View Blog Posts About: Things to do in San Diego

Visiting Mount Soledad in San Diego – World’s Most Unique Veterans Memorial

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Memorial Plaque for President Dwight D Eisenhower
Open to see larger image

If you appreciate military history, you need to plan a trip to Mount Soledad.

Mount Soledad is a one-of-a-kind veterans memorial located in San Diego, California. It’s in the northern community of La Jolla and sits 822 feet above sea level, affording panoramic views of the San Diego region and the Pacific Ocean. Often the views extend south to Tijuana, Mexico and frequently during the winter months they extend to the snow capped mountains east of Los Angeles.

Mount Soledad is home to a veterans memorial that represents veterans of all wars starting with the American Revolution to the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The feature that sets this veterans memorial apart from any other veterans memorial is the fact it includes the images of the veterans who have served our country. You can see it in the image of President Dwight Eisenhower, who will be the newest inductee on Memorial Day 2012. I was able to get a sneak peak with the sightseeing guests I bring to the Memorial as part of my Coastal San Diego Tours.

There are about 3,000 plaques at the Memorial with room for about 300 more. A number of famous veterans have their plaques up here, including the highly decorated and eventual movie star Audie Murphy, the General of Generals …Pershing, General Patton, Actors Cliff Robertson and Jimmy Stewart, Presidents Reagan, Ford, and Truman and many other whose names you will recognize.

To give you a greater appreciate of what to expect to see at the Mt. Soledad Memorial, watch my video below.

Three New Reasons to Visit the San Diego Zoo this Summer

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Tiger Cub at the San Diego ZooHave you been meaning to visit the San Diego Zoo but just haven’t gotten around to it? Well, don’t delay and get out there today. One of the great aspects about the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is that unlike most zoos, they do much more than just put animals on display for the public to see. They also work hard to breed animals to increase their numbers, especially those that are endangered, so we can help prevent them from going extinct and allowing people to enjoy them for many years to come.

My wife and I had a wonderful visit to the Zoo yesterday and found three great reasons why you should go to the Zoo before the end of summer.

Watch the Tiger Cubs Play

Two new tiger cubs were born this spring and they were just put on display this past Wednesday. They were only in the tiger exhibit for a few hours during the morning. In the coming weeks they will stay longer as they get more acclimated to their new home. Mornings are usually a good time to visit the Zoo anyways because the animals are typically more active during the cooler morning hours. You will also have a chance to see the tigers being fed during the late morning. (11:30AM when we visited.)

Don’t put off your visit or keeping saying you’ll visit next weekend but then not end up finding time. Animals grow quickly out of their ‘playful cuteness’ stage. For example, a few years back I posted an entry about the lion cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. They were a playful bunch to watch during the first year but they quickly grew up out of their ‘playfulness’ and some were sent off to other zoos. So, go and visit them today.

See the Baby Hippopotamus Learn to Swim

I’ve always loved the hippopotamus exhibit because you can go right up to the tall glass enclosure and watch these huge creatures swim within inches of your face. Now it’s even better because you can see the baby hippo born in January. While we were there, the adult hippo was nudging the baby hippo right along the glass viewing window helping it learn how to swim and lift its head out of the water. It was riot to watch the crowds keep moving from one side to the other as they followed the hippos. Again, the baby hippo is growing fast so be sure to visit while it is actively learning to live more like an adult.

Stare in Awe at the Chinese Acrobats

It was a hot day yesterday, at least for us San Diegans, so I was a little concerned about sitting in the Hunte Amphitheater for the 2PM show of the ‘Tales of the Mandarin Forest’. (Show times are 2PM and 5PM.) But I quickly forgot how hot it was as I became mesmerized by the amazing acrobatic skills of the Chinese acrobats visiting The San Diego Zoo until Labor Day. They did things I didn’t think were humanly possible. They had us sitting on the edge of our seats when one of the acrobats balanced himself several chairs up from the stage making us wonder could he actually do it or would he come crashing down to the stage. It is something that has to be seen to be appreciated. But, I’ll post some pictures below to give you a colorful idea of what to expect.

I hope I’ve convinced you these three reasons are worth making the effort to visit the zoo this summer. Have a great time!

Baby Hippopotamus at the San Diego ZooBaby hippo swimming at the ZooChinese acrobats at the San Diego ZooChinese show at the San Diego Zoo

Have you ever been surrounded by a School of Sharks?

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I have. Just after I arrived in San Diego 13 years ago, I went out kayaking for the first time with new friends who themselves had just moved to town from the East Coast. It was my first introduction to exploring the waters of Southern California. After an enjoyable afternoon of kayaking, I jumped out in waist deep water. As I looked down, I noticed I had some company – several 3 to 4 feet long sharks. It didn’t take long for all the hair on my body to be standing up straight. Someone nearby saw my state of fright and started laughing. They tried convincing me these were harmless sharks.

Well, they turned out to be harmless leopard sharks. I was still skeptical when I went home that night but the next day’s Union Tribune included an aerial photograph on the front page showing several hundred leopard sharks swimming in La Jolla Shores. I had never heard of harmless sharks before then. Now I know.

If you want to learn more about the leopard sharks, you can go snorkeling with the Birch Aquarium over the next couple months, which is generally the only time they hang out right along La Jolla Shores beach. Here is the info:

Snorkel with the Sharks

Dates: July 9, 23 & 30; Aug. 27, Sept. 10
Swim with schooling leopard sharks, smoothhound sharks and guitarfish while
enjoying the mild surf and gently sloping beach of La Jolla Shores. See
rays, flatfish, sand dwelling invertebrates and coastal sea life.

Time: 8-10 a.m.
Cost: $30 per person
Ages: 10+ (minors must be accompanied by a paid adult)
RSVP required: 858-534-7336 or online at aquarium.ucsd.edu

Video of Leopard Sharks in La Jolla Shores

Now, if you encountered these sharks, would you know they are harmless?

Visit La Jolla Shores to see the Leopard Sharks

You can read more about visiting La Jolla Shores in my San Diego travel guide.

5 Reasons to Visit the San Diego County Fair on this Final Weekend

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Roosters at the San Diego Fair1. Learn something new – This year’s theme is ‘Cars’. If you are a NASCAR racing fan or are curious why there is such a big fuss about NASCAR events, you can jump into a real car from NASCAR. It’s been fitted with a simulator allowing you to speed by adoring fans. The simulator is a good release for those with pent-up energy after patiently making their way into San Diego Fair parking lot.

2. Amazingly beautiful flowers – The best green thumbs in San Diego brought their prized possessions to the fair and competed for the recognition as the best gardener in town. My favorites were the sea dahlias and poohs. Don’t know what a pooh is? You’ll have to go to the fair and find out.

3. Best looking farm animals you’ve ever seen – Cat & Dog Shows bring out some of the most interesting groomers who love to show-off their pets. But, have you ever seen groomed roosters? You won’t be disappointed. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ farm and I’d never seen roosters like the ones you’ll see at the fair.

4. Healthy Meal & a Fried Twinkie – If you thought there was no chance you could find healthy food at the fair, think again. I ate a chicken kabob on pita with green peppers and onions at Chicken Charlies. That allowed me to try out their chocolate fried Twinkie guilt-free!

5. Help Children’s Hospital – Did you ever get carried away trying to win a bunch of stuffed toys at the carnival games and they wonder where you were going to store all of your bounty? Well, worry no more. On your way out of the fair, stick your stuffed animals in the barrels provided by the Torrey Pine Rotary. They’ll take the toys over to Children’s Hospital.

The San Diego Fair in Del Mar ends on Monday, July 4 so make plans to visit this weekend! Enjoy.

Click to see more pictures from this year’s fair. (more…)

Museum Month – What is a Mingei International Museum?

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Another participant in Museum Month is the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. When I first heard of this museum, it seemed like a strange name for a museum.

Simply, Mingei means ‘Art of the People’. The museum takes a look at art made by man from 3rd Century BCE to current times. The Mingei’s collection includes over 17,600 items from 141 countries. Photos and basic details for most of these items are now available online at a separate site set up by museum founder Martha Longenecker at see-mingei.org.

You can read more about visiting the Mingei International Museum on my San Diego Travel web site.

**This post is part of a month long series highlighting unique tidbits about museums participating in the Macy’s half-off admissions sponsorship during the month of February.**

Museum Month – Step Outdoors into the National Wildlife Refuge

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Another Museum Month participant is the Tijuana Estuary Visitors Center. No, the Center is not in Tijuana. It is named after the Tijuana River, which flows from Tijuana through the border to Imperial Beach, where it empties out into the Pacific Ocean. The area surrounding the American portion of the Tijuana River is set aside as a National Wildlife Refuge.

The Tijuana Estuary Center is an interpretive center run by California State Parks with support from the federal government because the area is one of twenty-eight National Estuarine Research Reserves in the country.

Be sure to check the ‘sightings board’ or ask the ranger for the best places to see wildlife on the surrounding trails. For example, in the past, visitors could see burrowing owls on the path heading towards the nearby Navy helicopter training center.

You can read more about visiting the Tijuana River Estuary in my San Diego Travel Guide.

**This post is part of a month long series highlighting unique tidbits about museums participating in the Macy’s half-off admissions sponsorship during the month of February.**