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Trip Report - 4th of July week

Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
314 posts
51 reviews
Trip Report - 4th of July week

Family of 4, 16 yr old son, 12 yr old daughter spent a week out of La Jolla.

Day 1: Arrived in San Diego around 1pm from Houston (direct on United). About an easy a travel day and flight as they come. I find the SD rental car system a bit odd. It looks inefficient but when I think about it, it's actually not that bad. You stand in a pretty huge line to get to the bus that takes you to the rental center where all the companies are. It moves pretty quick, and no doubt this was a big travel day. Used my Emerald club status to skip the line at National (and all the other agencies)

Rented a house through Seabreeze in La Jolla Shores, and their check-in was at 4pm. Had requested early check-in about 5 days prior to arrival, seeing that the house was unoccupied for the 3 days leading up to our trip. Oddly, after 3 requests, they would not accommodate us. I can't imagine they waited until the day we arrived to clean up the house, but maybe they did? Killed time by getting groceries at the La Jolla Whole Foods and grabbing snacks at Nektar. Settled in at the house then headed to Wal Mart to pick up things the house was not equipped with (blender, corkscrew) along with a couple things we needed. Annoyingly, I had asked 3 days prior about the blender. Their response: "There should be a blender". Yes, I know there should be one....Headed then to The Spot for dinner. Nice little... well spot for dinner; we walked around La Jolla cove to see the Sea Lions then called it a night. Later checked out the beach gear the home had, realized they had one decent beach chair, the rest rust covered and sketchy, and no umbrellas. Made request to Seabreeze, who said it would be there the next day, along with ping pong balls for the table. They were nice, they were responsive. But alas...

Day 2: Went back to La Jolla cove in the morning after breakfast in, then off to Petco park to see a Padres game. We like to hit MLB parks on trips when we can, and Petco didn't disappoint. Was a beautiful day, there are tons of different beers to choose from, and food choices were some of the best I've seen. We got some good seats down the 1st base line, but there was no real airflow, so it was hot sitting in the sun. Everyone was pretty tired after this so we ate a quick dinner and watched the sunset from our home. Of note, Seabreeze had delivered ping pong balls, but no umbrellas or chairs had arrived. contacted them again; very nice and responsive, but again on day 3 nothing arrived.

Day 3: Used La Jolla Kayak to take the Original cave tour. Was a pretty neat little tour, the guides were excellent, but you spend about 3 minutes actually in a cave, and play bumper kayaks with the droves of other kayakers while you wait your turn to go in. Granted, this was 4th of July week, so it was crowded everywhere. I suspect normally you'd get a little more time in the caves, and it would be a little more personal. The guides provide a lot of history about the area. We had a good time and would suggest doing this. Lunch at Shorerider (excellent food) then spent the rest of the day at La Jolla Shores playing in the waves and relaxing sans beach equipment.

Day 4. Started the day off with Speedboat adventure tour around San Diego Harbor. The kids loved this, and they allow 16 yrs old to drive with an adult. You go fast, get a pretty good view of all the Harbor has to offer, along with a ride near the USS Midway. This was maybe our favorite tour while we were there. Drove to Little Italy for lunch at Bencotto. Expensive but modern italian restaurant where you can choose your pasta, sauce, protein, etc. Kids had the chicken pizzaiola and couldn't say enough good things about it. wife and I enjoyed it immensely as well. From there went to the USS Midway. I'm a Navy brat and love reading about military history, so this was somewhat of a highlight for me. It was very crowded but not so much you couldn't really spend time listening to the self guided tour and see all you wanted. Lines were long to the 'island' tour and the flight simulators. Was happy that my 16 year old liked this and was even a bit inspired to think about the Navy in his future. After the third attempt to get the beach equipment from Seabreeze, it finally arrived that night. To their credit, they got us excellent equipment.

Day 5: The 4th of July, oh my. I knew there wasn't a place in the area that wasn't going to be crowded in some form or fashion, and we attempted to go to the beach at the Shores. Everyone kind of relaxed at the house early, which probably was a mistake, because by the time we got out to the beach it was incredibly crowded. We found a spot, but there was a steady, cold breeze and no one was having a great time. We ate pre made sandwiches on the beach and spent the rest of the day at the house playing pool, ping pong, and relaxing. I went to grill, and found that the burners on the grill were rusted nearly shut. Whole Foods was basically out of steak, so i got these pre-packaged ones that were really not great cuts. The grill wouldn't get up to more than about 290 F, and in all i pretty much ruined the steaks. Saved by some excellent Whole Foods desserts though. Thought about going into SD for fireworks, but everyone was pretty tired and we didn't want to fight the masses again. Would've re-done this day if I could, although no one complained.

Day 6: SD Zoo. Given the crowds, we ponied up for an Inside Tour, and so glad we did. The line to the Panda's was over an hour, and we walked right up and got to view them eating. They take you on a cart around the Zoo, you get to feed some animals, and see some of the exhibits from behind to avoid the masses. It's by no means cheap, but if you can swing it, I highly recommend this. Couple of tips: If you go to the Zoo on a busy week like this, go early, head to the back of the zoo, and work your way back, making sure you see the things your kids want to early as to not miss them. Ate at Alberts (was ok); saw The Martian 4D (like 20min), and called it a day. Ate dinner on the cheap after this and called it a night.

Day 7: Another attempt at a beach day. After breakfast at Brick and Bell (winner), we got some snorkel gear but conditions at La Jolla Shores were too rough to really get out, and there was no where to park near La Jolla Cove, so that was a waste. I've never seen a beach as crowded as Shores except in pictures, but there I was. We carved out a little spot with our newly acquired beach umbrellas and chairs, and had a great day just playing in the water. For lunch we tried to get into Shorerider again but line was too long, so we walked across the street to Barbarella. This was just ok, no one real impressed with what they got but not terrible. Probably won't go back though. For our last night we decided to go out to George's Ocean terrace. This is one of the nicest restaurants in la Jolla, and it didn't disappoint. Got to see a beautiful sunset, ate fresh halibut and had a couple cocktails before walking back toward the cove for one last beach walk. We watched the sea lions play in the surf and beach before heading back in to pack up for departure.

Day 8: Woke up to an hour flight delay, but thankfully they told us in advance so we didn't leave too early. Rental car drop off was a breeze, and the flight home only ended up being about 40 min later than planned.

In all a great trip. SD has so much to offer just about anyone for a vacation. July 4th in any vacation city like this will be busy, and would've preferred to do this in September, but the schedules of these meddling kids just keep getting in the way.

General observations: Parking in La Jolla is a nightmare. 2-way streets are turned into 1-way as people park on both sides. Some (what I assume to be) local in a Maserati convertible was not going to be slowed as I went down one of these gauntlets, forcing me to reverse my way back up the street.

It's crazy anywhere you go, and if you want to go to the smaller beaches, you have to go really early or get really lucky.

Despite the crowds at La Jolla shores, it's a great beach with beautiful water.

For the week of the 4th, I'd suggest getting dinner reservations a few days in advance.

For SD Zoo, I'd get any of the tours you may wish to go on reserved a few weeks in advance.

Feel free to message me with questions, although there are several people here much more qualified to answer.

Edited: 09 July 2018, 01:31
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8 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
39,483 posts
1,021 reviews
1. Re: Trip Report - 4th of July week

Sounds like an awesome time! 🏖

San Diego...
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
2,247 posts
63 reviews
2. Re: Trip Report - 4th of July week

Thank you for the great TR and feedback!

La Jolla, California
Destination Expert
for La Jolla
Level Contributor
3,271 posts
253 reviews
3. Re: Trip Report - 4th of July week

Thank you for your extensive trip report. We like hearing from visitors about both the good and the bad so we can help others with the information. I'm sorry that your experience with the rental was less than stellar. Definitely leave them a review so they may provide better equipment to future guests.

Regarding the crowds on and around the 4th of July, San Diego has become a very popular destination, and with the heat inland, everyone heads for the beach. I always try to tell people to be on the beach before 9 am on holidays or hot summer days to find a good spot and good parking. La Jolla Shores has seen an uptick in the number of visitors after some disastrous years of road construction and less than ideal weather. It is great for our local economy, but may be a shock to people not used to crowds.

Good to hear about Shorerider's food. I hadn't tried it yet, even though they have been in business for almost 2 years (?).

About the local in the Maserati, I apologize for his rude behavior. We have some locals who feel entitled, and I usually ignore them.

San Diego
Level Contributor
5,795 posts
355 reviews
4. Re: Trip Report - 4th of July week

Thank you for a great trip report very thorough and useful. I always wonder why more people don't leave trip reports on the San Diego Forum. They're very popular in other forms. Sounds like overall a great trip to San Diego. I'm sorry about a few of the hiccups especially with regard to your rental property. I too would encourage you to leave a review of the rental property on whatever site you rented it through. Yes the holiday of course is busy at the beaches but also we have a heat wave this week and everybody who lives Inland headed to the beach. You would not have believed the traffic on the Interstate 8 freeway headed to the beaches.

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
Level Contributor
33,326 posts
6,456 reviews
5. Re: Trip Report - 4th of July week

In spite of the crowds and the need for a 4th of July re-do, it seems like you still found some fun things to do.

Thanks for your "honest" trip report of what you enjoyed and what you did not.

Del Mar, California
Level Contributor
9,455 posts
6 reviews
6. Re: Trip Report - 4th of July week

Great Report. Thanks.

Napa, California
Level Contributor
555 posts
68 reviews
7. Re: Trip Report - 4th of July week

Thank you, that was a very helpful trip report! We have booked our flights only and will be visiting in mid August.

1 post
8. Re: Trip Report - 4th of July week

Really thorough. Thank you so much...

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