Brent Bernasconi

Attraction Action at the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo Sign

San Diego Zoo SignThe temperature may be cooling as Autumn settles in but things are heating up at the San Diego Zoo! From November through December, Zoo visitors can celebrate flight, explore a holiday jungle, take a trek with pandas and enter into the fourth dimension.

Events

Mission Fed”s Discovery Days: Festival of Flight! (November 10-13)
They sing, they soar, they prance and preen! For a weekend, the Zoo goes to the birds. Fly through the park to view avian themed programs, meet a few winged creatures up close and enjoy some flight themed hands-on activities.

Jungle Bells (December 11-23, 25-31 and January 1-2)
The San Diego Zoo lights up during December. Hand bells greet visitors at the entrance with popular holiday classics to set the mood. Once in spirit, visitors can wander through the park to meet Santa, see the Conversation Tree Lighting and many other holiday activities.

Exhibits

Panda Trek
The bamboo forests of China are home not only to beste online casino the lovable black-and-white pandas but other colorful creatures as well. Gold-colored takins and a red panda roam the forests and rock outcroppings. End the trek with a view of the world-famous giant pandas.

4-D Theater
In December 2011 the San Diego Zoo will introduce a new 4-D theater. The 50-seat theater will combine the thrill of 3-D with a variety of sensory effects that are built into the theater, such as water mist, blustery wind, snow, bubbles, scents, seat vibrations and more. Visitors can find the theater near the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge exhibit. The films will be about 15 minutes long and will show throughout the day. The cost of a film is $6 per person in addition to Zoo admission.

Robert Arends

Three “Wild” Adventures in East County

Paws up! Make treks to San Diego’s rustic East County for up-close encounters of the wild animal kind.

Three one-of-a-kind animal sanctuaries top my must-see list – each sure to become as synonymous with San Diego as our world-famous Zoo and Safari Park.

Harris Hawk at Sky Hunters!

1. I recently discovered Sky Hunters, a preserve for our fine-feathered friends near Alpine, dedicated to teaching folks about raptors/birds of prey and caring for and rehabilitating sick, injured and orphaned raptors. Owner Nancy Conney (also an instructor at the San Diego Natural History Museum) and her team look after 20 non-releasable raptors, including hawks and owls. They also work with as many as 300 “rehab raptors” each year, including barn owl babies that fall out of their owl boxes and palm trees.

Barn owl at Sky Hunters.

Sky Hunters is open to the public for tours on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon until 4:00 pm. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 619-445-6565 or emailing skyhunters@juno.com. Visitor safety tip: Stay at least three feet back from the cages.

Roaring good times at Lions, Tigers & Bears!

2. Also located in Alpine is Lions, Tigers & Bears (oh my! Couldn’t resist…), a safe haven for lions, tigers, bears and other abandoned and unwanted exotic animals. BIG news: They’re adding two new black bears named Delilah and Blossom (become a Bear BFF!) to their family of 13 big cats and a black bear named Liberty. Two fall events coming up include a Wild Nights Camp Over with the Cats on September 23-24 and Wine Tasting Dinner under the stars on October 1. You can also spend a safari-themed overnight at their luxe bed & breakfast inn, White Oak Wild Nights.

Call 619-659-8078 to make a reservation to visit LTB; visiting hours are twice a week and just about every Saturday.

Howling good times at the California Wolf Center!

3. The California Wolf Center, located near Julian, offers visitors a thrilling opportunity to view packs of Alaskan gray wolves and endangered Mexican gray wolves while learning about their history, biology and behavior. They’re magnificent creatures and surprisingly timid and inquisitive. You could spend a couple hours just watching them play and explore their enclosures. Visitor tip: Schedule a visit in the morning when they’re most active. Click here for a public tour; private tours available too.

For REALLY up-close encounters inside the wolf enclosures(!), schedule an exciting Photo Tour.

Now that’s something to howl about!

Suzzanne

Top 5 Reasons to Fly to San Diego From Heathrow

With the new non-stop flight on British Airways arriving in San Diego daily, there has never been a better time to visit!

1. Short Queue: The BA flight will be the only flight using the International facility when it lands making customs and luggage retrieval easy.

2. We have it all: With over 70 miles of beaches, year-round great weather and world class attractions including the San Diego Zoo and Legoland California, it’s so easy to experience the So Cal lifestyle.

3. Easy distance to other top destinations: Take the Pacific Surfliner train to Disneyland for a day or experience the desert and drive or fly to Las Vegas, Phoenix or the Grand Canyon.

4. Location: The San Diego International Airport is a five minute drive from the city center, train station and thousands of hotel rooms.


5. So many experiences..so little time: No matter what you’re looking for San Diego has it all. Outdoor adventurer? Try whale watching or surfing among world-class surfers. Family time? How about Legoland California, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park or the USS Midway Museum. Arts & Culture buff? Visit Balboa Park, the nation’s largest cultural urban park.

Suzzanne

5 Reasons to Visit San Diego’s Attractions This Summer

LEGOLAND California Star Wars Miniland

1.This past March, LEGOLAND California unveiled its newest exhibit, STAR WARS Miniland. Guests will be taken to a galaxy far, far away with six new live-action LEGO displays of memorable scenes from the classic Star Wars movies. Over 1.5 million LEGO bricks create life-size models and interactive features from famous Star Wars scenes including Tatooine, Endor, and the Millennium Falcon.

San Diego Zoo's Red Panda

2. This summer, the San Diego Zoo is unveiling Panda Trek. This giant panda reserve will include newly built homes for the red pandas, takins and pit vipers as well as feature six species of bamboo and other Chinese plants including camellias and azaleas.

Splash Zoo at LEGOLAND Water Park

3. Opening May 26, 2011, the new Splash Zoo, just for toddlers, will open over at the LEGOLAND Water Park. This brand-new area will feature zoo-themed animals, interactive spray pads, fountains and a teeter totter.

SeaWorld's Sea Turtle Bay

4. Scheduled to open in June 2011 is SeaWorld San Diego’s Sea Turtle Bay. This new attraction will offer an up-close look at more than 60 threatened or endangered sea turtles. The attraction’s highlight is Turtle Reef, a 300,000-gallon aquarium, with a massive, underwater viewing window where visitors can watch as many as 60 green and hawksbill sea turtles.

Cheeta Run San Diego Zoo Safari Park

5. Be part of a Summer Safari at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. From July 2 – August 21, 2011, visitors will be treated to entertainment, activities and animals that embrace the spirit of Africa in its Summer Safari-An African Extravaganza. Acrobats, artisans and Ethiopian circus performers will entertain in the Safari Park’s village. Guests can join African artisans to create beaded necklaces and decorate safari hats in the African Activities Plaza.

Robert Arends

5 To Try: East County’s Quirky Roadside Attractions

From quaint and quirky to weird and wonderful, San Diego has numerous backcountry marvels that dot the expansive East County region. Roadside attractions have always fascinated me because they meld America’s love affair with the road with a creative entrepreneurial spirit that makes drivers do a double take.

Following are five fun ones to try. Get your motor running!

A sweet tart of roadside attractions in Lemon Grove.

  1. The “World’s Largest Lemon” in Lemon Grove (located off Historic Highway 94, alongside the San Diego Trolley tracks at Broadway & Main Street). This gigantic fiberglass lemon is a nod to the area’s citrus boom of the early 1900s and commemorates the town’s incorporation in 1977. The lemons are long gone except for a small grove adjacent to this tart 10-foot wide wonder. The base of the sculpture reads, “Best climate on earth.”

    Ranchita's roadside Rancheti!

  2. “Rancheti” Bigfoot statue in Ranchita (along County Highway S22, 9 mi. SW of Borrego Springs): This 11 foot, 300-pound white yeti statue – built by Ranchita resident/realtor Joe Rauh to bring attention to his tiny desert town  – keeps watch over the parking lot by the Ranchita Country Store. A must-see for “snowbirds” and other desert visitors; stop by, take photos and pick up a souvenir T-shirt or tote bag.
  3. Desert View Tower in Jacumba (located on Historic Highway 80): This 70-foot, San Diego historic landmark – commissioned in 1922 as a tribute to early pioneers – is renowned for its incredible panoramic views of the desert floor below (views stretching from the Salton Sea to Mexico!) and a wonderfully weird Americana museum and boulder garden filled with whimsical painted animal rock carvings. Admission: $3. Ensuing laughter from this offbeat roadside attraction: priceless. 
  4. I’ve mentioned them before, but the “Sky Art” Sculptures in Borrego Springs (Galleta Meadows Estate along Borrego Springs Road) – a magical metallic menagerie of dozens of freestanding life-size sculptures of creatures that roamed the valley millions of years ago – are well worth repeating.

    All that's left of Dinosaur Land in Alpine is this friendly fellow.

  5. Speaking of dinos, there’s a little known find of the prehistoric kind called Dinosaur Land in Alpine (located in Alpine Mobile Home Estates along historic Highway 80). There’s not much left of this nifty amusement park from yesteryear (1960s) and its 10 ancient inhabitants, except this curious creature that was too massive to move when the mobile home park was built. Stop by and say hi – we promise it won’t bite 😉
Candice

5 to Try: Art Rules at Museum Month

Nominate San Diego for a social media award in the Shorty Awards!Nominate San Diego for a social media award in the Shorty Awards travel category

Sure, the great weather and beautiful beaches are what San Diego is best known for, but away from the shore are some of San Diego’s real treasures: great art museums.  With Museum Month happening through February 28, now is the perfect time to soak up some color (and I don’t mean by working on your tan).

Swing by any Macy’s store in San Diego County, Imperial County or Riverside County  to pick up your free Museum Month Pass.  The pass is good all month long and will get you and up to 3 family or friends half off admission at more than 40 museums!

From Balboa Park to Oceanside and La Jolla to Encinitas, you’re never far from world class works of art.  Here are 5 San Diego art museums not to miss during Museum Month:

Carlos Amorales from Mexico: Expected/Unexpected

Museum of Contemporary Art

Opening Feb. 5 at their La Jolla location, MCASD presents Mexico: Expected/Unexpected featuring more than 100 artworks from one of Mexico’s most comprehensive contemporary art collections, the Isabel and Agustín Coppel Collection.  Juxtaposing contemporary Mexican artists like Carlos Amorales with more traditional historical figures like Gordon Matta Clark, Mexico:Expected/Unexpected is sure to stir up visitors’ perceptions of how art is categorized and the conversations that different artists and artworks create amongst each other.

Alison Saar at LUX

LUX Art Institute

On view through March 16 is LUX artist in resident Alison Saar.  Saar’s sculpture explores issues of identity in captivating and surprising ways.  Influenced by African and Haitian folklore, contemporary African-American culture, Catholicism, mythology and voodoo, Saar invites viewers to contemplate heavy subjects such as fertility, politics and human vulnerability with a little bit of humor.

Duane Michals from Imagine That!

Museum of Photographic Arts

It’s hard to pick which exhibition will captivate visitors to MoPA more: Imagine That! or Streetwise: Maters of 60s Photography.  Culled from the museum’s permanent collection, Imagine That! showcases photographers who create images beyond just what the eye sees, while Streetwise, opening Feb. 5, includes  documentary style portrayals of life on the street by iconic photographers including Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand and more.

Thomas Gainsborough

San Diego Museum of Art

Though he may be best known for his portrait of “Blue Boy,” the San Diego Museum of Art explores how Thomas Gainsborough portrays women’s role in society with Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman.  On view through May 1, the exhibition looks to Gainsborough’s portraits of women as a way to understand art, fashion and gender roles in the second half of the eighteenth century.

Artwork by Michelle Monjoy

Oceanside Museum of Art

On view through May 22 are the breathtaking botanical images of Imogen Cunningham, a pioneering photographer whose work with natural elements emphasize pattern, texture and detail.  And don’t miss Whole: Michelle Montjoy before it closes on Feb. 20.  Montjoy’s unexpected pieces transform old maps, fabric and pieces of clothing into delicate works addressing themes of memory and mapping systems.

Katie S.

San Diego Reaches Out to Stranded Visitors

San Diego realizes that many visitors are stranded due to volcanic ash. In support, the following hotels and attractions are offering special rates to accommodate visitors during this time.

Hotel Rates:

Motel 6, 3708 Plaza Dr., 760.941.1011, $39.60 per night.
Motel 6 Downtown, 909 N Coast Hwy., 760.721.1543 $49.99 per night w/ micro & fridge.
Holiday Inn Marina, 1401 Carmelo Dr., 760.231.7000, $99.00 per night.
Residence Inn by Marriott, 3603 Ocean Ranch Blvd., 760.722.9600 $129 per night.
Wyndham Oceanside Pier Resort, 333 N. Myers Street, 40% Off.
Days Inns Days Oceanside, 1501 Carmelo Drive, 760.722.7661. 15% off rack rate.
Sheraton Suites, 701 S Street, 619.696.9800. $79 rate, 5 minutes from airport.

Attractions:

The following museums and theme parks are offering free one-day admission to any tourists stranded in Southern California due to the interruption in international air travel caused by Icelandic volcanic ash:

California Surf Museum, 312 Pier View Way, Oceanside, CA 760.721.6876

All stranded visitors must present a valid return airline ticket with dates from April 20th-April 27th, 2010 or until normal flight schedules return.