Meet Rick Schwartz – San Diego's Guide to Family Fun

Rick Schwartz - San Diego's Guide to family Fun
san diego zoo koala

Rick Schwartz and his koala friend, Burly, are your Guides to the Good Stuff.

If you caught this week”s episode of NPR”s Wait Wait…Don”t Tell Me!, you might already be familiar with <a title=”Rick Schwartz – San Diego”s Guide to Family Fun” href=”” target=”_blank”>Rick Schwartz, Animal Care Supervisor for the San Diego Zoo. As a member of the San Diego Zoo”s team for 13 years, Rick has more than a few good tips to share for exploring the grounds and beyond.

Let Rick Schwartz be your Guide to the Good Stuff in San Diego with his picks for the best animal (and people) watching!


Explore the San Diego Zoo Like an Insider

This animal care ambassador knows the zoo like no one else, so be sure to follow Rick”s suggestions when you visit the San Diego Zoo:

  • Be prepared to spend all day. The San Diego Zoo spans 100 acres and houses more than 3,700 animals.
  • During the summertime, the zoo is open for 12 hours, which allows you to see animals that are more active at night. See your favorite animals active in the morning, go take one of the bus tours, ride the Skyfari, check out a show, and then walk the zoo again in the evening time. You’ll see and hear many unique things you would miss otherwise.
  • Before you go, pick three animals that you absolutely must see. Rick suggests checking out casino the koalas at the zoo”s new Australian Outback.

Beyond the Zoo: Rick Schwartz”s Suggestions for the Rest of San Diego

The zoo is terrific, but there”s plenty more to explore in San Diego beyond the zoo”s grounds:

  • One of Rick”s favorite locations in San Diego is Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park. In addition to the access to Torrey Pines State Beach, there are some beautiful paths that wind through the preserve. You can have some unique coastal wildlife sightings right from the trails.
  • If you’re into people watching, Mission Beach is another of Rick”s favorite spots. You”ll see a lot of great characters, both local and visiting.
  • In the evening, Rick suggests heading downtown to the Gaslamp Quarter for great restaurants and clubs. “You could just get a nice little table on the patio of a restaurant there on one of the main streets and people watch all evening long,” says Rick.
  • Another of Rick”s favorite neighborhoods is Pacific Beach. With lots of bars and a fun beach culture, “that”s the place to go when you are done with the wild animals and want to go hang out with the party animals!” Rick shares.

Check out more of Rick Schwartz”s favorite things about San Diego, including tips for exploring Balboa Park, at <a title=”Rick Schwartz – San Diego”s Guide to the Good Stuff” href=”” target=”_blank”>


Happening Family Hikes That Kids and Parents Will Love

One of the best parts about being in San Diego is enjoying all its beauty. With great weather and scenic views, hiking with your family is yet another way to appreciate America’s finest city. When it comes to adventures on foot with the kids, check out some of the top happening hiking spots compiled from suggestions of local moms.

Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines - La Jolla - Scenic Waterfront Walks

Walk among the famous Torrey Pines with the Pacific Ocean as your backdrop.

It would nearly be a crime not mention this spot first! In fact, when gathering as much hiking intel as I could from other parents, this was the one place always mentioned. Sandwiched between Del Mar and La Jolla, the wild flowers can be enjoyed with one of the world’s most breathtaking ocean views. With three of the popular hike options being short ones, choose to walk to the water or get up close to the famous Torrey Pines! If you want to get your kids excited about hikes, start at this 1,750 acre seaside reserve. (12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, California 92037.)

San Elijo Lagoon

This 915 acre reserve is nestled neatly in North County with sprawling ocean views. Known for its bird watching, there’s also lots of unique plants to check out, too. In fact, you may even spot a fish or two in the lagoon on one of the eight trails to choose from! (2710 Manchester Avenue in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.)

Batiquitos Lagoon

The Batiquitos Lagoon is a great place to see wildlife.

The Batiquitos Lagoon is a great place to see wildlife.

Beginners should start here. And by that, I especially mean those with the age 3 and under set that just want to get a nice walk in with a view of the water. Enjoy ocean and lagoon scenery with an easy walk for all ages. (7380 Gabbiano Ln, Carlsbad, CA 92011)

Cowles Mountain

360 Panorama of Cowles Mountain

360 Panorama of Cowles Mountain. Via Wikipedia

Got older kids? Get ready to hike to the highest point in San Diego! Savor the 360 degree views of San Diego and a healthy 3 mile round trip workout, too. With the shorter distance, kids may not notice that the hike is a bit more of a challenge. And bragging rights of reaching the “top of San Diego” (and the view!) will make it all worth while. (At the corner of Golfcrest Drive and Navajo Road.)

Old Mission Dam

For fun with finding shells along the dam, this hike is another great place to enjoy with children while collecting wild flowers along the way. With easy trails, the historical landmark is also great for bird watching. (1 Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA 92119)

Mount Woodson

Known for its cool rock formations that look like potato chips hanging in the sky, this hiking trail is thought of as moderate in terms of difficulty but worth the effort for the photos sitting on the edge of the rocks. With great views, round trip will be just about 8 miles so make sure the kids are up for a true adventure if you go for the whole route. (Mt Woodson Trail, Poway, CA.)

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve

The Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve features  hiking, biking and equestrian trails.

The Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve features hiking, biking and equestrian trails.

Kid friendly walking (read: easy trails) can lead to the excitement of a waterfall! One of the best options leaves from the Canyonside Rec center with a path that will guide you along the creek to the main waterfall event.  For a very different hike, be sure to check out the West Entrance as well. Either way, bring your swimsuits on a hot day and enjoy a little dip in the water to cool off! (12122 Canyonside Park Drive, San Diego, CA 92129.)

Black Mountain Open Space Park

For the over 5 years old crowd, get ready for some steep hills that will guide you to awesome views overlooking North County all the way to the ocean on a clear day! Reaching the top of the summit of Black Mountain, catch the views to downtown San Diego, too! (12115 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92129)

Remember, with so much beauty to explore in this city, be sure to get the kids outside and enjoying all the atmosphere that one of these family hikes in San Diego has to offer.



Farmers Insurance Open 2014 Comes to San Diego

Farmers Insurance Open San Diego 2013 Torrey Pines Golf Course

Mark your calendars now, because one of golf’s biggest events of the year, the Farmers Insurance Open, returns to San Diego in 2014. San Diego’s leg of the annual PGA TOUR will take place Jan. 23-26, 2014, at the iconic Torrey Pines Golf Course.

Farmers Insurance Open San Diego 2013 Torrey Pines Golf Course

Fans line up to see world-class golf at the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open (photo: Chris Keeney)

The 2013 champion, Tiger Woods, will be among the prestigious PGA TOUR pros vying for the 2014 title. The defending champion has won the tournament seven times, including in 2013 when he received the Farmers Insurance Open title with a 14-under score of 274 and a four-shot win over 2012 champion Brandt Snedeker.

Farmers Insurance Open San Diego 2013 Torrey Pines Golf Course Tiger Woods

Can Tiger Woods repeat last year’s victory at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego? (photo: Getty Images_

In addition to world-class golf, guests at the Farmers Insurance Open will have the opportunity to enjoy premium hospitality suites and attractions. The Tilted Kilt Terrace will offer a high energy, sports bar environment on the 15th green where fans can watch live golf, eat from a Kilt-themed menu, and order drinks from premium cash bars. At the Michelob Ultra 19th Hole, guests get to enjoy 30,000 square feet of interactive fan activities, themed concession stands, Mega LED screen with live golf coverage, and a beer garden. The under-21 crowd can visit our Birdies for Charity Zone to learn more about the Farmers Insurance Open’s beneficiaries, or stop by our brand new Farmers Social Zone to get connected and enter to win cool prizes.

Farmers Insurance Open San Diego 2013 Torrey Pines Golf Course

It’s hard to beat the beauty of the Torrey Pines Golf Course (photo: Paul Rode)

Tournament play begins Thursday, January 23 and will conclude Sunday, January 26, followed by the Awards Ceremony on the 18th Green to complete the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open. Make your plans now to attend this elite sporting event!

 Do you have a favorite sporting event to attend in San Diego? Tell us about it in the comments below.


5 of San Diego’s Best Scenic Waterfront Walks

Mission Beach Sunset - Scenic Waterfront Walks

Whether it’s sunrise, sunset or high noon, there is nothing like a leisurely stroll along one of these scenic waterfront walks in San Diego.

Each of these treks can be as easy as you want it to be, modified to a distance that works for you. Wear the right shoes, carry plenty of drinking water, use sunscreen and wear sunglasses. Take along a camera and enjoy the outdoors while being good to your body.

1. Mission Bay Park

Mission Bay Waterfront Walk

Take a stroll around the largest aquatic park in the US, Mission Bay

There’s always plenty of parking at Rose Marie Starns South Shores park, so start there and head east. Along the way, you’ll see jet skiers whizzing around the bay, have the chance to watch dancers on roller skates, and will inhale whiffs of dozens of tantalizing ethnic family picnics. Make it all the way to the end of the walkway at De Anza Cove and back and you’ll have racked up about seven miles.

2. Mission Beach/PB Oceanfront

Mission Beach Sunset - Scenic Waterfront Walks

Enjoy the sunset with a scenic waterfront walk along Mission Beach

Park at the South Mission Beach jetty and head out on the paved walkway known to locals as the Mission Beach Boardwalk – or, at low tide, walk the beach. Either way, drink in great gulps of salty sea air – and savor the eye-candy. Continue past Belmont Park and its historic roller coaster, past luxury condos, aging beach cottages, funky shops, crowded beach bars and restaurants. Make it to the small park beyond Crystal Pier and back and you’ll have logged close to six miles.

3. Torrey Pines State Reserve

Torrey Pines - La Jolla - Scenic Waterfront Walks

Walk among the famous Torrey Pines with the Pacific Ocean as your backdrop

The reserve spans 2,000 acres with eight miles of trails overlooking the Pacific. Pick up a trail map at the visitors center – or even better, join one of the free docent-led nature walks at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM on weekends. Trekkers can count on seeing lots of the nation’s rarest pine tree, plus native chaparral, wildflowers, extraordinary sandstone formations, dozens of bird species, squirrels, cottontails, skittering lizards and butterflies. Keen observers may spot gray fox, mule deer or even bobcat tracks. On clear winter days, there’s even a chance you’ll catch a glimpse of migrating California Gray Whales.

Tip: Grab a parking space along the beach and walk up the hill to the reserve to add yardage to your walk – and save the $12-$15 it costs to park at the reserve.

4. Liberty Station/Harbor Island

Sunset on Harbor Island

Take time during an evening jaunt to sit down and enjoy the sunset

Park in the free public lot near Liberty Station’s Corvette Diner and head south along the bayside trail. For a better look at this ever-changing new neighborhood, meander up and down Liberty Station blocks. Or stick to the bayside trail, past Homewood Suites to the Halsey Road pedestrian bridge over the bay. On the other side, take a right on to a dirt trail that links with the Spanish Landing walkway. As you continue walking, check out the Maritime Museum’s ongoing efforts to build a replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s flagship, San Salvador. Then view modern-day adventure craft docked in the sheltered bay of Harbor Island. Walk past the Sheraton, cross Harbor Island Drive at the signal, then walk all along the pathway fronting San Diego Bay. If you make it a roundtrip back to Liberty Station, you’ve logged at least seven miles. (Or make it a one-way trip by walking with a friend who parks on Harbor Island.)

5. Shelter Island

Shelter Island - Scenic San Diego Walks

Enjoy the calm waters and gorgeous views on Shelter Island

Park in the free public lot in front of the Bali Hai and start your walk on the northeast quadrant of the island at Shelter Cove Marina, part of America’s Cup Harbor, named for the international yacht races staged off our coast in 1988, 1992 and 1995. Walk the bayfront path that rounds the tip of Shelter Island, and leads past the concrete gazebo designed by James Hubbell. Continue past a sandy beach that has been a favorite of local toddlers since the man-made island (actually it’s more a peninsula) was built-in the 1950s. Walk out on the Shelter Island Fishing Pier to oogle the catch of the day. Back on the path, continue past the bronze Tunaman’s Memorial, a tribute to local commercial fishermen who lost their lives at sea. On the southwest tip of the island, find a mosaic fountain designed by Hubbell – and in the center of a roundabout, the Japanese Friendship Bell, a gift from San Diego’s sister city, Yokohama, in 1960. For a reminder that San Diego is an international yacht Mecca, continue walking the pathway that leads past hotels on the sheltered side of the bay. When the path ends, make a u-turn – or shorten your walk by cutting across a hotel parking lot to the path fronting San Diego Bay. The complete roundtrip stretches at least three miles.

Know of another great place not included in this list? Let us know in the comments below.


Hikes with a View – Get Outdoors and See San Diego

Hiking trough La Jolla's Torrey Pines State Park

San Diego’s diverse terrain offers plenty of wonderful and challenging hiking trails. These trails listed below offer something event better, rewarding hikes with a view.

Cowles Mountain

360 Panorama of Cowles Mountain

360 Panorama of Cowles Mountain. Via Wikipedia

There is no place in the San Diego city limits with a better 360-degree view. Where else can you, on a clear, sunny day, see the Cuyamaca Mountains to the east, Tijuana to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west, including the outline of San Clemente Island and Catalina Island? You feel like you can reach out and touch Downtown, Point Loma and the Coronado Islands. It’s that spectacular!

There are two ways to attack Cowles (pronounced like kohl’s) Mountain, and know this: at just over three miles roundtrip (1.5 uphill for a 950-foot elevation gain), it is a workout. The staging and parking area off Navajo Road and Golfcrest Drive gets the most traffic and can be a parade of all sizes, shapes and forms on weekends. But the fire road off Cowles Mountain Boulevard and Boulder Lake is the best way to go if you want a more secluded hike. Rather than the sharp switchbacks on the south side (Golfcrest) the fire road offers a steady, winding climb to the top. At 1,593 feet, it’s the highest point in the city and the rising jewel of the Mission Trails Regional Park.

Warning: Always be aware that rattlers could be on the trail, especially the lesser-used fire road, at any point.

For more information on Cowles Mountain, check the Mission Trails Regional Park website,

Shelter Island Shoreline Park

Shelter Island Shoreline Park

Enjoy views of the bay along Shelter Island Shoreline Park

For a more relaxing hike that at times will flood the senses with Naval warships, sailboats, fishing boats and craft of every kind, try a walk along Shelter Island. The pier, launch ramp and promenade combine to create the mile-long Shelter Island Shoreline Park. It spans the length of the bay along Shelter Island and is a great place to relax, hike or even ride a bike.

Park near the Shelter Island Pier and start there with a walk out onto the pier. There’s good fishing there, too, if that’s a diversion you choose to do. From the pier, you can see the incredible San Diego skyline to the east. This walk is good any time of day or night. At Christmas time you can time it for the Parade of Lights, when the local sport fishing captains decorate their boats with holiday lights and sail along the Island.

As you walk east of the pier, stop along the launch ramp area to see boats of all sizes launching or coming back from fishing or boating trips. The Outboard Boating Club is there at the launch ramp. If someone is outside, ask them about that club’s storied history of power boating and commodores.

Los Peñasquitos Canyon

Los Peñasquitos Canyon Waterfall

Explore San Diego’s inland areas with a hike to Los Peñasquitos Canyon’s tranquil waterfall.

Head inland to hike one of the city’s more interesting and scenic canyons, the Los Peñasquitos Canyon hike. It’s about six miles roundtrip to the waterfall and is both family- and dog-friendly. This trail is frequented by mountain bikers, too, so beware of that. You have the option of staying on the main trail or taking a one-track side trail that eventually will hook up to the main trail. Los Peñasquitos Canyon is well worth the trip if you want to really get a look at an undeveloped canyon in the heart of the city.

Park at the junction of Mercy and Black Mountain Road, where parking is $3, or park in the back of Canyonside Community Park for free.

The Beach Trail at Torrey Pines State Park Reserve

Hiking trough La Jolla's Torrey Pines State Park

Enjoy ocean views on a hike through Torrey Pines

The Beach Trail at Torrey Pines State Park Reserve is an incredible hike that starts in the parking lot of the Torrey Pines Golf Course and then weaves along the old highway (built-in 1910 and paved in 1915) that once connected San Diego to Los Angeles. You can also park in the reserve at the top for a fee, but the best way it to get a spot in the golf course parking lot and go north to the old road. You’ll see signs identifying all the trails. There are several options, but the Beach Trail will take you down to the water’s edge for some great beach hikes north (including the area’s nude beach, Black’s) and south. Along the way there are views from Red Butte, Razor Point and Yucca Point. Check them out and look out into the Pacific for breaching, spouting or porpoising whales or surfing dolphins.

Other Great San Diego Hikes with a View

The Calm Waters of Lake Murray

Enjoy a leisurely hike next to the calm waters of Lake Murray

Lake Murray and Lake Miramar both have trails that rim their shorelines offering great lake views and good workouts.

Lake Miramar’s trail (really a perimeter road that is used by cars, bikes, rollerbladers and families with strollers, so beware) goes all the way around the lake, crossing the reservoir for a 5-mile hike. Miramar is in the Scripps Ranch area of the city. It’s off Scripps Ranch Drive (92131)

Lake Murray’s trail ends at the dam, so you have to double back for the 5-mile trek. Murray is at the base of Cowles Mountain in the La Mesa/San Carlos area. It can be accessed off Lake Murray Boulevard (5549 Kiowa Drive, La Mesa, CA, 91942).

There’s good parking at both lakes, especially during the week. On weekends, it’s pretty crowded, so get there early.


Candice’s Perfect Day in San Diego

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.


Sportfishing in San Diego: Hoop-Netting California Spiny Lobsters

Jim White Hoop-Netts California Spiny Lobsters

I pulled a unique double recently, and the two activities can only be done in the winter in San Diego. I mean, where else can you play 18 holes at Torrey Pines Golf Course, and then go hoop-netting for spiny lobsters in the evening?

The golf was predictably average for the 10-handicaper I am. But we did have an early tee time, hitting off the first tee as the moon set over the glistening Pacific Ocean. As day broke, we enjoyed incredible weather with the temperature eventually reaching into the 70’s by mid-morning. This is February in San Diego.

Much less predictable than my score on the green is the fishing. And despite a challenging tide that night, the conditions were very good for what some call “red gold,” California’s spiny lobsters. “We depend on Mother Nature out here, folks,” said Capt. Chuck Taft as he steered his sport boat, the Alicia, to the lobster grounds in San Diego Bay. “We depend on the tide and the lobsters. Tonight, we have a very tough tide, a King tide, the highest of the season. There’s a nearly full moon, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

The process of catching these sea critters is simple, thanks to the way Taft and Caslin have the boat set up. They do the bulk of the work, setting the baited hoop nets in a line as the night begins. That nearly full moon I saw over Torrey Pines earlier in the day now was rising in the east over the San Diego skyline. That’s the bonus of these evening trips, it’s a San Diego you don’t see anywhere else but right there in the Big Bay.

But the real bonus is the catch, tasty lobsters that you can take with you and either tail them and freeze to take home in a small cooler, or make a deal with the hotel where you’re staying to get them cooked up. Hooping for lobsters is about as much fun as you can have on the water off of San Diego.

Our group kept 22 lobsters for the night, but we caught and released four to five times that many because they were undersized after Caslin measured them. It takes lobsters six to seven years to grow to legal size, so the 80 to 100 or so that we released will live to grow bigger.

Tell us in the comments below, where is your favorite place to go fishing in San Diego…

Cost and Other Information

  • What: Hoop-netting California spiny lobsters aboard a sport boat out of Point Loma. Lobsters average around 1¼ pounds, but 5- to 9-pounders have been caught.
  • Location: San Diego Bay, Zuniga Jetty, usually flat-calm water.
  • Cost: $55 per hoop, but boats are limited to 10 hoops. A California fishing license is required. Cost is $14.40 for a one-day license and $9.21 for a Lobster Report Card that is good until December 31. Food and drinks – hamburgers, soda, beer, water and chips and candy bars – on the boat are extra. Trips leave at 7:00 pm and return around 1:00 am, depending on the fishing.
  • What to bring: Small cooler for lobsters. Good pair of waterproof gloves. Warm clothes for the cooler temperatures over the water at night. Camera to take shots of the San Diego Skyline from the Big Bay and of the lobsters.

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

5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

From whale watching to hiking, here are some of the best events and things to do this weekend in San Diego!

1. Whale Watching: It’s that time of year when the gray whales make their annual migration from the chilly Alaskan seas to the warm water lagoons of Baja California where they birth and rear their young. Whale watching season runs through March 2012.

2. All That Glitters: The Splendor and Science of Gems and Minerals: Through February 8, 2012, the San Diego Natural History Museum is presenting the gem and mineral exhibition, All That Glitters: The Splendor and Science of Gems and Minerals. Discover how the same Earth processes that build landscapes produce dazzling gemstones and precious metals—even right here in San Diego County, one of the most famous gem-producing regions in the world.

3. Harold and the Purple Crayon: From January 7-16, the Junior Theatre presents Harold and the Purple Crayon at the Casa del Prado Theatre, in Balboa Park. A favorite in the world of picture books gets even more exciting when it comes to life on stage. Harold goes to the circus, swims in the sea, and gets to be on television all through the magic of his crayon and the wonders of theatre.

4. Hiking: If your New Year’s Resolution is to get fit, try spending some time on San Diego’s trails. It’s a great way to get a little exercise and let’s face it, the weather couldn’t be better right now! My favorite; Torrey Pines.

5. Trash, The New Children’s Museum: Be sure to take your kids to The New Children’s Museum to learn about all that Trash we throw out on a daily basis. Did you know that in the United States, annual production of waste has tripled since 1960? That the average American produces 4.5 pounds of trash every day? In this exhibition, their mission is to change how we see trash, and changing perspective starts by asking more questions.


5 to Try: Must See in North County Coastal

Not one thing can define North County Coastal and five spots certainly aren’t enough, but here’s my top five (today anyway) places to check out next time you are kickin’ it on or near the PCH.

Cardiff Kook photo by Gilley

1. Cardiff Kook: Have you seen this statue? What about all dressed up? Officially it’s called “Magic Carpet Ride”, however to locals it is commonly known as the “Cardiff Kook.” Good natured pranksters have dressed him up in a bikini top and pink skirt with a Lucha Libre mask or more recently as Oprah. The most memorable one for me is when the statue was enveloped by a papier-mache shark last summer. Next time you’re in San Diego, be sure to drive by… you never know what he might be wearing!

2. Boat Houses: Ahoy! The famous Boat Houses – the S.S. Encinitas and S.S Moon Light – are moored on Third St. (between F and G) in Encinitas. Built in the 1920s by Miles Kellogg (an ultimate recycler in his day) the boat houses can be seen from Highway 101 and are a rad (yep, I said it) symbol of the local beach and surf culture. They’re private residences (no public tours), but easily photographed from the road.

3. Surfing: Surfing is a huge part of the culture in North County and one of the most popular spots is Encinitas’ Swami’s. Named for the Indian-styled Self Realization Fellowship complex on the bluff, it is a great surf spot with a well defined peak and a crowd beyond its capacity. Swami’s makes just enough of a bend in the coast to pick up a little extra swell energy, so it’s always a bit bigger and better than its neighboring breaks.

4. Watching the Sunset: It goes without saying that a beach sunset is amazing to watch and in North County Coastal there are so many great spots to watch it. My current favorite is at Scripps Bluff Preserve in Del Mar.

5. Torrey Pines State Reserve: Torrey Pines is one of only two places on earth where nature lovers can find the ancient and rare Torrey Pine – the nation’s rarest pine tree. Visitors and locals alike come to hike, bike and walk around the over 2,000-acre reserve and capture some amazing shots.

Discover North County Coastal for yourself with our “Enjoy the Grand Life in San Diego’s North County” sweepstakes. Unwind during a two-night stay at The Grand Del Mar, one of San Diego’s most exclusive luxury resorts. Discover the dramatic North County coastline by air on “The Unforgettable” scenic helicopter ride for two from Corporate Helicopters of San Diego.