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Dramatic San Diego coast
photo credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TMOM

My husband and I faced a dilemma. He needed to be in San Diego, and I wanted to be in the sunshine. But our youngest daughter was taking the PSAT, so she couldn’t come.

Since she’s the third child, and already thinks she’s being raised by wolves, we really didn’t need to stay and increase her anxiety. We could have fun in the sun without her without TOO much guilt.

San Diego makes it easy to forget about worries like parenting and PSATs. The near perfect weather – I heard there’s a day or two where it isn’t sunny ALL day –encourage carefree vacationing.

Our introduction to the friendly city started at the airport, where we had used the new LYFT app to get a ride to our hotel. A young local guy met us outside baggage claim and when we asked about craft beers, he had a few interesting suggestions.

Karl Strauss Brewery photo credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TMOM

Karl Strauss Brewery
photo credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TMOM

We could have used LYFT to take us to Torrey Pines Sate Natural Preserve– this amazing place, with hiking trails – is just 25 miles north. But we had a convertible Fiat to test out. How can you go to southern California and not ride in a convertible?

The drive was easy; too short, actually but we were eager to hit the trails. We followed the cognoscenti to the beach, where you can park for free; you walk along the beach and avoid the $15 parking fee. And we wanted to walk on the beach anyway, so it was a win-win.

Most of the trails are pretty short, but many are interconnected. You can hike for several hours, and go down to the beach. You can only eat at the beach, and nothing is sold here, so bring a water bottle and snacks.

We drove to La Jolla for lunch, and to stroll around the gorgeous town. We were warned about the difficulty of parking, but for a Brookly-nite used to alternate side parking rules, parking here was a snap. There were color-coded curbs, for 5 min, 20 min and 2 hour parking for free, plus a few low-cost lots.

Torrey Pines photo credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TMOM

Torrey Pines
photo credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TMOM

Here, we encountered a cultural difference – no one screams or honks their horn when you momentarily block traffic to park. Drivers wait patiently.  Maybe all that sun makes them permanently happy.

One place in La Jolla that made us insanely happy was the Karl Strauss Brewery & Restaurant. We didn’t want to drink since we were driving, and it was lunchtime, but we sampled a few of the crazily hopped IPAs, along with a rye beer. The southern California pub food included many healthy vegetarian choices and a kid-friendly macaroni and cheese section.

But then, we were kid-free.