Mine games on Mount McGinty Preserve
A refreshing alternative to the well-traveled trails of Cowles, Mt. McGinty offers a 4.8-mile round-trip hike about 25 minutes east of downtown. An ascent of about 1300 feet means views across Proctor Valley to the south and, on a clear day, the harbor and ocean shimmering to the west. The trail can easily take over three hours if you stop to take in McGinty’s aromatic collection of native flora and numerous mines along the way. A dirt lot and trailhead are located a quarter-mile west of Jamul Community Church. Turn right at the gate where the hill crests.
El Cajon Boulevard near 49th Street
Little Saigon Association, 4654 El Cajon Boulevard, suite C, City Heights, firstname.lastname@example.org
Park along El Cajon Boulevard in East San Diego between Chamoune Avenue and 49th Street: you are now surrounded by testament to the Vietnamese who came to America during the 1970s. Between the used-car lots and the muffler shops are dozens of merchants who serve the mixed Asian neighborhood with everything from powdered aphrodisiacs and dentistry to clothing and tax preparation. Food is another thing entirely. It swims in grocer’s fish tanks, it crabs about in paper cartons, or it waddles in back-room pens. Here is where you go to choose a duck and have it slaughtered and dressed for family dinner.
7575 University Avenue, La Mesa
“That’s the first time it’s eaten,” says a man, an aquarist, who has just eye-droppered some tiny undulating brine shrimp in front of the snout of a six-inch-long brown-banded bamboo shark. “It hatched three days ago.” He taps the egg case whence the nascent fish emerged with the tip of his long eye-dropper. “They have these at Birch Aquarium,” he says. “They get about two, maybe three feet long.” Just another day at Fountain’s, a tropical-fish store that first opened for business 60 years ago. We stand in the purplish dark, surrounded by dozens of gurgling aquariums, and we watch the shark nibble.
James & Joseph Spearfishing Supplies, 2040 Harbor Island Drive #100, 619-295-3705
Explore San Diego’s underwater kelp cities while hunting sea bass on a chartered spearfishing adventure out of Point Loma. The experience, for beginners to pros, is led by expert divers and spearfishermen. A 27-foot fishing boat accommodates groups up to four people. Enjoy a day of offshore paddy-hopping for pelagic or diving the Pacific for white sea bass. A half day (around five hours) charter costs $675, a three-quarter day charter (about seven hours) is $875, and a full day adventure (about 11 hours) goes for $1100. Included are food, drinks, and fish cleaning and icing.
Sophia Isadora’s School of Circus Arts
Sophia Isadora’s School of Circus Arts offers weekly classes in the circus arts, ranging from aerial arts, tight wire, stilts, ball-walking, and juggling. Sophia Isadora’s boasts two locations — one in North Park at 4241 Park Boulevard and another in La Mesa at 5288 Baltimore Avenue (619-301-1207). The school hosts spring and summer camps for children. They also book shows and individual entertainers for private events using circus artists that have worked with the Moscow Circus, Cirque du Soleil and the Ringling Bros.
Go-kart racing at Miramar Speed Circuit
8123 Miralani Drive, Miramar
Not sure what to do during your lunch break? Head over to Miramar Speed Circuit, where, Monday through Friday, $23 will get you a sandwich, a soda, and ten minutes of adrenaline-rushing go-kart racing. Professional racers designed the track to include four hairpin turns and two straightaways. The karts travel up to 40 miles per hour and are equipped with Honda 6.5HP engines. Lap times are electronically recorded in each kart, giving drivers the ability to see how they stack up against other racers. In July, Miramar Speed Circuit will open a two-story laser-tag facility to up the fun ante.
3138 Roosevelt Street #K, Carlsbad
San Diego is nationally known for our bustling craft-beer scene. Scavengers Beer Adventures, a Carlsbad-based company, offers a unique take on the beer-tour circuit. Guests are driven around in a 12-passenger Swiss military truck. Scavengers offers both weekday and weekend tours. Each tour includes a visit to three breweries, a production tour at one brewery, up to six tasters at each stop, a Phil’s BBQ meal, a beer-geek tour guide, and a Scavengers souvenir tasting glass. The tours run from Thursday–Sunday and range in price from $89–$119.
Breweries frequented include Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, Iron Fist, Stone, Mother Earth, Rip Current, Latitude 33, Belching Beaver, Offbeat, Breakwater Brewery, Ballast Point, Coronado, Mission, and others.
Dig some dirt at the Morning Star Ranch
1258 Keys Creek Road, Valley Center
Forty-five minutes northeast of the city lies a community of growers where one can find organic, pesticide-free avocados, grapefruit, persimmons, and other produce. The Morning Star Ranch is part of an international network of religious communities known as the Twelve Tribes. They aim to be a community of agricultural people, living to serve God and care for their earth. The drive to the ranch is a constant, grand display of the brushy, floral beauty of Southern California, ending with fields of lavender, fruit trees, farm animals, and open-armed owners. Morning Star Ranch is also accepting WWOOFers (worldwide opportunities on organic farms) where guests can stay for a time and help farm in exchange for room and board.
The Morning Star Ranch is always welcome to visitors, but they prefer to be contacted ahead of time.
5800 Adobe Falls Road, Mission Valley
With an urge to explore, but with little time for an all-day trekking venture, the Mission Valley Adobe Falls is a ten-minute hike off the freeway. Located by I-8 across from San Diego State University, two multitiered waterfalls channel Alvarado Creek on its way to join the San Diego River a couple of miles to the west. To get to the falls, park at the west end of Adobe Falls Road. Walk around the fence and follow the dirt road toward the freeway. When the road ends, follow the trail that will lead to the Adobe Falls rock formations. You will have to scramble and crawl up a few rocks to spot the falls. The rock graffiti, reminding passers-by of the close proximity to a college campus, adds an interesting touch, depending on one’s outlook.