By Lauren Dyer, Marine Spouse
If you’re PCSing to Southern California, specifically MCAS Miramar, then you’re in for a treat. The weather is usually always sunny and warm. There are a ton of things to keep yourself entertained, and being right on the ocean means there are lots of beaches to enjoy. The cost of living in San Diego is a lot higher than many other duty stations, but the beautiful scenery and all the sights make up for the cost.
MCAS Miramar is located in San Diego, right on the coast of Southern California. If you aren’t already familiar with the area, then you should know it’s called “Sunny San Diego” for a reason. The coastal climate is wonderful, with average highs in the 70s and lows in the 60s.
San Diego is full of things to do and has a seemingly unlimited amount of restaurants. There are people from all walks of life, so you will get to experience many other cultures and traditions.
MCAS Miramar Base Info
There are multiple housing choices whether you want to live on base or off through Lincoln Military Housing. These include The Village at Serra Mesa, Chesterton Townhomes, Murphy Canyon (Canyon View), Bayview Hills, La Mesa Park, and much more.
If you’re looking to save some of your BAH, then Bayview Hills is probably the place for you. However, this housing is located in National City which is south of the base. This means that you will be fighting the horrific San Diego traffic when you’re traveling North in the morning and South in the evening.
The Village at Serra Mesa or Murphy Canyon are great options if you want to be a little closer to the Miramar base. Each of these housing areas are only about 15 minutes from base, and there’s not too much traffic to worry about, which is always a plus.
There tends to be a long waiting list for certain housing communities, especially the ones that accept pets, so you’ll want to get on the list as soon as possible. If you’re in desperate need of a house immediately, then you’ll be choosing from the limited options on the hot sheet.
Balboa is the Naval Hospital that is closest to Miramar. If you need an emergency department, a clinic, a pharmacy, or really anything else, then Balboa is where you need to go.
There is one commissary on base, which always seems to be busy. If you want to go grocery shopping on payday, then it is highly recommended that you go to Vons, Sprouts, or any other grocery store rather than the commissary.
Marine Corps Exchange
There is one large MCX on base and two smaller ones as well. They recently started utilizing the large MCX for their pharmacy so wait times would decrease in the pharmacy next to medical. The cost of living in San Diego is fairly high, so the MCX is a good place to go if you want to save a little money while doing your shopping.
Traffic may not be quite as bad in San Diego as it is at other duty stations, but it can still be pretty rough. If you’re living in Southern San Diego, then you’ll be stuck in traffic when you head north in the morning and south in the evening. Living close to base is your best bet if you don’t want to deal with any traffic. There are also quite a few backroads so that you can avoid the highway and thus avoid most of the traffic.
The weather in San Diego is essentially the same year-round. The average temperature in the summer runs in the 70s to low 80s, while in the winter lows are in the high 50s and 60s. The rainy season is typically in the winter months, especially in January. “June Gloom” is also something you’ll learn to love. It really is always sunny, except in June. During the month of June, the sun likes to hide behind the clouds, and the temperature is usually in the low 70s. After dealing with constant sunshine for a few months, you’ll be glad when the “June Gloom” comes around.
If you want authentic Mexican food, then San Diego is the place for you. You will find endless amounts of good Mexican food, especially if you visit Old Town. Old Town marks the site of the first Spanish settlement on the West Coast, which is why it’s known for its Mexican heritage. You might also want to try the California burrito. If you like seafood and sushi, then you’ll want to check out The Fish Market or Oceana Coastal Kitchen. These restaurants specialize in seafood and sushi, but they also offer vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free items.
Food trucks are also huge in San Diego. You can often find them in Balboa Park or downtown. The food trucks have everything from pulled pork sandwiches for those of you who miss the east coast BBQ, to gumbo for those who want New Orleans traditional meals. There’s a ton of variety in San Diego, so you can find something to enjoy no matter what you’re craving.
Things to Do
There are an endless amount of things to do if you get stationed at Miramar, whether you want to do something locally or travel a little bit.
If you want to stay in San Diego, you can start by going hiking at any of the many trails located nearby. You could choose to travel up north a short way to the La Jolla cliffs where you’ll see an endless view of sea lions. You could also choose to go to the infamous “Potato Chip Rock.” You can either hike up the paved side, which has a steep incline and is typically done by people who like a challenge, or you could hike up the other side, which isn’t paved and is slightly longer but isn’t nearly as steep. And of course, you’ll want to check out all of the unique beaches that San Diego has to offer, including Glass Beach. If you like baseball you can also go to a San Diego Padres games!
SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo and also very close to Miramar and are especially fun if you have little ones. SeaWorld allows active duty members and their dependents in for free once a year. The San Diego Zoo also recently changed their policy, so the active duty member gets in for free, and all dependents receive a military discount.
If you want to do a little traveling, you could make the trip to Anaheim, where Disneyland is located. Universal Studios is slightly farther away than Disneyland but is still definitely worth the drive. Taking a day trip to Los Angeles is another option, but it’s about a 2.5-hour drive. However, seeing the Hollywood sign or driving through Beverly Hills is always fun. It’s additionally extremely common to drive to the Anza-Borrego Desert to either hike and camp or drive around with your ATV.
If you are lucky enough to get stationed at MCAS Miramar, you will always have something to do or somewhere new to eat. From visiting the many beaches or the hiking trails to taste testing at the many restaurants you won’t be bored. There are always opportunities to meet new people and experience different cultures.
For more info about the area, go to PCSgrades.com where you can see what other military families think about MCAS Miramar and the entire area. Or if you are already living life in southern California, leave a housing or neighborhood review for your fellow military families.
Author: Lauren Dyer, is a Marine Corps spouse, freelance writer and newbie blogger, with more than 1,000 views each month on her blog Paws for Thought. She enjoys spending time at the beach with her husband and dog, Abbey. Her hobbies include reading, taking photos, and of course, playing with her sweet puppy. She has resided on both the east coast and west coast, but is currently enjoying her time in Sunny San Diego.