4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Seek Adventure in the Air

100 Reasons to Love San Diego

Cirque Arts of Studio Revolution has classes for beginners and experts.
Cirque Arts of Studio Revolution has classes for beginners and experts.

Reader writers explore the elements of America’s Finest — water, air, fire, land.

Up close with birds of prey

Let’s face it, the closest most of us will ever get to a true bird of prey is handling a silver quarter with the bald eagle on the back. But if you’re game, most weekends in Alpine you can get up close with a real bald eagle, and a golden eagle, too, each with a six-foot wingspan — along with 35 other hawks, owls, falcons, and eagles that have been rescued from cages, roads, or kids with bb guns. You might call these magnificent raptors San Diego’s unseen “air force,” casualties in man’s never-ending war against the county’s wildlife. Think of Nancy Conney as their field-hospital nurse. Conney, who is a master falconer, can explain how to hunt rabbits and pheasants with birds, exactly as they did it in medieval times. Call ahead to Sky Hunters, 619-445-6565, and be prepared to visit between noon–4:00 p.m., Saturday or Sunday. There’s no fee, but donations are accepted. skyhunters.org

Place

Aerial Revolution Studio

5370 Napa Street, San Diego

Cirque Arts

Cirque Arts of Studio Revolution has a range of classes in high-flying circus arts, from beginner to expert. The foundation of the program begins with aerial silks, which teaches the basics of all aerial skills: learn to climb, wrap, suspend, fall, and swing your body in long silks hung from the ceiling. Lyra classes are a combination of spinning, contortion, and aerial maneuvers. Also known as an aerial hoop, this steel apparatus is suspended in the air for swinging or spinning/aerial acts. Trapeze lessons are available, too. Contortion-training techniques are taught using safe progression methods. You’ll learn forearm, chin, or standing balances, handstands and movement on the ground, or the contortion platform/table. From there you can move on to partnered balancing acts. You’ll be all set when Cirque du Soleil has an opening. Classes are $18 each, with package deals available.

Place

Palomar Observatory

35899 Canfield Road, Palomar Mountain, CA

Palomar telescope

You won’t be able to peer through their five giant telescopes, but visit Palomar Observatory any day from 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. and check out the imposing 200-inch Hale Telescope. You’re already at 6000 feet — more than a mile — above sea level here, and it’s the next best thing to magnified viewing; skies can be as clear as you have never seen them. So make a night of it. You could also book into the mountain’s other marvel, the 1888 Bailey House (33650 Bailey Meadow Road, Palomar Mountain, 760-742-1859), 15 minutes from the telescope. You’ll pay from $125 for a cottage (for up to four people), less at the campground. Shower, eat, and put on your woolies, then head out into the 60-acre nature preserve and catch those spectacular stars with your naked eye.

Borrego Springs sky art

Borrego Springs sky art

Spread out over three square miles of desert in Borrego Springs, you will find 129 metal sculptures. Created by artist Ricardo Breceda, the full-sized sculptures include prehistoric mammals, historical characters, dinosaurs, and even a 350-foot-long serpent. You’ll easily spot the massive art from your car window as you zoom down Borrego Springs Road. The sculptures were commissioned by Borrego landowner Dennis Avery. His private property, called Galleta Meadows, is open to the public (free) for viewing and short-term camping. 760-767-5311, galletameadows.com

Place

USS Midway Museum

910 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego

Flight simulators

There are three flight simulators aboard the USS Midway Museum, which is a (real) aircraft carrier. One of these virtual-reality rides, called Naval Combat Mission, is the Star Tours of the Gulf War. For $8 a head, up to 12 people at a time have their senses fooled into experiencing what air-to-air combat is like, while actual pilot conversations enrich the experience. The other augmented-reality cockpits are user-controlled two-seaters — one is based on WWII aircraft; another was used to train pilots for the Vietnam War (it’s since been upgraded to an F-18). Pricing for virtual combat does not include the museum’s entry fee (general admission: $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for retired military, and $10 for kids, with $2 off for booking online). 619-398-8277.

Place

William Heise County Park

4945 Heise Park Road, Julian, CA

Camping with the stars

Once a month, between May and November, the San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA) goes camping and shares its telescopes with the public (for free) at the William Heise Park campground in Julian, where light pollution is minimized. An astronomy slideshow highlighting what’s visible that night is usually offered in the amphitheater on the campground. Event coordinator Doug McFarland tells me Saturn and Mars will be “primary targets” for the rest of the year. Normal campground fees apply (tents to cabins, $19–$75 per night). sdaa.org.

Place

Barnstorming

3750 John J. Montgomery Drive, Suite D, San Diego

Adventures

Barnstorming Adventures at Montgomery Field Airport in Serra Mesa offers 20-to-60-minute flights for one or two in vintage aircraft. With an assigned pilot in the front cockpit — and you in the rear — of a 150-horsepower Varga 21, you do most of the flying, which includes turns, climbs, and glides. Try your hand at aerial dogfighting with the Air Combat flight. You’ll be partnered with an assigned pilot, but you take the controls in a hands-on combat mission. There’s also the Warbird Flight in a 1943 North American SNJ-4 Texan, the aircraft used to train World War II aviators. Or tour the coast in a 1920s Travel Air 4000 biplane. Flights from $177–$795. No flight experience necessary.

Watch a movie under the stars

Throw a couple of lawn chairs in the back of your pickup and head to San Diego’s two remaining drive-ins: Santee (13 and over $8; 5–12 $4, cash only) and South Bay Triple (adults $7; kids 5–9 $1, cash only). Additionally, in Mission Hills, Cinema under the Stars (topspresents.com; $15, $90 for an annual membership) screens flicks outdoors April–September (with an Oscar party in February), offering ambience, a variety of seating, and concessions. If you’re looking for free movies, you can bring your own blanket to Petco’s Park at the Park for special screenings. You paid for the park, you may as well get your money’s worth: petcoparkevents.com.

Nothing

Yours truly held the job of Off the Cuff street reporter here at the Reader for a year and a half. One of my favorite questions to ask was “If you ever move away from San Diego, what will you wish you’d done while you were here?” Most people responded with a single word: “Nothing.” I think they’re onto something. Here’s to doing nothing, San Diego. Here’s to throwing away our to-do lists, to chillaxin, to lying on the beach all day, sipping a local brew, and flaking out on whatever it is you didn’t want to do anyway. Very San Diego. Cheers.

Place

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido

Flightline Safari

Soar like a California condor for 3677 feet over 32 animal species on Safari Park Flightline Safari. “Secure and comfortable in your harness,” you’ll practice taking off and landing on the “fledgling” line. Then launch from the height of a five-story building. Feel the wind in your hair as you glide over fields of exotic animals. If you want a second go (chances are you will), a subsequent ride is only $29. With helmet cams, you can film your adventure and take it home with you.

Place

Starlight Bowl

2005 South Pan American Plaza, San Diego

Starlight Musical Theatre

Since 1946, the San Diego Civic Light Opera Association (one of the oldest of its kind in the country) has been producing “stars” under the stars in an outdoor amphitheater in Balboa Park (single tickets and three-show subscriptions available; check website for pricing). In addition to quality productions, Starlight offers theatergoers a feature as amazing as it is unique: “freeze-frame action.” Just before a plane enters its final approach to Lindbergh Field, every actor on stage freezes and goes silent; once the plane has passed, they pick up exactly where they left off, sometimes pitched perfectly in the middle of a high note.

Place

Sky's the Limit Ballooning Adventures

3251 Camino de los Coches, Carlsbad

Balloon sunrise

Float above the morning mist and catch the first glimpse of the sun casting its light across Temecula wine country. Sky’s the Limit Ballooning offers 45-minute to hourlong rides in one of their hot-air balloons, from which you can “explore the beautiful rolling hills and catch a glimpse of Lake Skinner.” Book a hotel in the area and wake up early for an exhilarating tour with champagne, 1000 feet off the ground. Once you’re back on solid ground, check out the landscape (and many wineries). Shared non-private baskets or private rides available. Check online for pricing.

Place

Torrey Pines Gliderport

2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, San Diego

Torrey Pines Gliderport

Those who have ridden the wind say it feels like “walking on air.” With paragliding, you can fly in lighter wind conditions than you can while hang-gliding and remain comfortably seated for the 20-plus-minute tandem journey ($150). “Get a bird’s-eye view” of the golf course, La Jolla mansions, and miles of coastline. Launch from a cliff that Charles Lindbergh once used as his training ground. It all depends on wind conditions, so no reservations — instead, call the morning you want to fly. Fortunately, this being San Diego, weather isn’t usually an issue.

Learn to move like a ninja

Parkour is more than just a viral video sensation. Parkour California meets every weekend in Balboa Park at 1:00 p.m. to practice their acrobatics. Look for the group of people leaping, climbing, rolling, and vaulting around the Butterfly Garden, and jump right in. Ask local traceurs (the accepted term for a Parkour practitioner) what’s going on; they’ll likely provide a rundown and tips for newcomers to the sport/activity/lifestyle that is Parkour. pkcali.com.

Place

Learn to Fly a Plane

8690 Aero Drive #116, San Diego

Learn to fly a plane

From Cessnas to the Piper Seneca Twin, choose a cockpit and hop on in! At Learn to Fly San Diego, flight training is “broken down into easy-to-understand blocks of instruction.” Learn for fun or to embark on a new career. Courses cover the gamut, from Private Pilot to Airline Transport Pilot. Learn to Fly is “owned and operated by pilots for pilots.” You must be at least 17 and pass the FAA medical examination. Instruction is $50 per hour, plus plane rental ($99–$199).

Place

Pacific Coast Skydiving

6810 Curran Street, San Diego

Free fall

The excitement begins the moment the plane leaves the tarmac at Brown Field, the door open for that extra rush. Climb two miles high for 15 minutes and enjoy one of the best views available in San Diego — Imperial Beach, downtown, Coronado, Mexico, and the rich blue ocean. Then jump and free-fall at 120 mph for 45 seconds (you’ll be strapped safely to an instructor). Revel in the exhilaration as you parachute the rest of the way, up to seven minutes. If you order pics or a DVD of your adventure, it’s ready by the time you head home. Book online for $179.

Place

Kite Flite San Diego

839 West Harbor Drive, San Diego

Fly a kite

Kite Flite sells a 30-foot dragon kite along with models designed for entry flyers all the way to advanced “stunt” kites. You can purchase online — they ship throughout the U.S. — or in person at the Seaport Village store. That puts you right near Embarcadero Marina Park, a prime kite-flying spot. Prices range from $25 for a Penta kite to $170 for a Prism Micron 5 Stack.

Place

Glass Blowing San Diego

120 Upas Street, San Diego

Glass blowing

Channel your creativity through the element of fire at Glass Blowing San Diego (120 Upas Street). Whether your goal is to fashion a series of holiday salad bowls or an elaborate dichro smoking pipe, blowmaster Cary Slone, who’s worked with molten glass for ten years, can get you started with the melted medium in his Hillcrest “Glory Hole” (that’s the actual term). You’ll make a paperweight, a drinking cup, and a free-form sculpture, all in the first two-hour lesson ($170). Additional private lessons are $75 per hour (minimum two hours). First-time students must pay in advance with a credit card.

Place

City Farmers Nursery

3110 Euclid Avenue, San Diego

Butterfly farm

Become an amateur entomologist: start your own monarch butterfly farm at City Farmers Nursery in City Heights. Wander around the place a bit first, then grab a Radio Flyer wagon and load it up with one-gallon pots of milkweed ($8.89). By the end of April, they’ll probably already be crawling with monarch caterpillars. Take ’em home, stick ’em in the ground, and start taking notes. If you check often enough, you’ll see butterflies laying eggs, caterpillars spinning their chrysalises, and damp adult butterflies hanging around while their wings get pumped full of butterfly blood. Along the way, the very hungry caterpillars will eat your milkweed to a nub, but it’ll bounce back, usually within a month. And so will the caterpillars.

Place

Sky Sailing Inc.

31930 Highway 79, Warner Springs, CA

Soar like an eagle

Without the noise and vibration of an engine, flight in a sailplane (or glider) is a quiet, relaxing, almost ethereal experience — unless you ask for an acrobatic flight. And the views…Lake Henshaw lies in the southwest corner of the grassy plain below; the Palomar Observatory gleams white to the west. To the east looms San Diego County’s highest peak, 6500-foot Hot Springs Mountain. While soaring upward on the rising pockets of air called thermals, one feels like the red-tailed hawks and golden eagles who ride those same thermals. Flights range from $125 for a 20-minute ride in a trainer to $240 for a 40–60 minute flight in a high-performance sailplane.

Explore more elements of America’s Finest:

Explore a Water Wonderland

Have Fun on Land

Stoke Your Creative Fire.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

“John Adams drank a pint of cider every morning. Should we do any less?”

In the splash zone of the high cider pour
Cirque Arts of Studio Revolution has classes for beginners and experts.
Cirque Arts of Studio Revolution has classes for beginners and experts.

Reader writers explore the elements of America’s Finest — water, air, fire, land.

Up close with birds of prey

Let’s face it, the closest most of us will ever get to a true bird of prey is handling a silver quarter with the bald eagle on the back. But if you’re game, most weekends in Alpine you can get up close with a real bald eagle, and a golden eagle, too, each with a six-foot wingspan — along with 35 other hawks, owls, falcons, and eagles that have been rescued from cages, roads, or kids with bb guns. You might call these magnificent raptors San Diego’s unseen “air force,” casualties in man’s never-ending war against the county’s wildlife. Think of Nancy Conney as their field-hospital nurse. Conney, who is a master falconer, can explain how to hunt rabbits and pheasants with birds, exactly as they did it in medieval times. Call ahead to Sky Hunters, 619-445-6565, and be prepared to visit between noon–4:00 p.m., Saturday or Sunday. There’s no fee, but donations are accepted. skyhunters.org

Place

Aerial Revolution Studio

5370 Napa Street, San Diego

Cirque Arts

Cirque Arts of Studio Revolution has a range of classes in high-flying circus arts, from beginner to expert. The foundation of the program begins with aerial silks, which teaches the basics of all aerial skills: learn to climb, wrap, suspend, fall, and swing your body in long silks hung from the ceiling. Lyra classes are a combination of spinning, contortion, and aerial maneuvers. Also known as an aerial hoop, this steel apparatus is suspended in the air for swinging or spinning/aerial acts. Trapeze lessons are available, too. Contortion-training techniques are taught using safe progression methods. You’ll learn forearm, chin, or standing balances, handstands and movement on the ground, or the contortion platform/table. From there you can move on to partnered balancing acts. You’ll be all set when Cirque du Soleil has an opening. Classes are $18 each, with package deals available.

Place

Palomar Observatory

35899 Canfield Road, Palomar Mountain, CA

Palomar telescope

You won’t be able to peer through their five giant telescopes, but visit Palomar Observatory any day from 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. and check out the imposing 200-inch Hale Telescope. You’re already at 6000 feet — more than a mile — above sea level here, and it’s the next best thing to magnified viewing; skies can be as clear as you have never seen them. So make a night of it. You could also book into the mountain’s other marvel, the 1888 Bailey House (33650 Bailey Meadow Road, Palomar Mountain, 760-742-1859), 15 minutes from the telescope. You’ll pay from $125 for a cottage (for up to four people), less at the campground. Shower, eat, and put on your woolies, then head out into the 60-acre nature preserve and catch those spectacular stars with your naked eye.

Borrego Springs sky art

Borrego Springs sky art

Spread out over three square miles of desert in Borrego Springs, you will find 129 metal sculptures. Created by artist Ricardo Breceda, the full-sized sculptures include prehistoric mammals, historical characters, dinosaurs, and even a 350-foot-long serpent. You’ll easily spot the massive art from your car window as you zoom down Borrego Springs Road. The sculptures were commissioned by Borrego landowner Dennis Avery. His private property, called Galleta Meadows, is open to the public (free) for viewing and short-term camping. 760-767-5311, galletameadows.com

Place

USS Midway Museum

910 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego

Flight simulators

There are three flight simulators aboard the USS Midway Museum, which is a (real) aircraft carrier. One of these virtual-reality rides, called Naval Combat Mission, is the Star Tours of the Gulf War. For $8 a head, up to 12 people at a time have their senses fooled into experiencing what air-to-air combat is like, while actual pilot conversations enrich the experience. The other augmented-reality cockpits are user-controlled two-seaters — one is based on WWII aircraft; another was used to train pilots for the Vietnam War (it’s since been upgraded to an F-18). Pricing for virtual combat does not include the museum’s entry fee (general admission: $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for retired military, and $10 for kids, with $2 off for booking online). 619-398-8277.

Place

William Heise County Park

4945 Heise Park Road, Julian, CA

Camping with the stars

Once a month, between May and November, the San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA) goes camping and shares its telescopes with the public (for free) at the William Heise Park campground in Julian, where light pollution is minimized. An astronomy slideshow highlighting what’s visible that night is usually offered in the amphitheater on the campground. Event coordinator Doug McFarland tells me Saturn and Mars will be “primary targets” for the rest of the year. Normal campground fees apply (tents to cabins, $19–$75 per night). sdaa.org.

Place

Barnstorming

3750 John J. Montgomery Drive, Suite D, San Diego

Adventures

Barnstorming Adventures at Montgomery Field Airport in Serra Mesa offers 20-to-60-minute flights for one or two in vintage aircraft. With an assigned pilot in the front cockpit — and you in the rear — of a 150-horsepower Varga 21, you do most of the flying, which includes turns, climbs, and glides. Try your hand at aerial dogfighting with the Air Combat flight. You’ll be partnered with an assigned pilot, but you take the controls in a hands-on combat mission. There’s also the Warbird Flight in a 1943 North American SNJ-4 Texan, the aircraft used to train World War II aviators. Or tour the coast in a 1920s Travel Air 4000 biplane. Flights from $177–$795. No flight experience necessary.

Watch a movie under the stars

Throw a couple of lawn chairs in the back of your pickup and head to San Diego’s two remaining drive-ins: Santee (13 and over $8; 5–12 $4, cash only) and South Bay Triple (adults $7; kids 5–9 $1, cash only). Additionally, in Mission Hills, Cinema under the Stars (topspresents.com; $15, $90 for an annual membership) screens flicks outdoors April–September (with an Oscar party in February), offering ambience, a variety of seating, and concessions. If you’re looking for free movies, you can bring your own blanket to Petco’s Park at the Park for special screenings. You paid for the park, you may as well get your money’s worth: petcoparkevents.com.

Nothing

Yours truly held the job of Off the Cuff street reporter here at the Reader for a year and a half. One of my favorite questions to ask was “If you ever move away from San Diego, what will you wish you’d done while you were here?” Most people responded with a single word: “Nothing.” I think they’re onto something. Here’s to doing nothing, San Diego. Here’s to throwing away our to-do lists, to chillaxin, to lying on the beach all day, sipping a local brew, and flaking out on whatever it is you didn’t want to do anyway. Very San Diego. Cheers.

Place

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido

Flightline Safari

Soar like a California condor for 3677 feet over 32 animal species on Safari Park Flightline Safari. “Secure and comfortable in your harness,” you’ll practice taking off and landing on the “fledgling” line. Then launch from the height of a five-story building. Feel the wind in your hair as you glide over fields of exotic animals. If you want a second go (chances are you will), a subsequent ride is only $29. With helmet cams, you can film your adventure and take it home with you.

Place

Starlight Bowl

2005 South Pan American Plaza, San Diego

Starlight Musical Theatre

Since 1946, the San Diego Civic Light Opera Association (one of the oldest of its kind in the country) has been producing “stars” under the stars in an outdoor amphitheater in Balboa Park (single tickets and three-show subscriptions available; check website for pricing). In addition to quality productions, Starlight offers theatergoers a feature as amazing as it is unique: “freeze-frame action.” Just before a plane enters its final approach to Lindbergh Field, every actor on stage freezes and goes silent; once the plane has passed, they pick up exactly where they left off, sometimes pitched perfectly in the middle of a high note.

Place

Sky's the Limit Ballooning Adventures

3251 Camino de los Coches, Carlsbad

Balloon sunrise

Float above the morning mist and catch the first glimpse of the sun casting its light across Temecula wine country. Sky’s the Limit Ballooning offers 45-minute to hourlong rides in one of their hot-air balloons, from which you can “explore the beautiful rolling hills and catch a glimpse of Lake Skinner.” Book a hotel in the area and wake up early for an exhilarating tour with champagne, 1000 feet off the ground. Once you’re back on solid ground, check out the landscape (and many wineries). Shared non-private baskets or private rides available. Check online for pricing.

Place

Torrey Pines Gliderport

2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, San Diego

Torrey Pines Gliderport

Those who have ridden the wind say it feels like “walking on air.” With paragliding, you can fly in lighter wind conditions than you can while hang-gliding and remain comfortably seated for the 20-plus-minute tandem journey ($150). “Get a bird’s-eye view” of the golf course, La Jolla mansions, and miles of coastline. Launch from a cliff that Charles Lindbergh once used as his training ground. It all depends on wind conditions, so no reservations — instead, call the morning you want to fly. Fortunately, this being San Diego, weather isn’t usually an issue.

Learn to move like a ninja

Parkour is more than just a viral video sensation. Parkour California meets every weekend in Balboa Park at 1:00 p.m. to practice their acrobatics. Look for the group of people leaping, climbing, rolling, and vaulting around the Butterfly Garden, and jump right in. Ask local traceurs (the accepted term for a Parkour practitioner) what’s going on; they’ll likely provide a rundown and tips for newcomers to the sport/activity/lifestyle that is Parkour. pkcali.com.

Place

Learn to Fly a Plane

8690 Aero Drive #116, San Diego

Learn to fly a plane

From Cessnas to the Piper Seneca Twin, choose a cockpit and hop on in! At Learn to Fly San Diego, flight training is “broken down into easy-to-understand blocks of instruction.” Learn for fun or to embark on a new career. Courses cover the gamut, from Private Pilot to Airline Transport Pilot. Learn to Fly is “owned and operated by pilots for pilots.” You must be at least 17 and pass the FAA medical examination. Instruction is $50 per hour, plus plane rental ($99–$199).

Place

Pacific Coast Skydiving

6810 Curran Street, San Diego

Free fall

The excitement begins the moment the plane leaves the tarmac at Brown Field, the door open for that extra rush. Climb two miles high for 15 minutes and enjoy one of the best views available in San Diego — Imperial Beach, downtown, Coronado, Mexico, and the rich blue ocean. Then jump and free-fall at 120 mph for 45 seconds (you’ll be strapped safely to an instructor). Revel in the exhilaration as you parachute the rest of the way, up to seven minutes. If you order pics or a DVD of your adventure, it’s ready by the time you head home. Book online for $179.

Place

Kite Flite San Diego

839 West Harbor Drive, San Diego

Fly a kite

Kite Flite sells a 30-foot dragon kite along with models designed for entry flyers all the way to advanced “stunt” kites. You can purchase online — they ship throughout the U.S. — or in person at the Seaport Village store. That puts you right near Embarcadero Marina Park, a prime kite-flying spot. Prices range from $25 for a Penta kite to $170 for a Prism Micron 5 Stack.

Place

Glass Blowing San Diego

120 Upas Street, San Diego

Glass blowing

Channel your creativity through the element of fire at Glass Blowing San Diego (120 Upas Street). Whether your goal is to fashion a series of holiday salad bowls or an elaborate dichro smoking pipe, blowmaster Cary Slone, who’s worked with molten glass for ten years, can get you started with the melted medium in his Hillcrest “Glory Hole” (that’s the actual term). You’ll make a paperweight, a drinking cup, and a free-form sculpture, all in the first two-hour lesson ($170). Additional private lessons are $75 per hour (minimum two hours). First-time students must pay in advance with a credit card.

Place

City Farmers Nursery

3110 Euclid Avenue, San Diego

Butterfly farm

Become an amateur entomologist: start your own monarch butterfly farm at City Farmers Nursery in City Heights. Wander around the place a bit first, then grab a Radio Flyer wagon and load it up with one-gallon pots of milkweed ($8.89). By the end of April, they’ll probably already be crawling with monarch caterpillars. Take ’em home, stick ’em in the ground, and start taking notes. If you check often enough, you’ll see butterflies laying eggs, caterpillars spinning their chrysalises, and damp adult butterflies hanging around while their wings get pumped full of butterfly blood. Along the way, the very hungry caterpillars will eat your milkweed to a nub, but it’ll bounce back, usually within a month. And so will the caterpillars.

Place

Sky Sailing Inc.

31930 Highway 79, Warner Springs, CA

Soar like an eagle

Without the noise and vibration of an engine, flight in a sailplane (or glider) is a quiet, relaxing, almost ethereal experience — unless you ask for an acrobatic flight. And the views…Lake Henshaw lies in the southwest corner of the grassy plain below; the Palomar Observatory gleams white to the west. To the east looms San Diego County’s highest peak, 6500-foot Hot Springs Mountain. While soaring upward on the rising pockets of air called thermals, one feels like the red-tailed hawks and golden eagles who ride those same thermals. Flights range from $125 for a 20-minute ride in a trainer to $240 for a 40–60 minute flight in a high-performance sailplane.

Explore more elements of America’s Finest:

Explore a Water Wonderland

Have Fun on Land

Stoke Your Creative Fire.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
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Joy Division Unknown Pleasures meets Jack Black from High Fidelity-type character

Run over and scream “SHE’S LOST CONTROL!” into his face
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Bike paths, bike lanes, cycle tracks, vehicular bicycling, sharrows, road diets, e-bikes

San Diego has so many possibilities for two-wheelers
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