Pyra the Explorer is back(!) and in sunny South California for the annual family-trip-that-went-on-hiatus-for-two-years. If you’re the kind of person who can have fun while just staring at fish tanks then come with us as we visit family-friendly destinations on a budget.

The memorial to the man who made the military laugh, Bob Hope

Downtown San Diego is full of historical and cultural treasures, but for today our goal was to (literally) take a walk through.

The Embarcadero is Downtown San Diego’s waterfront featuring a very traveler-friendly sidewalk. First ask yourself: Do you enjoy getting run over by joggers? Strollers? The occasional gooshy ga-ga-eyed walking couple? Taxi bikes? Are you alive? (If you answered “yes” to at least one, then walking the Embarcadero is for you)

I highly recommend getting Frommer’s San Diego 2012 (by Mark Hiss) and following its Walking Tour of the Embarcadero. The book isn’t necessary to run into everything and you’ll still appreciate the sites along the way without it, but my family learned a lot– it was cool to learn the background and history of many sites. True, having a vast body of water in the background is reason enough for a relaxing walk, but we’re not done yet.

Side view and front view of the USS Midway
The Star of India at the Maritime Museum
San Diego once had a very large Tuna fishing fleet

There are ships everywhere! The USS Midway was the mother big ship– this former aircraft carrier was big enough to dwarf the fighter planes peeking from its top. Also close to the walkway are sailing ships such as the Star of India  as well as many smaller fishing boats ones used for fishing San Diego’s once mighty tuna industry.

There’s as many memorials as there are ships along the Embarcadero. AND there’s combinations of the two– memorials for ships! A short float from the USS Midway are large stones etched with names, deeds and memories aboard the USS San Diego. Nearby, life-size laughing statues attentively listen to a military-comedian Bob Hope figure (you can hear one of his routines on speakers surrounding the work). Other memorials include a low-lying, black wall remembering Admiral Sprague and his 13 ships who overwhelmed a larger Japanese force during WWII. 

If the Embarcadero is a waterfront of course there will be a waterfront village. Seaport Village is a lively collection of idyllic, waterfront-themed buildings that lean to the tourist side. Besides restaurants and shops, you can ride its very old carousel which contains hand-carved horses by the same designer as the carousel of Coney Island.

A restaurant at the Seaport Village
A restaurant at the Seaport Village

A lot of moving objects ran into us during our walk through, but we also ran into a lot of history and culture as well along the Embarcadero. Speaking of gooshy-eyed couples, I got gooshy-eyed myself watching the sunset against the waterfront background, but it was the perfect end to walking along this free treasure in Downtown San Diego.

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