Exploring the SolCal life–La Jolla and San Diego, California

I landed at the San Diego airport exhausted from a flight delay and immediately got into a cab. It was spotless. There sat the smiling driver, a young Ethiopian man who called himself Jonathon. We chatted the entire drive and when he dropped me off at my first stop of the trip—the Glorietta Bay Inn on Coronado Island, he gave me his card and said I could call anytime and he’d try to pick me up.

Jonathon The Friendly Cab Driver
My first friend in San Diego.

Since I’d be switching locations several more times—this seemed like a great plan. It worked out perfectly. Since I was visiting a number of local areas,  I decided to take cabs rather than be constantly navigating and paying for parking. This decision really helped me to get to know the area, as the drivers were exceedingly friendly and willing to talk about what it is like to live in San Diego.  Free from having to navigate my way around, I was much more relaxed and able to take in my surroundings.

Pretty entrance to the historic Glorietta Inn.

The Island

The island was beautiful with its scenic views and peaceful vibe. My hotel was right across the street from the famous Hotel Del Coronado, which is an old fashioned resort- complete with a huge ocean side pool and numerous options for dining and shopping. I enjoyed a meal here at Eno, which services authentic and rustic Italian cuisine.

I began with a delicious Moscato wine followed by a unique salad with roasted pear and cheese. My main course was another appetizer—home-style meatballs—perfectly done. And for dessert something I never would have thought of-but was so much fun to eat. Inside was a cheese cake—with an outer layer of marshmallow and chocolate! It was like having a s’more style cheesecake Right down to the toasted marshmallow!

A most unique dessert!

Glorietta Bay

I enjoyed walking the grounds of this historic gem but was pleased to go back to my intimate inn, the Glorietta Bay—where the staff was among the friendliest I have met anywhere. I had a late night swim and chatted with women who had the same idea.

My suite was nice and cool with a comfortable bed and a separate sitting room. In the morning I found a delicious cold breakfast outside my door.

I found this outside my door in the morning.

My next stop after the Island—was the Omni San Diego which would be my home base while I toured some of the city’s highlights through the Old Town Trolley on-off bus tour. It was a lot to attempt in one day as the temperature was an unexpected 93 degrees.  The Omni’s modern facilities and intense air conditioning, not to mention the roof top pool were most welcome when I returned.

Beautiful vacation home in the Bird Rock area of La Jolla.

All Star Vacation Homes

After the day spent speed touring through Balboa Park and Old Town, I prepared to move to my next location—a pretty vacation home in La Jolla provided by All Star Vacation Homes.  The flower covered porch looked mighty inviting as I walked up the the front door of the Sea Star Beach Cottage.

My location gave me more of a sense of the SolCal lifestyle.  Dramatic coastlines and ocean views abound. Within walking distance I found eateries, coffee shops and boutiques for dogs ( and humans) as well as organic smoothie stores. This non-touristy community is known as Bird Rock and has a laid-back hipster type of feel to it.

As for the vacation home itself–it was had a cozy relaxing atmosphere. The decor was cottage comfortable with a palette of soft blues and yellows. There were walkouts throughout and a living room with comfortable seating, a fireplace, and a large screen television. There were three pretty bedrooms all with extremely comfortable beds and the kitchen was practical and well stocked.

My location was literally two short blocks to the main street and the same to parks and lookouts where I could stand and look at the rugged Pacific Ocean. I met a man who was watching his sons surf far below. He told me that he was from Mexico and that he had worked very hard to bring his family to La Jolla.

La Jolla Coastline

I have to say that the staff at All Star Vacation Homes were outstanding. In advance , they provided me with a code for the lock on the house and their phone number. Sure enough, after my friendly cabbie left—I could not get the lock to work no matter what I did. It was electronic and I must not have been holding a number long enough.

I used my cell to call the head office and the friendly customer service representative walked me through it. But that isn’t where it ended. As I mentioned, the heat was much higher than usual—it is usually so temperate in La Jolla that most of the houses did not have air conditioning.  Since I have severe allergies and migraines—I really need air when it is in 90’s. I called the customer service again and they actually brought over a window unit for the bedroom and installed it!

That was truly going  above and beyond. They also provided suggestions as to nearby places to eat and explore. I felt completely supported and welcomed during my stay at the Sea Star Beach Cottage.

The Grande Colonial–a lovely historic seaside hotel.

The Grand Colonial, La Jolla

My final portion of the trip was spent in the Village of La Jolla at the quaint and hospitable Grande Colonial hotel.

From the doormen to the front desk staff to the housekeeping staff—everyone was friendly and helpful. The room was luxurious with upscale bedding and windows that really open. I enjoyed swimming in the small pool and relaxing in back courtyard.

Sea lions

Best of all, it is a short walk to everything that makes La Jolla unique. My first order of business was to go to the ocean walk—which is chock full of tourists gaping at the marine life. The Children’s Pool area has been taking over by 100’s of beached seals and sea lions. These animals enjoy perching on rooks and swimming near the shoreline. It is not a safe place to swim due to the huge presence of  this wildlife, which can become territorial but it is a great place to see the unusual spectacle of seals and sea lions in their natural environment.

Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa

I visited one more resort on my last night in La Jolla–the deliciously upscale Hotel Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa, a hacienda style  resort  which is located next to the University of California on a large parcel of land.  Here I dined al fresco on a wonderful meal of short ribs and Parpandelle and then enjoyed a relaxing visit to the pool and outdoor hot tub. An all in one destination with a luxurious feel–my meal here was one of the highlights of this trip.

Dining Al Fresco

Overall this solo getaway was relaxing and rejuvenating. Travelling alone and speaking to locals gave me the chance to really take in the natural beauty and unique culture of La Jolla and San Diego. Indeed several people told me that that moving to this area was worth all of their sacrifices. Even though the cost of living is high–the lifestyle is that beneficial.

Here are some things I learned that surprised me.

Rush Hour is practically non-existent in San Diego even though it is one of the biggest cities in America. San Diego is only 14 miles from Tijuana and the Mexican border. La Jolla is pronounced La Hoya. Luckily I was corrected before I left Toronto.

It is truly expensive but people are willing to make sacrifices for the great weather and laid back lifestyle The temperature does go above 75. I was there during a 93 degree heat wave. Chuck Jones worked here and has left his mark with a studio that is across from the Omni hotel. There are almost no traffic lights in La Jolla and even with all the tourists—taking a leisurely walk across the road is not an issue. Everyone slows down and waits. Shocking to me when I almost get run over crossing at a light in a suburb of Toronto.

Some Like it Hot was filmed at the grand dame hotel on Coronado Island, and the Hotel Del Coronado has hosted ten United States presidents, including the first state dinner held outside the White House Regan was the first to cross. San Diego is the birthplace of California San Diego Int Airport has only one runway and it is the busiest one runway airport in the USA.

The first person to drive over the landmark San Diego-Coronado bridge, which opened in 1969 connecting downtown San Diego with Coronado, was Ronald Reagan. The San Diego International Airport is the busiest, single-runway major airport in the nation. I encourage everyone to go and find your own surprises in Southern California.

If you go:

San Diego Tourism Authority: www.sandiego.org

Glorietta Bay Inn :  www.gloriettabayinn.com

ENO restaurant at the Hotel Del Coronado : hoteldel.com/restaurant-coronado/eno-wine/

Omni San Diego:   www.omnihotels.com/hotels/san-diego

Old Town Trolley Tours: http://www.trolleytours.com/san-diego/

All Star Vacation Homes : www.allstarvacationhomes.com/san-diego/

Grande Colonial: www.thegrandecolonial.com

Hotel Estancia Resort: www. estancialajolla.com


Special thanks to Joe Timko and Robert Arrends of the San Diego Tourism Authority for helping me to organize this trip.

For help with your visit to San Diego and La Jolla go to :www. sandiego.org.

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