For some road trips, the destination is the reward. For others, it's the pleasure of the trip itself. A drive to visit Bazaar Del Mundo in Old Town San Diego provides both.
From Los Angeles, I-5 wends its way south along the Pacific Ocean and the beach towns of Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Oceanside, Carlsbad, and the San Diego communities of La Jolla and Mission Beach. Along the way, the rugged hills of Camp Pendleton Marine Base provide visual counterpoint. With luck, you may even see the Marines practicing airborne or amphibious assaults, or Navy warships patrolling the coastline.
Marimba players on the courtyard stage
The journeys from the northeast on I-15 or from the east on I-8 are equally pleasing. I-8 passes through the mountains and desert of Cleveland National Forest, while I-15 follows a scenic route through the citrus and avocado groves of California's coastal foothills.
If you live to shop, you'll fall head over heels for Bazaar del Mundo. Built in Spanish colonial style, the building has a large open central courtyard. Shops on all four sides abound with bright and colorful merchandise. The courtyard of the bazaar is ablaze with flowers, foliage, pennants, and umbrellas. Mariachi bands playing marimbas and flutes on the courtyard stage fill the air with bright, cheerful Mexican music.
Shopping at Bazaar del Mundo
A bonus for anyone who loves history, the Bazaar del Mundo is part of the Old Town State Historic Park. Nearby, many of the original homes and commercial and government buildings of the first European settlement in California have been restored and are open as museums and period businesses. Scattered through the park and the bazaar, a variety of Mexican restaurants serve up some of the best Mexican food available north of the border. All provide inside or outdoor patio dining, and your choice is as much a matter of ambience as it is the food.
a scenic drive you're after, or the pleasure of shopping and dining in
historic surroundings, this southern California getaway is sure to please.
January 6, 2003
THERE: Bazaar Del Mundo and Casa
de Bandini are both located in Old Town San Diego at the junction
of I-5 and I-8, 3 miles north of downtown San Diego. Follow directional
signs from either freeway. There are several lots offering free parking
that normally have space available on weekdays. Parking space fills
early on weekends, especially in the summer. A fun alternative is
to park near one of the San Diego transit stations and take the Little
Red Trolley, San Diego's light-rail transit system, to the Old Town
Station. The Historic Park is only a short (1 minute) walk from the
station. Southern California residents often take the AMTRAK train
(ten a day) into San Diego and then catch the trolley to Old Town
from AMTRAK's Union Station. If you're flying in to San Diego International
Airport, Old Town is a short taxi ride or drive from the airport.
Follow the signs to Northbound I-5 and take the Old Town exit.
PLACES TO STAY: The choice of lodging in the area is limited only by your wallet and tastes. Areas that are very close are Mission Bay, Mission Valley, and Hotel Circle. Pacific Beach and downtown are only a short drive and the Mission Valley and downtown areas are convenient to the San Diego Trolley line if you are not driving.
THINGS TO DO: Sightseeing opportunities in San Diego are almost
unlimited. Just a few suggestions to include in your visit might
be the world-famous San Diego Zoo or the Wild Animal Park in the
north end of San Diego, Balboa Park museums, Seaport Village on
the downtown waterfront, Sea World near Old Town, and a myriad of
beaches along the San Diego County coastline (including the famous
but unofficial "clothing optional" Black's Beach below
the La Jolla bluffs). For more options and information, visit www.sandiego.org.