Weekend Getaways

Weekend Getaways

BACKCOUNTRY HIDDEN PLEASURES

 

 

Our guide to unique lodging 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 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 and more.

For the next few weeks East County Magazine will report on the Hidden Pleasures you can find close to home in the backcountry.  We have visited them all.  Read our entries so far (below), and check back for new additions soon!

DAY TRIPPING IN ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK

 

By Liz Orient

May 15, 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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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.

HIGH DESERT MOUNTAIN YOGA RETREAT OCT. 31-NOV. 3

 

A Weekend Getaway in San Diego's East County

By Miriam Raftery

October 12, 2017 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – You’re invited to soak and stretch your way to relaxation and Nirvana at the second High Mountain Desert Yoga Retreat, tucked among boulders high in the In-Ko-Pah and Jacumba mountains near the eastern San Diego County line.

This four-day healing event from October 31 to November 3 will include natural sulfur hot spring pools, healing sessions at the Desert View tower including Kundalini Tantra Yoga, Reiki healing, and crystal sound healing. Guests will also savor delicious vegan meals scenic hikes and some desert surprises, plus a three-day stay at the nearby Jacumba Hot Springs Resort.

SUNSET TO STARS: DINNER EXCURSIONS IN ANZA BORREGO DESERT AUG. 11 AND 16

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo by Dennis Mammana

July 26, 2017 (Borrego Springs) – California Overland Adventures invites you to a 5-hour sunset-to-stars excursion to experience the Anza-Borrego Desert on August 11 or August 16  from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. including an off-road adventure to rugged badlands, dinner and stargazing in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which USA Today has called a “stargazer’s paradise.”

Overnight camping options are also available on separate dates.

THE LOBSTER HOUSES OF PUERTO NUEVO

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

June 5, 2017 (Puerto Nuevo) -- Lobster dinners, Viagra coffee, ponchos and more are to be found in Puerto Nuevo, Baja California, Mexico. 

The city, as legend has it, was named after a Newport cigarette billboard.  The legend goes there was a fishing village that offered cheap lobster dinners.  When people asked where to find this place, south of Rosarito Beach, the directions, before Google map, would instruct tourists to go to the Newport cigarette billboard and they would find this fishing village.  Puerto means “port” and Nuevo “new.”

WARNER SPRINGS RESORT REOPENS HISTORIC COTTAGES

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 29, 2017 (Warner Springs) – Ten historic cottages at Warner Springs Ranch Resort reopen this weekend, after the resort’s long closure for remodeling under new ownership.

“As they were in the past, Warner Springs Ranch Resort cottages are meant to provide a simple, rustic setting similar to that experienced in the old west…a place to create memories that last a lifetime,” an announcement from Warner Springs Resort reads. “You’ll find our cottages to be a comfortable environment to unwind after a great day on the golf course or on horseback.”

WEEKEND GETAWAY: HIKE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SUPERBLOOM AT THE RANCH IN MALIBU

 

East County News Service

April 27, 2017 (Malibu) --With Southern California experiencing a “super bloom” after years of draught there is no better time to get out and enjoy the beautiful nature of the region.   But where to go, now that the Anza Borrego bloom is nearly over?

FLOWING FALLS AND FLOWERS: EARTH DAY IN EAST COUNTY

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 25, 2017 (Cuyamaca) –From flowing water falls to blooming wildflowers, nature put on a spectacular show in San Diego’s East County. On Saturday,  I headed out to the mountains, taking the Highway 79 exit north off I-8 to start with a visit to Green Valley Falls in Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, followed by stops at Lake Cuyamaca  and picturesque Julian.

KIDS DISCOVER ADVENTURES AT SANTEE LAKES

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

April 17, 2017 (Santee) – Santee Lakes is an idyllic place to let kids enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood.  On a sunny afternoon over spring break, kids at the lakes gleefully discovered their inner Tom Sawyer or Becky Thatcher. 

I spotted a group of kids piloting a pedal boat around one of several islands in the lake.   A large Canada Goose skidded to a water landing in front of another pedal boat, where a startled dad snapped photos while his kids looked on, pointing with delight.  

FLOAT YOUR BOAT AT RAIN-RESTORED LAKE MORENA

 

East County News Service

Boats, float tubes, canoes and kayaks are once again allowed after rains raised water levels

April 5, 2017 (Lake Morena) – For the first time in years, the boat launch at Lake Morena County Park is now open—and the county encourages you to gather up your fishing rods and bait for a day of fishing and fun.

BLOOMING IN JULIAN: LILAC FESTIVAL CONTINUES AT FORT CROSS OLD-TIMEY ADVENTURES

 

Also check out Julian Gold Rush Days at the Julian Mining Company just across the street

By Miriam Raftery

April 2, 2017 (San Diego’s East County) – There’s still time to bring home a bouquet of fragrant lilacs as the Lilac Festival continues in its final day of the season at Fort Cross Old Timey Adventures today.  It’s all part of a revitalization of new activities reclaiming the region's  historical roots along Highway 78 just outside of Julian in San Diego's East County.

SYCUAN BREAKS GROUND ON CASINO EXPANSION INCLUDING NEW HOTEL AND EVENTS CENTER

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 31, 2017 (El Cajon) –“This is truly our day. We’re here to celebrate,” Sycuan Tribal Chairman Cody Martinez told a packed house during a groundbreaking on the Sycuan reservation for the tribe’s casino expansion.

The ambitious project will include a 12-story hotel resort with 300 rooms,  adult pool with swim-up bar, kids pool,  gardens including a 420-foot-long “lazy river,” new restaurants , spa,  60,000 in additional gaming space, and a spacious 11,401 square foot ballroom that can double as concert hall seating 1,200 or banquet room  with capacity for 700. The $226 million, 500,000 square foot project is slated to open in 2019.

HORSEBACK RIDING IS BACK AT WARNER SPRINGS RANCH RESORT

 

Latest phase in resort renovation follows renovated golf course

East County News Service

March 21, 2017 (Warner Springs)  – Warner Springs Ranch Resort (WSRR), the iconic San Diego County destination, has brought back horseback riding to its amenities available to the public.  The resort has partnered with Warner Valley Stables to provide guided rides at the Warner Springs Ranch Resort Equestrian Center through the miles of scenic trails surrounding Warner Springs.

VIEJAS CASINO & RESORT NAMED FOUR-STAR HOTEL BY FORBES TRAVEL GUIDE

 

East County News Service

March 9, 2017 (Alpine) -- Forbes Travel Guide has  unveiled its annual Star Rating list, naming Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine as a new Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star hotel. Viejas Casino & Resort will be showcased with all of the Star Rating recipients on ForbesTravelGuide.com. Read the Forbes review herehttp://www.forbestravelguide.com/san-diego-california/hotels/viejas-casino-resort.

RAMONA’S WINEMAKING COMES OF AGE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Mark and Miriam Raftery

Photos, left:  Bill Schweitzer, Ramona Valley Vineyards Association cofounder and past president at Highland  Hills Winery; Pamo Valley Tasting Room on Holiday Wine Tour

January 8, 2017 (Ramona) –“2016 is going to be our greatest vintage so far. Everybody says it came in perfect,” says Bill Schweitzer, cofounder of the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association (RVVA) in 2002,  and a driving force in attaining an American Viticulture Area (AVA) designation for Ramona back in 2006.  That’s due to the ideal combination of heat, rains and drought years—as well as years of efforts by local vintners now savoring the fruits of their labors.

Sipping wine on the sunny patio at Highland Valley Winery during the Holiday Wine Trail event in December, he reflected that back in 2001,  Ramona had just one winery (Schwaesdall) and 20 vineyards growing grapes.  Today, there are at least 29 wineries in Ramona, soon to be 35, and 150 vineyards.

WEEKEND GETAWAYS: TIPIS AT LAKE JENNINGS NOW AVAILABLE FOR CAMPING ADVENTURES

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Robin Norris Kendall, Miriam Raftery, and Mike Uhrhammer

November 15, 2016 (Lakeside) – If you love camping but don’t want to lug around camping gear, now there’s a fun new camping experience at Lake Jennings in San Diego’s East County:  tipis!

They’re spacious – each measures 20 feet in diameter, made of canvas from Colorado and pine wood poles from Montana.  Tipi (also spelled tee-pee) is a Lakota Sioux Indian word meaning “living in.” The Native Americans used buffalo hides to make their tipis, which were toted on horseback from site to site across the Great Plains. 

HOLLYWOOD CASINO JAMUL–SAN DIEGO TO CELEBRATE PREMIER OPENING MONDAY

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Byron Croft: top, Richard St. Jean and Penn National team; right, Final Cut steakhouse view.

 

October 9,2016 (Jamul) – “I’m like a proud parent,” Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego vice president and general manager Richard St. Jean said,  during a preview tour of the 200,000 square foot facility on Saturday.  This has been a long time coming.”

The casino will opening to the public on Monday at 2 p.m., after an 11 a.m.ribbon-cutting for Penn National Gaming executive team members and tribal members of the Jamul Indian Village of the Kumeyaay Nation.

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