A fun filled vacation in San Diego doesn’t have to be Expensive
by Mission Valley Resort
The city has tons to offer including many activities and things to see that are economy priced or free of charge. With some foresight, practically anything you are looking for in a vacation can be found here and you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy it. Save further by staying at a budget hotel in San Diego. There are many from which to choose from.
Those who enjoy being outdoors will find San Diego to be the perfect getaway. Miles of beaches, ideal weather and picturesque surroundings throughout the area makes this city a popular location for short and extended vacations year round. The variety of activities and attractions available in San Diego will please everyone, no matter what age. Try some of the suggestions listed here to fill you vacation time with a mix of a little bit of everything.
1) Use the Trolley to Tour San Diego – Downtown Santa Fe to El Cajon, San Ysidro to American Plaza, downtown San Diego to Santee and everywhere in between – the trolley will let you not just get around but will provide a great way to see all of San Diego. Known for its safety and inexpensive price at only $5 a day, the Trolley is a good way to start your vacation and get a lay of the land. No matter how much time you may have spent planning, you are bound to see locations not on your list of destinations that you can’t wait to come back to. Many stations have free parking at the stations while the others have street parking or paid parking available. Get a Compass Pass which lets you use any of San Diego’s mass transit systems. Load it for the day or week and travel hassle free to practically anywhere in San Diego.
2) Take Advantage of the Beaches – It doesn’t cost anything to visit one of the world-famous beaches that make up more than 70 miles of coastline. Some beaches are more popular than others but it depends on your preference as to whether you choose a more frequented beach which may mean crowds or a more secluded location which may not have the same ease of public assess but is well worth the effort once you arrive. Some beaches are also preferable for those with young children while couples may enjoy sunsets and quiet walks at others.
3) Mission Beach – Those looking for an exciting beach environment will love the carnival like atmosphere of Mission Beach. Home to the famed wooden rollercoaster, the Giant Dipper, this stretch of beach offers a lively, fun-filled day in the surf and sun for the whole family. Rent rollerblades and roll down the board walk, take in the variety of street performers, or grab a hotdog and people watch. When you tire of all the activity you can find a more relaxed pace at South Mission Beach where you can cast a line from the jetty as you watch the large ships pass through the harbor. This is a great spot for scuba divers who can explore the artificial underwater reef constructed of shipwrecked vessels from days past.
4) La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove – This is one of the more popular beaches visited by tourists. For those who like lots of action and opportunity to interact with locals and visitors alike, this is a great choice. Join one of the many volley ball or Frisbee matches going on throughout the day. You will find there are always lots of children of all ages for your child to play with. After sundown the glow of fire pits can be seen up and down the beach and you’ll find people welcoming you to their circle before and after dark falls. Nearby La Jolla Cove, a sheltered inlet with little surf, is a favorite spot for snorkeling and Kayaking. The cove is also known for some of the most spectacular sunsets anywhere.
5) Moonlight State Beach – This is a great family beach and has a wide, sandy area that waves never touch which is perfect for building sand castles or burying friends and relatives up to their necks. Different sections of the beach have been designated for swimming and surfing, and there is are lifeguards on duty year round. The kelp beds just off the coastline make for ideal snorkeling and diving, and visitors feel as if they are swimming through an exotic underwater garden. There is a large, grassy park with shaded tables for picnickers and you can bring your own items to grill or toast at one of the fire pits or buy something at the snack bar if you didn’t bring any food along. Volleyball courts and a children’s playground are also available for your family’s enjoyment.
6) View Aquatic Life up Close at the Tide Pools – There are many areas known for their tide pools which keep sea life trapped at low tide. Some are shallow pools with small creatures but the deeper pools found closer to the sea often fill with starfish, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, snails, crabs, and anemones among other types of sea life. Some of the largest tide pools even serve as the home for Red and Pacific Octopi. There are a number of popular tide pools to visit around San Diego. Get there at low tide for an amazing introduction to the local wildlife that live in the rocky waters around the city. While the largest may be visited for small admission fees the majority of others are free of charge if you know where to look. Tourmaline Surfing Park has a number of tide pools in which you can spot hermit crabs, sea snails, sea urchins, starfish and brittle stars. If you are lucky you may even get the chance to see an Octopus or two. Shell Beach has easily accessible tide pools but due to the strong surf it’s best to go at a minus tide if you want to catch much action in the rocky depressions. Even if you don’t see much life in these quiet pools, you can still enjoy the antics of the seals and sea lions which play and sunbath on Seal Rock Reserve, just off the coast. Cardiff State Beach provides the added attraction of fossils. Sedimentary rock believed to be more than 45 million years old lets you catch a glimmer of life during prehistoric times such as fossilized clams and oysters from that period. There is a fairly large tide pool area near the bluffs where you may catch a glimpse of sea hares, brittle stars, and octopi. Information signs and brochures summarize the marine life which can be found at this site.
7) Visit Old Town San Diego – Old Town San Diego, billed as the birth place of California where the first Europeans called home, is filled with an arresting collection of buildings, shops and restaurants, all free to the public. Learn what San Diego was like in the middle 1800’s in this historic location. Get into the mood while visiting 17 notable sites surrounded by the ambiance of Europe, Mexico and the age-old culture of San Diego. Stroll through streets shared with Mariachi bands and dancers or take a tour with guides dressed in period attire. Free live entertainment can be had throughout the year and the area is filled with theaters, museums, art galleries, shops and restaurants. Enjoy the local fare at countless Mexican Restaurants, many of which are inexpensive and family friendly. Don’t miss the Mexican souvenir shops for great prices of real Mexican wares. The Visitors Center is open from 11:00am to 6:00pm daily.
8) Spend the Day in Little Italy – This hilly, harbor-side neighborhood is known for great food, eclectic shopping and Mediterranean flair. The smell of the salt water mixes with oregano and basil to create a unique aroma that suggests languid summer days side by side with the bustle of day-to-day life. Mix with friendly residents who are often eager to share the history of this old yet contemporary neighborhood. Turn off on narrow side streets where you can discover one of a kind shops, coffee vendors, cafes and bakeries. Make sure you save enough time to stroll along the pier for a great view of the harbor. When you get hungry stop by one of the many establishments proudly serving real Italian food for a one of a kind Italian meal. There are options for any budget and any family size. Try Fillipi’s Pizza Grotto for affordable prices and large portions. Even the largest family will not leave hungry after a giant size pizza offered at a low price. You’ll even have some to take home.
9) Lose Yourself at Balboa Park – Wile away the strain and stress of everyday life surrounded by the beauty of Balboa Park. Take in the culture at one of the many exhibits in the park. Buy a Passport to gain admission to all 18 museums at one low price. If you are looking for free options, stop by the Organ Pavilion to view one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs. Free concerts are given during the summer months. Everyone, young and old, loves the Model Railroad Museum and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Museum is filled with tons of interactive activities. The Timken Art Museum, home to a surprising collection of European old master paintings, is always free of charge. Nature lovers will love exploring the variety of trails within the park and the huge Botanical Gardens where local and exotic plants, hedges and flowers can be found amidst the fountains, pools and other water features. A variety of breathtaking structures are scattered throughout the park for your viewing pleasure. Check the parks website before your visit for hot deals they may be offering.
10) Wander through San Diego’s famed Gaslight District – Although covering only 16 square blocks, the Gaslight District is home to a large collection of some of San Diego’s most popular restaurants, nightclubs, shops and bars. Take in the Victorian architecture mixed in throughout the modern skyscrapers and loft style residences. There is no lack of shopping opportunities in the Gaslight District. Numerous trendy shops with all kinds of merchandise can be found throughout the neighborhood and the outdoor, multilevel Horton Plaza will fulfill the desires of those looking for mall-like convenience. San Diego is home to many rooftop bars and restaurants but some of the best and most inexpensive can be found in this quarter providing unparalleled views of San Diego Bay and the Coronado Bridge. Though some of these can be rather pricey, there are several affordable options around the neighborhood. One of the most popular rooftop venues is Analog. Their regular prices fit economy budgets but they don’t miss any chance to lower prices further and you can take advantage of frequent specials whether it’s Halloween or Ground Hog’s Day. This is a great place for food and drinks with an award-winning chef gracing the premises and a variety of craft cocktails available which were designed for Analog alone. Furnished with décor intended to simulate a real recording studio, entertainment is provided nightly by live recording artists and fantastic D.J.’s spinning your favorite dance songs. A nearby rooftop favorite with unbeatable harbor views for those who prefer fresh fish and seafood is Anthony’s Fish Grotto. Famous for their low-priced fish and chips, Anthony’s also offers seasonal specials, lobster dishes, salads and complete pasta meals. Other popular choices include a variety of soups and chowders and beef, chicken and pork dishes. The servings are large and never fail to please.
You don’t have to cancel your vacation at home even if your budget is limited. San Diego is a great getaway no matter what you can afford to spend. The city offers so much variety not even locals will run out of things to do. All it takes is a little creativity and advanced planning to find numerous possibilities for individuals, couples and families that are free or economy priced. Be sure to order a free visitor vacation planning guide to map out favorite locations and record advanced reservations. No matter what interests you have, San Diego has something for everyone.
Articles/Photos/Graphics Copyright ©2012/2014 - All Rights Reserved
Urban Adventure Quest is a fun, trendy way to experience the heart and soul of San Diego
By Mission Valley Resort
Next time you visit San Diego, tap into the latest trend in recreation and go on an Urban Adventure Quest with your friends or family. All you need to join in the fun is an Internet-ready mobile device, a personal password to access your prepaid game software, and a gang who is game to navigate San Diego’s uniquely beautiful urban landscapes.
What is Urban Adventure Quest?
Urban Adventure Quest is an interactive experience that takes you on a daytime tour of the city like you’ve never experienced it before. Along the way, you and your team solve clues and take on challenges at different locations. You earn points for each correct answer or completed challenge.
How Does the Game Work?
You can purchase your Urban Adventure Quest at any time during your vacation planning, either several weeks prior to your arrival or just before you want to play. While any number of people in a group can take part, a good size for the typical game is four or five. Large groups should consider breaking up into several teams to sweeten the competition.
The questions and challenges are engaging but not so difficult that children can’t participate. In fact, Urban Adventure Quest is the perfect option for the whole family. You can earn up to 30 points per question or challenge. You get a 5-point penalty for an incorrect answer. Hints cost 5 points. Your team can play just for fun or vie with other teams for total points.
You should set aside several daylight hours for your adventure. You will have plenty of opportunities to take a leisurely lunch break, pursue a few side trips, do a little shopping or stop off for a treat.
Have your crew meet up at the designated starting point in San Diego on game day. Sign into your Urban Adventure Quest account with your smartphone or other mobile device and click on your Quest to get started. With nothing to download or set up, you are off and running right away.
Some of your tour will take place by public transportation and some involves walking between locations, but no strenuous activity is required. The San Diego Urban Adventure Quest takes you a total distance of 2.4 miles. You start out in Old Town, known as California’s birthplace. You’ll enjoy a trolley ride to the city’s historic Little Italy and learn about San Diego’s rich naval heritage at the waterfront. Your Urban Adventure concludes at the Bob Hope Memorial.
What Should We Bring on Game Day?
Useful items to bring along include a city map, pencils and paper, money for trolley fare and refreshments, cameras and at least one charged smartphone. Urban Adventure Quests make great activities for families and corporate teams alike, building trust, encouraging cooperation and teaching you about the wonders of San Diego in a fun and unforgettable way.
More information at urbanadventurequest.com
Articles/Photos/Graphics Copyright ©2012/2014 - All Rights Reserved
San Diego is a perfect choice for a spring break getaway. With warm weather, exhilarating attractions and sandy beaches, San Diego is the escape everyone craves. However, for travelers on a tight budget, planning a spring break vacation can be daunting. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to visit San Diego while keeping costs in line. If you are not sure how to get started, consider the five following ideas.
1. Timing is everything. Some travelers may choose to drive, but with the cost of gas and hotels, many other travelers will find flying to be the best deal. Even so, airline tickets are expensive, which is why it is important to time your travels carefully. Weekend flights are generally more expensive than flights during the week, and some travelers have luck flying at odd times, such as late at night or early in the morning. While this may be inconvenient, taking such flights can shave hundreds of dollars off the overall travel expenses, which can put the inconvenience in perspective.
2. The right hotel. Surprisingly, the best way to save is not always to pick the cheapest hotel. These hotels are often farther away from attractions, which adds in the cost of a commute to any activity. More than that, these hotels often do not provide any perks. The right hotel should be competitively priced but offer plenty of extras. Things like workout facilities and heated pools can give travelers more recreational options during their stay. Plus, perks like in-room coffee makers, refrigerators and microwaves can significantly reduce dining costs. For all this and more, travelers should consider the Mission Valley Resort. This premier San Diego hotel has all the amenities and none of the exorbitant costs. With its location in the heart of San Diego, budget travelers would be foolish to pass it up.
3. The great outdoors. Southern California is renowned for its warm weather and sandy beaches, all of which is open to the public at no charge. There are numerous beaches in San Diego, and many travelers enjoy moving up the coast to La Jolla to expand their beach-going possibilities. Beyond the beach, there are also scenic hikes in the area that are big on fun and low on cost. Cowles Mountain is a popular spot thanks to its easy accessibility. More possibilities for hiking are at Torrey Pines State Park. The park has a small parking fee, which lets guests get close to the park for a day of budget-friendly exploration. Another popular spot is the Torrey Pines Gilderport. While getting gear to launch off the cliff costs money and training, picnicking at the site is absolutely free, giving guests a great view.
4. Balboa Park. Of the many attractions in San Diego, Balboa Park is by far one of the most cost-effective ones. The Botanical Gardens are free of charge, as is the Timken Museum of Art. There are also plenty of trails throughout the park. Another budget-friendly activity in the park is frisbee golf, which costs less than five dollars per person. The park is perhaps best known for its other museums, most of which do charge admission. For guests who are very interested in seeing the museums and plan to be around for a few days, a park-wide pass is a way to save on overall admission. However, it is also worth noting that one museum is free every Tuesday. The free admission rotates from museum to museum, so there is no guarantee which one will be available, but it is pretty hard to go wrong at Balboa Park.
5. City sights. If the wonders of nature are not quite enough, keep in mind that walking through the city is also free. San Diego has a rich history, and there are numerous areas that are scenic and buzzing with energy. Seaport Village is often popular for tourists with its shops and restaurants. There is also plenty of street entertainment and a spectacular view of the water, all of which can be enjoyed without paying a penny. Another good place to visit is the Gaslamp Quarter. This historical district offers a distinct cultural flavor with boutiques, specialty shops and art galleries.
- Why San Diego is a Great Choice for your Next Spring Break in 2014
- It’s time for Museum Month!
- The coolest things to do in San Diego
There is always something going on at the San Diego Natural History Museum. In addition to the permanent exhibits, there are a number of exhibits that are only on display for a specific period of time. Some run for a few weeks or a few months, while others can run for more than a year.
In 2014, the San Diego Natural History Museum will feature a wide range of exhibits that are both educational and fun to experience. Your tour will take you back millions of years in history and then bring you up to the world as it is today. Imagine what it was like when Tyrannosaurus Rex roamed the earth more than a million years ago. What can we do to make sure we have all of the water we need for the future?
The San Diego Natural History Museum is located at 1788 El Prado in Balboa Park. A visit to this landmark museum is a must for anyone who has a little curiosity about history and the natural world around us. Bring the kids and check-out all of the exhibits.
Currently running and scheduled to run until March of 2021, Camp-o-Saurus is more of an interactive play center for the kids than a traditional museum exhibition. Located in the Atrium of the Museum, the campground has a motif that all kids love – dinosaurs! While your children are playing with the plastic dinosaurs, reading books about dinosaurs or putting together dinosaur puzzles, you can sit down and relax on a chair or bench and watch them burn off some of their unbridled energy.
Currently running and scheduled to run through October 26, 2015, Skulls is a fascinating look at more than 200 different animal species from around the world. While some may find looking at skulls to be a little gory, the museum has put this exhibit together in a very tasteful way. You will see research specimens of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. You’ll see the skull of a rhinoceros and the skull of a snake. You can learn about the bones that make up your skull and see how it differs from that of your favorite animal.
Water: A California Story
Currently running and scheduled to run through July 19, 2015, Water: A California Story
is an examination of the pressing issues concerning the water supply in San Diego and the Southern California area. Prior to the early 1940’s, local rivers and aquifers supplied all of the water needed to support the population in Southern California. Today, San Diego must import almost 90 percent of the water it needs to support the millions who live, work and visit the area. In this exhibit you will learn about the infrastructure of the water system, conservation efforts, climate change and the efforts needed to combat water pollution. You can make a difference by doing your part to conserve water and protect a commodity that is much more valuable than oil or gold.
Currently running and scheduled to run through April of 2015, Fossil Mysteries covers a 75 million year time line in San Diego history. The Museum’s collection contains fossils of dinosaurs that roamed between Mexico, Baja, and Southern California. Did T-Rex once drink out of the Harbor and set his footprints on the sands of Shelter Island?
Ecosystems of San Diego County
Starting on January 11, 2014 and scheduled to run through May 4, 2014, Ecosystems of San Diego County takes a look at the diverse ecosystems that are present throughout San Diego County. Through the photographic works of 14 talented local artists, the display creates a unique opportunity for visitors to understand the delicate balance between nature and man. Do you know how the ecosystem along the coast in La Jolla is different from the ecosystem in the hills or out in the desert?
National Geographic’s Real Pirates: The untold story of Whydah from slave ship to pirate ship
Opening on February 8, 2014, this is a real pirate story that traces the history of the first documented pirate ship that sunk off of the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Once a slave ship, the Whydah was recovered from the ocean floor back in 1717 and contained the bounty of more than 50 captured ships. The exhibition will feature more than 200 artifacts including cannons, swords, coins, gold and jewelry. Can you imagine what a pirate’s life was like almost 300 years ago?
A day at the museum is special. You get to see things you don’t normally see. Instead of just looking at history on the Internet, why not see it in person. Real fossils and skulls are just an arms-length away. The Natural History Museum is a place to learn and bring history to life.
If you get the opportunity, don’t pass up the chance to see the folk art, crafts and impressive exhibits on display at the Mingei International Museum. Local San Diego residents are fortunate to have such a culturally diverse art museum in their own backyard, but you can enjoy it too when you are visiting San Diego. The Mingei has six exquisite galleries, each of which features a different form of art.
The works of art that you will see come from talented artists from California, the United States, and many different parts of the world. The curators work hard to present the most interesting art for you to enjoy and also regularly change the exhibits so you will always have something new to look forward to when you visit again.
The Mingei International Museum (1439 El Prado) is located in Balboa Park on the Plaza de Panama. Following are some of the exhibitions currently on view and those that you can see in 2014.
Struck by Modernism: C. Carl Jennings, California artist-blacksmith
On view through February 23, 2014, C. Carl Jennings works brought new attention and focus to the hard and demanding work of the blacksmith. He was responsible for introducing the artist-blacksmith to postwar California. As a third-generation blacksmith, Jennings mastered the trade and then was inspired to use his talent for drawing to present his craft in a way that the public could appreciate it the most.
Struck by Modernism is an exhibit that features amazing forged sculptures, intricately designed vessels, and a host of hand-forged objects that adds a new twist to the ordinary. Who ever thought that a plain old iron gate could be transformed into a thought-provoking piece of art?
Please be Seated
On view through March 30, 2014, Please be Seated is a fascinating study of what we sit on and why. It traces the history of seating from ancient times right on up to today’s most popular chairs. Throughout history, and even today, different cultures have their own preferences when it comes to comfortable seating. In some societies, woven mats make the perfect seat. In others, ergonomics and function dictate the design of chairs, benches and other types of seating.
More than 100 objects ranging from ancient Japanese mats and simple wooden stools to bean bag seating and contemporary chairs will be on display. Many of the pieces are from museums and private collections.
Who knows, the office chair that you are sitting on today may have been based on the design of Charles and Ray Eames? You can see some of the creations of those two very important 20th century office chair and furniture designers as well as the work of other prominent seating designers throughout the years. After viewing this exhibition, you will never look at your chair as just a place to sit.
Function and Fantasy: Steven and William Ladd
Opening on February 1, 2014, Function and Fantasy is a retrospective on the works of two brothers from New York City. Steven and William Ladd grew up in St. Louis and much of their art is rooted in their memories of their Missouri roots.
The exhibit uses a variety of materials that are painstakingly assembled into intricate objects of art. Fabric, beads, metal fittings and twill tape are combined to create complex and sometimes very intense patterns that make a bold statement. Other pieces are just fun and frivolous.
Function and Fantasy spans the last 10 years of the brother’s creations. Among the items on display will be handbags, scarves, bracelets and necklaces. You will learn about the work of Steven and William Ladd through observation as well as drawings, books, and six videos narrated by the brothers. Located in the Plaza level galleries, be sure to check-out the new Mingei Tower.
A Golden Age of Marketing Design / Huyler’s Pure Delicious Chocolate, 1876 – 1925
Opening on March 22, 2014, this is the story of the high-end chocolate manufacturer who came to prominence at a time when there was no such thing as television or the Internet. People have always loved chocolate, but to get them to pay a premium price for the sweet treat took some very skillful marketing techniques.
The exhibition traces the 50 year advertising and marketing history of Huyler’s Pure Delicious Chocolate from its humble beginnings to its heyday when everyone wanted a sample of the company’s chocolate.
You’ll take a walk though the Golden Age of Marketing Design and see vintage cocoa tins, trading cards, promotional fans, matchbook covers, magazine ads and a host of other ways that Huyler’s promoted its brand and convinced the public that they had the best chocolate in town.
Discover another one of the great things to see and do in San Diego when you visit the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. It’s a fun and family friendly place to spend a few hours. Don’t forget to stop by The Collector’s Gallery, the museum’s gift shop, and pick up a memento of your visit.
It happens to everyone, no matter where they live. Habit and routine evolve naturally to the point where even the most spontaneous people have their familiar fallback plans. While a little familiarity is good, variety is the spice of life. Fortunately, there are few cities better suited to new experiences than San Diego. This vibrant Oceanside oasis has tried and true staples, but it is also home to a number of new attractions every year.
For those who are interested in trying the latest hotspots in San Diego, check out these popular options.
1. The Baked Bear. There is no question that there are plenty of choices for dessert up and down the Southern California coast. From ice cream to cupcakes, there are certainly no shortage of options. However, while many of these eateries may be appealing, none of them have quite the attraction of the Baked Bear this winter.
The Baked Bear is a new shop, having been opened just this past May. Located in Pacific Beach, the Baked Bear is well positioned to serve customers. Better still, the Baked Bear features extended hours, ensuring that patrons can get their sugar fix even into the early hours of the morning. Unlike other ice cream shops that focus merely on the dairy treat, the Baked Bear offers a unique menu of ice cream sandwiches. These sandwiches feature a range of delectable cookies, including distinctive options like red velvet and snickerdoodles in addition to classic confections like chocolate chip. In addition to these cookies, patrons can consider any number of smooth ice cream flavors such as strawberry, chocolate and more.
To give visitors the best range of choices, the Baked Bear allows for complete customization, giving every patron the ability to pick and choose which cookie and ice cream flavor they wish to merge. This ensures endless possibilities, making every trip as exciting as the first. Guests can also choose to buy just cookies or just ice cream, which is a great way to cater to every taste.
All in all, the Baked Bear may be a new business, but it is already a winner with customers. See what all the excitement is about and indulge your sweet tooth this winter.
2. Paintball Park. San Diego is a great place for people who want to stay active. With options like surfing, boating, biking, hiking and more, there is never a shortage of ways to get the heart pumping. Even so, one of the most popular options this winter is paintball. There is no better place to get your paintball fix than the SD Paintball Park.
Located in the heart of the city on Miramar Road, the SD Paintball Park is the only indoor paintball park in the area. This top-notch facility is designed to maximize the experience while keeping all players safe. In fact, the SD Paintball Park strives to be the one-stop place for paintball fanatics of all ages and abilities. For children and novices, there is ample safety gear and user-friendly products. For the advanced players, there are more extensive packages for an enhanced experience.
Ultimately, the SD Paintball Park wants to partner with customers to create the perfect paintball challenge. To do this, guests can pick from any number of packages for groups of nearly any size. The facility itself is highly rated among players because it offers unique challenges and distinctive course options. Better still, packages are all-inclusive, which means customers have access to the best equipment at no extra charge. There is also a comfortable lounge connected to the course with video games and movies readily available.
All this means that the SD Paintball Park is a must to check out this winter. Do not delay and schedule your session today.
3. The San Diego Central Library. The city may be known for its action, but sometimes the most exciting opportunities are found in a book. Such is the case this winter following the grand opening of the new San Diego Central Library. Nestled in the heart of the downtown, this library branch is the best destination for books, movies, art, community activities and more. The new facility is full of unexpected perks, including a spectacular lobby with fantastic artwork and distinctive sculptures, which make it a great gathering place.
The library has other exciting areas as well. There is a unique video wall, which features photographs of the city. Gathered together, these shots serve as an impressive testament to San Diego. More than that, there is a spacious reading area called the People’s Penthouse, complete with art and sculptures that reflect learning and the community. Other specialty areas include the I CAN! Center, which is a resource for people with disabilities. There is also a Foster Teen Center, where young adults can spend their free time.
Moving beyond the facility itself, the library certainly has plenty to offer. There are 1.2 million items available at the library, which means everyone can find something to enjoy. This includes books, movies, music and more. There are also close to 300 computers available for public usage, giving everyone the access they need for word processing and online activities.
Bonus Destination: Taco Surf. While this list is dedicated to new attractions, it seems wrong not to mention Taco Surf. This family run taco joint has been around since 1989, but it continues to be an enduring hotspot in the city. Not only does it offer good tacos, but it is home to one of the most distinctive museums in all of San Diego. www.tacosurftacoshop.com
The museum features surf boards from big names in the sport. This includes balsa boards, foam boards, short boards, long boards and more. In all, the museum is an apt testament to the sport, showing its diversity, range and history. For ambiance, the restaurant plays vintage surf movies. Plus, when it rains, Taco Surf gives a discount on its tortilla soup, giving patrons even more reason to check out the action this winter season.
- 20 Ways to Chill Out in San Diego this Sunday (hmghotelsblog.com)
- The Baked Bear – and a good memory (mmm-yoso.typepad.com)
- The Paintball Park is southern California’s favorite sports (thepaintballpark.com)
- Taco Surf Museum & Breakfast Burrito (heavytaste.com)
People from all over the world visit San Diego. After all, with a perfect stretch of Southern California’s coastline, there is plenty of sun and sand all throughout the year. However, with all that San Diego has to offer, humans are not the only ones who like to visit the area. In fact, San Diego is also a popular destination for one of the most distinctive animals in the world.
Gray whales live in the Pacific Ocean and spend most of the year near Alaska. However, during the winter, these massive mammals make the journey down the coast for the warm waters near Baja California. Once in these warm waters, the gray whales often birth calves and see their numbers grow before taking the young back north. This yearly migration takes them right by San Diego, giving guests a unique opportunity to see these impressive animals in their natural habitat.
The migration of gray whales occurs anywhere between December and April, which encompasses their round trip. However, the best month to catch a glimpse of these marine giants is definitely January, which is the time when the vast majority of the whales pass through the area on their way south. Most gray whales move in small pods of two or three, which gives visitors a number of chances to see groups passing along the Southern California coast. Larger groups sometimes opt to make the long trip together, which can make for a magnificent display for watchers. Therefore, for those who are looking for the best opportunity to whale watch, be sure to try whale watching this January in San Diego.
1. Cabrillo National Monument. This park is one of San Diego’s finest attractions for a number of reasons, but in the winter, it is the view from Point Loma peninsula that truly shines. From Point Loma, guests have a spectacular panoramic view of the water, which is perfect for spotting whales. Better still, the park has a recently renovated observatory to provide a better whale watching experience. This observatory is made of glass so as not to obscure the full view of the water. There are also a variety of whale-related exhibits to educate visitors, and guests can listen to a taped narration for additional information. Rangers are also on hand to answer questions and point out things guests may miss.
2. Birch Aquarium. The Birch Aquarium at Scripps is dedicated to the preservation of marine life in Southern California. Therefore, it is no surprise that the aquarium celebrates whales in the winter months. During this time, there are a number of exhibits and activities about whales for guests to consider. However, the aquarium also has a great vantage point overlooking the water. Guests can visit the aquarium and hang out in the outdoor tide-pool plaza. From here, guests can not only see the impressive tiny lifeforms in each tide-pool, but they can look out across the water to see whales on their migration. The Birch Aquarium has various events and guided tours available for a more structured experience.
3. Whale Festival. Although the entire month of January is fantastic for whale watching, there is no better opportunity than the Whale Festival. The Whale Festival is a fairly new event, hosted at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier in San Diego. Here, guests can partake in any number of activities to celebrate these massive seafaring mammals. Of the numerous attractions, the walk-through whale is always very popular, offering guests a unique look at the impressive anatomy of a gray whale. There are other educational exhibits on hand in addition to a number of fun-filled activities. This includes face painting, bounce houses, a trackless train and a mural coloring project. There is even live music and dancing. Plus, the museums along the waterfront are open at discounted prices, and local boat tours also provide services at reduced rates during the festival.
4. Boat tours. While there are plenty of opportunities on the coast, some of the best whale watching experiences are on the water. A boat tour is a great way to see these creatures up close, offering guests a unique experience with these awesome mammals. There are a number of privately owned tour companies in San Diego, each with its own tour schedule. These tours are often hosted by knowledgeable guides, providing guests with information while on the tour. While there is no guarantee of spotting whales during any tour, these companies are well informed regarding the migration habits of the animals and will often pick their course to offer guests the best possible chance of seeing whales. These tours are also great for seeing the San Diego coastline, making them a wonderful opportunity in the winter months.
5. Kayak tours. Like boat tours, kayaking tours give guests a closer view of the whales. However, kayaking gets guests even closer to the water, which is why kayakers sometimes have the most intense encounters with whales during their migration. While anyone can rent a kayak and take to the open water, going on a guided kayak tour can be a good way to find the hotspots for whales. These kayak tours are often led by skilled kayakers and whale experts, which promotes safety and allows guests to learn about whales and their migration during their tour. Be sure to bring a waterproof camera during such a trip, because some of the encounters are well worth capturing for posterity. Kayak tours require more physical fitness than other whale watching opportunities, although the experience is often the most intimate.
Whether by sea or by land, whale watching is a fantastic experience for people of all ages. Guests will enjoy their first glimpse of the gray whales in their natural habitat, but it is also a wonderful activity to experience time and again. Therefore, consider the options and be sure to try whale watching this coming January in San Diego.
- Whale pod feeding frenzies caught on camera (cbs8.com)
- Top 12 Things to Do in San Diego in January 2014 (hmghotelsblog.com)
- Should SeaWorld Free the Killer Whales (crossfire.blogs.cnn.com)