Category Archives: Urban Landscapes

San Diego Harbor

San Diego Harbor is undergoing a major revamp these days. As you can see from my pictures below there is construction equipment in the background and old buildings being torn down to make way for the new. It is hoped that the future harbor will rival big city waterfronts like San Francisco or Seattle at some point. The most recent projects to have completed were the cruise ship terminal and the visitor information center and kiosks such as the popular Carnitas Snack Shack.


Phase 2 and 3 remain to move forward on what is known as the Embarcadero re-development project. If you are interested, you can find out more here: and here:

The San Diego harbor is really a gateway to San Diego and downtown though, so it is a great place to either start your visit to San Diego, check out what is happening as a local, get some exercise on the walking paths, take the kids for some low cost fun at the new waterfront park or even head on over to Little Italy for some great dining options.

Waterfront Park

Parking can be a bit tricky in this area, the waterfront park pictured above has some underground parking for a fee, otherwise you may have to lace up those walking shoes and be prepared for hitting the blocks down here or opening up the wallet for some pricey downtown parking fees–whichever eases your mind the most is up to you.

One of the biggest attractions here is the San Diego Harbor tours–Hornblower and Flagship are the two main ones and they are all located just to the left of the above photo. You can do a 1-hour tour or go out further for some whale watching which is a nice, relaxing way to see San Diego from another perspective.

Tour Boats lined up

The Embarcadero walking path also tells a little history of San Diego’s military and its contributions. At the southern end of the walking path, you will see one of San Diego’s more famous landmarks, (which can also be seen in the background of my homepage ;-)) along with other memorials and sights to see.


All in all, there is a little something for everyone at the Embarcadero and is an area with a lot of history for San Diego.


Nice, new dog park in Mission Valley

Living in central San Diego, there are few options for dog parks if you have a small to medium-sized dog that cannot go off-leash without fencing. Until now. The Civita development

as part of the master plan for this 14.3 acre park located off of Friars Road and Russell Parkway has recently unveiled the first phase of a large, open space park with multiple attractions with plans to open the next phases in the coming months. When completed it will include an outdoor, small amphitheater, a museum of Mission Valley history, community garden, recreation center and pools for the homeowners of the Civita community, walking trails, basketball court, ping pong tables and more. You can find out more information here.

Bathroom signOutdoor Amphitheatre

While exploring this new park, I saw an interesting crysal sculpture and learned on the Civitas blog of a pop-up art exhibit coming to town in the next two weeks. It looked intriguing so I purchased tickets. You can find out more on the exhibit’s website–Wonderspaces. It proclaims to be an event with food trucks, beer and interactive art spaces. Lots of exciting stuff!


This article mainly focuses on the dog park, which just opened about two weeks ago. It is located at the top of the park, after climbing several flights of steps or coming from Murray Ridge Road, you can park at the top. The park has two runs, one for small dogs and one for larger breeds. In the dog parks are drinking fountains, trees that provide shade, several structures for agility training or play and plenty of grass.

Large Dog Run

It is nice to have something as equally nice as the dog park up in Encinitas without having to make that long drive.


Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala

Many San Diegans such as myself have driven by this sight for years and had no idea how truly beautiful the mission and the surrounding property is right in the heart of central San Diego. It is located in Mission Valley adjacent to Qualcomm stadium, home to the San Diego Super Chargers, amidst a sea of condominiums and lifestyle apartments and strip malls and franchises. Not the most graceful location for this storied facade of California’s earliest history of settlement.

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala is heralded as the first mission in the western United States. According to the information I read at the museum, the Spanish King had sent Franciscan missionaries to the area to establish missions and convert the natives to Christianity under the guise of establishing a presence amidst territory encroachments by the Russians and other foreign powers. Father Junipero Serra was to lead the Franciscan missionaries in establishing these missions. And it is telling that the purpose of these missions is in the name as Alcala means ‘Citadel’ in Arabic/Spanish.







Can you imagine if Father Junipero Serra had not undertaken this mission impossible to convert the resistant natives to Christianity? We would be eating goulash and blintzes at happy hour instead of Taco Tuesdays and Corona–so unAmerican!

I am grateful that Father Serra settled and established a missionary colony of 21 missions across Alta California as far north as San Francisco with the San Francisco Solano mission built in 1823. The Mission San Diego is quite different than when it was first constructed in 1774. It has withstood Indian attacks, abandonment, conversion to a citadel and fire.


I believe this is an important and often over-looked part of San Diego history and amidst the chaos that is Mission Valley, this site is a peaceful oasis and a serendipitous discovery.

For $5 you can spend an hour meandering through the mission and exhibits, look at finds from archaeological digs on the site such as military buttons and 19th century spectacles and delight in the beautiful native landscaping.

A San Diego treasure!


Urban Adventuring in South Park

Can be found in Switzer Canyon in South Park. I recently took a friend on this hike and she was in awe of how many different trails and landscapes we came across on this short hike. The route to this trail begins in the midst of an eclectic neighborhood with old Airstream trailers, refurbished  homes with an assortment of architectural creativity. You then come across the entrance to the trail which drops down into the base of a canyon and then leads back to the bridge which houses the Switzer canyon sign. To get to the rest of the trail here is where your adventuring comes in. You might want to bring a flashlight as you will need to hunch down and pass under the bridge through a small tunnel. Don’t think about whether there are mouse droppings or meth needles on the ground, just use your iPhone app’s flashlight and venture forth! On the other side is some interesting graffiti and a rock-covered trail through the rest of the canyon. This deposits after a quarter of a mile along the perimeter of Balboa Park’s golf course and the backyard of some homes.

All in all, you will enjoy the challenge of this hike and it is a peaceful walk through parts of San Diego I am sure many have never frequented–some of the best parts about San Diego coming together.

The Central Library

I have been wanting to visit the downtown library since it opened in late 2013. I remember there was a lot of debate about whether the city with its budget problems should invest in what some consider an outdated service. Many argued it would just become a homeless encampment while others were more in favor of investing in new sport stadium that they felt would actually be used.

I think that the mark of a great city though is told by its civic structures and having a library helps mold San Diego into a 21st century city that also wants to be known for its culture and support of education of its populace. We have a lot of social and political issues facing this great nation in this day and age and I have to say it was encouraging and inspiring to visit the New Central Library. Yes, you will see plenty of homeless, but you see many young people comingling with the older generations. You see families and basically a cross-section of society all gathered in one place. There are not too many buildings anymore where you can see that.

I discovered during our brief visit that there are so  many programs and services that the library is offering that we didn’t even know about. Really cool stuff for all age ranges. Gatherings and programs for teens and tweens, activities and book readings with pets for kids, services for seniors, an office for the disabled and veterans and mental health services all on site!

There are a lot of innovative offerings as well, the Central library apparently has a 3-D printer available for use and professionals that come offer free services such as legal help along with presentations by other speakers on a variety of interesting topics. To get the best idea of all of the events offered at the Central Library, this online magazine has the most information here: Online Magazine

Or you can also visit this website: San Diego Central Library Programs and Events

On top of all of these services is a beautiful building, interesting artwork displayed throughout, a gift shop that supports the library with products made by locals and highlighting local points of interest, a Living Room Cafe’ on the ground floor with an outdoor atrium for seating, a kids section and a teen/tween section with computers and study rooms.

Parking can be a challenge as I learned on the day that I chose to visit, you have to be aware that if there is a major downtown event such as Comic-Con or a Padres game that unless you want to pay special event parking like the $25 they were charging on the day I visited, that you have to plan ahead and find street parking or take the trolley in. Fortunately, we found street parking just up the block.

If you are able to park underground, you get two hours free with validation at the front desk.

We found plenty of staff were available to help us find what we were looking for and they were more than willing to help take us around to show us what the library has to offer. These are resource pros! If they don’t have what you are looking for, they can help tell you where you can find it and that is pretty cool.

So, plan an afternoon checking out this great addition to America’s Finest City!

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