Fun photos at Chula Vista Lemon Festival!

Huge crowds converged today in downtown Chula Vista for the big 25th Annual Lemon Festival!

Families were walking along Third Avenue enjoying the lemony sights and tasty smells.

Musicians performed on the Zesty Stage. Kids played and made crafts in the Lil’ Lemons zone. Vendors had all sorts of lemon-themed goodies on display, and it seemed that fresh lemonade could be found every few steps! Many neighbors were wearing bright yellow!

Why a big Lemon Festival in Chula Vista?

Once upon a time, before asphalt streets crisscrossed the sunny landscape, agriculture in San Diego’s South Bay was famous for its abundant lemon production. Our climate is perfect to grow citrus.

In the early 20th century there were almost two thousand acres of lemon groves around Chula Vista, which called itself the Lemon Capital of the World.

Enjoy the following fun photos! I walked up and down Third Avenue a couple times, taking in the festive scene, before I headed off to another cool Chula Vista location, as you will see in an upcoming blog post!

This super nice lady handed me some literature concerning the Arts in the Park festival, which is coming up in Chula Vista on August 27th from 10-5 in Memorial Park.

Mark it on your calendar!

If you’d like to see a few more photographs these great chalk art murals, click here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The “berry” sweet Vista Strawberry Festival!

Could the Vista Strawberry Festival be the largest, most popular street festival in all of San Diego County? From what I saw today, it might well be! It is the largest strawberry festival in these parts!

All of downtown Vista–nearly every street it seemed–was closed to traffic and packed with excited families and smiling neighbors, all enjoying a sweet Memorial Day weekend Sunday!

Did you know Vista was once considered the Strawberry Capital of the World?

There was so much going on at the festival, so many happy people dressed as strawberries, or eating strawberries, or buying strawberry art, crafts and concoctions, that I thought I had entered strawberry heaven!

To kids the enormous fun zone, complete with a zip line, must’ve felt like heaven.

Those who raced in the morning 5K, having joined the crowd after the run, appeared to be enjoying themselves, too!

I met lots of great people during my visit and, of course, ate a few strawberries myself. (But I didn’t muster the courage to try the strawberry tamales.)

I was pleased to learn Vista’s Soroptimists (those three smiling faces in one of the photos coming up) have raised lots of money to help young women in difficult circumstances get an education! Visit their website here.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A tour of Olivewood Gardens in National City.

Yesterday I enjoyed an awesome tour of Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City.

As you will see in my photographs, Olivewood Gardens is a very special place.

It’s a green paradise in the middle of an urban setting, where students, families and neighbors learn about organic gardening and good nutrition. Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center is the destination of school field trips, where city kids can experience the virtues of a vegetable garden, being active outdoors, and environmental stewardship. There are also classes where parents learn how to prepare healthy meals, and how to become leaders in their community.

Graduates of Olivewood’s Cooking for Salud program are called Kitchenistas. They are integral participants in this non-profit organization’s educational programs. The Kitchenistas, through a Community Engagement Program, proudly work to improve the well-being of families throughout National City!

Patty Corona, the Cooking for Salud Coordinator, showed me all around Olivewood Gardens. We toured most of the grounds and checked out several demonstration gardening areas. We then walked through Olivewood’s historic Victorian house and its kitchen, which serve as the hub for a variety of fun events and educational activities.

In 2006, the beautiful 1896 Queen Anne style house and surrounding gardens were generously donated by the Walton family to the International Community Foundation “with the goal of leveraging the property to engage, grow, and promote healthy communities and dialogue through civic engagement and philanthropy in the San Diego-Baja California border region.” Through their own personal experiences, the Waltons understood the importance of eating healthy foods.

Learn more about the history of ICF and Olivewood Gardens, and the positive programs that are offered to the community, by visiting their website here.

Please enjoy these photographs from my tour! And read the photo captions for much more information.

I was excited to discover this small paradise in San Diego’s South Bay area, where gardens flourish, the sun shines, and nature’s beauty and healthy people thrive!

A view of Olivewood Garden’s beautiful Victorian house from N Avenue in National City.
One of many works of art gracing Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.
Various signs near the the late 19th century house provide visitors with information.
Oliver H. Noyes, National City postmaster (and retired senator from New Hampshire), built this Victorian house for his family in 1896. They sold it in 1947 to the Newlan family, who sold it to John and Christy Walton in 1985…
In July 2006, Christy Walton donated her former home and garden to the International Community Foundation to increase cross-border dialogue and philanthropy…
An area of the garden north of the house where school students gather, experience and learn.
Beds with growing vegetables, where young hands can work in the earth.
Look at all the healthy veges growing in this organic garden!
When I was young, my family had a large vegetable garden. Simply standing here brought back happy memories.
More surprising artwork in the garden. A stunning mosaic depicts colorful flowers.
Here’s a small succulent garden, demonstrating native plants.
Mural on a garden shed is bright with fruits and vegetables. By artist Brianna Perkins.
Don’t hog the water. Think several generations ahead.
Many butterflies like these, decorated differently, can be found in parks around National City. They were created by artist Roberto Salas, the Kitchenistas, and families from around the community.
As we walked along, I spied these sunlit roses.
A closer look at the beautiful sculpture you saw earlier from the street. It’s titled Reina de los Mares (Queen of the Seas), by artist Rocio Sánchez.
Walking through a lush green world.
We’ve arrived at another larger garden south of the house.

A sign describes Lukas’ garden…

When the Walton family lived here, their son Lukas was diagnosed with cancer at the age of three. When his cancer returned…his parents decided to treat him with herbs, juices, and produce they grew themselves. They made changes to their garden, growing all their food organically (with no chemicals) and biodynamically (by building healthy, living soil).

Lukas graduated from college, cancer-free in 2010.

A funny mural painted by the chicken coop.
Olivewood Gardens is filled with natural beauty.
A nursery on the grounds, overlooking National City Golf Course.
Taking a trail few other visitors travel.
On the hill above the golf course, Olivewood Gardens is growing dragon fruit! These interesting cacti are indigenous to the Americas.
Making our way back to the Victorian house. This is where many classes, events and activities are held at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center.
A mermaid sculpture beside the house.
Hand prints from the four members of the Walton family.
The kitchen area, where healthy cooking classes for students and parents take place.
Gorgeous stained glass window in the nearby dining room, where presentations to local teachers are also made.

The following few photos provide a taste of the house’s amazing interior decoration.

An old photograph in one room shows the house as it appeared over a century ago. Today the historic house remains in absolutely pristine condition.

Photograph of the Oliver H. Noyes home, circa 1900.
A smile at a very special place in National City!

Feeling inspired?

Do you want to volunteer, become an intern, learn gardening, take a cooking class, request a speaker, book a private event? Would you like to take steps toward becoming a community leader, so that you can create positive change?

Want to learn more?

Visit the Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center website here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Holiday Bazaar helps refugees, immigrant owned business!

A very cool San Diego holiday event is coming up this Saturday in North Park!

A Holiday Bazaar will be held December 4, 2021 from 10 am to 1 pm at the urban farm at 3745 30th Street. Look for the outdoor space just north of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. According to the event website, you’ll be able to shop from “local refugee and immigrant owned business, explore global street food, and listen to live music.”

I came upon this urban farm four years ago and described my experience here. As you can see in the above photo, I met friendly refugee students whose new home was San Diego. They were gaining confidence and learning job skills!

The 3rd Annual Holiday Bazaar is put on by MAKE Projects and International Rescue Committee’s Small Business Development Center.

Why not swing by and find some unique Christmas gifts? Vendors will be selling clothing, art, crafts, jewelry and much more!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Lemon Grove history at the Parsonage Museum.

One of the most fascinating museums in San Diego County is located in the city of Lemon Grove.

The Parsonage Museum, operated by the Lemon Grove Historical Society, occupies a beautifully restored Victorian building at Treganza Heritage Park. The building began as Lemon Grove’s first church, the 1897 Atherton Chapel.

The old church was eventually moved from its original location, served as a community meeting hall, then became a private residence. Today it houses a museum whose exhibits recall a time when Lemon Grove was a small agricultural town with citrus orchards and packing houses, a general store, and a boast of the Best Climate on Earth!

I walked about Treganza Heritage Park and visited the Parsonage Museum last weekend. I also took a quick look at the 1928 H. Lee House, a Tudor Revival structure that stands nearby in the park and serves as a cultural center.

I urge anyone interested in the history of San Diego and Lemon Grove to head to the Parsonage Museum on a day when they are open. See their website for more information here!

To get an idea of what you’ll discover, please read my photo captions!

Treganza Heritage Park in Lemon Grove was first called Civic Center Park. It’s name was changed in 2020. The Treganza family was an influential pioneer family in Lemon Grove.
A view of the H. Lee House. It was moved to this location to make way for the extension of State Route 125.
The H. Lee House was built in 1928. It was designed by British architect Frederick C. Clemesha. Today it serves as a cultural center, where events such as History Alive lectures can be enjoyed.
One more photo of the handsome H. Lee House.
Lemon trees stand in a plaza between the H. Lee House and the Parsonage Museum.
The small plaza welcomes visitors to Treganza Heritage Park.
A 2002 dedication plaque from back when it was called Civic Center Park.
Now turning to look at the Parsonage Museum. The restored Folk Victorian building, the 1897 Atherton Chapel, served as the only Lemon Grove church until 1912.
Recovered grave marker of Anton Sonka just outside the museum entrance.

Anton Sonka was the patriarch of the Sonka family that led the growth of Lemon Grove between 1908 and the 1950s. His headstone, along with many others, was removed from Calvary Cemetery in 1970 by the City of San Diego and dumped at Mt. Hope Cemetery for mass burial. In 1985 Lemon Grove Historical Society members rescued and stored the headstone. It was brought to The Parsonage Museum in 2000 and unveiled on this permanent site in 2004.

(If you’d like to learn more about this callous dumping of gravestones, which were discovered in a gully at Mt. Hope Cemetery, I posted a blog concerning it here.)

When I visited in November 2021, the Parsonage Museum was featuring several historical exhibits concerning Lemon Grove.
The museum building was “Built in 1897 as First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove.”
Stepping into the museum, greeted by a lemony, welcoming doormat!
Look at what’s in the museum! A recreation of the Sonka Brothers General Store.
Items on display recall Lemon Grove’s rural history, which includes general stores where the community would gather.

The Sonka Brothers General Store stood near the center of town for decades. You can see photos of the Lemon Grove History Mural that’s painted on the south side of the historic Sonka Brothers General Store building here!

Photo from October 3, 1957 of The Big Lemon during a flag-raising. Civic leader Tony Sonka stands at the center.

If you like to see The Big Lemon today, which still stands on Broadway, check out these photos!

Old drum from the Lemon Grove Junior High School band.
1891 photograph of the first general store in Lemon Grove, built by A. E. Christianson at Main and Pacific Streets.
The many displays at the Parsonage Museum include these Lemon Grove Fruit Growers Association packing crates.
Lemon sizers, circa 1930’s. Packers would separate lemons by size.
Woman holding lemon sizer, with stacked ready-to-assemble crates nearby.
A room on the ground floor of the Parsonage Museum recreates the Parson’s Study. Reverend Isaac Atherton established the First Congregational Church of Lemon Grove in 1894. The building was constructed in 1897.
Several rooms can be viewed on the second floor of the Parsonage Museum, including this Parents’ Room, or bedroom.
The Sewing Room.
The Children’s Room.
Back on the museum’s ground floor, in a corner gallery, the current exhibit is titled Miller Dairy Remembered. This local dairy sold its first milk in 1926. Houses were finally built on the ranch site in the 1980’s. An important chapter of Lemon Grove’s agrarian past is recalled.
Lemon Grove’s old Miller Dairy and their 300 freely roaming Holstein cows are fondly remembered at the Parsonage Museum.
Historical photos show the Miller Dairy in Lemon Grove, from 1940-1980.
One last look at the lemon yellow Parsonage Museum!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Mural at Welcome Home in Lemon Grove.

There’s a beautiful new mural on the front of the Welcome Home Boutique & Art Space in Lemon Grove. I spotted it yesterday during a walk down Broadway near Grove Street.

The art is by muralist and social justice activist Mario Chacón. It was painted this year.

Included in the artwork is the image of migrant workers collecting fruit from citrus trees.

Lemon Grove used to be largely agricultural. It’s sunny climate is perfect for growing citrus. The San Diego Union newspaper in 1894 referred to Lemon Grove as “a sea of lemon trees.”

My adventure yesterday included a visit to the Lemon Grove Parsonage Museum, which is operated by the Lemon Grove Historical Society. I’ll be sharing those fascinating photos in the next few days!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Mosaic art and a tractor at Civita Gardens.

A community garden at Civita in Mission Valley features beautiful mosaic art and an old tractor at its entrance.

I made this fun discovery during a recent walk through the sprawling Civita residential community.

The agriculture themed mosaics decorate the gated entrance to Civita Gardens. Given the names and dates on the colorful, shaped ceramics, they appear to have been created in 2016.

The nearby tractor has a small sign indicating it’s a 1956 108L Junior Porsche Tractor.

I’ll have more photos taken at Civita coming up shortly.

Enjoy these!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Old farming street art in Nestor.

During my recent adventure in Nestor I was surprised to find an abundance of street art. As I walked west along Tocayo Avenue and north up Hollister Street to Leon Avenue, I kept spotting electrical boxes painted with farm imagery.

Nestor is a quiet residential community in San Diego’s South Bay. Before urban development covered the landscape with asphalt streets lined with houses, Nestor was mostly farmland. I believe this street art is a tribute to those olden days.

As I walked along, it seemed that goats, cows and horses, and wildlife in wide open spaces, had emerged from the brush by the sidewalk.

The only artist signature I could find appears to indicate David Williams, 2009. It was painted on the wall mural at the corner of Hollister and Leon that features a wide view of an old farm.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A walk around the Rancho Guajome Adobe in Vista.

The Rancho Guajome Adobe is an architecturally and historically important 19th century ranch house located in Vista, California. I visited it a little over a week ago and walked around the grounds, learning about the fascinating history of the place while taking a few photographs.

I approached the Guajome Ranch House from the Santa Fe Trail to its south, then circled counterclockwise around the complex, viewing the beautiful arcaded veranda, several cisterns fed by wells, the chapel, and other outbuildings. I spotted various signs and plaques relating the history of the ranch, which was once the home of prominent early San Diego resident Cave Johnson Couts and his wife Maria Ysidora Barbara Bandini.

As you can see, I also stepped into a small museum. That’s where you can purchase tickets to guided and self-guided house tours.

According to Wikipedia: “The adobe was built in 1852 and served as the headquarters of Rancho Guajome, a Mexican land grant. Abel Stearns had given the rancho to Ysidora Bandini (sister of his wife Arcadia Bandini), as a wedding gift when she married Lieutenant Cave Johnson Couts in 1851. It was built with the profits from the cattle boom of the 1850s, when many California ranchos supplied the Gold Rush miners and associated new American immigrants with meat and leather. Couts was appointed sub-agent for the native Luiseño people (San Luis Rey Mission Indians) in 1853. He used their labor to improve his properties in the area, including this one and nearby Rancho Buena Vista and Rancho Vallecitos de San Marcos…”

I didn’t venture inside the 22-room hacienda, but I most likely will at some future time. The old ranch house is located in Rancho Guajome Adobe County Park. Check out the parks website here to learn more.

The following photos provide a taste of what you’ll see should you visit this historic place.

Peering from the veranda through an open door…

The sign reads:

The Carriage Courtyard.

Imagine the activity here where Couts quartered his many servants. The ranch foreman lived next to the gate. Horse and equipment stalls, blacksmith shop, tack room, winery, olive vats and a jail made up the ranch service yard. 300 Indian laborers made the thousands of adobe brick to build the walls, and other materials came from the abandoned San Luis Rey Mission with permission of the Diocesan Bishop.

Guajome Ranch House has been designated a National Historic Landmark

This site possesses national significance commemorating the history of the United States of America


National Park Service

United States Department of the Interior

Rancho Guajome

Formerly attached to Mission San Luis Rey, the 2,219 acre ranch passed through brief ownership by two mission Indians, then Don Abel Stearns, and into possession of Ysidora Bandini upon marriage to Col. Cave Johnson Couts. The adobe ranch house built in 1852-53, is one of the finest extant examples of the traditional Spanish-Mexican one-story hacienda with an inner-outer courtyard plan. It was acquired by San Diego County in 1973 for the Guajome Regional Park.

California registered Historical Landmark No. 940

Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation and Squibob Chapter, E Clampus Vitus, April 26, 1981.

This El Camino Real Bell commemorates the trail of California missions established by the padres and honors the bell’s designer: Harrie Rebbecca Piper Smith Forbes

Dedicated by the Woman’s Club of Vista


At its beginning, Rancho Guajome was a working cattle ranch. Because the West was dry, cattle owners like Cave Couts would turn their cattle out on unfenced pastures. However, during this “open range” period, sometimes cattle from different ranchos intermixed, making it difficult to determine which cattleman owned which cattle. The branding iron was invented as a solution…

Cave Johnson Couts was born in 1821 in Springfield, Tennessee, and died in 1874 in San Diego at the Horton House. His wife Maria Ysidora Barbara Bandini was born in 1828 in San Diego, was married in 1851 at the Casa de Bandini in Old Town (now the Cosmopolitan Hotel), and died in 1897 in Los Angeles.

Included in the museum display are Native work baskets, Southern California style, circa 19th century.

Rancho Guajome Adobe farm equipment included a farm wagon, breaking carts for training horses, a broadcast seeder, a sulky used for racing horses, and a four-bottom Stockton plow used to turn soil to prepare fields for planting.

In the past I blogged about the Colorado House, a two-story hotel that was built in Old Town San Diego in 1851 by the very same Cave Couts. Today it serves as the Wells Fargo History Museum. Read that here.

I’ve also blogged about the El Campo Santo cemetery grave of Juan Mendoza, who was shot in the back by Cave Couts. See that here. (During one walk I spotted another mysterious wooden tombstone with the name Juan Mendoza by a parking lot, across the San Diego River from Old Town. Read that here!)

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Monument honors South Bay Issei Pioneers.

In Chula Vista, at the corner of Palomar Street and Broadway, you’ll find busy shopping malls in every direction. And thousands of passing cars.

What you won’t see, unless you are one of the few who walk down the sidewalk, is a bronze plaque on a stone set back among bushes. This small monument to South Bay Issei Pioneers marks the place where the Chula Vista Gakuen or Japanese School stood when it was dedicated in 1925.

I’ve transcribed what I read on the plaque. (Issei are immigrants born in Japan. Nisei are their children, born in the new country.)


Initially arriving in 1885, these immigrants from Japan, through their intellect, diligence, and tenacity made numerous major contributions to the agricultural development of this area. These accomplishments were achieved at the same time as the issei were fighting discrimination, unfair land laws, and ultimately, the mass removal of all person of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast of the United States during World War II. This site marks the final location of the Chula Vista Gakuen or Japanese School, which was originally dedicated on October 6, 1925. The school helped nisei children to better understand and honor their heritage.

Japanese American Citizens League San Diego Chapter

Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego
September 1996

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!