Robert Arends

Resort to Fun with Outdoor Activities in Coronado this Spring!

Coronado Beach
Coronado Beach

Spring over to Coronado Beach, the #1 beach in America

Spring is just around the corner (March 20) and with the weather warming up, now is a perfect time to plan your Spring Break and discover the great outdoors of Coronado Island!

With miles of beaches and coastline on the sparkling Pacific and San Diego Bay, there are countless options for fun in the water including surfing, sailing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding and more.  On land, the “Crown City” has just as much to offer: bicycling, inline skating, golf, tennis… and the list goes on.

Here are my top picks of things to do at Coronado’s big four fab resorts and hotels where outdoor activities abound:

The Gondola Company near Loews Coronado Bay Resort

The Gondola Company near Loews Coronado Bay Resort

Loews Coronado Bay Resort was made for play and enjoys the best of both watery worlds, situated on a peninsula on San Diego Bay just steps from Silver Strand State Beach and the ocean. Fun ways to soak in the sun include swimming in three pools (including one for adults only), surfing, sailing, kayaking, bicycling, rollerblading, cool interactive nature tours of the Silver Strand (a pristine preserve of rare plants, animals and birds) and tours of the resort’s herb garden.

Did you know: Just down the road from Loews, The Gondola Company offers enchanting cruises on authentic Venetian gondolas!

Flamingos, finches and ducks - oh my! - at the Coronado Island Marriott

Flamingos, finches and ducks – oh my! – at the Coronado Island Marriott

I recently stayed at Coronado Island Marriott Resort where surprising outdoor finds made for quite a memorable visit, especially the aviary of finches, a flock of pink flamingos and families of ducks wading in ponds; photo opps galore! There’s also bicycling along beautiful bay-side paths, tennis and swimming/sunbathing in three pools. The resort even has its own private pier where you can take a water taxi across the bay to downtown San Diego.

Kayak Under the Coronado Bridge

Coronado Kayak Tour

Did you know: At the nearby Coronado Ferry Landing, the new Coronado Kayak Tour is San Diego’s only urban kayaking adventure, and glides under the iconic blue arch of the Coronado Bridge!

The landmark Hotel del Coronado is a grand playground to explore with recreational options that take full advantage of its location on the #1 beach in America.  There’s yoga on the beach, beach volleyball and beach rentals including boogie boards, surfboards and beach cruisers from PeDels (gotta love the name!). At night, s’mores on the beach is a sweet way to end the day.

Did you know: The Del’s tide break of giant boulders is a great spot to explore tidepools teeming with marine life.

Fore! at Coronado Golf Course

Fore! at Coronado Golf Course

The charming Glorietta Bay Inn is in a prime location overlooking Glorietta Bay, home to the Coronado Boathouse where sailboat, speedboat, water ski, jet ski, paddleboat and kayak rentals are available. The Inn is also just down the street from the Coronado Tennis Center (8 courts) and scenic Coronado Golf Course. Golfers will love Glorietta Bay Inn’s new Golf Play & Stay package which includes one round of golf and a golf cart.

Did you know: On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, Coronado Touring offers fascinating historic walking tours of downtown Coronado, departing from the Glorietta Bay Inn.

Happy Spring (almost)…See you in Coronado!

Robert Arends

Coronado Kayaking: Make Waves on a Tour to the Coronado Bridge!

Our good friends at the Coronado Visitor Center and Coronado Museum of History and Art recently blogged about a kayaking adventure from Glorietta Bay to the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, and I just had to share it!

The following was written by Coronado Visitor Center intern Chelsey Schmid:

Chelsey Schmid and her mom on a Coronado kayaking adventure!

Chelsey Schmid and her mom on a Coronado kayaking adventure.

Mom and I were looking for something fun – we wanted to make a new memory together, so we decided to try kayaking in Coronado.

Seaforth Boat Rentals boasts one of the largest arrays of rental crafts on the island, with everything from fishing boats to Jet Skis to kayaks. They incidentally also have the perfect location for their line of work. The rental center is not merely on the shore but literally on the water, with a metal gangway leading to the building. Boats, boards, and kayaks are launched directly from their platform into the glorious Glorietta Bay; which is located across Orange Avenue, one block south of the Hotel del Coronado.

The staff generously provided the instructions we needed. Paddlers can make their way around the sheltered waters of the bay or, for the more adventurous, the sweeping expanses of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge which beckoned us in the distance.  They did warn us about the midday; when the winds pick up, that’s not the best time for beginners.

coronado bay bridge kayaking san diego

Kayaking under the immense Coronado Bay Bridge gives you a whole new perspective. (Photo: Brett Shoaf, Artistic Visuals)

My mom and I enjoyed our journey out to the San Diego-Coronado Bridge; it was relaxing and fun, and we made excellent time. After arriving, we floated near the shore for a while, enjoying the warm California sun and the gentle lap of the waves against our kayak. The view was amazing!

We glided triumphantly back into the marina and docked, excited about our accomplishment of trying something new. We felt wonderfully happy and eager to come back again for more. Our round trip took about 2 hours.

The excellent crew at Seaforth really made the pieces fall into place. It’s a ‘must do’ for those who enjoy the water! Seaforth has single, double and triple kayaks. For a 2 hour rental, expect to pay from $18-$45.

Thank you to Chelsey for sharing her story!

Make your own memories by visiting Coronado during the winter holiday season. The city offers plenty of fun festivities coming up, like ice skating by the sea, caroling gondoliers, a holiday parade and much more.

Do you have a San Diego memory you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments below.

 

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…

Alison

Ultimate Birding Experience: Paragliding Over San Diego

Floating above San Diego
San Diego's Torrey Pines Glider Port

Paragliding at the Torrey Pines Glider Port

Imagine standing on a high oceanfront bluff and giving yourself up to a gust of wind – being blown out over the edge of the cliff, rising on the upward thrust of a stiff onshore breeze, then soaring like a bird out over the Pacific. Imagine the exhilaration of riding an updraft with a gull, the joy of slow dancing with the wind. Paragliders do it every day at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.

For those who don’t know the difference, hang gliders fly suspended from framed fabric wings. Paragliders sit in a harness suspended below a huge non-porous nylon “wing” that looks much like a parachute.

At the Gliderport, bird wannabes can go for a 30-minute tandem flight with one of the on-site instructors (no experience required and no age limit though minors do need a parent or guardian’s permission). Your guide will outfit you in a lightweight helmet and help you into a harness – actually a soft, very padded chair – buckling straps around each leg and your waist. When you’re properly packaged, the instructor will slip into the harness just behind you and ask you to lean forward a bit while he maneuvers the voluminous nylon wing dawdling above your heads.

In an instant you’ll understand the power of nature, its raw muscle. The inflated fabric wing will shove your backward, tug you upward.

Floating above San Diego

Floating above San Diego

Just go with it. Let your feet float – a few inches off the ground, at first. Then, so quickly, so much more.  In a split second you’ll be gone. Long before there’s time to think about it, you’ll be soaring. Out over the edge of the bluff, high above the Pacific Ocean. Like an oversized gull, you’ll ride the upward thrust of the breeze that hits the Torrey Pines cliffs. The exhilaration is sudden and overwhelming.

Embrace it. Allow yourself to become that seagull. Free. Swoop down, glide higher, ride a thermal. Feel the power of your lofty multi-colored wing. Your wing. Savor the sensory simplicity of flight. Be awed by it. Love being a bird.

Cost and Other Information

  • Tandem paragliding last about 25 minutes, depending on wind conditions and costs $150. There’s a $10 discount for cash; it’s $40 for video of your flight, $15 for photos, $50 for both
  • The Gliderport also offers hang gliding tandems for $200. There’s a passenger weight limit of about 175 pounds
  • Rather sit and just watch? The Cliff Hanger Café offers deli sandwiches, hot soup and a great view of bird-people in action
Benjamin Eastman

Obstacle Races in San Diego – Are You Tough Enough?!

Having just recently completed the Southern California Spartan Race Temecula, my interest in obstacle races has piqued. Who else out there enjoys torturing themselves by running miles and miles while climbing over/under walls, jumping fire, dodging gladiators and in general just beating your body to a pulp? I certainly didn’t think I was going to be “that guy,” but I challenged myself to do the Spartan this year as a motivator to improve my fitness and health in 2012 – and ended up enjoying it (did I just write that?!).

So for those who are already into these types of races, or those that would like to challenge themselves, here are a few other San Diego obstacle races that are happening in the not too distant future: Continue reading

Candice

New Year’s Resolution Time: Get Outdoors in San Diego

Whether you’re a staunch resolution keeper, dabble occasionally in making year-end self-improvement plans or you think resolutions are just a bunch of hooey, who among us wouldn’t agree that spending a little more time in the great outdoors is a noble goal for 2012?

San Diego is one the best places in the world for getting out and getting active. Even in January, daytime temperatures are mild enough so that a light jacket will be enough to shield you from the winter chill. And with landscapes that range from rolling desert hills to rocky seaside cliffs, hiking in San Diego is a great way to get some exercise that offers much better views than the treadmill at your local gym.

A scenic hike can be enjoyed year-round at one of these spectacular locations:

Hiking Mission Trails

Only a short drive from downtown, Mission Trails Regional Park offers miles of hiking trails that meander along the San Diego River. The park’s Cowles Mountain offers an impressive 3 mile round-trip hike that will have you feeling the burn as you take in the views from the mountain top.

Torrey Pines State Reserve provides eight miles of coastal hiking along four major beach trails. The differing paths intertwine under forested ground displaying diverse scenery of trees, ocean, wildflowers and sandstone formations. During winter, you might even see California Gray Whales migrating south to Mexico in the distanced ocean view. Throughout the year, lucky sightings of bottle nose dolphins make these hikes a truly memorable experience.

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego’s East County community of Borrego Springs is an expansive outdoor playground, with routes that travel up rocky paths, along scenic streams and down steep hills. Three notable trails include Elephant Trees, a hike through desert flora and fauna and named after a rare type of tree covered with colorful flower blossoms; Ghost Mountain, a moderate uphill mountain hike ending at an abandoned stone house surrounded by breathtaking aerial views, and Pictograph Trail, a great family hike in which guests pass through an old Indian village to reach a 50-foot dry waterfall.

Looking for more ways to explore the outdoors in San Diego? Join me for a video tour of San Diego’s top outdoor recreation activities:

How do you plan to get active in San Diego this New Year?

Courtney

10 Great Ways to Beat the Heat in San Diego

With mild coastal temperatures in the 70s complemented by refreshing ocean and bay breezes, San Diego is the perfect place to beat the heat during this sweltering summer. Here is a list of 10 Great Ways to Beat to the Heat in San Diego.

Sunset on Coronado, rated the #2 beach in the country by Dr. Beach

1. Swim, snorkel, surf, kayak, paddleboard and build sandcastles along San Diego’s 70 miles of picturesque coastline. With refreshing Pacific waters, San Diego’s beaches offer a variety of unique settings, from the white sandy shores of Coronado Beach (rated the 2nd best beach in the country by Dr. Beach) to the Mediterranean-like coves of luxurious La Jolla.

SeaWorld San Diego's 25-degree Penguin Encounter is home is five species of Antarctic penguins

2. Chill out at the Penguin Encounter at SeaWorld San Diego and spend time with some of the park’s coolest inhabitants. Guests can watch the playful antics of nearly 300 penguins including regal emperor penguins and smaller Adelie, gentoo and macaroni penguins.

3. Sample chilly, creamy treats from San Diego’s top sweet shops. Guests of all ages can indulge with an exotic Pineapple Chili or Lavender Lemonade popsicle from Viva Pops in Normal Heights or blend their own custom creation at MooTime Creamery in Coronado.

4. Enjoy an entertaining outdoor Summer Pops concert by the world-class San Diego Symphony along San Diego Bay. During the summer, light jackets and blankets are often recommended after the sun sets above San Diego’s most beautiful outdoor music venue.

Splash Zoo at LEGOLAND California

5. Build a raft and float down a lazy river at the LEGOLAND Water Park in LEGOLAND California Resort. Visitors can enjoy a variety of splash-filled water activities including a wet-and-wild climbing structure, six-person raft slide, tube slides, body slides and much more.

6. Take a libation break with a frosty pint of some of San Diego’s award-winning craft beers. Rated the “#1 Beer City in the U.S.” by Men’s Journal magazine, San Diego’s 35 local breweries are sure to quench the thirst of the most parched beer lovers.

Tatqiq (left) and Kalluk (right) at Polar Bear Plunge. Photo by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo.

7. Embark on an expedition to the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge at the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and encounter the rulers of the frozen tundra: the mighty polar bears. Along the way, guests can also come across other northern neighbors like reindeer and Arctic diving ducks.

8. Let the wind blow through your hair as you take a thrilling ride on San Diego Bay with San Diego Speedboat Adventures. Guests sit in the captain’s seat and charter their own two-person mini speedboat around San Diego’s busy harbor, enjoying one-of-a-kind views of U.S. Navy ships, the sweeping San Diego-Coronado Bridge,  downtown skyline, USS Midway Museum and more.

The gentle waters of Mission Bay are ideal for SUP (standup paddleboarding)

9. Take a relaxing, carefree bicycle ride along the 27 miles of pathways on the shores of Mission Bay. After bike riding, guests can enjoy waterskiing, jet-skiing, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, or SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) in this 4,600-acre water playground.

10. Feast on local fresh seafood and produce at one of San Diego’s many waterfront restaurants. Peohe’s on Coronado offers foodies award-winning meals along with spectacular downtown views, while George’s at the Cove in La Jolla offers a chic, modern dining experience with gorgeous views of La Jolla Cove and the Pacific.

Click the link below and enter the Thank a Million sweepstakes from Smart Destinations

Go San Diego Card (from Smart Destinations) is a  multi-attraction ticket that gives you access to many of these “cool” San Diego attactions and activities. Throughout the entire month of August, Smart Destinations is running a sweepstakes as part of their “Thanks A Million” promotion to celebrate the passing of their millionth customer. 

Click here and get entered to win one of the great prizes: a 3-day Go City Card for any destination (including San Diego) or an Explorer Pass for any 3 attractions in New York City or Las Vegas; plus the Grand Prize of a 4-day/3-night vacation for two to any Smart Destination locale, along with two 3-day passes for that destination!

Benjamin Eastman

Aloha San Diego!

I had the pleasure of taking a little mini-vacation for the evening last Friday.  The beauty of my “trip” was that I was transported to the islands of the South Pacific without having to drive more than 5 miles!  “How is this possible?” you ask?  Why, it’s possible at the Kona Kai Resort on Shelter Island – where they feature an authentic luau throughout the summer including buffet dinner, Mai Tais, Hula and Fire Dancers!

It’s been years since I was last in Hawaii to experience something like this in person, so I was super excited to have the opportunity to attend right here in my backyard!  Kona Kai has a great beach area on the marina that works perfectly for the luau and the setting is fantastic.  From the roasting pig in the sand, to the Conch Shell announcement, to the fire stick twirling dancers, I really did feel transported back to the islands!

The food was delicious – with entrees including mahi mahi, terriyaki steak and Kalua Pig (from the pig roasting in the ground!).   I was so full from eating the meal that I barely got a chance to touch the dessert table – but the pineapple upside down cake looked especially appealing!  A full bar is available for your drinking pleasure.  Whether you prefer to get tropical or go with your standard vodka tonic, they’ve got you covered.  (You get 2 Mai Tais included with your meal and additional drinks cost extra)

Fire dancer at the Kona Kai luau

The performances are done by the Motu Nehenehe Polynesian Dancers who do a fantastic job.  They’ve got a large group of dancers from all age ranges – the youngest looked to be about 6 years old, and the oldest dancer was probably in her late 60’s!  Dances are performed from many of the South Pacific islands with the MC explaining what the various poses and moves mean.  Luckily I escaped the “come up and dance with us on stage” experience, but not all my table-mates can say the same!  You definitely wouldn’t want to see me up on stage attempting to hula!

There are still a number of dates available to attend Kona’s luau this summer, so don’t miss out!  The program runs on Friday nights starting at 6:00pm through September 2nd.  Cost is $45.00/adult and $19.95 for kids 5-12 (kids under 5 are free) plus tax and service charge.  Since you’re getting both a delicious meal and a show, the cost is obviously well worth it!

** For those of you interested in going this Friday night (July 22nd), I’ve got at 20% off code for you.  Call to make your reservations at (800) 566-2524 and use code 7122 to get the 20% off.

Robert Arends

5 to Try: Camping in San Diego’s East County

Hiking at Cuyamaca's Paso Picacho campground.

Ready to go wild! Pack the tent, sleeping bag and all the s’mores fixins for a camping adventure in East County, San Diego’s massive “backyard” which stretches from the rolling foothills and mountains of Cleveland National Forest to the magnificent Anza-Borrego Desert.

I’ve gone camping throughout East County over the years and there’s nothing like the crisp mountain air and relaxing sound of nature to put you in vacation mode.

Following are Five Campgrounds to Try:

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park,  located south of San Diego’s historic mountain town of Julian, offers 110 miles of hiking trails, most open to horseback riders. Nearby Lake Cuyamaca offers boating and fishing. The park’s highest viewpoint is Cuyamaca Peak (6,512 feet) with panoramic views of Mexico, mountain ranges and the desert floor below. The park is home to lots of wildlife, including mule deer, coyotes, bobcats, an occasional mountain lion and more than 150 species of birds. Picturesque camping sites abound, nestled among meadows, oak and pine woodlands, creeks and the Sweetwater River headwaters.

Stonewall Peak.

  1. First on our list to try is Cuyamaca Rancho State Park’s Paso Picacho campground, which has some beautiful pristine meadows and two great mountain hikes, including a 2 mile trek up Stonewall Peak (elevation 5,700 feet), and 3.5 mile trek up Cuyamaca Peak. It might not exactly be “glamping,” but the park’s 12’ x 12’ cabins are pretty nice by camping standards, featuring full-size bunk beds (bring your own bedding), wood stove, picnic table, BBQ and fire ring. Each holds up to 4 people.

    Green Valley's refreshing Sweetwater River.

  2. Cuyamaca’s Green Valley campgroundis pretty as a postcard, situated on the Sweetwater River. There’s an easy hiking trail along the river with clear (and chilly!) pools and waterfalls to explore and swim. The perfect way to beat the heat!

    Lovely Laguna Meadow.

  3. Also located in the Cleveland National Forest, the pine-studded Laguna Mountains (approx. 6,000 feet) offer some great hiking, mountain biking and fishing for campers. There are seven major campgrounds. With 104 sites, each with a table and fire ring, Laguna Campground is the second-largest, located near the Sunset and Big Laguna trails which encircle the bucolic Laguna Meadow – a must see!

    Anza-Borrego Desert beauty.

  4. Just over the mountains, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a campers’ paradise where you’re sure to spot roadrunners, bighorn sheep (called “borrego” in Spanish), lizards and yes, even snakes (keep your hands and feet out of rock crevices!). As California’s largest state park it’s difficult to choose just one campground out of the 12, but my pick would be Borrego Palm Canyonwhere – as the name suggests – a lush palm oasis awaits hikers. Note:  Be sure to bring plenty of water for desert camping, as temps are 100+!

    Santee Lakes Cabins.

  5. If you want a cozy home away from home, the swanky new Santee Lakes Cabins provide a fun camping getaway for the entire family. There are 10 cabins to choose from; seven on the water’s edge and three that actually float ON the lake. How cool is that! Each cabin is furnished, decked out with full utilities, including AC, TV, and WiFi, and includes a kitchenette, master bedroom, living room, restroom with shower, porch and BBQ. If roughing it is not quite your thing, Santee Lakes is the place for you.

See you on the trails!

 

Brent Bernasconi

Exploring San Diego Bay in a Speed Boat

Yesterday, San Diego Speed Boat Adventures invited a few ConVis folks to spend the afternoon jetting around and exploring San Diego bay in a speed boat. How can you say no to that?

After our guide Tommy gave us the safety speech and showed us the route, we boarded our speedboats (which can hold 2 comfortably and up to 3 if needed) and pushed off from Harbor Island. Once out in the open water, Tommy gave the signal and I threw the throttle forward to speed across the open waters.

Tommy led us throughout the bay all while telling us interesting tidbits as we sped by. We stop by a dock to check out the sunning and lazy sealions, explored the coasts of Coronado and Downtown, went under the front of the USS Midway (which looks even bigger when seen at water level), saw the Maritime Museum’s collection of ships and as a special bonus, went past the visiting Chilean tall-ship, the Esmeralda.

Of course one of the best parts was just being out on the water with the sun shining, the wind in my face and the occasional mist (hence not much footage of the boat at full speed, iPhones and water do not mix) from the boat settling on the water to cool me off. My hair was definitely wind-blown by the time we docked back on Harbor Island.

These speed boats are a great way to see San Diego’s waterfront from a whole different perspective. During the summer, San Diego Speed Boat Adventures offers tours starting at 9:00 am with the last one leaving at 5:00 pm. During the winter, the last tour leaves at 3:00 pm.

So what are you waiting for, book your speed boat adventure now at www.speedboatadventures.com or call 619-294-5852.

Let me know in the comments your favorite way to get around on the water? Are you a sailboat, water ski, speed boat, kayak or other person?