Heading South To The Paradise Point Resort At San Diego Rest Stop
Getting off the ferry from Catalina Island in Newport Beach at dinner time, we hopped the little 3 car ferry to Balboa Island and were soon on Hwy 1 heading south. We couldn’t miss repeating another part of our Laguna Beach trip with one final stop at Ruby’s Diner. After a short dinner break, we moved over to Hwy 5 for the quick trip down to San Diego and the Paradise Point Resort and Spa in Mission Bay for our San Diego rest stop.
This was a resort hotel spread over a large area so rooms were all at ground level in little clusters – which meant a lot of walking to key services (lobby, food, beach). Arriving late, and despite an advance email to the resort, we got a really bad room and had to navigate the vast resort twice in the dark until we finally got settled in a room we would accept. Not an upgrade, but not the smelly badly located room they thought we might settle for. The advantage flat layout is that the rooms are quite spacious and good for a longer stay. You can even get a very tiny microwave (if still available) for a modest fee (if they don’t comp it because it took you over an hour to get to a room at 9pm).
Our stay at Paradise Island outside of San Diego was planned to give us five days to relax and be lazy. We had a few things planned but lounging by the water would be on the daily agenda. There are 5 pools and blessedly one of them is adult only. There is sand beach on several sides of the resort which was used mostly by watercraft and not by swimmers.
The marina offers a wide a variety of water craft for rent, including the cutest motorized lounge chairs for two. We waited too long to try out the chairs but I am sure I would have looked great posed in one!
There is a somewhat limited set of food options on the resort but if you have a car, there are lots of options close by when you are out wandering about. We had a fridge and microwave, so bought breakfast, lunch and wine supplies and picniced in our room. The Barefoot Grill on the resort served an ok breakfast, but the view and ambiance was worth the price of entry. A pond flows around the restaurant and the pond is full of fish, including quite big leopard sharks. The resident Night Heron Harold stalked around the restaurant chasing off pigeons and cleaning off plates, not moving very quickly when staff came to shoo him.
If you wanted something lighter, the Caveman Pizza on the resort provided a limited menu but you could build your own 16″ pizza. There was no wheat crust option but the pizza was well cheesed and tasty. One night we took it back to one of the pool decks and sat beside a fire pit that had been heated in anticipation of s’mores on the fire later (a hotel ritual it appeared from the dropped marshmallows littering the fire pit).
Our relaxation stop was shattered when we got the “call home” that we had been expecting. The news from home about a sick relative had been getting worse and we figured we would not be making Vegas for July 4th. Sadly we were right. We spent a few hours changing plans and cancelling reservations (see post on Cancellation Insurance). It would be a more somber and quiet last few days.
When one day turned cloudy, we decided to indulge in a little retail therapy at the outlet mall in Carlsbad, about 20 miles north of San Diego. This turned out to be a smaller outlet mall than many I have visited but it covered most of the name brands. The entire mall is outdoors and can be covered with one big circle (or a figure 8 to catch stores in the middle). Some stores had great discounts (Wilsons Leather) while others (Oakley) offered less. There was a good selection of places to eat after you shopped until you dropped (even a smaller Ruby’s Diner!!).
The Harbour Seals of La Jolla
On our return trip, we detoured into La Jolla, and in typical fashion, wandered slowly along the sea scenic route. We parked and stretched our legs, again amused to find yet another colony of Harbour Seals stretched over the beach.
The waves were crashing quite well but along our beach walk we failed yet again to find a surfer. It may be the biggest thing on my “to do” list that we missed with a trip of over 2,500+ miles along the west coast from Vancouver.
Exploring San Diego
We managed to set aside troubles at home to enjoy some of the San Diego area on our last day. Exploration started in Little Italy at the Saturday market located at around India and W. Date streets. There were an amazing variety of foodstuffs and had we not been leaving the next day, we would have left with bags full of fresh, organic and maybe gluten free food. There were some hand crafted clothing, jewellery and craft stalls with some interesting and unique things. The market was busy with buyers and browsers and even with big signs forbidding dogs, many owners marched thru the market with mutts on leashes. We would never get used to this dog friendly environment in food places.
We made a few purchases at the market and then moved on to the Embarcadero on the water. We walked along and looked at the wide a variety of ships on display – from the USS Midway to the flotilla that is the Maritime Museum.
The Maritime Museum in San Diego
A variety of boat tours are available with the purchase of entrance to the Maritime Museum – although you can’t get inside all boats for the basic entry price. Two wooden tall ships – The Star of India and HMS Surprise – are at the front of the quay. There is a Russian sub and the USS Dolphin sub. Several smaller sailing ships and the Berkeley ferry boat round out the exhibit with a few smaller entries. Tickets are good until 9pm to give you time to space out the viewing.
Over The Bridge to Coronado Island
We finished up our visit to San Diego by heading to Coronado Island. You could catch great panoramic views of San Diego while speeding over the bridge or by pulling into the parks or beaches on that side of the island.
No visit is complete with a stop at the iconic Hotel del Coronado.
There were 2 weddings being set up at the Hotel and both looked like they would be idyllic settings.
The outside patio Island Bar and Grill at the Hotel Del Coronado was a great resting spot, providing a brief respite from the sun. The menu included a sample of salads, sandwiches and burgers – and as the young woman who pushed in ahead of us said, “a full bar”. The BBQ chicken sandwich was large and mostly went home in a doggy bag. David’s burger and fries were cooked just the way he wanted – closer to medium than well done. It was great to sit and look out at the beach and the water while you relaxed, until the dirty looks from the line of waiting patron’s caused you to shuffle on.
Having spent the full day in the sun with no sunscreen, we really shouldn’t have been surprised to find ourselves a little lobster coloured when we got back to our room. It would take several applications of aloe gel to take some heat out. But we would arrive back home looking a little like we crammed for the beach bunny look.
Saying Goodbye To San Diego
Two nights in a row we had grumbled at the loud banging noises, thinking we got noisy new neighbors, until we realized that the sound was fireworks at closing in nearby Seaworld. Both nights we tried to walk to get away from the trees to see the show, but it was done by the time we finally got a spot. On our last night at the resort, we set an alarm so that we would not miss the show again! The view from the marina showed the fireworks over the dock and the palm trees. A nice finish to this visit.
Our last night at our from San Diego rest stop was sad all the way around as we packed. We were sad to be missing our last week in Las Vegas but even sadder that the reason we were going home early was the imminent death of a close relative.
We hadn’t really bought that much but when we decided that we wanted to take the new pillows and the cooler back, packing became a little more of a challenge. Luckily we had retained our Plus Service on WestJet when we rescheduled our flights, so we had two bags each. The cooler and our mesh dive bag would have to carry the extra load, even if they really were not hardy travelling containers.
We had a great 4 weeks on the west coast! The San Diego rest stop was a great way to finish the trip off. We were sorry to have missed the 4th of July in Vegas, but family was more important! Vegas would be there for a return visit at another time.
Share your favourite San Diego rest stop tales!