Ever since I was 10 years old, I dreamt about going to California. I’m not even sure why I had this infatuation with Los Angeles and the West Coast. Los Angeles was actually my first holiday as a baby. I was only 18 months old so I’m not really sure if that counts but aged 23, I finally got to go back. On Day 22 of my USA Trip, we left Las Vegas and all the hopes and dreams of winning big on the slot machines and headed towards San Diego, California. We were also creeping up on the final days of Trek America as San Diego was our last stops.
The drive from Las Vegas to San Diego was very long, to say the least. It actually was probably one of the longest drives on the whole trip. En route, we took time to go back on Route 66 for some more photo opportunities. We also hunted down another In-N-Out burger joint, just because it’s that good. I still think I should start some sort of petition for it to come over to the UK. Who’s with me?
We didn’t actually arrive in San Diego until around 6pm, after witnessing our first Californian sunset. Whilst in San Diego, we were staying at the USA Hostel in the Gaslamp District. This area was full of different restaurants and bars with a pretty decent nightlife. Once we got settled we went to an Italian restaurant called Buca di Beppo. I actually thought this place was a really traditional Italian restaurant, possibly family-owned but it turned out it was actually chain restaurant! I really would’ve never guessed but I spotted other restaurants in New York and Los Angeles. The idea is to order maybe three or four dishes and that would be enough for a party of 10 people as they were huge portions. I’d really recommend this place as it’s definitely not your typical chain restaurant.
Just around the corner, we came across a place called Coin-Op Games Room which was basically 21+ bar with loads of arcade games aka my heaven. We actually spent the whole night here and I’m pretty sure this is where my addiction to hunting down arcade places in the USA came from. I had to be physically torn away from the Tetris and Pinball machines.
Although we were staying in San Diego for two nights, we only had one full day to explore the city. Our first stop was Balboa Park which is absolutely huge with 17 museums and home to San Diego Zoo. Sadly, we didn’t have time to visit the Zoo and it was actually pretty pricey, I think it was around $50! We decided to give it a miss and just chill, and explore the park. There was a complimentary tram to get around the park which was really helpful. My favourite area was the little Spanish village which had a very Mediterranean Vibe.
Our next stop was to head to Mission Beach which also where Belmont Amusement Park is. We grabbed lunch right on the beach in a Sports Bar where we could spot dolphins out in the ocean. I forgot to mention earlier in the post but this was our last full day on the Trek America Southern BLT Tour. We decided to do something really exciting and unique together as a group which is how we came to hiring a boat for the afternoon and riding around Mission Bay. It cost around $15 each to have it for a couple of hours and we all got to even drive the boat. I know, can you believe I actually drove the boat. It may have only been at 5 miles an hour but I still did it and there is photographic and video evidence.
Afterwards, we went back to Belmont Amusement Park to check out some of the rides. We had all been eyeing up the big dipper roller coaster which was certainly a bumpy ride. From the top, you got some amazing views over the coastline before plummeting down the tracks and questioning if the coaster should be still in operation. Before going to see one of the most incredible sunsets over the California coast, we snuck a round of crazy golf in.
I really can’t remember specifically where we went for dinner but it was a lovely final evening on Trek. On the way back to the hostel, our tour guide actually took us across San Diego Bay to Coronado. I don’t really know much about Coronado apart from that it was a big military base and there was a very big fancy hotel there. As it was pretty dark, we didn’t really see a lot but I did get a glimpse of the hotel and it was very swish. When we got back to the hostel, we went around the corner to the Coin-Op Games Room. Adult Arcade Bars are a genius idea and definitely a fun way to end our last night together.
Day 24 was sadly our last day on Trek America. What better way to start the day off than breakfast at IHOP. This was actually my first ever IHOP experience, I’d never even been on previous trips to The States. Let me tell you, those pancakes are heavenly. It was very much well worth the wait. After a very delicious breakfast, we were on our way to Los Angeles – the city of angels.
On our way out of San Diego, we stopped by an area called La Jolla which is very upmarket, to say the least. We had a wander along the coastline and it was just absolutely beautiful there. It was at this point, I’m pretty sure I fell in love with California and changed my plans to stay in California for a lot longer than what I initially planned. San Diego is certainly somewhere I’d love to go back and explore further.
It only took us a couple of hours to drive up to Los Angeles and before we knew it the Hollywood sign was in our sights. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore anywhere in Los Angeles as it was the last day and usually they just drop you off at a final destination but we did get to visit Hollywood Boulevard. The area was not what I was expecting but I was told on numerous occasions that I would be sorely disappointed. It very much is a tourist trap but still very cool to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Chinese Theatre.
Before I knew it, I was getting dropped off at my hostel in Venice Beach and saying goodbye to everyone on Trek America. Thankfully, a few people were sticking around and we also had plans for the next couple of days. The hostel in Venice Beach was the Samesun and it was right on the beach. It could not have been more central. The location was ideal but it wasn’t the greatest hostel in the world.
That evening, a few of us got together to go see an Ice Hockey Match at the Staples Centre. The tickets were around $50 but it was a great experience. Who knew that I would turn out to be a huge Ice Hockey fan! Just call me LA Kings new number 1 fan! We quickly learnt how horrendous Los Angeles traffic was en route to the arena. It actually took us a couple of hours to get there but only 20 minutes to get back.
It was a crazy day arriving in Los Angeles but saying goodbye to everybody on Trek America was horrible. I think I’m going to do a separate post about my Trek America experience. I feel like there is so much to go through. Overall, I had the most amazing time in the Southern BLT Trek. I saw so many incredible places which I only ever dreamt of visiting and met some of the best people to travel with.
My Trek America experience may be over but I’m not even halfway through my trip in the USA! I’ve still got so many posts to come your way so stay tuned!