1600 Pacific Highway, Downtown San Diego
County Administration Center Waterfront Park
In 2014, 12 acres of former parking lots were converted into a public park facing San Diego Bay. Running both north and south of the county government headquarters established in 1938, large grass lawns, children’s play areas, and themed gardens featuring examples of drought-tolerant native landscaping provide an ideal spot for summer picnics with views of the bay and ships including the Star of India and others at the San Diego Maritime. Perhaps most popular are the water features at the south end of the park and fountains running the park’s length that provide a cool place for children and parents to splash around during summer months.
San Diego Derby Dolls
Established in 2005, the Derby Dolls compete in the world of professional women’s banked-track roller derby. The league consists of several local teams, with spectator bouts scheduled about once a month, usually on Friday or Saturday evenings. The group also offers coed recreation leagues and open skate sessions on both flat and banked tracks. Prices range from $5 for open skating to $20 for bleacher seating at organized bouts.
Habitat Restoration with San Diego Audubon
Fortuna Avenue and Crown Point Drive, Pacific Beach
Trips with the San Diego Audubon Society “are dedicated to the goal of introducing newer birders, visiting birders, and anyone else who is interested, to the varied habitats and avian inhabitants of San Diego County.” For more than a year, the group has been working to restore habitat for birds and other native species around Mission Bay as part of the ReWild Mission Bay project, with hopes of opening over 100 acres of recreational space. Restoration trips offer a rare glimpse of land generally off-limits to local visitors — excursions are free (as are other guided bird tours around the county), but reservations and a willingness to contribute to the project are a must.
Ocean Connectors Eco Tours
San Diego Bay, National City
Originally established as a nonprofit providing environmental education and field trips to National City elementary students, Ocean Connectors offers a modified version of their educational tours studying local wildlife such as turtles, birds, and whales. Travel around South Bay and beyond by bike, kayak, or aboard a harbor cruise while expert guides offer lectures on the bay’s native species and the challenges faced in preserving their natural habitat. Call 619-336-7744 for information on specific tours and dates.
— Dave Rice
Bite San Diego
Walk, eat, walk, drink, learn history. Walking food tours are all the rage. This group has come up with a good balance of exercise, history, and eats. Take a tour through cute corners like downtown/Little Italy, PB, North Park, Liberty Station, and Encinitas. Learn lots of historical nuggets (like, Encinitas inspired the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ USA”?) while you pop into four or five eateries along the way. Get free sample choices from their menus. You have to pay the $47 tour fee first, of course. Allow around three hours. Most walks start at 2pm. Check for specific times and locations.
46th Annual Bighorn Sheep Count at Anza Borrego
200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs
Unforgettable, if you can handle 110-degree temps over three days. Volunteers (you) sit out on a desert rock and, yes, count sheep. Endangered native bighorn (they’re down to 900). If you actually see one, you’ll be high-fiving and dancing around your rock for the next hour. (Silently. Noise’ll scare them away.) When? Fourth of July weekend. Why? Summer heat, thirst drive borrego to the arroyo below you for water. Helps counting. Downside: exhausting heat, endlessly repeated jokes. Upside: you’re helping a San Diego species in trouble. Orientation, probably June 20. The count: July 1, 2, 3. Contact ranger Steve Bier, 760-767-5311.
Harrison Serenity Ranch
18187 Nate Harrison Road, Palomar Mountain
You could take the paved S6 up Palomar Mountain. But why, when historic Nate Harrison Grade beckons? It’s one of the most spectacular unpaved roads in the county. Stop for the night near the top, at Harrison Serenity Ranch, once home to Nate, the ex-slave mountain man of the late 1800s. Listen to choruses of owls overnight, then drive next morning through oak and pine forests to the summit. Now you feel you’ve earned the county’s most spectacular views, at Boucher Hill forest fire lookout. For ranch stays, call Vicki, 619-884-9431. Or check Airbnb. Six-person guest house, $250 night.
Search for tourmalines at Oceanview Mine Site
In Fallbrook, gems are there for the taking. Seriously. Tourmalines, kunzites, morganites, others. Oceanview mine, the Pala Gem District’s only actively working underground mine, opens its tailings Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays (10:30am–3pm) to anybody willing to try. You supply $60, they supply screens, water, buckets, shovels, and a big pile of tailings that they have gone through already. You’re hoping they’ve missed a few gems. You keep what you find. Sixty bucks buys four hours to sluice out a few gemstone scraps, often a sore sacroiliac, and always a fever to come back and try again.
San Diego Sand Castles
4306 Ocean Boulevard, Pacific Beach
When J.T. Estrela got laid off as a math teacher, he started his own school: sandcastle-building school, unique in California. He uses Del Mar Beach (it has the finest sand, good for stickiness). For $140 (two people, up to $240 for seven), he’ll teach you over three hours to build anything from Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle to the Taj Mahal. “But mostly, people just want to learn to properly build their own fantasy with towers, arches, and always, for the kids anyway, a moat. Above all? It’s a real bonding experience.” Choose morning, afternoon, sunset.
— Bill Manson
2470 Melru Lane, Escondido
Fulfill your childhood circus dreams when you fly through the air at Trapeze High in Escondido. The Introductory Class teaches you the basics in “ground school,” you’ll then ascend the ladder to the trapeze, where you’ll learn to hang upside down by your knees and back flip into a safety net. Regular classes include attempting a “catch” with one of the coaches. There’s even a secret handshake! Ages seven and older can enroll online in the Introductory Class ($95) or single classes ($60). Multiple class packages, individual/group private classes, events, parties, EXTREME Airbag Trapeze and Traveling Rings classes are also available.
San Diego Mandolin Orchestra
7350 Armstrong Place, Clairemont
Under the direction of retired Coronado teacher Jim Trepasso, the San Diego Mandolin Orchestra plays everything from classics to Queen. Mandolins are the focus but mandolas, mandocellos, basses, violins, and guitars round out the group. Besides playing area concerts, they hold weekly, open workshops at the SDCE Mesa College Campus (Room 118). Anyone who has played a string instrument is welcome to attend and play along, either on your current instrument or to learn mandolin. Requirements: Basic music-reading skills for mandolins, guitarists should know how to read chords in the basic keys of C, D, and G. Wednesdays from 6–9 p.m. Free.
Sixth Avenue and Spruce Street, Balboa Park
No chaturangas required. Laughter yoga isn’t about asanas; it’s about chortling till you’re in tears without the use of comedy or jokes. Instead, instructor Michael Coleman guides the group through a series of stretches, breathing, clapping, amusing chanting, and finally, fake laughing, which very quickly leads to uncontrolled real laughing. There’s lots of singing, and silliness is highly encouraged. Class ends in a laughter meditation circle, lying on the ground while giggling and snorting continues until people start to chat and socialize. A fun, low key, and definitely unique experience. Saturdays 9:30–10:30 a.m., Sundays 1:30–2:30 p.m. Free.
2221 Morley Field Drive, Balboa Park
Grab a picnic dinner and some beverages, and head over to the San Diego Velodrome on Tuesday or Friday evenings to watch some of the city’s best cyclists race fixed-gear bikes on the 333-meter track at blistering speeds. There’s plenty of spandex and bike porn to keep you interested between races. Want to participate? You’ll have to take track classes to learn the ropes. There’s also a free youth program for beginners and intermediate/advanced cyclists. Racing: Tuesdays and Fridays, 6:30 p.m. Free. Classes: beginner youth on Mondays, intermediate/advanced on Thursdays, 4:00–6:00 p.m., six-week sessions. Free. Adults: Mondays, 5:00-7:00 p.m., six-week sessions, $120.
Finest City Improv
3746 Sixth Avenue, North Park
Release your inner Will Ferrell or Amy Poehler at Finest City Improv’s classes. Students learn and practice the seven fundamentals of improvisation: support and trust, energy and spontaneity, concentration, honesty and sincerity, listening and responding with emotion, agreement and heightening, and playing action. The supportive teachers will coax you out of your comfort zone and get you up on stage like the pros. No prior experience is required, and you don’t have to be funny to enroll. Students get free admission to the club’s improv shows. Level 1 classes start Sunday, June 19th, for seven weeks: $200.
— Mary Beth Abate
Maritime Museum of San Diego
1492 N. Harbor Drive, Downtown San Diego
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to sail the elegant clippers of the maritime museum, sign up for a tall-ship adventure. The museum’s 19th-century vessel the Californian embarks on three-hour tours of San Diego Bay most Sundays at noon. A guide offers detailed history of the bay and life aboard ship during its Gold Rush heyday. Passengers may participate by hoisting sail, taking a turn at the captain’s wheel, or just sit back and admire the scenery. Cost includes admission to the museum: $60 for adults; $57 for students, seniors, and military; $48 for children 3–12.
La Jolla Water Sports
2710 Garnet Avenue #110, Pacific Beach
If there’s any debate whether fishing is a real sport, La Jolla Water Sports settles it with beginner spearfishing expeditions daily. They begin with a half hour of instruction detailing which fish are in play and how to wield a seven-foot pole spear, aka Hawaiian sling. Following that is a 90-minute free-dive with snorkel, wetsuit, and fins, usually going after bass, halibut, and perch off the coast of La Jolla. Cost is $69, with an extra $15 if you need to purchase a fishing license. Start times are 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. — when the fish are most active.
San Diego Watercolor Society
2825 Dewey Road #202, Liberty Station
Watercolors can be the trickiest medium to paint in, so San Diego Watercolor Society offers beginners’ instruction with a series of monthly workshops to cover basics such as color mixing and composition, in addition to technique. Six distinct classes complete a full cycle twice per year, with the next starting July 23rd. However, taking classes in order is not required, so register online and take your pick. Workshops cost $75 per student, materials included, and run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. select Saturdays. Attending four classes gets you a year of Watercolor Society membership, good for discounts on more advanced workshops.
Stone & Glass
629 W. Grand Avenue, Escondido
Blowing glass is not something you can do at home unless you happen to own a 2400-degree kiln. This studio of James Stone offers introductory classes in glass-blowing, including materials and hands-on instruction in using glass-blower tools such as blowpipes, pair of jacks, punty rods and… wet newspaper (really). Each Saturday at 1 p.m., students age 9 and up spend a couple hours learning to fashion a colorful piece of glassware to take home — usually a drinking glass or seasonal ornament. Cost is $149, with more affordable classes occasionally offered to make easier items along the lines of paperweights.
1380 Harbor Island Drive, Harbor Island
R.I.B. stands for rigid inflatable boat, a small, 40-mile-per-hour-vessel used by Navy SEAL teams. Along with whale-watching and snorkeling excursions, this unique charter company has introduced the idea of the “Adventure Picnic.” Up to six passengers hire a boat and captain for a guided spin through local waters, spotting sea creatures and eating at a secluded San Diego beach or cove in the Coronado Islands off the coast of Mexico. It’s $175 per hour, any time of day. Bring your own food, maybe a couple of beers, or pay extra for a trip that includes victuals.
— Ian Anderson
Noble Canyon Trail
Cleveland National Forest
Many consider the Noble Canyon Trail to be the crown jewel of San Diego’s mountain-biking scene. The trail begins at approximately 5500 feet at the top of Mount Laguna and descends over 2000 feet to Pine Valley. It is 100 percent single-track weaving through pines before ending in chaparral. The trail is not recommended for novices, as a handful of sections can get extremely technical (such as the appropriately named “Stairway to Hell”) and a quality, full-suspension bike is definitely recommended. Park in the Penny Pines area off of Sunrise Highway and look for trailhead signs.
Ocean Beach Recreation Center Basketball
4726 Santa Monica Avenue, Ocean Beach
From 1999 through when I dislocated my foot in 2012, I played pick-up basketball at O.B. Rec at least once a week. It was a true melting pot of age, races, and ability levels. It wasn’t uncommon to have a high-school kid, a local stoner, and two professionals in their 30s and 40s running on the same squad. Inside games are four-on-four on shorter courts, while the less-popular, but longer, outside court usually works better with five-on-five. If you are looking to dip your toes into the world of pick-up basketball, this is a pretty fun place to start.
Flow Riding at Belmont Park
3125 Ocean Front Walk, Mission Beach
Flow-riding is basically a hybrid of surfing, bodyboarding, and skateboarding utilizing an artificial wave. At the Wavehouse in Belmont Park, you get two options. For $20 per hour you can ride the Flow Rider, which is akin to a small hill with water rushing up it. For $40 per hour, you can up to the Flow Barrel, which launches 100,000 gallons of water per minute up a surface that creates a tube. Best of all, non-participants can watch novices endure body-contorting slams for free. Be warned, newbies must ride the Flow Rider for at least one hour before they enter the “Flow Barrel” dragon.
Kobey’s Swap Meet
3500 Sports Arena Boulevard, Old Town
Founded by Monte Kobey is 1976, Kobey’s Swap Meet has been a San Diego fixture for 40 years. The price of admission is one dollar on Fridays and two dollars Saturday and Sunday to browse a huge selection of independent sellers’ wares. It’s tough to imagine not being able to track down an item you are looking for — it’s like a weekly yard sale of enormous proportions.
Morley Field Disc Golf Course
3090 Pershing Drive, Balboa Park
It’s pretty amazing that the Morley Field Disc Golf course was established in San Diego in 1978. The sport was basically in its infancy at the time. These days, the most common complaint regarding the vintage course is how crowded it gets due to its budget-friendliness. On weekdays, you can play through the full 19-hole course as often as you wish for three bucks, while on weekends that rate jumps to a whopping four dollars. Meanwhile, 18 holes at the nearby Balboa Park Golf Course will run city residents a minimum of $32.
— Dryw Keltz
Carlsbad Mineral Water Spa
2802 Carlsbad Boulevard, Carlsbad
When Charles Frazier dug a well for his farm in 1882 and struck an aquifer of therapeutic mineral water, he put his town on the map. Frazier Station was renamed Carlsbad after the world-famous resort town of Karlsbad, Bohemia, known for its healing waters. Built in 1930 across from the well, the California Carlsbad Mineral Water Hotel attracted illuminati from around the world. The establishment fell into disrepair during the Depression but is now restored to its former opulence. Visitors can enjoy spa treatments and take in the custom decor, hand-painted by artist Robin Wallenfang. Treatments start at $45.
9332 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard, Clairemont
Added this year by customer request, Pacific Beads now offers jewelry-making classes in addition to the dazzling selection of beads and supplies. Sign up for Wire Working 101, Beading 101, Pearl Knotting, or try your hand at the Triple Stitch Peyote Bracelet, among other projects. Fees range from about $5 up to $20, plus materials.
Old Town Trolley Ghosts and Gravestones Tour
Old Town Market Courtyard, 4008 Twiggs Street
San Diego is supposedly one of the nation’s ghostliest cities — the Travel Channel calls the Whaley House in Old Town “America’s #1 Most Haunted House.” Formerly a family home, a courthouse, and a general store, the 1857 structure is said to be inhabited by such spirits as the young Victoria Whaley, who shot herself at 22 after society shunned her for getting divorced, and Yankee Jim Robinson, who was hanged on the property. The Old Town Trolley tour concludes here after exploring, by foot and trolley bus, a host of purportedly ghost-infested spots. Children 2–12, $36; adults, $39. Group bookings available.
Full Moon Pier Walk
Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, La Jolla
Normally closed to the public, the Scripps Pier opens its gates for tours on full-moon nights in summer and early fall. Guided pier walks are timed to coincide with the sunset and moonrise and include a brief stroll through Scripps campus. Participants learn about equipment housed on the pier, take part in a plankton tow, and watch bioluminescent organisms glow. Gain a fresh perspective on the La Jolla coast while encountering cutting-edge science. Prepurchase and registration required; check Birch Aquarium website for dates and availability. $30 for public, $25 for aquarium members.
Self Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens
939 2nd Street, Encinitas
Find serenity amid the lush and thriving flora of the Self Realization Fellowship Meditation gardens, which are full of life yet imbued with tranquility. Ocean views, koi ponds, and secluded spots meant for quiet reflection welcome visitors from around the world. Above Swami’s Beach, the Self Realization Fellowship temple itself is a landmark in Encinitas. Established by Paramahansa Yogananda in 1920, the worldwide organization is dedicated to sharing Kriya Yoga teachings. The gardens are open to the public free of charge. Tuesday through Saturday 9–5, Sunday 11–5. Closed Mondays.
— Leorah Gavidor
Hot Tub Cruisin’
1010 Santa Clara Place, Mission Beach
Soak in some bubbles while drinking suds in a ten-person hot tub while cruising through Mission Bay. Hot Tub Cruisin’s pontoon boat — with a hot tub, sound system, cooler to stash drinks, extra seating, and a propane grill — makes for a relaxing way to spend a sunny day on the bay. The boat departs from Mission Bay Sportcenter. Walk-ins are welcome, but it is best to reserve times in advance, as the wait-list can be as long as two-weeks during summer months. Hourly rates for self-captained cruises are $215 an hour and $230 per hour to have a captain anchor the boat for you. The grill and water cooler cost extra. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Book online or by phone, 619-905-5100.
Potato Chip Rock Hike
14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway
Get off the couch and hike to Potato Chip Rock on Mount Woodson in Poway for some great views of San Diego County, from San Diego Bay to Palomar Mountain. The 6.7-mile round-trip hike, however, is not for the faint of heart or the weak of knees. Whether you catch the trailhead from the Lake Poway parking lot or the paved trail off of Highway 67, the climb is steep. In summer months the heat can be unbearable with almost no shade and the trail can get super crowded. Potato Chip Rock, named for the thin slice of granite left after a bottom chunk collapsed, is located before you reach the summit. Look for a long line of hikers waiting to get their picture snapped while standing on the ledge.
— Dorian Hargrove
University Heights Concerts In the Park
1900 Adams Avenue at Florida Street, University Heights
Free community concerts are a highlight of any San Diego summer, but the most entertaining are the Friday-night concerts at Trolley Barn Park. Held for five weeks starting July 10, the shows include rock, blues, and jazz bands. But it’s not just the music — it’s the people-watching. You will see the most diverse dance styles outside of a So You Think You Can Dance episode. Some people twist in the wind, others grind on the grass while children swing on tree branches. Concerts go from 6–8 p.m.
Free Guided Nature Walks at Mission Trails Park
One Father Junípero Serra Trail, San Carlos
With more than 5800 acres, it’s easy to find some peace of mind at Mission Trails Park. Want to learn more about the region’s flora and fauna? Take one of the free guided nature walks offered Sundays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from the Visitor Center. The guides will explain how plants, animals, and the ancient Kumeyaay coexisted for thousands of years.
iFly Indoor Skydiving
2385 Camino Del Rio North, Mission Valley
iFly in Mission Valley is the region’s first indoor skydiving facility. Basically, it’s a giant wind tunnel that pushes you into the air provided you hold your body in certain positions. The tunnel is loud and the wind forces your mouth into a permanent grin whether you want it or not. The grin becomes real when the instructor grabs you and sails you up 20 or so feet above the ground. The basic $80 package gives you two one-minute flights around the tunnel. The high flight costs $10 more (worth it). Open 9am–9pm Sundays–Thursdays, 8am–10pm weekends.
1010 Santa Clara Place, Mission Beach
Sadly, jetpacks have not yet become the preferred mode of transport we hoped for back in the 1970s, but you can get a taste at Jetpack America in Mission Bay. You get strapped into a harness attached to two powerful hoses shooting out enough water to propel you up to 30 feet in the air. Learning to control the jet streams is a fun challenge, but kids under age 12 get the best deal — they ride tandem with an experienced instructor who takes them high above the water, on it, and even below it. A 20-minute flight is $179 per person (cheaper if you book a group) and the 10-minute kid tandem is $129. Open daily, 9am–6pm.
La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline
The La Jolla Zip Zoom Zipline is located at the La Jolla Indian Reservation in Pauma Valley, not La Jolla. Zipping over and around the oak forests of rural North County is a fun way to spend a summer’s day. Guests zip down four separate lines that, put together, are more than a mile long and on which you can reach speeds of 55 mph. The guides also use the occasion to explain their heritage with the land. A 2.5-hour zip session costs $99, $75 if you’re a camper at the La Jolla Indian Campground. Open Fridays–Monday, 8am–4pm.
— Patrick Henderson
New Tijuana River Valley trails
2721 Monument Road, San Ysidro
Whether you’re a runner, a hiker, a mountain biker, an equestrian, a geocacher, or a naturist, Tijuana River Valley Regional Park has something for everybody. The 1800-acre park includes an estuary that is popular among birdwatchers (over 340 species have been spotted here), a community garden, and picnic areas. A refurbished 1200-foot observation deck at Dairy Mart Pond (now disabled-accessible) connects with 22.5 miles of new and updated multi-use trails. Additional parking is available by the visitors center at 2310 Hollister Street. Horse and bike rentals available.
Live music at the parklet
4237 Alabama Street, University Heights
The Alabama Street Parklet is a row of parking spaces that were converted into a public mini-park in 2014. This June, the parklet (located in front of Mama’s Bakery and Live Wire) will be hosting free, live music every Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. Visit the parklet year-round to eat a Lebanese wrap from Mama’s, meet with friends and coworkers, or as a pit stop on your dog-walking route. New lights and paint recently added.
Ride the Train to Tecate
Estación García on Bulevar Simón Bolívar, La Mesa, Tijuana
All aboard the historic Tijuana–Tecate train line! The locomotive is old, cramped, not air-conditioned, and concessions are lackluster, but if you can tolerate the mild discomfort, the four-hour tour (two each way) includes knowledgeable guides who provide a spoken history of the train and terrain while you travel. Tickets start at 399 pesos (about $22). Join on Saturday, July 16, for the first Tecate Beer Fest with the train leaving Tijuana at 10 a.m. and returning at 7 p.m. Tickets are 580 pesos (about $31) round trip, including festival admission. Contact [email protected] or 6646229771 for scheduled departures.
Hops on the Harbor pairs up with a different local brewery every month to offer an exclusive pairing-station menu to be sampled along 25 miles of San Diego Harbor. This summer’s schedule includes San Diego staples such as AleSmith, Ironfire, Mike Hess, and Ballast Point. Tickets are $59.50 for adults and $35.70 for children. The ship sets sail every Friday at 7:30 and returns at 10 p.m. Flagship Cruises also offers whale-watching, jet boats, a Fourth of July outing, and dinner, champagne brunch, cocktail, and wine cruises. Make reservations at flagship.com.
Play with Baja rescue pets
About 5000 dogs are euthanized by electrocution every three to four months in Tijuana, and another 15,000 to 20,000 roam the streets daily. Baja Animal Sanctuary is northern Mexico’s only no-kill sanctuary, and they are always taking volunteers to help with the influx of stray cats and dogs. Volunteer at the ranch in Rosarito or stay stateside and play with pets in the process of being adopted at affiliate stores in Carmel Valley and Vista. If your house is animal-friendly, take home pets as a foster parent while they are waiting to be adopted. Email [email protected] for details.
— Chad Deal
Spa & Co Nails & Wine Bar
5500 Grossmont Center Drive #321, La Mesa
Spa & Co is known for its gel glitter polish service, but if glitter’s not your thing, consider flowers, leaves, hearts, aliens, or faux jewels. And to help pass the time you can sip on a lychee mimosa, an Angry Orchard hard cider, a cold beer, or a glass of red or white wine. Prices range from $12 for a basic manicure and polish to $50 for the Hollywood star treatment. Drinks range from $4 to $7. Open daily 10 a.m.–7 p.m., 6 p.m. on Sundays.
3750 John J. Montgomery Drive, Kearny Mesa
Corporate Helicopters offers local tours, starting with the Diego Delight. Hover over La Jolla Cove, SeaWorld, downtown, the USS Midway, and the Coronado bridge, skim Sunset Cliffs and get a bird’s eye view of the zoo. The Surf and Turf takes in backcountry scenery, Lake Hodges, and plenty of coastline. The Fly, Float, and Feast ends with dinner on a Hornblower cruise vessel. More elaborate tours head to places like Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley wine country. Tours run from $349 to $1749; packages (some include overnight stays in hotels) run $511–$9250. Prices for two to five passengers.
Vigilucci’s Beach Bocce World Championship
3200 Camino del Mar, Del Mar
“This is our 36th year doing this. We’ve been dubbed ‘North County’s Smaller, Slightly Saner Version of the Over The Line Tournament,’” says events consultant Pat Maldi. “Come and watch for free on July 9: there will be 400 two-person teams playing on 80 courts. Eventually, you get a champion in each division: men’s intermediate, men’s open, mixed, and women’s. Most of the proceeds go to benefit Boys & Girls Club of Carlsbad. Food is available for purchase, and guests may bring adult beverages for consumption within the tournament area.”
Wave Volleyball Camp
Wave Volleyball Club’s camps and clinics offer training in both beach-volleyball skills and indoor-game technique. The staff — which includes former champs and college coaches — aims to help improve your passes, sets, hits, and serves, whether you’re a beginner or an expert. The sessions run for a week and cost $115–$205, depending on structure (Mental Edge, Skills Elite, All Skills, etc.), but drop-in sessions at the beach are just $30. Beach ballers, be sure to bring sunglasses, hat, water bottle, towel, socks, and sunscreen.
El Vergel Tijuana Water Park
Camino al Vergel 1, Tijuana
El Vergal is perhaps the biggest and most exciting water park in Southern (as in Baja) California: 16 slides with names like Anaconda, Whip, Kamikaze, and Avalanche, and 13 pools, including the wave pool and a lazy river. Other attractions include the crazy roller and a watery play structure for kids. Food is sold throughout the park; picnic area with grills available for use. And there’s beer: $5 for three Tecates. Best of all is the roughly $7 entrance fee. American currency accepted at the gate and throughout the park.
— Deirdre Lickona
Stargazing with the San Diego Astronomy Association
Outside the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
1875 El Prado, Balboa Park
On the first Wednesday of each month, starting at dusk, the San Diego Astronomy Association sets up telescopes outside the science center and makes them available to the public. Association members assist visitors in locating stars and planets. The stargazing event piggybacks on the monthly planetarium show called “The Sky Tonight,” which has showings at 7 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. The Astronomy Association offers stargazing at other locations on other nights of the month. The second Friday of the month there is stargazing at Kumeyaay Lake Campground in Santee. The third Friday of the month the gazing happens at Sycamore Canyon/Goodan Ranch in Poway. Admission: free
San Diego Polo Fields
14555 El Camino Real, Rancho Santa Fe
One of the oldest team sports on record is polo, with history telling us that it was played 2500 years ago in Persia. San Diego Polo Club has a robust fan club with a spectator count of around 1000 each week. Sunday Polo matches start at 1:30 p.m., with the gates opening at 12:30. The featured polo match begins at 3:00. VIP tables of eight cost $440. General admission is $20. Tailgating is allowed on the east side of the field for $15 per person plus $10 parking. Bring your own seats and grub and don a hat for the sunny view. Food and libations are available from the Sunday Polo Kitchen. The polo matches send contributions to local non-profits. Sunday, August 21, is Aloha Sunday benefiting Home Start; August 28 is Tacos + Tequila to benefit Compassion for Animals; September 4 is White Party to benefit American Lung Association; September 11 is Salute to Military & Veterans Research Alliance.
Summer Movies at Stone Brewery
2816 Historic Decatur Road #116, Liberty Station
Liberty Station Movie Nights this summer of 2016 proves to have a little something for everyone. Stone Brewery is offering Tuesday-evening movies in their movie pavilion. Movies start at 8:30 p.m. with the pavilion opening at 5:00 for setting up chairs and blankets. The 12-foot screen will be showing flicks through August 30th. Raising Arizona plays on July 5. Some nights are family shows with all ages admitted as long as they are accompanied by a parent. June 21 has the Goonies showing; July 19 has Hotel Transylvania; August 9 is The Labyrinth; and for the finale, The Princess Bride on August 30.
The San Diego Shakespeare Society
The Bard of Avon, otherwise known as William Shakespeare, died 400 years ago — May 3, 1616. Here in San Diego, the San Diego Shakespeare Society offers a few opportunities each month to try out your best dramatic reading of the Bard. La Jolla Riford Library offers “Tea with the Bard,” each first Sunday of the month from 2 to 4 p.m. Scones, tea, and coffee provided by the Brick and Bell Cafe. San Diego Central Library offers open readings on the fourth Saturday of the month from 2 to 4 p.m. Love Labour’s Lost will be read on June 25; As You Like It on July 23; and Macbeth on August 27. From June 4 through July 7, the library will also host the Folger Library First Folio, the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. Upstart Crow Bookstore and Coffee Shop in Seaport Village offers open readings on the first Tuesday of each month from 6:45 to 8:30 p.m. On the upcoming schedule is Hamlet on July 5 and Anthony and Cleopatra on August 2 and September 6.
Play chess at Redwood Bridge Club
Chess is good for the brain. And who doesn’t get that feeling of triumph upon uttering the word “checkmate” to an opponent? Jedi Knights Scholastic Club meets at Redwood Bridge Club on Friday evenings from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. $10 a session per player. Various libraries also offer chess clubs. Bonita Library offers chess play on Sundays at noon. Monday afternoons at 3:30 p.m., chess is played at the Poway Library and the Santee Library. El Cajon library offers the Tuesday and Saturday play at 1:00 p.m. The Central Downtown Library offers chess play on Fridays from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Lakeside Chess Club plays at the Lakeside library at 4:30 p.m.
— Eve Kelly
Keys Creek Lavender Farm
12460 Keys Creek Road, Valley Center
Keys Creek Organic Lavender Farm is located in a secluded and rustic portion of Valley Center. The 8.5-acre fragrant property is San Diego’s only working USDA-certified organic lavender farm. More than a dozen types of lavender bloom on the farm. The Lavender Fields and Farm Store are open Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Keys Creek offer tours every Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Reservations are required. The cost is $15. High teas are hosted on a private patio overlooking the farm on Friday and Saturday afternoons with reservations. The farm also offers healing retreats and classes and workshops.
Oasis Camel Dairy
26757 Old Julian Highway, Ramona
While driving down the Old Julian Highway, you may have come across an unexpected sight — camels. Thanks to the Oasis Camel Dairy, a group of double-humped mammals call Ramona home. Oasis Camel Dairy opens its gates to visitors once a month to offer weekend tours. Guests are given the opportunity to visit with turkeys, chickens, sheep, horses, an array of exotic birds, and, of course, camels. Tours include animal shows, camel rides (for an extra $10), animal feeding, and petting. Oasis is one of the few camel farms in the United States. They use their milk to make and sell lotions, serums, soaps, and lip balm, all available at their gift shop. They also sell camel-milk chocolate bars imported from Dubai. Visit their website for tour dates.
1301 Market Street, East Village
Open seven days a week, the Quartyard hosts festivals, outdoor concerts, and Thursday-evening farmers’ markets. They have a coffee shop, bar serving local beer, a restaurant, and a dog park. The Quartyard hosts three different food trucks daily. Long picnic tables with bench seating, outdoor art, corn hole, a giant Jenga set, and string lighting give the Quartyard a backyard-barbeque feel. Hours of operation are Sunday–Thursday from 7am–10pm and Friday–Saturday, 7am–12am.
Taylor Guitar Factory Tour
1980 Gillespie Way, El Cajon
An industrial Park in El Cajon is home to the Taylor Guitar Headquarters. They host free, guided tours of their factory Monday–Thursday at 1 p.m. The tour guides guests through the steps of guitar construction — everything from wood selection to final assembly. The tour lasts an hour and 15 minutes. Attendees are required to check in at the receptionist desk in the lobby of the main building at least five minutes before the start of the tour. Groups of ten or more are required to make a reservation.
Nurtured by Nature
Nuzzled in the rural hills of Valley Center, you will discover a one-of-a-kind animal experience at Nurtured by Nature: visitors can swim with otters year round. Make reservations on Fridays and Sundays at 1 p.m. The experience will set you back $300 per person. Groups of up to eight people cost $2100. A three-hour guided tour is included. Visitors will not only be given the chance to swim in a pool with a group of playful otters, but also to meet, feed, and interact with a kangaroo, sloth, armadillo, porcupine, and lemurs.
— Siobhan Braun
Desert View Tower
A bit over an hour east on Interstate 8 you’ll find the Desert View Tower in the In-Ko-Pah mountain range. The three story, 70-feet-high, 93-year-old tower features a museum, observation deck with telescopes, and a gift shop (admission is $3.50–$6.50). The Boulder Park next to the tower has rocks shaped as animals and plenty of open space to roam around. A perfect spot for a picnic day–trip. The tower and sculpture garden have been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980. Make sure to bring a jacket because winds can get up to 100 mph.
Just a short walk from the Desert View Tower, there is a strange place where extraterrestrials frequently travel through a sewage pipe, or so Coyote claims. Scraps of cars, RVs, and a lot of junk resembling alien saucers and other UFOs are littered in front of Coyote’s house. If you are lucky, Coyote will come out to greet you, maybe drive you around on the UFO (alas, it does not fly) and tell you more wackiness. There is no admission fee, just a tip jar, but no pressure.
Tijuana Walking Tour
8232 Andador Turistico Puente Mexico, Zona Centro, Tijuana
With Tijuana tourism gaining strength, new tour guides have emerged. The latest is Tijuana Walking Tour, which started giving tours for free last year. For $20 per person, this group of tour guides is the most accessible, cheapest, and simplest tour of Tijuana. The five-hour tour consists of a basic walk from the border to downtown, through its art alleys, souvenir shops, eateries, and city views while one of the several guides narrates Tijuana’s history, it’s present, and the foreseeable future. Private tours are also available.
Plaza Mundo Divertido
22114 Via Rapida Poniente, Fraccionamiento San José, Tijuana
This place translates to “The Fun World Mall” and is everything you expect from an attraction park south of the border (not much, but it’s very cheap). Located next to Tijuana’s “Via Rápida” highway, it offers over 20 rides for young kids, an arcade room, shops, a movie theater, and (my favorite) the bowling alley. This is bowling like in no other alley in the world: the lanes are narrow, so getting a strike is easier. There’s usually a live banda or other performers, such as a Michael Jackson impersonator right in the middle of the lanes, all while you bowl!
Paddle-boating in Parque de la Amistad
600 Avenida José Manuel Salvatierra, Mesa de Otay, Tijuana
Parque de la Amistad, located near the Otay border crossing, was founded on July 26, 1978. A free park, it counts of 12 party kiosks, 4 palapas with grills, and a family friendly environment. The 2.5-mile lake is the big attraction. You can rent paddleboats to cruise the water and enjoy nature. The park is inhabited by pelicans, cranes, and ducks, and fish such as striped bass, carp, and catfish. Joggers pad around the 1.5-mile dirt running circuit.
— Matthew Suárez