Best of East County

The Best of East County

AN EX-PAT'S GUIDE TO THE BEST GOLF COURSES IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

In our expat’s guide to the best golf courses in San Diego's East County, we cover 5 top-class courses that are worth a day out in the sun and fresh air. 
 
By Jordan Fuller
 
November 24, 2021 (San Diego) - Who wouldn’t want to move to sunny San Diego? With just a month’s worth of rainy days year-round, the climate is ideal for golf lovers. 

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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: BOUNTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL FALL IN EAST COUNTY

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  fall foliage along Highway 78 in Ramona Valley

 


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CHILDREN’S NATURE RETREAT NEEDS HELP TO CARE FOR RESCUED ANIMALS DUE TO PANDEMIC FUNDING CUTS

By Mimi Pollack

October 26, 2021 (Alpine) -- Giving back to others is always good, but when you can give back to both animals and humans, that is even better! Local humanitarian, Agnes Barrelet, is doing just that up in Alpine, heading up the non-profit, Children’s Nature Retreat Foundation.  Now the retreat needs our help.


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MEET THE NEW OWNER OF KEYS CREEK LAVENDER FARM AT HIGH TEA CLASS ON SEPT. 4

East County News Service

August 24, 2021 (Valley Center) – You’re invited to meet the new owner of Keys Creek Lavender Farm, Heidi Blanton and bid farewell to outgoing owner Alicia Wolff at an English High Tea class.  Dress up, don a hat and bring flat shoes to celebrate the joy of lavender at the high tea class on Saturday, September 4 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. outdoors under shady pepper trees.


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DOG DAYS OF SUMMER IN SAN DIEGO’S MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 29, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – If you’re looking for a getaway with your furry friends, you’ll find many dog-friendly destinations in San Diego’s mountain communities

Your options range from dog-friendly hikes to restaurants, wineries, breweries, stores and adventures to share with your four-footed traveling companions.


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CELEBRATING ITS 60TH ANNIVERSARY, SANTEE LAKES GETS EVEN NICER WITH NEW LAKEVIEW DECK AT TIN FISH RESTAURANT

By Mike Allen
 
Photos by Mike Allen and Rebecca Jefferis Williamson
 
June 19, 2021 (Santee) - Santee’s best known tourist attraction, Santee Lakes, just got a whole lot more attractive with the opening of a new observation deck at Lake 4.

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HISTORIC SITES TO SEE IN LEMON GROVE FOR NATIONAL PRESERVATION MONTH

Source: Lemon Grove Historical Society

 

May 5, 2021 (Lemon Grove) – May is National Preservation Month. The Lemon Grove Historical Society invites you to take a stroll around town to visit Lemon Grove’s beloved preserved historic structures.


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THE WATER CONSERVATION GARDEN REOPENS FOR PUBLIC ACTIVITIES

Story and photos by Alexa Oslowski

Click to view a video tour by Angela Kurysh including full interview with Pam  Meisner, or view the embedded video below this story.

April 24, 2021 (El Cajon) - The Water Conservation Garden, a beautiful and serene East County treasure located on Cuyamaca College’s campus, is open to the public for educational and recreational enjoyment.

The Garden hosts events for people of all ages. Adults can enjoy outdoor yoga classes, educational workshops and online seminars. Children can spend time with Ms. Smarty-Plants, a character created by the Director of Operations Pam Meisner.


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FIREBALLS IN THE SKY: METEOR SHOWERS START TONIGHT, PEAKING ON EARTH DAY

East County News Service

Image via NASA: Lyrid meteor showers in 2012

April 16, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Look up during the early morning hours April 16-30 and you may be treated to a view of the Lyrids meteor shower. Called the "Old Faithful of meteor showers" by Space.com because their peak usually lasts for several hours, the Lyrids are known for producing fireballs, or meteors with trails of glowing, ionized gas in their wake. 


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ON A ROLL: ENJOY OUTDOOR SKATING AT VIEJAS OUTLETS IN ALPINE

East County News Service

April 11, 2021 (Alpine) – If you’re looking for some fun outdoor exercise, Southern California’s largest outdoor roller rink is open for the 2021 skating season.

The rink is located at the Viejas Outlet Center, 5003 Willows Road in Alpine.

Admission for roller skating is $10, including rental skates.  You can also get a season pass for $99, which provides unlimited roller skating all season long through September 6.


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LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS CELEBRATES NATIONAL PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY DAY

By Henri Migala & Miriam Raftery

 

April 3, 2021 (Alpine) -- Nearly 100 people, many of them children, came to Lions, Tigers and Bears in beautiful Alpine yesterday to help celebrate National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. 


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VIDEO OF THE WEEK: THREE SISTERS FALLS

 

March 21, 2021 (San Diego's East County) -- What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than to hike to one of the most beautiful places in East County, Three Sisters Falls in Cleveland National Forest? 

Scott Lagace made the trip this week with friends. The trail is a steep two-mile hike down and two miles back -- all uphill.

Despite these challenges, Lagace says,"It was a beautiful hike there and back. The falls was flowing beautifully. It was amazing at a distance and close up. I would definitely do this hike again. Just got to remember to take the road from the Julian side, not Descanso!"


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ETIQUETTE ON THE HIKING TRAILS

Story and photos by Greg Dunne

March 14, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- A hiking we go, a hiking we will go, it’s a beautiful spring day, a hiking we will go! Hiking on the trails of San Diego County has been a great past time over the last 12 months of the pandemic. Let’s have our trail etiquette boots on when we are out there with our fellow hikers.

The hiking trails have been packed with people the last 12 months. The increase is due to Covid-19. As a regular hiker here in our East County, I would estimate it to be 8 to 10 times as many people and even more than that on the weekend. With more people on the trails, we need to be more diligent out there. So, let’s be conscience of our surroundings.

Don’t be in a hiking daze when on the trail. It’s important we know a few rules of the trail so everyone can enjoy the outdoors. Trail etiquette is needed on the trails when hiking, especially on narrow paths. Always try to stay to your right side when passing hikers along the trail coming from the opposite direction—just as when we are driving in our cars, we drive on the right-hand side of the road. There are a few hikers out there sticking to the left side, maybe they’re used to European trails?


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FIRE PITS AVAILABLE FOR RENT At LAKE JENNINGS

By Miriam Raftery
 
March 10, 2021 (Lakeside) – What could be cozier than a lakeside fire on a springtime evening?  Grab your marshmallows and chocolate for S’mores, roast hot dogs or get your best campfire stories ready – now you can rent a fire pit at Lake Jennings in Lakeside.

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STATE PARKS REOPEN FOR CAMPING

By Miriam Raftery

 

Photo: Jonny Victorino, via Anza-Borrego Foundation

 

February 3, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- As of February 1, camping is now officially open again at California State Parks, including Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, and Palomar Mountain State Park in San Diego’s inland region. State health rules and social distancing guidelines will apply.

 

Here is what’s open in our local state parks:


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BORREGO PALM CANYON: A WONDERFUL HIKE FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY

Source: Anza-Borrego Foundation

January 30, 2021 (Anza-Borrego) -- With recent rains and even snow in the upper watershed, and thus more creek water flowing down Borrego Palm Canyon, this is the perfect time to head out on the iconic 3-mile roundtrip hike up the Canyon to the first grove. Although you can not enter the palm grove itself, the modified loop trail brings you to a stunning overlook where you can admire how Mother Nature has bounced back and how the native fan palms are recovering.


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HOW THE PANDEMIC LED TO HORSES AND SECOND ACTS

By Mimi Pollack
 
January 22, 2021 (El Cajon) -- 2020 was a strange, difficult, and even transformative year for so many. In my case, the pandemic made me feel very mortal and I decided to start checking things off my “bucket list.” First up was going back to horseback riding after 20 years of not riding or being in the horse world.

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ESTRELLA COUNTY PARK OPENS IN CASA DE ORO

East County News Service

January 1, 2021 (Spring Valley) -- On Friday, Dec. 18, the County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation opened Estrella County Park in San Diego’s Casa de Oro community.


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‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS 2020 IN EAST COUNTY

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through East County

Not a creature was stirring, in December 2020.

Cowboy boots were hung by chimneys with care

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

 

From Barona to Ramona, Jacumba to Jamul

East County folks in quarantine this Yule

Can’t party hearty with potluck dishes,

But they did send Santa these 2021 wishes.


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CHRISTMAS STAR TO BE VISIBLE DEC. 21 FOR FIRST TIME IN OVER 800 YEARS

By Miriam Raftery

December 20, 2020 (San Diego) – On Monday for about an hour after sundown, people around the world will get a rare glimpse of the “great conjunction” – the largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn, so close that the appear to be touching as one bright celestial body.  Many astronomers believe this is the same celestial phenomenon described in the Bible as the Star of Bethlehem that reportedly guided wise men to the manger where Jesus was born. The last time it appeared this brightly was more than 800 years ago, when it was viewed via telescope by Galileo.

The conjunction will peak on Monday, Dec. 21, the winter solstice, and will be best viewed for about 45 minutes to an hour after sunset. In the U.S., look to the southwest sky to see this rare occurrence with the naked eye or enhanced with binoculars or a telescope, ideally from an unobstructed area. 

For those who miss the sight on Monday night, NASA says the solar system’s two largest planets will appear nearly as close on the Dec. 20 and 22.


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PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: LAKE CUYAMACA WILDLIFE TRAIL

 
 
East County News Service
 
 
November 28, 2020 (Cuyamaca) – Scott Lagace sent in a stunning collection of photos, along with this description. 
 
“There is a trail out by Cuyamaca Lake called the Marty Minshall Trail or as I call it, the wildlife trail because of all the deer, turkeys, birds and even a Bald Eagle which flies around the lake. Along with the wildlife the landscape and scenery of the area is breath taking especially now that the leaves are turning colors.”

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GIFTS FROM THE EAST: SPECIAL 2020 EDITION

By Miriam Raftery

November 19, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – This holiday shopping season amid a pandemic, we’ve scoured the shops and online stores across San Diego’s East County to find our recommendations for gift items unique to our region.  Our picks include many artisan and locally hand-crafted treasures, farm-fresh humanely raised foods, delicious sweet treats, warm and stylish wearables, and gifts that benefit local nonprofits including a wildlife sanctuary. This year, we’ve chosen many places offering online ordering  as well as locations allowing ample social distancing.


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SUPERVISORS APPROVE DARK SKIES PROTECTIONS FOR JULIAN AREA AND BORREGO SPRINGS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Night sky in  Borrego Springs, by Dennis Mammana

November 18, 2020 (San Diego) – San Diego Supervisors today voted to approve amendments to the county’s Light Pollution ordinance which will provide “Dark Sky Community” designation to both the Julian and Borrego Springs community planning areas.  The action aims to prevent light pollution, enhancing astronomy viewing and related tourism.

The action comes after the Julian Dark Sky Network asked Supervisors in 2018 to create a way for Julian to meet International Dark Sky Association recognition. Borrego Springs was the first California community to receive that designation in 2009.

"Our community is part of the 1% of the U.S. that can still see the Milky Way. Our distance from the urban glow of San Diego's skies and the surrounding mountains help with our sky quality, but preservation must be intentional," the Julian Dark Sky Network's website states.


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COUNTY HOSTS EXCITING CAMPO ROAD CORRIDOR REVITALIZATION PLAN COMMUNITY FORUM

By Henri Migala

 

October 18, 2020 (Spring Valley) – The public has until October 29 to weigh in with comments on the County of San DIego’s plans for revitalizing a stretch of Campo Road that runs through the heart of Casa de Oro. 

 

To gain more input, the County’s Planning and Development Services (PDS) held a virtual community “Guiding Principles” workshop on the Campo Road Revitalization Plan on Thursday, October 15, from 4:00-5:30 p.m. Up to 78 community members participated virtually in the workshop.


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DYING MOUNTAIN LION CUB SAVED BY SAN DIEGO HUMANE SOCIETY'S PROJECT WILDLIFE IN RAMONA

East County News Service

October 7, 2020 (Ramona) -- An orphaned mountain lion cub who arrived at San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife — Ramona Campus in critical condition is finally feeling better after weeks of intensive care by medical staff.

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LAKESIDE FAMILY GROWS 1,600 PUMPKIN

By Miriam Raftery

 

October 1, 2020 (Lakeside) – The Fredricks family in Lakeside is once again vying to earn the title of biggest pumpkin grown in San Diego County this year—and maybe ever.


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TRENDING: OUTDOOR ROLLER-SKATING

Story by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson and Miriam Raftery 

Photo by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson:  Skaters stay cool with misters at the Viejas outdoor roller rink in Alpine

August 21, 2020 (Alpine) - Looking to change up your COVID-19 outdoor exercise routine? Consider visiting the outdoor roller-skating rink at Viejas Casino Outlets to burn off some of that quarantine-15 extra weight.  Or take a skate at the San Diego Derby United outdoor rink in Encanto to roll those pounds away—and have fun. 


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MOST JULIAN BUSINESSES ARE OPEN FOR VISITORS, BUT JULIAN CARRIAGE COMPANY FALLS VICTIM TO PANDEMIC

 

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

August 13, 2020 (Julian) – Tourists are returning to Julian, the historic gold-mining town nestled in the mountains of San Diego's East County.  According to Robin Boland at the Julian Chamber of Commerce, nearly all businesses that are allowed to be open under state and county health mandates are now open, including shops, outdoor and takeout restaurants, breweries and wineries serving food. Though a few have limited hours, Boland assures, “There is still plenty to do and plenty of places to eat.”

One long-time town fixture, however, has fallen victim to the pandemic. Julian Carriage Company posted on Facebook July 31, "I'm sorry to hhave to inform you that due to COVID-19 and other extenuating circumstances we are no longer in business. Brett and I will sure miss everyone that came to Julian and rode our carriage. Life has taken us on another journey now and we are no longer in Julian. We love all of you!!!!!!! Thank you for an amazing 7 years!!!!!!! I will never forget this chapter of our lives."


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CHILDREN’S NATURE RETREAT REOPENS AFTER COVID-19 SHUTDOWN: ANIMAL RESCUE NEEDS VISITORS AND DONATIONS

 

Source: Children’s Nature Retreat

June 23, 2020 (Alpine) -- The Children’s Nature Retreat, a 20-acre animal sanctuary in Alpine with 140-plus domesticated animals, is reopening to guests.

The animal sanctuary is open by appointment only, limited to 50 people. Guests are required to wear masks at the entrance, and if they come within 6-feet of anyone outside of their family/household; visitors can roam the outdoor property on the self-guided tour without masks.


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AMID PANDEMIC, ANZA BORREGO FOUNDATION ACQUIRES LANDS TO EXPAND STATE PARK

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Ursula Esser courtesy of Anza Borrego Foundation:  Base of Sheep Canyon

June 8, 2020 (Borrego Springs) – California’s largest state park is about to get even bigger. The Anza Borrego Foundation announced that it has closed escrow on several properties it plans to donate to the state to expand Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The land transfer will include 331 parcels totaling 17,598 acres over 25 years of land acquisitions.

“In response to COVID-19, there has been increased land activity. Landowners have called eager to sell, and a couple even wanted to donate their land to ABF,” a newsletter sent by the ABF to its members states.

Grant writing and land acquisition have continued even while the park has been closed off to the public due to the pandemic.


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