1010 Santa Clara Place, Mission Beach
Want to feel like Superman? After a training video and in-office instruction, strap on a jetpack and take to the air. During the 15- to 60-minute ride, the water-jetting pack can go as high as 30 feet in the air and move in any direction. First-time flyers are controlled by the instructor via a remote.
You have to be at least 16 years old, at least five feet tall, and under 330 pounds. There is a 15-minute Introductory Flight Experience, ($179), the 25-minute Jetlev Flight ($259), and the 40-minute Rock Star Flight ($399).
— Eve Kelly
James and Joseph — spearfishing
2040 Harbor Island Drive #100, Harbor Island, 619-295-3705
Advocates consider freedive spearfishing the most selective and sporting means of taking fish, so fishermen seeking to elevate their sport might try renting gear from this full-service shop for local spearos. Truly motivated hunters can book a charter for offshore paddy hopping or a tour of local kelp forests. Even non-fishers looking to explore underwater can get set up with wetsuits, weight, masks, snorkels, and fins; the basic equipment for freediving the local coast. Complete gear sets start at $60, and the boys at J&J can answer any questions about safety, licensing, and regulations.
— Ian Pike
3125 Ocean Front Walk, Mission Beach
The outdoor FlowBarrel machine pumps 100,000 gallons of water every minute to create an artificial wave. Would-be flowriders can ride the endless barrel on boogie boards and wake skates for an hourly fee, airing out above the peak of the wave — and sometimes going for a trip over the falls to onlookers’ amusement! An outdoor bar and private cabanas make the place spectator-friendly, and the view of the boardwalk along Mission Beach doesn’t hurt, either.
— Ian Pike
14224 Old Cole Grade Road, Pauma Valley
Fairfield Fruit Company
Stage a trip to the “wilds” of East County and pick your own organic blueberries. Pack the rest of your lunch, because the farm has a dedicated picnic area. At $5/pint, Fairfield’s fruit is priced competitively with produce from the grocery store. Still hungry for blueberries after the picnicking? T
en-pound boxes of prepackaged berries for $30 come ready to be baked into pies, cooked into jams, pickled, infused with booze, or just eaten by the handful.
— Ian Pike
2229 Morley Field Drive, North Park
Bud Kearns Pool
Part of the Morley Field complex, this city-run pool offers classes, recreational swimming, and dedicated lap swimming; all in a convenient location with plenty of parking. It’s just $4 per day to use, and bulk swimming passes also grant access to all city-operated pools. ProTip: Adults who want to swim orderly laps for exercise tend to visit the pool in the mornings, before the kids (and anybody who wants to splash around for fun) take over in the afternoons.
— Ian Pike
6212 Corte del Abeto, Carlsbad
1709 Main Street, Barrio Logan
Not just for corporate team-building, karting provides miniaturized Formula 1 thrills, and having a circuit downtown makes it easier than ever to strap on a helmet and channel your inner Fernando Alonso. With their favorable power-to-weight ratio, K1’s 20HP electric karts will hit 45 in the straights, and the challenge of sticking the tires through the twisties will make a liar (or a hero) out of everyone who ever said, “You know, I’m a really good driver.” Organized race days are great for groups, but K1’s “Arrive and Drive” plan makes it easy for singles and small parties. Prices run $20–$80 per person, depending on group size.
— Ian Pike
Too Much Fun Baja Adventures
Plow through the dusty backroads of Baja’s wine country in Valle de Guadalupe on a beefed-up golf cart while imbibing the regional oenology. Hike El Colonel Mountain in Rosarito beneath the moonlight, or hop on a mountain bike and explore the secluded ranchos and farming co-ops surrounding the tranquil seaside town. Drink local beer at the downtown street festivals of Tijuana, and then take a sunset equestrian stroll along the Rosarito shores. There is plenty to explore in northern Baja. Too Much Fun Promotions will take you there. Email [email protected] for prices.
— Chad Deal
2525 N Avenue, National City
Olivewood Gardens and Learning Centers
Back in the late 1800s, when the transcontinental railroad was forging new routes west, several hopeful entrepreneurs built Victorian mansions in National City in anticipation of a thriving cargo port that would never come to be. About a hundred years later, in the 1980s, John Walton (son of Walmart stalwart Sam Walton) renovated a 6.85-acre property containing one such historic mansion and donated it to the International Community Foundation, which focuses on cross-border philanthropy, especially in Baja California. These days, Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center serves as a museum and gardening/ecology/nutritional education center. Reserve a free tour at [email protected].
— Chad Deal
1022 W. Morena Boulevard, Suite H, Linda Vista
If you can imagine it, you can manufacture it at the MakerPlace’s one-stop metal, wood, and electronic shop. 3-D printers, multi-needle embroidery and industrial sewing machines, high-powered laser cutters, computer-controlled vinyl cutters, routers, saws, and lathes are just a few of the tools available at this high-tech creative lab. MakerPlace also hosts regular workshops on topics such as MIG welding, bronzing, 3D modeling, screen printing, and enameling. Facility tours are available daily at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, and 5pm (closed-toe shoes are required). Membership starts at $135 a month with a one-year contract. Military, student, and senior citizen discounts available.
— Chad Deal
Bike the Coronado/South Bay Loop
990 N. Harbor Drive, Downtown, 619-234-4111
Hop on the ferry at Broadway Pier ($4.25 — 9am on the hour every hour until 9pm) and take a 15-minute ride across the harbor to Coronado. Hang an immediate left after the pier and follow the Bayshore Bikeway through Coronado, down Silver Strand, through the South San Diego Bay Wetlands, past the salt farms, and back to downtown via Chula Vista bikeways and the industrial back roads of National City. Note that the Chula Vista bikeway is closed between J and H Street until this fall, but a detour follows the bike lanes on Bay Boulevard. Mostly flat terrain.
— Chad Deal
Motor Transport Museum
Vintage Packards stand aside obsolete quarry equipment and olive presses at this open-air museum located 60 miles east of San Diego on the 94. The museum has been collecting scrap-bound relics for over 25 years, in addition to restoring motored vestiges such as a 1924 Cadillac, a 1917 quad used in World War I, and the Julian Stage — one of two vehicles that operated from 1912-1915 as a passenger and cargo transport between Lakeside and Julian. The museum also curates an extensive archive of automotive manuals and periodicals. Open Saturdays, 9am to 5pm. Free.
— Chad Deal
Bike the Otay Mountain Wilderness
Cross the street south of Pio Pico RV Resort & Campground and find the Minnewawa Truck Trail behind a gate next to the sign advertising Coyote Canyon Café. Pedal up for sweeping views of Otay Lakes, downtown San Diego, and the ocean. Head deeper east for straightaways paralleling the Venetian shadows of the border fence, over one-lane bridges, and through grassy mountain plateaus. Roads are mostly well-maintained but sometimes gravelly, so watch your downhill speed around corners. You won’t see much aside from the occasional dirt bike and plenty of Border Patrol trucks zipping across the ridges.
— Chad Deal
Hike Goat Canyon Trestle at Carrizo Gorge
Mortero Wash down Dos Cabezas, on S2, Ocotillo
Standing 200 feet tall and stretching 750 feet in length, this is the longest, tallest curved wooden trestle ever built in the U.S. Though the Carrizo Gorge Railway Company is in the process of reopening the line (inaugurated by John D. Spreckels in 1919), you can still hike to a view of the trestle by parking near Mortero Palms, trekking over the Jacumba Mountains for about three miles, and dropping into Goat Canyon. The last 500 feet's a scramble down loose rocks, and walking the tracks is now illegal, so you're best just snapping a few photos from above.
— Chad Deal
2920 Zoo Drive, Balboa Park
Backstage Pass at the San Diego Zoo
Want to touch an animal at the zoo without getting in trouble or eaten? Now’s your chance. Whether you’re hand-feeding a rhinoceros or petting a kangaroo, each animal encounter is extraordinary during this 1.5-hour program. For $99 per person (plus admission), zookeepers bring exotic creatures such as cheetahs and wolves to a small outdoor amphitheater for up-close presentation. After that, feed and pet the rhinos and then visit another enclosure for more amazing animal experiences. Price includes a portrait of your group with one of the animal stars taken by a professional photographer.
— Barbarella Fokos
2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla
Torrey Pines Gliderport
Soar like a red-tailed hawk over coastal cliffs and glide above Torrey Pines Golf Course, mansions in La Jolla, and “miles of dramatic coastline.” You'll fly tandem with a professional pilot, and choose from paragliding ($150) or hang-gliding ($200). Wind conditions are perfect more often than not, but still call the morning of to double check. Each flight lasts up to 25 minutes. After flying, wind down with lunch at the Cliffhanger Café, which overlooks the cliffs for a stunning ocean view.
— Barbarella Fokos
2658 Del Mar Heights Road #198, Del Mar
Skysurfer Balloon Company
A glass of champagne at sunset is nice, but a glass of champagne overlooking the sunset with your date a few thousand feet off the ground in a sturdy, steady basket floating beneath a giant balloon is downright magical. Cruise high above the treetops of Del Mar as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, an ethereal backdrop for photos. Nearly an hour aloft is $210 per person (total balloon time is three hours), or make the experience extra exclusive by booking a private flight for two ($1250) or four ($1600).
Brew Hop Brewery Tours
Take friends on a personalized tour of a select few of San Diego’s large number of breweries. Each tour is customized per location and individual tastes — you're picked up and dropped off wherever you like in the county. The Tasters Tour ($75-$95 per person) includes luxury transportation, private tours at each location, gratuities for bar staff, and all beer samples. Step it up a notch for the Connoisseur Tour ($169 per person), which includes everything from the Tasters Tour but is a few hours longer and hits more breweries. Taste craft beers, learn more about the process, and see firsthand where and how they’re made.
503 Grand Caribe Causeway, Coronado
The Gondola Company
Wow your date with a romantic gondola cruise through the Coronado Cays. A gondolier in traditional Venetian garb will ease you through the water while you relax beneath a soft blanket, sip wine (bring your favorite beverage; an ice bucket and glasses will be provided), and listen to Italian music. A standard 50-minute cruise is $95 for two ($115 for two if you go during sunset). If you want to further indulge and dazzle, upgrade (for an additional $85) for a private concert with a live musician, playing either the mandolin or violin.
1450 Harbor Island Drive, Harbor Island
There’s no better place to appreciate the San Diego skyline than from a yacht off the coast. Charter a luxury sailboat with a professional captain, starting at $450 for four hours. You could also make a night of it on a private yacht or houseboat, with the ultimate waterbed to sway and soothe you to sleep. They have showers, beds, entertainment systems, and more than you’d get in most hotel suites.
3717 John J. Montgomery Drive, Serra Mesa
San Diego Sky Tours
Don a leather helmet and goggles and tour San Diego from the sky in an open cockpit biplane. If you don’t want to deal with the breezes, opt for an enclosed biplane for a Downtown Fly-Around, featuring the Coronado bridge, SeaWorld, Hotel Del Coronado, or the SoCal Classic, which includes all that and many more landmarks viewable from the air. Everyone's guaranteed a window seat, and the pilot will share interesting anecdotes of San Diego’s history along the way. Tours range from 20 to 60 minutes; cost ranges from $155-$200.
555 N. Tulip Street, Escondido
Curl San Diego
Curling still exists as a sport when the Winter Olympics end. Even in San Diego. This member-run club offers occasional beginners classes, pick-up games, and an amateur league at the IcePlex in Escondido. For $25 you can learn how to throw, sweep, and curl rocks into the house, and the same fee gets you in a game. Prices stand to rise when summer ends and the club moves to a new rink in Carlsbad, so get on it now.
2470 Melru Lane, Escondido
Live out that circus fantasy with trapeze lessons. There’s a onetime registration fee of $10, with regularly scheduled classes for $60 (price breaks available on bundles of five or ten). They’ll never send you up without a net and insist upon safety harnesses for beginners, so you should feel safe enough to swing away from the start.
3090 Pershing Drive, Balboa Park
Morley Field Disc Golf Course
Maybe you’ve been aching for structure to your Frisbee game, or perhaps you want to meet other people who rock a tie-dye. Regardless, the disc-golf course at Morley Field stays open from sunrise till sunset, rain or shine, every day. $3 on weekdays and $4 on weekends gains you access to the 19-hole course, where you’ll sling discs over or around tree branches into raised baskets. Bring your own discs or rent them at $1.50 apiece (it helps to have a few different sizes — you’ll see why).
San Diego Sand Castles
4306 Ocean Boulevard, Pacific Beach, 619-200-0565
Ever feel like you weren’t living up to your full sandcastle potential? JT Estrela shapes sand sculptures competitively, offering lessons on how to best pack and cut wet sand using tools he provides. Put those crumbly, bucket-shaped “towers” behind you and try your hand at sculpting a sandy Chateau Fontainebleau. Classes start at $60 for a one-hour solo outing, or get together a small group for a couple hours’ detailed instruction for $120.
San Diego Velodrome Association
2516 Pershing Drive, Balboa Park, 619-786-0648
You’ll never really test your street-cycling limits in the bike lane. Get your fixed-gear humming at Balboa Park’s velodrome while riding an elliptical track that leans 27 degrees inward at the turns. The venue’s overseen by Velodrome Association members, who offer classes Monday and Wednesday nights ($120 for a six-week session), providing bikes and other equipment if you need it. To try it on a more casual basis, say with your freewheel multispeed or beach cruiser, look for association volunteers to occasionally open the track for recreational use, usually Saturday mornings around 8am.
2800 Olympic Parkway, Chula Vista
Chula Vista Olympic Training Center
Offering a rare glimpse into the lifestyle of elite athletes, Olympic Training Center’s two-mile-long tour will prepare your mind and body…to feel more connected while watching the 2016 games from your living room. Show up any Saturday at 11am for a guided tour or drop in daily between 9 and 5 to wander the mile-long Olympic Path, which winds past a number of sporting facilities as well as athlete housing. Bring the hands-free device and enjoy a prerecorded cell-phone audio tour.
8725 Production Avenue, Miramar
Radio-controlled cars have come a long way since you were a kid. For proof, head over to this indoor clay track where RC enthusiasts young and old race small trucks capable of reaching speeds up to 50mph. Show up Saturday at 8am for a $15 driving clinic, including truck rental. It’s another $15 to practice for the day once you get your own ride, and three times a week it’s race night — drivers of every skill level dig into turns and hit jumps on a track that changes every six to eight weeks.
954 Orange Avenue, Coronado
Coronado Taste Of Oils
Buy olive oil from the supermarket and you stand to face scores of bottles, each claiming to be more virgin or extra virgin than the last. Truly good olive oil makes a huge difference to your gourmet lifestyle, and getting the right stuff means tasting before you buy. This shop allows you to sample two dozen oils from points international to pin down your favorite. Is grassy preferable to fruity? Is Spain’s better than Italy’s? Walk in to find out. Then move on to the 30 varieties of balsamic vinegar.
9520 Padgett Street #106, Kearny Mesa
Float Spa San Diego
Floating in a sensory-deprivation chamber may not sound like doing much. But once the silence is total, the darkness complete, and a feeling of weightlessness settles in, the world melts away and your mind is left to entertain itself without the constant overload of information it’s accustomed to. That’s when the fun starts. To glimpse what the other 90% of your brain has been up to, book an hour for $75 or bring a friend and book two tanks for $120.
Free-fly a trained bird of prey in the San Diego skies with 360-degree views atop Alpine’s Mount Viejas. The basic falconry lesson ($70 for one hour, June–September at Torrey Pines Glider Port in La Jolla) allows you to don a glove and cast a bird while learning about the ancient art of falconry. For a more in-depth experience of the bird in its natural habitat, try the Hawk Walk ($140 for 1-1/2 hours, October–May in Alpine). 619-722-0092.
4215 Harrison Street, Carlsbad
California Water Sports at Carlsbad Lagoon
Drift away or go full throttle at Carlsbad Lagoon; multiple opportunities for watery fun await. Paddle at your own pace with a kayak ($15/hour) or canoe ($20/hour). Stretch your legs on a stand-up paddleboard ($30/hour). Looking for something more high-energy? Try an aqua cycle ($30/hour) or paddleboat ($20/hour). Motorized fun comes in several flavors: Yamaha waverunners ($70–$230, depending on time), speedboats ($125/hour), or wakeboarding and waterskiing ($105–$155, includes boat with driver and equipment; lessons also available).
8711 N. Magnolia #300, Santee
Urban Jungle Fun Park
Urban Jungle offers a 2000-square-foot trampoline court for open jumping and dodgeball. But bouncing isn’t the only form of fun available here. Scale a 24-foot-tall “skyscraper,” climb 16-foot rock walls, slide down the 16-foot inflatable slide, race the 50-foot inflatable obstacle course, get lost in the 14-level play structure, or play life-sized video games on a ten-foot screen. Tired? Head to the lounge for free Wi-Fi. Introductory pricing: 90 minutes of play, $12; 120 minutes, $17; 150 minutes, $20. Parent play rate, $8. —Deirdre Lickona
Painting and Vino
Multiple locations, 619-246-3448
Learn to paint from local artists while socializing, eating, and drinking. Painting and Vino offers painting classes at bars and restaurants such as 98 Bottles and Marina Kitchen. When you show up, everything will be ready: a 16x20-inch wrapped canvas, tabletop easel, paints, brushes, and protective clothing. An instructor will offer step-by-step instruction to help you copy a painting you’ve picked out ahead of time. (The works are often recognizable masterpieces.) Assistants on hand. Price per seat: $45. Venues usually offer food and drink specials.
State Street and Date Street, Little Italy
Amici Park Bocce Courts
Amici Park offers sculptures of Italian dishes, and plaques featuring recipes for stuffed artichokes and marinara sauce. But the space’s best taste of Italian culture comes from the red-white-and-green bocce courts on its north side. You have to bring your own balls, but the 90-foot, decomposed granite courts are free to use. Toss the jack, roll the ball, and score. (Check bocce.org for complete rules.) If you get good enough, you might consider the Little Italy Amici Park Bocce Ball tournament each October; the first-place team wins $500.
2145 Park Boulevard, Balboa Park
San Diego Table Tennis Association
The San Diego Table Tennis Association’s mission is to foster a community of table-tennis enthusiasts and provide a place where players of all levels can compete regularly in a friendly atmosphere. The association offers 28,000 square feet of space, professional-level tables, excellent overhead lighting, high ceilings, and a high-tech wood floor. Open play times are available Sunday–Tuesday and Thursday–Friday. Membership is $50 for adults, $30 for juniors, with family rates available. Nonmembers pay to play: $5 for adults, $2 for juniors.
12006 Campo Road, Spring Valley
McGrath YMCA Youth & Teen Center
The Hendrix Family Youth & Teen Center is open seven days a week, 2:45–6:15pm, and is supervised by YMCA staff. You’ve got your leather furniture, your stereo, video game consoles, computers for doing homework, and even good old-fashioned board games, foosball, table tennis, and air hockey. When done hanging out, check out Teens in Leadership, Youth and Government, or Model United Nations — all of which operate out of the center. Free to YMCA members; nonmembers pay $5 daily fee.
Independent Bookstore Tour
Start your indie book tour of San Diego at Upstart Crow, where you can grab a cup of coffee and find fun, kitschy gifts. Then zoom up to Normal Heights to treasure hunt among rare, out-of-print, and used books at Adams Avenue Bookstore. At Warwick’s in La Jolla, be sure to ask about their line-up of high-profile author readings. For those hankering for “martians, murder, magic, and mayhem,” head to Mysterious Galaxy in Kearny Mesa. Yellow Book Road in Point Loma specializes in children’s books.
5540 Kiowa Drive, San Carlos
Lake Murray Reservoir
Lake Murray Reservoir offers shore-fishing, boat-fishing, and duck-feeding fun galore. Visitors can rent boats or kayaks (first come, first served) and purchase fishing permits or bait in the concessions office. A 3.2-mile paved path around the reservoir provides joggers, walkers, and bicyclists a 6.4-mile out-and-back from the path’s start to the dam gate. Or bring picnic goodies and take advantage of the ten barbecues and 64 picnic tables around the lake.
2100 Park Boulevard, Balboa Park
African Dance and Drum Classes
WorldBeat Cultural Center provides novice and advanced dancers and drummers a place to get their rhythm on. Classes include Afro-Cuban percussion and dance and West African dance on Sundays, children’s West African dance on Tuesdays, and African djembe drumming on Wednesdays. Check the schedule for capoeira, taiko, yoga, samba classes, and more.
10990 Woodside Avenue North, Santee
Santee Swap Meet
With mountains and drive-in movie screens as its backdrop, Santee Swap Meet has been offering weekend bargain-hunters everything from garage-sale treasures (antique rings, vintage furniture, a Gene Simmons doll riding a toy Vespa) to farmers’ market delights such as buckwheat honey and herb gardens, for the past 28 years. An ownership switch a few years back prompted positive changes such as more food options (hello, churros and tacos). The first weekend of the month features electronics, which sees even sellers from L.A. driving down. Admission: Saturday $1; Sunday $1.50; kids under 12 free. 619-449-7927.
Let Ohio-born journalist and Tijuana schoolteacher Derrik Chinn figure out something for you to do in Tijuana and northern Baja by taking one of his Turista Libre tours. Outings are offered at least once a month — more frequently during summer — with options to suit changing whims. Explore a culinary market or TJ’s “mega monuments” one day; play at the Tijuana fair or a water park another; attend a Xolos (soccer) match, Toros (baseball) game, or Lucha Libre (masked Mexican wrestling) bout on yet another. [email protected].
601 E. Beal Road, Imperial Valley
East of the Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain rises from the desert floor. It’s a huge sculpture started in 1984 by Leonard Knight (1913–2014) that was maintained by him until his passing. Knight crafted from straw, the surrounding adobe clay, and at least 100,000 gallons of paint over the years. Bearing biblical quotes, even a large “God is Love,” this folk-art shrine might seem solely religious in nature. However, including other peaceful imagery such as hearts, rivers, flowers, and doves, Knight reshaped this five-acre area into a testament of love — a powerful reminder to be a beautiful, compassionate human.
Soar 25 feet above Coronado's Glorietta Bay on a Jetovator — a flying bike connected by a hose to, and powered by, the high-pressure water “exhaust” of a personal watercraft, like a jet ski. Easier to maneuver than the jet pack and wakeboard designs before it, the Jetovator can plunge ten feet below the water’s surface and accelerate up to 25mph. Buying one outright costs about $9000, but lessons start at $149 for approximately 30 minutes of flight time after a brief training. Keep your eyes peeled for cheaper options through online deal sites. 619-365-9700.
10990 Woodside Avenue North, Santee
Open 365 days a year, the Santee Drive-In offers up a big dose of nostalgia while watching the newest blockbuster movie hits (or misses). Built in 1958, it accommodates 700 cars across two screens — both showing double features — and is one of only two original San Diego drive-ins still kicking. Get munchies at the snack bar or bring your own. If you don’t have FM radio, you can rent for a $20 refundable deposit. Box office opens at 8pm, first showing at 8:30pm. Adults (13+) $8, juniors (5–12) with parent $4, children under 5 free. Cash only. —E.V. Hepworth
Guadalupe Canyon Oasis
Hot Springs, Baja, (619) 639-7597
About 34 miles down a dirt road off Highway 2 between La Rumerosa and Mexicali lies a secluded, desert oasis paradise — complete with a palm-tree grove. Nestled into the surrounding mountains, Guadalupe Canyon Oasis has 14 campsites — each equipped with amenities, space for tent and car camping, and, most importantly, a private hot-springs tub. The grounds offer cold pools, mud baths, great rock-climbing spots and hikes out to multiple waterfalls. Base rates start at $35–$125/night, depending on campsite and number of people. Newly open during the summer due to recent improvements, but come prepared, because it’s crazy-hot.
Old Highway 80
El Cajon to Winterhaven
In 1926, the length of Historic U.S. Route 80 through San Diego and Imperial Counties officially became part the first coast-to-coast highway. (The eastern terminus is in Georgia.) Because of I-8, the California sections were fully decommissioned in 1972. With some original portions of the road dating to 1912, it’s chock-full of obscure bits of backcountry history — a beautiful ride for sightseeing motorists, motorcyclists, and bicyclists who don’t mind the path peaking at 3890 feet. Online, and offline, literature can guide the way to points of interest, such as the 1917 Los Terretinos Bridge and pretty much the entire town of Boulevard.
Broadway Pier, 990 N. Harbor Drive, Embarcadero | 600 Convention Way, Convention Center | 1201 First Street, Coronado
Hop on the Coronado Ferry for 15 minutes of sunshine, bay breezes, and spectacular skyline views. A ticket costs $4.25 each way across the bay, children under four are free. The ferry allows bikes, so grab the beach cruiser for some easy cycling around Coronado. The ferry leaves from the Broadway Pier starting at 9:00 a.m. every hour until 9:00–10:30pm, depending on the day of the week. The boat leaves from Coronado to San Diego every hour, starting at 9:30am. If you’d rather leave from the Convention Center Marina, the boat leaves at 9:10am every morning, followed up every 30 minutes with another departure until 9:55 or 10:55pm. 619-234-4111.
1500 El Prado, Balboa Park
Timken Museum of Art
The only always-free museum in Balboa Park, the Timken Museum of Art offers a permanent display of European and American masterpieces from the Putnam Foundation Collection. Featuring Russian icons from the 15th Century, tapestries from the 17th Century, and gut-wrenchingly poignant Crucifixion by Murillo, the five-room collection makes for a leisurely art-walk outing. It even has a Rembrandt — a Rembrandt, folks — titled Saint Bartholomew. And The View of Volterra by Jean-Baptiste-Camille. And Eastman Johnson’s The Cranberry Harvest, Island of Nantucket. Daily half-hour to hour tours available. Closed on Mondays but open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 to 4:30 and on Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30pm.
10818 San Diego Mission Road, Mission Valley
Mission San Diego de Alcalá
A national historic landmark and California’s first church, Mission San Diego de Alcalá is a tranquil walk through early California history. Founded in July 1769, it is the first of the 21 California mission churches. The darker of the tiles on the floor of the church date back to 1813. The wood statue of St. Anne is the oldest wood carving of the mission. A small collection of vestments, statues, pottery, and a plow from the mission era are on display in the museum, which is open daily from 9am to 4:30pm. The bells in the belfry are rung once a year on the Sunday closest to July 16th, the date of the church’s founding.
Back to the ’50s Car Show
La Mesa Boulevard from Fourth Street to Acacia Street, La Mesa
Each Thursday evening from June 16 through August 8, from 5-8pm, the five-block stretch of La Mesa Boulevard that runs through the “Village” becames a showcase for lovingly restored vehicles made before 1973. Owners often sit near their rides, talking cars with the enthusiasts who crowd the sidewalks. The classic tunes spun by DJ Jumpin’ Jack Flash and the throaty V-8s combine to waken echoes of a time when Detroit was the center of the automotive universe. Show winners are picked by 7:30pm.
8278 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa
(No longer in business.)
Sam Johnson Jazz Group at Cosmos Coffee Cafe
The best place to get your Friday night going early is Cosmos in La Mesa Village. The coffee’s great, the sandwiches are fine, and from 3-5pm, the Sam Johnson Jazz Trio lays down some really solid old-school jazz standards such as “Blue Monk,” “Caravan,” and “My Funny Valentine.” Grab a caramel macchiato ($3.85 for 16oz.) and a turkey, avocado, bacon sandwich with chipotle mayo ($6.50), settle into a leather couch, and listen to Sam on the upright bass, Alan Worthington on the guitar, and George Kezas playing the hell out of the tenor saxophone.
3221 Mission Boulevard, Mission Beach
Look diagonally across Mission Boulevard from Belmont Park and you’ll spy Ray’s Rentals. They rent out beach cruisers, hybrid bikes, or tandem bikes. Beach cruisers are $10 a day with their online coupon. Hybrids run $40 for the day and tandems $45 for the day. Group discounts offered for a party of six — the sixth rental is free for full-day rentals. Cycle around the corner and you’re on the boardwalk that wraps around Mission Bay. A low-impact workout, a great people-watcher activity. The 19-mile loop has only one traffic light to slow you down. Ray’s Rentals has other locations in Coronado and Pacific Beach.
2211 Pacific Beach Drive, Mission Beach
Adventure Water Sports
Adventure Water Sports rents paddleboards from two locations, the Dana Hotel on West Mission Bay Drive and Campland on the Bay on Pacific Beach Drive. Campland’s rental location has the benefit of proximity to Kendall-Frost Mission Bay Marsh, which attracts egrets, great blue herons, and migratory water fowl. Forty dollars gets you a two-hour paddleboard rental. Sixty dollars for a two-hour paddleboard rental and a lesson. It takes a few minutes to get the hang of it, but once you master the motion, stand-up paddling is addictive.
2223 El Cajon Boulevard, University Heights
Weissmuller Pool and Swim Club
If you want to spend your summer poolside minus a pack of kids shouting, “Marco! Polo!” try a summertime membership at North Park’s Weissmuller Pool and Swim Club lat the Lafayette Hotel. During the summer months they host pool parties with live music and drink specials from 1–5pm. Swim club hours of operation are 7am–7pm (daily). Adult membership fees are: daily, $15; monthly, $75; six-month, $175; and 12-month, $275. Members get 10 percent off room rates and 15% off food at the hotel restaurant, HOPE 46 Classic American Cuisine.
4444 State Highway 78, Julian
Julian Mining Company
There is more to Julian than apple pie and gold-panning. Thanks to the Julian Mining Company, San Diego city folk can experience the thrill of the gold rush that hit Julian in the late 1800s. For $9 (adults) or $7 (children), visitors are welcome to pan for gold the way early settlers did. Apart from gold-panning, you can enjoy other activities, such as gem-sluicing and tomahawk-throwing. They even have a cozy onsite cabin available to rent for $150 a night or $500 a week. Hours of operation are Saturday and Sunday from 10am–5pm.
2811 Jackson Street, Old Town
Presidio Park is never crowded, not even on San Diego’s stereotypical, blue-sky-sunny days. The park is on a hill among sprawling estates in Mission Hills. The biggest bonus is that it affords panoramic views, interconnected hiking trails, bathrooms, plenty of shade, picnic tables, and the perfect spot to view Sea World fireworks. Presidio Park is great for a romantic picnic or a family day. The Junípero Serra Museum is located at the base of the park. Visits costs $6 for adults; $3 for children.
15519 Thornbush Road, Ramona
Cedar Creek Falls
The 5-1/2 mile round trip hike to Cedar Falls in Ramona is worthwhile due to the refreshing swimming hole and picturesque waterfall that greets you. For daredevils, there is an enticing rope swing to make your plunge into the waters that much more enjoyable. Visitors to Cedar Falls need to buy a $6 permit good for up to five people. Permits can be purchased at recreation.gov. During drought seasons, there isn’t always a waterfall. It’s best to go after a rainfall. Shade is sparse; sunscreen is essential.
1600 Pacific Highway, Downtown San Diego
San Diego’s brand new 12-acre Waterfront Park located at the County Administration Center offers an opportunity to beat the heat with an 830-foot-long fountain with 31 jets that shoot water 14 feet into the air before it falls in a shallow splash area. Other features include a grassy area for picnicking, lush gardens, and a large playground. Parking is provided in a new underground garage off of Ash Street. Waterfront Park is a prime spot to view summertime firework shows. It also boasts a view of the bayfront.
Quivira Court, Mission Bay
Located off of Quivira Court in Mission Bay is a bizarre site. On a rock jetty extending west is a small village of wild cats that have made a home within the boulders near the water’s edge. Dozens of felines sun themselves on the rocky shore. It’s rumored to be the largest community of feral cats in San Diego. Thanks to local do-gooders, these cats are well-fed. For an added bonus, the jetty has some of the best pelican-watching in all of San Diego County.
Fireworks Kayak Tour
Ingraham Street & Vacation Road, Mission Bay, 619-260-1880
Looking to impress a date? Take in the tranquil sights of Mission Bay on a romantic fireworks kayak tour. A guide narrates the history of Mission Bay while SeaWorld’s fireworks act as backdrop. Experience a closer-than-ever view of the fireworks as they're launched from a nearby barge. Summer tours run from 8:30–10:30pm, beginning every evening from June 19 to September 5 (Father’s Day to Labor Day). Launch point is Ski Beach on Mission Bay, at the intersection of Vacation Road and Ingraham Street. Recommended attire: swimsuits and light jackets.
Santa Cruz Avenue, Ocean Beach
San Diego Beaches can be a nightmare during summer months due to overcrowding. Thanks to Pocket Beach, O.B.’s semiprivate beach frequented by locals, San Diegans have a place to unwind. On most weekdays, you’ll find Pocket Beach virtually empty, offering a beautiful landscape with two secluded coves separated by a sandstone bluff. It's located down a set of stairs at the end of Santa Cruz Avenue. Nearby street parking's available. Visitors often jump into the water from various cliffs surrounding the beach. Exercise extreme caution and common sense. There are no lifeguards on duty.
The Tijuana Up and Down City Tour
If you've been hoping to visit Tijuana without the guesswork of figuring out the ins and- outs of a foreign city, take baby steps with a guided tour across the border via motor coach. The Tijuana Up and Down City Tour picks up and drops off from San Diego hotels or the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego. Tour includes sightseeing at the Tijuana Cultural Center, Zona Rio, the demolished Tijuana Bullring, the Tijuana Water Tower, a “Make Your Own Taco” lunch, and a visit to Avenida Revolución. Package price is $67.95. Passports are required. 678-245-8328.
8200 Camino del Oro, La Jolla
Snorkel with Leopard Sharks
Large numbers of leopard sharks congregate off La Jolla Shores every summer. Intermediate swimming ability is required; previous snorkeling experience is recommended. Participants must supply their own gear. Ages 10+ (minors must also be accompanied by a paid adult). Call for dates and registration. $30. 858-534-3474.
Farmer Road/A Street, Julian
Julian Pioneer Cemetery
Visit the “Haven of Rest,” final resting place of many of Julian’s early residents. Gravesites date back to the mid-1800s. Many are adorned with charming fences and markers full of character. Sprawled over one of Julian’s many hills, the cemetery's a short walk from the town’s main drag. Climb to the top of the stairs for a bird’s-eye view of the charming buildings of the town. It might be steep, but it’s worth it.
2212 El Cajon Boulevard, University Heights
Exotic Gardens Cactus and Succulents Nursery
Browse a collection of locally grown aloes, bromeliads, cacti, staghorn ferns, and rare cactus and succulent specimens. Get expert growing and planting advice on native landscaping and gardening with drought-tolerant flora from owner Carl Dykema, who has maintained succulent gardens for over 30 years. Midway between Park and Texas, this little nursery is a green oasis in the middle of North Park.
3000 Guajome Lake Road, Oceanside
Guajome County Park
Hike, bike, picnic, camp, and even fish at this county park off Highway 76, just nine miles inland from downtown Oceanside. Two ponds are home to fish, and the migratory birds make for good bird-watching. Trails wind through woodlands, chaparral, wetlands, and mixed grasslands. A small gazebo overlooking the water can be reserved for weddings, and the park has a small cabin that can be rented for up to six people. New playgrounds and basketball courts make this a family favorite.
8622 Kennel Way, La Jolla
Tour Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Founded in 1903, Scripps is one of the oldest and most prestigious marine and earth sciences research institutions in the world. Take a walk on campus, enjoy the view of La Jolla, and enter a laboratory building to see science in action. Stroll on the Scripps Pier, otherwise closed to the public. Tours are offered every other Friday for free, but registration is required. A map and tour details will be sent with confirmation of your registration.
— Leorah Gavidor