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”>


Stay Classy: Win an Anchorman-Inspired Getaway in San Diego

anchorman 2 will ferrell seaworld san diego

Rumor has it that San Diego’s favorite newsman, Ron Burgundy, heads to the Big Apple in the upcoming Anchorman 2, but San Diego will always be Ron’s hometown.

Anchorman - Panda Watch

Stay Classy and live like Ron with your own Panda Watch at the San Diego Zoo!

You, too, can tour the city that spawned Ron by entering the #StayClassySanDiego Photo Contest! To enter, simply share a photo of yourself (or a friend) in your best Ron Burgundy impersonation. One winner will be selected at random for the Grand Prize: two nights at the Bahia Resort Hotel on scenic Mission Bay, two tickets to the San Diego Zoo (where you can hold your own Panda Watch), and two tickets to SeaWorld San Diego, one of the filming locations for Anchorman 2.

Ron Burgundy knows how to Stay Classy at SeaWorld San Diego

Visit Ron’s co-stars at SeaWorld San Diego

Stay Classy and Enter

To enter, select your best photo of you as Ron Burgundy and choose one of the following:

  • Upload the photo to here:
  • Share the photo on Twitter, using the hashtag #StayClassySanDiego
  • Share the photo on Instagram, using the hashtag #StayClassySanDiego

So splash on some Sex Panther, grab a bottle of Scotch and show us your best Ron Burgundy! We just might be seeing you in San Diego soon.

Looking for more ways to live like Ron in San Diego? The Los Angeles Times shares their tips on seeing Ron Burgundy’s San Diego.


Fall Activities with the Kids in San Diego

Fall is a great time to visit San Diego. And it’s even better with kids free all month-long in October. I plan on taking full advantage of all the free offerings around town. Below are my top 5 fall activities I’m doing with my kids.

1. Tide Pools

Explore the many tide pools throughout San Diego.

San Diego’s tide pools are a blast to visit. Besides being completely free, they offer a chance to touch up close the little sea creatures. One of my favorite spots is Swami’s in Cardiff. During a good low tide, you can explore and see sea hares, brittle stars and octopi.

2. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Are you faster than a cheetah?

With the temperatures dropping in Fall, the Safari Park is a perfect time to visit. Recently we were lucky enough to catch their famous Cheetah Run. For an extra $10 per person, you get to stand up close and watch the fastest land animal on the planet run. What a thrill!

> Kids Go Free to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park this October

3. Pumpkin Patches

It wouldn’t be fall without a visit to a Pumpkin Patch. This year, we are going to Bates Nut Farm. Kids can enjoy hayrides, a maze, pony rides, and a petting zoo. Guests can bring a picnic and hang out on one of the many picnic benches.

4. LEGOLAND California’s Brick-or-Treat Party Nights

I’ve been to LEGOLAND pretty much every time of year, and I have to say, this is my favorite time to visit. Every Saturday night in October, LEGOLAND celebrates from 5:00 to 9:00 PM with its Brick-or-Treat Party Nights. Kids can come in costume and visit several areas that will be open late including Land of Adventure, Castle Hill, the Imagination Zone and Park favorites Coastersaurus and Safari Trek. Be sure to have the kids dress in costume. Prizes will be given for Best Pirate, Most LEGO Themed and Most Creative.

> Kids Go Free to LEGOLAND California this October

5. Balboa Park’s Halloween Family Day

Costumed fun in San Diego’s Historic Balboa Park

Over a dozen museums are treating families to free admission for children 12 and under during the 4th Annual Balboa Park Halloween Family Day on Saturday, October 27. There will be a spooky array of hands-on activities, crafts, special tours, storytelling and other free goodies from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

> Kids Go Free to San Diego County Museums this October

> Take Advantage of Over 100 Kids Free Offers this October in San Diego

What do you have planned for your kids this Fall in San Diego?

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.


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.


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.


Happy Birthday to You, You Live in a Zoo

Yun Zi celebrates his 2nd birthday

The San Diego Zoo celebrated the 2nd birthday of its youngest panda, Yun Zi, today. The toddler was presented with a 3-tier birthday cake made of ice and bamboo, decorated with bows made out of bamboo leaves, colored pieces of ice, and topped with the number “2.” The base of the cake was drizzled with honey and filled with the giant pandas favorite fruits and vegetables: yams, carrots, and apples.

The San Diego Zoo is one of four zoos in the United States with giant pandas. The Zoo began its long-term giant panda conservation partnership with the People’s Republic of China in 1996. Since then, the Zoo has welcomed the birth of five healthy pandas, the most of any zoo in the nation.

Happy Birthday to you Yun Zi!

You don’t have to be in San Diego to see these beautiful animals up-close.  You can watch all of the San Diego Zoo’s giant pandas– Yun Zi, Bai Yun, and Gao Gao– on the Giant Panda cam.


10 Great Ways to Beat the Heat in San Diego

With mild coastal temperatures in the 70s complemented by refreshing ocean and bay breezes, San Diego is the perfect place to beat the heat during this sweltering summer. Here is a list of 10 Great Ways to Beat to the Heat in San Diego.

Sunset on Coronado, rated the #2 beach in the country by Dr. Beach

1. Swim, snorkel, surf, kayak, paddleboard and build sandcastles along San Diego’s 70 miles of picturesque coastline. With refreshing Pacific waters, San Diego’s beaches offer a variety of unique settings, from the white sandy shores of Coronado Beach (rated the 2nd best beach in the country by Dr. Beach) to the Mediterranean-like coves of luxurious La Jolla.

SeaWorld San Diego's 25-degree Penguin Encounter is home is five species of Antarctic penguins

2. Chill out at the Penguin Encounter at SeaWorld San Diego and spend time with some of the park’s coolest inhabitants. Guests can watch the playful antics of nearly 300 penguins including regal emperor penguins and smaller Adelie, gentoo and macaroni penguins.

3. Sample chilly, creamy treats from San Diego’s top sweet shops. Guests of all ages can indulge with an exotic Pineapple Chili or Lavender Lemonade popsicle from Viva Pops in Normal Heights or blend their own custom creation at MooTime Creamery in Coronado.

4. Enjoy an entertaining outdoor Summer Pops concert by the world-class San Diego Symphony along San Diego Bay. During the summer, light jackets and blankets are often recommended after the sun sets above San Diego’s most beautiful outdoor music venue.

Splash Zoo at LEGOLAND California

5. Build a raft and float down a lazy river at the LEGOLAND Water Park in LEGOLAND California Resort. Visitors can enjoy a variety of splash-filled water activities including a wet-and-wild climbing structure, six-person raft slide, tube slides, body slides and much more.

6. Take a libation break with a frosty pint of some of San Diego’s award-winning craft beers. Rated the “#1 Beer City in the U.S.” by Men’s Journal magazine, San Diego’s 35 local breweries are sure to quench the thirst of the most parched beer lovers.

Tatqiq (left) and Kalluk (right) at Polar Bear Plunge. Photo by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo.

7. Embark on an expedition to the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge at the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and encounter the rulers of the frozen tundra: the mighty polar bears. Along the way, guests can also come across other northern neighbors like reindeer and Arctic diving ducks.

8. Let the wind blow through your hair as you take a thrilling ride on San Diego Bay with San Diego Speedboat Adventures. Guests sit in the captain’s seat and charter their own two-person mini speedboat around San Diego’s busy harbor, enjoying one-of-a-kind views of U.S. Navy ships, the sweeping San Diego-Coronado Bridge,  downtown skyline, USS Midway Museum and more.

The gentle waters of Mission Bay are ideal for SUP (standup paddleboarding)

9. Take a relaxing, carefree bicycle ride along the 27 miles of pathways on the shores of Mission Bay. After bike riding, guests can enjoy waterskiing, jet-skiing, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, or SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) in this 4,600-acre water playground.

10. Feast on local fresh seafood and produce at one of San Diego’s many waterfront restaurants. Peohe’s on Coronado offers foodies award-winning meals along with spectacular downtown views, while George’s at the Cove in La Jolla offers a chic, modern dining experience with gorgeous views of La Jolla Cove and the Pacific.

Click the link below and enter the Thank a Million sweepstakes from Smart Destinations

Go San Diego Card (from Smart Destinations) is a  multi-attraction ticket that gives you access to many of these “cool” San Diego attactions and activities. Throughout the entire month of August, Smart Destinations is running a sweepstakes as part of their “Thanks A Million” promotion to celebrate the passing of their millionth customer. 

Click here and get entered to win one of the great prizes: a 3-day Go City Card for any destination (including San Diego) or an Explorer Pass for any 3 attractions in New York City or Las Vegas; plus the Grand Prize of a 4-day/3-night vacation for two to any Smart Destination locale, along with two 3-day passes for that destination!


Nighttime Zoo at the San Diego Zoo

One of my favorite times to visit the San Diego Zoo is for Nighttime Zoo. It’s great to escape the summertime sun and hit the zoo at night, where you’ll see live music, special shows and those nocturnal animals. The park stays open until 9:00 pm now through September 5, 2011.

Shows definitely worth checking out include Monkey King Stilt Walkers, Power and Air- Strength and Aeriel Acrobats and Jasmine and Jade Jumpers. Another must stop is the Panda Trek. This summer, the gates will open on a new experience that take visitors on a journey to explore more of the world of Giant Pandas and other wildlife that share the forests of China.

I can’t wait! Have you been to Nighttime Zoo yet?


5 to Try for Father’s Day

1. Dad’s are free for Father’s Day Weekend at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Dads will receive free gallery admission on Saturday, June 18 or Sunday, June 19 with the purchase of one full-price gallery admission ticket on the same day. Be sure to check out the new “Geometry Playground” exhibition where they can play a whacky game of hopscotch.

2. Nothing is better than a little outdoor time with your dad. The San Diego Zoo invites dads and their kids ages four and older to spend the night at a special Father’s Day sleepover June 17th. Sleep among the animals complete with your own tent, buffet dinner, s’mores and a campfire.

3. Set sail aboard the Californian this weekend with the Maritime Museum. Upon disembarking, every dad will receive a gift and a photo to commemorate their special day. Advance ticketing for these special sailings are only available on the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s website.

4. Celebrate Father’s Day with Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego. Relax and be pampered while you dine poolside and experience the magical bond between our killer whales and their young. Seatings are at 9:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

5. Bring dad aboard a luxurious yacht for a special Father’s Day Prime Rib Dinner cruise with Flagship Cruises and Events. This 2-1/2 hour San Diego dinner cruise includes a three course meal featuring succulent tender slow roasted prime rib.


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.


Ever Wanted to Fly Like a Bird?

Photo by justkristin

I have. And now I can! The San Diego Zoo recently began offering San Diego County’s only flying trapeze school. Held in the Zoo’s Camp Timbuktu campground, visitors will enjoy the sensation of flight as they take off from a high “perch” and swing through the trees. All “trapeze artists” will get a run through of safety guidelines and the basic take-off position. Then at the top, get ready to jump from the platform and fly through the air (receiving instructions every step of the way, thankfully).

Safety is their main concern, therefore there are a lot of safety and physical precautions; this isn’t for everyone. I’m looking forward to trying it. I just hope they don’t require spandex and sequins! That I don’t think I pull off!

The Trapeze High is only offered on Saturdays and Sundays and is very popular! Be sure to book in advance. Tell us, have you ever tried it?