Fun Stuff for San Diegans

January 10, 2008 at 10:03 am (Random thoughts, Uncategorized)

It feels like forever since I’ve written a blog.

(but it’s not like my lack of entries have diminished my blogging activities because Alex provokes me like an Iranian speed boat)

anyway I read a nifty little story in the UT this morning that provided a worthwhile link and subsequent commentary.

Here is the story… San Diego named on the “It list”

And here is the commentary…

First off the story goes through a number of different lists that San Diego has recently been named to…

Dogtown USA by dogfancy

Top 10 city to visit with a dog by

Top 5 “Best downtowns to live in” by Mens Journal

#6 beaches on Yahoo! travel list

Top 10 places to visit for Gays and Lesbians by The Advocate

#7 on the list for top US cities for fitness and walking by Prevention magazine

And the author of the article throws out this question…

So, did San Diego enjoy an upsurge last year from gay, beach-loving, dog-walking, downtown enthusiasts?

That is quality journalism right there folks. Love it.

I’ve long stated that San Diego is my all time favorite place in the world. Not that I’ve been everywhere, but I’ve been to enough places that I can say without a doubt in my mind that it truly is the greatest city in the history of civilization.

As great as it is however I’ve yet to scratch the surface on all the fantastic sights, sounds and experiences my home town has to offer. That’s where you, my loyal readers come in.

I need your suggestions on some great things to do in San Diego. I don’t care how touristy or how off the beaten path it may be, I’d really like to expand my San Diego experiences this year.

Here are some examples of things I hadn’t done that I did recently that really made me appreciate San Diego more.

  • Visited the Cabrillo monument.
  • Attended what was formerly known as “Christmas on the Prado”.
  • Went to the Carlsbad flower fields to take pictures.
  • Ate dinner in Old Town.
  • Visited the Mount Soledad memorial.
  • Harbor Cruise Dinner
  • Spend half a day on the Midway museum.
  • Jogging in Mission Bay park.
  • Harbor Dinner Cruise.
  • Hiking Iron Mountain.

While those are some more recent things that I’ve done some of the things that are common place to my San Diego lifestyle include…

  • Attending Padres games at PETCO Park.
  • Enjoying the Downtown restaurant scene.
  • Beach going.
  • Kayaking in La Jolla cove.
  • Sea World
  • The Zoo
  • The Wild Animal Park
  • Sea Port Village
  • Coronado
  • Balboa Park
  • Concert on the grass at Coors amphitheater

And here are some things that I already know I’d like to do/visit (Note: I’ve done some of these in the past but it’s been a long time)…

  • The San Diego Mission
  • Jet Ski Mission Bay
  • Sailing
  • The Olympic Training Center
  • Hike Torrey Pines State Reserve (I tried this last year but the parking was so expensive I got angry and left).
  • Hot Air Balloon ride.
  • Drive to Julian.

You get the idea. But help me out people; I’m sure there’s all kinds of great stuff I don’t have any idea about that can really add to my 2008.

I hope you’re inspired to embrace a little bit more of all that this fantastic community has to offer during 2008. If you do something on this list, or something that deserves to be on this list let us know so we can enjoy it or avoid it as well.



  1. RubeRad said,

    That’s “Cabrillo”, not “Cabrio”. As a San Diego native, you should be hispanically-aware-enough to tell the difference between a Spanish Name and a German car!

  2. RubeRad said,

    Iron mountain is very close to you for hiking; walking around Poway Lake is another good option. Also, Cowles mountain (a few blocks from me!) is a great hike to the highest point in S.D. city limits (and true San Diegans know that the proper pronunciation is like “Cole’s”). My advice; skip the always-full parking lot at Navajo and Golfcrest. Instead, take the back route from Boulder Lake and Barker Way. The trail from the back is empty, and it’s wide enough to see from space, which makes it better for hiking in a group.

    Also, if you have any disposable cash and want to go to a nice restaurant, eat at Kemosabe or Indigo Grill some time. Watch Costco for discount gift-cards to the Cohn Restaurant Group; you can get two $50 cards for $75.

  3. Former Multiple FFL Champ said,

    I can’t believe you don’t have “Attend a Charger game” on your list.

    One thing I did recently that is not a permanent “to do” thing is visit the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Natural History Museum.

  4. danielbalc said,

    thanks for the tip on Carbillo. I knew I had spelled it wrong but then had editing problems where I literally lost half my post (including the half that had corrected it earlier).

    As for Cowles Mtn that’s been on tap for a while now as Athena’s uncle has repeatedly invited us to go. I should have listed hiking the Elfin forest as a recent activity. I had NO clue about that place till we hiked it last month with the aforementioned uncle. Very cool hike.

    As for Kemosabe and Indigo grill we’ve done Dakota grill and weren’t impressed enough to hit up the other members of the group. But I do love fine dining tips so keep those coming.

    Charger game, unlike Padres game, isn’t something I would include under the distinct flavor of a local community. A football game is the same just about anywhere you go but in baseball the parks are so unique that you really are doing more than just watching a game, you are visiting an attraction.

    I did the dead sea scrolls in October. Very cool enjoyed it a lot.

    I didn’t see the bodies exhibit however. Can anyone give that a thumbs up or down?

  5. danielbalc said,

    walking around Poway Lake is another good option.

    Forgot to mention this but the fires completely decimated Poway lake and the Blue Sky open space preserve. You can still hike the trails but there is no vegetation at all. Not just the chaparral but even the big old oak trees were destroyed. It’s like hiking in a giant ash tray. It’s very sad but I’m OK with the timing since I don’t have kids right now and Poway lake is something I would like my children to enjoy the way I enjoyed it. Hopefully by the time I do have kids it will look nice again.

  6. Matt said,

    As far as dining experiences go a couple places that probably are not frequented but are highly recommended would be:

    1) Da’ Kine’s in Pacific Beach- It is above the boardwalk and offers great Hawaiian plate lunches (kalua pig w\macaroni salad is quite delicious). One of my personal favs.

    2) Ruby’s on the pier in O-side is cool especially when there is a swell and the pier is swaying as you are eating your burger.

  7. RubeRad said,

    “Carbillo”. Heh, heh. Even when he tries hard he can’t spell it!

  8. RubeRad said,

    I didn’t see the bodies exhibit however. Can anyone give that a thumbs up or down?

    We saw Body Worlds in Chicago (we only had two kids then — was it really that long ago!?), and it was AWESOME! Maybe not for the squeamish, though (especially take note that there is an exhibit of human fetuses at various developmental stages). Amidst the amazing displays, like isolated nervous and circulatory systems, etc. my most memorable memory was a cross-section of the bowel of a women who had died with (but not of) extreme constipation. Big as a canteloupe! Ouch!

  9. danielbalc said,


    that is very funny.
    and fun to say.

    carbillo, carbillo, carbillo.

    What do you think a carbillo is?

    A car that looks like an armadillo?
    A type of Atkins diet. (Pronounce it Car-Bee-Low)
    What you tell someone who’s jumping into a car pool. yuk, yuk, yuk

  10. Former Multiple FFL Champ said,

    Mister Tiki Mai Tai Lounge in the gaslamp is a good place to eat. And I’ve always like the walk along the seawall at Carlsbad State beach.

  11. Echo_ohcE said,

    If you haven’t eaten here, you’re just wrong.

    This is a wonderful, wonderful Mexican restaurant in Escondido. It’s routinely awarded as one of the best in San Diego. It’s very cool. It’s outside, and centered around a little man-made waterfall. It’s gorgeous, the food is out of this world, and it’s romantic. One of the best overall restaurant experiences I’ve ever had, and I’ve been to restaurants all over the US and Europe and the Middle East.

    I know the margaritas are like 9 bucks, but if you don’t try one, you’re just wrong.

  12. danielbalc said,

    Thanks for that dining tip echo. I used to live in escondido and work in poway and I’ve driven past that restaurant many, many times but never patronized it, for a couple of reasons….

    1. Mexican food and I don’t often agree with each other.
    2. When I lived in Esco I was single so combining that truth with the above I never took girls to mexican food on a date.
    3. Now that I’m married my wife LOVES Mexican food so we do it occasionally but I’m not a fan of what I call “expensive” mexican food. Mostly because I don’t see the dramatic step up in quality from taco shop fast food to expensive sit down mexican food.

    That being said I really enjoyed a place we ate at in grossmont, “casa de la pico”, (which is an old town restaurant) and I felt their prices were fair. So maybe we’ll try your place out.


    Ruby’s on the oceanside pier is home to the worst dining experience of my life. I;m not going to detail the evil of that evening again, but I can say that the upper level management has done a valiant effort to make amends for our negative experience. Still I’m not going back to that place any time soon.

  13. Echo_ohcE said,

    Well, all I ask is that you try it. You’ll thank me.

  14. Albino Hayford said,

    San Diego is as close to Heaven as you will get on earth. Here are some reasons:

    1 Spend the day at La Jolla Shores Beach boogey boarding, reading, and playing hearts, have a burrito for lunch, then play basketball at the University’s outdoor courts before returning to the beach for a bonfire and bbq at sunset. Magical… If you’re a guy, pray this prayer before you go: “Jesus; give me eyes to see their hearts and not their parts.”

    2 Yup, you must do a dinner cruise on the bay. I once officiated a wedding on the deck of one of those cruise ships…very cool.

    3. I agree that Julian daytrip is a must. One winter I made it to Julian just as a light snow started to fall. Ate fresh apple pie and drank coffee as the snow fell. It’s amazing that you are so close to warm weather and in the snow.

    4. I don’t know if they still do it, but the Lake Poway Turkey Trot is a race that is beautiful and KILLER at the same time. A 5k run through the hills around Lake Poway will either break your spirit or make you a man.

    5. San Diego Half Marathon….from the beach to Balboa Park. Amazing.

    6. Eat a steak at Ruth’s Kriss Steakhouse overlooking the bay. Makes me cry just thinking about it.

    7. See a play at Lamb’s Players Theatre

    8. All the Tourist Places: Ok, this list is not anything new but still MUST SEE: Sea World (I had a season pass for 5 years), the firworks at sundown are some of the best in America, San Diego Zoo (a bonus: the tigers won’t escape and eat you), Wild Animal Park, and the annual Air Show (now that Top Gun is gone, I don’t know if it’s still there).

    9. Visit the cave at the bottom of the gift shop at La Jolla cove.

    10. Eat a fish taco.

    11. Take a stroll through Balboa Park and finish the afternoon playng around in the Science Museum.

    12. Walk outside in August and marvel at the fact that you’re not sweating.

    13. Go sailing on the bay (thank you Bell family), and jump off the boat a few times.

    14. Attend a Monday Night Charger’s Football game at the Murph (thanks, Pastor Doug). I was up so high we need a sherpa to get us to our seats, but it was AMAZING.

    15. Watching the baseball All-Star game in San Diego was also unforgettable.

    16. Attend a worship service at the best church in Southern California: Living Way Church, in Poway, California.

    17. Take a ride in a convertable down highway 5.

    18. Play “marco polo” in the pool in Poway at Hilleary Court with a belly fool of carne asada burritos and Dr. Pepper.

    19. Jump into that same pool wearing a suit and tie.

  15. Matt said,

    5. San Diego Half Marathon….from the beach to Balboa Park. Amazing.

    I assume you mean driving the route?

    14. Attend a Monday Night Charger’s Football game at the Murph (thanks, Pastor Doug). I was up so high we need a sherpa to get us to our seats, but it was AMAZING.

    I laughed really hard at this.

  16. Albino Hayford said,

    Ah, Matt. More weight hate.

  17. LynnH said,

    “”San Diego is as close to Heaven as you will get on earth. Here are some reasons:””

    Well at least the Promised Land since it is at the same latitude as Israel and has similar climates and topography. Hmmm!

  18. Alex said,

    “1 Spend the day at La Jolla Shores Beach boogey boarding, reading, and playing hearts, have a burrito for lunch, then play basketball at the University’s outdoor courts before returning to the beach for a bonfire and bbq at sunset.”

    I will never forget those days of ballin it up at UCSD in boardshorts and the chaffing that accompanied it. Unforgettable memories!!

    “13. Go sailing on the bay (thank you Bell family), and jump off the boat a few times.”

    How can I forget about jumping into “DOO-DOO Bay” (the San Diego Bay). I’m surprised we didn’t pick up some kind of infection from that water.

    Good memories. Good times.

    I’ll add one to the list:

    Dinner in Coronado at either Peohe’s or Il Fornaio. The view of Downtown is truly amazing.

  19. lance said,

    daniel, is there a difference between a harbor dinner cruise and a harbor cruise dinner??

  20. Albino Hayford said,


    Esther and I were watching American Idol’s San Diego tryouts tonight when she screamed, “Jim, that’s Rancho Bernardo Inn!” “No, I don’t think so, Babe”, I calmly responded, until Ryan Seacrest said, “Welcome back to Rancho Bernardo Inn…”

    We had just stayed in that resort in October, and these tryouts were in September. That was a weird feeling.

    When we left Rancho Bernardo Inn, we were surrounded by dense smoke, with ash falling from the sky. Miraculously, the wildfires left it untouched.

    Watching the amazing shots of the golf course in between American Idol tryouts, I still marvel that I got to play all 18 of those holes.

    Watch video from my golf round with the Balcombes here.

    And bonus reel here.

  21. Laura said,

    Going to an opera at the Civic Theatre downtown.

    Taking a tour of the historic homes, like Marston House or Montezuma Villa, in Balboa Park or Mission Hills.

    The Ren Faire at Felicita Park in Escondido. The park is beautiful and the faire is corny, but a lot of fun and inexpensive. Best if you go in costume. Must also pray “Jesus give me eyes to see their hearts and not their parts”.

    Watching the sunset from the Greek Ampitheatre at Point Loma Nazarene University.

    A picnic at Presidio Park. Or at Old Poway Park. Having your family Christmas photo taken at Old Poway Park or on the beach in front of the Hotel del Coronado.

    The Eagle Gold Mine tour in Julian. You can even pan for gold at the end of the tour!

    A jazz concert at Humphries-by-the-Bay, or on the top of the La Jolla Hotel.

    A rock concert at Coors Ampitheater. Especially if it is Fleetwood Mac. In the summer. With old friends.

    Dinner at the Marine Room, definitely with a window seat!

    An Easter sunrise service at Mt. Helix. The Christmas midnight mass at Basilica San Diego de Alcala. A water baptism at Torrey Pines State Beach. A wedding at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas or at a rustic ranch in San Pasqual Valley. Thses things may not be “fun”, but they are worthwhile experiences to have in San Diego.

    I haven’t done it, and don’t know if you still can – but I think staying overnight in a cottage on the Crystal Pier would definitely be a fun experience.

    Riding the merry-go-round at Balboa Park, near the Zoo.

    The Craft Fairs at Rancho Bernardo Winery.

    Antique shopping in Ramona and then having lunch at the Ramona Cafe.

    I am sure I can think of more, since I am a native San Diegan, circa 1963 – but this is a pretty good start!

  22. Laura said,

    A harbor cruise dinner is a singles meet, or “meat,” market- an event that takes place on a ship sailing on the harbor, eating dinner optional –

    A harbor dinner cruise is having a meal aboard a ship that is sailing on the harbor –

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