Tag Archives: coronado california

My six favorite San Diego vista points

Out & About

The following are my six favorite places from which to view San Diego:

San Diego Sky Tours

San Diego Sky Tours takes you on a 20-minute flight over downtown San Diego, Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres), Qualcomm Stadium (home of the San Diego Chargers), Sports Arena (home of the Los Angeles Clippers when they were the San Diego Clippers), SeaWorld, Coronado Bridge, Hotel Del Coronado, beaches, San Diego River, and more! Take a ride in a biplane, a tour aircraft, or a helicopter. Nothing quite like it. Rates start at $124.

Remember, too, that if you fly into San Diego, sit on the left side of the airplane. The view of downtown San Diego as you are coming in for the landing is not to be missed!

Downtown San Diego from San Diego Sky Tours

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Soledad

A very popular tourist vista because it’s just minutes north of downtown San Diego, and downtown La Jolla, one of the area’s best tourist venues, is on the north side.

Mount Soledad rises about 823 feet above the coastline. There is a huge cross and Veterans Memorial at the top. On a clear day you can see Tijuana, Los Angeles, and probably Tokyo!

View from Mount Soledad

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Mount Helix

The most popular vista point in East San Diego County. Mount Helix rises 1,365 feet above sea level. It’s about 14 miles inland but you can see the ocean on a clear day. There is am amphitheater and large cross at the top. Along with Easter Sunrise Service, there are usually theater presentations during the summer. Right now the only thing I see on the Mount Helix calendar are weddings and Power Yoga.

Mount Helix is my favorite place to see the sun rise.

Sunrise from the top of Mount Helix in La Mesa, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel

In downtown San Diego on the harbor front. Comprising two towers, the older one, at 497 feet tall, has a vista point bar at the top. Unfortunately, it is way too small and crowded all the time. Be sure to visit Seaport Village at the foot of the towers.

Downtown San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

California Tower

The California Tower is 198 feet tall and located in Balboa Park.  While it is not as tall as the other vistas, the views are spectacular.

After having been closed for eighty years, it opened again on January 1, 2015. If you go, and I highly recommend that you do, make reservations and buy tickets online. They sell out far in advance, and it’s not even Tourist Season yet!

You won’t go to the tippy top because it’s not safe yet, but you won’t be disappointed. Afterwards, enjoy the rest of Balboa Park, including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

California Tower and San Diego Museum of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego

Gian Panda Gao Gao at the San Diego Zoo

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos


A trip to Coronado has to be on everyone’s list of places to visit while in San Diego. You will travel over the very beautiful Coronado Bridge on your way to see the Hotel del Coronado, one of the most famous hotels in the world; Frank Oz’s house where he wrote much of “The Wizard of Oz”; Coronado Beach, one of the best beaches  in the United States according to those who rank such things; and downtown San Diego from across the harbor. If your budget includes splurging at a restaurant, splurge at Peohe’s.

San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge

Downtown San Diego from Marriott Coronado Island Resort

Hotel del Coronado

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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IB Pet in Imperial Beach, California

Loews Surf Dog Competition in Imperial Beach, June 22 2013


Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Imperial Beach, CaliforniaLater today I will be in Imperial Beach, the most southwesterly city in the continental United States, for the Loews Surf Dog Competition.

This year’s event has a little controversy surrounding it because this year Loews Coronado Bay sought out a major sponsor and wound up with Unleashed by Petco. Petco obtained exclusive rights to produce the event.


Exclusive rights….

Imperial Beach, CaliforniaIn my opinion, rarely are exclusive rights a good thing for the masses. Exclusive means, well, others are not welcome. In this case, IB Pet (and a few other local businesses) is not welcome.

IB Pet opened in 2009, in Imperial Beach, and had been a sponsor and vendor at the competition since then.

Until this year….

Now I’m all for shopping locally first, and in this case, IB Pet is local to Imperial Beach, a city of 4.485 square miles and, at the 2010 census, a population of 26,324. Granted, Petco is kind of local, too, since their international headquarters is right here in San Diego. However, guess where the Petco closest to the event in Imperial Beach is? It’s in Chula Vista, 5.2 miles away.

Closest Petco to the Loews Surf Dog Competition in Imperial Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Zoey the Cool CatSure, there are people in Imperial Beach who live closer to the Chula Vista Petco than the 5.2 miles to the event, but come on, Petco. You can do better than this. I can’t believe the big dog is afraid of the little dogs.

IB Pet owner Lori Blauert is not boycotting the event and encourages others not to boycott since proceeds raised at the newly named 2013 Loews Surf Dog Competition-Unleashed by Petco will go to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). In the end, that’s what we all want.

IB Pet of Imperial Beach, CaliforniaLori had blue T-shirts made with the IB Pet logo on the front and “SUPPORT LOCAL” on the back. The shirts cost $20, and $5 will be donated to PAWS of Coronado and Coronado Cares.

Since I already have over 500 T-shirts, I chose not to buy one more since I’m actually trying to decrease the number of T-shirts in my collection. Instead, when this story broke a couple of weeks ago, I went down to visit IB Pet. I took some pictures of the storefront and the interior of the store, talked to a guy working at the store, and left a $20 donation with him to either give someone a free T-shirt or donate it directly to PAWS of Coronado and Coronado Cares. Although I could have donated myself, I wanted IB Pet to get credit for the donation, and maybe one more person will be wearing a SUPPORT LOCAL shirt today!

IB Pet in Imperial Beach, CaliforniaAlthough IB Pet won’t be an official part of the event at Pier Plaza, they will probably have a table set up in the parking lot at Jersey Boys Diner across the street from the beach. Two other local stores that were not invited to the Surf Dog Competition, IB Groomin’ and Seacoast Pet Clinic, have been extended invitations to join IB Pet across the street.

According to a representative of Loews Coronado Bay Resort and Hotel, “Anything that brings more money to the ASPCA is welcome.” Word is that even before today’s event, the competition has already doubled the $10,000 that was raised for the ASPCA last year.

IB Pet in Imperial Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

IB Pet in Imperial Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

IB Pet in Imperial Beach, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Another big change this year is that the event is less like a street fair with booths and more like a festival. Every sponsor had to create a fun activity for everyone. Some of the new attractions include

  • IB Pet in Imperial Beach, Californiaa Family Splash Park where children can play in sprinklers while adults (perhaps unintentionally) test how waterproof their electronics are.
  • Ice cream for pets and owners.
  • Massages for pets and owners.
  • Tillman, an English bull dog with a YouTube following, his own TV show on Hallmark Channel, and mascot of dog food maker Natural Balance, will sign autographs and catch some waves.
  • Stone Brewing Co. beer tasting at the Natural Balance Beer Garden (that’s the real reason why I’m going!)
  • On-site pet adoption by the San Diego County Humane Society.
  • There will be a Chill Zone where one can get out of the sun (why would you go to the beach to get out of the sun?), eat, and watch the surf dog competition via CCTV.

IB Pet in Imperial Beach, CaliforniaSince the event is raising money for the ASPCA, and since sponsors and vendors pay money to participate, and since businesses that want to participate are being excluded, it just seems to me that something isn’t right here.

I really liked what Lori Blauert (IB Pet owner; had to throw that link in there again) said about Petco (the big dog) excluding local Imperial Beach businesses (the little dogs):

“Is it really a big deal that we’re there? The few IB pet businesses like [us], the vet and IB Groomin’? Are we really going to take away from Petco’s sales? No it’s not. We’re the little guys,” Blauert said.

Seventh Annual Del Mar Surf Dog Surf-a-thonHow can you exclude vets who want to particpate? That’s just crazy.

I had always thought more of Petco than I do right now. After all, they bought the naming rights to the stadium (Petco Park) where the San Diego Padres (sometimes attempt to) play major league baseball.

Lastly, you knew I was going to show you a flash video of Zoey the Cool Cat in a pet post, right?

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Loews Surf Dog Competition-Unleashed by Petco will take place today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Pier Plaza, 940 Seacoast Drive, Imperial Beach. See you there!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos