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I was invited on my first-ever car press trip – thanks to KIA Motors, and we drove all over San Diego! I thought I’d use it as a way to share spots where you can find Latino love.

First – how this happened. I’d always heard about these trips and looked forward to seeing what it is all about. Would we each receive a car? People (my family) always ask that. Well, not quite, but just about everything else. KIA has some awesome rebranding going on and invited 50 bloggers and influencers out for a weekend to ride and drive all of their models. I met other entrepreneurs, writers, artists, journalists, and bloggers. The event lasted two days, allowing us the chance to eventually mingle with one another and make introductions.

The San Diego Hard Rock Hotel hosted our event, located in the Gaslamp Quarter. If you ever are in San Diego, check out this hotel. It’s all about rock n roll, every aspect is geared to make you feel like a legit rock star. Not a pop star – but ROCK star as in Lenny Kravitz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, David Bowie. Old school flavor.

As soon as we arrived and checked in, we headed over to the KIA hospitality suite where a huge spread of food, videos games..and a CRAFT ROOM awaited us!           kia4

We each received a toy guitar to decorate that would later be used as the centerpieces for the closing event. My friends, Denise from Pearmama and Monique from Curves and Chaos were also part of the group and the three of us invaded that craft table!

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When in doubt add sequins and glitter – and I did just that! Then we had time to freshen up and head out to dinner at the Rustic Root. Also located in the Gaslamp Quarter. If you visit San Diego, this area is a MUST. It’s a bustling hub of lights, activities, life and memories unraveling before your eyes.

Find a spot at one of the many eateries, sit outside and WATCH. We were entertained by low riders cruising through, pedicabs decked out in blinking lights, trolleys, and then this. Look at this dog! He’s chillin’ like a villian’!

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I couldn’t wait for the next day’s activities – the cars! Before we headed out to the lot that next day, KIA briefed us on the mission and history. We then stepped outside to find an entire parking lot filled with every kind of KIA. We were able to choose our car and take it out and around San Diego!

We chose a KIA Soul EV Electric Car! This car starts at $21K and the newest feature is it comes with a fast charge port. On a full charge it lasts up to 93 miles. I sat in the backseat and all I could hear was Denise praising Jesus about the air conditioned ventilated front seats – the opposite of seat warmers, lol! Perfect for those of us who live in hotter climates.

Oh my gosh, it was so cool to zip around San Diego in this. I joked that I wanted to take it to Tijuana and everyone believed me – I forgot that TJ is close to  San Diego!

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Ready to roll! OK, here are my favorite sights to see in San Diego, although I know there are more!kia16

Chicano Park in Barrio Logan! I’ve heard of it, but had never been. It has so much history and you can feel that energy as soon as you step into the park.

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Known as Logan Heights in 1905, it was a place where many Mexican families settled, by 1940, 15% of the city’s Mexican population lived in the area. The park concept came about in 1967 when the residents demanded a place for the community to come together. But when the bulldozers cleared the space in 1970, it wasn’t for the park, but for a patrol station. The neighborhood practically had an uprising – they wanted what was promised to them! Students and residents formed a human chain around the bulldozers. The project was placed on hold and the residents united to create their own version of the park they wanted. When the meeting did arrive to determine the fate, many residents and activists showed up to court, stomping their feet and chanting “Viva La Raza!”  until finally the legal powers that be approved. Chicano power in deed! The park officially opened on april 22 1970, with 1,000 people there to celebrate.

Local artists and the neighborhood came together to paint murals, plant gardens, paint the structures to celebrate Mexican-American culture. Talk about unity! They had a need, a vision and they made it  happen through will and action.

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The murals still shine bright to this day. It’s Instagram heaven!

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I could not get enough of those murals!

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Mission San Diego de AlcaláThis place is the first of 21 missions of California. It’s majestic, ethereal, and haunting at the same time. This is a nice place to visit if you want a peaceful and soulful experience. Plus, if you are into photography, you’ll adore all the aged characteristics and charm.

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The mission was founded in 1769 and to this days serves not only as a parish for people of all faiths, it also is a community center for parties, weddings, gatherings and more. Can you imagine the feeling of walking into a place that is 200 years old?

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Expect to spend about an hour and a half or more to explore all the corners and crevices. I wish my nana were still alive, she would have loved this place. I think she is giddy in heaven that I visited.

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Of course I had to visit the gift shop, and see all the handmade goods. Check out these fired ceramic tiles made in the likeness of the California missions!

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And these resin hearts – I’m inspired to make my own version with some clay and imagination. I’m thinking quotes or uplifting sayings would be nice!

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Artlexia. Well, we didn’t make it here physically on this visit, but I went there in my mind, LOL! I still want to share it because you will LOVE it! (Photos courtesy of Artlexia)

It’s a Latin-themed boutique where they have classes, travel packages, events, and wine tastings.

And…lots of shopping and home decor inspiration too. You can find an array of Mexi-style pop culture collectables as well as higher end gallery artwork.

Maybe we didn’t make it out to Artlexia, but we did head back to the hotel for an awesome goodbye party with a live karaoke band, our decorated guitar masterpieces on display and lots and lots of sushi!

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We also visited the Tin Fish Gaslamp – This is a quick bites place that serves seafood. I tried swordfish for the very first time and loved it. Everyone raved about lunch here. fish and chips, that kind of menu, tasty, memorable, and affordable!

Well that wraps up my San Diego trip with KIA. Here we are, all happy from a fun experience headed to the airport, ready for home!

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Thank you so much to KIA for inviting me! And thanks to all of YOU for reading this! I hope if you are ever in San Diego, you’ll visit these places!

And just think – with 50 bloggers on #TheNewKiaExperience roster, that’s fifty different stories of two days in San Diego! Make sure to follow the hashtag to see all of them!

Love & light,

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