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!
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.
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!
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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