I’m back in Europe, but for the past month, I was visiting my hometown of North County San Diego. Summer somehow missed the Baltics this year so I arrived home in dire need of warmth and sunshine. Luckily, Southern California pulled through and treated me with cloudless skies and 70 to 80 degree (22 to 30°C) weather.
In between sun-bathing sessions, I slurped up acai bowls and satiated my Mexican food cravings. I caught up with friends and family, walked the beaches, and hiked the hills.
Here’s a little taste of what I did during my visit home.
Growing up, Oceanside was known as the ghetto. Times are a-changin’. While there are still sketchy areas in this neighborhood, Oceanside Blvd, Mission Avenue and the beachfront are all really clean and gorgeous areas. My friend and I ate fish tacos a couple of weeks ago at Hello Betty Fish House, a restaurant right across the street from the house featured in the 1986 classic Top Gun. Word on the street is that Tom Cruise is gearing up for the sequel, Top Gun 2.
The closest beach to my parent’s house is Ponto. It’s a nice, open beach and a tourist hotspot, but it’s not as crowded as Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. Perfect for sunset walks.
Potato Chip Rock
Mt Woodson Summit, commonly referred to as Potato Chip Rock, is a iconic hike in Poway. People instagram the heck out of this hike because, well, it’s epic to pose atop a thin rock that resembles a potato chip. That said, it’s important to manage expectations. The attraction isn’t as massive as photos make it out to be, and on most days, you will have to wait in line for your turn. The main hike is a strenuous 7.5 miler, but I’ve heard there is an easier way if you have kids or want to cut corners. I do this hike every time I am in town.
La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is a scenic beach and overlook with lots of tourists and barking sea lions and seals. You’ll see people swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, diving and posing with wildlife. It’s good fun.
The downsides are:
- Parking – it’s street parking or paying $15 for a public garage
- People harassing the sea lions and seals. The sea lions are somewhat accustomed to human beings due to the large volume of tourists, however, they don’t enjoy having their personal space invaded for photo opps. People need to realize that a sleeping sea lion or a mommy with her pup aren’t really into posing for humans’ selfies.
- Lots of tourists
It’s tucked away and perfectly local. A beautiful beach filled with surfer dudes.
Acai Bowls are becoming trendier and trendier worldwide, but this Brazilian superfood berry has been in SoCal for almost as long as I can remember. I love the acai bowls at Mozy’s and Mantra Juice Bar best, but Swamis Cafe and Nektar are pretty good too.
Tacos and Burritos
No trip to Southern California is complete without at least a couple of burritos and tacos. I always have to get my favorite Cuban burrito with soy chorizo from Mozy’s, a single-wrapped Justin burrito from Rico’s, and a taquito burrito from a tiny shack called Raul’s. I also love the grilled fish tacos from Fish 101.
Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve
This is one of my go-to hikes, probably because it’s so close to my parent’s house. There’s a little creek at the bottom and a decently challenging climb to the top. It’s not as tough as Mt. Woodson Trail and you won’t find any potato chips at the top, but there is a pretty reservoir/dam and lots of friendly hikers with their dogs.
Throw in a couple of trivia nights and a handful of catch-ups with family and friends, and that pretty much summarizes my recent trip home!