Sorry, have been slow to update after last month’s San Diego trip. Before we move on, here’s a little (OK, not so little) photo summary of that trip.
We flew into LAX because of an amazing Virgin America sale. The drive down took about two hours, but we broke it up by meeting Vera’s uncle at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla. It’s a smaller aquarium, but that worked out well for a quick stop with a 3-year-old.
At first, Vera was a little weirded out by the fish. The aquarium’s many hands-on kid activities eventually won her over. This touch tank was photogenic but only a semi-success — Vera wasn’t going anywhere near those weird ocean animals, though she was willing to grab Mama’s finger to wield as a poking tool.
The aquarium also offered an aerial view of La Jolla itself. Vera’s grandmother used to work at the Scripps Institute, on the right side of this photo, so it was fun to see a bit of family history.
Day Two was spent at the San Diego Zoo.
Vera was in a mood, and frankly so was Mama. We forgot to rent a stroller at the entrance, and someone didn’t want to walk. The first half of the visit went badly, but eventually we made our way back to a central area with lots of animals and the day picked up. Even the grumpiest kid can’t resist wild animals. This bear was my personal favorite. Mauling potential aside, don’t you just want to give him a hug and a scratch?
Vera loved the giraffes. They were close to the fence, and very cool about receiving visitors.
Vera begged to try her hand at her own animal photography. I eventually gave in, nervously clutching the camera strap and praying nothing would get dropped. Her first effort actually turned out pretty well!
Coolest sighting of the day was this cheetah, out for a walk with her special friend. The dog companions keep skittish cheetahs calm when they leave their enclosure or interact with strange people.
On Day Three, we headed to Coronado Island. My mother visited many years ago and loved it enough that she hung a painting of the Hotel Del Coronado in our guest bath. So I was quite excited to finally see the famous Victorian hotel in person.
I certainly wasn’t disappointed. What a beautiful place. We wandered around for an hour or two, enjoyed the ocean views from the outdoor patio, and downed iced coffee and a cream puff as big as Vera’s head.
Coronado is an island, so we assumed there were beaches. But we didn’t expect the hotel to boast such a great beach, or the day to be quite so warm. We weren’t prepared with swimsuits or anything beach-y, but we rolled up our pants and made the best of it.
We jumped around in the shallows, Vera yelling “I’m so EXCITING!” over and over again. Took a few hits from larger-than-expected waves, but what’s a little water and sand in your pants in exchange for such a happy adventure?
Day Four = last day. Since we were visiting family, I didn’t do much San Diego research before the trip. Luckily, two happy accidents pointed us toward the makings of a great day.
On a timely tip from the blog The World is a Book, we started by exploring Balboa Park, a 1200 acre home to lush gardens and beautiful Spanish Renaissance style architecture. (The San Diego Zoo is technically in Balboa Park, but on zoo day we never made it beyond the parking lot.) We didn’t have time to explore the many museums clustered throughout the park, but we did have a great time riding the free trolley for an ersatz tour.
I was particularly taken with the Botanical Garden. Talk about a feast for the senses — it was green and lovely, it smelled nice in a plant-y sort of way, and there were even the sounds of a flamenco guitarist filtering in from outside. I was ready to move in!
Thanks to a friend’s glorious Instagram photos, we also discovered Extraordinary Desserts just in time to visit their Balboa Park location on our way out of town. We’re dessert lovers for sure, and this place was just as extraordinary as the name promised.
We acquired some very rich tortes, plus a giant bowl of ice cream for Vera and a boxful of other pastries to take on the road. (Did I mention we’re dessert lovers? ‘Cause we’re dessert lovers.) There was one tragedy now remembered in our family as “ice cream elbow,” but Vera soldiered on. Having a giant bowl of ice cream helped on that front.
In all, a 5-hour flight and 2-hour car drive were quite possibly insane for a 4-night trip. At least in a family with a 3-year-old and one sickly grownup. But we had a great time, made some new memories, and best of all Vera got to spend time with an Uncle that she’s now crazy about. Worth it!