Exploring California From Sand to Sea


At 560 miles wide and 840 miles long, The State of California is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, and the third largest state in America. No matter your interest: city, forest, valley, mountain, coast or desert, the Golden State has it all. I’ve lived here in both NorCal and SoCal for the better part of 16 years, and there is still so much left to discover! I’ve hardly scratched the surface! Most recently, we’ve been exploring more of Southern California.

Sand to Sea


A record year of rainfall (yay rain!) and the resulting flower super bloom prompted our visit to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park in the Desert region. I had to see all those amazing flowers! Deciding to go on this little adventure at the last minute meant accommodation choices were somewhat limited, and not finding what I was looking for (yes, I’m a hotel snob) we decided to stay on the coast in La Jolla, the Jewel of San Diego. So, two birds with one road trip… Desert and Coast.


Anza Borrego State Park

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is located in the Colorado Desert in Southern California, that’s not confusing, and is California’s largest state park.


As we arrived in the park we noticed that small groups of beautiful flowers lined the roadside, and the scenery did look more green than we expected, but where was this Super Bloom we’d been hearing so much about?


We only had one day in the area, and Anza Borrego encompasses 600,000 acres, so rather than looking for the proverbial needle in the desert…



We decided some advice was in order and the Park’s visitor center located in the small town of Borrego Springs seemed like the best place to get it! The park rangers gave us very detailed directions to a nearby location where we could easily see the flowers.


There are many hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult as well as camping opportunities in the area, and if you’re interested the rangers will provide maps and directions. March afternoon temperatures were already in the high 90s, so we decided against hiking, and there were plenty of flower viewing options near the visitor center. We saw some pretty neat desert art installations on our way to the fields!

Anza Borrego State Park California#anzaborrego

The flower fields, as expected were stunning, and walking among them was a joyful experience. There weren’t many bees, strangely, but there were a ton of black ants and  caterpillars, which meant my boys weren’t willing to pose for too long among the flowers, and they definitely weren’t willing to sit down. Hoping for sunset photos, we timed our visit for late afternoon and sunset, which worked out perfectly.



Anza Borrego is an official Dark Sky, and while I love night photography, my amateur status meant that I wasn’t exactly prepared to take the night photos I had hoped for. Nevertheless we found ourselves a bench outside the visitor center and enjoyed viewing the stars and hearing the sounds of the desert at night. There was a little Saloon down the street from the visitor center where we enjoyed a meal before setting out for the sea portion of our adventure.

Anza Borrego State Park California


La Jolla The Jewel of San Diego


La Jolla, a lovely little seaside community located within the city of San Diego, was the perfect place to spend the day exploring. We saw Public art, delicious donuts, and a ton of wildlife, and these were just a few of the fun activities available!

La Jolla Mural Project

The La Jolla Mural project started in 2010 as a way to enhance the local community. The murals are painted or mounted on private buildings and are on display for a minimum of two years! We didn’t have time to view all of them, but loved the ones we were able to find.



Children’s Pool Beach

Just steps from the cute downtown area the coast is lined with lovely parks and beaches. We read that Children’s Pool Beach was a worthwhile spot and we were delighted to discover that our visit took place during the Harbor seal pup season! I loved watching the adorable interactions between the mother and baby seals, and we stayed quite a long while before wandering further up the coastline where we saw sea lions, pelicans, and many mischievous squirrels.


There are times during the year when the beaches are open for swimming and scuba diving is permitted as well. We saw divers among the sea lions, and there’s something so special about viewing animals in their natural habitat, but I must admit I’m just fine with my feet on the shore!



Since our move to SoCal, we’ve been on a quest for the best donuts, so when we came across this donut shop, we couldn’t resist!


These gorgeous flowers were alongside the road in San Diego County

Tips & Advice:

  • Anza Borrego Desert State park is a 3 hour drive from Los Angeles
  • La Jolla is a two hour drive from Anza Borrego.
  • The Children’s Pool Beach is closed to public access during harbor seal pupping season, Dec. 15 through May 15, yearly. However, you can view the seals during this time.

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31 thoughts on “Exploring California From Sand to Sea

  1. Your photographs are stunning! I love the first one with the mountains in the background and the flowers, I love the seals, I love them all! This is a total advert for California I’m refraining from packing my bags – beautiful. #FarawayFiles

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gorgeous photos! I didn’t get to see the super bloom (or any flower fields). With things like that, you have too act quick but we were pretty busy at that time. I have been to the Anza Borrego area but would love to go back. I remember seeing so many butterflies. It was magical. #FarawayFiles

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  3. I love Anza Borego State Park. We just visited it in March, when the dessert was in bloom. I haven never seen looking so colorful like then. Very beautiful pictures. #The WeeklyPostcard

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  4. You got some amazing superbloom photos! The window is so short, and the bloom areas so isolated, I’m glad you got to see it. I live down in Point Loma but really ought to spend a little more time up in La Jolla. Maybe during the off-season. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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  5. It looks like you chose the perfect time of year to visit the desert and the coast. Those desert flowers are beautiful. I’m interested to know what sounds of the desert did you hear in the evenings? And seriously, how cute are those seals/! La Jolla looks like such a fun and family friendly destination.#FarawayFiles

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  6. I love La Jolla and watching the sea lions. And I have not been to or heard of Anza Borrego! It looks lovely. Pinning for future reference. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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  7. HILARY! This is so stunning! Seeing the desert bloom is on my bucket list for sure – so beautiful! You’ve captured it perfectly. And we love La Jolla as well – what a cozy and gorgeous spot snug against the sea. LOVE this post – thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

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  8. I’m a bit of a hotel snob too theses days – done my time backpacking and camping 🙂
    Love the photos brings back some lovely memories of travelling down the coast of California especially seeing the sea lions lounging about.

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  9. Your photos are fantastic! They capture the essence of being there amongst the Super Bloom plus all the fun to be had in La Jolla. I’ve been to San Diego before but have never ventured east to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

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  10. Wow! Love the photos! The colors are just fantastic, and the whole post just seems like you guys were enjoying everything on offer. Makes me miss California, and really want to get back. We’ve been having a hard time figuring out where to go this summer…this could be it! Although, by then the Super Bloom will be super dry. 😦 Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard!

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  11. I’m so sad that at the greatest bloom the dessert has seen in years, I wasn’t there to experience it! Sadly, I’ve never been! Your pictures are GLORIOUS and your La Jolla pix make me miss home soooo much! I’m from Vista! Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    Liked by 1 person

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