Day Trip: Anza-Borrego Desert

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a unique destination for anyone looking for a fun day trip from San Diego. There are two classes of people: those who love the desert and those who hate the desert. I happen to be one who enjoys the bizarre plants, resourceful animals, and how the mountains change colors at sunset. I hadn’t been to Anza-Borrego in several years and it was time to revisit one of my favorite places in California!

My roommate headed out bright and early to beat the heat. On our way through Ramona, we had an unfortunate accident with a coyote – our trip was not off to a great start. We drowned our sorrows with coffee and a bite to eat from Soups and Such in Julian. Their farm-to-table soups and salads are noteworthy. Weather permitting, their patio is the perfect spot to socialize with the locals. If time is on your side, spend a few hours strolling around Julian’s shops and quirky stores. Don’t forget to try a slice of apple pie and indulge in a pint of hard cider!

Once my roommate and I accepted our fates as wildlife murderers, we continued on our journey. It was interesting to watch the vegetation change from pine trees to ocotillo shrubs as we descended down the mountain. The red dirt turned into white sand and the air shifted from crisply cool to densely hot. Thirty minutes into my wonder, we arrived at the Visitor’s Center and I snapped back to reality. We absentmindedly wandered into a group tour of the center; I learned some useful facts about desert wildlife. There is a small nature museum for those wanting to delve deeper into ecosystems. We rounded out our visit with a 3-mile hike on the trails that snake their way through the park.

With time to kill, we planned a detour to check out the world-renowned metal sculptures at Galleta Meadows. The 130+ behemoth sculptures are the brainchild of Ricardo Breceda; permanent fixations in the middle of nowhere. Galleta Meadows is hidden in plain sight. Make sure to not rush this experience as the collection is strewn across several acres of property. My favorite pieces were the sea serpent/dragon, the cowboy and his mule, and the quarrelsome horses. Even if you don’t visit the park, Breceda’s artwork is worth the trip in and of itself.

Anza-Borrego has so much to offer for adventurous souls. A few takeaway points include visiting in the spring or fall to avoid extreme temperatures and to pack a hat, several layers, sunscreen, and plenty of water. Now, get out there and play in the sand for a day!

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