Two Day Trips to San Diego

While staying in Blair Valley, we made two separate day trips to the lovely city of San Diego. We were staying about an hour and a half from San Diego, and we weren’t planning to head any further south this winter (winter 2016-2017). We figured we probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to visit again, so we decided to make it happen. Since it was a decent distance away, we opted to bring all the dogs, since we couldn’t leave them for 10-12 hours at a time (obviously).

Our first trip to San Diego was on a Thursday, and I mapped out an entire itinerary of all the “must-see” sights before leaving. The drive there took us through two winding mountain passes and through beautiful forest areas. It was very scenic.

When we arrived, we dropped the dogs off at the vet for the day. They have veterinary plans at Banfield Pet Hospital (Petsmart), and they can receive vaccines and routine care at any of the hospitals across the country. Since they were all due for some vaccines, it worked out perfectly to take them while we were in San Diego, since there were no Banfields out in the Anza-Borrego wilderness. We were able to set up a drop-off appointment and go to do all the tourist-y things that are not usually dog-friendly without them. Win-win.

Our first stop after dropping off the dogs was the Gaslamp Quarter. This is the artsy, historic district of San Diego, and it was beautiful! We even found a World Market to explore. We walked around the area, which was surprisingly quiet for a weekday morning. I found an awesome hipster dog food store and bought Luna some hypoallergenic dog treats, which she loved. We walked all through the area and eventually made it up to the waterfront to see the Pacific Ocean for the second time since arriving in California. We walked along the scenic waterfront before eventually heading back to our car for our next stop.

Our next destination was the seaport village, a little spot along the bay side of the water with merchants and a beautiful waterfront area. We spent awhile watching boats pull in and out of the harbor.

Next, we headed to North Park, a northern region of San Diego. We enjoyed amazing tacos at the “Lucha Libre Taco Shop,” which we admittedly chose because it reminded me of a movie I watched way too many times growing up, “Nacho Libre.” We had fish and chicken tacos with Mexican corn and rice and beans. We began recreating these tacos at home, and we’ve really begun to perfect the craft of street-taco-making.

After our mid-afternoon lunch, we went back to Banfield to pick up our dogs. We then headed to Sunset Cliffs, a beautiful and iconic sunset-viewing area. It was so amazing! It got me really excited for all the sunsets we will see along the coasts of Northern California, Oregon and Washington this upcoming summer. There’s nothing like a good beach sunset, and once you add a beautiful cliff overlooking the water, there’s no way you can miss out.


Once the sun set, we dove down to Coronado Beach and walked on the beach with the dogs for a bit before heading back to Blair Valley for the night. It was easily one of the best day trips we’ve had.


Our second day trip to San Diego took place on the following Tuesday (February 28th, to be exact). We hadn’t originally planned to do two trips to San Diego, but we felt that there was still more to see that we hadn’t seen on our first trip. A new magazine geared towards young RVers (ROVA magazine) was also set to be available in Barnes and Noble that day, and we had a small feature in this magazine. Being the geeks that we are, we were super excited to be printed in an actual publication, and of course we had to buy a copy on the day it was released. Since the only Barnes and Nobles around were in San Diego, it made sense to time our second visit with the release of this magazine.

Our plans for this second trip were simpler; we planned to take the dogs to the San Diego dog beach, so they could take their first swims in the Pacific Ocean, and then travel up Highway 5 and 101, through the little coastal towns along the ocean. We had another gorgeous, early morning drive through the scenic Laguna Mountains and through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park before arriving in San Diego bright and early.

We took the dogs to the Ocean Beach Dog Beach, and it was lovely! The beach itself was beautiful, and it was a warm, sunny day. We spent a few hours here before beginning our drive up the coastline.

Now here is where things got tricky. We found one of the best local taco trucks to eat at for lunch, and it was awesome. There’s nothing like a good street taco. While driving to find this taco truck, which was a bit of an ordeal, we noticed that our front, driver’s side brake had begun to squeak. Brendan had planned to replace our Cherokee’s brake pads soon, but he had not anticipated it needing to be done so urgently and suddenly. We were nervous to try to drive it back through the mountains to get home to our RV, so we decided to buy the brake pads and change the brakes right in San Diego. Brendan quickly found an Autozone nearby that carried the right size brake pads and did a quick swap right in their parking lot. It’s definitely nice to be able to do your own repairs.

After replacing our brake pad (we only did one to save time and did the other a few days later, back in Blair Valley), we began our drive up the coast. It was incredible scenic! Some of the drive was through little beach towns, and some of it took us right alongside the ocean, up hill and beside beautiful green meadows. We passed through the towns of La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar, Encinitas, and Solana Beach. All were beautiful and different, and each seemed worthy of a lengthier visit, although our short day trip did not permit it.

We made a brief stop in Cardiff Beach State Park, which was very nice. Dogs were allowed on the beach (on leash), and the beach itself was beautiful. There were smooth, perfectly round rocks all over the beach, and I even brought one home. I took the opportunity to finally crack my ROVA magazine while relaxing on this beach, while Bren took to the ocean to catch some waves. It turned out to be a bit choppy, so he ended up just bodysurfing and swimming in his wetsuit, which was still rather fun.

We decided we wanted to catch another Pacific Ocean sunset (they really never get old) before heading back to Blair Valley, and we now had to scope out the perfect spot to watch. We decided on Torrey Pines State Beach Preserve, which we had passed earlier and remarked on its beauty while traveling up Highway 5. Since we had about an hour to kill before sunset, we decided to get our first Shamrock shakes of the season and chicken nuggets from McDonald’s (I know, so fat). We also got each of the dogs their own burger (meat, cheese, and bun only), which they each eagerly devoured. The sunset was killer, as always, and we headed back towards Blair Valley after it finally fell behind the ocean for the night.

On our way back to Blair Valley, we ran into a bit more trouble. In the days before our second San Diego trip, it had been immensely rainy, causing flooding from the mountain runoff throughout the region. This created many dangerous rockslides, and many of the roads we needed to take to return to Blair Valley were closed. We spent about an hour and a half just getting out of the immediate San Diego region and finding an open route through the mountains. This is the total amount of time it would’ve taken to get back. We had planned to be back by 8pm, but when all was said and done, we were back closer to 11pm. However, we did finally make it back to our RV and our kitties, safe and sound, after a fun, yet eventful day.

San Diego, you were a beauty, and we are sorry we did not give you a completely proper visit. We will be back one day, and next time, we will stay longer and explore your sights more deeply. Until next time!

About Samantha Binger

Samantha BingerSam is one-half of the Life Among Pines crew. She is an animal-loving bookworm, an avid photographer and an amateur chef/wanna-be foodie. Travel and adventure are two of her biggest passions in life, and she loves living life on the road, where she can explore new places on the daily. When not writing a new blog post, you can find her sipping tea, hiking with her dogs, sampling a local brewery, or fulfilling orders for her Etsy shop, MugsySupplyHouse. Feel free to reach out and say hi!