Subject: Re: Lesser known sights near your home town
Hello Travelziners and thanks for starting such a great thread Paul.

San Diego has an abundance of sights and activities which are heavily marketed by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, e.g. the Zoo, Sea World, golfing, the beaches, etc. But there are plethora of additional things to do.

For example, Paul mentioned the wineries and vineyards which can be visited from Seattle, San Diego has two different wine growing areas within an hour's drive. To the north there is the wine growing appellation of Temecula (just across the Riverside county line) with its largest producer Callaway Vineyards plus quite a number of smaller wineries, such as Hart Vineyards. A bit closer in towards San Diego (and just a mile or so from the San Diego Wild Animal Park) one can sample the wines at Orfila Vineyards. To the south Mexico's largest wine producing area, the Guadelupe Valley, is poised on the brink of discovery. This agricultural area along Highway 3 between Tecate and Ensenada is the home to virtually every Mexican vintner including Pedro Domecq, Chateau Camou, and Monte Xanic. A perfect tour plan involves spending the day visiting the wineries as you head south, overnighting in Ensenada, and then enjoying the coastal drive on the way back north. And if one visits in September there's a good chance that a paella festival may be occurring during the harvest.

If natural history and wildlife are of interest there ar a number of sights to visit. The Mission Trails Regional Park is a 5800 acre park offering dozens of hiking (and mountain biking trails) as well as an excellent Visitor and Interpretive Center. This park gives one an opportunity to envision the landscape of San Diego prior to the arrival of the Europeans in 1542. Website is located at:

A fantastic resource for San Diego hiking is Jerry Schad's Afoot and Afield in San Diego County.

Two other city parks to consider visiting are Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve and Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. Los Peñasquitos is best in the late winter or early spring when the falls and stream will be at their strongest. Sunset Cliffs is a wonderful location to plan an afternoon of sightseeing around. Here's a suggested itinerary. Around noon stop by the Sea Trader Liquor and Deli on Point Loma Ave. Pick up a Sea Trader Sandwich (turkey, avocado, jack cheese, and bacon; one is enough for two) chips and and a coke. Continue on down to the park. There are a number of parking lots on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. The further south the better the surf breaks and therefore the view of the surfers. Sit back and enjoy your lunch while gazing out over the surfers' acrobatics, the masses of kelp floating on the Pacific swells, and the occasional sea lion working through the kelp bed for his own lunch. Once lunch is done it's time to get some exercise. Point the car uphill on Hill Street make a right on Catalina Dr. and head straight out Point Loma to Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetary. Park the car, get out and start walking. To the east you'll be blown away by the best view of downtown San Diego, to the west you'll have an outstanding perspective on the planet's largest physical feature, the Pacific Ocean. If you're here in Dec. or Jan. you'll have an excellent chance of sighting whale spouts as the California Gray Whales make their annual migration south to their Baja breeding and calving grounds. Of course, visiting a cemetary also gives one an opportunity to gain a completely different perspective. After the meditation is finished hop back in the car continue on out to Cabrillo National Monument. Take the road down to the west side of the park for an hour or so of tidepool exploring. After all this activity it's time for an early dinner. Quickly head back down into Point Loma to Point Loma Seafoods on Scott St. Grab a calamari sandwich and either dine their amongst the sportfishing fleet or make the short 5 minute drive out to Shelter Island for another great view of the San Diego skyline.

San Diego Regional Parks: Cabrillo National Monument:

Most visitors to San Diego will visit Balboa Park. Usually to see the Zoo. But there are several days worth of activities in the park. Three which most visitors usually miss are the garden shows held in the Casa del Prado almost every weekend, the open houses at the International Cottages on Sundays (in the Spring and Summer), and the Frisbee-golf course at Morley Field on the east side of Balboa Park.

Balboa Park:

Finally, for those who love to mix dining and adventure San Diego has the distinct advantage of being located next to Mexico. A few of us locals know that Tijuana and northern Baja has a very vibrant restaurant scene. And with just a few inquiries one can have a great meal at a reduced cost when compared to U.S. prices. In Tijuana check out Cien Años for its outstanding nouvelle Mexican cuisine. In particular try the verdolaga (purslane) salad and filet mignon with huitlacoche. Or consider dining at La Vuelta (11th and Revolución) for carnitas and mariachis.

Tijuana dining:

Well, that's just a few of the less well-known activities in San Diego. How about you? What secret adventures await a Travelziner visiting your hometown?

John in, you guessed it, San Diego