Not for the heights-phobic —  the California Tower in the Museum of Man offers panoramic (but dizzying) view of Balboa park and beyond.
  • Not for the heights-phobic — the California Tower in the Museum of Man offers panoramic (but dizzying) view of Balboa park and beyond.
  • Image by Alyssa Prestidge
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Climb the California Tower in Balboa Park

San Diego Museum of Man

1350 El Prado, Balboa Park

Balboa Park’s California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man was closed to the public in 1935, but after extensive construction and safety renovations it reopened for tours in January of 2015. From the second floor of the museum, you’ll go up a staircase that was hidden from the public for decades, then climb seven floors before finally ascending a spiral metal stairway and emerging into the sunlight where you will see fantastic, 360-degree views up to 23 miles away to the horizon, including the mountains, downtown, the San Diego Zoo, Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, San Diego Bay, and the rest of Balboa Park. Pro tip: You’ll want to make a reservation ($10-$22.50) before dropping by, and scheduled tour times are strictly enforced. — Mary Beth Abate

Don’t read it all before deciding

Bayside Summer Nights Concert Series

Embarcadero Marina Park South

200 Marina Park Way, Downtown San Diego

Bayside Summer Nights, née Summer Pops, offer concerts from a range of performers backed by the San Diego Symphony — from Sergio Mendes to Herb Alpert, Boz Scaggs to Air Supply, and even a screening of E.T. the movie. Nights dedicated to Broadway and classical music also fill the calendar. Food and adult refreshments are available for purchase, although it’s more delicious and economical to bring your own picnic — but leave the alcohol and glass at home. The series runs from June 30–September 3 and start at 7:30 p.m. with ticket prices ranging from $19 to $81. — E.V. Hepworth

Mount Soledad Cycling Tour

Mount Soledad Park

6905 La Jolla Scenic Drive South, La Jolla

Bike Ride San Diego offers a guided cycling tour of Mount Soledad, designed for the avid cyclist: the distance is 24.3 miles; the duration, 4 ½–5 ½ hours. Start on the shores of Mission Bay, then ride through Pacific Beach, Bird Rock, and La Jolla, all the while winding up and down the mountain. The elevation gain is 2700 feet, providing dramatic views of California coastline and a panoramic view of the region from the top. Bike helmet, two bottles of water, and sunscreen are included. Price is $175, plus $75 for each additional rider. — Deirdre Lickona

Camp, Hike, and Go ’Froading at Laguna Hanson

Parque Nacional Constitución de 1857, Baja

This remote lake in the middle of a national park is accessible from San Felipe or Ensenada and will totally change your concept of Baja California landscape. The 5550-foot hilltop granite basin holds a shallow, seasonal lake surrounded by alpine vegetation and pine trees. Hike to the peak, Cerro Hanson, or jam around the desolate mountain trails on your favorite off-road vehicle. Lakeside camping is dirt cheap ($10 per car, cash only) and often empty, offering a solitary experience with nature. Nearby cabins look like something out of a Wes Anderson movie and go for $110 a night. — Chad Deal

Skateworld & Skate San Diego


6907 Linda Vista Road, Linda Vista

Skate San Diego

165 Denny Way, El Cajon

These two remain as the primary spots for open skate sessions in San Diego. Linda Vista’s Skateworld is popular for its smooth surface and convenient location, but open weekend sessions draw big crowds. For a bigger rink and smaller crowds, head to Skate San Diego in El Cajon, though be prepared for a slightly bumpy surface. Open sessions run about $10 at both locations, but check the website before grabbing your quads or your inlines — both rinks frequently host private derby and hockey sessions. — Dave Rice

Eagle Mining Co.

2320 C Street, Julian

Eagle Mining Company

Julian should be a popular day-trip in late summer, thanks to the expected bumper crop of apples and pears, and Eagle Mining Co.'s hour-long tour of one of the town’s gold mines is worth a detour. Visitors walk (stoop may be a better word) 1000 feet into the earth while a guide explains the history of the town. Visitors will walk away with new respect for the rugged life faced by prospectors. Afterward, you can try your hand at panning for gold, or buy some nuggets in the gift shop. — Patrick Henderson

Mission San Luis Rey

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia

4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside

Don’t want to trek all the way to see swallows up at San Juan Capistrano? How about an afternoon wandering through the grounds of Mission San Luis Rey? It’s the largest of the missions, nicknamed the “King of the Missions,” with its 56 acres. Founded in 1798 and named after King Louis IX of France, the grounds hold the oldest pepper tree in California, growing since 1830. Also a must-see: the lavanderia, the bathing and cleaning system of the indians. The museum holds artifacts of early Mission life and the cemetery is the oldest cemetery in North County still in business. If you really must see swallows you probably will, should you visit during the spring and fall migrations. The San Luis Rey River Valley in which the mission sits hosts tree swallows and cliff swallows. Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $3 for youth age 6–18. — Eve Kelly

No rod needed. One need only pick up grunion as they wriggle up the beach to spawn.

Grunion Runs

Unfamiliar with this SoCal past time? A grunion is an itsy-bitsy, silvery, fish that spawns on local beaches during full and new moons at high tide in the spring and summer months. When waves recede, hundreds of glistening grunions appear on the shore. Spawning occurs over four nights. For those over the age of 16, you will need a California fishing license if you plan on keeping any grunion. Grunion may be taken by hand only. The run happens at beaches all over the county. Coronado Central Beach is among the best locations in San Diego for a grunion run. For a schedule of expected summer grunion run dates, visit — Siobhan Braun

Past Event

Bike the Bay

Bike the Bay

Once a year, the Coronado bridge opens to bicycle traffic, offering a chance to complete the loop around San Diego Bay from downtown to Coronado south to Imperial Beach, around the south end of the bay, and back. The 25-mile ride is an untimed journey through five cities that starts and ends at Embarcadero Marina Park South with four rest stops for water and refreshments along the way. The ride is open to cyclists age 10 and over. All participants are invited to post-ride festivities including food trucks, a beer garden, and live entertainment. Prices start at $50 per rider. — Dave Rice

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