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California Tower – San Diego, Calif.

29 May

You have got to go here…California Tower – San Diego, Calif.

Every museum has something special that drives a person to visit, but the San Diego Museum of Man has something extra special – a tower that you can climb that hasn’t been open for 80 years!

The California Tower, which boasts 360 degree views of San Diego last saw footsteps in 1935.

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The tour takes approximately 40 minutes and does require climbing 7 flights of stairs (including 1 slightly steep spiral staircase), but the view and the tour through history is so worth it.

Don’t worry, the tour guide stops at each landing to give you time to take a breath (if you are relatively good shape this will be a breeze for you), talk about the tower and let you enjoy the view.

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Once you hit the top, be prepared to be wowed and enjoy views that most people don’t get to see.

You are only allowed 15 minutes at the landing, but I found it was plenty of time to take pictures and enjoy the moment. There are even several benches to take a rest on.

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For an additional $8 on top of the museum admission you can take this journey that not many get to. My recommendations: DO IT!, get your tickets in advance and go early.  Balboa Park gets very busy as the day goes on so beat the rush.  OH and there are so many cool museums and things to do in Balboa Park so plan to stay all day…my favorite thing to do is bring a picnic as there are also tons of great places to relax.

Happy Climbing,

Crystal

 

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – San Diego, Calif.

9 May

You have got to go here…Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – San Diego, Calif.

Do I have any hikers in the house?  WELL, I have just the place for you.  If you have not hiked Torrey Pines then you have been missing out!

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With a multitude of trails, there is something for every skill level (for a challenge – park at the lower lot and hike up the hill, down the beach trail and north on the beach until you are back at your car).  

We chose Razor Point to Yucca Point to Beach Trail and back up Broken Hill.  Not only was it a great workout, we saw wildlife, flowers and breath-taking views along the way!
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What I also love is that there are tons of cool places to stop and take pictures along the way!

The basics: There is a $15 per carload fee to enter (totally worth it), great for families (visit the visitor’s center for a history lesson), bring plenty of water – and a picnic if you want!

Happy Hiking,

Crystal

P.S. If you want to make a weekend of it, may I suggest the Estancia Hotel in La Jolla?  Great boutique resort with fabulous food(BEST margarita ever), relaxing pool/spa (rent a sun bed -you won’t be disappointed) and top-notch service!

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International Cottages – San Diego, Calif.

6 Jan

You have got to go here…International Cottages – San Diego, Calif.

As a Southern California native I have been to Balboa Park many times but had never had the chance to visit the International Cottages – man was I missing out!

Welcome!

Established in 1935 the cottages were set-up to promote understanding between nations.  Today, 32 countries open their doors every Sunday from noon – 4 p.m. to give visitors a glimpse into a traditional home, a history lesson and an opportunity to strike up a conversation with someone of a different culture.

And that’s not all that is inside…every cottage offers snacks native to their country (please bring small bills as tips are greatly appreciated for these treats!) so bring your appetite!

Oh wait there is more…some countries even have activities for you to partake in!

In addition to the open houses every Sunday each country hosts a lawn program each year that highlights music and dance from their part of the world.

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It doesn’t stop there, there are also several other events held throughout the year such as an Ethnic Food Fair and International Christmas Fair just to name a few!

I forgot to mention the best part – all of this is FREE!!!  So bring your friends, bring your family and spend the day immersing yourself in other cultures.

Happy Cottaging,

Crystal

Little Italy Mercato – San Diego, Calif.

11 Nov

You have got to go here…Little Italy Mercato, San Diego, Calif.

Who doesn’t love a good farmers market?  I am here to tell you that in my opinion the Little Italy Mercato is the best farmers market I have been to in Southern California…

…and here’s why (in no particular order)…

Best view! Located just a few blocks from the ocean, it is blessed with an amazing spot to call home.

Samples!  Come hungry because there are tons (more than I have ever seen) of amazing fresh samples to delight in.

Local Products!  I know this may be obvious – but the variety is top-notch and so unique.

Music!  What a pleasant way to shop while listening to the sweet sounds of local artists.

Fresh fruits and veggies!  I would not be doing the market justice if I left out that fact that of course they also have hundreds of different fresh fruits, flowers and veggies to offer shoppers.

Fun (my favorite part)!  This market provides a perfect way to spend a day doing something fun with your friends and family.

With over four city blocks of fresh product, the Little Italy Mercato is somewhere you have got to go.  So, next Saturday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., grab your besties and head to San Diego.  May I suggest making a day of it?

Happy Mercatoing,

Crystal

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge – San Diego, Calif.

6 Apr

You have got to go here…Spruce Street Suspension Bridge – San Diego, Calif.

After visiting Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge in Vancouver I was eager to find something similar close to home…so I started to search!  To my surprise I came across a suspension bridge in San Diego, and while it is in a totally different environment, it was just as fun (and FREE)!

The Spruce Street Suspension Bridge is located in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego and is 100 years old!

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There is ample parking as it is in neighborhood and easily accessible.  Once you park – get ready to have some fun!  OH and don’t worry – this bridge was built to hold 2,186 people!

Getting ready to cross the bridge.

Mark pretending he is Indiana Jones!

The Spruce Street Suspension Bridge links two neighborhoods and crosses Kate Sessions Canyon.  I suggest you stop in the middle and take in the beautiful scenery, but when you do don’t be alarmed – yes the bridge is wobbly!

At first I had to hold on, but then I let go and set myself free to enjoy the bridge.  I must have walked back and forth at least three times before my husband finally told me that it was time to go!  Jealous feelings arose as I so wished this path was a part of my daily walk!

While this bridge is not a place that you can stay all day, it is for sure something different.  Lots of people head down to San Diego for the big sites, but you will be sorry if you don’t take some time to experience this hidden gem!

Happy Bridging,

Crystal

Carlsbad, Calif to San Diego, Calif. via Pacific Coast Highway

21 Nov

You have got to go here…drive from Carlsbad, Calif to San Diego, Calif via Pacific Coast Highway.

Sometimes the journey is just as important.  With that in mind I decided to make my actual drive to San Diego my destination.  You just never know what you are going to discover unless you stop!

Once we got off the 5 freeway in Carlsbad we were ready to explore!  The goal was to stop at places that caught our eye…First…breakfast!

While driving through Encinitas I spotted a big yellow house that had a line out the door, so I stopped!  Now a line doesn’t always equal goodness, but I was willing to take the risk.

Pannikin Coffee and Tea has been open since 1968 and is family owned and operated.  Aside from having super yummy coffee, tea and pastries (by the way we had a raspberry-bran muffin and blood-orange iced tea) they also have a general store and an art gallery all housed in a historic train station circa 1888.  How cool is that?




I could have sat around and lounged in the sunshine all day, but I had things to see…so off we went!

Our next stop was courtesy of a vintage sign…

I saw the sign and followed it right to the Fletcher Cove Beach Park in Solana Beach.  While it was only a short stop, there is no better way to stretch your legs than breathing fresh air and taking in a beautiful ocean view!

OK, so about this time I am ready to shop…I have passed way too many cute boutiques without stopping.  Luckily we discovered Del Mar and a fabulous store – Urban Girl Accessories!

Urban Girl Accessories had everything from shoes to jewelry to party supplies.  While Del Mar is full of quaint stores, this store had so much variety and fun.  I encourage you to discover this beautiful shopping village, but for sure make Urban Girl Accessories a must stop!

Yes, my favorite part of Del Mar was shopping, but my other favorite part were the trees!!!  They were so beautiful and unique…we spent quite a bit of time walking around and looking at all of the varieties!

I had to drag my husband away from this bench as it was such a serene spot…but I enticed him with lunch!

While there was no plan for the day, we knew we wanted to end up on Coronado Island and have lunch at Burger Lounge!  It was New Year’s Day 2011 when we discovered this yummy restaurant and for a year we have been dreaming of going back.  The burgers and salads are mouth watering and OMG the fries and onion rings are addicting.  I highly suggest you check out their menu and make a point to have a nice relaxing meal.

OK, I know this has been a full blog, but I want to leave you with two more things that you have to see on Coronado Island…

You must go to the historic Hotel Del Coronado to see the FREE Dr. Seuss Sculpture garden.  I was so excited when I turned the corner and saw the Lorax (my favorite) and the Grinch!  This garden is for kids young and old.

Spend as much time as you need and be silly!

 

When you are ready, head west on the beach and look for this:

Do you know what it spells?  Your homework is find out:)

While we saw many other amazing things on our mini-road trip, I hope this encourages you to get out there to stop and smell the roses for yourself.  Wonderous discoveries are everywhere, not just when you reach your destination!

Happy driving and discovering!

Crystal

Cabrillo National Monument

13 Jun

You have got to go here…Cabrillo National Monument!

I have lived in California my whole life and had never been to the Cabrillo National Monument on the Point Loma Peninsula (near San Diego) until this year.  My husband and I are frequent travelers to San Diego, but wanted to do something we had never done – thankfully we discovered Cabrillo!

First, the drive there is very cool…looking at the houses in the quaint neighborhoods surrounding Cabrillo was an adventure on its own.  I suggest stopping at Charlie’s Best Bread Bakery  in Point Loma to grab a picnic lunch for the day.  After you get some yummy treats for the day proceed through Naval Base Point Loma (It is always very cool to be on an Armed Forces Base, there is so many neat things to see – keep your eyes open) to the national monument.

The entrance fee to the park is a mere $5.00 per car load.  Once inside your adventure can begin.  We started at the visitor’s center to get the lay of the land, learn about the history of the monument and get a smashed penny of course.  From there you can take a short walk and see the Cabrillo Statue – which also gives you an amazing view of Coronado Island, Old Point Loma Lighthouse (you can actually go in and get a feel for what it was like to live in an lighthouse – the spiral stair case to the third floor is AWESOME!), and the Military Exhibit.  If you want to be a little more adventurous, take a hike via the 2-mile Bayside Trail.

WAIT! You are not done yet, drive down to the Tidepools and discover amazing ocean creatures!

Cabrillo National Monument is a great place to spend an inexpensive day with the family or with a date.  The views are breath-taking and the discoveries are endless – grab some water and go exploring!

Happy Trailblazing,

Crystal