Explore Nature with this Travel and Photography Guide - San Diego
San Diego is often known for The San Diego Zoo and Sea World, but there's so much natural beauty that you don't need to see from behind the glass. </p>
Spend two days exploring areas like the beaches in Oceanside, the marine life in the Point Loma Tide Pools, the beautiful vistas at Cabrillo National Monument and of course the sea lions in La Jolla. If you're there in the Spring check out the Flower Field Farm in Carlsbad too.
GO IF YOU LIKE:
WALKS on Piers | WATERFRONT VIEWS | SEA LIONS | Geology | Marine Life
MY 2-Day Itinerary
San Diego is filled with natural beauty that you’re going to want to spend your time exploring the outdoors. I’ve developed an itinerary that will get you exploring the area and eating some good food while you do it.
ITINERARY AT A GLANCE
Day 1: Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Point Loma Tide Pools, Torry Pines Gliderport and La Jolla
Day 2: Oceanside and Carlsbad Flower Fields (if in season, Spring)
Expand the legend on the map for a detailed itinerary.
My Favourite things to do in San Diego
See the Cute Sea Lions at La Jolla
Who needs Seaworld when you can walk through La Jolla and see sea lions in their natural habitat. They're noisy and smelly (seriously smelly) and maybe not the coolest animal but the sheer number of them on the rocks is impressive. Be prepared to have your heart melt when you see the smaller ones cuddling.
I saw most of the sea lions around La Jolla Cove but they're also commonly found at the Children's Pool La Jolla. They like to bask in the sun and because those rocky areas don't have many swimmers they enjoy hanging out there. I went around 3pm in February and saw lots.
Pay your respects at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
This was the biggest surprise on my visit. I was blown away by the vastness of the grounds. The perfectly aligned white headstones overlooking the San Diego Bay made for a peaceful and reflective walk.
Take in the views at Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Go inside the lighthouse for a history lesson then walk around the exterior and take in the beautiful views of the water. If you’re there during mid-December to April bring a pair of binoculars and scan to waters for whales.
Explore the tide pools at Point Loma
Drive down to the tide pools and walk along the ridge. If you plan your visit during low tide you can see all kinds of marine species. If you can't make it during low-tide (like me) it's still a beautiful walk. The layered rock formation is impressive in itself. The below link will give you a schedule for low tide.
stop and smell the flowers at Carlsbad Flower Fields
If you’re in San Diego in the spring check out the Carlsbad Flower Fields. OK, it may be a little “Instagrammy’ but isn't it time you changed up your profile picture? You’re not able to go running through the fields like Instagrammers would have you belive but you only need your eyes to take in the beautiful colours of the fields. If you do break the rules and hop the rope, be prepared for an angry man on his tractor to yell at you.
Find out if the flowers are in bloom here.
take a dip at Oceanside beach and Pier
Oceanside is a great place to enjoy the beach. Walk along the pier or stroll through the residential area and see the colourful houses.
If it’s warm enough, go in for a dip.
Fill That Belly
I would have liked to explore more of San Diego's food scene but alas, I only had a few days. In that time I've realized there are three things you'll want to experience in San Diego.
A Restaurant with a waterfront view
I enjoyed sipping on a glass of white wine and looking out on the water at George's at the Cove. A little pricey but you pay for the outside terrace with the view.
Also, it's walking distance to La Jolla so you can easily park, eat then go check out the sea lions.
While I cannot personally vouch for Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar I did meet a local who said it was one of her favourite restaurants. They not only have fresh sushi but they use a traditional form of Japanese grilling called Robata which apparently yields incredible flavours and textures. It's got my vote.
Good Mexican Food
Being so close to the Mexican border means San Diego is filled with good Mexican food (no surprise). I stumbled on the Lucha Libre Taco Shop and not only were the tacos delicious, but the Mexican wrestling decor means it's legit... right? OK maybe not but yummy anyways.
Getting Around San Diego
I found a car was necessary to get around San Diego. While there is a bus that takes you to Cabrillo National Monument it doesn't take you to the tidal pools and would be inconvenient to visit the cemetery as well. Plus I read that they're ending the service sometime in 2018. Driving wasn't too bad, and you can find both garage and street parking throughout the city.
I've visited with my dad and another time with my girlfriend and both times I felt very safe.
If you're a solo female traveller check out this site that gives you an idea of some areas to avoid after dark.
Photography Tips for San Diego
If you’re looking to shoot the sea lions know that they enjoy being in the sun, so you’re likely going to be facing some unfavourable lighting conditions.
The Flower Fields have some strict photography rules:
They do not allow drones into the flower fields
You are not allowed to jump over the ropes. They're there to protect the flowers. This means you'll have to get creative with your angles to get good shots.
I saw a handful of people hopping the ropes but they’re quickly yelled at by the man on this tractor. Be prepared for this if you break the rules.
Any commercial photography is prohibited, you have to call in advance and pay extra to do a commercial shoot there. More details can be found here.
If you are able to shoot the tide pools during low tide, bring along a macro lens if you've got one.
Don't forget that with any shooting where you've got salt water you're going to want to give you gear a proper cleaning when you're done. This includes your camera, lenses and tripod.
Try visiting the Torrey Pines Gliderport in the chance that you see some paragliders. When I went I saw one guy practicing, but he never took the leap off the cliff. It's apparently a common place for gliders though so maybe you'll have better luck capturing that shot.