July 28, 2022
San Diego, California
For those who are looking for a more adventurous, long-distance vacation, San Diego is amazing. San Diego is a combination of modern city streets, historic quaint areas, and beautiful, scenic shores. Although it is only about two hours from Los Angeles, San Diego has a certain laid-back atmosphere even within the city.
In addition to major attractions such as SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo and Safari, the USS Midway, and more, the city has several different areas that are worth visiting, each with its own personality.
One historic district, known as Old Town, houses many specialty shops. The Gaslamp quarter is a historic district and is a very happening place at night. It is also the site of many events and festivals. Seaport Village offers shopping, dining, and entertainment in a beautiful seaside setting. La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya) is my favorite area—right on the water, it is relaxing and scenic. I would choose to stay in the La Jolla neighborhood if I should visit again.
We stayed in San Diego proper for Shabbos because we were eating with friends, and then we moved to La Jolla. Both locations have shuls and minyan. San Diego has limited kosher food options available.
Approximate distance from Lakewood: Five and a half hours by plane
Beth Jacob Congregation
4855 College Avenue
San Diego, CA 92115
Chabad of Downtown
275 Island Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Located a few blocks from the Convention Center
Visitor information and food options can be found at https://www.bjsd.org/visitors and https://www.chabaddowntown.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/303889/jewish/Kosher-in-S-Diego.htm. Make sure to clarify which places are glatt, chalav Yisrael, and pas Yisrael if you are makpid.
Hotel accommodations near Beth Jacob
We stayed at the Best Western and enjoyed it. The staff are familiar with frum people and opened our doors for us on Shabbos when they saw us coming.
Best Western Lamplighter
A 10-minute walk from Beth Jacob, located within the eiruv
6474 El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92115
Mention Beth Jacob and receive a discount.
Beth Jacob Studio Apartment
One unit only (very limited availability) with two twin beds, one full sleeper sofa, a full bathroom with a tub/shower, a full-size refrigerator/freezer, and a microwave; located within the eiruv
$100 per night
4855 College Avenue
San Diego, CA 92115
Congregation Adat Yeshurun
8625 La Jolla Scenic Drive North
La Jolla, CA 92037
Hotels in La Jolla near Adat Yeshuruncan be found at https://www.adatyeshurun.org/hotels. We stayed at the Residence Inn and enjoyed it very much.
Chabad of La Jolla
909 Prospect Street, suite 210
La Jolla, CA 92037
Hotels within walking distance of Chabad in La Jolla can be found at https://www.chabadoflajolla.com/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/2885727/jewish/Kosher-and-Hotel-information.htm.
San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is huge, one of the largest in the world. It is set on 100 acres and contains 3,700 animals. The zoo is really well constructed, with minimal walking required between exhibits. Still, due to its size, you can spend a whole day at the zoo and still not get to the whole thing.
The best way to get an overview of the park is to take a 35-minute tour on the double-decker open-air bus (included in the entrance fee). The SkyFari Cable Cars is another enjoyable way to see the animals and zoo from above. It is also a great way to cross from one side of the zoo to the other.
The San Diego Zoo tries to put the animals in cageless exhibits with moats and other safety measures to keep the animals from getting too close to visitors but at the same time maintaining their natural setting. The zoo was famous for its pandas that it received on loan from China for 20 years and returned in 2019.
In addition to all the many animal exhibits, San Diego Zoo has various gardens, including the popular Orchid House.
The San Diego Zoo is so popular that it almost feels like a city, with lots of people coming and going from one amazing exhibit to the next.
9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Adult (age 12 and up): starts at $63 online
Child (ages 3–11): starts at $53 online
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Although the safari in San Diego is under the same organization as the zoo, it is in a different location in which there is more room for the animals to spread out. The zoo and safari are about a half hour’s drive from each other, and each location is a full day’s trip. It is not advisable to try to combine them.
The Safari is spread over 1,800 acres and is a wildlife sanctuary for more than 3,000 animals. There are also over 3,000 botanical species within the park.
Basic admission allows visitors to walk through the exhibits of animals. For an additional fee, you can enjoy the Caravan Safari, an open-air truck that drives close to the animals. In addition, the Cheetah Safari allows visitors to meet and greet a cheetah.
There are ropes course and zip line options as well. There is also a big yellow balloon attached to the ground with a rope which takes visitors to view the safari fromabove.
The showsare included in general admission. The Cheetah Run is fascinating; it’s really popular, and it’s advisable to be there early to get a good spot.
9 a.m.–7 p.m.
Adult (age 12 and up): starts from $65 online
Child (age 3–11): starts from $55 online
Includes Africa Tram, Cheetah Run, and all regularly scheduled shows
Cabrillo National Monument
San Diego is famous for the most incredible tide pools, which are depressions where water is trapped during low tide, forming small pools that provide habitat for numerous plants, invertebrates, and fish. Point Loma in Cabrillo National Monument is known as one of the best spots for exploring tide pools. During low tide, it is fascinating to discover what was washed up. Found at Cabrillo are many small invertebrates such as periwinkle snails, lined shore crabs, acorn barnacles, troglodyte chitons, and various limpets as well as California mussels, aggregating anemones, limpets, chitons, California sea hares, snails, crabs, fishes, lobsters, and octopuses. The rocks at the beach are beautiful, with majestic cliffs rising up along the water.
Timing is everything when visiting the beach during low tide. Check times of low tide at behttp://www.tides4fishing.com/us/california/cabrillo-beach#_tides.
In addition to the tidal pools, Cabrillo National Monument is home to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Beautiful views of the San Diego region can be seen from there. There is a two-mile walk that begins near the lighthouse with views of the harbor and city of San Diego.
The Whale Overlook offers beautiful views of the ocean. Whales are often seen from there in January and February.
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive
San Diego, CA 92106
Cabrillo National Monument is open from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Per noncommercial vehicle: $20
Per walker or bicyclist: $10
Passes are valid for seven days.
Old Town was created in 1769 as California’s first settlement. It is currently the heart of the historic district of San Diego. Old Town still gives off an authentic market feel with old-time Californian ambiance.
Old Town is just across the street from the San Diego Trolley Old Town Transit Center. Numerous specialty shops, restaurants, and street performers can often be found there. It is interesting to stroll through the shops and check out the merchandise on display. Lots of stuff are handmade.
In the center of Old Town is the Old Town San Diego Historic Park, where there are living-historyprograms with blacksmith and woodworker shops, created to help visitors experience the Mexican-American period of 1821–1872.
Take the Old Town Avenue exit on Interstate 5.
The coastline in La Jolla is nothing short of breathtaking! The 1.5-mile walk alongside the beach is especially beautiful. My favorite part was the Children’s Pool, or the Casa in local lingo. It is a tiny cove that used to be an area designated for children to swim but has been overtaken by sea lions and seals. At any given time, there are tens of seals sunbathing on the rocks. Swimming at Casa Beach is not considered safe. The best places to view the seals are the path above the beach and the rocks on nearby beaches.
Another popular beach is Shell Beach, named for its popularity as a great spot to collect shells. The beach is best explored during low tide, when you can see interesting items and sea life that get washed ashore.
The Ellen Browning Scripps Park, with its green fields, is also alongside the coast, as are the La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Caves, where for a small fee, you can enter the Cave Store and climb down to Sunny Jim Cave. There are also kayaking tours to explore the nearby caves.
The La Jolla Cove is part of the La Jolla Underwater Park, where marine life is under special protection, and is a popular destination for snorkelers.
Parking can usually be found somewhere along the street or by Scripps Park. It is always better to arrive early during busy seasons to ensure a spot.
1100 Coast Boulevard (at Girard Avenue)
La Jolla, CA 92037
The hype associated with SeaWorld is definitely well deserved. SeaWorld is a combination theme park and animal park with some of the most impressive shows.
What I found extremely enjoyable about the park is that there isn’t an overabundance of rides, nor are there only animals. The rides are all great classics. There are two family-style water rides, a sky ride, a sky tower, and some rides geared especially for kids. There are also animal exhibits sprinkled around such as the Otter Outlook, the flamingos below the roller coaster, Turtle Reef, Shark Encounter, and Explorers Reef, where visitors get to interact with sea life in a shallow pool.
But the aspect that differentiates SeaWorld from a regular amusement park is the variety of water shows, which includes the fun sea lion show, the amazing orca show, and most of all, the remarkable Dolphin Days Show, which plays out a story using dolphins and divers that do some of the most incredible stunts with some acrobatics thrown in as well. The Dolphin Show was the best I’ve seen.
San Diego, CA 92109
Hours vary. Check online for current hours: https://seaworld.com/san-diego/park-info/theme-park-hours/
Tickets start at $109 per person, but there are often online specials: https://seaworld.com/san-diego/tickets
San Diego Whale Watch
The San Diego Whale Watch is a real experience. The Privateer Boat takes visitors on a relaxing and beautiful journey on the crystal-clear waters to see dolphins and whales from its roomy deck.
It’s a tour that is never out of season. Many people are unaware of the blue whale migration during the summer in addition to the gray whale migration in the winter. From December through April, Pacific gray whales pass through the San Diego area on their way from Alaska to Mexico. The gray whales are 30–50 feet in length and weigh up to 40 tons. There were sightings of gray whales as close as half a mile from the San Diego Bay.
From May through November, great blue whales and mighty fin whales pass through. The blue whale is the largest animal; it can range in length from 90–100 feet and weigh up to 200 tons. These whales are generally found five to nine miles offshore feeding on the local banks.
Both types of whales are on a journey when seen; they are not there to play. There is a rule that boats need to stay 100 feet away from the whales. When we were on the boat, a whale suddenly changed direction and resurfaced right near the boat. It was fascinating!
In addition to whales, various types of dolphins are seen during most trips. California sea lions, ocean sunfish (Mola mola), and a wide variety of sea birds that can also be spotted.
If there is no whale or dolphin sighting during a trip, the passengers receive a free pass for another whale watching trip. If no whales are sighted but dolphins are, visitors receive a 50-percent-off pass for another tour.
Whale watching in San Diego was especially enjoyable due to the amazing weather and the magnificent blue water and mountains onshore.
Check online for current hours.
Adults: (age 18 and up): $55
Children (ages 0–17): $49
Seniors (age 62 and up): $49