They promised me perfect weather. Three years ago, I was in New York City, getting ready to move across the country, and everyone told me the weather out here was perfect, all the time: 72 degrees and sunny, day after perfect day.
In the winter, we get drizzle and the temperature drops into the chilly range. All spring we get overcast and clouds. In October, it's freakin' hot, plus the region is liable to burst into flames. All of which is why the actual summer in San Diego rocks. That's when the perfect weather finally hits: dry, warm and so sunny that weathermen pre-tape their forecasts and go on vacation. Good times.
So, summer, where to go? “They” always tells us to hit the beach or Balboa Park. But let's face it—the beach is full of sand and toddlers and no beer, and Balboa Park swaps grass for sand and mixes in some museums, but still, no beer.
There must be someplace else to go, right?
Hell yeah. Lots of places to go, places “they” will never tell you about because “they” want to keep it all to themselves. Well, this is why you read CityBeat, isn't it? To stick it to “them” and find out where all the good places are.
Start up in Encinitas. The labyrinth of trails wending through Quail Botanical Gardens takes visitors into a dozen different ecosystems. Wandering these pathways is like meandering through a dense urban environment, where each turn leads to a new neighborhood and new delights. A visitor can start in the Mediterranean Garden, walk up to the manicured Lawn Garden and then head through the jungles of Central America. Quail Gardens has a terrific children's area (it's nice of them to have a separate children's quarant—err, space, isn't it?), where kids can plant seedlings and learn how different plants grow in different climates. For $10, it's one of the more peaceful days someone can spend in San Diego. 230 Quail Gardens Drive. www.qbgardens.org.
Then again, if that's not serene enough, there's always the Self Realization Center's Hermitage and Meditation Garden. This privately owned park is open to the public but is an adult place. In addition to the lush walkways and scenic ocean overlooks, visitors will have to be wary not to trip over the meditators and yoga classes that like to use the space. 215 K St. Visit www.yogananda-srf.org/temples, and click on “Self Realization Fellowship Temple, Encinitas.”
For a more active day, consider the bounty of lakes in the area. “They” would have us think that just because we live in a desert, there's no water. But San Diego has some excellent fresh-water lakes, each one guaranteed not to leave you with a salty crust. Lake Murray, 17 minutes from Qualcomm Stadium, in the area west of 125 and north of I-8, offers excellent swimming, fishing and boating. On weekends, the city rents boats for fishermen. People are welcome to bring inner tubes as long as they float no more than 150 feet from shore. Go to www.sandiego.gov/water, then click on “City Lakes and Recreation,” then click “Murray” under “Reservoirs.”
Lake Poway is a tad farther afield, off Lake Poway Road in, err, Poway, but fishermen will enjoy sitting in the middle of a well-stocked fishing hole, surrounded by scenic hills, well off the main roads. Go to www.ci.poway.ca.us and click on “Community,” then “Parks,” then “Lake Poway.”
Lake Poway borders the Blue Sky Ecological Reserve, an excellent hiking spot even in summer when it gets hot, because many of its walks are shaded and they lead to Lake Poway or Ramona Reservoir Dam. The hikes range from easy to moderate, so as long as you bring water, they can be easy-to-reach excursions into nature. For the really hardcore, get up early (like, be on the trail at 6) and try the hike to Mt. Woodson. The trail runs above the tree line pretty quickly, but the views along the way are gorgeous. Having seen enough people try it unprepared, please accept this warning: Bring sunscreen, wear a hat and carry lots of water. But it's worth the walk. www.blueskyreserve.com.
There are, of course, lots of other places that don't involve the beach or Balboa—Kate Sessions Park is a CityBeat favorite, and Julian is an excellent place to get out of the heat (we like Volcan Mountain a lot). And, hey, if the great outdoors really isn't your thing, there's always a Padres game. It doesn't really matter how they're playing; the perfect weather in the San Diego summer makes any game at Petco a pleasant day at the park. Seth Combs contributed to this story.