Top 8 Secret Destinations of San Diego

My time in San Diego is quickly coming to a close, and naturally, after 18 years, I have absorbed a lot of this charming place. It seems San Diego is a place everyone wants to visit or live, as the weather is extraordinary and there is so much to do outside. At this point, I have five days left and below are the eight things I wish I could do before I leave but I am too busy this week!

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Pacific Beach pier

1. The 101 – North County
The 101 is the main road along the coast and is no secret to people living in North County, but if you are living or staying in East County or downtown, the 101 is less known. The road passes through Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff, Encinitas, Leucadia, Carlsbad, and Oceanside. In these small beach towns, you will find the original southern California surf culture, good examples of classic surf shops, great clothing boutiques, and many beachside cafes. The 101 is a beautiful road to drive and there are sections where you have a crystal-clear view of the beach and the Pacific and beyond. For the most part, these beaches are never too crowded except for Moonlight beach in Encinitas and sometimes Ponto beach in Carlsbad. Nevertheless, if you want to see and experience the true southern California beach culture, the 101 is the place to be.

Del Mar, 9th street
Seagrove Park
Driving down the 101 in Encinitas
Taken on the way down to the beach

2. Del Mar Showpark
When I was younger, I used to compete here often in the discipline of English (hunter/equitation). Showpark is active almost every weekend with a wide range of low to high level English, Dressage, and Western shows. Most events tend to be well attended with riders, and it is easy to park and walk along with the competitors. There are also unique pop-up shops on the show ground to browse when you are finished watching the horses. At times, the showpark hosts Grand Prix classes on a huge grass field that brings in many top-notch national and international riders.

Horse’s show name is Iron Will, this was taken in 2015 at Del Mar Showpark

3. Del Mar Racetrack
The Del Mar Racetrack is open during the summer and winter. It’s a wonderful excuse to dress up and socialize, and betting is super fun. The track facilities are very nice and it is fun to walk in and around the paddock area and see the jockeys and horses up close. The horse races have a long history in Del Mar and attracts many visitors annually. This year, Del Mar will host the Breeder’s Cup!

2nd race of the day

4. Trail at Lake Hodges
A portion of the Coast to Crest trail is located in Lake Hodges, next to Escondido, and it is a really nice place to be. The trail is roughly 7.5 miles, and it has many clear lake views. It starts uphill where you can see the road, but then it drops down to a hidden area and you really feel like you’re in a wild place. Most people prefer to simply stroll slowly.

5. Watch the planes take off
The San Diego airport is right in the downtown area, which is rare for an airport. You can park on the east side of the runway, just off the 5. Due to the difficult approach over the hills, only the most experienced pilots are allowed to land in San Diego. It’s fun to come down here and daydream about your next destination, and wonder where people are headed to and why, and what they are thinking on the plane.

6. Cross the border
One nice thing about living in San Diego is that Mexico is very close, it is only a 20 minute drive from downtown. There are some interesting spots just across the border such as Rosarito, Ensenada, and the wine country known as Valle de Guadalupe. You can have great quality food and nightlife for a surprisingly low price! Parts of northern Baja California are exceptionally beautiful and definitely worth a visit!

Driving down Ensenada
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The restaurant’s name is El Cielo, located in Valle de Guadalupe

7.  Bassmnt – Gaslamp District
This one is especially for readers my age (18). Bassmnt is an 18+ dance club that almost every young adult who lives in San Diego knows about. It’s always busy and I recommend purchasing your tickets a week in advance. Bassmnt has a very trendy vibe with quality DJ’s. It is open Friday’s and Saturday’s from 10 PM to 2 AM.

Taken during the middle of the concert

8.  Cabrillo National Monument
The Cabrillo National Monument probably has the best view of San Diego. You can see Coronado, downtown, and all of San Diego bay. When you park you walk a short distance to see incredible views and there are history exhibits and an awesome hike down the hill. As you walk down you gradually get very close to the water, and you can see all kinds of interesting boats close up. The hike going back up is not hard and if you really want to get a feel for both what San Diego was in the past, and what it is currently.

Walking down the trail


P.S. — I am sorry for all these Snapchat pictures on this post. I promise you I will only upload pictures taken on my camera from now on, since I now have this blog. I did not have enough pictures of all the places I mentioned on my camera!

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