Weekend Getaways

Weekend Getaways

BACKCOUNTRY HIDDEN PLEASURES

 

 

 

Our guide to unique lodging and adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Bobbi Zane, East County Magazine

San Diego’s backcountry is home to mountains with hiking trails, miles and miles of pine and oak forests, wine regions, deserts, and rural areas --- known as the playground for San Diegans who want a close-to-home getaway. 

It’s beautiful country mostly untouched by urban development. You can walk throughforests, ride bikes on country lanes, horseback ride, pick apples in the fall, sample local wine, and dine in the great outdoors most of the year.

It’s less than an hour’s drive from downtown to the mountains, where you can discover the hidden pleasures by checking into one of many bed and breakfast inns in Julian or Ramona, or savor luxury at Native American resort casinos, visit historic lodging establishments, or get pampered at one of the golf/tennis hotels in Borrego Springs.

Your lodging options in our inland region also include campgrounds, cabins, tipis, "glamping" and more.

 East County Magazine's  Backcountry Hidden Pleasures series profiles weekend getaway destination that you can find close to home in San Diego County's inland region.  We have visited them all.  Read our entries so far (below), and check back for new additions soon!

LA MESA: EAST COUNTY’S EMERGING RESTAURANT ROW

 

Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry and inland areas

By Miriam Raftery

Farmer's Table, one of  La Mesa's newest restaurants, offers fork-to-table fresh cuisine.

June 17, 2018 (La Mesa) – if you’re looking to savor lots of great restaurants in San Diego’s newest culinary destination, you’ll want to visit  La Mesa.  Tracing its roots back over a century, the city is just 20 minutes from downtown San Diego, also close to backcountry destinations.  

The biggest attraction is La Mesa’s restored historic downtown village, with a  thriving restaurant row that now attracts visitors from far and wide, plus several happening night spots. Additional great eateries are scattered through the city with the motto "jewel of the hills."

MARRIOTT COURTYARD HOTEL, CORNERSTONE OF EL CAJON’S DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT, CELEBRATES GRAND OPENING

  

 

 

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor, and Miriam Raftery, Editor

June 21, 2018 (El Cajon) — The seeds of El Cajon’s Herculean downtown redevelopment plans for the city's historic heart bore fruit at Thursday's grand opening of the Courtyard-by-Marriott El Cajon hotel, drawing an enthusiastic crowd.

The four-story, 88,000-square foot hotel is located on Magnolia Street just off Main Street near the city's “superblock”, which also includes the East County Performing Arts Center set to reopen in spring under management of international concert promoter and producer Live Nation.

Numerous restaurants, sidewalk cafes, shops, galleries, and civic festivals  are all within a couple of blocks of the hotel in the revitalized heart of El Cajon, a city that celebrated its centennial in 2013. Located just off Interstate 8 in San Diego's East County,  the hotel is 20 to 30 minutes from downtown San Diego and beach areas, also close to attractions in the region's backcountry. 

But there's plenty to do right here in downtown El Cajon, where major community events include Friday night outdoor concerts at Prescott Promenade Park and Wedneday night classic car shows (photo, below right)on Main Street all summer long. Visitors can also enjoy seasonal celebrations such as America on Main Street, Hauntfest on Main, and holiday festivities. The superblock also includes city hall, the courthouse, library, and police headquarters.

ENJOY A COUNTRY STAY AT DULZURA WINERY GUEST HOUSE ON THE HISTORIC CLARK RANCH

 

Our guide to unique lodging and adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery

June 15, 2018 (Dulzura) – The pioneer-era Clark Ranch, home of the Dulzura Winery  in Dulzura, California dates back to 1885 and has remained in the Clark family to this day. Once known for its groves of olives and production of pickled figs, the land today is planted in vineyards and the former pickling house has been converted to a wine-tasting room, with a cozy guest cottage upstairs.

It’s an idyllic retreat for a peaceful stay in the country, miles away from city hustle and bustle, along historic Route 94. The name Dulzura means “sweet” in Spanish and may originally have referred to honey grown in the region.  Pioneering in Dulzura, a book written by Dorothy Clark Schmid, offered this picturesque description: “A rugged but sweet land, relaxed as its sun-based hills and deliberate as a prospector’s burro.”

VALLEY CENTER’S TRIBAL CASINO RESORTS: GETAWAY RETREATS IN SAN DIEGO’S NORTHEAST COUNTY

 

Our guide to unique lodging and adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2018 (Valley Center) – Tucked into the largely rural Valley Center area of northeast San Diego County are two tribal-owned casino resorts on Native American reservations: Harrah’s Resort and Valley View Casino and Hotel.

SAN DIEGO’S RIVER AND LAKES REGION: OUTDOOR ADVENTURES AND MORE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our guide to unique lodging and adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery

June 13, 2018 (Santee and Lakeside) – The Lakeside and Santee areas in San Diego’s East County encompass portions of the San Diego River Park as well as multiple lakes and reservoirs idyllic for fishing, boating, hiking, and birdwatching. Lodging options range from camping and cabins to a casino and spa resort on tribal land.  You’ll also find museums, a rodeo, racetrack speedway, breweries, nature preserves, parks, live theatre, modern shopping and quaint downtown district to explore.

There are wonderful getaway adventures to be found along local trails, ranging from easy hikes to mountain climbing, as well as fishing,  kayaking, canoeing, pedal boats, inner tube floats, rowboats and even places to bring jet skis and water skis.

RAMONA WINE REGION ALSO HAS PARKS, PRESERVES AND HISTORIC SITES TO EXPLORE

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

 

San Diego’s Ramona Valley has emerged as a nationally recognized wine region that also has a historic downtown district and beautiful natural settings including many parks, preserves and trails to explore. You’ll also find seasonal activities such as a musical festival, country fair, grape stomp, camel dairy festivals and holiday celebrations.

BAILEY’S PALOMAR RESORT: A HISTORIC HAVEN ON PALOMAR MOUNTAIN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our guide to unique lodging and adventures in San Diego's beautiful backcountry.

By Miriam Raftery

June 10, 2018 (Palomar) – Bailey House, built in 1888, is the centerpiece of Bailey’s Palomar Resort on Palomar Mountain.

It’s been family-owned and operated ever since, for 130 years in San Diego’s northeast county.

Today, guests can choose from renting the entire historic 7-bedroom home, a variety of guest cottages each with its own character and charm, or “glamping” tents on the 60-acre property that includes apple orchards, a walnut grove, forests and a fish pond. 

AYRES LODGE ALPINE: GATEWAY TO SAN DIEGO'S BEAUTIFUL BACKCOUNTRY

 

Our guide to unique lodging and adventures in San Diego's beautiful backcountry.

Photo, left: Courtesy: Ayres Lodge Alpine

Photo, right, by Jonathan Goetz

Story and most photos by: Jonathan Ronald Goetz

June 10, 2018 (Alpine) – The Ayres Lodge Alpine is a friendly, well-maintained hotel with old West feel and modern appeal It’s located just off Interstate 8 at Tavern Road in Alpine, gateway to the Cuyamaca Mountains, Cleveland National Forest, local lakes and other backcountry adventure areas. Alpine is in San Diego's East County, within 30 to 45 minutes from downtown and coastal areas.

JULIAN’S ORCHARD HILL COUNTRY INN: ELEGANT AND EXCLUSIVE

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry 

By Bobbi Zane

When Pat and Darrell Straube opened Orchard Hill Country Inn in 1994, they created a whole new style of lodging for the area that goes beyond the typical B&B in Julian. They have a most beautiful Craftsman setting, amenities go beyond expectation, and they are known for their customer service.

HEALING WATERS AT JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS RESORT

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery

May 31, 2018 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Jacumba means “healing waters” and once drew Kumeyaay Indians, who wintered at the warm springs.  Nowadays, visitors come for the reputed therapeutic benefits at the rejuvenated Jacumba Hot Springs Resort.

STARRY NIGHT INN: A WINERY VACATION IN RAMONA

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Liz Orient

May 31, 2018 (Ramona) -- “We live a good life and people tend to pick up on that when they stay here,” says Arline Bartick, co-owner of Starry Night Inn. Upon arrival at Don and Arline Bartick’s charming bed and breakfast, I couldn’t have agreed more.

Located in the idyllic countryside of Ramona, California’s winemaking region, Starry Night Inn is an award-winning winery and guest house. From concept to fruition, Starry Night Inn has been a labor of love.

LA CASA DEL ZORRO: FIRST AND FINEST IN THE DESERT

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Bobbi Zane

Photos courtesy of La Casa del Zorro and Miriam Raftery

May 27, 2018 (Borrego Springs) -- Luxury starts the minute you step into the lobby of La Casa del Zorro Desert Resort and Spa, where you’ll hear a cheerful “May I help you?” to begin your stay at this sumptuous resort, located in the heart of the beautiful and historic Anza Borrego Desert in San Diego County.

BARONA RESORT: VACATION IN THE HEART OF LAKESIDE

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery

May 27, 2018 (Lakeside) – The Barona Resort & Casino offers luxury and comfort, with plenty of amenities onsite at the Barona Native American reservation, as well as a wealth of activities nearby including spectacular county parks, lakes and reservoirs all in Lakeside, the Lakeside rodeo in season, and nearby attractions including wine tasting in the Ramona wine region.

SOOTHE AWAY YOUR CARES: WEEKEND GETAWAY AT KEYS CREEK LAVENDER FARM

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Francine Phillips

 May 25, 2018 (Valley Center) -- Tucked among ranch lands of Valley Center in northeast San Diego County is a space of peace and tranquility that offers the perfect getaway for San Diegans who want to set aside the hustle and bustle and reconnect with land, fragrance, and beauty.

Keys Creek Lavender Farm is a working farm where sloping hillsides grow rows of lavender, which is harvested, distilled and transformed into essential oil, medicinal creams, ointments, food ingredients and bouquets.  Guests are transformed through yoga classes, cooking classes, gourmet meals, a walk on the labyrinth and vistas of native plants and palm trees.

 Overnight guests take the transformation a step further, with a pleasant swimming pool, hot tub and sleeping in a luxury yurt or a charming cottage.

SYCUAN TOPS OFF HIGHRISE HOTEL RESORT

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery

May 24, 2018 (Sycuan) – The Sycuan Casino held a topping off ceremony on Tuesday to celebrate placement of the final beam at the 12-story, 300-room hotel and resort slated to open in March 2019.

Sycuan Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez thanked tribal elders and members, the executive team, and Swinerton builders.  “It really is a collaboration,” he said, calling the tribe’s achievement “a family effort--everybody bringing together the vision of what it is going to take to bring Sycuan to the next level.”

The hotel will create 700 new jobs for the community, Chairman Martinez said.

DAY TRIPPING IN ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Liz Orient

May 16, 2018 (Anza-Borrego) -- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a unique destination for anyone looking for a fun day trip from San Diego. There are two classes of people: those who love the desert and those who hate the desert. I happen to be one who enjoys the bizarre plants, resourceful animals, and how the mountains change colors at sunset. I hadn't been to Anza-Borrego in several years and it was time to revisit one of my favorite places in California!

BORREGO VALLEY INN AND PALM CANYON HOTEL & RV RESORT: WEEKEND GETAWAYS FOR STARGAZING COUPLES AND FAMILES

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

Story and most photos by Jonathan Ronald Goetz

Photo, left: Borrego Valley Inn, courtesy of Bryre Roots

Photo, right: Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort with renovated Western theme

May 7, 2018 (Borrego Springs) -- Borrego Springs and the surrounding Anza-Borrego Desert State Park  are among the best places in the world to see the night sky, drawing visitors from across the globe.

Borrego Valley Inn, an intimate couples-only hotel and its sister property, Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort, a Western-themed, family-friendly hotel also offering ‘50s-style vintage glamping, both provide historic charm and comfort for guests seeking affordable lodging  as well as celestial night sights.

THE BEAUTY OF BORREGO

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery

April 24, 2018 (Borrego Springs) – Located in the heart of the Anza-Borrego Desert in the furthest east reach of San Diego County, Borrego Springs is a place where visitors are surrounded by nature, can stargaze in an internationally designated “dark skies” region, enjoy spring wildflowers, visit the largest state park in California, gaze at whimsical statues across the desert and also find cultural attractions from art shows to musical programs in a performing arts center.

HISTORIC HAVEN: JULIAN GOLD RUSH HOTEL

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Bobbi Zane

Photo, left, and interior photos courtesy Julian Gold Rush Hotel

April 17, 2018 (Julian) -- Julian Gold Rush Hotel is a lovely Victorian bed and breakfast that dates back to the 1890s. Known as the “Queen of the Back Country,” the hotel is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places 

WHAT’S UP AT WIKIUP?

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

 

By Bobbi Zane

March 6, 2018 (Julian) -- Innkeepers Lee and Linda Stanley have a lovely B&B tucked into a heavily wooded four-acre hillside just a mile east of Julian, a historic gold rush town in the mountains of San Diego’s East County.  The Wikiup Bed and Breakfast Inn is a friendly haven, where guests find new friends all over the place.

COURTYARD MARRIOTT IN EL CAJON PLANS GRAND OPENING FEBRUARY 28

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Robert Gehr

February 25, 2018 (El Cajon) – The new Courtyard Marriott Hotel will hold its grand opening this week on February 28th.  in the heart of downtown El Cajon complete with a restaurant and bar, fitness center, business and wedding facilities.

STAYCATION, EAST COUNTY: COMFORTABLE CABINS AT SANTEE LAKES

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Mike Allen, East County Magazine

February 22, 2018 (Santee) -- Ever since wood cabins were built at the end of Santee Lakes some seven years ago, I’ve been curious about what they were like.

I’ve stayed in a few cabins in my life, some quite rustic and spartan, and others with all the stuff you’d ever need if you’re “camping,” including one that had a spa tub.

The cabins at Santee Lakes are definitely at the higher end, in fact, downright luxurious with just about everything a family would need to enjoy one of America’s best campgrounds situated smack dab in the middle of Santee.

VIEJAS CELEBRATES GRAND OPENING OF THE WILLOWS HOTEL AND SPA

 

 

 

 

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery, East County Magazine

 

 

February 9, 2018 (Alpine) – At the grand opening last week of The Willows Hotel & Spa, an adults-only luxury high-rise  at the Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine, located in San DIego's inland region, tribal chairman Robert Welch reflected told the crowd to "put on your sunglasses, because the future of Viejas has never looked brighter!”

The entire facility is reserved for adults only (families may stay at the original Viejas Hotel nearby). Each suite is sumptuously appointed and attention to architectural and design details are evident in craftsmanship throughout.

The Willows features a tower with 159 suites, a saltwater swimming pool, spa and salon facilities, restaurants, fitness center, and business center.

VIEJAS CASINO & RESORT ANNONUCES ANTONIO VOTTA AS EXECUTIVE CHEF FOR NEW RESTAURANTS LOCALE AND GINGER NOODLE BAR

 

Votta brings more than 10 years of experience to Willows Hotel & Spa’s culinary destinations

East County News Service

January 24, 2018 (Alpine) -- Viejas Casino & Resort has announced Antonio Votta as Executive Chef of Willows Hotel & Spa’s new restaurants, Locale and Ginger Noodle Bar. His focus in this new role will be highlighting the very best locally sourced bounties for the farm-to-table inspired menus.

ANZA BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK RECEIVES INTERNATIONAL DARK SKIES DESIGNATION

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery, East County Magazine

Photos credited to ©Dennis Mammana/dennismammana.com

January 22, 2018 (Borrego Springs) – Night sky photographer Dennis Mammana made this announcement Friday on Facebook: “Proud to announce that our thousand-square-mile Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has just received its official designation as an International Dark Sky Park. That means that the Dark Sky Community of Borrego Springs is now completely surrounded by an official Dark Sky Park!”

VIEJAS CASINO & RESORT TO OPEN A NEW LUXURY TOWER IN FEBRUARY 2018

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

The newly revealed 159 all-suite luxury tower features adult-only wellness retreat

East County News Service

December 26, 2017 (Alpine) — Viejas Casino & Resort, a Forbes Travel Guide 4 Star rated and AAA 4 Diamond rated establishment, will open a new luxury tower in February 2018 as the third phase of its latest development plans. The newly unveiled tower Willows Hotel & Spa is designed as a resort within a resort, where a holistic approach to the guest experience will be customized to promote wellness.

FULL MOON FISHING AND EXTENDED WINTER HOURS COMING TO LAKE JENNINGS

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery

December 19, 2017 (Lakeside) – It’s a great time of year to bring the kids out to enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, lake views, fresh air,  campfires and S’mores at Lake Jennings in Lakeside. This easily accessible lake with beautiful mountain views will be open daily during winter break from Friday, December 22 through Sunday, January 7th.  You may even spot a pair of bald eagles frequenting the lake this winter.  Camping options include traditional tent camping, recreational vehicle (RV) sites, and tipis. 

Also mark your calendars for fishing by the light of a full moon on Saturday, January 13th from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

LAKE JENNINGS TIPI CAMPING PROVIDES FUN GETAWAY

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Mike Allen

Photos by Cindy Growden

December 12, 2017 (Lakeside, CA) -- When we traveled to Utah last year, we checked out a resort that had tipis and got to thinking this might be something we’d like to try.

So, when we discovered that Lake Jennings offers them at its campground in Lakeside, we arranged to spend a night in one.

THE STARS HAVE LINED UP FOR PERFECT MOUNTAINTOP CAMPING CLOSE TO HOME IN SAN DIEGO

 

 

Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Jack Riordan

Photo, left: The Desert View Trail at the Burnt Rancheria Campground is a very easy and dog-friendly one mile scenic loop through the campground to a rewarding view of the desert floor below.  Photo by Jack Riordan.

November 1, 2017 (Mount Laguna) -- Nestled in the pines, beneath a blanket of starlight, you’ll find Burnt Rancheria.  As part of the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area in the Cleveland National Forest, this lush east county campground sits at 6000 feet above sea level, offering dream-like mountain scenery, as well as an easy escape from the day to day life in the city.

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