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2022 Summer Fun Issue

Line dancing, yoga, archery, Pokemon fest, cosplay swim party, visit a beehive

Galleta Meadows, a collection of life- and sometimes larger-than-life-sized animal sculptures by metal artist Ricardo Breceda.
Galleta Meadows, a collection of life- and sometimes larger-than-life-sized animal sculptures by metal artist Ricardo Breceda.

The other night at dinner, the Young People asked the Old People, “How do you know when you’re an adult?” Your humble Editor’s answer: “When you realize that life is no longer play that gets occasionally interrupted by the necessity of work, but rather work that is occasionally relieved by the pleasure of play.” Or words to that effect. (There’s a reason why Wendy did not want to leave the nursery in Peter Pan!) And if the local real estate market tells you anything, it’s that it takes more and more of that work to hang your hat here. The good news is that there are all sorts of people in San Diego making all sorts of efforts to provide you with wonderful ways to spend your precious playtime. Oh, and the summer weather helps, too. Go have fun!

  • Sculpture scavenger hunt
  • Borrego Springs

If you don’t mind the desert heat, drive over the Lagunas to the far outskirts of San Diego County, Borrego Springs. It’s not only home to California’s largest state park, but also to Galleta Meadows, a collection of life- and sometimes larger-than-life-sized animal sculptures by metal artist Ricardo Breceda. Some 130 sculptures are spread out across the plains north and south of town, including horses, dinosaurs, and elephants. Many may be spotted from the car, others require more vigilance. Ask local hotels or shops for a map to find them all, or take your chances scanning the horizon, mostly along Borrego Springs Road. The best-known pieces are near its intersection with Big Horn Road, including a giant scorpion and the artist’s famous sea serpent.

Place

Galleta Meadows Estates

786 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs

Rent a poolside cabana

Local hotels and resorts

Pace Weezer, you don’t need to go to Beverly Hills to take your picture by the pool. A number of local resorts offer daytime poolside cabana rentals, so locals can lounge in style, then go home to sleep in their own beds. Make reservations at ResortPass.com, but take note that amenities and prices vary. A cabana at the ritzy Fairmont Grand Del Mar, for example, may cost $700 for eight people, including water and snacks. Conversely, a $150 cabana for six at East Village’s Hotel Solamar includes a bottle of champagne. Adult-oriented pools offer bar service and TVs, while family-oriented pools feature games of leisure, or even water slides. A good example of the latter is Mission Valley’s Town & Country Resort, where a family cabana by its corkscrew slide may cost $225 for the day.

Joyride in a small boat

Mission Bay

It’s not all jet skis and stand-up paddle boards on Mission Bay — it can be surprisingly affordable to take a small boat out for a spin. Small sailboat rentals start at $35/hour at one of seven Action Sports Rentals locations. Or pick up the pace in a speedier catamaran, starting at $35/hour at Mission Bay Sport Center. If sail-power sounds daunting, try an easy-to-steer electric duffy boat: leisurely 90-minute outings start at $209 for a group of ten at Duffy of San Diego. For style points, it has to be Hot Tub Cruisin’: $450 gets eight guests two hours on a duffy equipped with on-board hot tub! (You may squeeze up to seven in the tub; the unlucky eighth has to drive.)

—Ian Anderson

Pacific Islander Festival

Pacific Islander Festival

Ski Beach, Mission Bay

Aloha! If you can’t make it to Hawaii this summer, Ski Beach might be a “nui” option. That’s where the Pacific Islander Festival will kick off September 24-25. A variety of luau-type food, including huli-huli chicken, Kalua shredded pork, and other delicacies originating from the Pacific Islands, will be prepared and served throughout the multiple booths and food trucks. Over a hundred hula dancers in authentic pa’u and grass skirts will perform to the pahu and kilu drum beats accompanied by tranquil and soothing lyrics. 

Pacific Islander Festival

  • Saturday, September 24, 2022, noon
  • Ski Beach, Ingraham Street and Vacation Island Road, San Diego

In addition, attendees can purchase exotic merchandise and services from the variety of Melanesian, Micronesian, and Polynesian culture-inspired booths set up throughout the grassy-beachy venue. The keikis can play at the children’s playground near the picnic shelter. Entrance is free of charge. Consider trekking in via Uber or Lyft, as parking around the venue — located on the east side of Vacation Isle off of Ingraham Street — fills up fast. There’s a boat launch and ski area on the south side if you have a boat. Mahalo!

Pokémon GO Fest

Pokémon GO Fest 2022

Balboa Park

Dozens of San Diegans will rendezvous by the El Cid statue at Balboa Park to toss out their Pokéballs on June 4-5. It’s the largest Pokémon GO event of the year, wherein millions of players worldwide link up with trainers on their phones and in person to capture the over 70 Pokémon creatures that will come out of their habitats this special weekend. “The game requires large groups of people, because the game has ‘raids’ where you all have to team up and beat the ‘raid bosses’ together,” explains Ali Vongsathian, founder of the 18,000-deep Pokémon GO San Diego Facebook group. “People have a chance to get a different color variation of the raid boss, called a ‘shiny,’” he continues. 

Past Event

Pokemon GO Fest

Shiny Pokémon are scarce, sought-after variants of Pokémon that sport a different color scheme than others of their species. From 10 am to 6 pm, San Diegans will be on the lookout for the elusive Costumed Pikachu, Axew, Pancham, Galarian Darumaka, and Galarian Weezing. Vongsathian adds, “The main purpose we meet up is to make it easier to beat the raid bosses, connect with other traders, and trade and exchange different Pokémons. The age range of our players is between kids to 30-plus-years old, so you see a variety of age groups playing.” The San Diego group also provides food and drinks for players. To enter, it’ll cost $14.99 through the app. For additional info or help, call/text Ali Vongsathian at (619) 806-3226 or follow Pokemon GO San Diego on Facebook.

Cosplay swim party

Tijuana

Never mind the swimsuit, we’ve got the cosplay: it’s the Animé X Pool Edition gathering at Paraiso Azteca on June 4. Dozens of cosplayers from both sides of the border will meet up at the waterpark and zoo venue, located on the east side of Tijuana off the Tecate freeway, about a 20-mile drive southeast of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Ivan Ballesteros, a local cosplayer, is attending the pool party dressed as Monkey D. Luffy from the One Piece series. His sidekick will cosplay as Nami from the same show. From the Otay Mesa Land Port of Entry, “a taxi is maybe $35 USD both ways,” Ballesteros says. “Uber is cheaper after crossing the border. There is also a bus to get there; you pay the Animé X company with a credit card to purchase a ticket and have to meet up at their pick-up spot in Tijuana.” Tickets to enter the waterpark are 120 pesos, or $5.90 USD. If your español is shoddy, no worries! “There are many people that will help and speak English,” Ballesteros continues, “and the cosplay scene in Tijuana is huge.” Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT), the border city’s cultural center, showcases Japanese anime films for local cosplayers. Ballesteros is also promoting Anime World Expo, a cosplay and anime exhibition in Tijuana slated for October. “Many things from Japan, ideas and creativity in anime, have grown in Mexico,” he added. “So many creative people put their hearts in their cosplays.” Direct message Animé X on Facebook or @coanimex on Instagram for more info. The Saturday cosplay pool party starts at 11 am and goes to 7 pm.

— Mike Madriaga

Coral Tree Tea House

Coral Tree Tea House

Heritage Park

Tucked quaintly into the 1887 McConaughy House in Heritage Park, Coral Tree Tea House is run by two hospitable, grandmotherly cousins who will shower you with sweets and jewels. Each unique table setting features dainty teacups, proper tablecloths, Victorian lace, and a perfectly appropriate number of doilies. All the wood and windows and even the door hinges are original. Pots of house tea — blended with coconut and chocolate — accompany a three-course offering, including house-made scones, of course. Staff makes 99% of the fare. “Visitors from England say our scones are the best,” said co-proprietor Blanche Catania. “If you’re going to dress up, let me know, so I can arrange a big chair for your beautiful outfit.” Open Friday-Sunday, phone reservations required. Free parking.

Sherman Heights Walking Tour

Sherman Heights Walking Tour

Meet at Villa Montezuma

Victorian-era graffiti on an 1880s home — where “two naughty children carved their names” — is one stop on local history buff Louise Torio’s tour. She calls Sherman Heights — home to 400 old structures spanning 1868-1930 — an “original diverse neighborhood.” When Matthew and Augusta Sherman bought the land in 1867, they imposed no racial covenants, and sold plots in sizes affordable for people of modest means. They set aside land for Sherman Elementary — which is still there. During World War II, Sherman Heights families bought the homes of their Japanese neighbors to ensure they could return after internment. Torio will point out Governor Sherman’s Market Street mansion, and various historic houses of worship that have coexisted for over 100 years. The $20 ticket includes a tour of the spectacular and spooky Villa Montezuma. Reservations required.

Santee Boulders

Santee Boulders

Sycamore Landfill Road, Santee

On the high ground across from West Hills High School, Santee Boulders commands a view of the slopes down to Mission Gorge. It’s a great perch for a picnic while taking in a panoramic sunset. Bonus: huge boulders seem to have been suspended mid-roll as they tumbled downhill towards the road, frozen at perfect angles for climbers of the beginner, intermediate, or advanced variety. You can find anchor points for ropes and rappelling, and plenty of crags for practice.

Place

Santee Boulders

8750 Mast Boulevard, Santee

It’s a short hike to the action, with several groupings of boulders strewn about. Kids can scramble around the landscape like goats. Not too far from the city, it’s a quick trip to do some real rock climbing. Park at West Hills Park across Mast Boulevard, but be careful: the nearest crosswalk is about ¼ mile up the road.

— Leorah Gavidor

San Diego Pickleball

Pickleball

Pacific Beach, et alia

Pickleball is the perfect sport for the tennis enthusiast too intimidated to learn how to actually play tennis. It’s a scaled-down, simple-to-learn version of the game, and it’s taking the U.S. by storm. However, it’s not yet large enough to have facilities nationwide. So just as footgolf is played on a golf course, pickleball is generally played on repurposed tennis courts. That is San Diego Pickleball’s model: they lease two tennis courts from the Pacific Beach Tennis Club, each of which are then divided into four individual pickleball courts. Reserving a court for a two-hour session runs $32, so if you are playing doubles, it comes out $8 per player. If you are new to the game, lessons are also available.

The Balboa Park Rube Powell Archery Range

Morley Field Archery Range

Balboa Park

San Diego Archers maintains two archery ranges within Balboa Park. The Morley Field Archery Range is on the park’s eastern edge, where it is sandwiched between the disc golf course and the baseball fields. This one is a standard-issue range which features 34 lanes and target butts between 10-40 yards and 30-90 meters. The Balboa Park Rube Powell Archery Range (south of El Prado, near the Museum of Us) is set up in a canyon and is a walking range similar in design to a golf course. (Make sure you are walking in the correct direction on this range to avoid flying arrows.) Both courses cost just two dollars per day for use, and participants must bring their own bows and arrows. No crossbows, javelins, throwing knives, axes, or slingshots allowed.

Escapes in the Mall

Countywide

Since a trip to the mall can leave a person feeling imprisoned, it’s no surprise to find an escape room experience at the Fashion Valley Mall. The Red Door Escape Room offers six different escapes for those wishing to break free. If escaping from an actual room seems a bit too much, you can escape reality in general for a spell at a trio of virtual reality centers in local malls, including Sandbox VR at the Westfield Mission Valley Mall, Let’s Play! VR at the Westfield Mall in Escondido and Escape to VR: Escape Rooms From The Multiverse located in The Shoppes at Carlsbad. The experience at all these spots is likely to run you $30 to $50. Just one more way that malls are striving to survive in the post-Amazon era.

— Dryw Keltz

Outdoor roller skating at Derby United

Outdoor roller skating at Derby United

North Encanto

Perhaps the worst thing about rollerblading was the blow it dealt to good old-fashioned roller skating. Dust off your skates and head out to Derby United to enjoy San Diego’s only outdoor roller-skating rink. The rink hosts several open skate nights throughout the week, including family fun skates open to all ages, and late-night R&B, hip hop, and college nights featuring a DJ for those 18 and up.

Place

Derby United HQ

6060 Federal Boulevard, San Diego

The best part, if it’s been a while, is that they offer lessons for returning and beginner skaters. For the more adventurous, Derby United hosts roller derby and figure skating lessons. Open skate is a meager $15, including quad rental. Reservations via rollerderby.com are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome. Check their site for a current calendar of open skate availability and class schedules!

Goat yoga at Blackledge Farms

Goat yoga at Blackledge Farms

Ramona

You can’t claim to be a San Diegan if you have not attended a yoga class, and you can’t claim to be a backcountry San Diegan if you haven’t attended a goat yoga class. Blackledge Farms, tucked away in the idyllic rural setting of Ramona, offers a picturesque and relaxing beginner yoga experience. Goats wander the grounds throughout the sessions. Don’t be surprised if one hops on your back while you practice your downward dog pose. If you are more into the goats than the yoga, that’s cool, it’s a judgement-free zone. Go ahead and spoil them with gentle pets and handfuls of animal crackers provided on site.

Place

Blackledge Farms

2377 San Vicente Road, San Diego

The best part: when class wraps up, they bring out the big guns — baby goats for attendees to snuggle. Classes are offered at 5 pm on Friday evenings and 9:30 am on Saturdays. Children are welcome, but they must be over the age of eight. The cost is $35 for an hour and half class. The farm also offers private sessions. Visit their website to sign-up for a session. BAA-MASTE!

Line dancing at Moonshine Flats

Downtown

Moonshine Flats brings a whole lot of honky-tonk to the East Village with Thursday evening line dance lessons. Doors open at 8 pm and classes begin at 8:45. Get your cowboy boots ready, because each week features a different line dance lesson, everything from the Funky Donkey to the Redneck Angel.

Place

Moonshine Flats

344 Seventh Avenue, San Diego

Show off your new moves on Moonshine Flat’s oversized wooden dance floor while getting down to live music or a DJ spinning pop, rock, and top country songs. If you need some fresh air after all that dancing, an outdoor deck features fun pub games like corn-hole, beer pong, and shuffleboard. Last call is at 1:30 am. Cover charges are usually around $10 per person, depending on musical guest.

— Siobhan Braun

Children’s Nature Retreat

Children’s Nature Retreat

Alpine

Children’s Nature Retreat, located 40 miles east of San Diego, is home to more than 200 animals. The furry friends range from a small guinea pig, all the way up to a camel and a bison. Animals are divided up into 25 species and 69 breeds, and the retreat is divided into multiple sections such as Big Farm, Little Farm, Camel Oasis, and African Animals.

Place

Children's Nature Retreat

5178 Japatul Spur, Alpine

Reptiles, tortoises, and a variety of birds in the aviary also call this sanctuary home. The facility includes a hydroponic fodder system that sprouts more than 130 pounds of barley each day, an orchard, and a vegetable garden. Single day passes cost $38 for an adult, $20 for a child, $28 for a senior.

Girl Next Door Honey

Girl Next Door Honey

Private Residence in the 92117 area

Start your day with a bee suit and thousands of bees flying around you — definitely a more intense buzz than the one you get from coffee. Dive into the heart of a beehive and learn the ins and outs of how bees make honey, the hierarchy of hives, and how vital bees are to our ecosystem. If that puts a bee in your bonnet to start your own hives, online and in-person classes are available, as well as maintenance and mentorship programs to help you keep your backyard hive thriving. Girl Next Door Honey offers morning and afternoon tours, with bee suits provided. Tours run two hours, and the cost is $59 per person.

Rose Yellow Henna

Pacific Beach

Mark a special occasion or just celebrate the day in Pacific Beach with a design that reflects your personality. This pop-up henna booth is located next to Cannonball restaurant facing the boardwalk. They offer over 500 designs ranging from a small hand design — imagine a simple sunflower with angles darting out from between petals, or a seahorse ($20) — to more elaborate designs, such as a hand and arm sleeve of interweaving rose and vines ($70). But you’re not tied to the templates; bring your own photo of a design or make a request. Traditional henna (reddish brown) or Jagua (a bluish black fruit-based gel) are available. Walk ups welcome, or book an event or private appointment online.

— Deirdre Lickona

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Galleta Meadows, a collection of life- and sometimes larger-than-life-sized animal sculptures by metal artist Ricardo Breceda.
Galleta Meadows, a collection of life- and sometimes larger-than-life-sized animal sculptures by metal artist Ricardo Breceda.

The other night at dinner, the Young People asked the Old People, “How do you know when you’re an adult?” Your humble Editor’s answer: “When you realize that life is no longer play that gets occasionally interrupted by the necessity of work, but rather work that is occasionally relieved by the pleasure of play.” Or words to that effect. (There’s a reason why Wendy did not want to leave the nursery in Peter Pan!) And if the local real estate market tells you anything, it’s that it takes more and more of that work to hang your hat here. The good news is that there are all sorts of people in San Diego making all sorts of efforts to provide you with wonderful ways to spend your precious playtime. Oh, and the summer weather helps, too. Go have fun!

  • Sculpture scavenger hunt
  • Borrego Springs

If you don’t mind the desert heat, drive over the Lagunas to the far outskirts of San Diego County, Borrego Springs. It’s not only home to California’s largest state park, but also to Galleta Meadows, a collection of life- and sometimes larger-than-life-sized animal sculptures by metal artist Ricardo Breceda. Some 130 sculptures are spread out across the plains north and south of town, including horses, dinosaurs, and elephants. Many may be spotted from the car, others require more vigilance. Ask local hotels or shops for a map to find them all, or take your chances scanning the horizon, mostly along Borrego Springs Road. The best-known pieces are near its intersection with Big Horn Road, including a giant scorpion and the artist’s famous sea serpent.

Place

Galleta Meadows Estates

786 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs

Rent a poolside cabana

Local hotels and resorts

Pace Weezer, you don’t need to go to Beverly Hills to take your picture by the pool. A number of local resorts offer daytime poolside cabana rentals, so locals can lounge in style, then go home to sleep in their own beds. Make reservations at ResortPass.com, but take note that amenities and prices vary. A cabana at the ritzy Fairmont Grand Del Mar, for example, may cost $700 for eight people, including water and snacks. Conversely, a $150 cabana for six at East Village’s Hotel Solamar includes a bottle of champagne. Adult-oriented pools offer bar service and TVs, while family-oriented pools feature games of leisure, or even water slides. A good example of the latter is Mission Valley’s Town & Country Resort, where a family cabana by its corkscrew slide may cost $225 for the day.

Joyride in a small boat

Mission Bay

It’s not all jet skis and stand-up paddle boards on Mission Bay — it can be surprisingly affordable to take a small boat out for a spin. Small sailboat rentals start at $35/hour at one of seven Action Sports Rentals locations. Or pick up the pace in a speedier catamaran, starting at $35/hour at Mission Bay Sport Center. If sail-power sounds daunting, try an easy-to-steer electric duffy boat: leisurely 90-minute outings start at $209 for a group of ten at Duffy of San Diego. For style points, it has to be Hot Tub Cruisin’: $450 gets eight guests two hours on a duffy equipped with on-board hot tub! (You may squeeze up to seven in the tub; the unlucky eighth has to drive.)

—Ian Anderson

Pacific Islander Festival

Pacific Islander Festival

Ski Beach, Mission Bay

Aloha! If you can’t make it to Hawaii this summer, Ski Beach might be a “nui” option. That’s where the Pacific Islander Festival will kick off September 24-25. A variety of luau-type food, including huli-huli chicken, Kalua shredded pork, and other delicacies originating from the Pacific Islands, will be prepared and served throughout the multiple booths and food trucks. Over a hundred hula dancers in authentic pa’u and grass skirts will perform to the pahu and kilu drum beats accompanied by tranquil and soothing lyrics. 

Pacific Islander Festival

  • Saturday, September 24, 2022, noon
  • Ski Beach, Ingraham Street and Vacation Island Road, San Diego

In addition, attendees can purchase exotic merchandise and services from the variety of Melanesian, Micronesian, and Polynesian culture-inspired booths set up throughout the grassy-beachy venue. The keikis can play at the children’s playground near the picnic shelter. Entrance is free of charge. Consider trekking in via Uber or Lyft, as parking around the venue — located on the east side of Vacation Isle off of Ingraham Street — fills up fast. There’s a boat launch and ski area on the south side if you have a boat. Mahalo!

Pokémon GO Fest

Pokémon GO Fest 2022

Balboa Park

Dozens of San Diegans will rendezvous by the El Cid statue at Balboa Park to toss out their Pokéballs on June 4-5. It’s the largest Pokémon GO event of the year, wherein millions of players worldwide link up with trainers on their phones and in person to capture the over 70 Pokémon creatures that will come out of their habitats this special weekend. “The game requires large groups of people, because the game has ‘raids’ where you all have to team up and beat the ‘raid bosses’ together,” explains Ali Vongsathian, founder of the 18,000-deep Pokémon GO San Diego Facebook group. “People have a chance to get a different color variation of the raid boss, called a ‘shiny,’” he continues. 

Past Event

Pokemon GO Fest

Shiny Pokémon are scarce, sought-after variants of Pokémon that sport a different color scheme than others of their species. From 10 am to 6 pm, San Diegans will be on the lookout for the elusive Costumed Pikachu, Axew, Pancham, Galarian Darumaka, and Galarian Weezing. Vongsathian adds, “The main purpose we meet up is to make it easier to beat the raid bosses, connect with other traders, and trade and exchange different Pokémons. The age range of our players is between kids to 30-plus-years old, so you see a variety of age groups playing.” The San Diego group also provides food and drinks for players. To enter, it’ll cost $14.99 through the app. For additional info or help, call/text Ali Vongsathian at (619) 806-3226 or follow Pokemon GO San Diego on Facebook.

Cosplay swim party

Tijuana

Never mind the swimsuit, we’ve got the cosplay: it’s the Animé X Pool Edition gathering at Paraiso Azteca on June 4. Dozens of cosplayers from both sides of the border will meet up at the waterpark and zoo venue, located on the east side of Tijuana off the Tecate freeway, about a 20-mile drive southeast of the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Ivan Ballesteros, a local cosplayer, is attending the pool party dressed as Monkey D. Luffy from the One Piece series. His sidekick will cosplay as Nami from the same show. From the Otay Mesa Land Port of Entry, “a taxi is maybe $35 USD both ways,” Ballesteros says. “Uber is cheaper after crossing the border. There is also a bus to get there; you pay the Animé X company with a credit card to purchase a ticket and have to meet up at their pick-up spot in Tijuana.” Tickets to enter the waterpark are 120 pesos, or $5.90 USD. If your español is shoddy, no worries! “There are many people that will help and speak English,” Ballesteros continues, “and the cosplay scene in Tijuana is huge.” Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT), the border city’s cultural center, showcases Japanese anime films for local cosplayers. Ballesteros is also promoting Anime World Expo, a cosplay and anime exhibition in Tijuana slated for October. “Many things from Japan, ideas and creativity in anime, have grown in Mexico,” he added. “So many creative people put their hearts in their cosplays.” Direct message Animé X on Facebook or @coanimex on Instagram for more info. The Saturday cosplay pool party starts at 11 am and goes to 7 pm.

— Mike Madriaga

Coral Tree Tea House

Coral Tree Tea House

Heritage Park

Tucked quaintly into the 1887 McConaughy House in Heritage Park, Coral Tree Tea House is run by two hospitable, grandmotherly cousins who will shower you with sweets and jewels. Each unique table setting features dainty teacups, proper tablecloths, Victorian lace, and a perfectly appropriate number of doilies. All the wood and windows and even the door hinges are original. Pots of house tea — blended with coconut and chocolate — accompany a three-course offering, including house-made scones, of course. Staff makes 99% of the fare. “Visitors from England say our scones are the best,” said co-proprietor Blanche Catania. “If you’re going to dress up, let me know, so I can arrange a big chair for your beautiful outfit.” Open Friday-Sunday, phone reservations required. Free parking.

Sherman Heights Walking Tour

Sherman Heights Walking Tour

Meet at Villa Montezuma

Victorian-era graffiti on an 1880s home — where “two naughty children carved their names” — is one stop on local history buff Louise Torio’s tour. She calls Sherman Heights — home to 400 old structures spanning 1868-1930 — an “original diverse neighborhood.” When Matthew and Augusta Sherman bought the land in 1867, they imposed no racial covenants, and sold plots in sizes affordable for people of modest means. They set aside land for Sherman Elementary — which is still there. During World War II, Sherman Heights families bought the homes of their Japanese neighbors to ensure they could return after internment. Torio will point out Governor Sherman’s Market Street mansion, and various historic houses of worship that have coexisted for over 100 years. The $20 ticket includes a tour of the spectacular and spooky Villa Montezuma. Reservations required.

Santee Boulders

Santee Boulders

Sycamore Landfill Road, Santee

On the high ground across from West Hills High School, Santee Boulders commands a view of the slopes down to Mission Gorge. It’s a great perch for a picnic while taking in a panoramic sunset. Bonus: huge boulders seem to have been suspended mid-roll as they tumbled downhill towards the road, frozen at perfect angles for climbers of the beginner, intermediate, or advanced variety. You can find anchor points for ropes and rappelling, and plenty of crags for practice.

Place

Santee Boulders

8750 Mast Boulevard, Santee

It’s a short hike to the action, with several groupings of boulders strewn about. Kids can scramble around the landscape like goats. Not too far from the city, it’s a quick trip to do some real rock climbing. Park at West Hills Park across Mast Boulevard, but be careful: the nearest crosswalk is about ¼ mile up the road.

— Leorah Gavidor

San Diego Pickleball

Pickleball

Pacific Beach, et alia

Pickleball is the perfect sport for the tennis enthusiast too intimidated to learn how to actually play tennis. It’s a scaled-down, simple-to-learn version of the game, and it’s taking the U.S. by storm. However, it’s not yet large enough to have facilities nationwide. So just as footgolf is played on a golf course, pickleball is generally played on repurposed tennis courts. That is San Diego Pickleball’s model: they lease two tennis courts from the Pacific Beach Tennis Club, each of which are then divided into four individual pickleball courts. Reserving a court for a two-hour session runs $32, so if you are playing doubles, it comes out $8 per player. If you are new to the game, lessons are also available.

The Balboa Park Rube Powell Archery Range

Morley Field Archery Range

Balboa Park

San Diego Archers maintains two archery ranges within Balboa Park. The Morley Field Archery Range is on the park’s eastern edge, where it is sandwiched between the disc golf course and the baseball fields. This one is a standard-issue range which features 34 lanes and target butts between 10-40 yards and 30-90 meters. The Balboa Park Rube Powell Archery Range (south of El Prado, near the Museum of Us) is set up in a canyon and is a walking range similar in design to a golf course. (Make sure you are walking in the correct direction on this range to avoid flying arrows.) Both courses cost just two dollars per day for use, and participants must bring their own bows and arrows. No crossbows, javelins, throwing knives, axes, or slingshots allowed.

Escapes in the Mall

Countywide

Since a trip to the mall can leave a person feeling imprisoned, it’s no surprise to find an escape room experience at the Fashion Valley Mall. The Red Door Escape Room offers six different escapes for those wishing to break free. If escaping from an actual room seems a bit too much, you can escape reality in general for a spell at a trio of virtual reality centers in local malls, including Sandbox VR at the Westfield Mission Valley Mall, Let’s Play! VR at the Westfield Mall in Escondido and Escape to VR: Escape Rooms From The Multiverse located in The Shoppes at Carlsbad. The experience at all these spots is likely to run you $30 to $50. Just one more way that malls are striving to survive in the post-Amazon era.

— Dryw Keltz

Outdoor roller skating at Derby United

Outdoor roller skating at Derby United

North Encanto

Perhaps the worst thing about rollerblading was the blow it dealt to good old-fashioned roller skating. Dust off your skates and head out to Derby United to enjoy San Diego’s only outdoor roller-skating rink. The rink hosts several open skate nights throughout the week, including family fun skates open to all ages, and late-night R&B, hip hop, and college nights featuring a DJ for those 18 and up.

Place

Derby United HQ

6060 Federal Boulevard, San Diego

The best part, if it’s been a while, is that they offer lessons for returning and beginner skaters. For the more adventurous, Derby United hosts roller derby and figure skating lessons. Open skate is a meager $15, including quad rental. Reservations via rollerderby.com are encouraged but walk-ins are welcome. Check their site for a current calendar of open skate availability and class schedules!

Goat yoga at Blackledge Farms

Goat yoga at Blackledge Farms

Ramona

You can’t claim to be a San Diegan if you have not attended a yoga class, and you can’t claim to be a backcountry San Diegan if you haven’t attended a goat yoga class. Blackledge Farms, tucked away in the idyllic rural setting of Ramona, offers a picturesque and relaxing beginner yoga experience. Goats wander the grounds throughout the sessions. Don’t be surprised if one hops on your back while you practice your downward dog pose. If you are more into the goats than the yoga, that’s cool, it’s a judgement-free zone. Go ahead and spoil them with gentle pets and handfuls of animal crackers provided on site.

Place

Blackledge Farms

2377 San Vicente Road, San Diego

The best part: when class wraps up, they bring out the big guns — baby goats for attendees to snuggle. Classes are offered at 5 pm on Friday evenings and 9:30 am on Saturdays. Children are welcome, but they must be over the age of eight. The cost is $35 for an hour and half class. The farm also offers private sessions. Visit their website to sign-up for a session. BAA-MASTE!

Line dancing at Moonshine Flats

Downtown

Moonshine Flats brings a whole lot of honky-tonk to the East Village with Thursday evening line dance lessons. Doors open at 8 pm and classes begin at 8:45. Get your cowboy boots ready, because each week features a different line dance lesson, everything from the Funky Donkey to the Redneck Angel.

Place

Moonshine Flats

344 Seventh Avenue, San Diego

Show off your new moves on Moonshine Flat’s oversized wooden dance floor while getting down to live music or a DJ spinning pop, rock, and top country songs. If you need some fresh air after all that dancing, an outdoor deck features fun pub games like corn-hole, beer pong, and shuffleboard. Last call is at 1:30 am. Cover charges are usually around $10 per person, depending on musical guest.

— Siobhan Braun

Children’s Nature Retreat

Children’s Nature Retreat

Alpine

Children’s Nature Retreat, located 40 miles east of San Diego, is home to more than 200 animals. The furry friends range from a small guinea pig, all the way up to a camel and a bison. Animals are divided up into 25 species and 69 breeds, and the retreat is divided into multiple sections such as Big Farm, Little Farm, Camel Oasis, and African Animals.

Place

Children's Nature Retreat

5178 Japatul Spur, Alpine

Reptiles, tortoises, and a variety of birds in the aviary also call this sanctuary home. The facility includes a hydroponic fodder system that sprouts more than 130 pounds of barley each day, an orchard, and a vegetable garden. Single day passes cost $38 for an adult, $20 for a child, $28 for a senior.

Girl Next Door Honey

Girl Next Door Honey

Private Residence in the 92117 area

Start your day with a bee suit and thousands of bees flying around you — definitely a more intense buzz than the one you get from coffee. Dive into the heart of a beehive and learn the ins and outs of how bees make honey, the hierarchy of hives, and how vital bees are to our ecosystem. If that puts a bee in your bonnet to start your own hives, online and in-person classes are available, as well as maintenance and mentorship programs to help you keep your backyard hive thriving. Girl Next Door Honey offers morning and afternoon tours, with bee suits provided. Tours run two hours, and the cost is $59 per person.

Rose Yellow Henna

Pacific Beach

Mark a special occasion or just celebrate the day in Pacific Beach with a design that reflects your personality. This pop-up henna booth is located next to Cannonball restaurant facing the boardwalk. They offer over 500 designs ranging from a small hand design — imagine a simple sunflower with angles darting out from between petals, or a seahorse ($20) — to more elaborate designs, such as a hand and arm sleeve of interweaving rose and vines ($70). But you’re not tied to the templates; bring your own photo of a design or make a request. Traditional henna (reddish brown) or Jagua (a bluish black fruit-based gel) are available. Walk ups welcome, or book an event or private appointment online.

— Deirdre Lickona

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