San Diego Essential Guide

Get Physical

Free use of beach wheelchairs for disabled

The City of San Diego’s Park & Recreation Department provides a number of services for the disabled – including free use of motorized beach wheelchairs that allow those with mobility disabilities to propel independently along the sand at Mission Beach. There’s also a non-motorized chair that allows users to roll right in to the ocean.   Chairs can be reserved for one hour at a time. (Identification is required and will be held as security.) Maximum weight capacity on the motorized chair is 250 pounds; it’s 500 pounds on the water-going chair.  (Only one rider at a time is permitted on either vehicle.)   Find the chairs just outside the lifeguard station at Ventura and Ocean Front Walk, near the lifeguard station behind Belmont Park.  Through October, the chairs are available from 11: 30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. weekdays (closed Tuesdays), until 5:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.  In November and December, get chairs from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. No chairs are available in January or February. In March and April, get them from 11:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Starting in May (through October), they’re available from 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. weekdays (except Tuesdays), until 5:30 p.m. weekends.   Reservations are highly recommended; phone...

Posted by on Nov 17, 2013

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Get Physical, Mission Beach, What's New?

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Five easy seaside walks

Face it. Fitness is easier here. Weather is our ally. Opportunity is everywhere. Instead of meeting a friend for coffee or cocktails, why not meet for a walk?  Here are a sampling of  bay- and ocean-side walks that are especially conducive to easy conversation. All of the treks are scenic – and each can be as easy as you want it to be, modified to a distance that works for you. Wear the right shoes, carry plenty of drinking water, use sunscreen and wear sunglasses. Enjoy the outdoors while being good to your body. Mission Bay Park –There’s always plenty of parking at Rose Marie Starns South Shores park, so start there and head east.  Along the way, you’ll see jet skiers whizzing around the bay, have the chance to watch dancers on roller skates, and will inhale whiffs of dozens of tantalizing ethnic family picnics. Make it all the way to the end of the walkway at De Anza Cove and back and you’ll have racked up about seven miles. Mission Beach/PB Oceanfront – Park at the South Mission Beach jetty and head out on the paved walkway known to locals as the Mission Beach Boardwalk – or, at low tide, walk the beach.  Either way, drink in great gulps of salty sea air – and savor the eye-candy.  Continue past Belmont Park and its historic roller coaster, past luxury condos, aging beach cottages, funky shops, crowded beach bars and restaurants.  Make it to the small park beyond Crystal Pier and back and you’ll have logged close to six miles. Torrey Pines State Reserve – The reserve spans 2,000 acres with eight miles of trails overlooking the Pacific. Pick up a trail map at the visitors center – or even better, join one of the free docent-led nature walks at 10 AM and 2 PM on weekends.  Trekkers can count on seeing lots of the nation’s rarest pine tree, plus native chaparral, wildflowers, extraordinary sandstone formations, dozens of bird species, squirrels, cottontails, skittering lizards and butterflies. Keen observers may spot gray fox, mule deer or even bobcat tracks. On clear winter days, there’s even a chance you’ll catch a glimpse of migrating California Gray Whales. Tip: Grab a parking space along the beach and walk up the hill to the reserve to add yardage to your walk – and save the $12-$15 it costs to park at the reserve. Liberty Station/Harbor Island – Park in the free public lot near Liberty Station’s Corvette Diner and head south along the bayside trail.  For a better look at this ever-changing new neighborhood, meander up and down Liberty Station blocks. Or stick to the bayside trail, past Homewood Suites to the Halsey Road pedestrian bridge over the bay. On the other side, take a right on to a dirt trail that links with the Spanish Landing walkway.  As you continue walking,  check out the Maritime Museum’s ongoing efforts to build a replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s flagship, San Salvador. Then view modern-day adventure craft docked in the sheltered bay of Harbor Island.  Walk past the Sheraton, cross Harbor Island Drive at the signal, then walk all along the pathway fronting San Diego Bay.   If you make...

Posted by on May 30, 2013

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Get Physical, What's New?

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Torrey Pines Reserve hikes parking fees

A hike along the bluffs at Torrey Pines State Reserve is now pricier – if you want to park at the reserve. Parking fees at the reserve have jumped to $12 per car weekdays, $15 on weekends. Walk-in admission remains free. The best bet is to arrive early and nab a free parking space along the Highway 101 beachfront.  It’s a 10- to 15-minute walk up the hill to Torrey Pines’ trailheads.   Finish your hiking on the Beach Trail that leads to Torrey Pines State Beach – then walk back along the beach shoreline to your car, dipping your toes in the refreshing ocean enroute. Some hikers find free parking spaces at the Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course, just south of the reserve and next door to the Torrey Pines Lodge.  It’s a 10-minute flat walk to the reserve’s South Fork Trail. No food or drink (other than water) is allowed in the reserve.  The reserve’s visitor center now bottled water ($1 for 16.9 oz.) – but the wiser move is to...

Posted by on Aug 13, 2012

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Get Physical, Hikes, What's New?

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Santa Ysabel Open Space Preserve

The Santa Ysabel Preserve, spanning 3,800 acres of open space near Julian, offers one of the prettiest pastoral landscapes in San Diego County. It includes  about 15 miles of trails (including two loop trails) open to hikers, bikers and horseback riders. Dogs must be leashed. The trails meander through native grassland studded with oaks and sycamores. Meadows bloom with wildflowers in spring. The Santa Ysabel Creek runs along the entire northern portion of the preserve – but access is prohibited. Carry plenty of water, especially in summer when the area can be searing hot and dry. There is no water available on the trails. County Park & Rec occasionally offers ranger-led hikes focusing on history or habitat. Several areas have picnic tables. Access the 4.8-mile Kanaka Loop trail on Farmer Road north of Julian; the 3.3-mile West Vista Loop trailhead is on Highway 78 about two miles west of Santa Ysabel. The loop trails are linked by a 7.4-mile stretch of the Coast to Crest Trail, which will eventually extend 55 miles from the beach in Del Mar to Volcan Mountain near...

Posted by on May 8, 2011

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East County, Get Physical, Hikes

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