Motels were once popular with families on eastern highway.

If you’re looking for something close-in this weekend, how about a cruise down El Cajon Boulevard, what one perhaps too-dreamy city planner once called the “Champs Elysees of San Diego.” The wide, mostly straight boulevard runs from Normal Street and Park Boulevard east to Main Street in El Cajon, with a bit of an interruption from Baltimore Drive in La Mesa to Chase Avenue in El Cajon (a little thing called Interstate 8 obliterated it in the ’60s).

It’s historic… this was once the gateway to the east. You’ll see Historic Highway 80
signs along the way, which explains its width and impressive nature, even if it’s not the Champs Elysees.

This drive takes you down the sometimes seedy, sometimes spicy road. It was once the place where San Diegans bought cars (I bought my first one on this street), fancy furniture, dined and found a variety of entertainment. Today, you’ll see relics like Rudford’s Diner, several great spaghetti joints, old motels and art deco storefronts as relics of the past. The present are the dynamics of San Diego as an international city, as you’ll see signs in who knows how many different languages, reflecting cultures from far-off Asia and Africa. It’s a real eye-opener if you haven’t taken the cruise for awhile.

Enjoy your cruise down El Cajon Boulevard.

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