A fun harbor tour on both land and sea!

Two tours in one! That’s what it felt like today when I explored San Diego’s harbor on a SEAL Tours boat with wheels!

It was my very first time experiencing one of these unique tours.

Passengers boarded the amphibious SEAL vehicle at Seaport Village and started down Harbor Drive along San Diego’s beautiful Embarcadero. We passed the airport and Spanish Landing and entered Point Loma. All the while, our tour guide (the boat’s first mate), provided a fun and spirited narration. My love of San Diego was renewed once again.

At the Shelter Island boat ramp we seamlessly entered San Diego Bay and headed out across the sparkling water!

Of course there were amazing views of downtown San Diego across the gentle water. And, of course, we had to swing by the bait dock near the entrance to the bay where sea lions entertained kids with their antics.

We saw several Navy facilities and were surprised to learn how super high-tech robot ships are autonomously interdicting drug smugglers. We also saw where the Navy trains sea lions and dolphins to detect underwater objects. And we saw the R/P FLIP, a very long, very strange Scripps research vessel that plunges 90 degrees into the ocean to become a sort of floating tower! There was so much cool stuff to see, I couldn’t begin to describe it all.

The tour was a lot of fun. Our guide, Bret, was a ham and everyone was always smiling and laughing. Personally, I learned quite a lot about my city that I hadn’t known before.

Are you a San Diego resident? This month–January–Old Town Trolley Tours is offering locals free rides. That includes the SEAL Tours, which they operate!

If you do partake of this harbor experience, make sure to bring a jacket. The wind out on the bay can be quite chilly!

Here’s a tiny taste of the experience…

Both the captain and first mate were really nice. As we got started visual aids helped to explain the coming attractions.

Two huge cruise ships were docked on the Embarcadero today.

Passing the beautiful, historic Star of India, world’s oldest active sailing ship.

We’ve arrived at Shelter Island, where we saw many boats moored in America’s Cup Harbor.

About to enter San Diego Bay! How cool is this?

The transition to water is so smooth you hardly notice it.

Another perfect San Diego day.


The bait dock had everyone taking a million photos. Those sea lions are digesting their breakfast.

How cute!

A bunch of cormorants were hanging out on this section.

A view of downtown San Diego skyscrapers over the large naval air base on Coronado’s North Island.

That narrow ship on the right operates autonomously. If it detects a drug runner out on the Pacific Ocean, the Coast Guard is notified.

Here’s where sea lions are trained by the U.S. Navy. We learned they are actually a bit more intelligent than dolphins.

Here comes another SEAL Tour! That’s Harbor Island behind it.

Back to land! Before heading again down city streets, our captain checked for seaweed caught in the wheels!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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!

Walking to the end of amazing Scripps Pier!

The long Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier, jutting into the Pacific Ocean north of La Jolla Shores, is operated by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The research pier is utilized by scientists and students who strive to learn more about our environment and the diverse life within it.

The public is usually restricted from going onto Scripps Pier, but those who register for a once-a-month tour get the opportunity to walk out to its very end. And that’s what I did today!

The tour–every second Saturday of the month (register here)–begins in front of the historic Scripps Building, then circles around several additional campus buildings until it reaches the foot of the pier. As our group walked along, the knowledgeable tour guide told us about the origin and history of the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and how its environmental and biological research benefits us all.

Then we came to the amazing pier and our sense of wonder grew…

The original wooden pier, built in 1916 with funding from Ellen Browning Scripps, was destroyed in 1983 by an El Niño powered storm. The current modern pier was built in 1988. Today it’s considered one of the world’s largest research piers.

Looking back at the foot of the pier we could see these tank-like water filters.

At the end of Scripps Pier is a pump station. The pier slopes slightly upward as you walk to its end. The reason? So that the freshly pumped seawater, propelled by gravity, will run down a covered trough that stretches along one side of the long pier.

The water, carefully filtered, is then used in the Scripps research labs on shore.

Walking out on the pier high over the beach, looking south toward La Jolla Shores. That’s the Village of La Jolla and La Jolla Cove jutting in the distance.

Now we’re gazing north toward the distant sandstone cliffs of Torrey Pines State Beach.

Many surfers were out today! A sunny San Diego day in December.

Looking back toward a portion of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography campus. (Scripps is a part of UC San Diego.)

We observed lots of guitarfish in the water below. When you’re swimming or surfing, you don’t necessarily see all that marine life beneath you!

Amazing views can be enjoyed from Scripps Pier. Looking down, we saw numerous surfers waiting for that perfect wave on either side of the pier.

We followed our tour guide to a group of container-like structures that were recently placed on Scripps Pier. Together they constitute a mobile facility that will be used for a one year atmospheric study by the U.S. Department of Energy.

A wide variety of scientific instruments, including radar, lidar, sky imagers and radiometers will measure cloud formation, reflectivity and other atmospheric phenomena.

We are approaching the end of Scripps Pier, where that prominent gray structure houses a seawater pump.

All sorts of small boats are kept near the end of the pier, where they can be lowered into the ocean to carry out research.

Notice something shaped like a Christmas tree atop the pump structure ahead? It lights up during the Holiday Season! (As do swags of lights along the length of the pier.)

Lifting a lid from that long trough that channels the pumped seawater gravitationally down the pier’s length. We saw barnacles, mussels and a live crab skittering around! (You can understand why those filters are necessary at the foot of the pier.)

There’s additional filtration near the pump!

I believe this device filters out the larger objects from the pumped seawater, before the water heads down the long trough. You can see some slimy seaweed stuck in it.

From this crane boats can be lowered to the ocean surface. On the left you can see the cage-like entrance to a descending ladder.

Our tour group came upon several people in wetsuits, just back from a dive!

A super friendly graduate student explained how they had dived at an artificial reef off Black’s Beach, to the north, near the Torrey Pines Gliderport. They photographed abundant sea life.

The wet spot is from their boat that was recently lifted!

That’s one long ladder down to the water!

I noticed many instruments on the roof of the pump structure, including antennas and wind gages.

And to one side is the Scripps Osprey Platform! (You can see it near the center of this photograph.)

A plaque on the pump structure. The Scripps Osprey Platform is dedicated to Art Cooley, a scientist who helped save the Osprey, Bald Eagle and Brown Pelican.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

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 floral beauty inside the Marston House!

For this 2022 Holiday Season, the Marston House in Balboa Park is doing something very special. The interior of the historic home has been decorated with many beautiful flower arrangements!

I learned today that the gorgeous floral displays, which can be found in most rooms, are new for the holidays this year. The flowers will dazzle Marston House visitors through the end of the year. If you’ve never been inside the Marston House, you need to go on a tour. Learn more by clicking here.

I once went on an informative tour and blogged about it here.

Today I learned that George W. Marston‘s wife, Anna, was active with the San Diego Floral Association, and the beautiful displays in the sitting room, brimming with lighter colors, were inspired by her love of flowers. (See above photo.)

I also learned George Marston considered yellow and gold the colors of California. The arrangements in the Marston library (the following two photos) reflect this.

The interior of the old house isn’t brightly lit, which poses a problem with my camera. I’ve adjusted the images to bring out the beauty as best I can.

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

I post new blogs pretty often. If you like discovering new things, bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and swing on by occasionally!

It’s easy to explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on this website’s sidebar. Or click a tag. There’s a lot of stuff to share and enjoy!

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!

Roaring San Diego for Annual Archives Month!

The 4th Annual Archives Month, presented by San Diego’s Office of the City Clerk, is returning in October!

The theme for 2022 is Roaring San Diego. The public will be invited to view exhibits in the lobby of the City Administration Building (202 C Street) that focus on our city’s history during the Roaring 1920s.

In addition, historical lectures by distinguished speakers will be presented at the San Diego Central Library, and there will be very special tours inside the archives!

If you’ve never stepped foot into the City Clerk Archives, in the basement of City Hall, where documents are carefully preserved for posterity, you really should sign up. The archives folks are super friendly and enthusiastic. I went on the tour three years ago and blogged about it here.

I’ve also blogged about two previous Archives Month exhibits that should interest history buffs. You can revisit those old posts here and here.

If you’d like to participate in this year’s Archives Month activities, please check out the City of San Diego webpage by clicking here. Make sure to sign up for the educational lectures that interest you and, of course, the very cool archives tour!

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!

Tour of the Marston House Museum in Balboa Park.

An extraordinary house is located at the northwest corner of Balboa Park. It is one of the most architecturally and historically important structures in San Diego.

The George Marston House Museum and Gardens preserves the home that was built by San Diego civic leader George Marston in 1905. The 8,500 square foot house is one of the finest examples of Arts and Crafts style architecture in California, designed by internationally famous architects William Sterling Hebbard and Irving Gill.

Guided tours of the house are offered by the Save Our Heritage Organization. Learn more here. You can purchase tickets in the fine museum gift shop, which occupies the nearby carriage house. If you simply want to stroll about the beautiful garden, or walk around the perimeter of the house, that’s free.

I went on the tour recently and took a few photos, where the indoor lighting permitted.

The George Marston house is the sort of place that feels like a true home. The rooms are warm and functional and contain many windows, some of which were enlarged during the history of the house to bring in even more outdoor light. Book shelves and storage nooks are built into the walls, allowing an active family ample room to move about and entertain guests. Although the layout of the house is entirely practical, every room and hallway is tastefully designed and furnished.

George Marston, a very successful businessman of his day, employed numerous servants. During the tour, we saw various devices that would summon them, including a wooden box mounted on a wall with a bell and mechanical pointers, and a concealed button under the dining room rug that the family could touch without their guests noticing.

The tour explores nearly all of the historic home. At the tour’s end visitors can peer into glass display cases filled with artifacts and ephemera from George Marston’s famous department store, which was located in downtown San Diego.

I highly recommend going on this tour!

Because the Marston House Museum and Gardens is not located in the central, most popular part of Balboa Park, it’s likely your tour group will be small and relaxed, and you’ll be able to ask many questions.

View of the distinctive Marston House from its rose-filled formal garden, a popular wedding venue.
Photo from the Marston House driveway near the front entrance.
Sign describes George Marston. San Diego’s Renaissance Man. He was a successful merchant, civic leader, parks and neighborhoods builder, museum and institutions founder, historic preservationist and conservationist, a city statesman, creator of great schools, and an activist for arts, culture and social issues…

You can learn more about George White Marston here.

In the past I’ve photographed various things related to Marston, from his statue at Sefton Plaza in Balboa Park, to his gravestone at Mount Hope Cemetery.

Architectural drawing for the George W. Marston residence.
When first built in 1905, no landscaping could be seen around the George Marston house! Today the surrounding area is lush, with many nearby homes. Some neighboring houses were also designed by Irving Gill for Marston’s friends and extended family. SOHO offers a walking tour of the neighborhood.
Looking out at the formal garden from a second floor window.
George Marston’s stores in San Diego kept growing. Over the years, he operated at five different locations, and ended up building the large, famous 1912 department store on the north side of C Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets.
At the end of the tour we could look at artifacts and photographs recalling Marston’s elegant department store, where many fond memories were created.

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!

Open House tour of San Diego’s Waterfront Park.

Last Sunday I enjoyed a fascinating tour of Waterfront Park in San Diego. The special public tour was part of the 2022 San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Open House event.

Our small group was guided by Glen and Jeff of Schmidt Design Group, landscape architects who worked on the Waterfront Park project almost ten years ago. The park opened to the public in 2014. (I was there for the big grand opening! You can see many photographs taken during that historic day by clicking here!)

As we walked around the beautiful park, where two large parking lots originally existed, we learned so many facts I failed to jot many down!

I did note that the two stretches of fountains on either side of the County Administration Building together are 830 feet long. The fountain design was tricky, because the water in the basin where children jump and play could be only one inch deep, due to safety concerns. The fountains utilize an 80,000 gallon water tank, and the 31 jets spray water 12 to 14 feet high.

The fountains were to be set in marble, but to save tens of millions of dollars, specially applied concrete made to look like marble was utilized instead.

The parking garage under the south end of Waterfront Park is below the water table (San Diego Bay is a block to the west), and consequently various innovative measures were taken to keep water from seeping in. I was surprised that, like the nearby County Administration Building, piles were driven 100 feet deep into bedrock to support and stabilize the structure!

The “hill” with a slide in the wonderful, very popular playground was built up with high density foams blocks. (The same hill referred to as Tony Gwynn’s opposing “pitching mound” when the park’s sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle debuted back in 2015. See those fun photos here!)

One bit of information really surprised me. There had initially been plans to install Dr. Seuss sculptures around the playground! The Grinch and his dog Max were to stand atop the hill. The Cat in the Hat would welcome kids near the fountain area. Our group didn’t hear why that plan fell through.

We did learn how, during Waterfront Park’s construction, large old palm trees and the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial were moved. We saw the bits of shining, sparkling mica that were placed in the concrete around the memorial.

We learned how the large garden at the north end of the park was designed to be a beautiful, contemplative area. And, indeed, it is.

The garden is divided into three sections. The north “grass” or “meadow” garden with 15 varieties of grass; the middle Mediterranean garden with sages, rosemary, lavender and Torrey pines; and the south “tropical” or “diversity” garden, with plumeria, bird of paradise and many other lush plants.

Irrigation for the park requires 8 million gallons per year! But this free, very popular “water park” serves hundreds of thousands of San Diego residents every year, many arriving by trolley from less affluent neighborhoods.

Lastly, we learned how the County of San Diego will soon be removing the garden, and replacing it with a dog park, basketball and pickleball courts, and other recreational amenities. I suppose the change is both sad and exciting. As they say, there are two sides to every coin.

I’ll be watching the progress of that project and will probably be taking photos in the future!

This is where the proposed Cat in the Hat sculpture would have stood!
Donal Hord’s iconic Guardian of Water sculpture stands in the background. Learn a little more about it here.
The present location of the San Diego County Law Enforcement Memorial.
Part of the Waterfront Park garden. The large garden will be removed to make way for sports facilities.

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!

Tour of new UC San Diego Park & Market!

A sneak peek was enjoyed yesterday inside the new UC San Diego Park & Market building, in downtown’s East Village neighborhood!

The special public tour was part of the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s big annual Open House event.

UC San Diego Park & Market is designed to be a collaborative hub where students, researchers, community organizations and business partners will interact in the heart of the city. It will also feature space for private conferences and events, and high quality entertainment venues for the public.

Once completed, the building will be home to a digital movie theater, a top notch black box theater, a small art gallery, a bistro, and a huge two-sided video wall that can be enjoyed inside on the ground floor and from the Market Street sidewalk!

This unique, truly visionary multi-use facility will have its grand opening in a couple months during Cinco de Mayo. It sounds like the celebration will be epic!

During yesterday’s tour led by Mary Walshok, UC San Diego Associate Vice Chancellor, several floors of the innovative building were explored. We learned about its conception and development. One of its most important qualities is its location next to a UC San Diego Blue Line trolley station, connecting this extension of UCSD to the main La Jolla campus, providing students easy accessibility.

As you can see from my upcoming photographs, Park & Market will certainly become a stimulating cultural destination for people living downtown and around San Diego. Numerous future events and festivals are being planned. I can’t wait!

Please read my photo captions to learn a little more about this amazing project!

The next photo shows the public plaza north of the building, adjacent to the new The Merian apartment tower. It’s where our tour group gathered.

Two fantastic murals by regional artists can be found in the inviting space. I posted photos of both murals back in January here.

Standing on the second floor terrace north of the building, with downtown views in several directions. (I didn’t photograph it, but one can see Balboa Park’s California Tower in the distance from here, too!)
About to enter the second floor of the glassy building.
Outside art is by Tammy Matthews, artist from New South Wales, Australia. Taranora, 2020. Original painting adapted to steel screen.
The second floor was busy! A private conference had been booked, even before the building’s official opening! We next headed left to the digital movie theater.
Inside the cozy theater, which will be operated by acclaimed Digital Gym Cinema.
A small gallery on the second floor, near the top of a grand staircase leading to the ground floor. The debut exhibition concerns UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection. (I’ve blogged about many of these outdoor UCSD public artworks in the past.)
Nearby windows look down on downtown San Diego’s busy Market Street.
Mary Walshok addresses the group as we stand near the top of the fantastic staircase.
Looking down!
Now we’re downstairs on the ground floor, after taking the elevators. This big black door is the entrance to the black box theater, where there will be concerts and diverse performances. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go inside.
Emerging near the bottom of the spiraling staircase!
A bistro will be located here. People can come off the street, dine, sip and hang out. The bistro operator, we were told, has one of the largest vinyl record collections in San Diego!
Making our way across the large space near the Market Street entrance. That big black thing is a two-sided computerized video screen! Events can be streamed live from the UCSD amphitheater and other venues. Proposed users include Comic-Con and the San Diego Symphony! Folks walking down the sidewalk can stop to watch outside, too!
Pretty cool, huh?
Chairs and tables can be set up here. UC San Diego Park & Market will utilize technology to connect people in new and stimulating ways.
Finally, we headed to the fourth floor, the research center, where students engaged in projects, and people from academia, non-profits and private business will rub elbows, interact and collaborate. There are many small offices for faculty and community organizations. We didn’t visit the third floor, where classrooms are located.
A view up Park Boulevard from one extraordinary new building!

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!

Sails, ships and beauty on San Diego Bay!

It was a perfect January day on San Diego Bay. Not a cloud in the blue sky, very little haze, a comfy 70 degrees. No jacket required!

As a member of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, I have a couple of free tickets for harbor tours aboard the museum’s historic Pilot boat. I used one of those tickets this afternoon!

These photographs on the water show a little of why so many people love San Diego.

I’ve provided details about the historic Pilot boat and this harbor tour in the past. See that old blog post here.

I’ve also blogged about many of the unique sights one can see on San Diego Bay. You can check out a couple of those fascinating posts here and here.

Today I wanted to relax, not take notes.

Simply take in the beauty.

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!

A historical walking tour of Encinitas.

If you’re a San Diego resident or visitor, I recommend going on a historical walking tour of Encinitas.

The free guided walks, which are led by a member of the Encinitas Historical Society, typically occur every two months and begin inside the society’s headquarters, a restored one-room 1883 schoolhouse. For the location, and to see the dates of upcoming walking tours, check out their website here.

Last Saturday I and a couple dozen others gathered at the old schoolhouse for the tour. The sky was overcast with May gray, but the cool temperature was perfect for a very active one and a half hour walk.

Our group headed south from the schoolhouse, checking out the two iconic Encinitas Boathouses and a few other historical homes and buildings. After a short eastward leg, we continued farther south down Coast Highway 101 to view the Golden Lotus Towers of the Self-Realization Fellowship from a distance, then headed back north passing numerous historical buildings until we reached Cottonwood Creek. Turning west, we followed the creek, climbed to a spot overlooking Moonlight Beach where we admired a Heritage Tree, then headed south a few blocks back to the old schoolhouse.

These photographs include sights I’d seen during a past walk in Encinitas. Back then I was on my own, wandering about randomly while knowing very little. The guided tour last weekend was extremely informative and I’ve provided a little bit of what I learned (and managed to jot down) in the photo captions.

If you want a great experience make sure to go on the tour yourself! Like every other beach city in San Diego’s North County, Encinitas has a rich history that is often surprising!

The unique Boathouses of Encinitas were built in 1927-1928 and were once called The Arks. They were constructed with recycled lumber from a dance pavilion and bath house that used to be located at Moonlight Beach.
The Petrie House, in the Tudor-Cotswold Revival architectural style, was built in 1931. Every cement block was made by hand.
The Self-Realization Fellowship Temple was originally the 1916 Mission School. The old Spanish architectural influences are still visible.
To the south down Coast Highway 101 we could see the distinctive golden towers of the Self-Realization Fellowship ashram.
The 1949 County Realty Building, now home of Encinitas 101 Main Street Association.
A surfboard bench and photo of Main Street, Encinitas, California, looking west, circa 1947.
Beautiful wood interior of the 1925 Payne Cleaners building. It is home to the longest laundry service business in San Diego County.
Rustic-appearing buildings across the Coast Highway at The Lumberyard shopping center were inspired by history. Trains running on nearby tracks once delivered lumber to Encinitas here.
Beautiful original glasswork decorates a historic building.
The Daley Double saloon was called the Rendezvous in the 1930’s. It once housed an illegal poker parlor and boxing ring.
Murals painted by Micaiah Hardison, born and raised in Encinitas.
The original Encinitas sign was erected in 1928, removed in 1937 for a highway widening project, then duplicated and returned to the same location in 2000.
The famous La Paloma Theater, also called Aubrey Austin Building, opened in 1928. Built in a Spanish Mission/Art Deco style.
The sculpture Encinitas Child was created by local artist Manuelita Brown. A young girl was killed on the nearby road years ago.
The popular, very colorful Surfing Madonna mural.

Last year I blogged about the Surfing Madonna mural with additional photos and information here.

Encinitas owes its origin to Cottonwood Creek, a source of water and wood on San Diego’s arid north coast. Trains coming down from Los Angeles stopped here. In 1881 the town of Old Encinitas was established.
Members of our tour group look down at a huge frog at the edge of the creek.
A large, rare Torrey pine tree, on a hilltop not far from the Pacific Ocean.
The 2nd Heritage Tree of Encinitas. Planted in 1952, the huge Star Pine is lit during the holidays and Santa arrives on a firetruck from nearby Fire Station One.
One of many quaint beach cottages built by the ocean in Encinitas.

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!