High Country and Low Desert Adventures on a Road Trip Out of Escondido

Trip time: 2-3 days

When people think San Diego County, they think beach. But not far from Escondido you can travel to pine forests and desert palm oases, and views of the challenging Amgen race route.
Wake up with breakfast (don’t miss the almond croissants) at A Delight of France French Bakery .
126 W. Grand Ave.
Escondido, CA 92024
(760) 746-2644
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Beach-Baby Heaven

Try out your pirate “arrrgh,” get the hang of “hanging ten,” and have plenty of waterfront playtime!rsz surfing beach baby trip

Trip length: 2-3 days
Total distance: 85mi


OCEANSIDE: Start your day with enormous omelets at Beach Break Cafe. Visit the California Surf Museum. Get more ideas from the California Welcome Center.

CARLSBAD (3mi/9min): At LEGOLAND California’s new Pirate Reef, blast water cannons and man a 40-foot-long LEGO pirate ship. At SEA LIFE Aquarium, check out the latest and greatest displays.

ESCONDIDO (21mi/25min): Ride trams and ziplines to see wild animals at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. In nearby Kit Carson Park, explore Queen Califia’s Magical Circle Garden.

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Authentic California Weekend

San DiegoStop by the Oceanside California Welcome Center to plan your trip!

Trip Length: 2 days

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Day 1

Start your day with breakfast at the historic 101 Café , the oldest continuously operating restaurant on the historic 101 Highway. Guests may enjoy comfort food all day (6:30 a.m. to midnight) in a fun atmosphere filled with historic photos and memorabilia. Relive the fervent California surf culture when you cruise north on Coast Highway (Historic 101 Highway) to the California Surf Museum. The Museum has worked very progressively to preserve the history of surfing, its boards and its fascinating artifacts.


San Diego Museums

No Visit to a California destination would be complete without visiting one of the many museums. California has a reputation as a haven for people with creative minds, and you can see this in its multifaceted cultural offerings. Arts abound here in four main formats: large-scale, world-class organizations; smaller, quirkier museums, often showcasing the Golden State’s history and its abundant idiosyncratic subcultures (think surfers, Silicon Valley techno-wizards, and Peanuts aficionados).

When the weather hinders traditional camping activities (or not) stretch your mind with a visit to one of California’s museums. Need more encouragement? Check out The 10 Reasons to Visit a Museum!

Balboa Park Museums are located at the Park Boulevard exit off Interstate 5 near Downtown San Diego. Balboa Park is a huge cultural & activity center with 13 museums, a city zoo, theatres, golf course, restaurants, botanical gardens and much more. Museums include the Natural History Museum, Model Railroad Museum, Automotive Museum, Air & Space Museum, Photographic Arts Museum and many more. Many of the museums are situated in historic structures originally built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Visit www.balboapark.org

California Surf Museum, Oceanside – This must be California’s quintessential museum. Stop by to learn the evolution of surfing and get first-hand information about surfing ledgends like Doc Ball, Tom Blake and George Freeth. 312 Pier View Way, Oceanside, CA 92054, surfmuseum.org

Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum - Vista is located off Highway 78 from N. Santa Fe Avenue. The museum collects, preserves and displays engines and machinery from the early American farm industry. History museum exhibits include a blacksmith shop, farmhouse, gas engines, steam engines, short track railroad, weaving looms and tractors. Visit www.agsem.com

Flying Leathernecks Museum - Miramar is located from either Interstate 15 or 805 from Miramar Road. Situated at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, the aviation museum features an outdoor area with over a dozen vintage aircraft and an indoor museum containing Marine Corps memorabilia and artifacts. Warbirds include the A-4, F18, MiG-15, Corsair, Wildcat, Sikorsky Sea Stallion, Cobra helicopter and more. Visit www.flyingleathernecks.org

Museum of Making Music - Carlsbad is located off Interstate 5 from Palomar Airport Road. Situated in a business complex across from Legoland Amusement Park, MOMM hosts exhibits and events focused on the musical arts. The museum exhibits include historical artifacts, vintage instruments, audio clips, photographs and more. Concerts feature renowned national and international musicions in a addition to local talent. Visit www.museumofmakingmusic.org

Editorial information provided in part by CaliforniaRevealed.com, a collection of native Californians and travelers who spend their time exploring California and sharing their discoveries.

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Winter Wildlife Watching in San Diego

Winter WildlifeFall migrants on the Pacific Flyway are starting to arrive in the South Coast area.

At the mouth of the Sweetwater River in Chula Vista lies San Diego Bay's largest remaining salt marsh. Part of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, this 316-acre viewing site is home to rich bird life and typical marsh habitat, along with the Living Coast Discovery Center (formerly the Chula Vista Nature Center).

Trails offer views of San Diego Bay and Gunpowder Point, where Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Northern Harriers are nearly always present.

Mudflats contain invertebrates sought by hundreds of migratory shorebirds, including willets, long-billed curlews, western sandpipers, and plovers.

The refuge also provides crucial habitat for six endangered species, California brown pelicans, California least terns, light-footed clapper rails, Belding's savannah sparrows, snowy plovers, and peregrine falcons. Biologists partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, SeaWorld and San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park to captive-breed and release one of California’s most endangered water birds – the Light-footed Clapper Rail.

The Living Coast Discovery Center, with its aquariums, nature gallery, Raptor Row and Eagle Mesa bird displays is a living, breathing, flapping, buzzing and splashing home to the unique animals and plants of Southern California.

A bit further south is Tijuana Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, saved from development by a group of avid local residents. Southern California's largest estuarine wetland is one of twenty-three national estuarine research reserves. The Tijuana River Valley's tidal sloughs, beaches, uplands, and riparian corridors play host to nearly 400 bird species, including six endangered birds. Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center provides environmental educational facilities and various programs including bird walks and other events.

Looking ahead to next year, you’ll want to check out the San Diego Bird Festival, presented by San Diego Audubon Society. An extensive array of field trips is offered, including pelagic trips.

For information about California’s premier wildlife viewing site and nature festivals around the state, visit www.CaWatchableWildlife.org.

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Fiesta Island Trail

fiesta island hikeWhile this is not technically a “hike,” to leave this area out of a book on hiking with dogs in Southern California would be a complete shame. To put it bluntly, this is dog paradise. The entire island (except for the private children's camp) is open to unleashed dogs. Dogs can trample through the waters of Mission Bay, they can run on the sandy beaches, and they can climb the dunes on the inner part of the island. They can wander through the coastal grasses and other wetland plant life that grows wildly in the interior. There are more than enough smells to keep your dog active, engaged, and happy for a lifetime of enjoyment. Your dog would live here if you let him.

Four miles of pavement encircle most of the island. You can vary your hike by spending time in the lonely interior, walking along paths, creating your own or following the roads.

Getting there: From I-5 north, exit Sea World Drive; makes a left heading towards the beach and amusement park. Across the freeway, make the first right onto East Mission Bay Drive. There is a sign for Fiesta Island; turn left onto Fiesta Drive. Once you cross the water, you can park anywhere on the right side of the one-way road.

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