Yuma Vacation
January 22, 2009 5:30 PM   Subscribe

Driving from San Diego, CA -> Yuma, AZ in early Febuary to spend a week in Yuma and then returning to San Diego. As our flight comes in early in the morning we're thinking of hitting the San Diego Zoo or Birch Aquarium before heading to Arizona. Suggestions on places to see/go either along the route or within a couple hours drive of Yuma?
posted by Mitheral to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There's a reason you don't have any responses yet - that route goes through the deep desert and not much else. I lived in Tucson for a while and drove to San Diego once, and the only thing I remember along the way was Yuma. There are some nice mountains around the San Diego county line, but you won't miss those as you'll be driving through them.

I would suggest Calexico, but only because I like the band and I wonder what the town is like.
posted by rkent at 6:45 PM on January 22, 2009

If you are really bored, you could check out the Plank Road
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:23 PM on January 22, 2009

The correct link for the Plank Road
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:28 PM on January 22, 2009

Best answer: If you're really into desert-y stuff, there's quite a bit of interesting spots in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, but there's not a whole lot going on in the southern end of the park where I-8 passes through other than an abandoned railroad siding and some palm oases tucked away in the hills. If you're just extra excited by train-y/desert-y stuff, you can venture out to find the largest curved wooden rail trestle in the world spanning Goat Canyon on the abandoned San Diego & Arizona Eastern line, but it'll require a hike. Once you get about five miles, maybe less, beyond the SD county line though, it's just flatness until Yuma - partially desert, partially agricultural land, partially ATV paradise.

The mountains around Jacumba are pretty interesting to roam around in, but they've lately been overrun by immigrants, with the border patrol in pursuit (as you'll undoubtedly notice from the checkpoints and all the green and white SUVs on the road), so they can be a little dangerous. They're tough to get into without a 4x4 anyway.

If you hit it at just the right time, you might be driving through snow in the mountains, in which case you may need chains, or the road will get shut down if it's bad enough. Our mountains are nice, and so's the snow, but the 6" or so that they get may not be a big deal for you depending on where you're from.

Oddly enough, I grew up in Fletcher Hills, named after the guy that built the plank road.
posted by LionIndex at 8:36 PM on January 22, 2009

Best answer: Just to make sure I understand, you're flying to San Diego then driving to Yuma. Hopefully, you've got family or something to see in Yuma.

Birch Aquarium is kind of disappointing to me. It's nice, but rather small. The San Diego Zoo is cool and right near the airport. It's also in Balboa Park which is a great place to visit while you're in San Diego.

As to the drive to Yuma, well, there just isn't much. I made that trip with some friends last summer. If it's any help to your planning, here's my blog post about the drive.
posted by 26.2 at 8:44 PM on January 22, 2009

My firefox crashed, and I lost my pretty response with links.

In short:
- Birch Aquarium is quite disappointing.
- Go to the SD Zoo/walk around Balboa Park instead. Some of the museums are actually free. Check before you head out.
- At Balboa Park, I recommend eating at the Prado Restaurant (tucked in the House of Hospitality)
- If you have the time, visit the beach at sunset. Too cold to do much else in February, but the sunsets are breathtaking. Just sit/stand there and take in the beauty silently :)
posted by mittenedsex at 11:03 AM on January 23, 2009

Response by poster: 26.2 writes "Just to make sure I understand, you're flying to San Diego then driving to Yuma. Hopefully, you've got family or something to see in Yuma."

Yes and yes.

We're only wanting to spend a couple hours in San Diego which is why we we're considering Birch as an alternative to the Zoo. Mostly as a break to let our five year old run around in between a few hours on the plane and a few hours in the car.

The goat canyon trestle looks awesome but unfortunately too much of a hike. Centre of the World looks at least mildly interesting 26.2 and , in theory, it'll be open when we are passing through.
posted by Mitheral at 5:20 PM on January 23, 2009

For that kind of break for a five year old, the Birch might be okay. If it's not a hit with your child, you could head over to the park at La Jolla cove. You can walk down to Children's Pool cove to see and smell the seals and sea lions.

If you had more time Legoland (which is about 30 minutes North of San Diego) or the Zoo would tickle a 5 year old.
posted by 26.2 at 9:05 PM on January 23, 2009

Response by poster: As it end up we didn't do anything in San Diego. When we got there it was pouring rain and insanely windy so we just ponied up and started driving. Right into a snow storm with multiple cars rolled over in the ditch all the way up the pass.

Close into Yuma there is both a desert recreation area at Grey's Well (with shiny new Buttercup Ranger Station) and the aformentioned Centre of the World. The former was free (if you weren't camping or operating a OHV) and the second was two bucks.

Walking out on the dunes was interesting and centre of the world was worth the $2 if only to find out that some mayors actually wear a mayor sash ala Quimby.

And yes there were border patrol everywhere. Both the region and sector head quarters are in Yuma. Easily 1 in 250 cars we passed on the highway had the green stripe. They have their own planes and three times we needed to go through check points on the highway. It's quite surreal.

Most of the highway is posted emergancy stopping only which was quite disappointing as it limited picture taking.
posted by Mitheral at 9:49 AM on February 25, 2009

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