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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: Cabrillo National Monument

Chillin in San Diego, California

Paula Gaston

One of the highlights on this road trip were the days we spent in San Diego. After hectic days of visiting Disneyland and a wedding in Temecula, it was nice to be able to relax. San Diego is the southernmost city of California and borders Mexico. There are about 1.5 million inhabitants in San Diego, and it is widely known for it's year-round perfect weather, beaches and chill life style. The sun was hiding from us but it didn't really matter so much. We toured around the city for a couple of days, and enjoyed some Mexican food which I highly recommend to everyone visiting this city. 



In 1542, a European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped onto American soil in this very same spot. He wrote notes about his encounters with locals, which have given the historians some important knowledge. 

Today Cabrillo National Monument is part of the National Parks Service. Among the sights at the monument, one can also visit the Old Point Loma Lighthouse on the premises. Point Loma offers amazing views of the ocean, the city of San Diego, the Navy Base and even all the way to Mexico. At the coast line one can see the New Point Loma Lighthouse (which I wrote about in my previous post) and some tide pools which appear during the winter months. Cabrillo National Monument is at: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, San Diego, CA 92106.


The missions on the California coast were communities established by Spanish missionaries in 18th and 19th centuries. The missionaries were Fransiskans Frians, and along with their religion, they also brought their culture to California. Mission San Diego was the first one to ever be built before the missionaries headed up north, and therefore can be called the birth place of Christianity in the United States. It was established by Junipero Serra in 1769. The actual mission building was destroyed in a fire and later occupied by the army during the Mexican-American war and left in ruins. It has been totally rebuilt since then. They are still doing some archeological excavations by the mission and the items found can be seen inside the museum.

Today most of the missions serve as churches and museums. They are largely funded by tourism, and I earlier wrote about our visit to Mission San Miguel. Mission San Diego de Alcala can be found from: 10818 San Diego Mission Road, San Diego, CA 92108.


This was the original site of the mission mentioned above, and where everything began. The mission was here for five years and after that it was moved to it's current location. The purpose of this was to find a spot where the soil was better for producing food. A Spanish settlement still stayed at the old location and during this time Old Town San Diego was born. Before those times it was mostly occupied by American Indians.

Today the Old Town is a protected park and a popular among the tourists. There are several museums, shops and restaurants in the old buildings in the area. After touring around, we decided to have lunch in one of the idyllic restaurants. You can either drive or take the local train to The Old Town. Their visitor center is at: 2415 San Diego Avenue, Suite 104, San Diego, CA 92110

In the old school building we also met an old fashioned teacher. 

In the old school building we also met an old fashioned teacher. 

In Old Town San Diego you can get the feel of old Mexico and eat some Mexican food. 

In Old Town San Diego you can get the feel of old Mexico and eat some Mexican food. 


The Gaslamp Quarter located in downtown San Diego is a historical block with some old Victorian houses. It was established in 1867 when Alonzo Horton brought in some gas lamps in order to move the downtown closer to the ocean. Today this area is known for its night life and events, and has plenty of nice restaurants. We had a nice afternoon stroll in the Gaslamp Quarter and sat down for some ice cream in one of the restaurants. 


Balboa Park  is close to downtown and a fun way to spend some time. It is the center of San Diego's museums and the entrance to the famous San Diego Zoo. We visited Balboa Park because we wanted to see the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages. These little houses are mostly open on the weekends and a great way to get to know some foreign cultures. They can be found at: 2191 West Pan American Rd, San Diego, CA 92101.

House of Finland - from my home country

House of Finland - from my home country


Most of San Diego practically follows the coast line, so there are plenty of beaches to choose from. We were not lucky enough to enjoy the beach weather, but we did stop by a couple of the beaches. We saw so many cool beach houses, and a few of the beaches had piers full of entertainment and restaurants. 

Two days in San Diego went by quickly and we felt like we didn't get to see everything we wanted. From my previous trip to San Diego, I remember the beautiful La Jolla, and I also heard that Coronado is well worth a visit. We on the other hand were headed to some new adventures, so we had to say our good byes to lovely San Diego.

Visiting Top Gun Movie Sites in San Diego

Paula Gaston

I'm sure everyone remembers the movie Top Gun which is still one of the great classic American movies. Our road trip in Southern California continued from Disneyland and Temecula to San Diego, where we visited a couple of the Top Gun filming locations. 


On our first morning in San Diego we drove up to the Cabrillo National Monument. The views there were amazing! One can see the city of San Diego, the navy base, the ocean and even all the way down to Mexico if the weather is clear. There are two lighthouses by the monument. The older one you can go in for a visit but the other one is a little harder to find. The New Point Loma Lighthouse is down by the tide pools and it replaced the old light station in 1891 which was having trouble operating in heavy fog. Right next to the New Point Loma Lighthouse there are some houses which are now used by the coast guard. One of them was featured as Viper's house (Tom Skerritt) in Top Gun. In the movie there is a scene where Maverick (Tom Cruise) visits Viper at his house. 

Unfortunately one can not visit the New Point Loma Lighthouse or the houses, but you can see them from the monument. 

They can be found at: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106.

House in the movie (YouTube)


Another place that we visited was the Kansas City Barbeque in downtown San Diego. We wanted to do a little walk downtown, but since we were already getting hungry, we stopped for some food here first. When filming Top Gun a director from Paramount Studios stopped here for a beer and later brought in the director Tony Scott. They both liked the place and so it is seen in two different spots in the movie. Maverick and Goose (Anthony Edwards) meet in the bar with Charlie (Kelly McGillis) and Goose's wife Carole (Meg Ryan), and sing "Great Balls of Fire". Also one of the closing scenes was filmed here.

The owners of the restaurant kept some mementos and started collecting other Top Gun related things. In 2008 a fire destroyed the building but they were able to save most of the mementos. Kansas City Barbeque was re-built to look the same as it was when they filmed the movie. There is at least the old piano and a jukebox which can be seen in Top Gun. The walls are covered with autographed photographs and other Top Gun gear. Even though the visit to this place was not in our original plan, it was well worth it and we got our tummies full. 

Maverick in the bar and the bar today on the right.

Maverick in the bar and the bar today on the right.

The famous piano.

The famous piano.

And this is what it looked like in the movie:

Great balls of fire (YouTube)

Kansas City Barbeque can be found at: 600 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101.

We missed one known filming location: Charlie's house. The house has been empty for a long time but, it is protected since it is an old Victorian house. In recent years they have painted the house. I read from somewhere that they are building a luxury hotel next to the house, and thinking of converting it into a souvenir shop. We would have loved to stop by, but it was not really on our route, and we didn't have so much time to drive around. Oh well, next time!

The address of the Charlien House is: 102 Pacific Street, Oceancide, San Diego, CA, 92054.