I love exploring nature with the kids. My dad took us on hikes a lot when we were kids and it was a great way to learn more about nature and the history of San Diego.
When THE NAT emailed me this morning to share their free, guided nature hikes, I knew I had to share it with my readers!
Canyoneers are citizen scientists and volunteers who have had comprehensive training by Museum scientists and local experts on the natural history of the region. Check out the full schedule of hikes between now and June 2020, and hit the trails with the Canyoneers! Look for the Canyoneer sign at the designated parking area. We are always hoping to see wildlife. Please leave dogs at home and come enjoy nature.
The Canyoneers offer free, guided hikes on trails throughout San Diego County from September through June. The new season kicks off this Saturday, September 8 with an easy, 1-mile hike on the Kumeyaay Lake Trail at Mission Trails Regional Park, perfect for children, seniors, and birdwatchers.
In total, the Canyoneers are offering 80 hikes. Most are offered on weekends—with a few midday hikes being offered on select dates—and cover diverse terrain, ranging from the coast to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and from the Tijuana Estuary to Palomar Mountain.
New hikes in Cleveland National Forest, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and several other locations including Gremlin Way Trailhead in Dictionary Hill Open Space Preserve.
Once a month, the Canyoneers will lead a mid-week hike to locations that are often crowded on weekends due to limited access. Examples include Equestrian Trail in Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve (November 13) and Luelf Pond Preserve in Ramona (May 12).
The desert hikes that are scheduled on consecutive days allow for camping opportunities, reducing the amount of driving necessary to get to both hikes. The desert at night is a special treat.
Some trails offer shorter hikes with little elevation change—good for younger hikers—and some very flat and paved hikes that are perfect for strollers and anyone with a disability. One example is the Batiquitos Lagoon Gabbiano Trailhead (September 14).
If the weather cooperates, there’s a chance to see waterfalls on Cibbets Flat to Kitchen Creek Falls hike (February 9) and the Green Valley Falls Loop (June 28). Green Valley Falls is an amazing hike and has pools of water that are fun to play in!
Hikes in some of the most interesting geological areas in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, including Fish Creek/Split Mountain (January 4) and Canyon Sin Nombre (February 8)—perfect for slot canyon fans.
And if you have kids, there is a special program for students and classes too!
“Kids are most inspired by nature when they get outside and experience it for themselves—seeing a Monarch butterfly or a coast live oak in person helps bring to life what they’re learning in the classroom,” said Judy Gradwohl, president and CEO of the San Diego Natural History Museum.
The program is made possible with support from Subaru of America, who is generously supporting the Canyoneer hiking program for the fourth year in a row.
The Museum aims to serve approximately 550 students this year through the program. Space is limited on the hikes. For more information or to book a hike, visit sdnat.org/schoolnaturehikesor call 619.255.0349.
If you are looking for books about hiking and exploring the many awesome trails and cool nature spots in San Diego County here are two books I completely recommend!
I’m stoked that the kids and I are feeling better! It’s spring break for the next two weeks and there are two new exhibits at Lego SEA LIFE® Aquarium!
On our next visit, we can take a splash in the ocean without ever getting wet and become a shark explorer at SEA LIFE® aquarium’s two newest exhibits: Sea at Night and Shark Mission! Open just in time for spring break, both exhibits allow guests to learn about marine life in a fun and interactive way.
Sea at Night invites guests to jump, leap and “splash” into simulated bioluminescent waves that react to their footsteps. The reaction created by the guests’ movements demonstrates the effect of a glowing tide similar to ones often seen along the Pacific coastline.
Shark Mission allows kids to come face to fin with six different species of sharks and rays on three giant touch screens. Young explorers can learn about anatomy, conservation and other cool facts through interactive activities and games. Guests can also hold a shark’s tooth, learn about shark skin and eggs, plus step into a shark cage.
Sea at Night and Shark Mission are open now for guests to explore at SEA LIFE aquarium. For more information, visit the Legoland website.
Don’t forget to check your local Denny’s location for a Kid’s Go Free Coupons! I found these at our local Denny’s!
Here are our Top Ten Community Events that are for kids and families for Q1 2018:
1/2/18-1/4/18 Santee Library hosts the most fun, creative events for kids. They are starting the year off with 3 events, January 2-4 in the afternoon. We are very excited to go to Imagination Day. If you aren’t in East County, check out your local San Diego County, or City of San Diego Library branch. Most branch libraries have fun events for kids after school and during holidays.
1/6/18 Free Family Fun Fest at the Kroc Center. The Kroc Center hosts a lot of great programs and events each month. The Kroc Center Free Family Fun Fest – Meet & greet with the San Diego Sockers, sports challenges, arts & crafts, inflatable park, costume dress up, giveaways and more
1/16/18 Family Read and Play Day. Again the Kroc Center is hosting this event. They host a reading event usually once a month. Sometimes the kids get to take home a copy of the book as well. Family Read and Play day, featuring the book, “Children Around the World” by Donata Montanari.
1/20/18 Santee Active Life Expo. From 9am-2pm, some of the free activities include: Watch professional athletes compete, Health & wellness activities, Extreme obstacle courses, Trial fitness classes, Firefighter challenge, BMX trick shows, Free breakfast (while supplies last), Learn how to race walk
2/3/18 The Water Conservation Garden over at Cuyamaca Community College offers Free Docent lead tours of the gardens. Tours begin promptly Saturday mornings at 10:00 am in the Plaza. No reservation required. 12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West
El Cajon, California 92019 My kids love this place- There are tons of fun areas to explore and learn all about nature.
2/6/18 is National Frozen Yogurt Day. There are no concrete details yet, but in past years Menchie’s and Yogurtland both gave away free froyo. I will for sure be posting more details as they become available.
2/9/18 is National Pizza Day. In the past there have been great offers for free slices and free whole pizzas. Sbarro and Pizza Hut usually participate.
2/13/18 is Shrove Tuesday which means that FREE PANCAKE DAY will be around that time. IHOP is the only restaurant in our area that offers free pancakes.
2/14/18 is Valentine’s Day. There are usually free events for kids at local libraries.
And finally- Henry’s Birthday is in March. While there are no specifc free events for his birthday, here are my lists of birthday freebies (for kids and adults). Original List and the updated list with some fun new stuff.
I’d love to hear about what your favorite free local events are! Please drop a comment with details and a link!
Spring break is just a few weeks away for most of us. We get two weeks, and I know some schools get three (you have my condolences). If you are looking for some fun, frugal stuff to do to pass the time, here are a few adventures we’ll be having:
Gillespie Field Duck Pond: Located on Billie Mitchell Drive in El Cajon, it’s a great place to stop, check out ducks and turtles and explore a little nature in the big city. Plus afterwards, you can stop by the Aerospace Museum Hangar on Kenney Road. It where the Aerospace museum keeps their place that are off exhibit or are being restored. It’s donation suggested, but you can pop by for free. The guys who work there are excited to have kids stop by. If you are feeling peckish, stop by the Gillespie Cafe and have a bite on the patio and watch the planes take off and land.
Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve: Lots of fun trails and paths, and if you’ve got it in you, there is a trail that leads down to some cool, hidden waterfalls! Don’t forget water and a snack!
The playground and Waterfront Park downtown are always fun. However, the water park area will be closed for maintenance for most of March. However the playground is RAD!!
Looking to enjoy a little bit of history? The Missions in San Diego are fun and educational. There are three in San Diego County: San Diego de Alcala (in Mission Valley), San Luis Rey (in Oceanside), and the Santa Ysabel Asistencia (in Santa Ysabel). If you go up to Santa Ysabel, stop for pie and bread at Dudley’s!
It’s wild Flower season out in Borrego Springs! Head down and check out the flowers, the fun(and free) museum, and don’t forget to check out Galleta Meadows! The awesome metal sculptures in the Borrego Springs area by artist Ricardo Breceda. Check out a printable map here, and here is a video about the awesome sculptures. This is one of Henry’s favorite things to do!
If you are looking for other fun stuff, here is an article I wrote last summer about summer fun!
As Lil’ Man gets bigger, we are looking for more fun outdoor adventures. This last rain storm would be the catalyst for two days of big outdoor fun.
Friday, we loaded up and headed over to to dam. The past week of rain has really changed our usual path, so we got to explore some areas we’d never seen together.
It was a great chance for him to check out new trails, see erosion in action, splash in the cold stream water (there were a couple times we had to jump over streams to continue on, and well, we didn’t quite make it!), and see shells. There are a lot of little fresh water clams that make the river their home, as a result, we saw lots of shells!
We climbed, discovered, and navigated our way through the park for about 2 hours. By far the most exciting thing we found was an old, rusted car that had been shot at many, many times in the past. When you area four year old boy, nothing is more exciting than a rusty old car.
After stopping for snacks and water, we continued on to explore nature and hopefully find some cool rocks (another favorite pastime).
On Saturday, we headed over after lunch to the Visitor & Interpretive Center. It was closed, but we checked out the nature flora and the amphitheater. Then we did the loop around the center. It was a fun, easy walk (no pictures, we were too busy exploring).
It’s a quick 1 mile loop with a couple foot bridges and it overlooks the river, which is “raging” (as much as it can here) right now.
If you are in the San Diego area and haven’t been to Mission Trails Regional Park, you are missing out. There is tons of fun to be had and nature to explore. There are paths and trails for every skill level, and there is even a paved path along Father Junipero Serra Trail if you aren’t feeling adventurous, but still want to get outside. Parking is free, admission to the park and Visitor & Interpretive Center is free (but they do accept donations!). Most paths, except the paved road are not stroller friendly. Most paths are bike and/or Equine friendly, and leashed dogs are welcome.
And of course what better way to end a fun day of hiking, than with a little park yoga: