Robert Arends

5 To Try on the Wild Side!

Lions and tigers and bears – Oh my!

But I’m not talkin’ about animal encounters at the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park.

Rather, wild and mighty creatures (plus one of the most mysterious kind) can be found in East County – an expansive rural area we refer to as San Diego’s backyard. Here the great outdoors beckons and inspires folks to not only embrace, but also give back to nature by caring for and giving a home to animals great and (very) small.

Following are 5 to try:

  1. Howl!…The California Wolf Center, located just south of Julian, is dedicated to increasing public awareness and understanding of the history, biology and behavior of gray wolves which once roamed North America in countless numbers.  The center offers a thrilling opportunity to view packs of Alaskan gray wolves and highly endangered Mexican gray wolves. Travel tip: Visit in the morning when they’re most active. Click here for a public tour; private tours available too!

    Who let the wolves out - woof!

  2. Roar!…Lions, Tigers & Bears (LTB) animal preserve in Alpine provides a safe haven for abandoned and unwanted exotic animals, including 13 big cats like lions, tigers and a leopard, plus a cute black bear cub named Liberty who was rescued and brought to the habitat on July 4, 2010. LTB gives animals the opportunity to live in a safe and caring environment while educating the public about nature’s most magnificent wildlife. Word of advice: DON’T turn your back on the lions (yikes!). Click here to schedule a visit.

    They're grrreat! Feeding the tigers at Lions, Tigers & Bears.

  3. Stomp!.. The tiny high-desert town of Ranchita is home to the Rancheti Bigfoot statue, a monstrous 11 foot, 300-pound white yeti sculpture built by local resident Joe Rauh which keeps watch over the Ranchita Country Store. For years, the beast has supposedly been spotted in the region. Make tracks to the souvenir shop for a memento or two to remember your abominably-cool encounter.

    Ranchita + Yeti = Rancheti!

  4. Fish fry…As in native fish that call our scorching desert home. At Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center, keep your eyes peeled for a palm-lined pond full of tiny desert pupfish. The little guys are hard to spot at first. They look like mini minnows camouflaged to match the murky waters. These “extreme” fish are tough for their size, as they thrive in fresh or salty water and can survive temps from near freezing to 108 degrees! {whew!}
  5. Oink!…Bate’s Nut Farm in Valley Center is not only chock full of nuts, candies and dried fruits, but also a menagerie of animals you can feed: pigs, goats, geese, sheep – OH, and even ostriches! During big events, they also offer pony rides for the kids. It’s charming and quaint in a Norman Rockwell kind of way, but that’s why we love it. They put the fun in farm!
Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

Del Mar Horse Show

1. Elegance, excitement, excellence — these are the hallmarks of the Del Mar National Horse Show, one of the oldest and most prestigious equestrian competitions in the Western United States. The show runs for three weeks starting April 21 and ending May 8. Western competition will be featured the first week, April 21-24; dressage follows April 28-May 1; and hunter/jumper classes conclude the show May 3-8. Each week will also have a featured Saturday night evening event.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps

2. Spring is an “eggs-tra” special time of year when many ocean animals are hatched or born. Visit the Birch Aquarium from April 21-24 as they offer Spring EGGStravaganza. Come face-to-face with egg-laying marine animals, including squids, fishes and sharks. Create a shark egg craft, listen to story times and participate in a daily activity throughout the aquarium.

SeaWorld's Journey to Atlantis

3. From the amazing Shamu show to the thrilling Atlantis ride, SeaWorld never disappoints. This Saturday, April 23rd, be sure to check out SeaWorld’s Spring Into Night. Spring into Night combines even more SeaWorld fun with amazing nighttime experiences when the park is open late – til 9:00 pm. Then in May, SeaWorld will bring back the popular Viva La Musica, a multi-weekend celebration of Hispanic heritage, complete with live concerts by today’s hottest acts, plus delicious Latin food.

Beach Soccer Jam

4. The Third Annual Beach Soccer Jam kicks off Saturday and Sunday at Fiesta Island. Played with a special ball meant for bare feet, beach soccer has its roots in Brazil but makes itself a happy home on Fiesta Island every year. Along with watching the stellar competition on the sand, one can enjoy other Brazilian imports such as Samba and Capoiera performances.

Stomp

5. From April 19 through the 24th, Broadway San Diego presents Stomp at the downtown Civic Theatre. This rhythm-centric production of music, comedy and talent will remind you that if the beat is alive in you, that’s the only instrument you need. Bring the whole family and enjoy the beat!

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

From festivals to flowers to a tasting of some of the best restaurants in Hillcrest, there is plenty to do in San Diego this weekend!

Fallbrook Avocado Festival

1. Fallbrook Avocado Festival. Since the 1960’s, tens of thousands of avocado lovers converge in Fallbrook, located in San Diego’s North County, to sample avocados, check-out the crazy cooking contest entries, buy funky avocado-themed gifts and enjoy bands, live entertainment and friendly beer gardens. Avocado loving day is Sunday, April 17th.

Spring Busker Festival

2. Seaport Village comes with a celebration of street performers during the Spring Busker Festival, April 16-17. In a battle of entertainment, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind performers including jugglers, sword swallowers, comedic stuntmen and Didgeridoo players take to Seaport Village’s cobblestone streets for a weekend of outdoor family amusement.

Taste of Hillcrest

3. Get ready to experience this year’s most tantalizing taste event as you explore the Taste of Hillcrest taking place on Saturday, April 16th from noon to 4:00 pm. Enjoy a self-guided stroll that will take you around to some of the top chefs in San Diego. With samples created from over 40 of the area’s prominent restaurants, you are sure to find a new takeout favorite or dining hotspot.

Coronado Flower Show

4. The 86th Annual Coronado Flower Show, taking place in Spreckels Park, is the largest tented flower show in the West. This year’s theme is “Dig, Design and Dine.” Flower exhibits are displayed inside tents surrounding a central gazebo, which becomes the stage for live entertainment and trophy presentations. There are also flower sales and food vendors. Check out our Coronado Flower Show 5 to Try.

Lakeside Rodeo

5. Giddy up! During April 15-17, the Annual Lakeside Rodeo and Parade aspiring cowboys and cowgirls can see bareback bronco rides, calf roping and other traditional rodeo competitions along with food and crafts at the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds in San Diego’s East County.

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

1. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park presents Butterfly Jungle, April 9-May 8. During this four-week celebration, guests can walk through the Park’s Hidden Jungle, an African aviary, and surround themselves with thousands of butterflies of every shape, size and color. A variety of butterfly species flutter freely throughout the Hidden Jungle along with more than 100 birds, creating a realistic rainforest environment.

South Coast Winery Resort and Spa

2. This annual spring event is a must see for any wine lover out there. South Coast Winery celebrates spring on April 10th from 3:00 – 7:00 pm with a blessing of the vineyards, followed by live entertainment, a barbecue, dancing and of course wine! Interested in a wine tasting? Comment on our blog and five lucky people with receive a 2 for 1 Wine Tasting gift card. Comment by Monday, April 11, 2011 at 10:00 am pacific.

The Lindley Lopez Circus

3. Head downtown with the kids for the Shake & Shout Family Festival, Saturday April 9 at the New Children’s Museum. From urban dance with Culture Shock to circus arts with The Lindley Lopez Circus, the Shake & Shout Family Festival appeals to kids and adults alike. Additional performances include Birdie’s Playhouse, Aaron Nigel Smith, and San Diego Young Gunz. Free with museum admission.

Photo by Jessica Packard

4. The season is just getting underway in San Diego as the San Diego Padres take on the Dodgers April 8-10. Special promotions include fireworks and rally towels on Friday, Padres mesh caps on Saturday and a special Military opening day on Sunday.

Ramona Music Fest

5. A variety of music artists will light up two stages at the annual Ramona Music Fest IV on Saturday, April 9th. The music kicks off at noon and continues to 6:00 pm at Dos Picos County Park. Ten bands and solo performers are expected to entertain the crowd with everything from rock, country and reggae, to a full brass band.

Suzzanne

5 To Try This Weekend

1. Over 90 races in two days will be held in Mission Bay at the 38th Annual San Diego Crew Classic. Spectators can watch as collegiate, junior and masters athletes compete for early season honors and coveted trophies. Be sure to check out the shore-side tent row for alumni and clubs, the jumbotron displaying races start to finish, a beer garden on the sand, and much more!


2. Did you know there are over fifteen designated gardens in Balboa Park? Spring is a great time to see what is blossoming at the nation’s largest urban cultural park. One of my favorites is the Rose Garden. The Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden displays over 2,500 roses of nearly 200 varieties on three acres and in April and May, the roses are at their peak.


3. Opening March 30th at the Valley View Casino Center for eight performances is Cirque du Soleil Quidam. Cirque du Soleil’s latest installment is full of creativity, acrobatics, athleticism and illusion. Quidam tells the story of Zoe, a young girl who is very bored with her life. To fill the void, she slides into an imaginary world where she meets characters who encourage her to free her soul. Plays at various times through April 3rd.


4. This Sunday, car enthusiasts can descend upon the Ellen Scripps Browning Park in La Jolla and preview over 150 automobiles in 30 speciality car classes at the 7th Annual La Jolla Motor Car Classic. The featured marque for this year is German Automobiles. The event will also showcase top stateside automobiles, including Chevy Corvettes, Shelby Cobras, Packards, and Ford Mustangs.

5. On April 1st, the San Diego Zoo will unveil several new features for Zoo visitors. The Zoo will debut its newly remodeled front plaza with color-coded pathways and its freshly painted, double-decked tour bus. Then starting April 2nd the Zoo will begin its latest event, Play Days, which offers guests 23 days full of 23 different animal experiences each day. From Pachyderm Pedicures to Bonobo Popsicle Parties, visitors are sure to see the Zoo’s animals in a whole new light.

Suzzanne

Spring Break in San Diego

Travel & Leisure recently named San Diego as the #3 destination for Best Time to Visit – Spring Break. And why wouldn’t we be? From beaches to attractions to the best weather in the country (we were named #1 for weather!); San Diego has so much to offer.


One great way to see San Diego’s best attractions, museums and general sightseeing is the Go San Diego Card. With the Go San Diego Card, visitors can purchase 3, 5, and 7 day cards that will give you entrance into over 50 San Diego area venues. Popular itineraries include the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Legoland California, Safari Park, USS Midway Museum, and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. But those are just suggestions, with so many options, you can customize your Spring Break into whatever you like. The folks at Go San Diego Card tell us that some popular options for Spring Break include the rides at Belmont Park, Bike and Kayak tours in La Jolla (kayak rentals or beach cruisers) or “ride the wave” at the Wave House Athletic Club. And even better, the Go San Diego Cards are unlimited and work for consecutive days.


Interested in trying the Go San Diego Cards for your Spring Break? Comment on the blog below and one lucky winner will win 4 Go San Diego Cards. Comment by Monday, March 21st at 10:00 a.m.

Suzzanne

5 To Try This Weekend


1. The Navy is celebrating 100 years of naval aviation in a big way this weekend. On Saturday, February 12th, the Navy will showcase its “Parade of Flight” with more than 200 planes flying over Coronado and the Bay. It will be the largest naval flyover since WWII! Be sure to check out the Union-Tribune’s special section that gives viewers tips on best spots to view the flyover as well as a viewer’s guide to aircraft.

2. With museum month in full swing, the New Children’s Museum is featuring a fun KidFunk Family Festival on Saturday. The festival runs from 10 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and will feature award-winning musical talent, dance crews, and a unique animal presentation by Wild Wes and the San Diego Zoo. It includes special appearances by Rhythm Child, Egg, and Super Galactic Beat Manipulators, culminating with an interactive Karaoke and DJ session.

3. It’s the year of the Rabbit, and you can celebrate at the 29th Annual San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair Saturday and Sunday. This free, family friendly event will feature lion and dragon dancers, martial artists, acrobats and musicians at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and J Street. No matter what zodiac you were born under, there will be plenty of fun for the whole family as they celebrate the most exciting Chinese holiday of the year.

4. This weekend in Balboa Park, Circus Vargas has set up its Big Top Tent. Arrive early for the free Preview Show, and join Jon Weiss as he invites kids of all ages into center ring to learn juggling, feather-balancing and hula-hooping. Circus Vargas unites skilled performers with clowns that actually make you laugh. They will be in Balboa Park from February 10-21.

5. Start your Valentine’s Day off early and take your sweetheart to see Jane Austen’s Emma A Musical Romantic Comedy currently playing at the Old Globe. Deliciously charming, this new romantic comedy from Tony Award-nominated composer Paul Gordon and directed by Tony Award nominee Jeff Calhoun brings Jane Austen’s classic story to musical life. Playing through February 27th.

Suzzanne

It’s a Whale of a Time


Every year from December through March, visitors to San Diego have an opportunity to watch the gray whales migrate from Alaska to Baja. One of the most unique ways to see these magnificent creatures is by kayak. Kayak you ask? Yes! OEX Dive & Kayak in La Jolla offers whale watching kayak tours from La Jolla’s Ecological Preserve, a marine sanctuary and home to the seven seas caves, Leopard Shark City and the La Jolla Sea Lion and Harbor Seal colonies. Whale watching from a kayak allows participants the opportunity to be one with the ocean and enjoy an incredible up-close view of the whales as well as provides a nice little workout. I should note: you aren’t always guaranteed a glimpse of the whales (they don’t always get the memo that we’ve just paddled out to see them), however according toMike at OEX, no one has ever been disappointed. Seals, dolphins and other marine life are almost always swimming around and are happy to oblige the kayakers.

Of course this isn’t the only way to get out and see the whales. From land to sea, check here for a complete round-up on whale watching in San Diego.

Interested in giving the kayak tour a try? Comment below on our blog and one lucky winner will win a pass for two to OEX Dive & Kayak’s whale watching tour. Must comment by Wednesday, January 26, 2011, 10:00 a.m.

OEX Dive & Kayak Center offers kayaking, scuba, stand-up paddleboard and snorkel tours and rentals from several locations throughout San Diego County. Check out their website to learn more!

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend


Wow it’s going to be a great weekend in San Diego! With the weather forecasted to be in the 70’s, get outside and head to the beach, or do something a little different. From a multi-cultural festival to a Whale Watching Festival, San Diego has no shortage of fun things to do! Which one sounds fun to you?

Stephen Strasburg 5k Walk with Tony Gwynn: Come join Stephen Strasburg and Tony Gwynn in a 5k walk and fun run benefiting the Aztec Baseball program. This is a family-friendly event that will include games, live music and fun for everyone.

13th Annual San Diego Multi-Cultural Festival: Cultures come together in celebration at this free, family-friendly fun festival with cultural entertainers, food, vendors, global villages and an education fair. The fair will take place Saturday, January 15 from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. along Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade downtown.

24th Annual Whale Watch and Intertidal Life Festival: Cabrillo’s annual Whale Watch Weekend kicks off tomorrow and Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and features presentations, exhibits and films. Rangers will be on hand all weekend to help visitor’s spot whales in the ocean and explore the park’s magnificent tide pools.

San Diego Restaurant Week: Restaurant Week kicks off Sunday, January 16th! Diners can choose from over 160 of San Diego’s best restaurants and enjoy a fixed price, three-course dinner for $20, $30 or $40 per person. Whether you crave seafood, organic, American or ethnic, there is something for everyone during San Diego Restaurant Week! Be sure to check out our foodie blogger Kate as she highlights some great spots to check out during Restaurant Week.

Underwater Parks Day at SEA LIFE Carlsbad Aquarium: On January 15th, young ocean enthusiasts at SEA LIFE Carlsbad Aquarium will learn about Marine Protected Areas or “Underwater Parks” during the Aquarium’s 3rd Annual Underwater Parks Day. Underwater Parks Day is an effort by Southern California aquariums to explain the need for Marine Protected Areas that replenish fish populations and restore the health of coastal waters.

Stephenie

10 Reasons to Visit San Diego in 2011

10 to Try in 2011Ready or not, the New Year is upon us and so, I’ve put together my list of 10 reasons to visit San Diego in 2011.

In no particular order…

  1. A World Premiere: This February, the La Jolla Playhouse brings us the World Premiere of Little Miss Sunshine.  This new musical based on the Academy Award-winning film, is sure to be outrageously funny (if not Broadway bound?), as it follows the Hoover family on a cross-country trek to a children’s beauty pageant where they hope their bad luck will change as the youngest daughter, Olive, chases the coveted title of “Little Miss Sunshine.” 
  2. Fabulous Food: The Nation’s Restaurant News released their list of dining trends for 2011 and among the top was locally grown ingredients, locally sourced meat and seafood and sustainability. How did San Diego restaurants respond? Check, check and check!  Stop by The Linkery, Sea Rocket Bistro and A.R. Valentien to see what I mean.
  3. RC 44 San Diego Cup: The NASCAR of all boating events will speed into San Diego in March for the first time ever! The RC44San Diego Cup highlights the world’s best sailors as they compete in high-performance boat races along San Diego Bay. 
  4. New Attractions: This summer, SeaWorld will debut Sea Turtle Bay, a new attraction all about sea turtles. Highlights will include Turtle Reef, a 300,000-gallon aquarium with a massive, a ride where you spin in boats on a sea turtle rescue mission and much more.  Also, stay tuned for news about BIG changes to come at LEGOLAND
  5. New Flight: I dedicate this one to our friends in the UK – In June, British Airways will offer daily, nonstop flights between from London’s Heathrow Airport and San Diego.
  6. Five Diamond Properties: That’s right; we’ve got some top dogs here in San Diego that are waiting to wine and dine visitors. Three hotels and one restaurant were recently awarded 2011 AAA Five Diamond Awards, the highest rating possible from the American Automobile Association and the most coveted symbol of excellence in the hospitality industry. Congratulations to: The Lodge at Torrey Pines, Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, The Grand Del Mar and its signature restaurant, Addison.
  7. Weather or Not: In Travel + Leisure’s recent America’s Favorite Cities Reader Poll, San Diego was voted the #1 destination for Best Weather. We also scored #2 for Most Athletic/Active People; #2 for Most Attractive People; #3  destination for Best Time to Visit – Spring Break and #4 destination for Best Time to Visit –  Summer. Check us out! 
  8. Centennial of Naval Aviation: In February, Coronado’s North Island Naval Air Station and San Diego Bay will celebrate the 100th anniversary of naval aviation and the first-ever flight of a Navy aircraft. The special event will include Navy ship tours, aircraft exhibits, music, food vendors and a large flyover in the afternoon featuring over 200 vintage aircraft.
  9. Wildflowers That Wow: San Diego has had the rainiest winter that I’ve seen in years! While that disrupted my wintertime summer dress wearing, it does mean that our famous wildflower display will be bursting with blossoms this spring.  If you want to see a natural phenomenon, head over to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see colorful wildflowers bejewel the desert landscape; make sure to double check the status of the wildflowers prior to your visit by calling the Park’s 24-hour “Wildflower Hotline” at 760-767-4684.
  10. Baby Animals Galore– Who doesn’t love to ooh and ahh at the sight of cute and cuddly little creatures? In 2010, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcomed a variety of calves, cubs and cutie pies, including newborn tigers, cheetah, rhino, zebra, giraffe and four elephants!  Come by the Safari Park to congratulate the new moms and watch these little guys grow.