Weekend Getaways

Weekend Getaways

JOIN THE 2021 JULIAN HIKING CHALLENGE

East County News Service
 
July 12, 2021 (Julian) --You’re invited to explore some of Julian's most beautiful trails in the Julian Hiking Challenge. Complete the five hikes listed by December 31, submit photos and you will receive a special certificate, sticker and entry into a raffle to win a Julian Goodie bag of Julian keepsake items, special offers, freebies-- plus the added bonus of some awesome outdoor adventures.
 
Send selfies to share@visitjulian.com after you finish each hike or all five hikes. The First 300 to complete the challenge will also receive a Julian Hiking Challenge Patch.
 

HARRAH’S RESORT SOCAL AT RINCON CELEBRATES PRIDE WEEKEND JULY 17-18

East County News Service

 

July 3, 2021 (San Diego) -- As a longtime supporting sponsor of San Diego PRIDand in celebration of pride, equality, and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communitiesHarrah’s Resort SoCal today announced a bevy of beautiful PRIDE experiences, offerings and specials to celebrate PRIDE in style.  From the hotel towers lit up in rainbow colors in support of San Diego Pride weekend July 17 and 18 to Resort decor including a rainbow ribbon chandelier and a proud alpaca, colorful photo ops and celebration abound.

TRAVELING INTERNATIONALLY? CDC OFFERS INTERNATIONAL VACCINATION CERTIFICATE APPROVED BY WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 3, 2021 (Washington D.C.) – If you’re planning to travel internationally, be aware that many nations are requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination and/or other vaccines to enter. The internationally recognized proof of your vaccination status is the Yellow Card, also known as the CDC 731 form or PHS-731 form. 

How to get a Yellow Card?

Approved by the World Health Organization, the Yellow Card can be purchased for $25 through the U.S. Government publishing office bookstore at this link.

Need to find required vaccinations for each country/region you plan to visit? 

Visit the CDC Vaccinations page at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/vaccinations.htm. To avoid being quarantined or denied entry, a traveler can also check the entry requirements for the country in question by contacting its embassy or consulate.

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.

NOT VACCINATED FOR COVID? HERE ARE ALL THE PLACES YOU CAN’T GO

By Miriam Raftery

May 19, 2021 (San Diego) – With over two-thirds of Californians now at least partially vaccinated and half fully vaccinated, many people are looking forward to resuming normal activities. But if you haven’t had the COVID-19 vaccine, you may be surprised to learn that you won’t be allowed to go many places.

These include all cruise ships, many colleges and universities, and some sports arenas and stadiums. Nursing homes and other senior care facilities may require vaccinations before admitting new patients or indoor visitors. Some employers are also requiring vaccines. Even some event planners are requiring guests to be vaccinated to attend functions such as weddings.

Not getting the vaccine is a personal choice, but a growing number of places are opting to protect their customers, workers or patients by banning the unvaccinated. Others are allowing unvaccinated people only if they can pass a COVID test. But who really wants to have your nose swabbed every time you go to a Padres game? Similarly, some places are allowing unvaccinated travelers – but only if you both pass a COVID test and quarantine in your hotel room for a number of days after arriving, which can spoil vacation plans unless you have an extended trip.

So where can’t you go, as of now, if you’re not vaccinated?

PALA CASINO RV RESORT AWARDED GOOD SAM 10/10*/10 RATING FOR SIXTH YEAR IN A ROW

East County News Service

May 14, 2021 (Pala) - Pala Casino RV Resort has been awarded a flawless 10/10*/10 Good Sam rating for the sixth consecutive year. Pala Casino RV Resort was one of only 153 Good Sam Parks throughout the United States to earn a perfect score in the 2021 rankings. Pala Casino RV Resort was awarded top marks in every category, including facilities, restrooms, showers, and overall visual appearance. Pala has received this coveted recognition every year since opening.

WEEKEND GETAWAY: MOTHER’S DAY AT CARLSBAD FLOWER FIELDS

Update: The Flower Fields will be open an additional week ending May 16th. Tickets will be available at a discounted rate for a limited time only, while supplies last.  Tickets go on sale Monday, May 10th at 8 a.m.

Story and video by Briana Gomez

View video:  https://youtu.be/xra1kCSymCM

May 4, 2021 (Carlsbad) - It’s the last week to visit the beautiful Carlsbad Flower Fields. The fields will finish off their season on Mother’s Day this upcoming Sunday. but there’s still time to buy tickets.

JURASSIC QUEST DRIVE THRU AT DEL MAR FAIRGROUNDS MARCH 26 – APRIL 4

Guests invited to “feed” new 50-foot Spinosaurus and San Diego Food Bank with nonperishable drop-off donations

 

East County News Service

 

March 28, 2021 (Del Mar) – Jurassic Quest Drive Thru, the nation’s largest touring dinosaur exhibit, opened today for an encore showing at Del Mar Fairgrounds through April 4 following a sold-out visit in January. The traveling dinosaur attraction has welcomed its 2 millionth visitor and today kicks off a food drive benefiting the San Diego Food Bank (donations accepted on site March 26-April 4). 

CALIFORNIA STADIUMS, THEME PARKS MAY REOPEN APRIL 1 IF COVID RULES ARE MET

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association 

Photo:  artist’s rendering of SeaWorld San Diego’s new dive coaster under construction. Image via SeaWorld

March 5, 2021 (San Diego) - Petco Park, SeaWorld and other major outdoor attractions and sports/performance venues across the state can reopen as early as April 1 subject to counties’ rates of COVID-19 spread and with strict capacity-control mandates and required mask-wearing, state officials announced Friday.

SEAWORLD REOPENS: MASKS AND RESERVATIONS REQUIRED

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo, left of Aria and Rakeem Williams courtesy of Shannan Williams)

Feb. 14, 2021 (San Diego) – After Governor Gavin Newsom lifted the stay-at-home order in late January,  SeaWorld in San Diego opened portions of their site to the public on Feb. 6 including exhibits of aquatic animals, though other attractions remain closed, including rides. Seaworld is a permitted and accredited zoo. 

However, shows such as the orca, dolphin, and seal/otter show are held at various times during the day.

Discounted passes and special promotions are available.

Additionally, teachers in East County and elsewhere can utilize Sea World’s offer of a free 2021 Teacher Fun Card. They are offering a complimentary 2021 Teacher Fun Card to all certified K-12 Southern California and Arizona credentialed schoolteachers. Preschoolers are also offered a special rate.

SYCUAN RESORTS AMONG FIRST IN WORLD TO RECEIVE HEALTH SECURITY VERIFICATION FROM SHARECARE AND FORBES TRAVEL GUIDE

East County News Service

Photo courtesy of Sycuan Casino Resort

February 7, 2021 (Sycuan) -- Sycuan Casino Resort and Singing Hills Golf Resort at Sycuan are among the first hotels in the world to become Sharecare Health Security VERIFIED® with Forbes Travel Guide. The comprehensive facility verification helps ensure that guests and travel planners can book with confidence at properties that have appropriate health safety procedures in place.

SKIERS FLOCK TO SNOW VALLEY AFTER WINTER STORMS

East County News Service

Photo courtesy of Snow Valley

January 30, 2021 (San Diego) – Skiing, snowboarding and sledding are classified as outdoor activities during the pandemic, so ski resorts are open.  At Snow Valley Mountain Resort in Running Springs, located in the San Bernadino Mountains just north of San Diego, 24 to 30 inches of new snow fell overnight. That’s on top of 29 inches of fresh snow Friday atop the summit at 7,841 feet a 25 inches at the base.

“Winter is definitely back!” John Brice at SnowSports.com says, adding that in addition to heavy snowfall, “We’ve been making snow nightly to help build up our base of snow!  With the natural snow, more terrain is now open including Bubble Gum, Surprise Run, Race Peak and more.  Check out the open trails report below for more information.”

AMTRAK PACIFIC SURFLINER IMPLEMENTS TEMPORARY ADJUSTMENTS FOR THOSE WHO NEED TO TRAVEL FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Source: AMTRAK

Photo provided courtesy of LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency

Reservations will be required on Pacific Surfliner trains traveling between San Diego and San Luis Obispo on December 23-28, 2020.

December 10, 2020 (San Diego) -- To safely manage travel on the Amtrak® Pacific Surfliner® route around the Christmas holiday, reservations will be required on trains that travel between San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties. Customers are encouraged to travel only for essential purposes in observation of the statewide stay-at-home order, and to familiarize themselves with local health and safety regulations that may vary by region.

A reservation will be required to travel on Pacific Surfliner trains beginning Wednesday, December 23 through Monday, December 28, 2020, to help manage capacity and allow customers to distance themselves from each other onboard. Additionally, the Rail 2 Rail program will be suspended during this period - monthly Metrolink and COASTER passes will not be accepted onboard Pacific Surfliner trains on these dates.

CALIFORNIA DRIVERS ARE TAKING 53.1% MORE ROAD TRIPS IN 2020

East County News Service
 
September 19, 2020 (San Diego) – A new report by seoClarity on changing travel patterns in the United States finds that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Americans are taking more long-distance road trips, even while air travel has dropped sharply.  Road trips by Californians have risen sharply—and people in the San Diego region took the ninth most road trips of 350 major metropolitan areas studied, logging 73,900 long-distance road trips in 2020, an 86.1% rise over 2019.
 
Such a shift in travel behavior may serve as an example of the “new normal” when it comes to how Americans will travel to more distant destinations, the report concludes.
 
COVID-19 took hold during the warmer months and peak travel periods for many Americans, contributing to a more than 30 percent decline in total travel since 2019, according to recently released government data. However, while social distancing measures and remote work have led to a decrease in short-distance trips and a massive 70 percent decline in air travel, the number of miles logged on long-distance road trips has risen dramatically above last year's numbers. 

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."

HOTEL INDUSTRY REQUIRES MASKS ACROSS U.S., RELEASES TOP 5 TRAVEL SAFETY REQUIREMENTS

Face coverings, physical distancing to be standardized at hotels nationwide

 

Source: American Hotel & Lodging Association

 

Photo:  CC-ND via Bing

 

July 20, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today released the “Safe Stay Guest Checklist” for guests on how to travel safely, also creating a standardized safety experience nationwide. This checklist is part of AHLA’s Safe Stay guidelines --an industry-wide, enhanced set of health and safety protocols designed to provide a safe and clean environment for all hotel guests and employees. 

JULIAN WELCOMES VISITORS BACK



By Bobbi Zane

June 18, 2020 (Julian) --Julian shop and restaurant owners are now back open to serve visitors, though the rules have changed in the historic gold rush town located in San Diego's back country.

"Visitors no longer need to stay at home,” says Robin Boland, manager of the Julian Chamber of Commerce. During the COVID-19 shutdown, the Chamber had earlier asked visitors to stay away to prevent brining the virus to the mountain town which customarily thrives on tourism.

Restaurants and one-of-a-kind charming shops have lined both sides of Main Street for many years. Julian is also known for excellent restaurants, though Julian is most faous for its apple pies, known as the new gold that draws visitors to Mom's Pie House and Julian Apple Pies.

VEHICLE ACCESS CLOSED AT ALL 280 STATE PARKS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Miriam Raftery: Lake Cuyamaca in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is among sites now closed to vehicle access.

March 29, 2020 (San Diego) – California State Parks announced today that vehicle access is shut down to all 280 state parks due to visitors not following social distancing requirements during the COVID-19 outbreak. In San Diego County, state parks include Cuyamaca Rancho, Anza Borrego Desert, and San Pasqual Battlefield state parks as well as state beaches at Cardiff, Carlsbad and Torrey Pines.

MORE PUBLIC PLACES SHUT DOWN DUE TO VISITORS CROWDING ATTRACTIONS, IGNORING SOCIAL DISTANCING

By Miriam Raftery

March 24, 2020 (San Diego) – As COVID-19 continues its rapid spread in San Diego and people eager to exercise or socialize crowd into outdoor public spaces, more are shutting down including most local beaches as well as many parks and trails.

Here’s the latest on what’s open and closed.

While it's best to stay home if you have space to exercise and get fresh air there, if you do venture out to public spaces, be sure to maintain social distance of six feet from anyone not in your famliy and so that the few remaining places to enjoy nature won’t be shut down, too. No groups of 10 or more are allowed anywhere in the state.  The Sheriff has said that those violating social distancing rules may be arrested, fined, and jailed.

STATE DEPARTMENT URGES AMERICANS NOT TO TRAVEL ON CRUISE SHIPS, WARNS OLDER PEOPLE TO AVOID CROWDED PLACES AND NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons by NC via Bing

March 9, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory that states, “U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship.” 

The advisory cites the Centers for Disease Control’s warning that a cruise ship environment increases the risk of COVID-19 infection.

The State Department advises that many nations have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking to curb the spread of COVIC-19. Some passengers have been quarantined overseas. Although the U.S. has evacuated some cruise ship passengers recently, the State Department now warms, “repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.”

The State Department also urges older adults and travelers with underlying health issues to avoid other situations that put them at risk. This includes avoiding crowded places and avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips or cruises.

A SUMMER’S EVE TEA AT THE LAVENDER FARM

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 31, 2019 (Valley Center) – My daughter and I savored a soothing summer’s eve at Keys Creek Lavender Farm in Valley Center, partaking of an outdoor high tea on a shaded patio--an idyllic way to relax and indulge in some scrumptious treats.

After rambling down winding country roads, we arrived to be greeted with a hand-washing station complete with a lavender sugar scrub that left our hands not only clean, but soft and smooth.  I recommend arriving early to take a stroll past lavender fields, albeit past the peak spring bloom season.  

SAN DIEGO COUNTY'S HISTORIC PLACES: JULIAN

By Donald H. Harrison

Originally published at San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

Photo:  Julian Hotel, formerly Hotel Robinson

July 21, 2019 (Julian) - Whites who had been slaveholders and blacks who had been slaves contributed to the early history of Julian.  Today, in the colorful mountain town of gold mines, apples and antiques, both groups of people as well as other ethnic groups  are remembered and honored.

MECCA IN THE HIGH DESERT: JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS

By Daniel Smiechowski

Spa exterior, restaurant and running pictures courtesy Daniel Smeichowski.  Spa water photo courtesy Miriam Raftery

July 14, 2019 (Jacumba Hot Springs) -- As I drove east on Old Highway 80 about five miles to the I-east junction, I came upon a God-forsaken outpost of ramshackle homes, a trailer park, County library, elementary school, a few churches and a grocery store. What brought me here, however, was the iconic spa named after the town itself, the Jacumba Hot Springs Resort & Spa.

It seems like yesterday when my Mother and Father brought me here on a Greyhound bus from Milwaukee 54 years ago. In 1966, this spa served as a waystation for Greyhound bus lines. Interstate 8 did not exist in 1966 going through the El Centro corridor. But what was my real motivation in coming here? I came here for the sake of my beloved sport of triathlon. It was a match made in heaven. Mecca in the high desert. Blissfully sensual and healthier than 20 Spanish Pamplona bulls. Yes, I considered the extreme temperatures but common sense solved any dangers to the body and mind.

BLOOMS, BIGHORNS AND BUTTERFLIES





Superbloom season is in full swing



By Miriam Raftery

March 15, 2019 (Borrego Springs) -- What a glorious day in Borrego Springs!  The desert is in full bloom --- a huge contrast to just a few days go, when I last visited and found some early blossoms but not the spectacular flower fields now delighting visitors.  Something about frolicking in a field of flowers elicits pure joy. (Photos left and right, along DiGiorgio Road.)

THE PATIO GROUP TO MANAGE FAMED LA CASA DEL ZORRO DESERT RESORT & SPA IN BORREGO SPRINGS

 

 

East County News Service

 

January 24, 2019 (Borrego Springs)  The Patio Group division of American National Investments (ANI) announces new partnership and management ofLa Casa Del Zorro Desert Resort & Spa in Borrego Springs.

BACKCOUNTRY HIDDEN PLEASURES: WEEKEND GETAWAYS IN SAN DIEGO'S INLAND REGION

 

 

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

By Bobbi Zane and Miriam Raftery, 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, historic highways and rural areas --- known as the playground for San Diegans who want a close-to-home getaway. 

This beautiful country is mostly untouched by urban development. You can walk through forests, ride bikes on country lanes, horseback ride, pick apples in the fall, sample local wine, hike and dine in the great outdoors most of the year.

 East County Magazine's  Backcountry Hidden Pleasures series profiles weekend getaway destinations that you can find close to home in San Diego County's inland region, including lodging plus unique activities and attrations in each region.  We have visited them all.

It’s an hour’s drive or less from downtown to the mountains, where you can discover the hidden pleasures by checking into one of many bed and breakfast inns and lodges in Julian, Mount Laguna or Ramona. Elsewhere in our inland region, savor luxury at Native American casino resorts, visit historic lodges, stay at a winery, hot springs retreat, or lavender farm, visit our historic cities and an emerging restaurant row, or find spa pampering services, golf and tennis at hotels in Borrego Springs.

Your lodging options in our inland region also include campgrounds, tipis, "glamping" , cottages, vintage '50s trailers, and cabins afloat on a lake.

  Start your adventure by clicking here and scroll down to read our entries below!

RAINS BRING EARLY DESERT WILDFLOWER BLOOMS: BOOKMARK THESE RESOURCES

 

 

East County News Service

January 22, 2019  (Borrego) -- Thanks to the rain, wildflowers are blooming early this year in the Anza-Borrego desert, according to Sunbelt Publications. If you’re planning to visit the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, these sites will provide updates on where and when to view those beautiful blooms:

CITY OF EL CAJON NOW ACCEPTS PASSPORT APPLICATIONS

 

 

East County News Service

January 14, 2019 (El Cajon) -- The City of El Cajon announced today  that it now accepts passport applications on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. 

U.S. citizens planning international travel may apply for their passports at the City Clerk’s Office by appointment.

VIEJAS CASINO AND RESORT COMPLETES SEVEN-YEAR EXPANSION PROJECT: GRAND OPENING OCT. 20 TO INCLUDE CIRCUS PERFORMERS AND FIREWORKS

 

Popular destination unveils renovation results; launches new center bar and high limit gaming area

East County News Service

October 10, 2018 (Alpine) -- Viejas Casino & Resort has announced the completion of its seven-year renovation and expansion. Since initiating the project in 2011, the popular destination has constructed three hotel towers, redesigned the entire property, and launched a new and extensive center bar and high limit gaming area. The project completion follows closely behind the opening of Viejas Casino & Resort’s recently developed adult-only destination, Willows Hotel & Spa.

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