Plaque at Cabrillo honors National Parks hero.

A beautiful bronze plaque near the entrance of the Cabrillo National Monument Visitor Center honors Stephen Tyng Mather.

It reads:


JULY.4.1867. JAN:22.1930.


You can learn more about Stephen Mather and how he promoted the creation of the National Park Service and became its first director here.

The Wikipedia page states: “In 1932, his family and friends established the Stephen Mather Memorial Fund, which commissioned numerous bronze plaques honoring Mather’s accomplishments and installed them in national park units.

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!

Art found in the Cedros Avenue Design District!

The Cedros Avenue Design District in Solana Beach is home to many galleries, design studios, boutiques, specialty shops and outdoor cafes. Walk along Cedros Avenue and your eyes will discover art everywhere they turn!

During my recent walk along Cedros Avenue I took the following photographs of street art, murals and fun sculptures.

I haven’t included photos of the numerous crazy wind sculptures outside the Exclusive Collections Gallery. I posted those pics separately here.

The Wonder Woman sculpture you’ll see coming up stands by the entrance to the Art Alley on Cedros, which I explored in my last blog post here.

Much of the art I found has a bicycle theme. Bicycling is popular in the coastal part of Solana Beach. Cedros Avenue is just a block from scenic Highway 101.

Ready to see some cool stuff? And cross a couple of “fishy” crosswalks?

Let’s go for our walk!

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!

Stepping into the Art Alley on Cedros!

In Solana Beach, at 320 Cedros Avenue, there’s a surprising art museum . . . outdoors! I just happened to discover the Art Alley on Cedros during my recent walk through the very hip Cedros Avenue Design District.

Anybody can freely wander off the street and into the alley to experience a motley collection of colorful (and groovy) artwork!

I walked the length of the alley and discovered a variety of painted “canvases” including car hoods, skateboards and surfboards, beautiful photographs, unique objects and sculptures, a watery blue mosaic along one alley wall, and many fun, nostalgic pieces that celebrate popular music from the past.

It looks like the Art Alley on Cedros has a Facebook page.

This is some of what I observed…

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!

Visiting the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway.

Once a month, every third Saturday, the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway opens to the public.

Today I enjoyed a tour of the archaeological site and its educational visitor center. I was surprised to find so much history preserved in this small island of natural beauty just off Poway Road.

Poway is derived from the Native American Kumeyaay word Pauwai, which means the shape of an arrowhead or the merging of two creeks. A short distance to the south is Poway Creek.

As you will see in the following photographs, a small Kumeyaay village of approximately 20 families once lived on the hill that I and my docent tour guide, Heidi, explored.

The Kumeyaay people have lived in this region for at least 10,000 years. These first people had their lives severely disrupted with the arrival of Europeans in 1769. Today, descendants of those who lived in Pauwai are members of the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians.

Please enjoy the following photos to get a taste of what you might discover when you visit. Read the captions for a few of the things I learned.

Are you a local history or anthropology enthusiast? Or a community-minded person who loves the outdoors? The Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center is always looking for volunteers!

Check out their Facebook page and learn about the special days and hours when you can visit here.

Sign at the end of Ipai Waaypuk Trail, south of Poway Road, where there is parking.
Kiosk welcomes visitors to an important historical site.
My tour guide Heidi starts up stairs that lead to short looping trails.
At the Replica Village in a clearing stand several recreated Kumeyaay ewaas. These are shelters made of sycamore or willow tree branches, covered with cattails or baccharis, and tied with yucca or agave fiber string. These replica ewaas are old and need to be refurbished. The Kumeyaay would refresh their watertight ewaas regularly. A grinding stone, or metate, lies nearby.
This nearest ewaa was recently reconstructed. Volunteers who’d like to maintain this special place are welcome!
Heading up to the top of the hill along a very short, moderately steep section of trail.
I’m shown Wild Cucumber. Like many native plants, it had various practical uses. Seeds ground into a powder by the Kumeyaay were added to pigments to create rock art. The crushed roots, when tossed into water, would paralyze fish!
In the distance we could see Mt. Woodson, Iron Mountain, and Cuyamaca Peak. Depending on the season, the Kumeyaay would migrate east to the mountains or west to the Pacific Ocean coast.
One of several outdoor ramadas built for visitors to the Interpretive Center. Historical ramadas erected by the Kumeyaay were shady places for village activities and ceremonies.
It was thought that rock art might be found on these monumental boulders crowning the hilltop, but a thorough study using modern technology detected no traces.
A wise Kumeyaay observer found in this rock formation a whale, a turtle, and the head of a dolphin. Do you see them?
A nearby fire pit once used by the Kumeyaay villagers.
Soot remains in this natural rocky oven. A crack in the rear conveniently served as a flue for smoke.
Cooking stones would be heated in the fire, then placed in baskets to prepare food.
Many small broken pottery sherds have been found near this primitive kitchen.
At the top of the hill are very deep grinding holes, or morteros, where acorns were ground for thousands of years. After being reduced to powder, the acorns would be leached of tannic acid and cooked into a mush called shawii.
A important cultural site representing thousands of years of indigenous history in Poway.
A Coast Live Oak beside the trail. One of several types of oak trees in the San Diego region. Acorns were a staple of the Kumeyaay diet.
As I and my tour guide walk back down the trail, another group heads up toward the hilltop.
A hollow Elderberry branch. Not surprisingly, these were used to make musical instruments such as flutes.
Some of the rugged natural beauty that we enjoyed.
At another ramada replica, we saw a series of genuine metates that Third Grade students can use during educational field trips! These metates were rescued during road construction many years ago and were donated to the Interpretive Center.
There is much to learn about Kumeyaay tools, food, basket weaving, pottery and more!
Third Grade students use these small stones to paint their own rock art!
We head into the building at the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center to learn even more!
Look at all the smiling docents!
Dorothy M. Tavui was a Kumeyaay friend who helped to establish the Interpretive Center in Poway.
Shelves full of artifacts that kids can explore and handle to learn about Kumeyaay life.
A willow basket full of acorns. The long conical acorns are from Coast Live Oaks. The big acorns are from Black Oaks in the Cuyamaca Mountains. They were the largest and tastiest! The abalone shells you also see were obtained from the coast and often used as trade items.
Old photo of a 6 foot tall willow basket! Acorns would be gathered in season to last the entire year.
Sandals made of natural plant fibers.
I learned this is a seed beater! It’s being demonstrated on dried blooms of sage.
A beautiful mural inside the Kumeyaay-Ipai Interpretive Center in Poway shows what village life was like here for many thousands of years. By artist Brigitte Lopez, 2012.

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!

Life and history at the Oceanside Pier.

Walk along the Oceanside Pier and you’ll encounter life. You’ll see walkers, bicyclists, people gazing across the water, talking, fishing, and beachgoers and surfers down below. If you have a curious mind and observant eyes, you’ll also discover history.

I walked along the popular pier on Labor Day and took these photos.

You can read the following historical plaques, if you’d like. Those many names carved into the wood railing were from a community fundraiser, whose proceeds were used to rebuild the pier in 1988, the year of its centennial.

The Oceanside Pier was originally built in 1888 and destroyed two years later by winter storms. Over the years, there have been six different incarnations. Today the pier is 1,942 feet long. You can learn more about its history here.

Oceanside Municipal Fishing Pier. Reconstruction 1987.
Oceanside Pier. 1925. Historic Resource 4-204.

Check out this very cool fish-shaped bike rack! I saw it down by the beachside boardwalk.

Some benches near the foot of the pier memorialize loved ones…

Just a few of the many names on the weathered wood rails along the length of the pier…

Across from the concession shack, with its souvenirs, snacks and bait, you’ll find a collage of faded photographs.

Cherished memories over the years. Happy days fishing…

Ruby’s Diner at the end of the pier permanently closed early this year after three decades of operation. A sign indicated the building will return to life in the future.

History goes on.

Why the many flags nearby? It’s Labor Day, 2021.

Another fine day passes by. Time to head back…

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!

Amazing wave and surfing art in Balboa Park!

Whenever I walk through Balboa Park, I almost always spend some time at the Japanese Friendship Garden, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Today I noticed there’s new artwork on display in the Exhibit Hall. It concerns breaking ocean waves, and includes many images of surfers on surfboards. The art is so vivid and unique, it’s hard to describe.

The exhibition is titled Hokusai Waves. It showcases the work of San Diego photographer Kotaro Moromura, whose images are inspired by Japanese Ukiyo-e painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai.

Powerfully curling water and flying droplets, captured with a high camera shutter speed, seem to leap right out of the display cases. The images are not unlike the impressively crashing waves created by artist Katsushika Hokusai.

As you can see from a couple of my photos, the wave images that include surfers are dynamic and definitely very cool!

Anyone visiting San Diego for the next several days for the international World Surf League Championship event up at Trestles might enjoy a peek at these!

Learn more about Hokusai Waves 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 famous Disney movie ship in San Diego!

Some passengers who embark on a cruise aboard the Disney Wonder don’t realize there’s another “Disney ship” that makes San Diego its homeport. And it’s docked just a stone’s throw (or cannon shot) away!

HMS Surprise, of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, was one of the ships used in the filming of Disney’s 2011 movie Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. The museum ship portrayed Captain Hector Barbossa’s HMS Providence.

HMS Surprise, a beautiful replica of the 18th century Royal Navy frigate Rose, spent three months off Long Beach during the Pirates of the Caribbean filming.

HMS Surprise is better known for its leading role in another film. The tall ship co-starred with Russell Crowe in 2003’s epic, multiple Academy Award nominated Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

Going on a Disney cruise out of San Diego? Are you a fan of the popular Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise? Walk a short distance along the Embarcadero and step aboard a cool Disney movie ship!

Learn more about HMS Surprise at the Maritime Museum of San Diego 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!

The beautiful Torrey pines of Cabrillo.

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument is picturesque by itself. But the historic 1855 lighthouse, rising into the sky near the end of Point Loma, seems to belong in a painting when several rare Torrey pines that grow nearby are framed with it.

The lighthouse and tall windswept trees seem to belong together.

I did my best to capture the extraordinary beauty with my small camera during a visit today.

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 extraordinary reopening of the Mingei Museum!

Three years of construction at Balboa Park’s House of Charm is completed. The reimagined, redesigned, greatly enlarged Mingei International Museum, which occupies most of the historic building, has finally reopened!

The multicultural Mingei Museum, whose focus is crafts and design, opened its doors to the public yesterday. To celebrate, admission to the upstairs galleries will be free during Labor Day weekend through Monday, September 6.

I slowly walked through the new spacious indoor pavilion that occupies the ground level. The ground floor will always be free to the public.

A big seating area invites visitors to relax. Several large glass cases display colorful museum pieces. There’s a nearby gift shop and café, too. Through one door anybody can go outside to sit in a beautiful courtyard at tables under shady umbrellas. (That might become a favorite place to read and write!)

The second floor’s main galleries are approached up stairs through the House of Charm’s tower. As you head up the steps, look up. You’ll be wowed by renowned artist Dale Chihuly’s glass sculpture chandelier! (Lights in the stairwell walls cast intricate shadows, which one guide at the museum said he really likes!)

I walked about the upstairs galleries and admired the many exhibits. I particularly like folk art. I laughed at some pieces, stood in wonder before others.

Artwork handcrafted by “ordinary” folk from all around the world often feels more powerful and authentic than so-called fine art. Because its creation typically flows from human experiences that are unique but universal. Folk art represents what day-to-day people consider desirous or meaningful in life.

By the way, if you’re an artist in San Diego seeking inspiration, or if you want to do some art research, there’s a huge library on the second floor! The Frances Hamilton White Art Reference Library features a specialized collection of over 12,000 books!

I took some photos to provide a taste of the new, more-extraordinary-than-ever Mingei International Museum.

Next time you’re in Balboa Park, you definitely need to check it out! And make sure to venture outside on the second floor, to enjoy amazing views of the Plaza de Panama!

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!

Colorful trashcan art painted in Spanish Village!

There’s a very cool project now underway in Balboa Park’s always colorful Spanish Village Art Center. Artists from various Spanish Village studios have begun to paint metal trashcans that are placed around the big central patio!

It appears to me any subject matter is fair game. In this special place, where you can say hello to local artists and even watch them at work, it’s all about creativity!

These are the trashcans I spotted today…

What will appear 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!