Robert Arends

Fun East County Finds for Father’s Day Weekend

Father’s Day is just around the corner! If you’re just making plans and hankering for adventure, I’ve got a few fun ideas in San Diego’s wild and wonderful East County region:

Beer Pairing Dinner

Chef Jeremy to serve Beer Pairing Dinner fit for a king!

Chef Jeremy to serve Beer Pairing Dinner fit for a king!

Hop to it and take dad for out for a Beer Pairing Dinner at Jeremy’s on the Hill, located down the road from our famous Gold Rush mountain town of Julian. Partnering with Julian Brewing Company and Baileys BBQ Pit, Cordon Bleu-trained Chef Jeremy will serve a mouthwatering farm-to-table dinner dad won’t soon forget!

Where: Jeremy’s on the Hill – 4354 Highway 78 , Wynola, CA 92070
When: June 14, 2013
Reservations: 760.765.1587
Cost: $37 person/$68 for two

San Diego’s Gaudi – Hubbell/Ilan-Lael Open House

Architectural wonders at the Hubbell Open House

Architectural wonders at the Hubbell Open House

In nearby Santa Ysabel, famed architect/artist James Hubbell – “San Diego’s Gaudi” – opens up his fantastical art compound to the general public on Father’s Day, June 16. This 30th annual Open House sells out, so buy tix soon! This year, Hubbell debuts a new gallery building as dazzling as his art!

Where: 930 Orchard Lane, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
When: June 16, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: $30-$75. Kids 12 and under – Free.
> Find out more about the Hubbell/Ilan-Lael Open House

Feed-a-Cat…a Big Cat!

Feed-a-cat at Lions, Tigers & Bears!

Feed-a-cat at Lions, Tigers & Bears!

Grrrrrreat! Does your dad love Animal Planet and Discovery Channel? In the rolling hills of Alpine, he can experience wildlife up close and Feed-a-Cat – as in a tiger, lion or leopard (his choice!) at Lions, Tigers & Bears, a big cat and exotic animal rescue sanctuary. I’ve done it once and Thrilling is an understatement! If you bring the kids, they must be 16 or older.

Where: Lions, Tigers & Bears
Cost: $75
Book by calling: 619-659-8078

Borrego Springs

Galleta Meadows' Giant Sloth in Borrego Springs!

Galleta Meadows’ Giant Sloth in Borrego Springs!

Borrego Springs, San Diego’s desert oasis, is piping hot right now but don’t let the triple digits deter you. Summer means NO crowds and hours of poolside respite. I suggest staying at the swanky new La Casa del Zorro Resort (casitas with spas!). On the edge of town, check out the wild Galleta Meadows sculpture garden (free viewing!), featuring a cuddly new Giant Sloth. Book an off-road adventure with California Overland to take dad and the whole family to Fonts Point, “California’s Grand Canyon” – a contender for Virtual Tourist’s 8th Wonder of the World!

Happy Father’s Day and I’ll see you in East County! 🙂

Robert Arends

Surprising 2013 Summer Finds in San Diego’s East County!

There’s no place as diverse and full of surprises as San Diego’s expansive East County. Visitors to this region, ranging from rolling foothills to alpine mountains and pristine deserts, can find some of the most incredible sights, especially this summer.

Following are 5 to Try, as you hit the open road this May and June:

1. Julian Wild & Scenic Film Festival

Julian Apple Pies in San Diego's East County

Julian – home of apple pies and the Wild & Scenic Film Festival!

The charming historic Gold Rush mining town of Julian, famous for its apple pies, hosts the 2nd Annual Julian Wild & Scenic Film Festival this weekend. The theme: “A Climate of Change,” featuring 44 inspiring films! While you’re there, explore the town, enjoy a slice of pie and take in the beauty of East County’s most famous mountain town.

Where: Various Julian Locations
When: May 17-19, 2013
Cost: $5-$60
> Find out more about the Julian Wild & Scenic Film Festival

2. Hubbell/Ilan-Lael Open House

Find your muse at the Hubbell Open House & Studio Tour!

Find your muse at the Hubbell Open House & Studio Tour!

Down the road in Santa Ysabel, on June 16 (Father’s Day) visitors can get an exclusive peek at the art-filled compound of James Hubbell, “San Diego’s Gaudi.” A beautiful new headquarters and amphitheater, featuring fantastical colorful mosaics, plaster of Paris reliefs, stained glass and iron work, debuts at this year’s Hubbell/Ilan-Lael Open House. Get your tickets now before they sell out!

Where: 930 Orchard Lane, Santa Ysabel, CA 92070
When: June 16, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: $30-$75. Kids 12 and under – Free.
> Find out more about the Hubbell/Ilan-Lael Open House

3. A Magnificent Bald Eagle Nest

Bald Eagle and Chick - Wildlife Research Institute - East County

Bald eagle and chick at Ramona Grasslands Preserve.

Soar like an eagle to the Wildlife Research Institute in the Ramona Grasslands Preserve to see firsthand a magnificent bald eagle nest – with a single chick and two proud parents! – located 1 mile from the institute headquarters. Bring your binoculars; the best vantage point is from Rangeland Road. Also visit the institute’s family of wild bison!

Where: 18030 Highland Valley Road, Ramona, CA 92065
> Find out more about the Wildlife Research Institute

4. Wings Over Gillespie Air Show

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High-flying fun can also be had at the big annual Wings Over Gillespie Air Show in El Cajon. Aviation aficionados of all ages will love the displays of dozens of classic aircraft, as well as military re-enactors and mock battles overhead. New this year: Silver Wings Wingwalking!

Where: Gillespie Field – 1960 Joe Crosson Dr, El Cajon, CA 92020
When: June 1-2, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: Starting at $8
> Find out more about Wings Over Gillespie Air Show

5. Giant Sloth Sculpture

Yours truly with Giant Sloth at Galleta Meadows, Borrego Springs!

Yours truly with Giant Sloth at Galleta Meadows, Borrego Springs!

In San Diego’s desert oasis of Borrego Springs, a new behemoth sculpture of a Giant Sloth – the last one in a collection of dozens of prehistoric beasts – was recently unveiled at Galleta Meadows. Photo ops abound in this “Land of the Lost” and people from all over the world have searched out these roadside wonders. The best thing: its Free!

> Find out more about Galleta Meadows

> Discover more of San Diego’s East County

Happy (early) summer from East County!

Robert Arends

Julian Ripe and Ready for Apple Days!

Visitors and locals alike are gearing up for a San Diego tradition as “American as apple pie:” Julian Apple Days, happening this weekend October 6-7!

Every year the historic Gold Rush mountain town of Julian rolls out the red (apple) carpet, celebrating its big annual harvest with apple picking and mouthwatering apple pies and ciders. The Apple Days fest takes place on the grounds of Menghini Winery (10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday & Sunday), featuring music and dancing, children’s games, gold panning, a wine and beer garden, food, vendors, apple-related contests, the coronation of Mr. and Mrs. Apple Days and, of course, Julian’s famous apple pies.

While in Julian be sure to sample the apple pies!

It’s A LOT of fun for the whole family! Admission is only $5; free for children ages 12 and under. The first 250 guests receive a free souvenir pie server!

While you’re in town, following are my Top 5 to Try Julian activities that’ll have you smiling ear to ear this weekend:

1. Pick a Bushel of Apples at Raven Hill Orchard

Sculpture with a Raven at Raven Hill Orchard

Wild Raven Hill sculptures!

Next door to the Julian Apple Days fest is Raven Hill Orchard where you can pick your own apples among a vast orchard of 8,000 trees! Also check out the fantastical metal sculptures dotting the grounds – great photo opps!

2. Pan for Gold at the Julian Mining Company

Family Panning for Gold - Julian Mining Company

Gold panning in Julian!

New in town is the Julian Mining Company, featuring gold panning, pumpkin picking and even an Early American Farm-Life Tour where you can work a real apple cider press!

3. Take a Llama Trek from Wikiup B&B

Couple with two Llamas from the Wikiup Bed and Breakfast

Lovin’ the Wikiup llama treks!

Gidddyup on one of Wikiup B&B‘s exciting Llama Treks through Julian’s backcountry to the Menghini Winery and famous Eagle Gold Mine, where you can take a tour of one of Julian’s original gold mines!

4. Fresh Apple Pies

Julian Apple Pies

Mmmm…Apple pies!

Sure there’s delectable Dudley’s Famous Bakery, Mom’s Pies and Julian Pie Co… But for the most gourmet apple pie in town, nothing beats the Candied Apple Pastry Company‘s sour creamapple pie. It’s off the charts!

5. Spooky Tour of the Julian Cemetery

Yours truly at spooky Julian Cemetery!

Kids will get a kick out of Julian Historical Society’s classic 1888 one-room school house (2133 Fourth St.), open weekends throughout October. For an insider’s scoop on prospectors and pioneers who settled here, join local resident/historian David Lewis on fun guided walking tours that include the spooky Julian Haven of Rest Cemetery!

Quick sidebar: Our local newspaper, U-T San Diego, did a great story on Julian Apple Days weekend!

See you in Julian!

Robert Arends

Make tracks for San Diego’s East County Museums

The Western art of Olaf Wieghorst

San Diego Museum Month is in full swing (1/2 price admission to 40 participating museums!) and there’s no better time to explore some lesser-known museum jewels in the San Diego’s East County communities. They may not be the biggest cultural institutions on the map, but they’re certainly some of the most charming and a great way to discover the Wild West heritage of our rustic backcountry.

Following are my Top 5 Favorite East County museums: Continue reading