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A Day in San Diego: West Mex, Snorkeling and Bonfires

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

In many ways, San Diego lives up to its nickname of America’s Finest City.  The metropolis of 1.3 million holds so many natural and cultural attractions that just about anyone can have a fine time.

The No. 1 attraction is, of course, the beach. You could spend a week wandering up and down the southern California beaches, but if you’re only in town for a short time, La Jolla Cove is a must see.

The cove is a smaller beach than many in the surrounding area, but it’s known as “the jewel” of San Diego for numerous reasons.  The crystal clear water of the ecological reserve is great for snorkeling. Scores of colorful ocean fauna live in the cove, making for an exciting dip — especially for folks who live far from the ocean. Since the cove is an ecological reserve, however, visitors must be sure not to take any shells or aquatic plant life.

La Jolla Cove is a great spot to see colorful ocean life -- seals too!

La Jolla Cove is a great spot to see colorful ocean life — seals too!

Don’t forget the seals! You can’t go to La Jolla Cove without seeing the famous seals sunning themselves on the rocky outcroppings in the cove. Renting a kayak or finding a kayaking tour is a fantastic way to get up close to the seals.

One word of warning: parking in the area can be quite a feat, so biking from the RV park or taking a cab might be preferable.

Isn’t it funny how floating around in the water or soaking up sun wears you out and makes for a powerful hunger?

Well if you’re in San Diego and looking for some good grub, there are two amazing standouts: fish tacos and West Mex. Eat them both and you’ll be a bonafide Californian — you are what you eat right?

Anyone who has spent time in Canada or a few of the northern states will know about the gastronomic goodie known as poutine. Well the opposite end of the country has a version of its own.  To the uninitiated, carne asada fries might look like a sloppy mess.  OK, it is a sloppy mess, but wow, it’s worth a few napkins.

The hearty portion of meat, cheese, avocado — and whatever other fixings are at hand — piled atop crispy fries is not for the weak of heart. (Really, it should come with a warning label and you should bring a note from your doctor.) But if you’re stomach is growling, there is simply nothing more satisfying.  Grab a friend to share with, a fork, plenty of napkins and find yourself a sunny spot to nap when it’s all over. Then dig in!

Roll up your sleeves, carne asada fries can be quite a delicious mess.

Roll up your sleeves, carne asada fries can be quite a delicious mess.

SoCal is the land of the taco truck, but Lolita’s Taco Shop is a local favorite for carne asada fries.  Just a few miles inland, their fries topped with the unique Mexican cotija cheese, it’s a must try for any traveling foodie. Lolita’s California Burrito is quite good too.

If those fries haven’t put you right to sleep, a night in San Diego is best spent on the ocean.

For a quintessential end to a day in Southern California, there’s nothing better than heading back to the beach for a bonfire. Grab your sandals, a light shirt to stave off the ocean breeze and your acoustic guitar — if you’ve got one — and watch the day slip away.

Gorgeous beaches stretch for miles up and down the coast around San Diego, but Mission Beach is a great spot for a metropolitan night on the water.  During the day, the Mission Beach boardwalk is a hotspot of activity and a great place to do some people watching or shopping. At night, it’s the perfect beach for a bonfire.

The fire rings on the beach are free to use, but visitors need to bring their own wood along with that guitar.

The rings are first come-first serve so get there early in the evening if you want to have a secluded fire.  But even if all the fire rings are taken, what brings people together like a bonfire? Some extra wood is sure to make you some new friends by the fireside!

To stay right along Mission Bay and just a few miles from Mission Beach, Campland on the Bay is a great option for a central RV park.  The spot gets great marks from visitors for its private beach and slew of other great amenities for travelers. With easy access to Interstate 5, it’s an ideal stop for anyone traveling up or down the West Coast.

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