You don’t have to have been born and raised in Southern California to appreciate its laid-back surf culture … and tell me that when you envision the quaint, coastal town of Carlsbad, it doesn’t immediately conjure images of sun-kissed adults and kids of all ages frolicking in the ocean. On the sand, in and out of sparkling pools, riding the easy peeling waves that curl toward Tamarack Surf Beach.
All the classic golden glow that comes to mind when one imagines the beach communities of Southern California greet you in an instant when you step through the doors of Carlsbad’s Cape Rey Resort. Poised overlooking the Pacific Ocean only 150 steps to the sand, the resort features luxurious accommodations, destination dining and an abundance of recreational opportunities. Whether you’re looking for a fun-filled family weekend or a relaxed adults-only getaway, Cape Rey offers an unbelievable list of amenities to make your stay a memorable one. With a 24-hour business and fitness center, it’s also completely possible to maintain your day-to-day routine … against an enviable backdrop of gorgeous seaside scenery.
Leave all your cares (and responsibilities) behind with Cape Rey’s beach butler service to set up all the accoutrements for a day at play in the surf and sand: they’ll set up your towels, umbrellas, chaise lounges and even bring you bottled water. Room service includes in-room cocoa delivery, and complimentary beach cruisers (for adults and kiddos) are available for riding up the coastal rail trail to Carlsbad Village, where you can easily while away an afternoon strolling through unique boutiques and art galleries, exploring its beaches, noshing your way through downtown eateries from informal ice cream stands and taco shops to casual, family-friendly fare and fine dining establishments.
Like to start your day off with a healthy breakfast? Look no further than the farm-to-table delectables at Chef Teri’s Chandler’s Oceanfront restaurant where diners can choose from appetizers to desserts that are “familiar, but never ordinary” where chefs prepare “long-time favorites reinvented with upscale ingredients.” Being partial to eating breakfast at every meal of the day, I particularly enjoyed their delectably delicious cinnamon sugar challah french toast: complete with grilled banana, butterscotch, and candied pecans. Other fresh classics include buttermilk pancakes, steel cut oatmeal, and their signature green tea yogurt bowl. For dinner, the menu takes California cuisine up a notch, crafting each dish with fresh, local ingredients geared toward the foodie in us all. Popular picks include the Lobster + Rock Shrimp tacos accompanied by a chipotle slaw, queso fresco and grilled lime and the Ponto beach burger which arrives as a 8 oz. patty topped with aged cheddar, grilled onion, lettuce, tomato, house made 1000 island on brioche.
You’ll need your fuel for a full day at Cape Rey’s newest offering: the Surf Ride Adventure Lounge. Open to guests and locals alike, seven days a week, the one-stop surf shop provides everything from surf lessons (private or semi-private), to guided surf excursions, coastal helicopter tours, equipment, and premium access to a curated mix of the best retail surf brands on the market. It doesn’t matter if you’re a local who doesn’t miss a day in the waves or a first timer: groms can get their shred on in lessons with a complimentary GoPro camera and video to take home, while those aspiring to the WSL unlock bottom turns on the newest performance boards on the market.
Post shred, take the edge off with the royal treatment from head to toe at the Travel & Escape Top 5-Rated Spa, Ocean Crest Spa. Inspired by the healing powers of the sea and utilizing only exceptionally pure, environmentally friendly, naturally sourced products available in few other spas, treatments include facials, full body massage, manicures and pedicures.
For everything you need for a truly golden California escape, Cape Rey Resort is located at 1 Ponto Road in Carlsbad. For information or to make a reservation, visit www.caperey.com
Committed to Helping You Make Educated Choices for Your Loved One’s Care
My grandmother and I used to joke with each other about the subtle difference in meaning between the words ‘subscribe’ and ‘ascribe’ (now that I’m thinking about it, that joke doesn’t seem like a joke at all - at least not in the joking-as-comedy way. Ok, ok, we’re language nerds).
But I think the beauty in each one of those words’ individual meanings gives light to a great many situations I find myself in as an adult, dealing with each day’s new challenges and obstacles. Particularly, when I think on the task of helping to care for my grandmother as she aged. Ascribing to something means to think of it in the sense of belonging- giving a thing qualities, or characteristics. Subscribing, on the other hand, denotes membership: signing up, signing onto a mission, pledging something.
As adults moving through the world, we ascribe to, and subscribe to on a daily basis, typically with little thought to the consequences. Signing up for a newspaper? You get the daily news. Calling someone brave when they kill a spider in the house? They receive a compliment. Put your grandfather, father, mother into a senior home? What could possibly happen? Have you broken down that decision? I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts if you start joking around about ascribe/subscribe, you’ll come to the same conclusions I did: especially when you consider the depth and breadth of services provided by Alliance Eldercare.
Coming from a background of elder hospitality was the first step toward providing the best in senior assistance for Alliance founder Derek Mannion.
“In 1931 my grandmother, Sophie Mannion, opened the first board and care home in Kaimuki, Hawaii,” he says. “My father told me many stories of my grandmother taking seniors into their home and caring for them until they passed.”
Derek was able to witness his grandmother’s legacy in action, as well as the firsthand experience he garnered observing his father care for his aging grandmother in-home until she passed at the age of 91. For over a decade, Derek has been working in the healthcare industry, dedicating his life to helping families find care options for their loved ones that match up with the seniors’ needs.
“In 2014, I completed the Residential Care Facility for the Elderly certification in order to better serve seniors,” he says. “Now, I am blessed with having my father live with me, at the age of 83, and I am looking forward to caring for him to the best of my ability until he passes.”
Ascribing gentleness, kindness, and passion to Derek aren’t hard, and those are the first qualities you see when greeted by the staff at Alliance. Their mission: to find the best senior healthcare options available for your loved ones, is simple, and crystal clear. In its fifth year of operation, Alliance Eldercare is your one-stop source to help navigate the myriad of (oftentimes overwhelming) senior care options on the market - from independent senior living and board and care homes to memory care communities, long term, hospice, Parkinson’s, and more.
“I’ve seen every option out there from my grandmother’s boarding house to the in-home I provide for my father and everything in between,” says Derek. “At Alliance, we’re not just searching for an open bed for someone - we’re searching for the right care for your loved one.”
Alliance comes to you: to sit and talk face to face. Offering free guided tours of Assisted Living facilities and Board and Care Homes puts seniors and their families in the position to gain a true understanding of the options available to them, as opposed to trying to make a decision based on cold-calling or emailing a laundry list of homes.
“I prefer the personal touch,” he says. “That’s what sets us apart. Seniors need advocates, and we are happy to do our part.” The clincher? There is no obligation, and their service is completely free of charge. “When you do the right thing, word gets out.” Now that’s an idea I’ll subscribe to.
For a FREE Care Needs Assessment, Derek and the Alliance Eldercare team can be reached by calling (866) 936-4241 or visit www.AllianceEldercare.com
Compassionate Caregiving: Your Home Care, Inc.
Over the past decade, there have been an increasing number of studies examining the effects of stress on the human body - from the immune to metabolic systems, to cell division, diet, hormonal changes, heart rate and of course, cortisol levels. Cortisol, after all, is what floods the body in response to stress. Its main purpose is more far-reaching than was once believed. Systemic effects play a great many roles to maintain homeostasis in the body: which, at a basic level, looks like a greater span of stress-free years. Experts at UCLA, Harvard and the University of Maryland all posit that lowering stress levels leads to healthier mental and bodily functions across the board, which is great for everyone, but can be particularly meaningful for men and women of an advanced age.
Founded in 2002, the professionals at Your Home Care, Inc. are dedicated to ensuring the individual care they provide will lessen the stress of everyday life for your aging loved one and their families. Between the two divisions of this Laguna Woods-based family-owned and operated business, seniors have the option of in-home care or respite at the Senior Social Club and Stay Care Center (applications are currently being accepted for participation).
With loving kindness, trained caregivers provide exceptional general care and assist with the basic necessities of daily living in the comfort and safety of a senior’s own home. In-home care encompasses services tailored to the senior’s specific needs and range from meal preparation, medication reminders, doctor visits, grocery shopping, laundry, light housekeeping, dressing and incontinence care to Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related care.
“We have observed that those who are able to stay in their homes are more likely to remain healthy and free from common communicable illnesses, such as influenza and pneumonia that are prevalent in nursing homes and assisted living centers due to the high volume of residents and close living quarters,” says Boyd Warner, founder of Your Home Care, Inc.
Understanding that the safety and security of your loved ones is of the utmost importance, the professional caregivers at Your Home Care undergo a rigorous interview process, from reference checks and background clearance to competency training. But that’s just the beginning … equally as important as each applicant’s credentials is their personal philosophy as Warner says “our caregivers want more than a job. They want to make a difference in the lives of those in their care. As a company, our job is to give caregivers the direction and tools they need to fulfill their personal mission of service, as well as our corporate mission of improving the lives of those we serve.”
Upon meeting the company’s strict selection criteria, caregivers are insured and bonded before completing a comprehensive orientation process to ingrain Your Home Care corporate policies and procedures followed by ongoing, specialized training on issues that help them develop as better overall caregivers, as well as deal with very specific situations. These issues include medication management and compliance, Alzheimer’s and dementia, osteoarthritis and mobility loss, hypertension/stroke recovery, diabetes, heart disease and cancer recovery.
“We believe that our focus on the individual and family is what sets us apart,” says Warner. “When you contact us, you will receive individualized care that will meet the needs of your family and your aging loved one. Whether you are in need of around the clock assistance, night relief or a short shift during the day to assist with ADL’s, you can rest easy knowing that we have your well-being and that of your loved one as our priority.”
Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center
While in-home care focuses on the one-on-one, allowing trust and friendship to flourish between caretaker and patient, the Adult Day facility follows a social model in a “beautiful, warm and inviting place for seniors to gather together and create new friendships and memories.” Different from many other day centers, the licensed caregivers at Your Home Care’s “Social Club & Stay Care” Center oversee all activities and are highly interactive with each visiting senior.
“In a typical day, our clients will arrive at the center, sign in, and enjoy leisure activities in the morning, such as enjoying our reading center, or watching a movie or playing a game with other participants and our caregivers,” says Warner. “We will also provide daily activities that will vary depending on the day, but you can expect to find on our schedule activities such as bingo, karaoke, and knitting caps for the newborns at local hospitals. We will also provide lunch at our facility.”
Warner and his team encourage family members to stop by and tour the facility to see firsthand the advantages of participation.
“Our service will greatly benefit those who find themselves living in multi-generational homes, whose primary caregiver is stretched thin,” says Warner. “We will be your resource for respite care which will allow family members relief from the emotional and physical strains of being a full-time caregiver. Our mission is to provide a fun, exciting place for your aging loved one to participate in activities that they love and maybe even try something new. Further, this facility allows those who may be isolated from the world an opportunity to open up and create new friendships.”
After interested seniors (or their loved ones) fill out an application for the program, they undergo a medical evaluation from their own doctor, and then a follow up visit with the program director at Your Home Care, Inc., to determine whether participation the adult day facility would be the best fit for their needs.
We will be your resource for respite care which will allow family members relief from the emotional and physical strains of being a full-time caregiver.”
“We’re very serious about providing a compassionate caregiving service, preserving dignity, ensuring independence, and a higher quality of life,” says Boyd. “We want this to be as good a fit for you as it is for us.”
Taking stress off anyone’s plate is a loving act in itself. Yet, I can see how many selfless acts might feel like a double-edged sword. My mother is the primary caregiver for my 85-year-old stepfather who suffers from dementia. As a result, she has less time for activities she enjoys, spending time with her friends, going to the movies and the infinite other little things that seem to fill the cracks in a single day. When I emphasize the importance of also caring for herself, she brushes the thought away not wanting to be “selfish.”
“Taking advantage of a referred professional caregiver is not giving up on your loved one or being selfish,” says Warner. “On the contrary, you’re being selfless by bolstering your own love and support with professional, quality care while enabling you to spend more time enjoying their company.”
What could be more selfless (and scientific) than helping to lower cortisol levels (yours and your loved one’s)? Eliminating that unnecessary drain on energy can mean restored resiliency, greater access to memory, improved brain function. Selfish? Or selfless? Stress full? Or stress free? Through compassionate in-home care and its new adult day care center in Laguna Woods, Your Home Care is here to ensure that this choice is the easiest you’ve made in a long time.
Connect with Boyd and the professionals at Your Home Care, Inc. by calling (949) 215-0004 or visit www.yourhomecare.com.
The Senior Social Club & Stay Care Center is located at 24191
Paseo de Valencia, Suite B in Laguna Woods.
Nine month old Martin is a sweet and friendly rabbit who is ready for his next big adventure. This curious little bunny doesn’t mind being picked up or held and even enjoys lap time when he isn’t busy exploring. Martin has good litter box habits and would make a great house bunny for a loving family.
Calico was named for her pretty, spotted markings but could easily be named Sweetie for her mellow personality. Her favorite activity is sunbathing and she is an avid birdwatcher. Six years old and fully declawed, Calico would be very well suited for a quiet home.
Olga is the shelter’s current resident senior kitty. Fourteen years old and still fairly spry, Olga is very friendly and would make an ideal lap cap for someone looking for a mellow companion.
This cute little guy is Tyson, a four year old pit bull mix ready to meet his new family. Energetic and very playful, he enjoys long walks and running with the other dogs. Could this active pooch be the one for you?
If you would like to know more about the animals listed here, please call the San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter at (949)492-1617, or visit with them at 221 Avenida Fabricante, San Clemente.
If you like wine, you’re my kind of person. If you like wine and you’ve seen the 2008 flick Bottle Shock, we’re well on our way to becoming best friends. Though the film certainly took artistic license in its explanation of the famed Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, the feat remains the same in history regardless. A vintage made in California became a winning symbol to the world of the premier scene that would emerge from the States’ golden coast shortly thereafter: wine. Since the seventies, the Napa region has undergone a remarkable transformation. From scrappy hippie to simply luxurious, the entire area is California’s boast to a romantic weekend done right. Sitting smack dab in the middle of two of the most recognizable names in the game, Carneros might just be the easiest little wine country getaway on the map.
Driving north, just an hour outside San Francisco, you’ll stumble upon its crown jewel. The Carneros Resort and Spa. At this point in the American travel imagination, you likely have no problem conjuring up images of some rustic wine garden, floral arrangements resting atop barrels, maybe a stable somewhere. But between the Hudson Vineyards and Clos du Val lies a stunning escape even from the already quiet pace set on the back roads out of the Golden Gate City.
Certainly, the hints of galvanized metal, outdoor showers and promise of on-site general store might give you the hint of a country vacation. But even a name like “FARM” can’t really disguise the dramatic lighting, cathedral ceilings, or elegant dining room fireplaces that greet you at just one of the three on-site dining options. One which sells picnic supplies, wine (of course), and don’t forget the boutique: COOP, where you can purchase luxury resort wear and accessories for your stay. Two pools with hot tubs for your apres vin adventures, one of which is adult-only. No offense kids, but sometimes being able to enjoy a drink or two away from all the ruckus is a necessity, not a luxury.
Complimentary fitness classes on weekends and private training appointments available make it simple to keep trim even when indulging, and if outdoor activity is more your cup of tea, look no further than the Town Square, complete with bocce courts, or Carneros’ complimentary bicycles. Assuming by now that the resort sounds like everything you’ve ever wanted all wrapped up into one relaxing package with a hint of wine on the side, pause for a moment and consider the difficulty one might have just getting out of bed in the morning after a long day of tasting and exploring. Not to be outdone, the rooms at Carneros are just as spectacular as their list of amenities. In both the Harvest Suites and Cottages, fireside butlers are available for guests to fill your outdoor tubs and light firepits, and the elegantly appointed cottages feature 400 square feet of quintessential wine-country experience. Replete with sun-washed modern decor, each cottage offers large windows, French doors, and outdoor patios that can only be described as expansive. The resort’s two bedroom residences feature 1,200 square-feet of indoor living space and include living and dining areas, as well as an al fresco living room, complete with gas barbeque and in-ground spa.
If you do make it out of your cottage, suite, or house, don’t miss the spa. While the simple elegance of the resort may be enough to restore energy to your head, heart, and spirit, the spas’ body therapy treatments, facials, nail therapy and massage might also be just the thing to bring harmony and true wellness back to you. Rest and relaxation are never too far off: especially in wine country. Especially at Carneros, where time itself seems to stand still.
The Carneros Resort is located at 4048 Sonoma Highway in Napa. For information or reservations, call (888) 400-9000 or visit www.carnerosresort.com
In a recent conversation with my mother, I discovered something. Something that was a cause for pause as I pondered all the possible ramifications. This thing I realized? My mother appears a bit more stubborn than she used to be. She laughed when I called it to her attention, but the more we thought about the fact that she was growing increasingly stubborn, it occurred to both of us that this trait could prove to be increasingly problematic as she got older.
She shared that she had always imagined herself to be a strong elder - a grey haired grandmother who had seen it all, survived it all, and was stronger for it. But the real truth was that as she remains set in her ways, the traits that she could get away with in her younger years (like wanting to do everything herself and refusing to ask for help when she needs it) would only be exacerbated by the slights of age. At 84, she sometimes forgets the simplest of day to day tasks. Like taking her vitamins and prescriptions - on time and in the right dosages.
In an article referenced on the web site for the National Center for Biotechnology Information, studies have shows that in the United States alone, non-adherence to medications causes 125,000 deaths annually and accounts for 10 to 25 percent of hospital and nursing home admissions. Further, the consequences of non-adherence are enormous. Patients who don’t take their prescribed medications run the risk of serious health issues, including hospitalization and death (ref: mhealthintelligence.com).
How prevalent is this problem? According to a recent Kaiser Permanente report, 72 California hospitals were fined in 2016 by the federal government for the disproportionate number of patients who returned within 30 days of hospital discharge. Ninety percent of these patients were readmitted due to health issues specifically arising from medication non-adherence.
“In spite of their difficulties and illnesses, many men and women prefer to remain independent and self-sufficient as they age,” says Andrew Harper, Co-Founder and Pharmacy Director of the Orange County-based AmeriPharma Specialty Care. “So many cases of patients who arrive at their doctor’s office with the same symptoms they were prescribed medication for, return still suffering, because they had not taken their medication as prescribed.” Or, as I could suddenly foresee happening with my mom, forgetting to take her medication at all.
A respected industry leader utilizing cutting-edge prescription packaging systems, AmeriPharma Specialty Care introduced the MedBox and helped set a new standard in medication management that has revolutionized the way for government-run healthcare programs, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities dispense medication. And now they are bringing the MedBox direct to consumers for use in the comfort of their own home.
Working directly with your pharmacy, AmeriPharma arranges with your physician to manage, maintain, and dispense your medical prescriptions - delivering them right to your front door. Packaged by date and time to be consumed, the MedBox is out to change the way we take pills - for the better. Wrapped in customizable packaging, the doses are easily identified by the patient and/or their caregivers, and even easier to handle and open.
Non-adherence to medications causes 125,000 death annually and accounts for 10 - 25% of hospital and nursing home admissions
“Dosage times are marked, and the procedure of actually filling the packets is done directly under the care and supervision of the pharmacist - which eliminates the chance of you, as a patient, misidentifying a bottle or taking the wrong dosage,” says Harper. “This is especially useful for those patients who cannot manage their own medications as prescribed due to physical disabilities, mental infirmities, or a combination of other factors. Fifty-eight percent of all patients over 65 admit that they have missed taking at least one dose of their prescriptions at one time or another.”
There is no additional cost to using the customized MedBox - patients keep their current insurance and co-pay and won’t pay a penny more for this service (delivered directly to your door - monthly, bi-monthly or in an emergency, within four hours!).
With benefits that include convenience, no additional cost, ease of use, peace of mind AND safety? The MedBox sounds like something my mother and I can both stay stubborn about.
For more information, call (800) 270-7091 or visit medbox.ameripharma.us
Four year old Alder is a sweet, little guy ready to make new friends. He loves playing the yard and going on jaunty walks. With his friendly personality and happy smile, Alder can brighten any day!
Armani is a happy little guy with loads of energy. He just loves to greet you with a wagging tail and tons of kisses. Only 1 ½ years old, Armani is sure to bring lots of fun into your life.
Ruby is a ten month old spayed female mini-lop who just loves to jump and play. She is very treat motivated and hops up to visitors in hopes of getting a little snack. Ruby will make a wonderful house bunny in a loving home.
Eight month old Peach is a playful kitty looking for her purrever home. Quite affectionate, Peach loves a good snuggle and a scratch behind the ears. You can’t go wrong with a sweetie like Peach.
If you would like to know more about the animals listed here, please call the San Clemente/Dana Point Animal Shelter at (949)492-1617, or visit with them at 221 Avenida Fabricante, San Clemente.
When we moved into our home three years ago, the property came with a very pretty pond stocked with colorful koi and goldfish.
But for someone who can barely keep a potted plant alive, the prospect of being responsible for the livelihood and longevity of these beautiful fish was daunting – I don’t have a clue about the right ratio of additives in the water or the importance of algae or how to combat fish disease.
A koi pond is clearly much more than a backyard water garden feature. It is a living, breathing eco-system which requires the expertise of a pond professional.
Thankfully, we also inherited the services of Glenn Cecil, owner of the South County-based Water in the Garden. He had maintained this particular pond for the previous homeowner for several years and it was clear from our first meeting that he was committed to quality care and customer service.
Glenn specializes in “total koi pond and water garden maintenance,” repair, construction, pond and filtration design and consultation.
Serving Orange County since 1999, Glenn specializes in “total koi pond and water garden maintenance,” repair, construction, pond and filtration design and consultation.
Aside from feeding the fish, Glenn literally takes care of everything during his weekly visits, including removing excess debris and dead plant matter, inspecting the pond equipment for proper function and making adjustments as needed and inspecting the fish for signs of distress or disease. He also tests the water quality, back-flushes the filters and adds bacteria or other agents as needed and offers 24-hour emergency service. In short, he keeps our pond looking beautiful and our fish healthy and happy.
To connect with Glenn directly, call (949) 872-3833 or visit www.waterinthegarden.net
Perfectly situated between the hustle of Los Angeles and the bustle of San Diego, the historic Los Rios District lies just off the I-5 freeway in San Juan Capistrano. Originally settled by Juanenos Indians allowed to live outside the mission compound, this idyllic town has grown over the years, but still retains its old town charm. Some of the original homes built still house relatives of the early settlers, generations later. A surprise gem for tourists and locals alike, Los Rios is no stranger to its own delights - including an immensely popular tea salon and boutique. Founded by the Niccola family, the Tea House has remained a family owned and operated business building relationships one cup at a time since its inception 20 years ago.
“Our guests are treated like family, given an intimate and welcoming experience such as you might have at home on the holidays, within a quaint and elegant setting built to enhance your enjoyment.” The beautifully quaint tea house and salon, gorgeous verandah and picturesque gardens provide an atmosphere ideal for bridal and baby showers, women’s group meetings, corporate luncheons, anniversary celebrations and office parties with a bit of panache.
Don’t let the “tearoom” part fool you; their menu arguably outshines the décor (and that’s saying something). In addition to traditional tea and fare (scones, pastries, finger sandwiches), the Tea House offers a full lunch menu (and weekend brunch) of handcrafted soups, salads and hearty sandwiches, as well as delicious, traditional English entrees with a contemporary California twist (including a tender and flavorful rosemary roasted chicken, baked-to-order shepherd’s pie and - a Tea House favorite - an authentic Bombay chicken curry with peanuts, shredded coconut, dried apricots and golden raisins service on bed of seasoned rice). All their breads are made in-house and the extraordinary desserts are almost as beautiful as they are delicious. If you only take one thing away from the Tea House, perhaps consider making it a scone with their Early California Cream, a treat for which they have become famous or a freshly baked coconut cake with pecans.
Whether you are planning an intimate gathering in a beautiful garden setting or the use of a private room or exclusive use of the verandah for a corporate function, the Tea House staff takes pride in offering personalized special events defined by simple elegance, unsurpassed service and an atmosphere unlike any other.
“Fresh, local ingredients, made-from-scratch sauces, and home-baked goodness awaits each guest every day: be it a special event or simply our daily tea.” If you’re looking for the full experience, High Tea services will take you away to another time. Any way you look at it, the Tea House on Los Rios is ready to make each moment a sippable delicacy.
The Tea House on Los Rios is located at 31731 Los Rios Street in San Juan Capistrano.
For information or reservations, call (949) 443-3914 or visit www.theteahouseonlosrios.com
At elementary schools all over California, fourth graders have been making missions from craft supplies for years. My son constructed Mission San Diego Alcala (the first of 21 established in the state) last year, which made our visit all the more exciting and impactful. The city’s first downtown area and the true birthplace of California, San Diego is now famous for its pristine stretches of sandy shore and hip shopping and bar crawls through Pacific Beach. But once upon a time, San Diego was known for the historic sites, cultural lore, and the nearby Mission San Diego de Alcala.
The parks by themselves are enough to draw you into the heart of the city, where the local flora and fauna bloom year round, thanks to the balmy Mediterranean clime. Offering an escape to the botanist at heart or the happy camper, both Balboa Park and Anza Borrego State Park are Trip Advisor don’t-misses - welcome and waiting with a full lineup of bird watching tours, plant sales and workshops. With cruises docking year round, five star restaurants, theme parks, skating, kayaking, shopping, and more, there is something to satisfy the whole family. But on this particular stay-cation, we opted to explore the charm and ambience of Old Town San Diego and bonus! happened to book our stay during the lively, colorful Dia De Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration (Oct 31 - Nov 2). Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday of prayer and remembrance honoring the lives of friends and family members who have passed away. It is believed that the souls of the dead come back to visit their loved ones at this time. Contrary to popular belief, Dia De Muertas is not a sad time, but a time of happiness and celebration of life, which we discovered firsthand.
Best Western Plus Hacienda Hotel Old Town
Finding comfort, charm, and hospitality all in one place aren’t difficult when you’re staying in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Surrounded by colorful courtyards, patios, and gorgeous landscaping, a stay at San Diego’s Best Western Plus Hacienda Old Town proved to the perfect place from which to explore the area. Literally walking distance to entertainment, art galleries, family-friendly restaurants, and a locale adjacent to the historic Old Town Presidio: where California began.
This charming property boasts 200 spacious guest rooms appointed with handcrafted Santa Fe furnishings inspired by the simple elegance of the old Spanish missions which truly lent itself to the historic “theme”of our visit. Each guest accommodation includes a private balcony or shared courtyard with abundant seating areas to soak in the ambiance, access to a heated swimming pool and spa and on-site Old Town Tequila Factory Restaurant and Cantina.
Casa de Reyes Restaurant in Old Town State Historic Park
Everyone needs to eat, but not all meals were created equal. Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, drinks, or even a brunch you were after, Casa de Reyes is certainly the place to be. Serving up authentic Mexican fare, breakfast is served until noon, and all tortillas are handmade fresh daily. Platters to share, and all the classics ensure that dinner out with friends, coworkers, or family will never be dull. The stage in the middle of the Fiesta de Reyes plaza features free, live entertainment nightly. Every weekend Old Town’s favorite mariachi band and beautiful folklorico dancers make for an unforgettable dining experience.
Among the most popular dishes include the El Gran Fuego burrito stuffed with tender pork marinated in Mexican spices, chorizo, pineapple juice and guajillo pepper, pinto beans, chopped onion, cilantro and fresh habenero peppers. Seasonal specials range from the Agave Chipotle Chicken (a delicious bone-in, oven-baked half chicken rubbed with Mexican spices and topped with a chipotle agave salsa and served with Mexican-style quinoa and black beans) to the Salmon A La Diabla (salmon filet marinated in roasted salsa with chile cascabel).
Mission San Diego de Alcala
Of the 21 missions in California, San Diego de Alcala marks the birthplace of Christianity on the West Coast. Providing an important cultural and significant look at the start of Catholicism, the mission, which was founded in 1769 serves as an active community hub, parish church, and grandiose placeholder for the migration of faith from Spain to the United States. The California olive was first cultivated at the Mission in San Diego, and many thousands of children’s appreciation for California history.
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Presenting the best of California culture, San Diego’s Old Town State Historic Park gives visitors the opportunity to experience the history of its early connections to our storied present. Restored buildings from the interpretive period are complemented with early twentieth-century buildings designed in the same mode. Original adobe buildings are part of the park, which remains a favorite place for social gatherings and family-friendly historic activities, like the park’s working blacksmith shop.
Junipero Serra Museum
Operated by the San Diego History Center, the museum dedicated to Father Junipero Serra sits on the site of the very first European settlement: the very first permanent settlement in the state of California. Standing tall today, the site is one of the area’s most popular preferred wedding and event sites, with exhibits that present a time capsule of California’s most distinguished historical record: that of its original people, art, historical documents and more.
After an educational afternoon, we were off for to indulge in the entertainment of Belmont Park, the iconic beachfront amusement center with games, indoor children’s play center and rides including the Giant Dipper (a restored wooden roller coaster originally built in 1925) the Beach Blaster (I took a pass on this one, but I’m told this is one of the park’s most popular rides for adrenaline junkies - easy to see why as the ride swings passengers 60 feet in the air while spinning 120 degrees). Our family went with the decidedly “tamer” attractions - bumper cars, carousel, laser maze, rock climbing wall and zip line.
Developed originally by sugar magnate John Spreckels, Belmont Park opened its gates for the first time on July 4th, 1925. Though its moniker has changed over the years, from the Mission Beach Amusement Center to Belmont, it has always been an historic center for amusement in San Diego. Various cafes dot the park, from rooftops to taco stands, making Belmont Park the perfect spot for a day out in the idyllic San Diego sunshine.
Get Airborne! Family Fun Freefall at iFLY San Diego!
For an adventurous and exciting endeavor, our family decided to give indoor skydiving a try at iFLY San Diego in heart of Mission Valley. I say adventurous because this is as close to the real thing that I’m personally likely to experience (by choice anyway) and exciting because our 10-year-old son in particular could barely contain himself when he learned where we were headed.
iFLY allows flyers from age 3 to 103 to experience free flight in a state-of-the-art 14-foot wind tunnel. After we checked in and watched a brief tutorial, we suited up and awaited our turn while watching an instructor spin, flip and perform fancy trips flying around inside the tunnel (suffice to say it’s a skill attempted only after multiple visits and ample training).
Flying in tunnels like this is part of a fast-growing sport called bodyflight. As a mom, I was pleased to learn that an instructor would be by my son’s side the entire time, making sure he understood what he needed to do in order to fly on his own. Then for the last portion of the (approximately) two minute flight, the instructor amped up the fun quotient by holding my son’s hands and spinning them both up toward the top of the tunnel.
So how much fun was the flight? We hadn’t even made it out of the building when our son asked if he and a friend could celebrate his 11th birthday at iFLY San Diego. I’d say that’s a resounding endorsement.
iFLY San Diego is located at 2385 Camino del Rio North in Mission Valley. For information, call (619) 736-3348 or visit www.iFLYworld.com