03.11.2016 - 03.11.2016 75 °F
Today we took a drive down the coast to San Diego and headed straight for Stone Brewery. We drove through some absolutely beautiful coastal towns. The GPS said we had arrived at Stone but the only thing we saw was a nondescript office building with no signs, next to a trailhead. There were so many cars in the parking lot we knew they couldn't all be hiking. Tim looked on Google maps Street View and sure enough, we were at the right place. We parked and walked towards the front of the building and noticed a winding path that wasn't visible from the street. If you've been to Disney World, imagine the path to A Bug's Life - same thing. That path led us to the entrance of a large foyer that led into a gift shop on one side and a restaurant on the other. On the other side of the restaurant was a large outside eating area and an even larger garden. Kudos to the designer! Everything is hidden from the road and somehow the sound is blocked as well. It's as if you're walking into some hidden beer oasis where all your hopes and dreams come true.
The brewery is huge. It is the largest brewery in Southern California, and the 15th largest overall in the country. We sat outside and ordered from their farm to table menu. Tim ordered the BLT with garlic pepper chips and I ordered the sticky garlic quail legs and and IPA sharp white cheddar beer soup. Everything was really good - including the beer. It was the perfect temperature today so we spent a couple hours at Stone sipping our beers and enjoying the garden.
After Stone we drove into San Diego to see the city and ended up at the marina. There was a Maritime Museum at the marina that gave you access to a number of boats, including two submarines! SOLD! The insides of the submarines were even smaller than I imagined. One was a Russian sub and the other was American - definitely from two different eras. The museum left some things in working order for you to try, like the periscope or you could lie on the beds. The museum also included admission to the 1863 Star of India, "one of the last vessels that helped explore unchartered seas and create the first global oceanic trade routes." Unfortunately, as I've mentioned already, we are visiting at a slow time so a lot of the Star of India was under construction and a lot of the boats we would normally have access to, were closed. But that's ok, I would have been happy with just the submarines.
By the time we were finished exploring, the sun was going down. We took advantage of our admission and boarded the Berkeley (an old ferry) and sat on the back to watch the sun set. We had the whole boat to ourselves. Due to the nearby naval base there was no shortage of things to see - ships, helicopters, something was always sailing or flying by. There was also a Coast Guard helicopter that landed outside a nearby hanger.
To close out our day we stopped at another massive brewery called Ballast Point. They are the 17th largest brewery overall in the country, not far behind Stone. Talk about crowded. It's in a business park and we had to park several blocks away. As we got out of the car a guy drove up in a golf cart - they offer a free shuttle service! We thought they were hosting an event but the driver said they are busy every day of the week. Even so, we were able to get a table in the bar area with no issues, right next to large windows that looked into their brewing area. The food here wasn't too bad - the fried mac and cheese bites were a little heavy on the batter and the garlic/parm wings smelled amazing, but the smell just didn't match the taste. That's ok though, because where the food lacked, the beer more than made up for it. I had the pumpkin beer, which was really good. Tim had a bunch of unique tasters like red velvet oatmeal stout (it smelled like cake!) and a smokey lager.
On our way back to Huntington Beach we had to go through a US Customs and Border check??? Somewhere before San Clemente. They must have been looking for something in particular because we didn't even have to put down our window. Just a quick stop at a stop sign and then a wave through by the officer.
That was it for today! Tomorrow is our last day and we plan on winging it.