Official Tourism Sites:
North San Diego County CVB www.sandiegonorth.com
San Diego East Visitors Bureau www.visitsandiegoeast.com
San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation
San Diego Area California State Parks
Anza-Borego Desert, Border Field, Cardiff Beach, Carlsbad Beach, Cuyamaca Rancho, Moonlight, Ocotillo Wells, Old San Diego Historical, Palomar Mountain, San Elijo Beach, San Onofre Beach, San Pasqual Battlefield Historical, Silver Strand Beach, South Carlsbad Beach, Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Torrey Pines Beach, Torrey Pines Preserve.
Forest Service http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/map/state_list.shtml#california
USDA site for National Forests: Cleveland
GORP (Great Outdoors Recreation
Dedicated to outdoor enthusiasts and active travelers, information includes hiking and mountain biking trail guides, national parks/forests/monuments, weekend guides and more.
Recreation opportunities on Federal lands
North San Diego Restaurant and Entertainment Guide
www.sdro.com Online guide to area restaurants and entertainment
Cities and Towns:
Occupied by the Kumeyaay Indians about 1,000 years ago, this picturesque village in the Cuyamaca Mountains began as a stage stop. Permanently settled in 1887 by asthma sufferers seeking a healthful climate, visitors find scenic beauty and small-town atmosphere in rolling foothills of sage and chaparral, oak and sycamore trees.
In the Sweetwater Valley bordered by Telegraph Canyon and Madre Grande Mountain, miles of horseback riding and hiking trails crisscross this heavily equestrian area. The river valley has two 18-hole golf courses and hosts the annual Bonitafest, with booths of games, crafts and food highlighted by a hometown parade and old-fashioned family BBQ.
Bonita Historical Museum Housed in the old Fire Station No. 1, exhibits include historical photographs plus fire fighting and dairy equipment.
Bonsall Cradled in rolling hills 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean and 45 minutes from downtown San Diego, this community of equestrian and agricultural properties lies along the beautiful San Luis Rey River. Visitors enjoy small-town charm and mild seasons, golf courses, horseback riding and a variety of shopping and dining.
Borrgeo Springs This desert oasis in the heart of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park features diverse wildlife, stunning scenery and majestic mountain views. Just 2 hours from San Diego, it is a thriving artist community whose galleries and studios offer fine arts to local craft works. Activities include horseback riding, nature photography, hiking, golf, and guided desert tours into neighboring mountains. Mountain-biking enthusiasts enjoy over 500 miles of roads in the State Park.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park The largest desert state park in the nation, more than 600,000 acres encompass two vast wilderness areas, 500 miles of dirt roads, 110 miles of hiking and biking trails, and the breathtaking scenery of the Sonoran Desert with wildflowers, cacti and sweeping views. Area wildlife includes bighorn sheep, deer, golden eagles, iguanas and rattlesnakes. There is a desert garden outside the visitor center, and guided hikes and naturalist talks are available.
Ocotillo Wells State Vehicle Recreation Area
More than 42,000 acres adjacent to the State Park offer desert buttes and mesas for four-wheel drive, motorcycle and ATV riding.
Lake Morena County Park This reservoir lies in the center of 3,250 acres of oaks, grassland and chaparral on the east slope of the Laguna Mountains. With a variety of habitats, abundant wildlife includes bald eagles, rattlesnakes, migratory waterfowl and mountain lions. Visitors enjoy picnicking, hiking and fishing.
Cardiff by the Sea www.cardiffbythesea.org
Settlers joined Native Americans here in the 1880's, and a peaceful coastal village was born. The hospitality and charm invites visitors to relax as they dine on Restaurant Row, some of the finest dining on the coast. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy fishing, swimming, hiking, hang gliding, bicycling, golf and boating. It is 5 minutes to renowned Del Mar
Race Track, 15 minutes to the heart of San Diego, and 30 minutes to the Mexican border.
Cardiff State Beach A gently sloping sandy beach stretches between a series of tide pools to the north and Solana Cliffs to the south. Activities include swimming, surfing, fishing, boating, biking and beach combing.
San Elijo State Beach The beach begins at the entrance channel to San Elijo Lagoon, a state bird sanctuary and wildlife preserve attracting some 300 species. Activities include surfing, swimming, picnicking plus snorkeling and diving in a nearby reef.
Occupied by Indians 8,000 years ago, the area drew Franciscan missionaries in 1798. In 1883 homesteaders struck mineral water drilling wells and named the town after a well-known European spa. Today the quaint historic downtown retains a friendly atmosphere reflecting it's varied heritage. Visitors enjoy sidewalk cafes, art galleries and antique shops. With 4 miles of spectacular coastline, beaches and lagoons offer swimming, bird watching, windsurfing and fishing. A mile-long seawall is popular with walkers and a 60-mile trail system meanders through the city. A scenic 45-minute drive along the coast reaches downtown San Diego.
Carlsbad Depot Built by the railroad in 1887, the depot also served as Post Office, Wells Fargo Express office and mercantile. Registered on the National Register of Historic Places, it now serves as the Tourist Information Center.
Children's Discovery Museum www.museumforchildren.org
This hands-on family facility features a medieval castle replica, multi-cultural musical instruments, an art studio, solar powered toys and exhibits and other interactive displays on science, the arts and history.
Legoland California www.legolandca.com
This 128-acre family theme park draws over 1.5-million visitors each year to restaurants, shows, shops, hands-on attractions and rides such as roller coasters, robotics and monorail cars.
More than 1,000 LEGO models made of over 30 million LEGO bricks decorate the lushly landscaped park.
Flower Fields www.theflowerfields.com
In the 1940's, an English horticulturist discovered that the climate here was ideal for growing the beautiful Ranunculus flower and established these commercial fields. Over 200,000 annual visitors enjoy 50 acres of spectacular fields overlooking the ocean, plus a display of 170 All-American Rose selection winners. There is a nursery and gift shop.
South Carlsbad State Beach Encompassing 14 acres of sandy beach and coastal bluffs, popular activities include swimming, skin diving, fishing, surfing and picnicking.
Chula Vista www.chulavistaconvis.com
This thriving and diverse city with Mediterranean weather lies about 10 miles from both San Diego and the Mexican border. It is home to the Chula Vista Heritage Museum, OnStage Playhouse, Chula Vista Yacht Club and the 20,000-seat Coors Amphitheater. Activities include sailing, golf, shopping, dining, and miles of walking, equestrian and bicycle trails.
ARCO/U.S. Olympic Training Center A state-of-the-art 150-acre official Olympic Committee training facility focused on the development of some 4,000 U.S. athletes a year participating in track and field, archery, canoe/kayak, rowing, cycling, soccer, field hockey, softball and tennis. Visitors watch training, take free guided tours and shop at the Olympic gift store.
Knott's Soak City USA http://www.buenapark.com/cvo/pages/ATTR-sc.html
This 32-acre park offers 22 water-logged rides with 1950's surfing themes, from lazy river rides to high-speed slides.
Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
Protecting the bay's only remaining salt marsh, 316 acres of tidal marsh and coastal uplands provide habitat for over 215 species of birds. Attractions include nature trails, photography and wildlife viewing. The Nature Interpretive Center offers extensive interpretive programs in natural history and wetlands geology such as guided walks and environmental education.
On a narrow peninsula separating San Diego Bay from the ocean, this active resort city is home to historic Hotel Del Coronado, other world-class hotels, and Ferry Landing Marketplace. Visitors enjoy tree-lined streets of Victorian houses, a bayside biking and walking path with views of the city, boating, golfing, bicycle and paddleboat rental, guided tours of the North Island Naval Air Station, and shops, galleries, fine dining and sidewalk cafes. White sandy beaches are a short walk from downtown, with swimming and views of frolicking dolphins, migrating whales and panoramic sunsets.
Silver Strand State Beach Four miles south of Coronado, this park takes its name from the profusion of silvery shells popular with beachcombers. With 2.5 miles of ocean beach and a half-mile in the bay, it is also popular with swimmers and picnickers.
Del Mar Settled as a resort in 1883, the heart of this trendy historical village is a cluster of boutique shops and cafes. On a hill hugged by two lagoons, it maintains the ambiance of a sleepy seacoast town with an ideal year-round climate. Del Mar Bluffs City Park offers a 360-degree panorama of the ocean, the town and the famed racetrack. Del Mar City Beach is the area's most popular beach, a sunbather's paradise good for body surfing and swimming with a grassy play area on a bluff.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club www.dmtc.com
In the 1930's, a partnership between Bing Crosby, Pat O'Brien and Jimmy Durante lead to this premier race track. First made famous by Hollywood aficionados, it attracts top horses and jockeys, and hosts the annual Del Mar Fair, horse shows and concerts.
Torrey Pines State Beach Stretching 4.5 miles from Del Mar, red-hued sandstone bluffs edge this wide, sandy beach. Popular activities include surfing, swimming and fishing.
Torrey Pines State Reserve A sanctuary for the nation's rarest pine tree, the park also preserves Southern California's only remaining salt marshes and waterfowl refuges. Rich fossil deposits here have yielded the oldest human remains found in North America, Del Mar Man. The visitor center in a 1923 pueblo-style lodge offers interpretive displays. Hiking trails wind through stands of wind-sculpted pines and along headlands overlooking the ocean.
Descanso This small community in the Cuyamaca Mountain Range foothills offers unspoiled natural beauty with abundant flora including colorful wildflowers and such wildlife as deer, coyote, bobcat, raccoon and rabbit. There have been reported local sightings of Sasquatche, or Big Foot, dating from the 1800's to recent times.
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park More than half of this 25,000-acre park is classified as "wilderness", prohibiting all vehicles and bicycles. It remains a premier biking destination, with over 100 miles of trails drawing hikers, bikers and horsemen to pine forests, mountain streams and stands of oaks. Popular trails are the 5-mile Green Valley Loop, and Cuyamaca Peak Trail climbing to the 6,500-foot summit and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, Mexico and the Colorado Desert. The museum has exhibits about gold mining, Native Americans and natural history.
Descanso Flower Gardens www.descanso.com
Secluded in a basin of the San Rafael hills, visitors find an elegant 22-room mansion and 160 acres of gardens containing over 100,000 plants including one of the world's largest displays of camellias. Highlights are a lake drawing migratory birds, Japanese waterfall garden, International Rosarium and an extensive performing arts program.
El Cajon www.ci.el-cajon.ca.us/links
Serving as pasture lands for mission padres in the early 1800's, it was discovered that this valley provided ideal climate for almost any crop and it became a flourishing produce center later in the century. Today the historic downtown is in steeped in art, home to over 200 restaurants, galleries, photography studios and music shops.
Aerospace Museum www.aerospacemuseum.org
Devoted to the history of aviation and space flight, with a collection of more than 65 spacecraft and American and foreign aircraft, one highlight is the International Aerospace Hall of Fame.
Cajon Speedway www.cajonspeedway.com
Since 1961 race fans have enjoyed NASCAR racing as well as stockcar and motorcycle races here.
East County Performing Arts Center www.ecpac.com
Regularly offering top-name entertainers, dance troupes and jazz ensembles this intimate 1,140-seat theater features perfect acoustics.
Knox House Museum http://www.elcajonhistory.org
Originally part of an 1876 hotel, displays reflect life from 1895-1912. The historical focus of the city, each room features period artifacts.
Olaf Wieghorst Museum and Art Center www.wieghorstmuseum.org
Contains personal belongings and artifacts of the self-taught artist, a stickler for authenticity in representing the American West cowboy and his horse. Private collectors of his work include Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Ford, J.P. Morgan, Roy Rogers and John Wayne.
Native American tribes inhabited this coastal area hugged by two lagoons when Spanish missionaries arrived in 1669. Today the city of cliffs, beaches and rolling hills boasts a championship golf course with panoramic ocean views, unbeatable surfing and terrific year-round climate. Downtown features historic architecture, sidewalk cafes and quaint shops. The San Elijo Lagoon Reserve provides refuge for almost 300 species of birds.
Moonlight State Beach A favorite for moonlight picnics in the early 1900's, this is a wide, sandy beach offering tennis courts, volley ball and recreation equipment rentals.
Quail Botanical Gardens www.qbgardens.com
Dedicated to the preservation of rare and endangered plants, highlights include the Self-Realization Center overlooking the ocean, demonstration gardens and the largest display of bamboo on earth, used to feed the 3 Giant Pandas residing at the San Diego Zoo. Nature walks, demonstrations and tours are available.
Settled by Spanish Explorer Juan Bautista de Anza in 1776, this diverse and vibrant community in a coastal mountain valley supports hardy avocado and citrus groves, plus antique shops, galleries, golf and local wineries. Visitors enjoy fishing and picnicking at nearby Lake Dixon and Lake Wohlford.
California Center for the Arts www.artcenter.org
This world-class showplace on a 12-acre campus features a theater and a concert hall presenting Broadway musicals, comedy, theater and concerts. The museum offers exhibits of sculpture, painting, photography, and art history displays.
Family Fun Center Activities include bumper boats, miniature golf, laser tag, go-karts and an arcade.
Kit Carson Park This park honors the famous scout who guided expeditions over the Sierra Nevada and fought in the Battle of San Pasqual 5 miles to the west. With 100 developed and 185 undeveloped acres, it offers walking and hiking trails, tennis courts, public art and a 3,000 seat outdoor amphitheater. There is a 20,000-square-foot skateboard park, and the five-acre arboretum has three ponds and picnic areas.
San Diego Wild Animal Park www.sandiegozoo.org/wap/visitor_info.html
More than 3,500 animals roam free at this 30-acre park with a ¾-mile loop trail safari ride and animal shows. It is home to flocks of magnificent birds, cheetahs, giraffes, herds of antelope and warthogs. Visitors enjoy the Heart of Africa habitat, Petting Kraal, Botanical Gardens, Kilimanjaro Safari Walk and Wgasa Bush Line Monorail.
San Pasqual Battlefield State Historical Park Fifty acres in a peaceful valley honor those who fought during 1846 in one of the bloodiest battles of the Mexican-American War. The focal point is the visitor center/museum featuring exhibits on the war as well as Native American, Californian and American cultures. An observation deck and hiking trails offer views of the battlefield.
First settled in 1869, this "Friendly Village" maintains it's small town atmosphere. Historic 1800's buildings house a wealth of antique shops, galleries and boutique shops. Attractions include golf and miles of equestrian trails. The favorable year-round climate and ocean breezes make the area ideal for fruit, vegetable and flower growers and there are over 50 nurseries in the community. Live Oak Park offers 26 acres of picnic areas, wild flower gardens and ball fields.
Santa Margarita River Trail Six miles of foot trails and separate equestrian trails traverse this native riparian habitat along Southern California's last free-flowing river.
Los Jilgueros Preserve Trails and picnic areas dot 46 acres of open space with abundant flora and fauna.
This friendly, historic mountain getaway was founded by Confederate Veterans after the Civil War. Historic 1800's buildings host a variety of shops. Take a walking tour of the 1914 two-cell jail, the pioneer cemetery, and the Pioneer Museum 1896-1930's artifacts located in an 1880 brewery. Attractions include hiking, picnicking, art galleries, tours of the Eagle Peak Mine, horseback riding stables and famous apple pies.
California Wolf Center www.californiawolfcenter.org
A conservation center dedicated to the preservation of endangered wolves, this mountain facility is home to captive packs of North American Gray wolves, Alaskan Gray wolves and six of the world's remaining 215 Mexican Gray wolves.
Volcan Mountain Preserve www.volcanmt.org
Stretching from the Anza Borrego Desert to Lake Henshaw, 25,000 acres rise from the desert to over 5,000 feet and support a unique diversity of flora and fauna. It is the site of the Asistencia de Santa Ysabel mission, whose chapel and Indian cemetery are open to visitors.
La Mesa www.cityoflamesa.com
These rolling hills first occupied by the Kumeyaay Indians later became part of the vast Mission San Diego de Alcala. It is now a dynamic metropolitan area with unique character and breathtaking views preserving its natural surroundings while offering a variety of attractions and golf. The historic center of the community, charming La Mesa Village, features historic architecture, outdoor cafes and quaint shops. It is the site of the annual Oktoberfest drawing over 200,000 visitors each year.
La Jolla www.lajolla.com
A scenic resort community blending beachfront, hilltops and rugged sandstone sea cliffs, its name means "The Jewel". It is a premier destination for surfing, golf, elegant restaurants, art galleries, wonderful beaches and natural scenic beauty.
Children's Museum of San Diego www.sdchildrensmuseum.org
Located in La Jolla Village Square, this interactive museum has something for every member of the family.
Birch Aquarium http://aquarium.ucsd.edu
Within the compound of the renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography, this is the country's largest oceanographic museum with vast salt-water aquariums centered on tropical and cold-water marine life study. Exhibits include a kelp forest, giant octopus, live coral and jelly fish.
La Jolla Cove A scenic drive leads to exceptionally clear water sheltered by jagged cliffs, a premier destination for sunbathers, water sport enthusiasts and tide pool explorers. The adjacent park is a lovely place to view lounging harbor seals and sea lions.
Museum of Contemporary Arts www.mcasandiego.org
An internationally recognized permanent collection of over 3,000 works plus rotating exhibits showcase painting, photography, sculpture, and film.
Salk Institute www.salk.edu
Founded by Dr. Jonas Salk in 1960, this facility is focused on biomedical and biological research. Responsible for the discovery of a cure for polio, study fields include gene activity, cancer, AIDS, and molecular biology.
Lemon Grove This agricultural community known for having the "Best Climate on Earth" is seven minutes from downtown San Diego and is proud to maintain it's small town charm. Popular attractions include the Parsonage Museum and hundreds of stores and restaurants.
Mount Laguna A pristine oak and pine forest peaking at 6,000 feet in the Cleveland National Forest, the unspoiled landscape is a playground for star gazing, hiking, biking and camping.
Mount Laguna Observatory The visitors program begins with a lecture and slide show tour of the universe, focusing on research efforts at the observatory, then on to the 21-inch visitor telescope providing views of the lunar surface, planets and galaxies.
The area was populated by Native Americans when Mission San Luis Rey de Francia was established in 1798, which became known as "King of the Missions". Today this thriving community boasts 3.5 miles of beautiful beaches, a 1,500-foot over-water pier, and a variety of recreation and cultural facilities. Popular activities include sailing, surfing and fishing. Tour the lighthouse, play golf, watch the whales, visit the city's many museums and galleries, and enjoy the shops and eateries in Harbor Village. The Buena Vista Audubon Society's Nature Center is a coastal wetland providing plant and bird habitat.
California Surf Museum www.surfmuseum.org
Drawing 20,000 annual visitors, displays include photographs, surfing equipment and revolving exhibits featuring different pioneering legends of the surfing world.
Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base This is the largest U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Training Base in the world. With a military community of more than 36,000 and spread over 125,000 acres, it encompasses three mountain ranges and other varied terrain.
Heritage Park Village & Museum Many of the towns original historic buildings such as the first general store, the old city jail and the blacksmith shop are centered around a Main Street, an idyllic setting for social gatherings and special events.
Mission San Luis Rey http://www.sanluisrey.org
Founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1798, this is the largest of the 21 Spanish missions. Inhabited by Franciscan Friars and Indians over two centuries ago, it is beautifully restored. Visitors are welcome to attend weekend mass, tour the grounds and gardens, and to visit the museum and gift shop.
Pacific Beach www.welovepb.com
Established in 1885, what began as an outpost town has become haven for young and active families and college students. A 3-mile paved walkway parallels the beach and is a favorite with walkers, bikers, joggers and skaters. There is a variety of shopping and dining, fishing from Crystal Pier, and Tourmaline Surfing Park is popular with surfers and sail-boarders. At the south end of the beach is Belmont Park with an old time roller coaster, shops and rides.
Mission Bay Park and Boardwalk This once marshy riverbed had been developed into a 5,000-acre aquatic park offering water skiing, fishing, sailing, swimming and picnicking.
Stewart Mine www.mmmgems.com/stewart/
This location produces the finest gem-quality pink tourmaline in the world, more valuable than gold and more rare than gem quality diamonds. At Gems of Pala, gemstones and jewelry are offered and visitors may screen buckets of gravel brought from the mine, delighting at the discovery of their own gems and minerals.
Mission San Antonio De Pala This 1816 Spanish mission is the only one carrying on the purpose of serving the Native American Indians. Visitors relax in the courtyard garden, cemetery, chapel and bell tower. The museum displays artifacts of the Pala Indian and early mission period.
Palomar Mountain State Park In contrast to the surrounding dry lowlands, much of this 1,900-acre park is coniferous forest and offers spectacular views of the ocean. Activities include hiking, picnicking and trout fishing in Doane Pond.
Palomar Observatory www.astro.caltech.edu/palomarpublic
This remarkably productive California Institute of Technology facility supports education and scientific research to Caltech's students and instructors as well as astronomers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Cornell University. Guided tours and astronomy lectures are available.
Pine Valley Surrounded by the Cleveland National Forest east of San Diego, this quiet town offers a wide variety of outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking and biking. In July the annual Pine Valley Days features a parade, rodeo, arts and crafts, dancing and food.
The city motto, "City in the Country", describes a friendly community that enjoys picnicking, hiking, community ball games and horseback riding over 60 miles of trails with spectacular views of mountain scenery. It features sunny climate, golf courses and historical Old Poway Park.
Blue Sky Ecological Reserve www.tchester.org/sd/places/bs/blue_sky.html
In an oak-lined canyon with 2 year-round streams, this 700-acre reserve shelters a wide variety of flora and fauna. There is access for horseback riding and hiking and guided nature walks are available.
Goodan Ranch In the 1,700-acre Sycamore Canyon Preserve, this is an ideal stop for those seeking solitude and outdoor recreation, with miles of hiking trails, abundant wildlife, and diverse habitats such as oak woodland and riparian. Structures from the original working ranch date back to the 1930's.
Lake Poway This pristine foothill lake offers recreation such as fishing, sailing, picnicking, hiking, volleyball and softball. A variety of boats are available for rent (private launching is not permitted), and the lake is stocked with trout.
Poway Center for the Arts www.powayarts.org
Featuring art exhibits and theater performances such as My Fair Lady, Grease, West Side Story, and Irish dancing.
Rancho Bernardo www.ranchobernardochamber.com
This master-planned community lies in a beautiful green valley amid majestic rock-studded hills within a half-hour of most San Diego County attractions. The area is known for fishing lakes and wineries. There is a wide selection of dining and shopping in the area with over 100 restaurants, the country's largest indoor shopping mall and quaint gift shops.
San Diego www.sandiego.org
Encircling the mouth of the San Diego River and surrounded by the Cleveland National Forest 15 miles from the Mexican border, the 7th largest city in the U.S. presents a mild climate and an endless variety of world-class cultural, natural and historical attractions. The Pacific Ocean and miles of beaches offer surfing, boating, deep-sea fishing and whale watching. Activities include shopping, golf, horseback riding, plus hiking and biking developed trails past tide pools, along rugged sandstone cliffs and the famed Point Loma Lighthouse with magnificent ocean views. It is home to a thriving arts community, football's Chargers and baseball's Padres, internationally known culinary arts, Indian gaming and a rich military history as well as spectacular mountain sunrises and seashore sunsets. Area names reflect it's rich Spanish heritage, and Mexican influence colors local dance and music festivals.
Balboa Park www.balboapark.org
Attracting over 12 million visitors a year, the country's largest urban cultural park fills 1,200 acres with 15 museums, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theaters, a sports complex and a golf course. It is a horticultural paradise of lush rolling parklands and brilliantly colored flower gardens. Representing rich ethnic and social diversity, highlights include the World Beat Center, Natural History Museum, United Nations Building, Model Railroad Museum, Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, Mingei Museum of International Folk Art, Japanese Friendship Garden, Museum of Photographic Arts, Historical Society Museum, Museum of Art and much more.
Cabrillo National Monument The first European to set foot on America's West Coast was Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in September 1542. This 640-acre park memorializing his landing here offers superb views of the skyline, harbor and mountains. A highlight is the restored 1854 Point Loma Lighthouse with Visitor Center museum and a marble statue of Cabrillo. Visitors enjoy exploring tide pools, the Bayside Nature Trail and excellent viewing of migrating gray whales in the winter.
Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve Two large canyons cover more than 4,000 acres protecting many rare animal and plant species. Scenery includes perennial streams amid dense vegetation and exposed crystalline bedrock some 300 million years old.
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park Five original adobes are included in this re-creation of Mexican and early American life with emphasis on 1821 to 1872. The complex includes several museums, shops and restaurants, old town plaza and historic buildings such as a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, stables and the Casa de Estudillo mansion.
Santee In 1779 Father Junipero Serra directed the Kumeyaay Indians to build a dam here for use by Mission de Alcala, and the remains of this dam stand at the entrance to the city. The city straddles the San Diego River nestled between gently rolling hills. The eastern terminus of the San Diego Trolley lies in Town Center, a major shopping and entertainment center.
Mission Trails Regional Park www.mtrp.org
Almost 5,800 acres of rugged hills and open space provides developed and natural recreational areas. The site of the Old Mission Dam, a nationally registered historic landmark, it features more than 40 miles of trails and a visitor center. Lake Murray Reservoir offers boating, fishing, bicycling and picnicking.
Santee Lakes Regional Park Combining city convenience and country tranquility, a chain of 7 sparkling emerald lakes is surrounded by 190 acres of lush vegetation offering hiking, picnicking and fishing.
Fun and Attractions:
Border Field State Park Stretching north from the Mexican border, this important wildlife reserve contains much of the Tijuana River Estuary and Reserve with marshes providing habitat for native and migrating waterfowl. It is ideal for bird watching and is the site of century-old border markers, hiking and horse trails, a visitor center, and three miles of sandy beach for swimming and surf fishing.
Cleveland National Forest www.r5.fs.fed.us/cleveland/projects.index.plans.htm
Comprised of three segments, these lands were known only to Native Americans until the arrival of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in the mid-1500's. Elevations range from 450 in the meadows to 6,250 feet on Monument Peak. Stands of pine, streams, oak groves and waterfalls draw photographers and picnickers. Highlights include San Mateo Canyon and Agua Tibia Wilderness Areas, "Highway to the Stars" leading to the world-renowned Palomar Observatory, Holy Jim Historic Trail, and Lagunita Mountain Recreation Area reached by the 24-mile Sunrise National Scenic Byway. An extensive trail system is popular for biking, hiking and horseback riding
Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refuge With habitat ranging from blow-sand to palm woodlands to perennial desert pools this 13,000-acre preserve provides critical habitat for endangered lizards. One of the last totally protected dune systems, recreation includes wildlife observation and photography. Hiking and horseback riding are allowed on specific trails only.
San Onofre State Beach Very popular with surfers and swimmers, the park includes 3.5 miles of sandy beach, 2 campgrounds, a 1.5-mile paved trail and occasional views of whales, sea lions and dolphins.
Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge This is a 1,050-acre portion of the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, the largest estuarine wetland in Southern California. It consists of beach dunes, tidal salt marsh, open water, riparian and upland habitats providing critical habitat for more than 400 bird species. Activities include wildlife viewing, photography, ocean and beach access, and over 6 miles of trails for hiking, horseback riding and biking.