a walking tour by Carol Mendel
The charm of a city lies not only in its public buildings and attractions, but also in its residential areas. San Diego has many fine ones, each with its own special atmosphere. Just a few blocks from Shelter Island, La Playa ("the beach") is one of the best.
The special charm of La Playa lies in its quiet, elegant serenity. Its homes, whether built in the 1920's or the 21st Century, reflect the pride and care of their owners. Its lawns and gardens are beautifully kept, and unlike most areas of San Diego, it is blessed with many trees. Although only a few minutes from downtown, La Playa provides a sanctuary from the noise and bustle of city life. A walk along its beach and its tree-shaded streets is a rewarding and relaxing experience.
Distance: Two miles. Time: An hour
MAP of the walking tour
Bessemer Street is the sole reminder of what was once to be a steel plant on Point Loma. In 1889, a Pittsburgh steel magnate decided that Point Loma would make a good spot for his West Coast operations. The ore would be brought up for processing from Baja California, Mexico. But before operations ever got beyond turning out a few nails, he died. His successors, deciding that Point Loma was not a good location after all, closed the plant.
Follow Bessemer Street down to the water. The lee created by Shelter Island makes a superior boat harbor. To your left, beyond a white picket pier, is the San Diego Yacht Club, and to your right, the Southwestern Yacht Club. From 1987 to 1995, the San Diego Yacht Club was the home of the America's Cup yachting trophy.
In a few minutes the path ends at San Antonio Avenue. As the path meets the road, you will see on your left a small white wooden pier, graced by a charming sign proclaiming it La Playa Yacht Club. Since the pier is so small, you might assume that the name is simply a humorous gesture, but in fact this is an actual yacht club, composed of approximately 75 families that currently live (or formerly lived) in this neighborhood.
Turn right at Owen Street, then left at San Elijo Street. This block of San Elijo is steep, but it makes possible the fantastic views along the rest of the walk.
San Elijo Street stops at Rogers Street, but a footpath on city-owned land takes you across to Armada Terrace. To find the footpath, walk up the driveway to your left about ten yards, and you will see the footpath on your right.
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Walking tours in this series:
Cabrillo National Monument
Downtown San Diego
Mission Bay Park
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