10 Engaging Experiences

10 Field Trips

Dead Horse Falls (Hike)

When the beaches are packed on a sunny San Diego weekend, head inland for a peaceful hike in nature at Dead Horse Falls at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park in Descanso, east county San Diego. We had this lightly-traveled hike almost completely to ourselves on a sunny holiday weekend. Pack a picnic lunch and a lot of water for this moderate 2.5 mile out-and-back trail. There is a fork in the trail, and we suggest keeping to the right as the best way to reach the small waterfall with a cool, deep pool of water to dip your feet. There is a wide, flat rock next to the water to spread out a picnic lunch or take a nap in the sun.

It costs $10 for the parking fee. Place cash in a box at the trailhead.

Leave Fido at home for this hike: No Dogs Allowed.

Omni La Costa (Spa)

Spend a day pampering yourself in luxury. Whether you want a day of self-care, a Girl’s Day, or romantic couples massage, the Spa at the Omni La Costa Resort has you covered. Book a massage, facial, or salon service, and then enjoy the rest of the day relaxing by the pool and enjoying the amenities: pool, hot tub, Roman showers, lunch by the pool or at the café, and so much more.

Check out special events and package deals. My mom and I really enjoyed their Private Mother’s Day Event, massages with lunch and a guest speaker guiding us through various relaxation techniques. As a salon and spa professional for over 30 years, I can attest that The Spa At Omni La Costa totally hits all the marks.

Beach Picnics (Free)

Create your own experience! Pick a beach, pack a romantic picnic dinner, and watch the sunset in style. San Diego county offers 70 miles of coastline, from beaches to bays and inlets. The choices stretch from San Onofre State Beach at the very top of North County to Borderfield Park to the south along the US-Mexico border. Check the tides and sunset times before you go (we use the “Tide Clock” free app).

Pick up some takeout or pack your own stylish picnic basket filled sandwiches, charcuterie, and plenty of water. Don’t forget a picnic blanket and beach chairs! If you want some ideas of what to pack, check out our recipes for tons of beach-worthy dishes.

Cruise Night In Encinitas (Event)

Love classic cars? Check out Encinitas Cruise Night. From May through September every 3rd Thursday downtown, the Encinitas 101 Mainstreet Association hosts classic cars. Many are parked and on display while others cruise, from the very oldest Model T’s to ’70s muscle cars, BMWs, Bellaires, and Woodies too. The list goes on. Lowriders dazzle the crowds with their music and jumping rides. Wander around enjoying the cars and live music. Get there early to grab an outdoor table at one of the many great restaurants, and enjoy the view! This is the best way to see the cars roll in, especially the Lowriders. See our posts on Eating Up and Down 101.

Cabrillo Monument (National Park)

In 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo became the first European to reach the west coast of what would become the United States. The Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma was created in 1913 to commemorate his arrival.

Take in the views overlooking Downtown San Diego, Coronado Island, and Mexico. Watch cruise ships and Navy ships sail in and out of the harbor. Check out the Visitors Center and tour the1800’s lighthouse.

If you have a full day, hike the Bayside trail and explore the tide pools. Bring binoculars December through March, and you might glimpse migrating Pacific Grey Whales.

Hours are 9-5pm. Entrance passes are $20 per car. Hikers and bikers are $10 per person with 15 and under admitted free.

Annie’s Canyon (Dog-friendly Hike)

Annie’s Canyon is a fun offshoot of the main trail in the San Elijo Lagoon trail system. There are two ways to the top which offer amazing views of Cardiff beach and the lagoon. You can ascend the easy switchback trail, or go for adventure, winding your way up the narrow slot canyon complete with a narrow ladder. The slot canyon is one-way and slightly challenging, but our last trip up to the 300ft top was led by a two-year-old! So anyone in relatively good health can do it.

Once at the top, enjoy the views then take the switch back down to the main trail. Dogs are welcome on the switch back trail, but not in the slot canyon since they can’t climb ladders.

San Diego County Fair aka The Del Mar Fair (Attraction)

Since 1936, the Del Mar Fair Grounds have been welcoming visitors for various events that run year round (see our post on Del Mar Racing). The San Diego County Fair runs mid-June through the 4th of July and offers all the family fun you can imagine: rides, tasty fair foods, concerts, exhibit halls, animals, and competitions. Save more when you purchase tickets that cover both parking and entry.

Dana Point (Day Tripping)

Head out of San Diego for the day and explore Dana Point. Just an hour’s drive north at the south end of Orange County, there is plenty to do and see. Enjoy dining and shopping at the marina, catch some rays on Doheny Beach, or hike the bluff trail for amazing views.

If you decide to stay for a night or more, Dana Point is also a gateway to many other sightseeing options. Hop on a ferry and head to Catalina Island (see post), visit Mission San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Beach to the north and San Onofre Beach to the south.

San Onofre State Beach (Hike)

On the northmost point of San Diego County is a six mile stretch of rugged coastline bordering Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base. The San Onofre Beach hike is easy and kid friendly, but no dogs. Sandstone cliffs, tide pools, the Cristianitos fault line, and the Pacific Ocean are just a few of the highlights of this hike. And the decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station looms over the beach. For safety be mindful of the tides and stay off the cliffs. If you are not into hiking, hang out on the beach for the day with a picnic lunch or hit Trestles beach and get in some surfing. Just south of the area, several trails take you down the cliffs to a rocky beach where you have to be careful not to twist your ankle.

The Fish Shop (Dining)

There’s nothing like fresh seafood after a day on the beach! Dust off the sand and head to one of The Fish Shops three locations: Encinitas, Pacific Beach, or Point Loma. Our favorite is the wildly popular Encinitas location. Get there early, because this walk-up seafood restaurant often has long lines. Our favorite picks are the Ahi Poke (which I vote the best poke bowl in town), the spicy El Dorado fish tacos, and the oysters on the half shell. Their idea of a dozen is 14! The oyster shooters are spicy, and come with a beer chaser. Order your food, wine, and beer at the counter and find a seat seat on the patio. If you have your dog with you, no worries. Your four-legged companion can join you. They are proudly dog friendly!