After that big family Easter or Passover dinner, why not a drive around town? Here’s one from back in May 2004 that should fit the bill… close to home (maybe you even live on the route), great views, history and you might learn something about your hometown.

It’s Streetcar Suburbs, a twisting drive through Mission Hills, Balboa Park, Hillcrest and environs. These neighborhoods were San Diego’s first suburbs, developed as the streetcar moved up Fifth Avenue around the turn of the last century. There are even a few surprises along the way. Enjoy Streetcar Suburbs»

Mustang on Ash Street in Downtown San Diego.

Not everybody thinks of San Diego being a city of some pretty rugged hills. Truth is, the hills and valleys are what define neighborhoods and cities throughout the county.

So are there San Francisco-like hills in San Diego? Ones that have straight up-and-down roads where Steve McQueen and crew could have shot the classic chase scenes for the movie Bullitt back in 1968?

You betcha.

In 2008, Ford produced a Bullitt Edition of the the Mustang to mark the 40th anniversary of the classic film. Today’s drive for the weekend takes a twisting route through downtown San Diego, Mission Hills and points between to challenge drivers on some genuine urban hill streets, produced when a street grid is projected over mountainous terrain — well, you’ll get the idea.

Along the way, the route passes some classic urban landmarks, such as the El Cortez, Laurel Street and the Craftsman homes in Mission Hills. Stop in at the Aero Club, El Indio or anyplace in Old Town for refreshments. Do keep track of the rather lengthy directions.

Enjoy A Bullitt in the Hills. GO>

Along Highland Valley Road.

What are your top five twisty roads in San Diego County?

On my list is the drive for this weekend, Highland Valley Road, the subject of High on Highland. Hairpins? It’s got ’em. Blind curves? Danger? Steep grades? Narrow lanes? They’re all on Highland Valley Road between Rancho Bernardo and Ramona.

Enjoy this trip that was taken just before the 2007 fires in a sporty Honda Civic SI four door.

Back in January 2009, I took a Nissan Exterra on a wonderful drive through Grapevine Canyon in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It was a freeform day… I had no idea where I was headed except to the desert. After a stop in the park’s visitor center, the suggestion was Grapevine Canyon, which runs from SR-78 near Scissors Crossing up to Montezuma Valley Road.

There’s more than a few rocks here, so you’ll need something with high ground clearance and four-wheel drive. If that Grand Cherokee in the garage hasn’t had its transfer cases exercised in awhile, here’s a good place to get all four wheels working. Enjoy Grape — er — Great Canyon in Anza Borrego

Loveless Cafe
Loveless Cafe

It’s a bit out of town, but some folks have the Christmas weeks off and can fly out of town. This is my blog entry from the first day on the Natchez Trace, a 400-plus mile long National Park that winds from Nashville to Natchez, Miss. I took the drive a few years ago and had a wonderful cruise down the middle of America.

The Natchez Trace is an ancient path that is most known for being the return path for traders who sailed down the Mississippi, sold their goods in New Orleans or Natchez, then walked back home. Lots of history here. So, enjoy the first installment.

By the way, if you’d like to read the rest, just click on the “Natchez Trace” tag at the bottom of the story.

And finally, one sad update: Carol Fay, the biscuit lady, passed away last year. Wish I had talked with her.

Directional sign
Is it thisaway or thataway?

Here’s a great in-town trip for those of you wanting to explore the near-eastern part of the county: Snails and Shakes. Mt. Helix is one of the tallest peaks in the western part of our region, a 1,365-foot symbol of La Mesa. This is a fun drive around the corkscrew roads and former avocado trails of this beautiful area, complete with a visit to a classic burger joint. You’ll have to read the story to find out what snails have to do with this. It’s also a preview of the new Weekend Driver website, which will be fully functioning in a few weeks. Enjoy Snails and Shakes.