By Audrey Smith, Navy Spouse

It’s been exactly one year since our family of four made the cross-country move to San Diego from Georgia. In many ways, California has served as an ideal location for us. Because we fancy ourselves as an outdoorsy clan, the Golden State has yet to disappoint. Between the great trails and sandy beaches, we’ve been deliriously happy here.  Yes, I love being stationed in San Diego!

Why I Love San Diego

During our first month, we toured the San Diego de Alcalá, one of the 21 California Missions that presented Christianity to the west coast. It’s rich with history and relics. We also took our boys tide-pooling at the Cabrillo National Monument. The unforgettable views will take your breath away. We also stood underneath the “Kissing Statue,” a 25-foot statue that depicts the famous 1945 Times Square embrace between a sailor and a nurse. It’s also known as the Unconditional Surrender. It was a wild 30 days, because we also became San Diego Zoo members. Since my husband is active duty, he doesn’t need a pass!

If you love sunshine and adventure, this is your town!

For the Outdoor Enthusiasts

Hollenbeck Canyon: Since our children are preschool aged, one of our first priorities was to find activities that would be more accommodating. Have you ever gone hiking, just to spend the morning in panic mode as you yelled “watch out for that cliff!” every few seconds? I know I’m not the only one who’s gone gray from watching a tiny explorer push every boundary.  With that, we discovered a kid and pet friendly trail in Jamul. Finally, our little ones could walk freely—for the most part!

Lake Miramar Trail: If you’re into trail running or mountain biking with scenic lake views, this spot will become a favorite. With varying skill levels, each hiker in your family should be satisfied.

Knott Grove Trail: Bird watchers will enjoy this 3 mile trail in the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve. You’ll also find small ponds, as well as a lovely memorial park.


Windansea Beach: Located in La Jolla, this spot has a little something to offer to everyone. Whether you’re a surfer jonesing for endless barrels—or you’re looking for a romantic sunset stroll, you’ll fall in love with this famous beach. Oh, and did I mention the gorgeous rock formations? Put this on your San Diego “bucket list”, kids.

Coronado: There are several areas in Coronado to fulfill your beach needs. Central Beach has long stretches of sand with mansions in the background. Ferry Landing Marketplace has downtown views, and a fishing pier. There’s also something that deserves recognition. On our first beach trip to Coronado, something unusual caught my eye, and I’m certain you’ll notice it as well: The sand sparkles with what resembles gold. Don’t worry; it’s not pollution (which was my mom’s initial thought). The golden flakes are actually a mineral that’s rarely found in beach sand.

For Everyone and Anyone

Old Town San Diego: Take a stroll through Old Town, and enjoy the many restaurants and shops. Your children will also enjoy the quaint Cousins Candy Shop too. The area has much entertainment to provide as well. If you’re a theater dweeb like I am, take in a live performance at the Cygnet Theater.

Seaport Village: This adorable hamlet in San Diego has everything! As you walk along the sea, you’ll find magicians, one-man bands, boutiques, and sidewalk eateries.

Tell us why you love being stationed in Southern California in the comment section below. Better yet, go to and review your current neighborhood or base housing and help other military families as they relocate here.


PCSgrades Author: Audrey Smith is a Navy wife soaking up the sun in San Diego. She is a freelance writer for Military Spouse and a copy editor for Sherri Brown Coaching. She enjoys exploring the outdoors with her husband, Tim, and their two adorable toddlers, Sawyer and Henry.