While you can explore the many night clubs in the Gaslamp Quarter, you’ll need to find some serenity when the music fades and the night ends. Fortunately, crashing waves and long wooded trails are among many sights that make San Diego a place of peace and reflection. Below is where you can retreat to recover on a brisk Sunday morning or unwind after a long workday.
1. Mount Soledad Veterans’ Memorial
Located in the beautiful suburb of La Jolla, Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial stands roughly 822 feet above sea level. The 29 ft. white cross and surrounding black granite walls pay tribute to 2,700 of our nation’s fallen servicemen.
Take some time to read the many plaques, as the cool Californian wind whips across your face or simply enjoy the 360-degree view from the top that stretches across San Diego, Coronado, and even Mexico. Sit and watch as the sun sinks into the Pacific and unveils far away hilltops that are tinted a lavender hue. Or if you feel like taking to the edges of the cliffs you’ll find peace along the pathways of San Diego’s chaparral landscape.
With the natural aesthetics of the environment on a religious backdrop, Mt. Soledad combines the power of nature with symbols of Christianity that serve as a scene of comfort that can appease anyone regardless of religious preference. Simply take your car and follow the arrows within the suburb. Or if you’re up to the daunting challenge, take a bicycle up the steep incline for the reward is breathtaking.
2. El Campo Santo Cemetery
Old Town is a renowned tourist attraction. With many Mexican restaurants offering curbside hand rolled tortillas it’s no wonder why many sunbaked visitors flock to the streets of Old Town to experience local “authenticity”. But down the street from the pueblo looking market on San Diego Avenue rests the historical burial ground El Campo Santo.
These sandy gravesites are often left to sit quietly, as many of your locals and traveling tourists eagerly pass by the historical landmark or crowd the numerous gift shops selling over-priced trinkets from south of the border. Enjoy the tranquility of the cemetery and note the preserved western identity that’s endured for over a century. Even with the passing crowd on the nearby streets, you’ll find that these gravesites bode a certain ghostly aura.
Some claim to have felt the cold presence of spirits, but for all its wonderfully creepy vibes El Campo Santo offers a relaxed setting for your wandering mind and the dead.
3. Mt. Cabrillo National Park
Yet another monument and mountainous terrain to be included in this list serves as a testament to the natural wonders and historical richness of San Diego. Commemorating the first steps a European planted on the western edge of America, Mt. Cabrillo offers more than just a history lesson in this quaint Point Loma suburb.
Many travelers will quietly seek out the interior of the old lighthouse or take countless selfies next to the statue of Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo. I recommend that you explore the many paths that lead to the old World War II bunkers or edges of sandy cliffs overlooking the whirlpools of the coves which are available for your pleasure year round.
Take caution, however, as the natural landscape is home to much wildlife, especially snakes. But in such an area of peace and tranquility, none of the venomous reptiles should find you as a threat as you enjoy the sweet silence. On your way driving back, be sure to note the hundreds of white crosses aligned in the hills of the national cemetery.
4. Balboa Park
This enormous park located near downtown is home to many museums, theaters, and the famous San Diego Zoo. While most of which requires an entrance fee, the numerous greenbelts and gardens are free to the general public. Simply find a spot anywhere in the park and get lost on a trail that’ll eventually venture through each garden.
You’ll discover the soothing combination of urban highway and crying birds as they flutter in the trees above. From cactuses and palms to a newly established Japanese Friendship Garden complete with cherry blossoms, each area strives to promote Zen and spirituality. Though there might hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts enjoying the Spanish architecture, fountains, and food carts, you’ll feel at ease in this vast urban garden.
5. Mission San Diego de Alcala
This well preserved church was founded as the first Franciscan mission by the friar Junipero Serra in 1769. After a troubled century of war and executions, the chapel still stands and serves mass the old school way complete with brass bells.
However, you don’t have to attend Sunday worship to enjoy a stroll through the well-maintained rose gardens and fountains. Take to the paths that lead in and out of the mission and experience the beauty of traditional Spanish architecture and saintly monuments. Whether you’re religious or not this mission serves as place of peace in a city rich with tourist destinations.
All are welcome
With beautiful landscapes rich with history, there’s no wonder why San Diego defines itself as a place where “happiness is calling.” As some of these sites do hold a certain religious orientation, you can find yourself welcome in any of the said places above, as they are meant for all to enjoy. So, if you’re in town, give yourself an hour with your favorite book or a camera in hand and find peace in your life. Cheers!
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