Families enjoy La Jolla Shores


Photos by Joanne DiBona Courtesy of San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau
La Jolla Shores draws families to its gentle, sandy beaches near Scripps Pier, where kids love to build sand castles.

By Richard Irwin, Travel Editor
La Jolla is an affluent seaside town that features world-class restaurants, luxury homes and upscale shopping. But I like La Jolla for its beaches, which vary dramatically from one end of town to the other.
The northern beaches are shored up by 300-foot-high cliffs. La Jolla Shores is a beautiful mile-long beach that’s great for families.
Looking like a Mediterranean beach, The Cove is one of San Diego’s most sheltered swimming spots, while the reefs south of there are some of the most exposed.
I like La Jolla Shores. Adjacent to the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Ecological Reserve, this beach usually offers the gentlest waves in the summer.


The north end is marked by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. While its landmark pier isn’t open to the public, the area is a haven for intermediate surfers and bodyboarders.
Families flock to this wide sandy beach. By day, the main beach is a busy swimming area popular among families, who set up elaborate base camps in Kellogg Park behind the main lifeguard tower. This grassy area is perfect for picnics.
A permanent lifeguard station is next to the main parking lot at the foot of Calle Frescota. This station is usually manned from 9 a.m. to dusk daily.
From there, it’s only a short walk across the beach to the shallow water, where children love to boogie board. This beach is especially lovely at night, when the glow of bonfires lights the family gatherings.
If you bring your boat, small boats can be launched from the end of Avenida De La Playa. However, four-wheel-drive is recommended for the unimproved boat launch across the sand.
A couple blocks away are shops where you can rent a kayak or fill your scuba tank.
La Jolla Shores serves as the gateway to the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park. This marine park is 10 miles longs and three miles wide.
It’s a diver’s paradise, so dozens of divers can be usually found prepping their gear. The area just offshore is flat and sandy. But farther out are the dark blue depths of the La Jolla Submarine Canyon that drops to 900 feet.
Diving is also very popular in the southern end of the Shores. Protected by La Jolla Bay, this area is used by many beginners learning to scuba dive.


Harmless Leopard Sharks often gather here, offering an exciting adventure for both divers and snorkelers.
The nearby cliffs are dotted with sea caves, which attract adventurous kayakers paddling over from the beach.
The annual La Jolla Rough Water Swim is held off the La Jolla Shores. The largest rough water swim in the United States, this premier event attracts more than 2,000 swimmers. The next swim will be held on Sept. 13.
The La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club occupies the south end of the beach. While this club is private property, the beach is public.
The club is a great place to take the family for a vacation. I like it because it’s spread over beautiful landscaped grounds.
The club offers a wide range of accommodations, ranging from hotel-style rooms to spacious one-, two- and three-bedroom suites complete with a living room and full kitchen. It has a total of 98 guest rooms, including 59 oceanfront rooms or suites.
In addition there are 12 lighted championship tennis courts. The tennis club provides a free tennis matching service and unlimited court time.
Guests may also enjoy the heated swimming pool and par-3, nine-hole golf course. The club has a fitness center for adults.
But one of the best features is the private beach area. Families can have beach barbecues right on the sand. Or just lay out in the sun and watch the kids frolic in the gentle surf.
Room rates begin around $200 for a standard room, including breakfast for two. They rise from around $300 for a standard one-bedroom suite to $600 for a two-bedroom suite right on the beach.
La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club is at 2000 Spindrift Drive. For more information, call (858) 454-7126 or check its Web site at www.ljbtc.com.
(626)962-8811, Ext. 2801

Evergreen Lodge in Yosemite offering 25 percent discount

Evergreen Lodge, an historic Yosemite
resort that completed a major expansion earlier this year, is offering a
25-percent room discount on weeknights now through September. Located on the
western border of Yosemite National Park near Hetch Hetchy Valley, the
resort offers the opportunity to experience one of America’s
national parks in its most popular season.

The 25-percent
discount is available for new bookings in all cabin types Aug. 23 – Sept.
30, Sunday through Thursday. Advance booking is required and restrictions
apply. Details of the offer are available at http://evergreenlodge.com/latesummerspecial.html.


The resort’s recreation program and guide service offers a featured hike every
month, among other seasonal hiking, biking and sightseeing trips. The September
featured hike is the High
Country Naturalist Hike to Mono Pass
, a 9.4-mile trip with spectacular
eastern views past the park boundary and an elevation range of 9,700 to 10,600
feet. This five-hour hike is recommended for active guests and costs $110 for
adults or $65 for youths 12 to 14.

 The Evergreen’s experienced
recreation staff can also advise guests interested in planning customized
They offer maps and guides and an array of
rental equipment such as mountain bikes, mountain strollers, trekking poles and
GPS units.

Guests may also enjoy the lodge’s many free activities such as s’mores over the campfire, horseshoe tournaments, kids’
crafts, naturalist presentations, live music and more. The resort’s
guided activities offer guests the opportunity to experience both
Yosemite’s most famous attractions and its hidden gems.

past spring, the Evergreen completed an expansion and many upgrades.
Twenty-four new family and couples cabins were added, bringing the total to 90.
The renovated recreation hall now includes a 25-seat movie
games and a toddler play area.

Other upgrades include a new outdoor event area,
outdoor dining area, plaza sun deck, kids play area, expanded restaurant and
open-air massage cabana.

 All cabins have
forest views and are furnished with beds with feather pillows,
heat, fans, private bathrooms, scenic decks, SIRIUS satellite radio.

 Room rates
for the cabins
range from $99 to $299, depending on the season and type of cabin. The
Evergreen also offers custom camping, where fully furnished campsites
include tents, sleeping bags, mattresses and lanterns. Rates start
at $55.

more information about Evergreen Lodge or to make reservations, visit http://www.evergreenlodge.com/, call
(209) 379-2606 or email info@evergreenlodge.com.

Squaw Creek offers Labor Day package

Resort at
Squaw Creek

at Lake Tahoe has put together a Labor Day Family Bed & Breakfast Package that includes
gourmet breakfast for up to two adults and two children (12-and-under) with
nightly accommodations.  Starting at $199 per night, per room, the package is
available from Sept. 4 – 7. 


the holiday weekend, guests will find a wide array
of activities planned, from bocce ball and croquet to tie-dye T-shirt making
and s’mores roasts at the outdoor fire pits.  Movies for children take
place daily over the holiday weekend. 

Mountain biking, golf, which are offered
on-property, and kayaking are popular during this time of year at Lake Tahoe

more reservations visit www.visitsquawcreek.com
and utilize promo code
LDPRRSC or call 800.401.9501. 

Mammoth Festival begins Friday


Mammoth Festival

Aug 14 – 16, 2009

A celebration of wine and live music featuring Gavin DeGraw, Steven
Marcus Eaton, Jonathan
Kingham and Lao Tizer … all in a beautiful mountain

Friday at The Village (ticket booth opens at 5pm)

Enjoy live music by Lao Tizer and sip samples from various
vintners during the Wine Walk in The Village.
6-9 p.m.

Saturday at the Wood Site (ticket booth opens at noon)

Live Music by Gavin DeGraw, Steven Ybarra,
Marcus Eaton and Jonathan Kingham. 2-8 p.m.

Wine Tasting in the mountain air, surrounded by
towering Jeffery pines. More than 30 vintners will be pouring.
2-6 p.m.

Picnic in the Pines at the outdoor food court
featuring a sampling from Mammoth’s best restaurants. 2-6 p.m.

Art Expo featuring crafts and fine art by
Sierra artisans. 2-6 p.m.

Sunday at the Yodler

Champagne brunch and live music by Marcus
Eaton. 10-2 p.m.

State parks raise day-use and camping fees

California State Parks day-use
and camping fees will increase and begin to help offset recent budget
reductions and help keep more parks open. Partners in the public and private
sectors are still being sought, as the fee increase will help keep some parks
open, but not all.

these dire economic times, we can no longer afford to keep our fees at their current
levels,” said State Parks Director Ruth Coleman. “The people of California understand that
by charging more, we will be able to keep more parks open and preserved for
these and future generations.”

Aug. 17, day-use parking fees will increase by $2 to $5, and camping fees will
increase by $10 – $21
a night.
Camping reservations made prior to that date will be honored at the lower price.

Passes will go back on sale immediately at the existing price of $125. In
future months, additional fee and pass increases are possible as State Parks assesses
how the partnership program stretches the reduced budget funding to help keep
parks open.

A list of specific parks where fee adjustments will
occur will be made available when they go into effect. In deciding which parks
will receive a fee increase, and by how much, park managers are evaluating attendance,
with higher fees charged where demand is greatest. In that way, the fee
increase will have the least effect on attendance, resulting in a revenue gain.
Managers will watch revenues closely, and may make adjustments to particular
fees throughout the year.

 It should be noted that these increases do not raise
park revenues to the level of self-sustainment for the system.  Doing that
would require steep increases that would price people out of their public park
system.  These increases are another tool in the efforts being taken by California
State Parks to keep more parks open during this time of budget cuts and
employee furloughs.   

The department continues to seek support from cities,
counties, corporations and nonprofit organizations who may want to sponsor or
operate particular parks to help keep them open. Further, park managers have
been reducing services and modifying their operations by closing portions of
parks and reducing operating hours.

have loyal visitors who truly love our parks,” added Coleman.  “We
will do our best to maximize the use of additional funds so that parks continue
to be available for public enjoyment.”

Balboa Parks offers lots of fun for families in San Diego


Planes mark the entrance to the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park (Photo courtesy of Air and Space Museum)

By Richard Irwin, Travel Editor

Bridal parties were scattered around Spreckels Organ Pavilion
posing silently like the little grooms and brides you find atop fancy
wedding cakes.
The newlyweds were enjoying the sunny skies and beautiful gardens at
Balboa Park for their wedding pictures. They picked the beautiful
pavilion in San Diego for its classic architecture.
No one seemed to mind when the giant outdoor organ began to play. Many
probably didn’t even know they were standing next to the largest
outdoor pipe organ in the world. In fact, it has 73 ranks with more
than 4,518 pipes.
But then everything about Balboa Park is big. Really big. This 1,200
acre urban park may be the cultural heart of San Diego, home to many
wonderful gardens and interesting museums.
There’s the Museum of Man, Museum of Art, Museum of Photographic Arts, Natural History Museum — well, you get the idea.
Most are located along El Prado, a long promenade running through the
center of the park. The museums are housed in Spanish Revival style
buildings. Be sure to take some time to enjoy the detailed
ornamentation on the beautiful facades.
But this time, I was visiting with my two younger brothers and a
sister-in-law, so we each picked a museum that we really wanted to see.
With so much to see, we started at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and worked our way down El Prado.
Our first stop was the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. Located in the
basement of the Casa De Balboa, this is billed as the largest indoor
model railroad exhibit in the world.
Having built many model railroads in our home in Pittsburgh, we wanted to see this world-famous layout.
They didn’t have just one model railroad, this museum featured huge model layouts in different scales.
One 2,700-square-foot layout represented the rail route from San Diego
to Sacramento in the large O scale. My favorite was the
4,500-square-foot HO layout based on the rail line from San Diego Union
Station east through spectacular Carriso Gorge to the desert floor at
El Centro.
The detail on the moving trains and scenery was amazing. Just watching
the freight trains wend their way through the miniature world brought
back childhood memories.
Children seemed to enjoy the toy train gallery, where a camera car
gives the little visitors an engineer’s view of the layout. There’s
also a coal mine at the kid’s level, where children can push buttons to
run the trains.
As we walked down the main boulevard, we stopped to visit some of the
extensive gardens maintained by the park. These include Alcazar Garden,
Cactus Garden, Casa del Rey Moro Garden, Inez Grant Parker Memorial
Rose Garden, Japanese Friendship Garden — well, you get the idea.
My brother wanted to stop at the San Diego Automotive Museum next. He’s a car and motorcycle buff.
The car museum had a very nice collection of antique cars and motorcycles. It also some hot rods and one-off vehicles.
We’d never seen a 1924 Ford Model T Speedster before. It was a racing
version of the 15 million Model T’s that put the world on the road.
Exhibit placards provided many fascinating facts. We learned that Model
T’s didn’t have fuel pumps; gas flowed to the engine by gravity. This
worked well unless drivers encountered long, steep hills. Resourceful
motorists turned their Fords around and drove up the hills backwards to
avoid stalling.
We also enjoyed the 1948 Tucker Torpedo, a car of the future built by
Preston Tucker. Tucker cars featured advanced safety elements like a
padded dash, pop-out windshields and a “safety chamber” for passengers
in case of a crash.
Tucker was immortalized in the 1988 movie “Tucker — The Man and His Dream.”
I wanted to visit the Aviation and Space Museum next door. This museum has a nice range of vintage aircraft.
The different galleries highlight not only the planes, but also the
spirit of the time. The brooding World War I exhibit has Sopwith Camels
battling German biplanes over sandbagged trenches.
Another exhibit traces Pacific Southwest Airlines, the world’s first low-fare airline. PSA was founded in San Diego in 1949.
The World War II section has a German Messerschmitt looping over a colorful American Mustang and British Spitfire.
An interesting carrier exhibit honors San Diego’s long history as a
naval town. Climb up into the control tower to see how the war was
fought in the Pacific.
Jet aircraft in the collection include the Skyhawk, Hornet, Phantom and Mig 15.
Unfortunately, time had run out before we had run out of museums. But
everyone had enjoyed their day in the cultural center of San Diego.
Admissions range from $6 for an adult at the Railroad Museum to $8 at
the Auto Museum and $15 at the Air and Space Museum. Children are free
with an adult admission at the railroad, $4 at the car and $6 at the
plane museums.
Or try the Passport to Balboa, a one-day pass good for adult
admission to your choice of any 4 of the 13 museums on the same day.
The $29 passports may be purchased online at www.balboapark.org or at
the Visitors Center.

Santa Catalina offers unlimited activties package

Santa Catalina Island offers a new Unlimited Activities Package – www.VisitCatalinaIsland.com <http://www.VisitCatalinaIsland.com>
 — ideal for families.

For the price of a room and boat
transportation, families receive admission to tours and activities
offered by the Santa Catalina Island Company, free of charge.
The offer is effective through Nov. 1.

This package begins at $133 a person per night midweek and $185 a person per night on weekends,
with a two night minimum based on double occupancy.  Kids aged 2 – 11
stay free in parents’ room and get activities

Their only cost is the boat ride at $47 round trip –
www.CatalinaExpress.com <http://www.CatalinaExpress.com>

Family friendly activities include miniature golf,
Undersea Tour, Flying Fish Tour, Seal Rocks Tour, Avalon Scenic Tour,
first run movies in the Avalon Theatre and access to Descanso Beach
The package also includes lodging at Pavilion Lodge or Hotel Atwater
and round trip transportation aboard the Catalina Express. The Pavilion Lodge is just 14 steps from the beach and
the historic Hotel Atwater is located in the center of
town. Boats depart frequently from Long Beach, San Pedro, and Dana
Guests have unlimited free access to the following activities on a space available basis:

  • All
    Discovery Tours Offerings. (Each normally priced between $17 and $80!)
    The Cape Canyon Tour and Sundown Isthmus Cruise are excluded but may be
    purchased separately.

    • Behind The Scenes Casino TourNew!
      Get an unprecedented look at the off-limits rooms and backstage areas
      of this history rich building and feel what it was like during Avalon’s
      Golden Age.

    • Avalon Scenic Tour
      – The highest customer rated tour takes you through the heart of Avalon
      and into the surrounding hillsides where our knowledgeable guides tell
      you the stories of Avalon’s past and present.

    • Skyline Drive
      – A scenic 2-hour tour into the island’s interior along impressive
      vistas to the Nature Center at Catalina’s Airport-in-the-Sky.

    • Classic Inland Motor Tour
      – Journey deep into the island’s rugged interior to see native plants
      and wildlife, incredible scenery, and the Wrigley’s Rancho Escondido
      Arabian Horse Ranch.

    • Flying Fish Boat Trip
      – Take an unbelievable night-time cruise aboard the “Blanche W” to see
      Catalina Island’s famous flying fish leap and glide above the water.

    • Glass Bottom Boat – Visit the Lover’s Cove Marine Preserve, where colorful fish and marine plants thrive among the kelp forests.
    • Undersea Tour
      Cruise five feet below the surface of the ocean in our spacious
      semi-submersible to get up close and personal with the aquatic wildlife
      in Lover’s Cove.

    • Night-time Glass Bottom Boat and Undersea Tours – Experience the ocean world in a new light as nocturnal sea creatures come out from hiding.
    • Seal Rocks Cruise
      – Cruise to the east end of the island to get a first-hand look at a
      California Sea Lion colony and watch them play, feed and sun in their
      natural habitat.

    • Casino Tour – Tour the world-famous Casino Ballroom and Theater with its fabulous murals and art-deco elegance.
    • GPS Ranger Walking Tour – Stroll through the streets of Avalon at your own pace with your own handheld multimedia guide.

  • Unlimited
    rounds of golf at the historic 9-hole Catalina Island Golf Course
    located in Avalon Canyon. (Club and cart rental additional)

  • Unlimited hourly tennis court rental at the Catalina Country Club.

  • Unlimited rounds of miniature golf at the newly renovated Golf Gardens miniature golf course in the heart of Avalon.

  • Unlimited
    admission to the Descanso Beach Club, Avalon’s only beachside
    restaurant and bar, located just past the Casino Building.

  • Unlimited
    admission to nightly showings of first run movies at the beautiful
    Avalon Theatre located in the Avalon Casino, as well as weekend organ
    recitals on the antique Page Theater Organ.

Tours or activities are booked space-available, and reservations must
be made at the hotel front desk on the same day or no earlier than 6 p.m. of the day prior to the tour or activity. Hotel and transportation
reservations are subject to availability. To book this package or for details call
800-322-3434 or visit online http://www.VisitCatalinaIsland.com

Enjoy dog days of summer camping in Dogwood


By Claudia S. Palma, Staff Writer

After taking a six-hour drive to Yosemite last year for some good old-fashioned camping, I itched for another outdoor retreat this summer.
But I wasn’t looking forward to another long trek, so instead, my friends and I decided to head back to our old stomping ground — Dogwood — a little over an hour’s drive away up in the San Bernardino Mountains.
Dogwood is a 93-site campground just past the quaint city of Bluejay and minutes away from Lake Arrowhead. It is operated by the California Land Management Bureau.
At 5,600 feet in elevation, this little piece of the forest is surrounded by tall pine and oak trees. It’s inhabited by various forest and mountain creatures — birds, lizards, squirrels and bears, oh my!
After last year’s up-close encounter at Yosemite, (a bear visited in the middle of the night to help himself to the forgotten bag of marshmallows at the bottom of an ice chest), I was not too worried about bears at Dogwood.
The furry beasts aren’t as comfortable with people here as in Yosemite, so we didn’t see any during our three-day stay. But, it’s very important not to give them reason to stop by. Forget the marshmallows!
Each site varies in size. The big ones can hold 16 people with picnic tables, a fire ring and parking spot. Our site, which we called Troop 50, was one of the double-sized spots and sat in a cul-de-sac, secluded from other sites.


We had an entire forest behind us to play around in. We even had our own little hiking trail to explore.
During the day, the sun was bright and warm, with temperatures hovering in the low 80s, though it was cooler in the shade.
A full moon brightened the night sky as we gathered around our campfire to keep warm and share stories. The temperature dropped to about 50 once the sun set.
Fires aren’t permitted when the fire danger is high.
“Quiet time” is from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. We didn’t go to bed, but we kept our voices and music low during “quiet time.”
We didn’t need an alarm in the morning, thanks to a determined woodpecker drilling away at a nearby tree.
Plus once the sun is up, your tent is like a sauna.
The map shows one light trail, The Enchanted Trail, but there are plenty outside the campground. We entertained ourselves by taking a little hike on our private trail, which led to an open area of fallen and chopped down trees.
Here’s where we found lots of creatures, such as the lizard that crawled up my sister’s leg.
The campground offers special family programs on weekend nights.
Next time, I plan on heading to nearby Lake Gregory where there is boating, fishing and a waterslide park.
Only minutes away, Lake Arrowhead Village offers lots of dining and shopping.
Water sports require a permit because it is a private lake. But boat tours of the lake are offered.
Don’t worry about bathrooms, there are restrooms and showers spread throughout the campground. Be sure to bring your own toiletries.
Dump/trash stations are located around the campsite. Trash should be thrown away before calling it a night. Food and any other scented items should be kept locked in the car.
The peak camping season is from early May to late October. Fees range from $28-$58 a night. Early reservations are strongly recommended for weekends and holidays. Holiday weekends have a minimum night requirement. All other reservations should be made at least one day in advance. Same day reservations may be available.
Some sites are handicap accessible, others have recreation vehicle hookups.
The camping fee includes entry for one vehicle and one legally towed vehicle. There may be an extra fee for extra vehicles. There is no ATV/OHV allowed on the campground and no usage of firearms, chainsaws or fireworks. Pets must be leashed at all times.
For more information and reservations, go online to www.recreation.gov or call (877) 444-6777.
We had our site booked for one more day but we couldn’t sleep on nature’s bed one more night so we packed up early.
If you plan it right you can enjoy plenty of nature in just a few days.

Vote for best video in Escape to the City contest

The San Francisco
Convention & Visitors Bureau
has announced the eight finalists
from the more than 170 “Escape to the
online videos that capture local San Franciscans sharing their
personal “only in San Francisco” experiences.


The eight
finalists are: Ian Anderson (South Park), 
Steven Blum (Westfield Mall), Stannous Flouride (The Haight), Tim Floyd
(the Warming Hut), Julie Cummins (Ferry Building Farmer’s Market), Brent Podesto
(Yerba Buena Garden), Mike Salcido (AT&T Park) and Sabrina Foss and Geena
Dabadghiv (SF Pride). Videos can be viewed at


Each video was rated on a
scale of 1 – 5 (with 5 being the highest) for the following


  1. Number of views per
  2. Originality of
  3. Most unique/creative
    “Only in San
    ” experience
  4. On-camera enthusiasm for
  5. Entertainment value

the announced finalists, the SFCVB will select the grand prize *winner based on
the number of votes received per video. 


Each person who visits the Escape to the City
through Aug. 14, and votes for their favorite video,
will also be eligible to win the following ‘Only in San Francisco‘ “Escape to
the City” prize package:


A two-night stay at the
Hyatt Regency along the Embarcadero waterfront

A Champagne cruise on Hornblower Yachts

tickets to Beach Blanket

A $100
dining certificate to Sens

Two San
Francisco CityPasses (which includes complimentary Muni and Cable Car
passes; admission to the new California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park;
the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Aquarium of the Bay; the Exploratorium;
or the deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor; and a Blue
& Gold Fleet Bay Cruise)

A gift
certificate for a pound of See’s Chocolates


*Please note that
participants must be 18 or older to win.. 


The videos may be viewed on http://www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/escape/ and
voting concludes on August 14, 2009. The Grand Prize winner will be announced
August 17, 2009 via Facebook www.facebook.com/onlyinsf and
Twitter http://twitter.com/onlyinsf