Category Archives: California

The Africa Tram at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

When in San Diego a lot of people visit the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, which sits right in the heart of the city. While in town you should head thirty-five miles northeast and take in their other gem, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

While the main zoo has more animals, it’s limited in terms of space. That is certainly not the case at this expansive park just outside Escondido, California. The animals here roam outdoors within expansive enclosures and the parks 1,800 acres. They want the animals to experience a setting that resembles their natural habitat.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Escondido, California

You can enjoy this up close on the Africa Tram. We went on the 40-plus minute tour with many others siting in a colorful train car. The tour guide explained to everyone what we were seeing all along the way.

We saw some of the three-thousand animals and three-hundred species that the San Diego Safari Park has to offer including giraffes, antelopes, buffalo, zebra, birds and rhinos. With the open dry land, greenery, mountains and desert off in the distance it kinda felt we were out in the wild. Below are some of the pictures I took during this safari tour experience.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram - giraffe

San Diego Zoo Safari Park - Africa Tram

Some other information:

  • Tours start at 10 a.m. running until 45 minutes before the park closes. We took one of the first tours out because the lines and wait will build fast leading into lunchtime.
  • You can purchase tickets at the tram entrance gate, but we got the 1-Day passes online to the Safari Park which includes the African Tram tour.
  • Bring plenty of fluids, especially in the summer. The park sits inland in the San Pasqual Valley, which has a desert like climate.
  • Have your cameras ready of course! The train will stop at various points for picture-taking opportunities.

Check the San Diego Zoo Safari Park out as they are active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What other zoos would you recommend visiting in the US and the world?

Out on the Open San Dieguito River Park Trail

Amongst the hustle and bustle of Southern California, near San Diego, sits the 92,000-acre open San Dieguito River Park. The park and all its natural space stretches from the Pacific coastline in Del Mar to Volcan Mountain some 50+ miles inland. You will find over 65 miles of trails of all shapes and sizes to enjoy the outdoors and some hiking adventure.

I spent separate mornings early this year checking out two trails in the northern part of San Diego in Rancho Bernardo. Both sat amongst suburbia, yet gave off the feeling of being in a deserted land far, far away.

The 2.1 Highland Valley Trail sits along the south side of the San Dieguito River Valley.

I entered the trail along Highland Valley Road and immediately could see the vast valley views looking north. The single path took me through and around small hills with times in the woods, passing by countless rock formations. It was a good early morning hike.

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

The Bernardo Bay Trails sit opposite I-15 along W. Bernardo Dr. Leaving the Natural Area parking area, I walked amongst coastal sage scrub on the 2.1 miles of hillside trails.

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

After a little bit out on the open dirt paths, Lake Hodges and Bernardo Bay was front-and-center. I didn’t happen to see any, but it is a good spot to check various species of birds. I did set up shop on a big rock to soak in the picturesque views in front of me.

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

San Dieguito River Park - San Diego, California

Additional Information:
– There are no facilities on either trail.
– Both are bike friendly.
– In general you can’t venture off any of the trails in the park to help preserve all its nature, nor enter onto them at night.

For more visit the San Dieguito River Park website.

What are some other trails you would recommend checking out within the San Dieguito River Park and/or in Southern California?

10 Reasons Why I Keep Going Back to San Francisco

Outside of the home bases, my favorite city to travel to by far is San Francisco. In general the goose bumps appear whenever a trip is on the horizon. When it is a return visit to the “City by the Bay”, goose bumps are an understatement to how I am feeling.

Why do I keep going back to San Francisco you ask? There are ten reasons in particular:

1. The Growing Up Factor. My dad and his side of the family are originally from California and the Bay Area, so there was lot of San Fran summer time growing up. Cable car rides, experiencing my first coffee at The Buena Vista Cafe, watching the sea lions, Giants baseball games, all the fun memories of youth, make me want to go back and experience it over-and-over again.

10 reasons Why I Keep Going Back to San Francisco - Cable Car

Riding a Cable Car down Hyde Street as a kid.

2. The Coffee. San Francisco has one of the best indie coffee shop scenes around. Hanging out to a pour over in the Mission District at Four Barrel or grabbing an espresso shot at the Blue Bottle Kiosk in Hayes Valley, there seems to be a shop popping up on every corner. Each one is in its own little nook of the city. Experiencing the different coffee shops has also been a great way to discover and learn more about the various parts of the city.

3. The Neighborhoods. Speaking of the various parts, San Francisco is home to dozens of neighborhoods. Fisherman’s Wharf is the popular choice among tourists, Union Square is for shoppers, Outer Sunset is where you’ll run into the Pacific Ocean and lots of fog, and Alamo Square is primary residential, but with some of the best views of the skyline and city. I love the fact that each neighborhood has its own story and unique flavor. It feels like you’ve entered a different city or part of world going from one to the next.

10 reasons Why I Keep Going Back to San Francisco - Weather, fog, Outer Sunset neighborhood

Staring out at the Outer and Inner Sunset neighborhoods from The 16th Ave Tiled Steps Project.

4. The International Feel. Walking the streets you’ll hear many conversations, sometimes none of them in English. People from all over the world come to the city to visit and/or set up residency. The Japantown neighborhood is the oldest enclave in the United States. Chinatown is the place I like to go to scope out authentic cuisine, seeing fruits and vegetables at product markets along Stockton Street that I have never tried, or to hop from one touristy gift an antique shop to the next on Grant Avenue.

10 reasons Why I Keep Going  Back to San Francisco - China Town neighborhood

Heading into the Chinatown neighborhood at Grant Avenue and Bush Street.

5. The Walkability. One thing that can be a challenge yet at the same time is strength of the city is its walkability. You face challenges heading off on foot with the drastic elevation changes like on Hyde Street. The chance to experience hidden gems that you would never see taking public transportation is well worth the climbing. I took a short stroll off the beaten path from the tourist friendly Lombard Street and found one of my favorite San Fran views just by walking.

6. The Weather. I’ve always had a fascination with storms, clouds, checking out the local radar maps wherever I am at and waking up to the Weather Channel every day. This city and the surrounding area is a smorgasbord for meteorologists. Along the coast it could be cold, drizzly and foggy, while a few miles inline in the heart of the city there could be blue skies and you would be a t-shirt. You head to the other side of San Francisco Bay and further inland and it could be a hundred degrees in the summer. Waking up in the morning, along with deciding where I want to go for coffee I ask myself, “What kind of weather am I in the mood for today?”

7. The Water. The temperatures you experience in San Francisco are influenced in a big way by how close to are to the Pacific Ocean. The city sits on a peninsula surrounded by the ocean and San Francisco Bay. I love being along water no matter where I am at. Ocean Beach right along the Pacific is always the first place I head to when visiting. Lands End, the Ferry Building, and walking over the Golden Gate Bridge are my other favorite spots to hangout and capture the majestic water views.

10 reasons Why I Keep Going Back to San Francisco - Ocean Beach, Pacific Ocean

Looking out at Ocean Beach and the Pacific Ocean beyond.

8. The Terrain. The unpredictable weather can also be attributed to the fact that you go from rugged coastline, to big city and mountains, to the desert in the blink of an eye. I enjoy the fact that you can experience hair-pin turns, palm trees, coastline and flat desert all on one short car ride.

9. The Views. All of the above factors put together create views that are hard to match anywhere else. Staring off into the wavy Pacific, taking a cable car ride, driving up to Twin Peaks or walking up-top Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, I get a bit overwhelmed (in a good way) with the options to capture breathtaking vistas and views.

10 reasons Why I Keep Going Back to San Francisco - skyline from Alamo Square

The skyline from Alamo Square.

10. The Tech. Along with travel, technology has also been a passion of mine since my youth. I actually pay the bills today as a web developer. Just south of the city, sits Silicon Valley, the technological hub of the world. Apple, Google, YouTube, Yahoo, you name a tech company, you will find them headquartered or with a very large presence here. Many companies also setup up shop right in the city. Walk into a coffee shop or casually down the street, sit on a random bench and you’re bound to catch a conversation about a website launch, an IPO or what they think Apple is going to do next. The dot-com heyday may have passed, but there still a buzz in this region. It brings out the geek in me when in town.

What are some reasons why you would want to visit (or return to) San Francisco?

A San Diego Area Beach To Get Away From It All.

In the San Diego area and looking to get away from the hustle-and-bustle of Southern California? Make the trek over to Coronado Island and then down California State Route 75 to Silver Strand State Beach.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

The beach sits on the narrow strip of land that connects Coronado proper with Imperial Beach. You’ll find beaches on each side of the highway, along both San Diego Bay to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. All of the photos below are from the ocean side.

As you head onto the beach from the main parking area, look to the right down the coast and you’ll see the heart of Coronado and Point Loma off in the distance. The beach is away from town, so you will find it not nearly as busy as nearby Coronado Beach. No hustle-and-bustle here!

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Turn to the left, now heading southward on the white and black sanded beach, and you will see the mountains and hills of Tijuana and Mexico which sits only ten or so miles away.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Starring out into the blue waters of the Pacific, your bound to see a military ship or two off in the distance.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

As you walk the beach who knows what you’ll encounter. Amongst the many bits of seashells, I had my first ever encounter with a sand dollar. They are a frequent sight here. If you look down you might spot some moon snail, cockle and silver oyster shells as well, the last of which is how the beach got its name.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Seaweed, common on a lot of beaches, is on the light side here. This was one of the cleanest and biggest, non-decaying pieces of seaweed I have ever seen.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

Tip: To access the San Diego Bay side of the state park and beaches, just park on the Pacific side and take one of the walking tunnels underneath the road. There is no parking available on that side.

Silver Strand State Beach, Coronado, California

What other beaches around San Diego and in Southern California would you recommend to get away from it all?

Road Tripping the SoCal PCH Around Malibu.

Are you around Los Angeles, looking for a quick road trip option to get a feel for what the Pacific coastline has to offer? The roughly forty mile stretch that starts in Santa Monica, goes through Malibu and ends at Point Mugu offers the road tripper a taste of that beauty and a lot more.

You can easily hop onto the PCH (also known as the Pacific Coast Highway and California State Route 1) either directly off westbound Interstate 10 or anywhere along Santa Monica State Beach.

California Road Trip - PCH - Santa Monica

As you head west you’ll pass by numerous vista and other random stopping points where you can soak in the coastline, walk the beaches and take one photo friendly shot after another. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

California Road Trip - PCH - Malibu

After checking out the beautiful SoCal Pacific coastline, stick around for sunset and you might run into a scene like in Photo of the Week: A SoCal PCH Sunset.