20210530_113555The Botanical Building at Balboa Park (May 2021)

Over Memorial Day weekend last year, we did a quick trip to San Diego. It’d been over 20 years since I last visited, and I was keen on returning to check it out again. Although it was only for day, the visit to this part of southern California ended up being a fun and pleasant break from the usual scenery in Los Angeles.

After a brief stop at Torrey Pines, we reached San Diego proper in 30 minutes. We proceeded to have an early lunch (i.e. 10:00) at a fish taco shop, as the city is known for its fried fish tacos. This is due to the fact that San Diego is a mere 17 miles/27 kilometers from the Mexican border, and specifically near Baja California, where cities like Ensenada are known for creating the lightly-battered and tender tacos de pescado. Tacos are delicious, so we ordered up a small variety of different fish and seafood tacos to enjoy inside the restaurant. That was also the first time that we were dining indoors since the pandemic began– thankfully, we were the first customers that day, so it didn’t feel as uncomfortable to eat inside than if there were a lot of people.

We ordered a few tacos, including the beer-battered fish taco (a classic) and octopus and shrimp. I couldn’t really taste the difference between the octopus and shrimp tacos, but the fish taco was perfect: lightly crispy on the outside, soft and juicy on the inside. Fish was wonderfully flaky, too. Tacos were pricier than expected, at about $5-6 each, but for the amount of seafood and filling (e.g. lettuce, pico de gallo, avocado), it wasn’t too bad. I was very full after just two tacos, so I was satisfied.

20210530_102707Seafood tacos galore

Our next stop was at Balboa Park, a massive cultural park located in the heart of the city. At a whopping 1200 acres, the park features over a dozen museums, gardens, and other notable sites to spend a day (or days) exploring. As we only had a few hours in town, we only hit the highlights, from the colorful Spanish Cultural Arts Center to the Alcazar Garden.

20210530_112411Spanish Cultural Arts Center

What surprised me that many of the sites (majority created during the Expositions of 1915 and 1935) bore resemblance to places I’d seen in Europe. For instance, the mentioned Alcazar Garden had a similar layout to Seville’s Real Alcázar, the Botanical Building resembled the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and The Old Globe looked like Shakespeare’s Globe in London. It was fun hopping from plaza to plaza in order to be transported back to Europe!

20210530_115439Alcazar Garden

Balboa Park was packed, as it was Memorial Day weekend and everyone was off from work or school. It was a matter of not trying to get caught in the crowds, since so many people were not wearing masks. Although I don’t feel comfortable with people going mask-less, I understood at that point (back in May when lockdown was already lifted) people were gradually getting vaccinated and could choose not to wear masks. But what I didn’t understand was that they would judge those (e.g. myself) who chose to keep wearing them. Some people were definitely judging, which made no sense, and it irritated me. I just ignored them and enjoyed my time at the park.

It’d been an overcast morning at Torrey Pines, and it was even raining a bit when we were having tacos. Thankfully, the sun slowly started to come out while at Balboa Park, so it was nice to have some warmth on our faces. We decided to end our time in San Diego by buying a few small cakes at a patisserie that one of my former college acquaintances (who’d lived in San Diego) recommended to me. It was at one of those fancy, expensive pastry shops, so we were definitely splurging, but it was a tasty souvenir to take back home to enjoy!

20210530_144255Pretty desserts to-go

Overall, it was a short day trip to San Diego. Although we didn’t see too much, it was still a lovely time spent, as we were able to get outside and visit another California county. Especially as the pandemic was easing up and more people were getting vaccinated, we were taking baby steps to eventually travel full-time again. It wouldn’t be for another few months before we would fully vacation, so until then, these little trips throughout southern California satisfied our wanderlust cravings.

Thanks for reading!

— Rebecca

30 thoughts on “Destination: San Diego, California (Part 2)

  1. Balboa Park, with its network of gardens and museums, sounds like a wonderful place to explore and spend a relaxing day. Tacos de pescado look absolutely delicious and I second your choice of edible souvenirs. You always pick the best food!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You could honestly spend at least two days in Balboa Park, given its multiple gardens AND multiple museums to check out. Never thought about the takeaway desserts as “edible souvenirs,” but it makes total sense! I have many more food places on my list to check out in SD, and I plan to get to them on my return visit. Thanks for stopping by, Leighton!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s a large and gorgeous park. Plenty of things to do and see, and not just the gardens; there are also museums and cafes to check out within. Hope to return there on my next visit to SD. Hope you can as well!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. San Diego is a fun place to go for its beaches, green space, restaurant scene, and just about anything you could imagine. You could spend at least two days in Balboa Park taking it all in, so it’s definitely worth a visit!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Those tacos look so good! On our recent trip to Florida we went into a restaurant for a dine-in for the first time since the pandemic, so the feeling is very vivid for me. I expected sly looks from people when I chose to wear a mask, but I didn’t see any. Looks like you made great use of your time in San Diego!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those tacos were delicious, albeit pricey; I hope to find another equally-good taco place that’s more affordable when I return to SD. Sly looks and judgement are unfortunate with such a divided nation, but best to ignore them and stay safe. Fortunately, there are many people out there who could care less!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your post makes me want to visit San Diego again – Balboa Park looks beautiful! About masks, I agree, this time last year, there seemed to be much confusion about the rules (to wear or not to wear?) One thing is certain: mask has to come off to enjoy those yummy-looking tacos!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true! Wearing or not wearing masks was up in the air last year, which I could understand– it was the judgement from non-maskers which was uncalled for. Any case, we enjoyed ourselves and the tacos were delicious; I’ll need to have fish tacos again when I return to SD!

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  4. The fish tacos look wonderful. Balboa Park has some interesting diverse sections, worth a visit if I get back that way again. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the resemblance to places in Europe was intentional.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the gardens in Balboa Park are so pretty and tranquil! Tacos are absolutely delicious, and given that SD is only 17 miles/27km from the Mexican border, it’s no surprise that the food is so good!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not surprised that Balboa Park gets packed, especially during the holidays. Not to forget that springtime has better weather! Might be tricky, but one of these days I’ll have to return when crowds aren’t as thick! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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