Seven Adventurous Summer Days in Sunny San Diego

Hotel Del Coronado

Lounging along a pristine white sandy beach in front of the Hotel Del Coronado

Bask on the Beach! From Oceanside to the Silver Strand, San Diego County is home to world-class beaches. La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores are fantastic family beaches; Pacific Beach and Mission Beach offer boardwalk fun and adventure; The Travel Channel recently ranked Coronado Beach as one of California’s best beaches. For quintessential SoCal summer fun, it’s just about impossible to beat a warm, sunny San Diego day at the beach. Discover San Diego offers a resourceful link to the County’s beaches, nightlife and current events.

Giant Panda cub at San Diego Zoo

Panda cub napping at the Zoo’s Panda Canyon

Do the Zoo. I LOVE this place! Koalafornia; Panda Canyon; Elephant Odyssey and MUCH more. The San Diego Zoo is one of the choicest places in the city to spend a full, thoroughly entertaining day. Did you know the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy oversees over 100 science projects in 35 countries to preserve endangered animal species? Open 9:00am to 6:00pm daily. If you find yourself in northern San Diego County, visit the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park where visitors get to choose from 8 wildly different safari packages.

San Diego's Balboa Park boasts 1,200 acres of family entertainment

A Day at the Museum. Balboa Park is ideally located adjacent to the San Diego Zoo. This park is a cultural mecca with 17 museums, nine performing arts venues, 14 restaurants, dozens of rotating exhibits and lush gardens, all set in a 1,200-acre urban oasis. 2015 marks Balboa Park’s Centennial celebration, with special events, performances and exhibitions continuing throughout the year.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Birch Aquarium, public exploration center for world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD, is a fascinating interactive venue where visitors learn about ocean science and conservation. Explore incredible marine life in the Hall of Fishes, a two-story kelp forest exhibit, the shark experience at ElasmoBeach, tide pools and coral reefs. The third Wednesday of each month (through September), the Aquarium, in cooperation with KPRI 102.1fm, presents the Green Flash Concert Series. Proceeds benefit exhibits and educational programming. Doors open at 5:30pm; concerts run from 6:45-9:00pm. Birch Aquarium at Scripps is open 9:00am-5:00pm daily; tickets are very reasonably priced at $17/adults, $14/teens and $12.50/children ages 3-12.

Cowles Mountain, San Diego

Looking west from the Cowles Mountain summit with Lake Murray in the foreground and the Pacific Ocean in the distance

Hike, Bike & Kayak. From the coast to the mountains, San Diego County boasts hundreds of miles of hiking, biking and running trails. Torrey Pines State Preserve, situated on the bluffs between Del Mar and La Jolla is full of winding trails leading to breathtaking coastal views. Cowles Mountain in Mission Trails Regional Park has several trails of varying difficulty, all summiting at the 1,594 foot peak, where hikers and bicyclers can experience panoramic views of the County, the Pacific Ocean and Mexico in the distance. (I prefer hiking the back side of Cowles; the trailhead is off Boulder Lake Ave. It is far less crowded and a much more engaging workout than the front side.) The 8+ mile hike between Lake Poway and Mount Woodson is also a classic San Diego trek with outstanding summit views. The San Diego Hikers website provides great information on local hiking trails. If kayaking is your thing, La Jolla Shores, most definitely an incredible beach destination, is also great for launching a kayak and paddling out past La Jolla Cove or up to Scripps Pier. Sea life is abundant in this marine reserve park; paddle or pedal your kayak into the caves near La Jolla cove (wear a helmet!), or just revel in the stunning coastal views from the water. Several kayak rental facilities are located on Avenida de la Playa, just blocks from the beach.

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse was constructed in 1855 and is now a museum

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument was constructed in 1855 and is now a museum

Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo

Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo

A Day of Discovery at Cabrillo National Monument. On September 28, 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into the bay and became the first European to set foot on what is now known as the west coast of the United States. 299 years later, and just 19 days after California was admitted to the union, Congress authorized construction on a lighthouse at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula. The Old Point Loma Lighthouse, on the grounds of Cabrillo, is no longer in use and has been transformed into a visitors museum containing memorabilia from the living quarters of former lighthouse keepers. Period furniture pieces and artifacts fill the lighthouse, offering visitors a glimpse into the lifestyle of our ancestors. The centerpiece of Cabrillo National Monument is an imposing statue of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo overlooking panoramic views of San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, adjacent to Cabrillo National Monument, is the final resting place for over 100,000 people including veterans from the Spanish American War, the Battle of San Pasqual and both World Wars. Over 77 acres are lined with rows of white headstones marking grave sites. Fort Rosecrans is a humbling, yet noble site worthy of a visit while exploring the nearby grounds of Cabrillo National Monument.

Little Italy, San Diego

Hundreds of vendors purvey their wares every Saturday at Little Italy Mercato Farmers Market

Little Italy Mercato Farmers Market. Ranked by U-T San Diego as the best farmers market in the city, this venue is just plain fun. Each Saturday from 8:00am until 2:00pm, over 150 vendors and purveyors pedal their wares. Booths offering fresh, sustainably caught seafood, a bounty of organic fruits, vegetables and herbs, native plants, fresh flowers, local chefs, gastro-trucks, jewelry, clothing, home decor and live entertainment line West Date Street between Kettner Blvd. and Front St. And when you’re sufficiently “shopped out” at the farmers market, enjoy a late lunch or early happy hour at one of Little Italy’s award-winning restaurants, including Juniper & Ivy, Kettner ExchangeUnderbelly, and Davanti Enoteca, where the “focaccia di Recco with honeycomb” is about as decadently delicious as it gets!

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