Sixty-thousand passengers per day are expected to pass through the San Diego International Airport over the Thanksgiving holiday period. Hopefully, some of the harried travelers will take time to notice and enjoy this very special park across the way.
Spanish Landing Park, 3900 North Harbor Drive, is a mile-long, narrow 21-acre park that parallels the busy road on one side and the West Basin with the marinas of Harbor Island on the other. Located directly across from the busy San Diego International Airport (also known as Lindbergh Field), this is a popular stopping-off point when visiting the airport. It offers a good vantage point for watching the booming jets land and take off. San Diego is one of the rare cities to have the benefit of a scenic park right at the doorstep of its major international airport.
At the eastern end of Spanish Landing is the Cancer Survivor Park with eight impressive life-size bronze statues by Marlo Bartels, easily noticeable from N. Harbor Drive. They were donated by the Richard & Annette Bloch Foundation, as a tribute to the living and a reminder that cancer doesn't mean death. A nearby path leads to a large white gazebo with a vibrant-blue mosaic dome and six brightly-colored benches. There are plaques throughout with encouraging writings on them like: “Don't equate death and cancer,” and “Make up your mind that when your cancer is gone, you are through with it.”
A walking path and separate bikeway follow along the entire water side of the park that offer a pleasant view of the Harbor Island marinas with hundreds of yachts, fishing vessels, and sailboats. An occasional pleasure boat or helicopter passes by as I walk along the waterside path. There are benches and many eucalyptus trees for shade. At the west end of the park is a children's playgrounds, small beach and restrooms. An occasional fisherman can be found along the rocky wall facing the quay. There's plenty of metered parking available ($1 per hour).
Located in the middle of the grounds is a historical landmark that commemorates the 1769 meeting of the Gaspar De Portolá and Father Junípero Serra expeditions that lead to the Spanish occupation of Alta California. Father Serra, founder of nine California missions was canonized by Pope Francis on September 23, 2015.
One of my favorite bike rides in San Diego is the route which starts at the Broadway Pier and extends north along the Bay and winds through Spanish Landing Park and then on to Shelter Island in Point Loma. The one-mile ride through Spanish Landing Park is always interesting. I usually go to the very end where the pavement turns to gravel and walk my bike around and under the N. Harbor Drive bridge. From here, there is a path to the clearly visible Halsey Road pedestrian bridge, which is a nice alternative to biking or walking on Harbor Drive.
After crossing the bridge, there is the historical landmark ship, USS Recruit, which was used by the US Navy for training up to 50,000 new recruits per year from 1949 until it was closed in 1997. The landlocked “dummy” training ship was affectionately called, the USS Neversail. From here, I make a quick stop at the nearby Starbuck's (2556 Laning Road) before heading on to Shelter Island in Point Loma.
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