Summer of Sunshine in San Diego

The roar of car engines in the school parking lot faded as the fleet of cars belonging to my fellow classmates drove off into the westbound sun. It was the final class day for the school year, and summer lay before us like an unexplored frontier. It was vast, inviting and pleasantly unknown. I was just as excited as the other students as I climbed into my own car. In just a couple of weeks, I would follow the sun west for a rendezvous with the cool, salty air and lapping waters of a beach city. This summer, more than any other would be one of sunshine – I was going to California.

My parents had been planning the visit to San Diego, California for a few weeks. While they had researched expenses, I plopped down at my school laptop and did a little research of my own to learn more about our destination. I started by exploring the rich history of the city. According to www.SanDiegohistory.org, the area was first settled by Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. By the turn of the nineteenth century, the seeds planted by Cabrillo had taken root into a diverse town with pueblos, a government system and a growing population and economy. This village would evolve into the still popular city we know as home to the Chargers and miles of inviting beaches, along with names such as Adam Brody and Cameron Diaz.

Already impressed, I decided to start planning, too. One of the most important things to learn about your destination is its climate. As you may guess, beach cities like San Diego and others have mild winters and warm, pleasant summers. As I skimmed the information on the website for the National Weather Service, I saw that a typical weekly forecast in June actually tends to be overcast days, and July ushers in the summery heat—100 degree record in 1930! Humidity is rare, which of course means less thunderstorms to interrupt beach fun. I would definitely need my bathing suit, sunscreen and summery clothes, along with a medium weight sweatshirt or jacket for chilly beach evenings.

After doing our homework to plan the trip, we were ready for the eleven hour drive from my hometown of El Paso, Texas. When we finally arrived, we made our first stop at Huntington Beach to eat and walk off the tingly feeling of sleeping limbs. As it turns out, a festival is held every Tuesday at Huntington. Our sense were overwhelmed by the smell of fresh barbeque smoking on a giant smoker and many, many colors swimming across our vision from souvenir shops filled with t-shirts, jewelry and other goodies. Best of all, music from a live band called Human Lab enchanted us with lyrics about love and peace. My parents and I discovered an interesting restaurant called Ruby’s, right at the end of the pier with views of both the sea and the city. With the authentic diner-style menu and design, great views, friendly servers and delicious food, the restaurant is a little on the pricier side, but well worth the splurge.

After recharging for the night at our hotel, we grabbed some breakfast and headed to another gorgeous beach called Mission Beach to soak up the sun. For the full California experience, one must interact with California’s friendly residents who usually welcome guests with a smile, giving the city a relaxed, laid back feel. Most of the beaches are lined by recreational businesses, such as surf board and bicycle rentals. If you’re not feeling brave enough to try surfing, or are as clumsy as I am, try boogie boards instead of surf boards like I did. You can ride waves lying on your tummy and still have a blast with these lighter, easier to handle board alternatives! Other activities that were a must for my family during our visit to California included the San Diego Zoo, driving out to La Jolla or Los Angeles to catch a Dodgers game and shop, and even visit Sea World. Museums of art, history and of course surfing are also a must. Keep in mind that many of these adventures will take entire days so plan accordingly!

When our escapade to California came to a close, and my family arrived back home, we were glad to have our own beds back after so long. Like the travelers we are, we couldn’t help but want to go right back and keep exploring California. The roar of the engines of fellow students’ cars back at school signaled the end of summer. My love for traveling continues as I enjoy the wonderful San Diego memories. With a little sunscreen, sunglasses and some planning, you can make memories, too. Hope to see you out west in the summer sunshine of California!

By Zyanya Dickey

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