I decided at the beginning of the month that I was way, way overdue for a vacation, and what better way than to build it around Wednesday’s Holiday Bowl game against North Carolina? I figured on doing some sightseeing, and at the same time talk with Ducks and Tar Heels fans alike and share their thoughts with you. Wish me luck as I accost hapless strangers in the name of journalism.
I’m flying down today and come back at the end of the week, so what to do with my time? I’m quite familiar with Southern California and so I thought I would share some of the worthwhile places that I’m choosing to visit, and hopefully run into other Holiday Bowl travelers.
First, the beaches. Mission Beach is a lot of fun and has Belmont Park, which is an old-style boardwalk amusement park. It’s not on the level of the boardwalk in Santa Cruz, but it’s worth a visit.
Ocean Beach has a lot of cool shops and eateries, and is also worth walking around. A little further inland from OB is old town San Diego. You’ll find historical architecture, lots of shops and stores, and a couple of the best seafood restaurants I’ve been to on the west coast are here.
Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo
I chose Monday to visit Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. Looks like the weather gods favored my decision, because Monday is the only day where rain or showers are not forecast. The San Diego Zoo has few peers in the world, and any trip to San Diego needs to include the zoo.
Depending on how long we are there, I might use the good weather to travel to the San Diego Safari Park, outside of Escondido. The trip is maybe 50 minutes from the zoo. It’s a large reserve, at 1,800 acres, and allows animals to roam freely instead of being in enclosures. Much of the site can be seen from a tram, and I wonder if Jurassic Park got some inspiration from the Safari Park. You’ll be in no danger and it’s well worth your time to fit in a visit.
Paramount Backlot Tour
When I went to the 2010 Rose Bowl, I attempted to do the Paramount Studio tour, but they were closed when I tried to go. This time I’m fitting it in on Tuesday. I’ve been to the Universal, Warner Bros., and Paramount tours, and the Paramount is easily the most fascinating if you’re any kind of a fan of movie making. RKO Pictures used to be here as well, and the offices where Lucille Ball ran Desilu are found here. North of the studio lot is the Hollywood Forever cemetery, where you can find quite a few movie stars and show business celebrities buried.
Mission San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano is just north of Camp Pendleton, in between San Diego and Los Angeles. It’s a large, beautifully preserved mission, and even if it’s not springtime and the swallows aren’t flying in, there’s a lot of rich history that you should not miss.
On the way back from LA, I’m going to hit Medieval Times. It’s joyful barbarism, eating without utensils and cheering your knight on as they sword fight, race, and joust. Medieval Times offers standard meat-and-potatoes fare, but you can get vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free food as well.
Medieval Times is just north of Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park.
Mission San Diego
Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá was the first of the 21 missions built by Father Junipero Sierra, and if visiting any of the Missions interests you, this is also worth a visit.
The Holiday Bowl
After all, this is why I came to San Diego, right? I’m very much looking forward to this first-ever football contest between the Oregon Ducks and the North Carolina Tar Heels. I will get there a few hours ahead of kickoff so that I can crash the tailgaters - I mean, interview people.
When I went to the Rose Bowl, I didn’t have enough time to fit in Disneyland, so my Thursday is going to be all Disney. Be prepared to spend some coin to get into the park! The Park Hopper pass is the way to go, but be forewarned: the pass only initially gets you into California Adventure or Disneyland, with going between being available after 1:00 pm. And there’s no guarantee, depending on crowd size, that you’re going to be able to use the hopper. Always select Disneyland as your first stop. California Adventure is fine and dandy but there’s less to do there so always choose Disneyland as your main/first park.
I hope to come out of the end of the week with a Ducks victory and plenty of anecdotes for you! And let me know if you’re going to be there as well!