One of my friends told me this trip is one of the best to do, it is about a 5-6 hour drive but it is well worth it. At this point I was burned out from work so I decided to spend about 3 weeks treking through Southern California to Tijuana Mexico in December with a rented Mitsubishi Galant and it has to be the most memorable yet. At the end of it I decided to drive to Las Vegas from Mexico with my extended family from the Los Angeles area.
I have driven from Los Angeles to Las Vegas plenty of times before this (probably about 6 times) but I never thought about going to Mexico and San Diego before. I was alone on this trip so safety was my first concern as Tijuana is not a resort haha.
It started on a sunny day in December, I rented a Mitsubishi Galant from Avis from Duarte California (which I will never use again, will get more on this later) and turned on my phone GPS and started.
I went towards Little Saigon first (Westminister California), there I went to the famous Asia Garden Mall. Inside this vietnamese garden there is a big temple and there were plenty of stores to store and places to eat. One of the key recommendations is to try a Vietnamese Bahn Mi from Lee’s Sandwich, you either hate it or love it, personally I love it.
Next stop was Disneyland and Downtown Disney which is right next to Little Saigon. Here I did the normal tourist things, go on rides , take pictures etc.
Then finally it was getting dark and it was time to make the long journey to San Diego. It was a straight road almost all the way there and by the time I got there I was dead tired. I checked priceline.com and checked into a Best Western for about $50 a night which surprisingly was a very nice renovated hotel with a really good continental breakfast, I highly recommend this hotel if you are in the area.
The next morning I went to the beach which turned out to actually be one of the largest dog parks I ever went to! Dogs were everywhere and the beach and ocean were amazing. I then drove to La Jolla shore …. the view was breathe taking. Did the normal tourist thing and went into La Jolla cove and took some great pictures. Granted I was alone doing my own adventure which meant I had the freedom to go where I wanted, when I wanted so of course my next destination I always wanted to goto … Lego Land! haha It was very nice and while I don’t think it is better than Disney Land or Disney World, it is still a good tourist attraction. The same day I stopped by Sea World San Diego as well, the big reccomendation is to not park there .. the parking is expensive!
After 3 days in San Diego and enjoying the natural beauty, it was time to move onto Tijuana. On the way there I stopped by a big premium outlet and did some shopping , surprisingly everything was cheaper than the outlets in Massachusetts. This is a prime spot if you are taking this trip as you can pick up very nice clothes for cheap.
As I approached the border there was one last parking park where you pay 7 dollars for a day of parking which I highly recommend as you do not want to drive a car into Mexico! My insurance did not cover it and I am pretty sure your rental insurance won’t either, so leave the car in the lot and walk over the bridge, it is about a 5 minute walk.
Also here are some tips after you park your car and before you walk to Tijuana Mexico
- Remove all jewelry , watches necklaces etc – leave them in the trunk of the car
- Do not wear anything flashy/expensive, no gucci hand bags, gucci sunglasses etc, leave them in the car!
- Mind your own business, do not stare at anyone etc (especially if you are going into Tijuana alone like me)
So that day I started walking over, after the border there is a Taxi stand, take the taxi and ask to goto the shopping districts etc, Mexico was amazing, the one thing I had to point out was that every taxi felt like it had no suspension haha, so be prepared for that. Taxi fare is cheap, like 2 to 5 dollars.
Spent 2 days in Mexico then went back to pick my up cousin and her family in Arcadia and then the trip began to Las Vegas. Las Vegas was fun, saw a few shows, ate really good food and lost a few dollars at black jack haha.
Then we went back to California, ate at a few good Korean BBQ places and also went to Santa Monica Beach with my cousin and her boyfriend.
Over all this trip was very relaxing and an escape from the harsh winter back in Boston. I definitely enjoyed myself on this trip!
The only note was avis from Duarte charged me 150 dollars for a chip in the window that was already there when I rented the car … luckily my credit card insurance covered this! So if you are wondering if credit cards (specifically Visa signature) does cover window chips, they do! haha