Today on Off the 56 Courtney Solis and I are taking you on a tour of the awesome Carmel Valley, San Diego neighborhood. Carmel Valley is full of family-friendly parks, awesome restaurants and shopping, and award-winning schools – and it’s just five miles to the coast! Does it get any better than that?!
We began our tour at the Western end of the Peñasquitos Preserve. There’s a trail that runs along the 56 freeway which you can follow all the way to the ocean. It starts at the 15 freeway and you can bike, walk, horseback ride, and hike down to Torrey Pines Preserve. This is a great trail that many locals love to take advantage of and you’ll often see people enjoying the trail at all hours of the day!
From there, Courtney and I headed to Pacific Highlands Ranch, the newer section of Carmel Valley. Many of the homes were built in the last five to seven years (2012 and later) with some still being built today! The median home price in Carmel Valley is about $1,300,000 for a single family home. Townhomes and condos are more affordable, with townhomes starting at around $650,000. If you’re in the market for a new home, reach out to me – I’d love to talk to you about your options.
The local schools are one of the main reasons people choose to move to Carmel Valley. This community is home to some of the best schools in the state! In fact, Canyon Crest Academy located right here in Pacific Highlands Ranch, Torrey Pines High School, Pacific Trails Middle School and Carmel Valley Middle School are all ranked in the Top 30 on the Niche.com list of the Best Public Schools in California. Many of the local schools in Carmel Valley are known for the strength of their S.T.E.M. Education. S.T.E.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
Next, we visited the Pacific Highlands Ranch Community Park in Pacific Highlands Ranch. This park is fairly new and has brought some much needed recreation space to the community. The park features playgrounds for kids, a bike track, a large open field, basketball courts, and a skateboard park with a halfpipe! This park truly has something for everyone.
Our tour of Carmel Valley made us work up an appetite so we stopped at local favorite doughnut shop, Sidecar Doughnuts and Coffee, in the Del Mar Highlands shopping center. If you’ve never been, be sure to put it on your list – trust me, they have some of the best doughnuts you’ve ever tasted! Click here to get the address and see all of the Sidecar Doughnuts locations in Southern California.
After fueling up, Courtney and I stopped at the newly opened One Paseo. One Paseo has a host of new restaurants and shops worth checking out like International Smoke (opened by basketball player Stephen Curry’s wife, Ayesha!) Salt & Straw, Pigment, Urban Beach House, Blue Bottle Coffee, and so much more! There’s even a Susie Cakes at One Paseo – that’s where I got my wedding cake from! Although there aren’t any specific kid-designated areas, there’s plenty of open space to sit and relax throughout the shopping center. Click here to see a full list of the shopping and dining options at One Paseo.
We conclude our tour with – of course – a trip to the beach! We stopped by Torrey Pines Beach, which we’ve visited before on Off the 56. One of Carmel Valley’s best features is definitely its location. Centrally located, it’s only about five minutes from Torrey Pines State Beach and just about twenty-five minutes from anywhere in San Diego County. Whether you head to Downtown San Diego often, fly frequently, or work out of Carlsbad, Carmel Valley is the perfect place to call home!
I hope you enjoyed our tour of Carmel Valley! I know we did! If you want to pick up the California Explorer Pass Courtney mentioned in the video, click here.
And again, if you’re thinking of making a move to Carmel Valley, don’t hesitate to reach out – I would love to help you find the perfect home!
As many of you know I live Off the 56 in the Rancho Peñasquitos neighborhood of San Diego. I thought we’d do something a little bit different today and go on a neighborhood tour to show you what life is like in this great community. With me is my neighbor and friend, Courtney Solis. Join us as we take you through our neck of the woods and show you all the best that Rancho Peñasquitos has to offer!
We begin our day at the Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve. This is a beautiful, 4,000 acre preserve that is open to the public to enjoy hiking, biking, and even horseback riding on the trails! A lot of the trails in Peñasquitos Canyon are fairly flat, which makes it a great place for all skill levels to get some exercise. If you’ve been a regular viewer of Off the 56, you’ll remember this is the same canyon where I hung out with Canicross San Diego! So whether you’re looking for an easy family hike or something more challenging, you’ll want to check out Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve which is right in our own backyard.
Next we stopped by Peñasquitos Park, which is right across the street from Park Village Elementary School. As Courtney tells us, this is one of the many elementary schools in the area ranked in the fifty best schools in California! Schools in Rancho Peñasquitos are part of the award-winning Poway Unified School District. If you’re looking to enroll your kids in a great public school district, Rancho Peñasquitos might be a great fit for your family!
After enjoying our hike and visit to Peñasquitos Park, Courtney and I headed to a popular spot in the area, Andell’s Bakery. Andell’s is just around the corner from Bad Ass Coffee, which I visited on my Off the 56 coffee shop tour. Andell’s is an Asian-Pacific Bakery and Kitchen. As Courtney told us on the video, one of the most popular desserts on the menu is the Ube Londres Cake. Unfortunately, as we found out, Andell’s is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays so we weren’t able to try the purple cake for ourselves. We’ll be back another time for sure!
Next on our tour, we visited the neighborhood where the first Paranormal Activity movie was shot on Bavarian Drive. As a Realtor, it’s pretty cool to have a famous house in the neighborhood!
But the Paranormal Activity house isn’t the only famous house in Rancho Peñasquitos. We also checked out Christmas Card Lane, which isn’t as impressive in the summer, but turns into a magical place during the holidays! Courtney and I both highly recommend visiting Christmas Card Lane during December. All the homes on the street light up and the community of Rancho Peñasquitos truly comes together to celebrate Christmas.
After exploring Christmas Card Lane, Courtney and I headed to Hilltop Community Park. Rancho Peñasquitos has lots of great parks throughout the area. Besides Hilltop Park, there’s also Torrey Meadows Park and Black Mountain Open Space Park. But at Hilltop Park, you’ll enjoy amazing views of the ocean, great playground equipment, and plenty of open space for the kids to run around in. If you have young kids, you will love living in Rancho Peñasquitos.
For the last stop of the tour, we headed to one of my favorite local restaurants, Knotty Barrel. Home to great food, locally brewed beers, and an awesome outdoor dining space. If you haven’t checked out my latest visit to Knotty Barrel on Off the 56, click here to watch my interview with the owner.
I hope you enjoyed our day out and about in Rancho Peñasquitos! What was your favorite part of our tour? Let us know in the comments below.
And if you are thinking of making a move to Rancho Peñasquitos, don’t hesitate to reach out – I’d be happy to help you find the perfect home.
Families Off the 56 have been loving Kid Ventures 4S Ranch since 2008. So I decided to stop by to chat with owner, Darren Solomon, to find out what this unique facility is all about!
Darren’s wife, Debbie Solomon, wanted to translate her background in gymnastics and children’s education into a unique center for children to learn, grow, and have fun! So after experiencing much success with her previous business venture in children’s education, Debbie joined forces with Darren, and they now own and operate Kid Ventures in 4S Ranch!
Kid Ventures is an award-winning next generation children’s education, enrichment, and entertainment center that is pushing the limits on early education. Kids play and learn in a fun and stimulating indoor area that is designed with creativity in mind. Their programs and activities are geared towards children between one and six years old, though kids up to eight are welcome at their summer camps.
But Kid Ventures isn’t just for the kids! Darren and Debbie wanted to make sure the space was one where parents wanted to hang out, too. So they added a coffee and snack bar in the facility where adults can sit back and relax while their kids are close by! The Solomons are proud that Kid Ventures has also become a place for families in North County to meet other parents and have the opportunity to socialize while their kids have a great time, too.
With many kids out of school for the summer, this is possibly their busiest time of the year! They offer weekly summer camps with different themes each week to keep your child interested and engaged. Kid Ventures’ summer camps are super flexible. Kids can attend half days, full days, or even full weeks to best accommodate a busy parent’s schedule. Click here for more information on Kid Ventures’ 2019 summer camps.
After hearing that families in the community were looking for childcare alternatives throughout the year, Darren and Debbie Solomon decided to get licensed to operate a preschool program at each of their locations. Their Preschool Academy really focuses on cultivating a love of learning. Yes the kids still get to play and have fun, but at Kid Ventures, they really want the kids to fall in love with learning so that they can carry that love and passion with them during their entire educational journey.
Kid Ventures also offers birthday parties, daytime play, and Kids Night Out on Friday nights where parents can drop their kids off while they enjoy date night! This place really has it all! Click here for a list of current classes and events near you. And don’t forget to take advantage of their “Happy Hour Special” – half price admission during the last hour of the day!
Since starting Off the 56, I’ve realized that San Diego is a very entrepreneurial city. I love getting to highlight all the small businesses around the 56 and help showcase people who are chasing their dreams.
On this week’s episode of Off the 56, I met up with local resident, Sean Bascom, who runs the youth mountain biking program, Sprockids, in San Diego.
Sprockids is an all inclusive “Nobody Sits on the Bench” sport! Sprockids seeks to foster a lifelong love of the sport of mountain biking. The program teaches off-road skills through drills, games, and fun activities while tracking individual progress. Sprockids also gives kids the skills, values, and strategies they need to ultimately succeed in life.
This is a great program for your kids as mountain biking is something you can enjoy as a family in San Diego. The MTB Project has mapped over 180 miles of trails in San Diego County – and counting! We have tons of great trails and open space parks right here Off the 56.
So if you’re looking to give your kids a solid introduction to the sport of mountain biking and want to get them involved with a fun program that gets them outside, challenges them, and educates them at the same, check out the Sprockids group on Facebook for more information.
Do you know a local business that we can feature on an upcoming episode of Off the 56? Be sure and drop us a line here or on Facebook!
One of my favorite local hiking spots Off the 56 is Torrey Pines State Beach. Just fifteen minutes away from Carmel Valley, Del Sur, Rancho Penasquitos, and the surrounding neighborhoods, Torrey Pines State Beach is a very unique place to hike. If you’ve never been, it’s definitely one of the most iconic hiking spots in all of San Diego and allows you to take in amazing panoramic views of the ocean and coast while working up a sweat.
A word of warning: even though Torrey Pines State Beach is on the coast, it does get hot and there’s little shade on the trails. So if you’re planning to try this hike in the summer or early fall, make sure you start early or go on a cooler day. And no matter when you’re hiking, make sure to bring plenty of water!
You’ll also want to pay attention to the tides before you go. At high tide, the ocean comes up to the base of the cliffs and you won’t be able to walk on the beach. Of course, the trails themselves are unaffected, but if you want to get down on the sand and see the tide pools, check the tide charts before you go.
There are six different trails in the main reserve of Torrey Pines State Beach. Some trails are easier, while others are more challenging. You can bring your family and enjoy an easier nature walk or run the reserve’s steeper routes for a tough workout. I’ve brought my son, who is only five years old, and we did one of the shorter loops.
The popular Beach Trail is the longest at ¾ of a mile and offers access to the beach via some steep stairs. Be aware that many of the trails loop around and connect to each other, which makes it easy to go down the wrong path. Bring a trail map if you haven’t been before! There are also four trails in the Reserve Extension, which is the marshland across from the main entrance to the beach.
Torrey Pines State Beach is named for the Torrey Pine, which grows abundantly in the reserve. The Torrey Pine is the rarest native pine in the US! It only grows in a few places in the world: Torrey Pines Reserve where we’re hiking, along the coast in North County San Diego, and on Santa Rosa Island. And it’s worth noting that the Torrey Pine that grows on Santa Rosa Island is slightly different than the variety we have in San Diego! So this scrubby pine tree is a very rare sight indeed.
In addition to the Torrey Pine, you can find other native San Diego plants and animals along your hike. Ground squirrels, rabbits, rattlesnakes, eight species of lizards, and many varieties of birds make their home inside the reserve’s 2,000 acres. There may even be an occasional mule deer!
In addition to hiking and biking, you are allowed to fish, swim, surf, snorkel, and more in the ocean. Consult the park’s page on the California Department of Parks and Recreation website for a full list of approved recreational activities.
There’s really something for everyone at Torrey Pines State Beach! Except for dogs. Sorry dogs. No pets are allowed in the park or on the trails.
Have you done this hike before? What trail is your favorite? Leave me a comment below!
A big reason why I started this show was to find new and unique things in San Diego. So when Canicross San Diego reached out to me I figured I had to try it. Despite not being a morning person, I met up with Kat Hammond and her group one morning to try Canicross. Just Off the 56 in Rancho Penasquitos.
Bern McGovern (BM): All right guys, Bern McGovern back here again on Off the 56. Today we are at Canyonside Park where we’re going to be interviewing Kat Hammond, the owner and operator of the meetup group, Canicross San Diego. Kat, can you tell us what Canicross San Diego is all about?
Kat Hammond (KH): Caincross is a sport that originated in Europe from sled dog sporting. Basically you remove the sled and the sixteen dogs and you actually attach the dog to yourself. You typically do a 5k at a full sprint with your dog pulling you along in sort of a team effort run.
While you’re on the trails you teach your dog commands so it’s easier for you guys to go through single or double tracks while running at a faster pace.
BM: What was the big reason you started this group in San Diego?
KH: I saw the sport on a cross agility competition on Youtube. I was surprised when I saw it because I was already doing it with my current dog. But I didn’t have the proper harness, I just ran with the leash around my shoulders. I fell in love with the sport when I saw it so I figured there’s got to be people in San Diego that love their dogs, love to run, and would love to combine those two loves together and go out together as a group to run. Though getting them out early in the morning can be tough! People tend to prefer afternoons.
BM: I can see that. How many different trails do you guys do throughout the area?
KH: A lot. We run here in Los Peñasquitos Canyon a lot. We’ve done Duck Pond, off Santa Monica Road near the 56. We’ve also gone out to Lake Hodges, Black Mountain, Iron Mountain, and even Laguna Mountain where there’s a national forest area.
BM: So you guys go all over!
KH: Yeah! And in February 2019, we’ll be doing our first dedicated Canicross race on the San Pasqual Valley Mule Trail. It’ll be a 5k and we’re hoping to maybe push for a 10k as well.
BM: Wow! For someone who is not familiar with the sport, what’s the first thing they should do? Talk to you, maybe?
KH: Yes, please! You can email me [email in video] and we can talk about gear, which is really the first thing. The biggest thing is setting your dog up with the proper running harness so it doesn’t affect the way they breathe, their shoulders, their hips, stuff like that. Then we’ll set you up with the Canicross belt, which allows for the dog to pull you forward without pulling you over. My partner, Deborah Vande Berg and I, run Canicross Country and we sell this gear. We’d love for more people to join our group, so please come out and try Canicross!
I really enjoyed my workout with Canicross San Diego – it was definitely challenging, but a lot of fun! If you are looking for a unique way to get fit with your dog, contact Kat or visit their Meetup Group page here. You can also join their group on Facebook. Canicross San Diego also does CaniTrail which is very similar to Canicross, it just involves a longer trail run (usually 5+ miles).
I also learned from Kat that dogs of any breed or size can do Canicross. Though the sport is great for those larger dogs with lots of energy (like huskies and shepherds), smaller dogs also have a great time running the trails. And humans of any skill level or endurance are welcome! Kat says it’s always ok to walk 🙂
Check out the video above to see some footage of Canicross in action! Ff there are other cool things in San Diego you’d like me to check out on Off the 56, drop me a line and let me know!