Run with the SEALs
Who doesn’t dream of joining the French Foreign Legion, or, closer to home, the Navy SEALs? Nearest thing, and probably the most fun for most of us, has got to be running with the SEAL trainees. During training, their run usually takes place near the crack of dawn (though times vary). If you’re on the beach below the Hotel Del, you can catch platoons noisily busting out from the Amphib base and heading along the two miles of Coronado’s Central Beach to the gates of North Island Naval Air Station. And back. You can’t join them, of course, or get anywhere close, but you can trail at a respectful distance and see how long you keep up. Good luck with that. 619-435-6611.
Popular knowledge would have you believe that medicine comes only from a pharmacy, but in reality, the earth offers many natural remedies. Grow your knowledge of beneficial plants at the Self-Heal School in Ocean Beach (619-224-1268), with six-week courses ($180) in subjects that include Herbal Fundamentals, Practical Application of Herbs, and Medicine Making. The school also offers herb walks around the county and perks such as the Psychedelic Shamanism mini-series. If you like what you find, you can become licensed with Self-Heal’s 231-hour certificate program ($2560, or $2300 when paid in advance).
Lions, Tigers, Bears
Lions, Tigers, and Bears is a big-cat sanctuary and rescue facility located in Alpine. At 94 acres, it’s just six acres shy of the San Diego Zoo’s size. The facility boasts 52 animals and is open to the public. A yearly membership is $50. Daily memberships can be purchased for $25 for children, $35 for adults. Visitors must call ahead to make an appointment before showing up. Lions, Tigers, and Bears can be rented out for bachelor/bachelorette parties, weddings, and birthdays. The zoo also hosts two family-friendly campouts a year, as well as an annual Easter egg hunt. Behind-the-scenes tours of the facility are offered for a $500 donation. Across from the tiger pen is a two-bedroom cabin that can be rented for $550 a night. They even offer a private chef. Make sure to wear tennis shoes — the zoo was built for the animals, not visitors, and there are no paved sidewalks.
4832 Home Avenue, City Heights
City Farmers Nursery
City Farmers Nursery is an excellent adventure. Tour the grounds, checking out the goats and chickens, and view unique plants and gardens. Several times a month they host classes; most are free. Workshops include everything from the obscure (Raising Chickens from the Farm to the Table, for instance; or Raising Goats in the City) to the kid-friendly (Pumpkin Growing).
You can see a lot of San Diego by jumping on a trolley with a $5 day pass and a camera. From Old Town, take the Green Line out to SDSU: you’ll be taking pictures out the window while the trolley hugs Interstate 8 — you won’t be able to help it. After touring SDSU’s beautiful campus, head up to Gillespie Field and catch the Orange Line. Ride it back to downtown and Seaport Village, then Petco Park. Jump to the Blue Line and take in the shipyards. Continue all the way to the border. sdmts.com/trolley/trolley.asp
Urban bridges walk, uptown
Hikers seeking a change of scene from ocean/mountain/desert trails can head uptown for an urban trek to explore San Diego’s hidden and not-so-hidden pedestrian bridges. Depending on your speed and route, in about 90 minutes, you can cross half a dozen or more historic spans, including San Diego’s only suspension bridge, at Spruce and Front, which sways thrillingly beneath your feet. Take in the impressive mountain vista from the Georgia Street Bridge. Hike your way to Bankers Hill to cross the more covert Upas and Spruce Street spans. The variety of views — snow-capped mountains, the rush of traffic through the 163 canyon — is worthy of a camera-phone slideshow. Suggested tour: start at University Avenue and Georgia Street, head northwest to the Vermont Street footbridge into Hillcrest, then continue west on University to Sixth; then make your way south with detours to the Upas, Spruce, Quince, and First Avenue crossings; conclude with a triumphant crossing of the Cabrillo Bridge into Balboa Park.
Turista Libre Rad Tijuana Tours
Turista Libre takes people to places in Tijuana that aren’t typical tourist destinations: large swap meets, lucha libre matches, roller-skating rinks, bars not on Revolución, remote beaches, and piñata factories. The idea is to experience native life in a city built for tourism. You meet on the U.S. side of the border, cross into Mexico, and hop on the “fun bus.” Each voyage always includes a food destination and a drink destination. These monthly events have a limited capacity and do sell out, so plan ahead. Payment ($40 for an upcoming Tijuana museum hop) is required in advance.
Disc golf — well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. The challenge is to get your frisbee into each hole in as few throws as possible, though the holes are actually metal pole-and-chain contraptions that are moved around periodically throughout the year. Morley Field, San Diego’s Disc Golf Course, is located where Redwood and Pershing Drive meet in South Park. The 19-hole course takes 1–3 hours to play, depending on how crowded it is. The price is $3 on weekdays, $4 on weekends. Frisbee rentals are available for $1.50 each — including putters, drivers, or an all-purpose frisbee.
On the third Wednesday of every month, you don’t have to make an either/or decision: jump on the DrinkAbout bus and wind your way through Normal Heights, University Heights, North Park, and South Park. You can hit as many or as few of the ten bars on the route as you like, places like Blind Lady Ale House, Live Wire, Sea Rocket, and the Station. The bus leaves every half hour. Download a schedule from the DrinkAbout website or just jump on the bus and see where it takes you.