[Tweet “Save during your visit to #LaJolla this October with these amazing #KidsFreeSD offers!”]
Kids hang 10 for free Surf Diva!
Wiggle your toes in the sand at La Jolla’s famous family friendly beaches and hang 10 with Surf Diva, offering kids free surfing lessons (a $71.50 value – wow!) with the purchase of an adult lesson.
Kids can hop aboard the Old Town Trolley Tours‘ new La Jolla & Mission Beach Tour for free (with the purchase of an adult ticket) or the splashy Seal Tours on San Diego Bay or narrated city tour to top tourist sites like Old Town and Coronado.
Kids admitted free all month to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps!
Birch Aquarium, nestled high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, is one of my top “must-sees” with 60+ tanks of colorful marine life including coral reefs, a kelp forest (My fav! It’s like snorkeling without getting in the water 😉 ), sharks, jellyfish and three outdoor tide pools where you can touch sea anemones, starfish and more!
As you can see, there’s lots of fun for free in picture-perfect La Jolla! Bring the kids and make it a fall getaway to remember. 🙂
Located just minutes from downtown San Diego, Mission Bay Park is the largest park of its kind in the world, spread out over 4,200 sparkling acres. Something you may not know about this aquatic playground is that there are some really cool and surprising animal encounters along its 27 miles of beaches.
A recent visit to the Bahia Resort piqued my interest in Mission Bay’s wildlife when I spotted a friendly seal named Gracie frolicking in a pool out front of the resort. I couldn’t believe my eyes. What a fun and memorable way to welcome visitors!
I soon discovered that other creatures great and small call Mission Bay home and make for some great photo opps, if you know where to look. And the best part: viewing is free.
Here’s the inside scoop on Mission Bay’s amazing menagerie of animal encounters and where to find them:
Gracie the Seal at the Bahia Resort
Gracie the seal basking in the sun at Bahia Resort
Gracie the seal, a rescue from La Jolla Cove, first called Bahia Resort home in 2006. She’s curious, outgoing and well-loved by all. When she’s not swimming around her spacious pool with her best friend Billy, she can be found sunbathing on the rocks. A great time to visit is during feeding time: 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM daily.
Parrots, Macaws and Cockatoos at the Catamaran
Meet the the talkative parrot named Cornell and enjoy even more animal encounters at Catamaran Resort
Colorful parrots, macaws and cockatoos can be found at the Catamaran Resort, located outside behind the main lobby. The bright – and talkative! – birds are on display daily from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Check out the cool Bird Cam. You can call each of them by name; feathered pics of who’s who (including Cornell the parrot, above) can be found on the resort’s exotic wildlife page.
Catamaran also has two ponds with koi fish, ducks and turtles that love to bask in the sun.
Animal Encounters at Paradise Point
When it comes to fascinating fauna on land, sea and air, Paradise Point Resort has it all! Swimming beneath the surface of the large lagoon next to Barefoot Bar & Grill are spotted leopard sharks, stingrays and guitar fish! The resort’s network of gardens and lagoons is also home to ducks, red-eared slider turtles, frogs, hummingbirds, herons and egrets…oh my!
See you in Mission Bay for some close encounters of the animal kind! 🙂
Explore San Diego’s waterfront with free beach wheelchairs rentals
The City of San Diego’s Park & Recreation Department provides a number of services for the disabled – including free use of motorized beach wheelchairs that allow those with mobility disabilities to propel independently along the sand at Mission Beach. There’s even a non-motorized chair that allows users to roll right in to the ocean.
Beach wheelchairs can be reserved for one hour at a time. (Identification is required and will be held as security.) Maximum weight capacity on the motorized chair is 250 pounds; it’s 500 pounds on the water-going chair. (Only one rider at a time is permitted on either vehicle.)
Find the chairs just outside the lifeguard station at Ventura and Ocean Front Walk, behind Belmont Park.
Beach Wheelchair Rental Hours
Weekdays: 11:30 AM to 4:30 PM (closed Tuesdays)
Weekends: 11:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Friday-Sunday: 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM
No beach wheelchairs available
Friday-Sunday: 11:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Reservations are highly recommended; phone 619.980.1876.
As the days are getting longer and warmer, it’s hard to escape the allure of San Diego’s 70 miles of coastline. Of course, when you’re enjoying a day along San Diego’s sparkling shore, dressed in your finest flip-flops and swimsuit, the last thing you want to do is pack up your towels and beach lounger in search of quick beachside eats. Fortunately, a tasty meal is only steps away from the sand at these casual beachside restaurants and snack shops.
Located just steps from the sand, Bull Taco is a favorite stop for hungry visitors to San Elijo State Beach. This small joint features a big menu that includes a wide variety of fish and exotic meats like alligator and kangaroo.
Pacific Beach is the epitome of the SoCal beach experience, with wide stretches of sand packed with good-looking locals and a boardwalk teeming with rollerbladers, bicyclists and skateboarders. For the perfect SoCal snack, head over to Taco Surf. The classic beachfront taco shop has been serving up San Diego staple since 1988.
No need to head inland to find a snack in Imperial Beach – to find the Tin Fish, just head out into the Pacific Ocean…via the Imperial Beach pier, of course. Nestled out on the end of the pier, the Tin Fish serves up more than fish, with plenty of burger and chicken options.
Ice cream sandwiched between two red velvet cookies? Yes, please!
What could possibly complement a day at the beach better than a cool, creamy ice cream sandwich? Beachgoers with a sweet tooth won’t want to miss the Baked Bear, where you can choose your own combination of ice cream flavors sandwiched between freshly baked cookies, brownies or waffles.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
One of the great things about surf fishing in San Diego County is that you’ll likely have the beach to yourself. That sounds crazy in a place that has nearly 4 million people and more in the summer months, but if you plan it right, you’ll have the beach to yourself as you try to fool a long list of ocean fish prowling near shore.
I like to fish an incoming tide early in the morning or late in the day toward sundown if I can time that right. Fewer people, more fish. Check the tides and go from there. It’s also a good idea to scan the beach you intend to fish at low tide to see where the holes or any structure are and where fish might hold when the tide rolls in.
What’s great about fishing the surf is you never know what you’ll catch. The list includes barred surfperch, walleye surfperch, yellowfin croaker, spotfin croaker, corbina, halibut, bat rays, leopard sharks and shovelnose guitarfish.
Surf Fishing Spots
My first experience surf fishing in San Diego was years ago when I was talked into venturing to Black’s Beach. It was a nude beach then, still is, but the fishing down there has always been exceptional. Yes, there are distractions, but remember, the fishing is good. We used heavy gear and shucked mussels that we pried away from the nearby rocks for bait. We caught barred surfperch and corbina. I hooked my first California halibut, but it got off my line just as I was about to beach it. Halibut must be 22 inches long to be kept, and this one qualified by the looks of it. That’s my story, anyway.
There are many ways to go about surf fishing, but I’ve narrowed it to three.
You can use heavier, conventional gear and go with a rod holder and just kick back and wait for something to bite and get your reel screaming. Heavier gear like a 9-foot rod and Abu 5000 reel will allow you to make a cast far enough beyond the breakers to catch some really big beach dwellers like a halibut, shark or white seabass.
A second way, and this is really the most fun, is to take the equivalent of light gear for freshwater bass and walk the shoreline looking for finning or darting corbina in the shadows. I prefer that way, more of a stalk and find and then cast. You don’t need much to fish the surf this way. I like to use a 7- to 10-foot rod, a good, solid saltwater resistant spinning reel with 6- to 10-pound test and a small bait hook to hold a sand crab that I dig out of the surf, or mussels, squid, ghost shrimp or blood worms. Artificial baits like Berkley Gulp baits work well, too. The motor oil with red flake grub is the standard. And hard lures like Kastmasters or Krocadiles can land some bigger fish like a halibut, striped bass or even a cruising shark or two.
Fly Fishing Gear
A third way it to use fly fishing gear, a method that has gained in popularity in recent years. One group sponsored a One Fly Tournament in which all the fly fishermen entered in the tournament picked one fly, but as soon as that fly broke off or was lost, the angler had to quit fishing.
A 5- or 6-weight rod is all you need in the surf here, and I’ve known some fly fishermen who drop down to a 4-weight. You’ll need a good, anodized reel with a sealed drag to prevent saltwater damage to the reel. The reel should be able to hold 100 yards of backing. A fast-sinking, integrated shooting head such as a Rio Striper 26DC will get the fly down in the rough surf line. Use 6- to 8-pound test monofilament with three, to four feet of fluorocarbon line, of similar pound-test, for leader. Any fly with red or orange will work, but some of the best include a red Clouser, a Rootbeer Surf Rat or a Solis Foxy Crab, Piconi Power Red or Piconi Power Orange, Corbina Candy, Darter Perch and a Swimming Sand Crab. Be sure and include a stripping basket for the line to make things easier walking the beach. Polarized glasses, a good beach hat, waders (in the winter) and some good sunscreen will complete the outfitting.
Mild ocean breezes and rolling waves are always in season at San Diego beaches. In the fall, the weather is still warm enough to hit the surf, and even better, a great time to discover the secret world of tide pools. There’s no telling what tiny creatures you’ll encounter in these incredible little ecosystems teeming with life along San Diego’s shoreline. It all happens when the tide rolls out – shallow pools form around the rocks and become a home to tiny octopuses, colorful sea stars, hardy Hermit crabs and other remarkable critters. And that’s just what’s visible to the naked eye.
When my own kids were very young, exploring the tide pools was one of our favorite weekend adventures. Their favorite discoveries: The slimy looking sea cucumbers and prickly sea urchins. Now teenagers, they still love to go, so this activity is good for nature-lovers of all ages.
Fall kicks-off the best viewing season and runs through winter. Before you visit, check the surf report to make sure it’s low or minus tide, so the tide pools are out in the open. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Walk down the scenic path where land and sea meet to a large rocky area. These tide pools offers some of San Diego’s best protected examples of periwinkle snails, tiny crabs and other unique organisms.
Minus tide is the best time to see the tide pool here. It is at the south end of Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla at the bottom of the small cement stairway. This beach is also home to Seal Rock Reserve, where you can watch seals and sea lions playing and sunning themselves.
This is a surfing-only beach that’s also popular with biology students. To get to the tide pools walk north along the beach from the parking area west of La Jolla Boulevard at the north end of Pacific Beach.
North on Pacific Coast Highway from Cardiff State Beach is Swami’s. Once you’re on the beach, walk north to the rocky areas. Hidden in the hard sedimentary rock are old fossils shells, and during low tide, you have a good chance of seeing sea hares, brittle stars and octopuses.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take a scenic drive to Mt. Laguna to hike, bike or picnic while enjoying the fresh mountain air whispering through the pines.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fly a kite along the grassy field in the Tecolote Shores of Mission Bay Park, a 4,600-acre aquatic park.
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.
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.
The colorful (and delicious) sights of the Little Italy Mercato, including fresh uni.
It’s Saturday morning, and India Street is bustling as usual, with colorful tents and even more colorful produce on display at the Little Italy Mercato, one of the city’s best farmers markets. The Mercato’s highlight is freshly caught sea urchin, which Poppa’s Fresh Fish will happily crack open and hand over with a fork to so you can devour the delicacy immediately. But today, I’m saving my appetite for brunch at PrepKitchen. The chef takes his inspiration and ingredients from what’s available at the market that morning, so there’s a good chance I’ll be feasting on some of the Mercato’s spoils. After brunch, Little Italy’s indie boutiques beg for a little exploration.
Shopping at Little Italy’s Vocabulary boutique; brunch at PrepKitchen
My shopping itch not yet scratched, I head a couple of miles East to the South Park neighborhood, where I could spend hours wandering from boutique to boutique. If you happen to stop by on a Saturday afternoon, don’t be surprised to see a pop-up flea market in one of the grassy lots along Fern Street.
Shopping spills out into the street along Fern Street in South Park
Knitting books? Handmade jewelry from local designers? Craft beer bottles recycled into drinking glasses? A vintage ceramic ashtray in the shape of a Dachshund? Not matter what I’m looking for, I’ll probably find it at one of South Park’s crafty and quirky shops.
Make Good, Junc Life & Style and Graffiti Beach are just a few of the unique shops you’ll find in South Park.
After all that shopping, I’ve worked up a little appetite, so I make my way down to Barrio Logan, an epicenter of San Diego’s Hispanic community. Street tacos at La Fachada are the perfect fuel before stopping to admire Chicano Park,where vibrant murals beneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge overpass portray the struggles of the Mexican-American community.
Tacos at La Fachada; the murals of Chicano Park
Before the sun sets, I make my way to the beach to soak up summer’s welcoming weather. The beaches of La Jolla are some of my favorites – La Jolla Shores’ vast stretch of sand full of surfers and lifeguard towers feels quintessentially Southern Californian, while the rocky tidepools of La Jolla Cove are almost Mediterranean in appearance. But today, I set up camp beneath the towering sandstone cliffs of Torrey Pines.
For dinner, it’s of to 30th Street in the North Park neighborhood, where the Linkery has been serving up farm-to-table food for years before it became a staple of the national foodie vocabulary. And nothing washes down one of their housemade sausage links better than a local craft beer.
Craft beer and the farm-to-table tastes of the Linkery; Bar Pink’s kitschy-cool decor and drinks
Before calling it a day, I cross the street to Bar Pink. Their signature drink, the Sneaky Tiki, seems to sum up San Diego in a glass: beautiful, of course, but with some surprising flavors and just a bit of punch that sneaks up on you when you least expect. Before you know it, you’re drunk on the San Diego’s charms. What a perfect way to end my day.
Head over to the eclectic neighborhood of Hillcrest on Sunday, August 12th for the annual Hillcrest Cityfest. Arts, crafts, food and live entertainment are featured at this popular annual street festival, held along Fifth Avenue.
The Bernardo Winery, located in Rancho Bernardo, will be host on August 11, 2012 to the San Diego Wine Country Festival. Over 20 of San Diego’s local Wineries pouring their latest releases from 1:00 to 5:00 PM on August 11th. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet the winemakers and get the inside scoop into San Diego Winemaking while sampling wine under the olive trees on the picturesque grounds of the 120 year old Bernardo Winery.
Catch the world’s top female surfers compete in Oceanside at the Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro. This event will serve as the only ASP Star event on the 2012 ASP North America calendar. Twelve of the top sixteen ranked surfers in the world will be competing from August 9th through the 12th. Event is free.
The fastest-growing street fair for dogs and dog lovers in Southern California is set for Saturday, August 11th, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Aberdeen Drive and Newcastle Ave in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Highlights of this year’s Cardiff Dog Days of Summer event include the Purina Pro Plan Rally to Rescue Ambassador Program, an obstacle course sponsored by K-9 Connection, a Kid Zone with a bird show and games, silent auction and contests such as, Cutest Puppy, Best Dressed Dog, Best Kisser to name a few.
Little Italy’s Kettner Boulevard comes alive as visitors mix and mingle their way through the many boutiques and galleries, August 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM between West Grape West Laurel Streets on Kettner.