Solana Beach, California
Del Mar, California
Cabrillo National Park
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Our Pacific Coast Ride begins in Oceanside and ends at Seaport Village in San Diego. This is a ride that we often save until warmer weather due to a combination of traffic and cooler temperatures. The trip features lots of beaches, surfers, and sunshine. You can expect heavy traffic at times and stretches of stop and go traffic due to stop signs. At other times, your speed can reach 50 mph. The trip is 55 miles long and will take more than 4 hours depending upon the how often you stop and for how long.
The ride begins by exiting on Oceanside Harbor Drive from I-5. This is the most Northern point along the ocean without entering Pendleton. When you go around the cloverleaf, continue straight at the traffic light. Turn left towards the harbor and again when you reach the harbor so that you are following with the water on your right. There are a number of interesting shops along the harbor.
Turn left on Pacific St. at the stop sign and you will curve around thru several apartment complexes. As you continue straight, you will again see the ocean on your right and will see the Oceanside pier. This is an interesting walk and the beach is also interesting to explore. You will soon leave the boardwalk area and will have beach homes on both sides of you. From time to time you will get a quick peak at the ocean on your right. When you reach Cassidy street at the Stop sign, turn left.
After several blocks, you will reach the Coast Highway where you should turn right to head South again. This will take you thru the remainder of Oceanside and into Carlsbad. Your road changes name to Carlsbad Blvd. but you are still following the coast. You will pass the Robert Frazee Beach on your right and the Encina Power Station on your left. This is another good place to park and walk around. Parking tends to be more available here than on some of the beaches as you continue South.
Keep right to stay on Carlsbad Blvd. and you will pass the South Carlsbad State Beach on your right. This is one of the larger beaches that you will see. As you continue South, you will enter the town of Leucadia and your road becomes N. Coast Hwy 101. You will generally follow 101 for most of this trip.
The next town is Encinitas and you will remember it for it's shops and the string of stop signs. You will encounter San Elijo State Beach as you leave Encinitas and will quickly pass thru Cardiff by the Sea when you see the Cardiff State Beach on your right. There are several nice but expensive restaurants here. You can watch the surfers and the sunset while enjoying your meal.
Next you enter the town of Solana Beach and your road name changes slightly to Old Highway 101. You will see a collection of surfing related shops but nothing too memorable. By the time you reach the city limits for Del Mar, you should notice that the shops are becoming more upscale and the homes are looking more expensive. Your road now becomes Camino Del Mar. As you leave town, you will descend to yet another large beach (Torrey Pines State Reserve)on your right and will enter La Jolla.
The road changes names to N. Torrey Pines, turns left, and ascends quickly. At the top, you will pass by the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course and the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Medical Center. You should turn right to stay on Torrey Pines at a traffic light. At the second intersection, you should turn right on Torrey Pines Scenic Drive towards the Torrey Pines Gliderport.
The gliderport entrance is located at the cul-de-sac. This is a hard packed dirt parking lot with some ruts so use caution if you enter the lot. This can be a fascinating stop if there is sufficient wind to carry parasails and hang gliders into the air. The wind comes from the west and is deflected straight up by the sandstone cliffs. This provides continually lift for launching the gliders. You can even go for a ride for $150 if you have the money and the nerve. Spring is an especially good time to visit due to stronger winds. On still days, you may not see any gliders.
The Torrey Pines Glider Port
When you finish visiting the gliderport, simply return back to N. Torrey Pines and turn right. This will be followed by a right turn on LaJolla Shores Drive. This road makes a quick descent to beach level again although the LaJolla beaches will be to your distant right. LaJolla traffic can be very heavy on weekends, especially in the summer.
You will bear right at a Y intersection to proceed towards downtown LaJolla. We jog around part of that traffic by turning right on Prospect Place to head towards the LaJolla Cove. Turn right again on Coast Blvd but watch out for rough concrete. At the stop sign, you can see LaJolla Cove to your right. This is another good place to stop and see if there are any scuba divers.
Continuing along the coast and keeping to the right, you will encounter the LaJolla Childrens Pool. There are no identifying signs but you should see a lot of spectators on your right. The Childrens Pool has been taken over by a colony of at least 150 harbor seals. We recommend parking and checking them out. Note that the warmer the weather, the fewer seals you may see. You will also see a lot of California ground squirrels who have burrows along the cliff side.
The LaJolla Childrens Pool (and home for harbor seals)
The ride continues South along the coast where your road bends to the left. Turn right on Olivetas and, after a couple of blocks, turn right on LaJolla Blvd. You can make a side trip to Mt. Soledad which is a huge cross located on the top of one of the mountains. It is a steep ride up to see it but the view is awesome. For this ride, we are continuing straight instead. On your right down a sideroad is Bird Road which, of course, is haven for pelicans, egrets, etc.
Keep to the right so you can turn right on Mission Blvd. You are now entering the Mission Beach area. This is a narrow pennisula with homes on both sides of the road. If you walk past the homes, you will reach the ocean or the harbor, depending on the direction you walk. This is a long straight stretch with small shops on either side.
At the end of Mission, you will see the Belmont Park to your right which includes an old style roller coaster and arcades. This too is worth making a stop. Otherwise, you should turn left on Mission Bay Drive and follow it over the bridge. You should look to turn right towards Sunset Cliffs Blvd twice. You should then continue straight for almost 2 miles where you will find parking to see the actual Sunset Cliffs. These are sandstone cliffs that are slowly eroding and present a spectacular sight at dusk. Don't get too close to the edge.
As you follow the cliffs, be sure to watch for Hill street to your left. If you miss it, you will be forced to double back as there is no other way out. Hill street is fairly steep including several stop signs where you might be forced to "heal and toe" to get started again. At the end of Hill street, turn right on Catalina Blvd. to head towards the Cabrillo National Monument. Your access to this area is limited to daytime hours as you enter the Federal Reserve.
The view of San Diego from Point Loma
You will pass the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetary and should have awesome views to your left and your right. Look to turn right towards the tidepools just as you approach the Cabrillo Park area. Your road will descend quickly to near ocean level and you should stop at the tidepools parking lot. If you are lucky, the tide will be out and you can hike down to look at the sea life trapped in the tidepools.
When you are finished looking at the tidepools, you should double back to Catalina Blvd and turn right towards the visitor center. You have the option of skipping the visitor center by turning left immediately or just after the visitor center entrance booth. Entry is currently $3 for motorcycles and $5 for cars. We think you will find the view of San Diego to be breath taking and well worth the cost of admission. It is also worth hiking up to the old lighthouse and out to the Cabrillo monument. There are also interesting film presentations.
The Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Park
When you are done visiting the Cabrillo area, you should head back on Catalina Blvd and leave the base area. Look to turn right on 209 which is Canon street. Follow it until 209 turn left on Rosecrans street. After a couple of blocks, turn right on N. Harbor Drive and you are once again following the coast. This time you are entering the main San Diego harbor area and will see lots of boats and yachts moored to your right.
You are entering the last stretch of the ride as you pass the San Diego airport on your left. You will see the Clipper Ship Star of India and the commercial ferry the Berkeley on your right. For $5, you can tour both and be pleasantly surprised by how much there is to see.
Next you will see the huge Cruise ship port followed by several harbor cruise ships. We do recommend taking the 1 or 2 hour harbor cruise and especially recommend taking a whale watching trip if in season (December thru March). There is a lot to see in the harbor area.
Continuing South, you will pass the Fish Market which is a great place to get seafood. You previously passed Anthony's and that too is an excellent place to stop. The ride turns right on Pacific Highway, towards Seaport Village and the ride ends here. Seaport Village features 70 specialized shops and is quite interesting for anyone who likes to shop. Parking is free for 2 hours if you make a purchase. Be sure to check out the Old Carousel.
We hope you enjoyed the ride. There are several routes back to I-5 and Rt. 163 including taking Broadway to 11th and turning left on 11th. There is a lot of downtown San Diego that is worth exploring. You may wish to ride over to Coronado Island. We have tried to give you a taste of everything there is to see.