Hiking in San Diego: Potato Chip Rock

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Potato Chip Rock

Potato Chip Rock, an 8-mile hike located north of San Diego in Ramona, is a mostly uphill but not too difficult climb with a great place for pictures at the top. You can hike up to the peak to see the famous “potato chip” cliff that everyone poses on, and then continue down the trail or go back the way you came returning to the parking area. Although it’s mostly uphill it’s not extremely steep, and I was encouraged seeing little kids and dogs trekking up and doing just fine. However, like most hikes in Southern California, it can be very hot and dry. There are a few spots of shade, but it’s best to bring lots of water and go on a cooler day.

 The hike generally takes about 3 to 4 hours, but can vary based on your own personal ambition. Don’t forget a camera! At the top there will most likely be a line of people waiting to get their pictures taken on the dramatic Potato Chip ledge, for which the hike gets its name.

 There is parking at the bottom of the mountain. You can park along the road too, as there are rarely available spots. Additional parking can be found for $10 at the Lake Poway parking lot adjacent to the park. If you park here you will start the hike at the Mt Woodson trailhead. Dogs on leashes are allowed and this hike is family (but not stroller) friendly.

 I personally didn’t find the hike exceedingly challenging. The incline makes for an effective workout, but there’s no need to shy away from this trail if you’re not an avid hiker!

Ocean Beach, San Diego

If you’re stopping into San Diego anytime soon, you’ve got to visit Ocean Beach. OB is directly under both Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. It also has an atmosphere that makes it entirely unique from the two. While PB has a great bar scene and Mission is a family beach, OB takes the cake in the eclectic hippie vibe, making it possibly my favorite beach in San Diego.  Equipped with graffiti, hippie vans, and acai bowls, the Ocean Beach scene is different to any other beach and yet is also representative of San Diego’s laid back culture making this a spot a must see while on vacation. It is also home to Sunset Cliffs, a drop off hill where you can park your car and watch the sun set behind crashing waves. When I visited Ocean Beach I ate at the OB Noodle House Bar. This Asian fusion restaurant was delicious and wait time was only 20 minutes, giving me a chance to walk around and see the sights. There are many interesting spots, such as thrift stores, a record shop, a hostel painted tie-dye, and even a communal organic garden. I’m planning on spending a weekend in the hostel when the weather gets warmer so check back for a review on that too!

I’d recommend Mission Beach for families with young kids because of the arcade and rides. I’d recommend Pacific Beach or La Jolla for those seeking a more upscale experience. But for those who enjoy the au natural hippie scene or want to take a step outside of the norm, Ocean Beach is an adventure that will welcome you with open arms.

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Snorkeling in La Jolla

 

La Jolla Cove is a beachside gem equip with restaurants, tourist attractions, gorgeous scenery, and marine life. There are many spots to lay your towel out and stretch in the sun or visit the local boutiques and fine eateries.  One popular tourist attraction is the La Jolla Cave in which you pay $5 and enter the cave by going down flights of stairs. The seals sunbathing on various rocks and beaches are another spectacle. You can see them up close and even lounge on the sand with them. One thing everyone should do when they visit the Cove is snorkel. You can rent snorkel equipment for as cheap as $5 for three hours, which is more than enough time. When I went this past weekend the water was unbelievably warm—no wetsuit needed. You can swim off of a beach or jump off cave rocks. The clear water allows you to shift through the kelp forests and observe the dark and neon orange fish below you.  It really is quite an experience! Fun for kids and adults. You can also swim, if you’re brave, into the caves. This is when you’ll get really close to the seals and aquatic birds hanging out on the rocks. When you’re done exploring you can dry off on the beach, visit the parks, or get something to eat. One thing to know—expect to use a parking garage. Parking is impossible in La Jolla Cove, so instead of wasting time looking for a spot go straight to the first garage you see. The cheapest one in La Jolla Cove is $10 for the whole day. If you’re looking for a little adventure this weekend check out La Jolla Cove with your friends and family!

San Diego Zoo

The zoo! One of San Diego’s most famous attractions. If you’re in San Diego for the weekend or you live here and are looking for something to do the zoo is a great option. It’s a little pricey, however coupons can be found online and the entire month of October kids under 12 go for free. A day pass for those older than 12 is $48. There are other options as well that feature tours, shows, the Safari Park and more. http://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/tickets

 A few things you should know before going—wear comfortable shoes. The zoo is HUGE and very hilly. Be prepared for a lot of walking. Also bring lots of water and be prepared to be in the sun for most of the time. Also everything inside the zoo is expensive, which isn’t surprising. Therefore if you’re on a budget think about bringing some food of your own.

 Also be ready to see so many adorable animals! They have quite a spectacular range of exhibits, hence the price of admission. Big cats, elephants, monkeys, giraffes, polar bears, koalas, and reptiles just to name a few. They also have an impressive amount of exotic animals from Asia and cold climates. A new exhibit is coming soon as well—animals from Africa.

 The price is well worth it and parking isn’t too much of an issue. Going on a weekday is the best way to beat the crowds. My review of the San Diego Zoo is a high recommendation, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves!

Surfing at Mission Beach

Mission Beach, located north of Ocean Beach and south of La Jolla and Pacific Beach, is a beautiful beach perfect for all kinds of water sports. There’s a boardwalk with an arcade, roller coaster, and games for everyone. Mission also has the ultimate food scene; sushi, Mexican, Italian, even a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich place. Every restaurant is a must-go, the only difficulty is deciding! (If you need help, the California Burrito and Mac-N-Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich are a safe bet).  There are tons of water sports to try, the best, however, is surfing. Mission is the best for surfing because the beach has great waves and if you go later in the day the water isn’t crowded. People generally start to clear out around five. Plus, if you go at this time and surf for a while, you’ll catch the sunset. If you go earlier in the day the beach and ocean are more crowded, which makes surfing a little harder. You don’t need to own a board to enjoy the fun. You can rent boards hourly or all day at the numerous rental shops walking distance form the beach. We rented boards all day for $10 at Ray’s Rentals. The water was extremely warm and we didn’t bother renting wetsuits. Surfing makes for a great day, and Mission Beach is one of the best spots!