Hello hello! Well, it looks like I’m going to get in a post for the new year! One thing you might notice is that the watermark has changed! Shang Chen Photography is reincarnating to Saavedra Photography. Please bear with me while the transition slowly takes place (there will be a new website and Facebook fan page and all that!). In the meantime, I hope you enjoy a glimpse into a quick weekend trip we took to San Diego! It was super fun.
Big thank you to Yuling Designs for my lovely new logo!
We first visited Mission San Juan Capistrano (we drove down from Orange County), easily one of the most gorgeous missions in all of California. We arrived close to opening time so we had a relatively quiet mission to ourselves. It takes about an hour to see
I love the lighting on my husband here. It makes his portrait like a Spanish painting
I was also very lucky to spot a hummingbird. I shot the entire trip on my 50mm so this is a bit cropped in
The highlight of the trip for me was the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Zoos kind of depress me because the animals are caged up, but the safari park is massive and houses many animals in a very natural habitat, often with multiple species together. It can easily become a full-day experience. We spent about 4 hours here.
Pro tip: If you go to several San Diego museums / attractions, you can save money by pre-purchasing admissions with a San Diego Go Select Pass. We had a Living Social discount and purchased just the one day pass and felt that it was sufficient enough to enjoy the entire park. Some of the more expensive safaris get you more up close and personal with the animals. However, as long as you visit the park on a cooler day, you’ll see plenty of the animals using just the Africa Tram.
My husband took some photos on his P&S which had better zoom than I did. I quite enjoyed the sleeping male lion in the first row
The next day, while walking the harbor, we passed by one of the most storied US aircraft carriers, the USS Midway
It wasn’t in our plans but I really wanted to see those airplanes up close! We got on and it turned out to be an amazing experience. Part of it is because a lot of the ship is available on display – you can see the sailors’ quarters, commanders’ quarters, parts of the technology of the ship, tactical areas, and of course, the flight deck was a big treat. Many of the volunteers on board are veterans of this ship, so it was an extremely authentic experience. Included with your admission (pro-tip: Buy online for $2 off) is a very well done audio tour. In fact, if we slowly browsed and listened to the entire tour we probably would have been in the museum for 3+ hours! I recommend 2 – 3 hours for this museum
F-14 – the Top Gun plane
We quickly made our way to Balboa Park. It’s a wonderful park to stroll through for its architecture and various museums. The museums are not that interesting by themselves, but as a collection, it’s a great way to spend half a day there. We did not go to any museums due to time restrictions
A trip to San Diego would not be complete without seeing a spectacular sunset. We sped out of there to Sunset Cliffs (~20 min drive) and enjoyed a beautiful cloudless sunset while watching surfers catch some waves
Places to stay:
We love Starwoods properties and chose the W San Diego for its hip vibe. However, it’s not located in the best part of town – it’s a bit away from Gaslamp District and for the ladies, I did not feel as safe walking back at night. If you choose the W, save cash for cabs. Otherwise, the Westin San Diego is in a great, bustling location and should be quite comfortable
What to eat:
The best food scene in San Diego is going to be either near La Jolla or in the suburbs, and not downtown itself, which is oriented towards people who like the party scene. We tried La Puerta the first night and it wasn’t bad for cheap Mexican food – it’s a typical loud sports bar and the portions are generous.
Our friend Aya took us to the amazing Romesco Mexiterranean Bistro, which is located in a strip mall in Bonita. If you can make the drive out there, do it, and make reservations in advance! The restaurant is part of a group of very successful restaurants that started in Tijuana. We ate tapas style. I most highly recommend their beef cheek tacos (top left), and their smoked salmon carpaccio (bottom right). Pro tip: Check in with your Yelp! app and buy $20 worth of food for $10.
Shang Chen Photography has rebranded to Saavedra Photography
Based in NYC | Open for select photography commissions on Sundays only