – Solana Beach
Our original lunch destination changed since we didn’t make it to Laguna Beach, and we couldn’t be happier with our random choice. When making our trip itineraries, I search the internet for places to eat, looking for the highest rated establishments. I do this to save time and avoid places that aren’t as good. It has worked well thus far. I didn’t check reviews on The Fish Market after spotting it. I was hungry, limited on time, and just wanted to eat some seafood. This well appointed restaurant was excellent, and the best we had on our trip. The swordfish was done to perfection. If ever in Solana Beach, I highly recommend you give this place a try, you won’t be disappointed.
La Jolla Cove – Everyday California Sea Cave Kayak Tour
We had reservations for 3 p.m. on Saturday, in La Jolla Cove for a sea cave kayak tour from Everyday California. It’s a good thing we arrived early, La Jolla Cove is a very busy place and parking is scarce. We drove around for about 40 minutes trying to find a place to park that was within walking distance. No paid parking was available, people park in front of the nearby neighborhood homes. Everyday California has friendly, accommodating employees, that quickly prepared us for our tour. After a short briefing, we walked a few blocks to the beach where the kayaks were staged waiting for our arrival. A quick safety class was given by the two tour guides that were provided. This cove offers small swells instead of the typical large waves common of most beaches. Kimberly and I shared a kayak, besides our desire to always be close, our team work while paddling worked well. The tour led us a few miles off the cove’s shore to a sea cave with many sea lions. When we went into the cave, sea lions were practically within touching distance. Our tour guides were a husband and wife team. They gave us the history of La Jolla Cove, and other interesting facts. After getting back to the beach we rinsed off at a beach hotel’s outdoor shower. This was a fun adventure, being in the ocean on a little kayak was exciting, as was the sea lions. We even saw a dolphin for a brief moment.
Imperial Beach Pier
Walking out on a pier is a must do while in the San Diego area. We chose Imperial Beach Pier based on overall reviews. Located south of San Diego, it is the southernmost city in California. Being close to sunset, when we arrived proved to be unexpectedly cold. We didn’t bring jackets, but wished we had. On the pier, there were many people fishing. We ate at a small restaurant located on the end of the pier; it could use some updating, and wasn’t very clean. The food was just okay, nothing to rave about. Even as the sun set, and the fog rolled in, many surfers still enjoyed riding the waves. There were also still some people on the beach. There must have been a sandcastle competition prior to our arrival. The beach was decorated with a lot of impressive sand sculptures.
So Much to See and Do
San Diego has a lot to offer, scenic beaches, numerous attractions, adventure, and fine dining to name a few. A person could spend a month here with no worries of running out of things to do. Traffic wasn’t as heavy as I thought it would be, with the exception of the Pacific Coast Highway on Saturday. I would go back to San Diego in July, the weather was amazing and the crowds weren’t bad at the places we visited. I found it interesting that most of the cars had California license plates; I thought there would be a lot more out of state visitors. With so much to see and do, you can visit San Diego anytime of the year, and you won’t be disappointed.