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San Diego Reader Fun issue

The Hobbit House in Ramona, Borrego's night skies, Love Thy Lucha, the Proctor Valley Monster, Greg Cox Bike Park, 60s musical at Carlsbad flower fields

Practice breakdance maneuvers alongside b-girl Melissa Adao.
Practice breakdance maneuvers alongside b-girl Melissa Adao.
  • Breakdance with Olympic prospects
  • Kearny Mesa/Old Town

Breakdancing will be an official sport at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, and local b-girls and b-boys have been practicing breakdance maneuvers in hopes of repping Team USA. Throughout the county, breakers are “spontaneously” linking up via “social media,” according to b-girl Melissa Adao, and more formally at the Apex School of Movement and Culture Shock Training Academy.

For the recent Olympic qualifiers held on Instagram and Zoom, Adao, a 41-year-old Golden Hill dweller, busted funky grooves up top then got down with traditional footwork and freezes. “There are three judges who score you on the spot, based on a USA Breakin’ scoring system,” she explained. “I made the top eight bracket for all of the Olympic qualifiers I’ve entered, so I am happy!” The wins garnered her a spot at Austin, Texas, where face-to-face battles will ensue, and judges will decide who’ll progress one step closer to rock the red, white, and blue battle uniforms at the Place de le Concorde in downtown Paris. If you want to learn breakin’ — an urban dance form born on the streets of New York in the ‘70s that tests strength, balance, agility, rhythm, and style — pass by either of the aforementioned schools.

  • Love Thy Lucha
  • Chula Vista

On June 12, So Cal Crazy, Jordan Cruz, Rancho Camacho, Hunter Freeman, and other pro wrestlers from Level Up Wrestling school will grapple at the Love Thy Lucha event in downtown Chula Vista. “Don’t take our pro-wrestling students lightly; our students are trained by B-boy (Benny),” explained Norris Jarmon, the La Mesa wrestling school’s founder. “Some of these wrestlers are also trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, collegiate wrestling, kickboxing, Muay Thai, karate, and things like that.

On June 12, pro wrestlers from Level Up Wrestling school will grapple at the Love Thy Lucha event in downtown Chula Vista.

You want to bring everything you can to the table; that way, your offense is a little different.” I interviewed Jarmon while three of his wrestlers were training in the roughly 18-foot by 18-foot ring surrounded by scaffolding. “These wrestlers are not always here for a good time and to just dance around in their underwear; they put in the work, from top to bottom, before and after the shows.” The motif of this Saturday wrestling event, which is co-produced by the Love Thy Neighbor movement, is based on Lucha Libre: Mexican-styled, high-flying pro wrestling. The luchadores’ grandiosely designed wrestling masks and top turnbuckle leaps are some of the signature elements spectators will see here; there’ll also be Lucha Libre-inspired art to purchase and food to munch in between the bouts. It’s $5 for the kids and $15 for adults at the door. The opening bell rings shortly after 6 pm, and the matches go on until 9 pm.

  • Rap battle
  • Rolando/College Area

Local rappers are congregating at the Ugly Dog Pub on July 17. Shots Fired, a local rap battle league, promotes the ciphers — hip-hop vernacular for circles of competing rappers surrounded by onlookers who judge the battles. On June 25, Kahlee, a Mira Mesa rapper and hip-hop podcast host, and KnewBalance, an OB rapper and school teacher, will drop their SD State Of Mind compilation record, featuring an array of SD-based rappers and producers, plus winners of past rap battles.

Local rappers are congregating at The Ugly Dog pub on July 17.

“I’ve met a lot of talented emcees at these battles,” Kahlee said in a Reader interview. “A lot of times, they don’t even make music, or they’ve just started to, so it’s a chance for me to see them in action.” The more seasoned rappers come prepared, “writing intricate lyrics with crazy similes and metaphors, then transitioning from written to off-the-top freestyles and back, seamlessly.” The judges cheer or jeer based on the rapper’s wittiness, delivery, cohesiveness, “clever use of vocabulary, and presence,” Kahlee continued. “I want to book artists that have stage presence, which is a major piece of battle rap. This isn’t the spot to come rapping over lyrics. You gotta have your bars ready to go.” Peep the ShotsFiredRap Instagram account for exact times.

  • Sneaker and Vintage Clothing Swap Meet
  • Point Loma

The self-proclaimed “largest outdoor sneaker swap meet” in America returns on September 4-5 for Labor Day weekend. I spoke with some sneakerheads in the area before the Kobey’s sneaker swap in June. “I’m looking for some Turdunken Dunks or the Camo Duck Air Max’s to match our ‘Duck Sauce’ song,” NEMY said. (NEMY, a local artist, just released the ‘Duck Sauce’ single he co-rapped with Indian K on the SD State Of Mind compilation album.) “I was what people call a ‘sneakerhead’ before that word existed in the early 2000s,” NEMY continued. And the Meet might have just what he’s looking for. “I have a pair of used Nike Dunk SB High ‘Turdunken’ size 10s for $230,” says Sailboat Lewis.

Kobey’s sneaker swap, the self-proclaimed “largest outdoor sneaker swap meet” in America returns on September 4-5.

Lewis, from Mission Valley, has been slinging vintage sneakers since the first Sneaker and Vintage Clothing Swap Meet in 2019, when there were 100 vendors and 7575 shoppers. “Kobey’s has always been my most lucrative show, and since the first time vending there, I have sold at over a dozen other events.” In April, the sneaker and vintage clothing show brought in “250 vendors and 12,226 shoppers,” according to Anthony Pretto, the show’s founder. “We are expecting vendors and shoppers from Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Washington.” If you’re considering selling your old kicks or pairs owned by your parents (or their parents) back in the day, Pretto sells 18-foot by 16-foot booth spots for $40.

  • The San Diego Comic Book Show
  • Mission Valley

On July 17, there’s a quaint comic book show in town. “Be sure to come at 8 am as an early bird to get the best selection and prices on some of the hottest books in the market,” states the event’s Facebook page. This is the first official local comic book gathering since I covered Comic Fest, which happened about a week before the 2020 statewide shut down. “We comic book fans are tired of shopping online and getting books in the mail,” commented Ray M., a comic book collector and online dealer. “That experience of opening up a gummy-like bag, pulling out the silver age comic book and backing board, whiffing the aged specimens, inspecting the spine’s binding and creamy inside pages, then negotiating face to face with a dealer, was lost in 2020.” The event page notes that “we will be following local health guidelines and will require all participants (dealers, guests, and attendees) to wear masks. We will be limiting the amount of attendees in the dealer room to provide a safe and comfortable environment.” The organizers added that they plan on “continuing the show every 3-4 months.”

– Mike Madriaga

  • Borrego Night Sky Tours
  • Borrego Springs
See the Milky Way in Borrego Springs, an international dark sky community.

Borrego Springs is, along with Julian, one of only two International Dark Sky communities in California, which means the Milky Way is visible from town and the surrounding area. From a comfortable outdoor location, you can take an extensive guided tour of the stars, including telescope viewing, with Borrego Night Sky Tours ($59 adult/$39 kid, reserve ahead).

Astronomer Dennis Mammana will point out planets, constellations, and galaxies, then instruct you on telescope use for a close-up with heavenly bodies like Saturn and Jupiter. You can also grab a star chart and head out to the desert on your own. It’ll be great place to view the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks August on 11-12 this year.

  • Glamping at Hobbit House
  • Ramona

This enchanted Hobbit House has a round door, just like Frodo’s front entrance in Lord of the Rings. Rock walls, hand-carved furniture, and wood beam ceilings add to the Tolkien-esque ambience, as does the setting: nestled into boulders overlooking the hilly San Diego backcountry.

Spend a night in maximum coziness at this enchanted Hobbit House in Ramona.

Hidden behind the home of owner Roy Toft, Hobbit House has running water in an outdoor (yet private) toilet and shower. Enjoy expansive views from the rooftop garden, or light up the outdoor fire pit under the stars. If you bring perishables, bring ice for the Yeti cooler (no electricity).

Amenities include glasses and utensils, a bed, a wood-burning stove and propane cooking stove, lanterns, and a little writing desk. Maximum coziness. ($289/night for two guests.)

  • Rice Canyon Demonstration Gardens and Preserve
  • Chula Vista

Rice Canyon is an undeveloped piece of San Diego with hiking trails and open space, tucked away in suburban Rancho Del Rey, not far from the 805. Gardens at the entrance to the canyon showcase drought-tolerant, cactus, and succulent plants, many of which were used by native peoples in various ways. Look for Desert Spoon (sotol in Spanish), a 3-4 foot tall rosette with blue gray spear-like leaves, used by indigenous people to make sandals, baskets, ropes, mats, and more. They even fermented the central part of the plant to make a beer-like beverage. Download a free PDF plant guide, hang out in the gardens (next to parking area) and picnic at a table, or take an easy hike through the canyon. Free.

  • Archery Classes
  • Poway

Founded in 1991, the outdoor archery range at Lake Poway hosts summer camps and classes, including a year-round Junior Olympic series taught by national champion Alanna Dunaway. Target practice is available to the public ($16 annual archery card required), first come, first served. Bring your own gear and targets (or purchase targets at concessions).

The archery range at Lake Poway hosts summer camps and classes, including a year-round Junior Olympic series taught by national champion Alanna Dunaway.

The range opens 30 minutes after sunrise — come early and you might see some deer. Camp is $75-$86 for four days, $10 materials fee, equipment supplied. Beginners welcome. The range is also available for private events. Make a day of it and catch a summer concert at Lake Poway or Old Poway Park: Sundays, June 20 to August 15.

  • Bonita Museum and Cultural Center
  • Bonita

A delightful hodgepodge of art, artifacts, and natural history, the Bonita Museum preserves the history of South San Diego County, from dinosaur days (when the valley was underwater) to Kumeyaay to Spanish to Mexican to the early 1900s citrus boom and beyond. See fossils found in the Sweetwater Valley, the Bonita Badger, and the locally legendary Proctor Valley Monster footprint. New exhibit “Permission To Come Aboard” opens June 25, taking visitors through local shipbuilding history, starting from the 1700s. “With cool, very detailed miniatures,” promises museum director Wendy Wilson-Gibson. Learn about the Bonnie Brae lemon, patented in Bonita, and lay eyes on Bonita’s first public sculpture. Donation-based (pay what you can) admission.

– Leorah Gavidor

  • Mount Laguna Day Trip
  • Cleveland National Forest

If you are looking for an alternative to spending an afternoon on a crowded beach, a day trip to Mount Laguna could be just the thing. No marine layer, parking is simple, and there is a noticeable temperature drop at about 5000 feet. Not only does the area offer great camping, hiking and biking opportunities, but on a clear day you can often see all the way out to the Salton Sea from certain vantage points. Plan for about an hour of drive time if you live near the coast, and bring plenty of food, water and sunscreen for the trip. If you forget something, you aren’t going to find a strip mall with a Target at the top of the mountain.

  • San Diego River Bike Path
  • Ocean Beach/Mission Valley

In the age of Covid-19, road cycling is one of the few physical activities that has experienced minimal interruptions. As a result, area bike shops did gangbuster business early on in the pandemic while gyms and sporting goods shops remained closed. If you purchased a bike due to reduced access to other exercise options, the San Diego River Trail is a great spot to break it in. The path travels alongside the San Diego River — often in fits and spurts. That being said, the prime ride is the uninterrupted seven mile stretch that runs from Robb Field in Ocean Beach to Sefton Field at the west end of Hotel Circle Place. If you wish to continue deeper into Mission Valley, the riverside trail resumes on the southeast side of Fashion Valley Mall.

  • Explore Lake Wohlford
  • Escondido

If you have ever driven north to any of the casinos in Valley Center, it’s likely that your GPS routed you through the Lake Wohlford region of Escondido. You ascend a mountainous incline for about 1400 feet and end up in a tiny foothills community that feels like a miniaturized version of Ramona. While most people will just pass on through, the lake itself is a large draw for many — especially anglers. From mid-December through the weekend after Labor Day in September, visitors will try their luck at hooking bass, trout, catfish and other fish. Some get so hooked that they choose to retire in Lake Wohlford Resort, a nearby mobile home park that has been operating as a fishing resort since the 1920s.

  • Famosa Slough Bird Watching
  • Point Loma

You know what a pandemic can’t stop people from doing? Spying on birds! Citizens nationwide figured this out in 2020; a majority remote or unemployed work force took increased notice of our winged compadres. If the flying action outside your window isn’t up to snuff, take a drive over to Famosa Slough to get your bird watch on. The 37-acre wetland area (just to the east of Ocean Beach off West Point Loma Blvd) is one of the county’s premier spots for bird watching. Year-round visitors include Snowy Egrets, Brown Pelicans, and Red-tailed Hawks. Rare or unusual sightings at the slough include the Hooded Merganser, Wilson’s Snipe, and the Red-throated Loon.

  • Greg Cox Bike Park
  • Chula Vista

One year after Sweetwater Bike Park opened in Bonita, San Diego County now has its second official bike park. Greg Cox Bike Park (opened in April) is yet another playground for both the young and young at heart who can’t get enough of tackling trails, humps, and jumps on two wheels.

Greg Cox Bike Park is yet another playground for both the young and young at heart who can’t get enough of tackling trails, humps and jumps on two wheels.

Features include a jump park, kids park, chill zone, and a pump track. There are also designated beginner and intermediate trail systems which include “bike skill features” that serve to add a little optional spice to the standard trail-riding experience. The chill zone is a beginner loop that should serve as a prime destination for novice riders who are looking for an easy first trail to conquer.

– Dryw Keltz

  • Compass Balloons
  • Cardiff

For those of you hesitant to get back out there living life like pre-covid times, a balloon ride is basically a quarantiner’s dream. It’s just you and a loved one (if you want) — or a friend, your mom, your entire family, whomever — and the balloon pilot, high above the world, looking down at the peasants below. You’ll take in the beauty of the Pacific, fly above golf courses, soar over the San Diego skyline, and gawk at the million-dollar homes that dot the coast. Why weren’t we all doing this during lockdown? Probably because it ain’t cheap! But it’s a well-worth-it, once-in-a-lifetime moment. Aren’t we all ready for that? Go ahead, splurge! Compass Balloons in Cardiff offers shared sunset rides for $250 per person. They also offer private rides starting at $1000 for two people, $1200 for 1-4 riders, and $1800 for parties of 5-8 people. Riders must be at least five years old. The ride is 3 hours and 30 minutes long. Complimentary champagne, cheese, fresh fruit, water and soda are offered.

  • So-Cal Sidecars
  • Temecula

If you are looking for a unique way to explore San Diego wine country, try So-Cal Sidecars. Sit back with the wind in your hair in a vintage-inspired tandem sidecar while having a private chauffeur whisk you around. Several packages are offered, all in and around Temecula. There is a brewery tour, a wine tour, a Temecula Adventure tour, and even a scenic plane ride/ wine tour. Tours are offered on weekdays and weekends. Prices start at $149 per person for the Temecula Adventure tour (2 hours), $199 per person for the wine and brewery tour (2 ½ hours), and $499 per person for the plane ride/wine tour (3 hours).

  • San Diego Speedboat Adventures
  • San Diego Harbor

Captain your own boat. San Diego Speedboat Adventures sets you loose (after a lesson in safety) to zoom through the San Diego harbor. The boats are simple to operate. Staff will ensure that you are comfortable maneuvering the boat before leaving the dock.

San Diego Speed boat adventures sets you loose (after a lesson in safety) to zoom through the San Diego harbor.

You will follow a guide in a separate vessel, who will give you the rundown on local sights via a two-way radio. Speed past the Coronado Bridge, Navy ships, and Seaport Village. Rentals start at $79.90.

  • Skydive San Diego
  • Jamul

After a year of isolation, skydiving is in order. The best part about it is: no experience is necessary. At Skydive San Diego, they offer tandem jumps, so the experts are in charge. All you need to do is show up and jump (after completing a simple training program, of course). Skydives are from 13,000 feet. You will freefall for approximately one minute. Afterward, you will parachute over the perfectly serene Pacific Ocean, the city of San Diego, and Baja California for 5-6 minutes. Packages range from $179-$219, depending on day of week and time of jump. You must be under 230 pounds to jump and be at least 18 years old. No exceptions.

  • Paraglide Torrey Pines
  • La Jolla

With nearly 100 years of flying history under its belt, the Torrey Pines Gliderport is Southern California’s most breathtaking location for paragliding.

The Torrey Pines Gliderport is Southern California’s most breathtaking location for paragliding.

The Gliderport provides tandem flights for newbies: $175 for 20-25 minutes of flight over the Torrey pines cliffs. Paragliding is open to any and all ages. Instructors are certified, and available for flights 7 days a week. The gliderport has launched over 150,000 accident-free tandem flights over the last 20 years.

– Siobhan Braun

  • Hike to Three Sisters Falls
  • South of Julian
The hike to Three Sisters Falls includes some climbing, bouldering and traversing before you reach the sparkling pools and falls at the bottom of the slope.

This moderately strenuous out-and-back hike is just over four miles round trip and includes some climbing, bouldering and traversing before you reach the sparkling pools and falls at the bottom of the slope.

Once you’ve arrived, scramble up the rock faces and boulders for expansive views before going for a cooling dip, or after you dry off — the rocks can be slippery if your shoes and clothing are still wet. Refuel with an al fresco meal before heading back, and be sure to save plenty of water for the return trip. It’s a challenging uphill trek that will leave you with tired legs and happy memories.

  • Enjoy a movie at Rooftop Cinema Club
  • Marina District

For the ultimate outdoor film experience, head to the fourth floor of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego and the Rooftop Cinema Club.

Classic films, cult favorites, themed nights, singalongs and family-friendly screenings are shown at the Rooftop Cinema Club.

Sink into comfy deck chairs, slide on a pair of state-of-the-art wireless headphones, and order craft brews, movie-themed cocktails, and upscale noshes from the touchless concessionaire. Classic films, cult favorites, themed nights, singalongs and family-friendly screenings are shown Tuesday through Sunday, and reservations are required.

  • Take the ferry to Coronado and bike the Silver Strand
  • Downtown/Coronado

Take the Coronado Ferry from either the Broadway Pier or the Convention Center for a 20-minute ride across San Diego Bay to Coronado Ferry Landing. Fares are a mere $5 one-way, and you can bring your bicycle for free. The Silver Strand Bikeway is an 18-mile, flat, paved path that begins near the ferry landing and takes you along the sandy tombolo all the way to Imperial Beach. It’s accessible for riders of all levels, and along the way you’ll be treated to views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the other. Stop at Silver Strand Beach for a quick swim or a walk along the sand. If you don’t have your own bike, rentals are available at the ferry landing.

  • Learn to make your own kombucha
  • North Park

If you love kombucha but hate spending $4-$5 for a bottle, check out the San Diego Fermenters Club’s in-person and online classes to learn how easy it is to make gallons of your own fizzy, probiotic-filled beverages at home for just pennies. The class includes information about the history and benefits of fermented foods and drinks, the ins and outs of carbonation and flavoring, hands-on kombucha making, and a bottle of your own sparkling drink to take home. They also offer other fermentation classes, including sessions on making pickles, kimchi, miso, sourdough, and fish sauce in hands-on settings, follow-along virtual classes, and self-paced online workshops. Plus, there’s an online shop for all the necessary supplies and cultures.

  • Kayak the La Jolla Caves
  • La Jolla

Eons of pounding surf and storms along the coastline have created the La Jolla Caves, a series of seven sea caverns nestled between La Jolla Shores Beach and La Jolla Cove. Only one, Sunny Jim Sea Cave, is accessible by land, via The Cave Store, a tunnel and a 145 step descent down a wooden staircase, but it’s worth the $5 fee. Your best bet for viewing all seven is to rent or bring your own kayak and explore them from the sea. Only two caves, The Clam’s Cave and Arch Cave, are large enough to enter by kayak, and you must be with an approved kayak tour, but you can swim into them all, or just relax and enjoy the wildlife - you might see leopard sharks or garibaldi swimming by, or sea lions lazing on the rocks.

– Mary Beth Abate

  • Beehive at the Flower Fields
  • Carlsbad

San Diego boasts one of the best theater scenes in the nation, but the pandemic made a predicament of staging live performances for most of the last year. So the creative team behind Carlsbad Village theater venue New Village Arts entered the summer of ’21 with a novel approach to staging musicals outdoors: they’re turning the Flower Fields into a performance space. Don’t worry: the flowers were already picked by time the group launched June previews for its production of Beehive – The ‘60s Musical, so the makeshift venue won’t trample anything precious. But the show’s run through July 10 will allow local actors to escape their living rooms to once again sing and dance before live audiences, this time with a backdrop including coastal sunsets.

  • Rady Shell
  • Marina District
The Rady Shell sits at Embarcadero Park South, commanding views of the Coronado Bridge, the harbor, and the San Diego skyline.

The public must wait until August to witness performances at San Diego’s newest music venue. But considering that our sunny city has always lacked an outdoor orchestra shell to compare to the likes of the Hollywood Bowl or Boston’s Hatch Shell, what’s another couple months? As settings go, the Rady Shell should have those others beat — the 10,000 capacity venue sits at Embarcadero Park South, commanding views of the Coronado Bridge, the harbor, and the San Diego skyline.

The true test will come with the shell’s acoustics, which promise to project dozens of annual performances by the San Diego Symphony, plus an inaugural concert calendar featuring Gladys Knight, Brian Wilson, and Bobby McFerrin. The Shell officially debuts on August 6; individual tickets go on sale June 22.

  • Water Conservation Garden
  • Rancho San Diego
Take a stroll, or linger at any of the Water Conservation Garden’s gazebos, amphitheaters, or picnic tables.

Six of the county’s most pleasant acres cover shallow slopes abutting the campus of El Cajon’s Cuyamaca College. The sprawling botanical garden has grown over the course of 22 years; the place was founded with the intent to educate on planting and maintaining vegetation appropriate to our climate’s recurring drought conditions.

Indeed, among the garden’s thousands of trees, shrubs, succulents and flowers, guests will find myriad installations detailing how to, say, plant according to soil type, produce compost, or landscape to prevent erosion. However, you needn’t take notes to enjoy the garden for what it is. The path wending through its exhibits passes multicolored blooms, animal-shaped topiary, a lily pond, and a glassed-in butterfly pavilion. Take a stroll, or linger at any of the garden’s gazebos, amphitheaters, or picnic tables.

– Ian Anderson

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Practice breakdance maneuvers alongside b-girl Melissa Adao.
Practice breakdance maneuvers alongside b-girl Melissa Adao.
  • Breakdance with Olympic prospects
  • Kearny Mesa/Old Town

Breakdancing will be an official sport at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, and local b-girls and b-boys have been practicing breakdance maneuvers in hopes of repping Team USA. Throughout the county, breakers are “spontaneously” linking up via “social media,” according to b-girl Melissa Adao, and more formally at the Apex School of Movement and Culture Shock Training Academy.

For the recent Olympic qualifiers held on Instagram and Zoom, Adao, a 41-year-old Golden Hill dweller, busted funky grooves up top then got down with traditional footwork and freezes. “There are three judges who score you on the spot, based on a USA Breakin’ scoring system,” she explained. “I made the top eight bracket for all of the Olympic qualifiers I’ve entered, so I am happy!” The wins garnered her a spot at Austin, Texas, where face-to-face battles will ensue, and judges will decide who’ll progress one step closer to rock the red, white, and blue battle uniforms at the Place de le Concorde in downtown Paris. If you want to learn breakin’ — an urban dance form born on the streets of New York in the ‘70s that tests strength, balance, agility, rhythm, and style — pass by either of the aforementioned schools.

  • Love Thy Lucha
  • Chula Vista

On June 12, So Cal Crazy, Jordan Cruz, Rancho Camacho, Hunter Freeman, and other pro wrestlers from Level Up Wrestling school will grapple at the Love Thy Lucha event in downtown Chula Vista. “Don’t take our pro-wrestling students lightly; our students are trained by B-boy (Benny),” explained Norris Jarmon, the La Mesa wrestling school’s founder. “Some of these wrestlers are also trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, collegiate wrestling, kickboxing, Muay Thai, karate, and things like that.

On June 12, pro wrestlers from Level Up Wrestling school will grapple at the Love Thy Lucha event in downtown Chula Vista.

You want to bring everything you can to the table; that way, your offense is a little different.” I interviewed Jarmon while three of his wrestlers were training in the roughly 18-foot by 18-foot ring surrounded by scaffolding. “These wrestlers are not always here for a good time and to just dance around in their underwear; they put in the work, from top to bottom, before and after the shows.” The motif of this Saturday wrestling event, which is co-produced by the Love Thy Neighbor movement, is based on Lucha Libre: Mexican-styled, high-flying pro wrestling. The luchadores’ grandiosely designed wrestling masks and top turnbuckle leaps are some of the signature elements spectators will see here; there’ll also be Lucha Libre-inspired art to purchase and food to munch in between the bouts. It’s $5 for the kids and $15 for adults at the door. The opening bell rings shortly after 6 pm, and the matches go on until 9 pm.

  • Rap battle
  • Rolando/College Area

Local rappers are congregating at the Ugly Dog Pub on July 17. Shots Fired, a local rap battle league, promotes the ciphers — hip-hop vernacular for circles of competing rappers surrounded by onlookers who judge the battles. On June 25, Kahlee, a Mira Mesa rapper and hip-hop podcast host, and KnewBalance, an OB rapper and school teacher, will drop their SD State Of Mind compilation record, featuring an array of SD-based rappers and producers, plus winners of past rap battles.

Local rappers are congregating at The Ugly Dog pub on July 17.

“I’ve met a lot of talented emcees at these battles,” Kahlee said in a Reader interview. “A lot of times, they don’t even make music, or they’ve just started to, so it’s a chance for me to see them in action.” The more seasoned rappers come prepared, “writing intricate lyrics with crazy similes and metaphors, then transitioning from written to off-the-top freestyles and back, seamlessly.” The judges cheer or jeer based on the rapper’s wittiness, delivery, cohesiveness, “clever use of vocabulary, and presence,” Kahlee continued. “I want to book artists that have stage presence, which is a major piece of battle rap. This isn’t the spot to come rapping over lyrics. You gotta have your bars ready to go.” Peep the ShotsFiredRap Instagram account for exact times.

  • Sneaker and Vintage Clothing Swap Meet
  • Point Loma

The self-proclaimed “largest outdoor sneaker swap meet” in America returns on September 4-5 for Labor Day weekend. I spoke with some sneakerheads in the area before the Kobey’s sneaker swap in June. “I’m looking for some Turdunken Dunks or the Camo Duck Air Max’s to match our ‘Duck Sauce’ song,” NEMY said. (NEMY, a local artist, just released the ‘Duck Sauce’ single he co-rapped with Indian K on the SD State Of Mind compilation album.) “I was what people call a ‘sneakerhead’ before that word existed in the early 2000s,” NEMY continued. And the Meet might have just what he’s looking for. “I have a pair of used Nike Dunk SB High ‘Turdunken’ size 10s for $230,” says Sailboat Lewis.

Kobey’s sneaker swap, the self-proclaimed “largest outdoor sneaker swap meet” in America returns on September 4-5.

Lewis, from Mission Valley, has been slinging vintage sneakers since the first Sneaker and Vintage Clothing Swap Meet in 2019, when there were 100 vendors and 7575 shoppers. “Kobey’s has always been my most lucrative show, and since the first time vending there, I have sold at over a dozen other events.” In April, the sneaker and vintage clothing show brought in “250 vendors and 12,226 shoppers,” according to Anthony Pretto, the show’s founder. “We are expecting vendors and shoppers from Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Los Angeles, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Washington.” If you’re considering selling your old kicks or pairs owned by your parents (or their parents) back in the day, Pretto sells 18-foot by 16-foot booth spots for $40.

  • The San Diego Comic Book Show
  • Mission Valley

On July 17, there’s a quaint comic book show in town. “Be sure to come at 8 am as an early bird to get the best selection and prices on some of the hottest books in the market,” states the event’s Facebook page. This is the first official local comic book gathering since I covered Comic Fest, which happened about a week before the 2020 statewide shut down. “We comic book fans are tired of shopping online and getting books in the mail,” commented Ray M., a comic book collector and online dealer. “That experience of opening up a gummy-like bag, pulling out the silver age comic book and backing board, whiffing the aged specimens, inspecting the spine’s binding and creamy inside pages, then negotiating face to face with a dealer, was lost in 2020.” The event page notes that “we will be following local health guidelines and will require all participants (dealers, guests, and attendees) to wear masks. We will be limiting the amount of attendees in the dealer room to provide a safe and comfortable environment.” The organizers added that they plan on “continuing the show every 3-4 months.”

– Mike Madriaga

  • Borrego Night Sky Tours
  • Borrego Springs
See the Milky Way in Borrego Springs, an international dark sky community.

Borrego Springs is, along with Julian, one of only two International Dark Sky communities in California, which means the Milky Way is visible from town and the surrounding area. From a comfortable outdoor location, you can take an extensive guided tour of the stars, including telescope viewing, with Borrego Night Sky Tours ($59 adult/$39 kid, reserve ahead).

Astronomer Dennis Mammana will point out planets, constellations, and galaxies, then instruct you on telescope use for a close-up with heavenly bodies like Saturn and Jupiter. You can also grab a star chart and head out to the desert on your own. It’ll be great place to view the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks August on 11-12 this year.

  • Glamping at Hobbit House
  • Ramona

This enchanted Hobbit House has a round door, just like Frodo’s front entrance in Lord of the Rings. Rock walls, hand-carved furniture, and wood beam ceilings add to the Tolkien-esque ambience, as does the setting: nestled into boulders overlooking the hilly San Diego backcountry.

Spend a night in maximum coziness at this enchanted Hobbit House in Ramona.

Hidden behind the home of owner Roy Toft, Hobbit House has running water in an outdoor (yet private) toilet and shower. Enjoy expansive views from the rooftop garden, or light up the outdoor fire pit under the stars. If you bring perishables, bring ice for the Yeti cooler (no electricity).

Amenities include glasses and utensils, a bed, a wood-burning stove and propane cooking stove, lanterns, and a little writing desk. Maximum coziness. ($289/night for two guests.)

  • Rice Canyon Demonstration Gardens and Preserve
  • Chula Vista

Rice Canyon is an undeveloped piece of San Diego with hiking trails and open space, tucked away in suburban Rancho Del Rey, not far from the 805. Gardens at the entrance to the canyon showcase drought-tolerant, cactus, and succulent plants, many of which were used by native peoples in various ways. Look for Desert Spoon (sotol in Spanish), a 3-4 foot tall rosette with blue gray spear-like leaves, used by indigenous people to make sandals, baskets, ropes, mats, and more. They even fermented the central part of the plant to make a beer-like beverage. Download a free PDF plant guide, hang out in the gardens (next to parking area) and picnic at a table, or take an easy hike through the canyon. Free.

  • Archery Classes
  • Poway

Founded in 1991, the outdoor archery range at Lake Poway hosts summer camps and classes, including a year-round Junior Olympic series taught by national champion Alanna Dunaway. Target practice is available to the public ($16 annual archery card required), first come, first served. Bring your own gear and targets (or purchase targets at concessions).

The archery range at Lake Poway hosts summer camps and classes, including a year-round Junior Olympic series taught by national champion Alanna Dunaway.

The range opens 30 minutes after sunrise — come early and you might see some deer. Camp is $75-$86 for four days, $10 materials fee, equipment supplied. Beginners welcome. The range is also available for private events. Make a day of it and catch a summer concert at Lake Poway or Old Poway Park: Sundays, June 20 to August 15.

  • Bonita Museum and Cultural Center
  • Bonita

A delightful hodgepodge of art, artifacts, and natural history, the Bonita Museum preserves the history of South San Diego County, from dinosaur days (when the valley was underwater) to Kumeyaay to Spanish to Mexican to the early 1900s citrus boom and beyond. See fossils found in the Sweetwater Valley, the Bonita Badger, and the locally legendary Proctor Valley Monster footprint. New exhibit “Permission To Come Aboard” opens June 25, taking visitors through local shipbuilding history, starting from the 1700s. “With cool, very detailed miniatures,” promises museum director Wendy Wilson-Gibson. Learn about the Bonnie Brae lemon, patented in Bonita, and lay eyes on Bonita’s first public sculpture. Donation-based (pay what you can) admission.

– Leorah Gavidor

  • Mount Laguna Day Trip
  • Cleveland National Forest

If you are looking for an alternative to spending an afternoon on a crowded beach, a day trip to Mount Laguna could be just the thing. No marine layer, parking is simple, and there is a noticeable temperature drop at about 5000 feet. Not only does the area offer great camping, hiking and biking opportunities, but on a clear day you can often see all the way out to the Salton Sea from certain vantage points. Plan for about an hour of drive time if you live near the coast, and bring plenty of food, water and sunscreen for the trip. If you forget something, you aren’t going to find a strip mall with a Target at the top of the mountain.

  • San Diego River Bike Path
  • Ocean Beach/Mission Valley

In the age of Covid-19, road cycling is one of the few physical activities that has experienced minimal interruptions. As a result, area bike shops did gangbuster business early on in the pandemic while gyms and sporting goods shops remained closed. If you purchased a bike due to reduced access to other exercise options, the San Diego River Trail is a great spot to break it in. The path travels alongside the San Diego River — often in fits and spurts. That being said, the prime ride is the uninterrupted seven mile stretch that runs from Robb Field in Ocean Beach to Sefton Field at the west end of Hotel Circle Place. If you wish to continue deeper into Mission Valley, the riverside trail resumes on the southeast side of Fashion Valley Mall.

  • Explore Lake Wohlford
  • Escondido

If you have ever driven north to any of the casinos in Valley Center, it’s likely that your GPS routed you through the Lake Wohlford region of Escondido. You ascend a mountainous incline for about 1400 feet and end up in a tiny foothills community that feels like a miniaturized version of Ramona. While most people will just pass on through, the lake itself is a large draw for many — especially anglers. From mid-December through the weekend after Labor Day in September, visitors will try their luck at hooking bass, trout, catfish and other fish. Some get so hooked that they choose to retire in Lake Wohlford Resort, a nearby mobile home park that has been operating as a fishing resort since the 1920s.

  • Famosa Slough Bird Watching
  • Point Loma

You know what a pandemic can’t stop people from doing? Spying on birds! Citizens nationwide figured this out in 2020; a majority remote or unemployed work force took increased notice of our winged compadres. If the flying action outside your window isn’t up to snuff, take a drive over to Famosa Slough to get your bird watch on. The 37-acre wetland area (just to the east of Ocean Beach off West Point Loma Blvd) is one of the county’s premier spots for bird watching. Year-round visitors include Snowy Egrets, Brown Pelicans, and Red-tailed Hawks. Rare or unusual sightings at the slough include the Hooded Merganser, Wilson’s Snipe, and the Red-throated Loon.

  • Greg Cox Bike Park
  • Chula Vista

One year after Sweetwater Bike Park opened in Bonita, San Diego County now has its second official bike park. Greg Cox Bike Park (opened in April) is yet another playground for both the young and young at heart who can’t get enough of tackling trails, humps, and jumps on two wheels.

Greg Cox Bike Park is yet another playground for both the young and young at heart who can’t get enough of tackling trails, humps and jumps on two wheels.

Features include a jump park, kids park, chill zone, and a pump track. There are also designated beginner and intermediate trail systems which include “bike skill features” that serve to add a little optional spice to the standard trail-riding experience. The chill zone is a beginner loop that should serve as a prime destination for novice riders who are looking for an easy first trail to conquer.

– Dryw Keltz

  • Compass Balloons
  • Cardiff

For those of you hesitant to get back out there living life like pre-covid times, a balloon ride is basically a quarantiner’s dream. It’s just you and a loved one (if you want) — or a friend, your mom, your entire family, whomever — and the balloon pilot, high above the world, looking down at the peasants below. You’ll take in the beauty of the Pacific, fly above golf courses, soar over the San Diego skyline, and gawk at the million-dollar homes that dot the coast. Why weren’t we all doing this during lockdown? Probably because it ain’t cheap! But it’s a well-worth-it, once-in-a-lifetime moment. Aren’t we all ready for that? Go ahead, splurge! Compass Balloons in Cardiff offers shared sunset rides for $250 per person. They also offer private rides starting at $1000 for two people, $1200 for 1-4 riders, and $1800 for parties of 5-8 people. Riders must be at least five years old. The ride is 3 hours and 30 minutes long. Complimentary champagne, cheese, fresh fruit, water and soda are offered.

  • So-Cal Sidecars
  • Temecula

If you are looking for a unique way to explore San Diego wine country, try So-Cal Sidecars. Sit back with the wind in your hair in a vintage-inspired tandem sidecar while having a private chauffeur whisk you around. Several packages are offered, all in and around Temecula. There is a brewery tour, a wine tour, a Temecula Adventure tour, and even a scenic plane ride/ wine tour. Tours are offered on weekdays and weekends. Prices start at $149 per person for the Temecula Adventure tour (2 hours), $199 per person for the wine and brewery tour (2 ½ hours), and $499 per person for the plane ride/wine tour (3 hours).

  • San Diego Speedboat Adventures
  • San Diego Harbor

Captain your own boat. San Diego Speedboat Adventures sets you loose (after a lesson in safety) to zoom through the San Diego harbor. The boats are simple to operate. Staff will ensure that you are comfortable maneuvering the boat before leaving the dock.

San Diego Speed boat adventures sets you loose (after a lesson in safety) to zoom through the San Diego harbor.

You will follow a guide in a separate vessel, who will give you the rundown on local sights via a two-way radio. Speed past the Coronado Bridge, Navy ships, and Seaport Village. Rentals start at $79.90.

  • Skydive San Diego
  • Jamul

After a year of isolation, skydiving is in order. The best part about it is: no experience is necessary. At Skydive San Diego, they offer tandem jumps, so the experts are in charge. All you need to do is show up and jump (after completing a simple training program, of course). Skydives are from 13,000 feet. You will freefall for approximately one minute. Afterward, you will parachute over the perfectly serene Pacific Ocean, the city of San Diego, and Baja California for 5-6 minutes. Packages range from $179-$219, depending on day of week and time of jump. You must be under 230 pounds to jump and be at least 18 years old. No exceptions.

  • Paraglide Torrey Pines
  • La Jolla

With nearly 100 years of flying history under its belt, the Torrey Pines Gliderport is Southern California’s most breathtaking location for paragliding.

The Torrey Pines Gliderport is Southern California’s most breathtaking location for paragliding.

The Gliderport provides tandem flights for newbies: $175 for 20-25 minutes of flight over the Torrey pines cliffs. Paragliding is open to any and all ages. Instructors are certified, and available for flights 7 days a week. The gliderport has launched over 150,000 accident-free tandem flights over the last 20 years.

– Siobhan Braun

  • Hike to Three Sisters Falls
  • South of Julian
The hike to Three Sisters Falls includes some climbing, bouldering and traversing before you reach the sparkling pools and falls at the bottom of the slope.

This moderately strenuous out-and-back hike is just over four miles round trip and includes some climbing, bouldering and traversing before you reach the sparkling pools and falls at the bottom of the slope.

Once you’ve arrived, scramble up the rock faces and boulders for expansive views before going for a cooling dip, or after you dry off — the rocks can be slippery if your shoes and clothing are still wet. Refuel with an al fresco meal before heading back, and be sure to save plenty of water for the return trip. It’s a challenging uphill trek that will leave you with tired legs and happy memories.

  • Enjoy a movie at Rooftop Cinema Club
  • Marina District

For the ultimate outdoor film experience, head to the fourth floor of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego and the Rooftop Cinema Club.

Classic films, cult favorites, themed nights, singalongs and family-friendly screenings are shown at the Rooftop Cinema Club.

Sink into comfy deck chairs, slide on a pair of state-of-the-art wireless headphones, and order craft brews, movie-themed cocktails, and upscale noshes from the touchless concessionaire. Classic films, cult favorites, themed nights, singalongs and family-friendly screenings are shown Tuesday through Sunday, and reservations are required.

  • Take the ferry to Coronado and bike the Silver Strand
  • Downtown/Coronado

Take the Coronado Ferry from either the Broadway Pier or the Convention Center for a 20-minute ride across San Diego Bay to Coronado Ferry Landing. Fares are a mere $5 one-way, and you can bring your bicycle for free. The Silver Strand Bikeway is an 18-mile, flat, paved path that begins near the ferry landing and takes you along the sandy tombolo all the way to Imperial Beach. It’s accessible for riders of all levels, and along the way you’ll be treated to views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the other. Stop at Silver Strand Beach for a quick swim or a walk along the sand. If you don’t have your own bike, rentals are available at the ferry landing.

  • Learn to make your own kombucha
  • North Park

If you love kombucha but hate spending $4-$5 for a bottle, check out the San Diego Fermenters Club’s in-person and online classes to learn how easy it is to make gallons of your own fizzy, probiotic-filled beverages at home for just pennies. The class includes information about the history and benefits of fermented foods and drinks, the ins and outs of carbonation and flavoring, hands-on kombucha making, and a bottle of your own sparkling drink to take home. They also offer other fermentation classes, including sessions on making pickles, kimchi, miso, sourdough, and fish sauce in hands-on settings, follow-along virtual classes, and self-paced online workshops. Plus, there’s an online shop for all the necessary supplies and cultures.

  • Kayak the La Jolla Caves
  • La Jolla

Eons of pounding surf and storms along the coastline have created the La Jolla Caves, a series of seven sea caverns nestled between La Jolla Shores Beach and La Jolla Cove. Only one, Sunny Jim Sea Cave, is accessible by land, via The Cave Store, a tunnel and a 145 step descent down a wooden staircase, but it’s worth the $5 fee. Your best bet for viewing all seven is to rent or bring your own kayak and explore them from the sea. Only two caves, The Clam’s Cave and Arch Cave, are large enough to enter by kayak, and you must be with an approved kayak tour, but you can swim into them all, or just relax and enjoy the wildlife - you might see leopard sharks or garibaldi swimming by, or sea lions lazing on the rocks.

– Mary Beth Abate

  • Beehive at the Flower Fields
  • Carlsbad

San Diego boasts one of the best theater scenes in the nation, but the pandemic made a predicament of staging live performances for most of the last year. So the creative team behind Carlsbad Village theater venue New Village Arts entered the summer of ’21 with a novel approach to staging musicals outdoors: they’re turning the Flower Fields into a performance space. Don’t worry: the flowers were already picked by time the group launched June previews for its production of Beehive – The ‘60s Musical, so the makeshift venue won’t trample anything precious. But the show’s run through July 10 will allow local actors to escape their living rooms to once again sing and dance before live audiences, this time with a backdrop including coastal sunsets.

  • Rady Shell
  • Marina District
The Rady Shell sits at Embarcadero Park South, commanding views of the Coronado Bridge, the harbor, and the San Diego skyline.

The public must wait until August to witness performances at San Diego’s newest music venue. But considering that our sunny city has always lacked an outdoor orchestra shell to compare to the likes of the Hollywood Bowl or Boston’s Hatch Shell, what’s another couple months? As settings go, the Rady Shell should have those others beat — the 10,000 capacity venue sits at Embarcadero Park South, commanding views of the Coronado Bridge, the harbor, and the San Diego skyline.

The true test will come with the shell’s acoustics, which promise to project dozens of annual performances by the San Diego Symphony, plus an inaugural concert calendar featuring Gladys Knight, Brian Wilson, and Bobby McFerrin. The Shell officially debuts on August 6; individual tickets go on sale June 22.

  • Water Conservation Garden
  • Rancho San Diego
Take a stroll, or linger at any of the Water Conservation Garden’s gazebos, amphitheaters, or picnic tables.

Six of the county’s most pleasant acres cover shallow slopes abutting the campus of El Cajon’s Cuyamaca College. The sprawling botanical garden has grown over the course of 22 years; the place was founded with the intent to educate on planting and maintaining vegetation appropriate to our climate’s recurring drought conditions.

Indeed, among the garden’s thousands of trees, shrubs, succulents and flowers, guests will find myriad installations detailing how to, say, plant according to soil type, produce compost, or landscape to prevent erosion. However, you needn’t take notes to enjoy the garden for what it is. The path wending through its exhibits passes multicolored blooms, animal-shaped topiary, a lily pond, and a glassed-in butterfly pavilion. Take a stroll, or linger at any of the garden’s gazebos, amphitheaters, or picnic tables.

– Ian Anderson

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