Together with friends from the UK we planned a road trip in California. For us, the starting point was San Diego and we would pick them up on the way North in Los Angeles. When we started planning our trip and daily budget we were pretty surprised how expensive the cities in the States are. Our love for camping comes in handy because th is way we could at least save some money on accommodation. There is one campsite directly in the city but also not an option for budget travelers. Also, be aware that you should book way ahead if you want to visit the area during the holiday season. So we chose a campsite in the Sweetwater Summit Regional Park which cost us 60 USD for two nights without electricity. The only problem is that you need a car to access the site. However, you do not have to drive all the way to the city. The E Street Trolley Stop (street car) is only 15 minutes by car and from there you can get a day pass for 5 USD that allows you to take all public transport. From E Street Station you can reach the city in about 10 minutes.
We received some recommendations from a friend who used to live in San Diego and one place really recommended was Pacific Beach. Since we did not have Internet we relied on the offline Google maps and thought we could walk from Oldtown station to the beach. On the map, it looked like a green area so we thought it would be a nice walk through a park. It turned out to be our first real misjudgment during the trip. Part of the way was next to a highway (we learned that basically in all parks and green areas you have also access by car, which kind of takes away the idea of a park) and there was so much garbage everywhere. However, the worst part of the walk was that by the time we realized we would not be able to reach our destination we were next to Seaworld and had to take a bus from there. In our opinion, parks like these should not exist in the 21st century because we are strongly against keeping wild animals in captivity. If you want to learn more about the reasons, check out our Twitter or write us an email . Als, the movie “ Blackfish ” is highly recommendable to see what happens behind the curtains in these parks.
After taking the bus back to Oldtown we had a little walk around there. It is quite a cute area with lots of historic buildings in the wild west style. It is also a tourist hot spot, which comes with the usual elevated prices. In case you want to avoid the most touristy place we suggest you skip it or just have a quick walk through the area.
The next morning we wanted to finally make it to Pacific Beach and see the San Diego we imagined. Back at Oldtown Station we took a bus to Mission Beach, one of the other more popular beaches. There we found what we thought San Diego is like. Plenty of people walking or biking on the promenade, playing beach sports, or soaking up the sun. Around the area, you find the typical beach holiday homes, restaurants, and surf shops. From there we walked to the final destination: Pacific Beach. By the time we arrived we were desperate for a cold drink and found “The Prez” a roof top bar that serves Mexican food and beer. Since we are on a pretty tight budget we just wanted to have a drink, however we were really excited to see vegetarian taco options, so we had some of those and they were absolutely delicious. Until now it has been very easy for us not eat out in the US, because we haven’t seen many vegan or even vegetarian options. Our wallets are very happy about this. After a quick nap on the beach we took the bus back to Oldtown and from there we rode the trolley to Little Italy.
Since it still was early we decided to have a walk around Balboa Park which was also highly recommended. Again we were pretty disappointed that the park was full of streets. However, the beautiful buildings and museums, the families walking around and the trees all made for a nice atmosphere. By then we were pretty tired but still wanted to see the Gaslamp District. So we took a bus until 5th Avenue and from there we walked towards the Trolley Station. We had a really good time strolling around the area, watching the dressed up people enjoying their drinks while we admired the nice restaurants and buildings from the outside. If you visit San Diego with a
bigger budget and looking to have a good night out we definitely recommend this district.
From there we just took the Trolley back to the campsite to have an early start the next day to pack everything up and pick up our friends in LA.