Candice

Meet Greg Koch: San Diego’s Guide to the Good Stuff for Beer Lovers

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To craft beer fans, Greg Koch may be a household name. The co-founder and CEO of Stone Brewing Co., one of San Diego’s largest craft breweries, definitely knows his beer. But rest assured, even if you’re a beer novice, Greg has some tips to get event the first-time craft beer drinker started. As Greg would say, “I’m a beer nerd so that you don’t have to be!”

“San Diego is considered a Mecca,” says Greg. “We’re looked at as being a leading destination in the world for beer.” So where would this craft beer expert spend his time in San Diego? Check out Greg’s tips for getting to know San Diego’s craft beer and much more.

Great Breweries are Everywhere

Stone Brewing Co Greg Koch

Greg Koch enjoys a beer at Stone Brewing Co.’s World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station

Stone Brewing Co. is, naturally, Greg’s favorite brewery, but he has plenty of other favorites, too. “Many of them are doing incredibly specialized, unique creative things that nobody else does,” says Greg. Here are some of Greg’s favorite San Diego craft breweries:

Beyond the Beer Suggestions from Greg Koch

It’s true – there’s more to San Diego than craft beer! Break up your beer tasting with a few of Greg’s other favorite activities:

Get more insight from Greg Koch on exploring San Diego’s craft beer scene, including tasting tips, at www.sandiego.org/goodstuff.

Chelsea

Happening Family Hikes That Kids and Parents Will Love

One of the best parts about being in San Diego is enjoying all its beauty. With great weather and scenic views, hiking with your family is yet another way to appreciate America’s finest city. When it comes to adventures on foot with the kids, check out some of the top happening hiking spots compiled from suggestions of local moms.

Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines - La Jolla - Scenic Waterfront Walks

Walk among the famous Torrey Pines with the Pacific Ocean as your backdrop.

It would nearly be a crime not mention this spot first! In fact, when gathering as much hiking intel as I could from other parents, this was the one place always mentioned. Sandwiched between Del Mar and La Jolla, the wild flowers can be enjoyed with one of the world’s most breathtaking ocean views. With three of the popular hike options being short ones, choose to walk to the water or get up close to the famous Torrey Pines! If you want to get your kids excited about hikes, start at this 1,750 acre seaside reserve. (12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, California 92037.)

San Elijo Lagoon

This 915 acre reserve is nestled neatly in North County with sprawling ocean views. Known for its bird watching, there’s also lots of unique plants to check out, too. In fact, you may even spot a fish or two in the lagoon on one of the eight trails to choose from! (2710 Manchester Avenue in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.)

Batiquitos Lagoon

The Batiquitos Lagoon is a great place to see wildlife.

The Batiquitos Lagoon is a great place to see wildlife.

Beginners should start here. And by that, I especially mean those with the age 3 and under set that just want to get a nice walk in with a view of the water. Enjoy ocean and lagoon scenery with an easy walk for all ages. (7380 Gabbiano Ln, Carlsbad, CA 92011)

Cowles Mountain

360 Panorama of Cowles Mountain

360 Panorama of Cowles Mountain. Via Wikipedia

Got older kids? Get ready to hike to the highest point in San Diego! Savor the 360 degree views of San Diego and a healthy 3 mile round trip workout, too. With the shorter distance, kids may not notice that the hike is a bit more of a challenge. And bragging rights of reaching the “top of San Diego” (and the view!) will make it all worth while. (At the corner of Golfcrest Drive and Navajo Road.)

Old Mission Dam

For fun with finding shells along the dam, this hike is another great place to enjoy with children while collecting wild flowers along the way. With easy trails, the historical landmark is also great for bird watching. (1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119)

Mount Woodson

Known for its cool rock formations that look like potato chips hanging in the sky, this hiking trail is thought of as moderate in terms of difficulty but worth the effort for the photos sitting on the edge of the rocks. With great views, round trip will be just about 8 miles so make sure the kids are up for a true adventure if you go for the whole route. (Mt Woodson Trail, Poway, CA.)

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

The Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve features  hiking, biking and equestrian trails.

The Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve features hiking, biking and equestrian trails.

Kid friendly walking (read: easy trails) can lead to the excitement of a waterfall! One of the best options leaves from the Canyonside Rec center with a path that will guide you along the creek to the main waterfall event.  For a very different hike, be sure to check out the West Entrance as well. Either way, bring your swimsuits on a hot day and enjoy a little dip in the water to cool off! (12122 Canyonside Park Drive, San Diego, CA 92129.)

Black Mountain Open Space Park

For the over 5 years old crowd, get ready for some steep hills that will guide you to awesome views overlooking North County all the way to the ocean on a clear day! Reaching the top of the summit of Black Mountain, catch the views to downtown San Diego, too! (12115 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92129)

Remember, with so much beauty to explore in this city, be sure to get the kids outside and enjoying all the atmosphere that one of these family hikes in San Diego has to offer.

 

Kathleen

Land, Ocean and Culture: Exploring San Diego Parks

Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflower Season

San Diego is a paradise of parks. The Trust for Public Land named San Diego one of the 10 best U.S. cities based on access to and size of our parks, which comprises close to a quarter of the city’s total area. But ratings aside, the best facet of San Diego’s many parks is the diversity. From water to grass, from culture to desert, San Diego has it all.

Balboa Park

balboa park san diego

Balboa Park is the nation’s largest cultural park.

Known as the Smithsonian of the West, Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the United States and a must-stop on any San Diego vacation. Housing 14 museums including the San Diego Natural History Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Air & Space Museum as well as the Old Globe theater, Balboa Park is the cultural heart of San Diego. The park is also home to the San Diego Zoo, Spanish Village Art Center and wonderful gardens including the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Botanical Building and Lily Pond. The park – which celebrates its centennial in 2015 – features a host of seasonal events and celebrations where you can mix and mingle with the locals.

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument

The only National Park in San Diego, the Cabrillo National Monument celebrates the arrival of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who landed at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542 and was the first European explorer to set foot on the west coast of the United States. At the highest point of the park stands the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, a San Diego icon since 1854, where visitors can enjoy spectacular views of San Diego Bay and skyline. The park features a visitor center and just below the park at the shoreline, some of the best tide pools in San Diego.

Mission Bay Aquatic Park

Mission Bay Aquatic Park

Mission Bay Aquatic Park is the largest park of its kind in the world.

The largest park of its kind in the world, the Mission Bay Aquatic Park is a 4,600 acre aquatic playground. Around the bay, 27 miles of shoreline is lined with grass playgrounds, picnic areas and fire pits, bike paths, boat launches and resorts. Bikes, boat and equipment rentals are readily available including sailing, waterskiing, wave runners and paddle boards. Mission Bay is one of the main hubs for San Diego sport fishing offering day and overnight trips as well as whale watching excursions. It is also home to SeaWorld San Diego and a host of great events including the annual Crew Classic.

Anza Borrego

Anza Borrego State Park gets colorful every spring thanks to wildflowers.

Anza Borrego State Park gets colorful every spring thanks to wildflowers.

Five hundred miles of dirt roads and 12 wilderness areas compose Anza Borrego, the largest state park in California. The park offers miles of hiking trails, including a leg of the Pacific Crest Trail, and camping can also be enjoyed with a quick stop by the visitor center. Yearly temperatures can range from near freezing to as high as 108 degrees Fahrenheit, and you might spy wildlife including roadrunners, kit foxes, mule deer, bighorn sheep, iguanas, rattlesnakes, hawks and golden eagles. Each spring, the park transforms in a blaze of color when the desert wildflowers bloom. There are also a number of outstanding Native American cultural preserves including archaeological sites, pictographs and rock formations.

Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park - Bikes

Discover natural San Diego beauty on the trails of Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park comprises nearly 5,800 acres and offers over 40 miles of trails, including the popular Cowles Mountain, whose summit is the highest in the city of San Diego. Beyond hiking, activities in the park include camping, mountain biking, boating and horseback riding. Mostly covered in chaparral, oak woodlands and sage scrub, it’s hard to imagine that you can get this deep into nature just an hour from downtown. The park features a great visitor and interpretive center offering nature walks and low cost children’s education classes on local wildlife including butterflies, hawks, owls, deer and coyotes.

Which of these San Diego parks will you visit next? Let us know in the comments below.

Denise

San Diego Beaches – The Perfect Setting for a Stroll

Coronado - Silver Strand Beach
San Diego Beaches - Silver Strand on Coronado

Silver Strand State Beach – a great place for a stroll.

Are you looking for an awe-inspiring stretch of beach for taking a leisurely stroll? San Diego beaches provide the perfect setting with 70 miles of pristine coastline, gentle rolling waves and sparkling blue water as far as the eye can see. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, relaxation or even a little romance, you’ll find it at one of our world-famous beaches. In fact, San Diego has so many amazing beaches for walking, it’s nearly impossible to list them all. But, here are a few good spots to get you started.

Coronado and the Silver Strand

Silver Strand in Coronado is just a short distance from downtown San Diego, but is a world away in terms of relaxation. The waves are soothing and the beach literally sparkles in the sunlight due to the mineral Mica in the sand. If you walk north, you’ll see great views of Point Loma, or if you head south, the Imperial Beach Pier is off in the distance. Coronado beaches are consistently voted America’s finest by the Travel Channel, so whether you go on a romantic stroll for two or a family walk, this is the perfect place to get inspired.

La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores is the quintessential San Diego beach. With soft, white sand and gentle rolling waves, strolling on this beach instantly makes you feel carefree and happy. A relaxed vibe also makes this beach popular amongst families, joggers and surfers. Walk north for a nice view of the Scripp’s Institute of Oceanography pier and La Jolla’s picturesque bluffs.

Mission Beach

Fun and energetic is the best way to describe Mission Beach. Probably because Belmont Park, a midway-style amusement park opened in 1925 and home of the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster, is nestled just to the south. A long stretch of ample shoreline makes Mission Beach a good bet for long walks. For a more lively experience, try strolling along its boardwalk filled with a colorful hodgepodge of rollerbladers, bikers, joggers and other locals.

Moonlight Beach

Located in Encinitas, Moonlight Beach has a nice stretch of shoreline perfect for a romantic stroll at sunset. The beach got its name in the early 1900’s when locals had late night picnics here by “moonlight,” and the name stuck. Today, its supple, wide beach is ideal for walking, and surfers love it for the great waves.

Carlsbad State Beach

Carlsbad State Beach is one of North County’s best kept secrets and offers a gorgeous, sandy coastline. So when you’re done playing in the water, sunbathing or building sandcastles, soak in a little extra sunshine walking along the shore. There’s also a paved path to combine your walk with a little people watching.

> Explore more of San Diego’s Beaches

Where’s your favorite stretch of San Diego beach for strolling?

Martin

Hikes with a View – Get Outdoors and See San Diego

Hiking trough La Jolla's Torrey Pines State Park

San Diego’s diverse terrain offers plenty of wonderful and challenging hiking trails. These trails listed below offer something event better, rewarding hikes with a view.

Cowles Mountain

360 Panorama of Cowles Mountain

360 Panorama of Cowles Mountain. Via Wikipedia

There is no place in the San Diego city limits with a better 360-degree view. Where else can you, on a clear, sunny day, see the Cuyamaca Mountains to the east, Tijuana to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, including the outline of San Clemente Island and Catalina Island? You feel like you can reach out and touch Downtown, Point Loma and the Coronado Islands. It’s that spectacular!

There are two ways to attack Cowles (pronounced like kohl’s) Mountain, and know this: at just over three miles roundtrip (1.5 uphill for a 950-foot elevation gain), it is a workout. The staging and parking area off Navajo Road and Golfcrest Drive gets the most traffic and can be a parade of all sizes, shapes and forms on weekends. But the fire road off Cowles Mountain Boulevard and Boulder Lake is the best way to go if you want a more secluded hike. Rather than the sharp switchbacks on the south side (Golfcrest) the fire road offers a steady, winding climb to the top. At 1,593 feet, it’s the highest point in the city and the rising jewel of the Mission Trails Regional Park.

Warning: Always be aware that rattlers could be on the trail, especially the lesser-used fire road, at any point.

For more information on Cowles Mountain, check the Mission Trails Regional Park website, www.mtrp.org.

Shelter Island Shoreline Park

Shelter Island Shoreline Park

Enjoy views of the bay along Shelter Island Shoreline Park

For a more relaxing hike that at times will flood the senses with Naval warships, sailboats, fishing boats and craft of every kind, try a walk along Shelter Island. The pier, launch ramp and promenade combine to create the mile-long Shelter Island Shoreline Park. It spans the length of the bay along Shelter Island and is a great place to relax, hike or even ride a bike.

Park near the Shelter Island Pier and start there with a walk out onto the pier. There’s good fishing there, too, if that’s a diversion you choose to do. From the pier, you can see the incredible San Diego skyline to the east. This walk is good any time of day or night. At Christmas time you can time it for the Parade of Lights, when the local sport fishing captains decorate their boats with holiday lights and sail along the Island.

As you walk east of the pier, stop along the launch ramp area to see boats of all sizes launching or coming back from fishing or boating trips. The Outboard Boating Club is there at the launch ramp. If someone is outside, ask them about that club’s storied history of power boating and commodores.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Waterfall

Explore San Diego’s inland areas with a hike to Los Peñasquitos Canyon’s tranquil waterfall.

Head inland to hike one of the city’s more interesting and scenic canyons, the Los Peñasquitos Canyon hike. It’s about six miles roundtrip to the waterfall and is both family- and dog-friendly. This trail is frequented by mountain bikers, too, so beware of that. You have the option of staying on the main trail or taking a one-track side trail that eventually will hook up to the main trail. Los Peñasquitos Canyon is well worth the trip if you want to really get a look at an undeveloped canyon in the heart of the city.

Park at the junction of Mercy and Black Mountain Road, where parking is $3, or park in the back of Canyonside Community Park for free.

The Beach Trail at Torrey Pines State Park Reserve

Hiking trough La Jolla's Torrey Pines State Park

Enjoy ocean views on a hike through Torrey Pines

The Beach Trail at Torrey Pines State Park Reserve is an incredible hike that starts in the parking lot of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and then weaves along the old highway (built-in 1910 and paved in 1915) that once connected San Diego to Los Angeles. You can also park in the reserve at the top for a fee, but the best way it to get a spot in the golf course parking lot and go north to the old road. You’ll see signs identifying all the trails. There are several options, but the Beach Trail will take you down to the water’s edge for some great beach hikes north (including the area’s nude beach, Black’s) and south. Along the way there are views from Red Butte, Razor Point and Yucca Point. Check them out and look out into the Pacific for breaching, spouting or porpoising whales or surfing dolphins.

Other Great San Diego Hikes with a View

The Calm Waters of Lake Murray

Enjoy a leisurely hike next to the calm waters of Lake Murray

Lake Murray and Lake Miramar both have trails that rim their shorelines offering great lake views and good workouts.

Lake Miramar’s trail (really a perimeter road that is used by cars, bikes, rollerbladers and families with strollers, so beware) goes all the way around the lake, crossing the reservoir for a 5-mile hike. Miramar is in the Scripps Ranch area of the city. It’s off Scripps Ranch Drive (92131)

Lake Murray’s trail ends at the dam, so you have to double back for the 5-mile trek. Murray is at the base of Cowles Mountain in the La Mesa/San Carlos area. It can be accessed off Lake Murray Boulevard (5549 Kiowa Drive, La Mesa, CA, 91942).

There’s good parking at both lakes, especially during the week. On weekends, it’s pretty crowded, so get there early.

Suzzanne

25 Free Things to Do With Kids This Fall in San Diego

Enjoy A Bonfire with the Kids

Fall is a great time for the kids to explore many of San Diego’s free outdoor activities including the beach, hiking sports, sightseeing and more.

Below are just 25 of the free things kids can do this fall in San Diego:

  1. Head to one of San Diego’s 33 beaches, all open to the public, and perfect for body surfing, boogie boarding, building sandcastles, collecting seashells and basking in the sun.
  2. Catch a magnificent Pacific sunset and watch sea lions play along the shoreline at La Jolla Cove, one of the most spectacular natural settings in the world.
  3. Take free fly-fishing lessons from the San Diego Fly Fishers club on Sunday mornings from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Lake Murray, located in La Mesa. If you don’t have your own gear, arrive early for a free equipment loan.
  4. Sample some of the more than 200 varieties of fresh produce grown in San Diego at one of the region’s many Farmer’s Markets, held daily at locations throughout the county.
  5. Bike, walk or play along Mission Bay Park’s many trails. Bikers, walkers and joggers share more than 20 miles of scenic paths winding through sunlit and shade near the shoreline.
  6. Rollerblade, skateboard, or bicycle along the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach Boardwalk, a scenic three-mile boardwalk running along the coastline of these lively neighborhoods.
  7. Take a scenic drive to Mt. Laguna to hike, bike or picnic while enjoying the fresh mountain air whispering through the pines.
  8. Hike the trails of Torrey Pines State Reserve and see the rare and elegant Torrey pine trees, a number of animal species and miles of unspoiled beaches below.
  9. Visit Mission Trails Regional Park featuring a state-of-the-art Visitors Center where guests explore and learn about the wonders of nature and the native people who once lived on the land. The park also offers over 40 miles of natural and developed hiking and biking trails.
  10. Go scuba diving or snorkeling off San Diego’s shores to see spectacular creatures of the sea. La Jolla Shores and Cove offer some of the clearest waters on the California Coast, as well as miles of protected underwater preserve to explore.
  11. Walk along the downtown Embarcadero and view impressive public art sculptures, tributes, and memorials set along San Diego Bay. The artworks celebrate San Diego’s international ties, cultural diversity, military significance and unique oceanfront environment.
  12. Watch tail-waggin’, Frisbee-catchin’ and stick-fetchin’ dogs splash in the surf. Man’s best friend is permitted to roam leash-free at all hours of the day on designated dog beaches in Ocean Beach, Coronado and Del Mar.
  13. Talk a walk through Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the United States, and discover its beautiful Spanish Colonial-Revival architecture and glorious gardens. Also, visitors can take advantage of the Park’s variety of other free offerings, including ranger-led walking tours at 11:00 AM on Tuesdays and Sundays.
  14. Gather friends, family and firewood for a cozy beach bonfire at one of San Diego County’s bonfire-friendly beaches, located in Coronado, Ocean Beach, Oceanside, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.
  15. Go on a self-guided walking tour of The Stuart Collection, a display of contemporary sculptures scattered throughout the University of California, San Diego campus in La Jolla. Tour maps are available at the Gilman Drive campus entrance.
  16. Spend an afternoon at Tidelands Park in Coronado. The park’s 22 bayfront acres feature four baseball fields, a playground, skatepark, picnic tables, small beach with an exercise course, boat access, fishing pier and bike and pedestrian paths.
  17. Explore the clear shallow tide pools of La Jolla Cove and Point Loma when the tide is low and the pools are teeming with aquatic life.
  18. Visit Julian in San Diego’s East County and enjoy this quaint, historic mining town that grew into San Diego County’s second largest urban center during the Southern California gold rush of 1869.
  19. Take a drive to the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, home of the Mt. Soledad Veterans War Memorial, for breathtaking, 360-degree views of San Diego. Spectacular views also await at the top of Mt. Helix in La Mesa, offering visitors a birds-eye glimpse of San Diego’s East County communities.
  20. Witness the living legacy of California’s birthplace in Old Town State Historic Park, San Diego’s first “downtown.” The six-block park features 12 acres of Mexican lore and historical sites presented in shops, restaurants, museums and several carefully preserved or restored adobe and wooden buildings.
  21. Visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center, the nation’s first warm-weather, year-round Olympic training facility, located in Chula Vista. Free guided tours of the 150-acre lakefront facility are offered at 11:00 AM on Saturday; tours begin at the Copley Visitor Center. Self-guided tours are also available 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Mondays – Saturdays.
  22. Visit downtown San Diego’s Seaport Village for hours of free entertainment, leisurely strolling and window shopping. Enjoy a laid-back day of hanging out in the grass and watching the many passing yachts and ships on picturesque San Diego Bay.
  23. Fly a kite along the grassy field in the Tecolote Shores of Mission Bay Park, a 4,600-acre aquatic park.
  24. Hang 10 at the California Surf Museum, which houses a permanent collection of historic boards, photographs and videos on Highway 101 in Oceanside. During free admission day on Tuesdays, visitors can explore its colorful and educational display on the sport of surfing and the legends who braved the waters over generations.
  25. Head over to La Mesa for the annual Oktoberfest. Traditional German celebration in San Diego’s East County featuring dancing, Bavarian bands, arts and crafts and more.

Even More Kids Free Fun this October

Visiting with the kids during October? After they have checked everything off the list above, save on other attractions, food and more with over a hundred kids free offers.

> Browse Over 100 Kids Free San Diego Offers for this October

Know of any other great free fall activities for kids? Tell us in the comments below.

Alison

Explore the Living Coast Discovery Center in San Diego’s South Bay

Living Coast Discovery Center in San Diego’s South Bay

Did you know that a burrowing owl imitates the sound of a rattlesnake to fool potential predators? You’ll hear the proof at the Living Coast Discovery Center (LCDC) in San Diego’s South Bay.

Outdoor Adventures at LCDC

Explore the Nature Preserve Surrounding the Living Coast Discovery Center

Formerly known as the Chula Vista Nature Center, this 25-year-old attraction is an internationally recognized non-profit zoo and aquarium that focuses on plants and animals native to the San Diego region. It sits on 3.3 acres on historic Gunpowder Point and is part of South Bay’s 300-plus-acre Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.

Visitors won’t be overwhelmed here. It’s easy to see everything – at a relaxed pace – in a single morning or afternoon and still have time to leisurely wander the 1.5 miles of marsh hiking trails.

Washed Ashore: Plastics, Sea Life & Art

Washed Ashore Art at the Living Coast Discovery Center

Through September 3, check out Washed Ashore: Plastics, Sea Life & Art, a nationally acclaimed art exhibit with massive sculptures and smaller art pieces made entirely of debris collected from beaches. The exhibit, which includes weathered synthetic ropes, nets, abandoned toys, cigarette lighters, flip-flops and Frisbees, is designed to bring attention to the global crisis of ocean pollution. It goes on a worldwide tour after its LCDC engagement.

> Discover Washed Ashore: Plastics, Sea Life & Art

LCDC Visitors Center

Get Up Close with Local Sharks

At the center, visitors can experience up-close encounters with everything from hawks to green sea turtles (their daily feeding time is at 1:45 PM).  They can spy on huge spiny lobsters – and a local rattlesnake, kept safely behind glass.  Walk through the Shorebird Aviary – and be on the lookout for clapper rail chicks. Visit Eagle Mesa at 3:30 PM feeding time to interact with keepers and learn more about resident bald and golden eagles. Pet stingrays like those that inhabit local waters – and check out their ocean-going buddies, including sharks and jellies, all serenely swimming behind glass.

There’s no restaurant at the center, so bring a picnic to enjoy on one of several observation decks. Savor views of Downtown, Coronado, the bay. Or settle marsh side and view graceful herons in flight across the grassy wetlands or perhaps spot a red-tailed hawk swooping down for a midday snack. Bird watchers have spotted more than 200 species from the center.

There’s cool gift shop, with educational books, games and toys.

> Learn More about the Living Coast Discovery Center

Suzzanne

5 to Try in San Diego: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

San Diego offers something for everyone on St. Patrick’s Day. Make sure to set out your green threads the night before because here are your 5 to Try that will keep you moving from sun-up to well past sun-down.

Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Balboa Park

Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Balboa Park

1. Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival

Lads and lassies celebrate all things Irish at the Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival, held March 17 at the corner of 6th Avenue and Juniper Street near Balboa Park. The day includes a 10:30 am parade, an all-day Irish festival featuring food, beer gardens, musical entertainment and more.

Green ShamRock Sea in the Gaslamp Quarter

Green ShamRock Sea in the Gaslamp Quarter. Photo courtesy of The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation

2. ShamROCK 2012

With 30,000 sq. ft. of Astroturf, downtown San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter turns into the rolling hills of Ireland from noon to midnight on March 17 at ShamROCK 2012. This St. Patrick’s Day party includes Irish rock bands and pints of green beer; guests must be 21 years or older to attend the ticketed event.

La Jolla Wine Tours

St. Patrick's Day Wine Country Tour

3. St. Patrick’s Day Wine Country Tour

Enjoy beautiful, panoramic vineyard views as you delight in the tasting of superb local wines paired with custom-made gourmet pizza overlooking the wineries grounds with the St. Patrick’s Day Wine Country Tour by San Diego Beer and Wine Tours.

St. Patrick's Day Hike at the San Dieguito Lagoon Trail

St. Patrick's Day Hike at the San Dieguito Lagoon Trail

4. St. Patrick’s Day Hike at the San Dieguito Lagoon Trail

Get outdoors and go for a nature centered St. Patrick’s Day Hike at the San Dieguito Lagoon Trail in Del Mar. Walk, bike or trike at this family friendly event in support of one of San Diego’s most celebrated natural treasures – the 55-mile San Dieguito River Park. Reservations are recommended.

Kelly's Steakhouse Piano Bar with Joe Cromwell

St. Patrick's Day Celebration at Kelly's with Joe Cromwell

5. St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Kelly’s

Sing-A-Long to your favorite Irish Songs at the Piano Bar with Joe Cromwell at Kelly’s inside the Town & Country Resort. Festivities began at 4:00 pm and run until midnight. with drink and food specials all night.

Tell us in the comments below, what do you have planned for the family on St. Patrick’s Day?

Robert Arends

Spring to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for Sensational Hikes

Font's Point
Font's Point

I'm on top of the world! Font's Point

I recently laced up my hiking shoes and trekked through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (located 2 hours east of San Diego) to discover some of the most pristine, untouched wilderness in Southern California, including Clark Dry Lake bed, winding slot canyons and phenomenal vistas from Font’s Point, “California’s Grand Canyon” (RV Life).

Borrego Springs Desert Wildflowers

Anza-Borrego Desert wildflowers

Spring is the perfect time to visit the park for a few hikes. The temps are pleasantly warm (in the 70s) and desert wildflowers begin to bloom in the canyons and washes (though the winter rains weren’t very plentiful this year). Desert cacti are generally dependable performers through late March.

If you’re a first-timer to this arid, breathtakingly beautiful part of San Diego County, I highly recommend hooking up with California Overland whose knowledgeable guides will take you deep into the park’s hidden, less-accessible areas aboard 4-wheeel drive vehicles. It’s a thrilling “E-ticket ride” as you rumble across scenic landscapes through rugged Badlands.

Slot Canyon near the Calcite Mine

One stop along the way that offers incredible hiking is a magnificent Slot Canyon just off the S-22 by a former Calcite Mine (in the Font’s Point North Sector of the park). It’s a relatively easy hike with phenomenal photo ops at every twist and turn of the terrain. This is nature’s cathedral with towering peaks and boulder outcroppings, creating a peaceful almost Zen-like silence that’s only broken by occasional birds singing overhead.

Font's Point - "California's Grand Canyon!"

Font's Point - "California's Grand Canyon!"

Southwest of slot canyon is another hiking highlight: Font’s Point. The trek up to this unparalleled precipice from the parking area is short and sweet and so worth it! The views are seemingly endless to the Salton Sea and Mexico to the east, the entire Borrego valley and surrounding mountains. You could easily spend an hour gazing in awe at the formations below. Word of warning: There are no fences at the overlook so be very cautious with every step and don’t get too close to the edge.

Roadrunner at the Anza-Borrego Visitor Center

Beep beep! Roadrunner at the Anza-Borrego Visitor Center

For novices (and those who would rather not off-road to the two hiking spots above) there’s a very easy nature trail that loops around the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center (200 Palm Canyon Dr.). See cacti (the Ocotillo is my favorite with its crimson red flowers!), palm trees and other flora up-close, as well as lizards sunning on rocks and the occasional roadrunner darting to and fro! Like Font’s Point, this trail offers sensational vantage points of the valley and mountains. Definitely bring your camera!

Flowering Ocotillo at Anza-Borrego Visitor Center

Flowering Ocotillo at Anza-Borrego Visitor Center

Tell us or show us in the comments below, what is your favorite thing about the Anza-Boreggo Desert State Park…

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

From whale watching to hiking, here are some of the best events and things to do this weekend in San Diego!

1. Whale Watching: It’s that time of year when the gray whales make their annual migration from the chilly Alaskan seas to the warm water lagoons of Baja California where they birth and rear their young. Whale watching season runs through March 2012.

2. All That Glitters: The Splendor and Science of Gems and Minerals: Through February 8, 2012, the San Diego Natural History Museum is presenting the gem and mineral exhibition, All That Glitters: The Splendor and Science of Gems and Minerals. Discover how the same Earth processes that build landscapes produce dazzling gemstones and precious metals—even right here in San Diego County, one of the most famous gem-producing regions in the world.

3. Harold and the Purple Crayon: From January 7-16, the Junior Theatre presents Harold and the Purple Crayon at the Casa del Prado Theatre, in Balboa Park. A favorite in the world of picture books gets even more exciting when it comes to life on stage. Harold goes to the circus, swims in the sea, and gets to be on television all through the magic of his crayon and the wonders of theatre.

4. Hiking: If your New Year’s Resolution is to get fit, try spending some time on San Diego’s trails. It’s a great way to get a little exercise and let’s face it, the weather couldn’t be better right now! My favorite; Torrey Pines.

5. Trash, The New Children’s Museum: Be sure to take your kids to The New Children’s Museum to learn about all that Trash we throw out on a daily basis. Did you know that in the United States, annual production of waste has tripled since 1960? That the average American produces 4.5 pounds of trash every day? In this exhibition, their mission is to change how we see trash, and changing perspective starts by asking more questions.