San Diego Summer Fun- 2019

For as long as I can remember, summer has always been my favorite season! It could be that my Birthday is on July 1st, but to be honest, I think it is more than that. You see, my favorite place on this Earth is the beach. So can you think of a better time to visit the beach but in summer? Me neither! Join my daughters and me and see where we explored during our San Diego Summer of 2019!

The Best  Summer Possible!

Heermans gulls encinitas moonlight beach
Heerman’s gulls on Moonlight Beach

This San Diego Summer, I wanted to make it super special because it was the last summer with my girls before they were both off to college.

My eldest daughter has been in college for two years already and came home for the summer, but my youngest was just about to start. I have been a stay-at-home Mom for over twenty years, so the thought of not having any children home puts the panic of God into me.

However, I was not going to let my anxiety of missing my kids get in the way of having the best San Diego summer possible.

Where Do Locals Go?

So here is a little insight on where a San Diego local likes to spend their summer. I will be listing each location that we explored and linking each site to a Google Map.

And did I mention that I like to take photos? Most of all the places that we visited this summer I have written about already, so I will be linking previous posts for your convince.

OK, let’s go!  (Click on any photo to see a larger version)

San Diego Summer- June 2019

Hiking at the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve

Santa Rosa Plateau bending tree prairie

Santa Rosa Plateau was one of the first places that my girls and I visited, located relatively close to our home. Technically it is not in San Diego county, but close enough.

We have been hiking here for over 12 years and love to check out the Abobes and the vernal pools. I have provided you with a map to give you an idea of all of the trails found here.

Santa Rose Plateau trail map vernal pools

The Santa Rosa Plateau is on top of an extinct volcano, and if you look closely, you can see lava remnants everywhere.

Bench Santa Rosa Plateau San Diego Summer

One of the main reasons I wanted to go hiking here was to take photos of native plants and wildflowers. We were not disappointed!

Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve Vernal Pools

Vernal Pool Santa Rosa Plateau Riverside California
Vernal Pool- Spotted Downingia
spotted downingia santa rosa plateau
Spotted downingia is only found here at the Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau is the home of one of the few seasonal vernal pools left in Southern California.

A vernal pool is a shallow depression in the soil that fills up with water after it rains in Spring. These pools are scarce and unique. Over 90% of them have been wiped out of Southern California due to urbanization and development.

The fairy shrimp, a tiny crustacean (do you remember Sea Monkeys?), are found in these pools. In fact, of the two fairy shrimp species located within these vernal pools, one is only found here and nowhere else on Earth!

What makes these creatures fascinating is that the fairy shrimps eggs lie dormant until the rains come and fill the pools each Spring.

If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend checking out the Santa Rosa Plateau for yourself! While walking through these grass prairies, it is easy to transport yourself back in time and feel what California felt like in the late 1800s.

plains Santa Rosa Plateau
Santa Rosa Plateau Grasslands

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve ocean view

On June 20, my husband and I took off to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve to hike within a variety of unique ecosystems seen here.

  • Torrey pine woodlands
  • coast sage scrub
  • maritime succulent scrub
  • maritime chaparral

chaparral information plant species sign

Of particular note,  maritime succulent scrub is only found in Northern Mexico/ Baja California and San Diego County. Within this ecosystem, you find a variety of succulents mixed in with southern coastal sage scrub species.

Maritime chapparal san diego summer
Maritime chaparral scrub

I love coming here as the view is out of this world, not to mention that Torrey Pines has always been one of my favorite spots in San Diego.

Torrey Pines State Beach california buckwheat

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Visitor Center

We began our adventure by first touring the Torrey Pine Nature Center, located centrally in the park.

Torrey Pines lodge visitor center san diego summer

You can not miss it if you are driving because this is where the parking lot is located.

View of Los Penasquitos Lagoon from behind the Torrey Pines

Outside the nature center, there is an interpretive native species garden that will provide you guidance and familiarity with several plant species found throughout the park.

Walking the Trails

There are several trails to explore here, but today we concentrated on the High Overlook Trail and the Parry Grove Trail.

Parry Grove trail torrey pines state natural reserve

All in all, we had an excellent day, and I can not wait to come back here and explore some more!

Enjoying the Beach Down Below!

Afterward, we headed down the hill to spend an hour or so relaxing on the beach.

Osprey torrey pines state beach june 2019
Osprey-Pandion haliaetus, otherwise known as a ‘sea hawk.’

Looking south, I noticed a gentleman taking pictures of the bluffs, and next to him perched on a large piece of driftwood was an osprey! I could not believe my luck.

It was such a pleasure it was to see this Osprey, up close and personal! There is a notorious osprey nest perched on the bluffs overlooking the beach at Torrey Pines State Beach. I have always known about this nest.

July Beach Days in San Diego!

Moonlight Beach- Encinitas

Moonlight Beach july 1 san diego summer
North view of Moonlight Beach from D-Street Pier

Did I happen to say my Birthday is in July? Every July first, guess where I go? This past July, my girls and I headed out to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.

Parking was so horrible that we ended up having to park about a quarter-mile away. It was quite a trek, but it allowed us to use the D-Street staircase. I love this wooden staircase!

d street beach staircase encinitas

Once we were set up on the beach, I took my usual walk up and down the coast. Even though I have walked this beach over a hundred times, I am never disappointed.

d street beach san diego summer
Rock art on the beach

Encinitas has some of the best beaches in all of San Diego, in my opinion. Did I happen to mention that we would love to retire here?

boneyards 7-1 san diego summer

Swami’s on the Fourth of July

Swamis south view july 4 2019

The 4th of July is another special day for our family as it is our wedding anniversary. Being the loving partner that he is, my husband always takes me to the beach on our anniversary, and this July 4th was no exception.

Swamis north view encinitas beaches

I was excited to introduce him to one of my favorite beaches in Encinitas, Swami’s State Beach.

Swamis July 4 san diego summer

Have I told you how much I love this beach? Well, Swami’s State Beach is indeed a hidden paradise! No?

I should also mention that because this beach is considered a cove, the temperature here can get extremely hot. So please keep this in mind on a warm and non-windy day.

Visiting the Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens

self-realization fellowship meditation garden encinitas

As a bonus, we also visited the Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Garden, located right above Swami’s State Beach.

Koi Pond Self Realization Fellowship Meditation Garden
Koi Pond

If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend visiting this garden.

Annie’s Canyon Trail at the San Elijo Lagoon

Pano san elijo lagoon 3 2019 solana beach
Here is the view at the top of Annie’s Canyon Trail

My youngest daughter and I visited Annie’s Canyon Trail at San Elijo Lagoon in March. While we were venturing the narrow path between the sandstone cliffs, I kept thinking about how my other daughter would love it here!

North Rios Trail San Elijo Lagoon

So on the 23rd of June, we set off to Solana Beach and parked right near the N Rios Avenue Trailhead.

Mudflate san elijo lagoon birds foraging

The trail will take you east along the edge of the lagoon, and there are several vantage points where you can sit and watch birds foraging in the mudflats.

San Elijo gemma trail san elijo lagoon

If you keep a close eye out, several interpretive signs point out examples of numerous native plant species seen at the lagoon.

Hiking the Trail

Annies Canyon trail march 19 san elijo lagoon

The hike is straightforward, that is, until you get to Annie’s Canyon Trail. You have two options here. The first way is walking through the narrow canyon and climbing up an attached metal ladder.

Annies Canyon trail information san elijo lagoon

The second way is a more comfortable option in which you walk up a dirt switch-back trail, which leads to the top and allows for an excellent vantage point of the San Elijo Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean.

Annies canyon trail san elijo lagoon
Here is the opening of Annie’s Canyon Trail

After our enjoyable hike, we decided to head across the street and set up all of our beach gear over at Swami’s State Beach. (Second time this month!) It was an epic day.

Swamis July 23 san diego summer

Our August Beach Adventures- San Diego Summer 2019

San Diego Summer at Oceanside City Beach

Breakwater way beach oceanside august

On the second of August, I took my girls over to Breakwater Way Beach in Oceanside. I had never set up on this beach before, so I was excited to see how it would be.

The day was perfect, as you could not ask for better weather. The water was warm, and the girls were in the water most of the day.

Pano San Luis Rey River Oceanside Harbor

I had my adventures as well. I walked a short distance to check out the San Luis Rey River as it was quite a shallow tide.

Over here at the San Luis Rey River Estuary is an excellent spot to go bird watching, especially in the wintertime.

san luis rey lagoon summer 2019

Again this was the first time I could walk within this ‘lagoon,’ and it was pretty cool!

River inlet san luis rey river oceanside

On this day, the river was going out to the ocean, so several children rode their boogie-boards on a natural ‘lazy river.’

Oceanside Pier

oceanside pier august san diego summer

Later the girls and I headed over to the Oceanside Pier to see if I could get some good shots of the surfers and anglers and several under the pier photos.

oceanside pier black and white august san diego summer

surfing oceanside pier san diego summer
Surfing North Oceanside Pier

Border Field State Park and the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve

Border Field State Park San Diego

I have to say that of all of our adventures this summer, coming down here to the southern section of the Tijuana Estuary was my favorite by far.

I have wanted to come down here for a long time, but time and distance have kept me away thus far. But today, we were on a mission!

We headed south for over an hour to finally arrive at the US/Mexico border and Border Field State Park.

Tijuana river valley regional park information sign

Taking note of the map above, the Tijuana Estuary is separated into two parts.

North of the Tijuana River Inlet is known as the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, while south of the inlet is Border Field, State Park.

Tijuana River Valley

Located within the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Tijuana Estuary is the largest coastal wetland in Southern California. It is unique because it has never had a highway or railroad track transversing it, like all other San Diego coastal lagoons.

Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Panoramic

There is something special about being in an area with such minimal disturbance in terms of development.

With a bit of imagination, it is as if you can transport yourself back in time and feel what it was like hundreds of years ago.

Who is in Charge?

Border wall august 2 san diego summer

At the Border Field State Park, there are no Park Rangers, but instead, the Border Patrol has complete 24/7 jurisdiction.

I have to say that the towering 20-foot high Border Wall was incredibly intimidating at first, and it took me a good hour to get used to its presence.

On the Beach at Border Field State Park

end of trail border field state park
End of the trail

Like every time I hike to the beach, I can not wait until I see the water, and this time was no exception.

Over here at the Tijuana Estuary is one of the best spots in San Diego to go birding. On this day, there were hundreds of birds lining the shore.

birds border state park tijuana estuary

Mexico US border san diego california

Sewage, You Say?

I remember learning about this area extensively in college. You see, every winter, after a big storm, raw sewage from Mexico flows into here.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that the entire time we were hiking.

Every winter, the beaches of Imperial Beach are closed because of high levels of bacteria in the water.

Tijuana river culvet storm drains
Tijuana River storm drains.

I would like to mention that this spot is how old all of the vegetation is. There is something special about mature plants that I find fascinating to no end.

mature plants border field state park

International Friendship Park

International Friendship Park Border Field State Park

The International Friendship Park is located in the southwestern corner of Border Field State Park (and the USA). The US Border Patrol allows access to the park by car on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm.

Southwest USA Information Sign Border Field State Park

All other times you may enter the park, but you must walk 1.8 miles (one-way.)

rhus integrifolia lemonade berry bush beach

If you would like more information about Border Field State Park, please click on the link.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Old town San diego historical park august 2019

I didn’t mention this earlier, but the only way my girls would come with me to the Border Field State Park was to promise them that we would end our day over at Old Town State Park.

Two years ago, I brought the girls here, and they fell in love with the rich history that resonated here. Did you know that Old Town is the birthplace of California?

old town san diego timeline information sign

Throughout the park, you may tour original buildings from the mid-1800s.

Highway 101 Old town sign Whaley House

Do you like Ghost Tours? Located here at Old Town is the Whaley House Museum, the most haunted house in the USA!

We took a tour two years ago, but sadly we encountered no ghosts, but we did see a 19th-century working kitchen!

Old Town Cemetery August 2 2019
El Campo Santo Cemetery, Old Town San Diego

Three blocks away from the Whaley House is the El Campo Santo Cemetery which you can tour at night.

That is if you are brave enough.

Old town cemetery

Agua Hedionda Lagoon Nature Center and South Ponto Beach- Carlsbad

agua hedionda lagoon nature center discovery center

On the 19th, the girls and I headed over to the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Nature Center in Carlsbad. I thought it would be fun to go for a mini-hike and check out the Native Garden.

I have written extensively about the Agua Hedionda Lagoon, so please click on the above link if you would like more information.

Agua Hedionda Lagoon Carlsbad nature center trail

There is a short trail here that you can hike, located down the hill from the Nature Center. It is a great place to go and soak in the sights of the back end of the Agua Hedionda  Lagoon and take in all the aromatic smells from the surrounding coastal sage scrub.

Oh, how I love this smell!

Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery

At the end of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Nature Center Trail, there is a vernal pool.

Agua Hedionda lagoon vernal pool information carlsbad
Vernal pool information
agua hedionda lagoon vernal pool carlsbad ca
Agua Hedionda Lagoon vernal pool

One of the great added features of this nature center is that there is a free coffee machine. So I eagerly made myself an espresso, sat on a lounge chair, and sat back, looking at the lagoon.

It was a special moment for me.

As a bonus, my daughter treated herself to a very affordable succulent plant as a souvenir.

If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend visiting here. There is so much information that you can learn to help familiarize yourself with many of the plants and animals found on the coast of San Diego.

South Ponto Beach

South Ponto beach carlsbad august

After about an hour at the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Nature Center, we headed south in Carlsbad. We ended up over at South Ponto Beach, which is found on the western border of the Batiquitos Lagoon.

south ponto beach panoramic august
Batiquitos Lagoon

Seeing that it was a weekday and before noon, we were able to find free on-street parking. Yay!

I was excited to set up our beach stuff here for the first time. The beach here is very open; thus, a great breeze was flowing throughout the day.

encinitas beach hotel construction august 2019
Encinitas Beach Hotel construction

I headed up top to the bluff overlook to see how construction was going on the soon-to-be Encinitas beach hotel.

—>Alila Marea Beach Resort Encinitas<—

When I first encountered South Ponto Beach, I was taken aback by how rustic it still was in this day and age.  It is rare to find any undeveloped coastal lots in Southern California. It made me a bit sad to tell the truth, to see all of this construction going on.

south ponto beach bluff april 2018
South Ponto bluff from April 2018

Last year I spent over an hour taking pictures of all the dune plants growing in this once empty lot.

Grandview Beach August Encinitas CA
Grandview Beach view from the staircase

Once descending the stairs in despair, I continued my journey south toward Grandview Beach to pay my respects for the recent tragedy.

Grandview Beach Bluff Memorial
The site of the Grandview Beach bluff collapse

On August second, around 3 pm, part of the cliff at Grandview Beach collapsed and claimed three lives and injured two. Passing by the memorial, I could not help but feel for the community. The whole situation was just awful.

As a rule, you should never sit close to the bluffs and stay at least

Grandview Beach Memorial Encinitas

Moonlight Beach- My Mental Health Day?

Boneyatds august encinitas ca

So guess where I wanted to go, in the first week of my new life? As I mentioned up above, I was not looking forward to having my kids not at home anymore.

Where can I go to heal my soul?

The Beach!!

moonlight beach south view

Why did I pick Moonlight Beach? I have been coming to this beach for over 30 years, and I yearned for familiarity.

Moonlight Beach is centrally located, so I was able to walk south for 2 miles toward Swami’s and 2 miles north to Beacon’s Beach.

Walking South on D-Street Beach and Boneyards

encinitas plant growth bluffs

I love this walk and also love to document the plant growth on the bluffs. Here is also a great place to go bird watching as not too many people walk this beach, and the birds love to hang out here.

Boneyards bluffs encinitas san diego summer

Oh, and also do not be surprised if you happen to see others without any clothes on. As I said before, this beach is isolated.

Before you get to Swami’s State Beach, there is a great spot to check out the waves while walking on the reef.

Moonlight to Beacon’s Beach

Stonesteps Beach Encinitas wet sand bluffs

Walking north from Moonlight Beach to Beacon’s Beach is a bit different from going south towards Boneyards.

Here is where you can ogle over the enormous houses on the bluffs and compare each of the private staircases that descend to the beach.

Beacons private staircase encinitas CA
Private staircase at Beacon’s Beach

Beacon’s beach has a quaint switchback style dirt path that takes you up top and allows you the most incredible ocean views.

beacons switchback trail encinitas bluff walkway

Beacons beach panoramic august ocean view

Many locals like to sit here and watch when storms are coming onshore, I hear this is a prime location to watch lightning shows.

San Diego Summer Fun in September!

A Surprise Trip to Oceanside Pier!

Oceanside Pier night shot labor day weekend

On Labor Day weekend, my husband and I received the most significant surprise! Both of our girls came home for two days!

Now I work on weekends, so my time with them was limited. Guess what I wanted to do when I got back from work?

Yes, a trip to the coast was in order! On Sunday night, we all headed to the Oceanside Pier to check out how the ocean was doing.

Oceanside night fishing labor day weekend

What we found was mass crowds of anglers stretching the entire length of the pier! It was a warm and humid night with completely flat seas.

The water looked like liquid tar. It was a sight to see, and I am so happy that we could share our experience as a family.

Escaping the Heat in Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach Summer 2019 crystal pier

In the first week of September, Southern California was experiencing a prolonged heatwave. The temperatures inland were triple digits, and did I mention that we have no air conditioning?

To get some relief from the heat, I decided to take my Mother-in-law to the coast for the day. We headed south to Pacific Beach.

pacific beach sept 4 grass bluff ocean sand

We parked over at Paradise Park and walked south toward Crystal Pier. Trying to get some relief from the heat, we walked onto the pier. I wanted to see what was going on with all of the surfers riding the waves.

The weather on the coast was pretty miserable as it was hot and sticky. We watched as a surprise storm system as it moved in.

Crystal Pier panoramic sept 4 storm
Do you see the storm coming in, in the background?

I was also able to document the progression of the storm while taking photos over at Mission Bay.

My only complaint was that it never really rained on the coast. At most, it rained huge drops intermediately for about 30 minutes.  I did feel nice, though!

San Diego Summer Fun 2020

meditation garden above swamis state beach
View from Self Realization Fellowship Meditation Garden

So, I am looking forward to having my girls back home next summer as the beach isn’t the same without them. I will be brave, though, and make my way to the coast whenever I have the chance, alone. I need to get used to being alone. But as an introvert, I think I have that already covered.

I may have motivated you to come down to San Diego for a visit. We have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and do not get me started on the massive biodiversity of plants that you can find down here! Thank you for taking the time and sharing your experiences with us.

Until next time!

2 Replies to “San Diego Summer Fun- 2019”

  1. Wow!  I have been to San Diego before but I never had any idea of the incredible places that you mentioned in your article.

    It sounds like you are quite an adventurer!  

    I understand what the empty nest syndrome feels like because I am currently going through it.  It is not easy but it is priceless that you are making such amazing memories with your family!

    I look forward to reading about your next adventure!


    1. Thank you for commenting Alisha! Yes, this empty nest stuff is horrible. I guess that I am going to have to be patient and wait for them to come home to visit. Hopefully, I will drag them down to the beach 🙂

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