Do you love to read or write? I have a number of favorite locations in San Diego where I can pick up a book or pen while enjoying a pleasant view and relative peace. I find these places to be comfortable, inspiring and expansive for the mind. But, of course, my list is completely subjective. One can find countless benches, tables, parks and beaches in sunny San Diego.
Some readers and writers might like to place themselves in a coffee shop, or at the center of a bustling scene. Others might like to be surrounded by natural or man-made beauty. Others simply want solitude. Personally, I prefer the latter two–with a bustling scene in the quiet distance, perhaps.
Here are my 12 favorite spots, in no particular order:
San Diego Central Library’s amazing Reading Room. (See the above photo.)
Downtown San Diego’s large new Central Library is just a wonderful place all around. But perhaps its best feature is a gigantic eighth floor Reading Room, crowned by the building’s fantastic lattice dome. Comfortable sofas and easy chairs allow patrons to gaze through enormous windows out toward San Diego’s South Bay. And the Reading Room is so nice and quiet.
Any bench near the water in San Diego Bay’s Crescent Area.
If you don’t mind the occasional company of homeless people, San Diego Bay’s Crescent Area is a fine place to stretch one’s legs and mind. It’s a not-very-touristy stretch between the Grape Street Pier and the Coast Guard Station, with a number of comfortable wooden benches facing picturesque boats moored in the bay. Bicyclists and joggers pass by frequently and gulls and pigeons swing by for an occasional visit. The wide view, stretching across the bay to Point Loma, always puts me in a thoughtful mood.
Picnic tables near the water at Embarcadero Marina Park North.
When writing, I like mental peace. I find this state of mind can be most easily reached inside a happy, carefree atmosphere. So I often seek out an available picnic table near the water at Embarcadero Marina Park North. The blue bay sparkles, boats sail past serenely, families laugh on the grass, colorful kites glide overhead. Sometimes I just sit and do nothing.
The Inamori Pavilion at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
Would you like to sit at a table overlooking a tranquil koi pond and waterfall? I would! That’s why I have become a member of the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. I wrote two short stories recently while sitting at one table. They are titled An Old Man on a Bus and Waterfall Tears.
The little-known Administrative Courtyard in Balboa Park.
I discovered this perfect, heaven-like park a couple of years ago. It’s called the Balboa Park Administrative Building Courtyard and it’s located in the park’s Inspiration Point area, behind the Balboa Park Administration Building. Almost nobody goes there. You might have the entire beautiful place all to yourself. A perfect sunny place to really concentrate.
A bench, a picnic table or the grass on Shelter Island.
I love Shelter Island–especially the southwest end. Few tourists, great views, grassy lawns, a wonderful pier. When I walk along the park-like paths I feel as though I’m on vacation. Many benches and picnic tables along the length of Shelter Island make ideal places to read or write. Or just bring a blanket and lie down on the grass. It’s so pleasant you might fall asleep!
A spot near the ocean at Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla.
When you’re visiting one of the most beautiful locations in the world, of course you’ll feel inspired. After finding a spot to read or write for a bit, get up and walk along the cliffs. Breathe in the fresh sea air. Watch birds, seals and the endlessly crashing waves. You’ll feel so alive.
An isolated picnic table at Silver Strand State Beach.
Silver Strand State Beach can be lonely, especially off-season and on the San Diego Bay side. There are usually dozens and dozens of picnic tables that are empty. Walk or pedal down the Silver Strand bike path, perhaps, and rest for awhile at a table. Then take out a book or your laptop or notepad. If you’d like to get up and stretch your legs, walk under the highway to the Pacific Ocean side, take your shoes off, walk on the beach and watch kitesurfers.
Any bench above the water on the Ocean Beach Pier.
Sit on a bench out on the long Ocean Beach Pier and you’ll feel that you’re far from land–in a magical place between airy blue heaven and the rolling, living blue water below. When you glance up from your book or laptop, you’ll see fishermen sharing the rail with patient pelicans, and surfers bobbing below waiting for their perfect wave. But bring a jacket. The ocean wind can be chilly, even in summer.
A spot beside San Diego Bay at Spanish Landing.
This is another fine place to sit by the water. Spanish Landing is an uncrowded retreat from city life with a view of the marinas behind Harbor Island. You might hear aircraft taking off from nearby Lindbergh Field, but I seldom notice. There are many benches along the grassy park to choose from. Here you can also read interesting historical markers. With a little imagination, you might visualize Spanish explorers landing here many centuries ago.
Any bench at Liberty Station, particularly by the boat channel.
Liberty Station has many walking paths and benches where anyone can sit down to think or simply relax. My favorite spots overlook the boat channel. Light twinkles from the water, the breeze is pleasant, and paddleboarders and kayakers occasionally coast on by. There’s no hurry to do anything. If I write or read just a few words, I’m happy.
A hidden bench beside the Timken Museum of Art.
Against the north wall of the Timken Museum in Balboa Park, tucked behind a few trees, you’ll discover a couple of hard concrete benches. During a hot summer day they are so nice and cool! One can peer between foliage at the grassy area near the Botanical Building and reflecting pool, where people play, picnic and walk dogs. It’s like your own secret space in green heaven. But bring a seat cushion if you sit there for long!
Where are your favorite places to read or write? Leave a comment!
All of these photos are from my blog Cool San Diego Sights. As you can see, there’s quite a lot that you can investigate! To see thousands of images from around San Diego, simply click around my website!
I just finished writing another short story. It’s very emotional. It’s called An Old Man on a Bus. Click the link if you’d like to read it!
Today I went to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. I’m a new member.
After walking along the beautiful stream in the garden’s canyon, and crossing a few bridges, I sat down at a table overlooking the moat and magnificent waterfall near the Inamori Pavilion. And I pulled out my notebook.
A story came to me at once. From where, I don’t know. Perhaps from the falling water. Perhaps from the water’s voice. I really don’t know.
The story is about grieving, the passage of time and release. It’s just a tiny, tiny little story, but I think it might strike deeply. You can read it very quickly on one of my other blogs, Short Stories by Richard, by simply clicking here. If you like it, there are ten other very short stories that you might also enjoy. Just click around.
I’ll be sitting at that table often this year. So I’m positive coming stories will also be filled with beauty, hope and joy. The garden inspires those things, most of all.
Oh–I recently provided a quick photo tour of the Japanese Friendship Garden on my blog Beautiful Balboa Park. You can check out those posts here and here.
What is it like to be almost struck by lightning? If you’re a writer, the answer to others might sound a bit strange.
Well, I was almost struck. On Longs Peak, coming down from the summit, about 20 years ago. That one flash of lightning stabbed so near my heart, and electrified my mind with something so majestic and indefinite, that I had to write something down. In the form of a story.
Author Roald Dahl was celebrated today in Balboa Park! Who is Roald Dahl? He was the amazing writer who gave the world Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The BFG, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, The Witches . . . and many other extraordinary stories that have been enjoyed by millions of children and adults.
Roald Dahl, who would have been a hundred years old this year, is being honored around the world in September, and Balboa Park had its own very special celebration today. The good people of Write Out Loud put the whole thing together. You might have seen my posts about various other events Write Out Loud has organized, including TwainFest in Old Town and the Moby Dick Reading Marathon on the tall ship Star of India.
I took a few photos while wandering about Balboa Park, but the most colorful ones show the story box reading of The Magic Finger on the patio outside the House of England. By the way, the story box is a form of street theatre in Japan, where it is known as Kamishibai.
I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!
I haven’t walked or blogged much in the past few weeks. I’m a bit under the weather. I’ll try to get out on Sunday to find something interesting!
I’ve been thinking differently about Cool San Diego Sights lately. So many hours have been spent–mostly pleasurable ones–in building my blog. But what does all this effort amount to? I enjoy walking and making cool discoveries. It feels good to preserve and share those discoveries. And to spread some sunshine. Happiness in this troubled old world is a good thing.
I enjoy the interaction with other bloggers and people on social media, even if I only sit at my computer for a short while each day.
I enjoy the occasional surprises, such as being contacted by artists and others whose work I’ve documented. That is really amazing!
I’ve also been fortunate in rare instances to do some significant good, or touch people in a way that can make a real difference. There are three achievements in particular that I thought might be worth sharing again.
The first was helping in a small way to uncover an important part of San Diego and United States Navy history. The Navy Bicentennial Commemorative Plaque is on public display on the Greatest Generation Walk, a few steps from the USS Midway Museum, and it is passed by thousands of people every day. But it seemed all knowledge of its origin had been lost. I merely posted a plea: help solve a mystery! And, mysteriously, thanks to the magic of the internet–and perhaps word of mouth–over time information trickled in. Finally I was sent several amazing old photographs of the plaque’s creators and its forging, and a typewritten article revealing the details of its origin. I titled that post Creating a plaque: Navy history in San Diego revealed!
A second achievement, the one that probably makes the biggest difference in the lives of people, was a post I wrote about how to help the homeless in San Diego. I am absolutely astonished at how almost every single day, people coming to my blog click the links to the charities and organizations that strive to assist the homeless. There have been hundreds of clicks. I seldom ask my readers to share anything on my blog, but if you are so inclined, I titled that post 20 Ways To Help the Homeless in San Diego.
And finally, I wrote a short story that seems to have touched many deeply. It has even gone a bit viral in surprising places all around the world. It’s about how to change the world. I titled that post A short story to make you smile and cry. Realizing short stories don’t really fit on a photo blog about San Diego, I created another blog for my short works of fiction. If you like to read, perhaps click Short Stories by Richard.
Thank you all for following Cool San Diego Sights. This blogging thing is a strange, mysterious undertaking. Hundreds of visitors each day, from everywhere around the planet, most coming from search engines, and I have no idea who those people are. The whole experience has changed my life in far too many ways to mention. For the better! When I first started the blog, I had no notion that I would arrive here.
Well, hopefully on to more adventures! Have a great rest of the weekend!