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Beyond the Zoo Guide to La Jolla

We’ve got a brand new guide to family fun in San Diego! Begin your day with a self-guided walking tour along La Jolla’s picturesque coastline. See marine life up close at Birch Aquarium and enjoy beach life in La Jolla Shores before choosing just the right spot to watch the sun set.

Download our free Beyond the Zoo Guide to La Jolla to plan your visit and follow along at InstagramFacebook, and Twitter. This guide pairs well with the Beyond the Zoo Guide to Torrey Pines & Solana Beach.

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Torrey Pines State Beach

After hiking through Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve you’ll be ready to break out snacks (food isn’t allowed in the reserve) and soak in the beauty of Torrey Pines State Beach. Except for during high tide you can hike all the way down to the beach. (Tide Chart

Sandstone bluffs are one of the many beautiful features to admire from shore. Just be mindful to keep a safe distance away.

Torrey Pines State Beach is a popular destination for locals and tourists. Based on natural beauty alone it’s easy to see why! The picture above was taken during the winter – a great time to explore or find a spot to unwind on the beach.

One thing you’ll find in abundance at Torrey Pines State Beach is rocks. They are fun to sift through for interesting colors and shapes but not so fun to step on. While it’s never stopped our family from having an enjoyable experience, it is something you may appreciate knowing about ahead of time.

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What’s So Special About Torrey Pines?

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is named after the Torrey Pine, a rare and endangered pine species that is native to the reserve. A subspecies also grows on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of Santa Barbara. One characteristic of a Torrey Pine is that it has 5 needles in each bunch. 

Even though California doesn’t get a lot of rain, the Torrey Pine has a smart watering system. Moisture from coastal fog collects on pine needles and drops to the ground to help distribute water to tree roots. 

It’s easy to spot Torrey Pine trees in the reserve as you explore San Diego using our free Beyond the Zoo Guide to Torrey Pines & Solana Beach.

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Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

A morning hike at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is first on the list of activities in our Beyond the Zoo Guide to Torrey Pines & Solana Beach. We’ll share more about what makes this hike special in the next few posts. 

Before you visit: 1) Learn about Hours and Parking. Expect to park in a pay lot near the beach and walk uphill to the Visitor Center where most of the trails begin. 2) Bring a water bottle, but save food for eating on the beach. There is no food allowed in the reserve which is a protected area. 3) Dogs are not allowed.

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Beyond the Zoo Guide to Torrey Pines & Solana Beach

New release! Travel with us through Torrey Pines and Solana Beach for a full day adventure along California’s beautiful coastline. From hiking trails to the beach, our latest Beyond the Zoo Guide was created for families who enjoy nature and spending time together outdoors.

Download our free Beyond the Zoo Guide to Torrey Pines & Solana Beach to plan your visit. You can also follow along at InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

We release a new Beyond the Zoo Guide each month. Are you subscribed?

Our guides aren’t just about where to go in San Diego. Each guide also includes activities and talking points to help you create meaningful family memories. Previously released guides include Ocean Beach & Point LomaSan Diego By the Bay, and Barrio Logan

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Las Quatro Milpas: The cure for home-style comfort food cravings.

You’ll know you’ve arrived at Las Quatro Milpas by the line of hungry locals, tourists, and downtown workers on their lunch breaks. Family owned since 1933, this no-frills cash-only establishment in Barrio Logan is nostalgically referred to as grandma’s cooking. A side of homemade tortillas from the menu completes your Mexican comfort food experience. (Cash only, Open until 3pm, Closed on Sundays) 

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A History of Barrio Logan – Chicano Park (Part Two)

Our belief that understanding the past is essential as you explore Barrio Logan is especially true as we take a look at Chicano Park. Chicano Park, a U.S. National Historic Landmark, has the largest outdoor mural collection in the United States. But it’s not the size of the collection that makes the park special.

The Colossus mural originally created by Mario Torero, Mano Lima, and Laurie Manzano.

Part One of A History of Barrio Logan ends with a community in crisis. Interstate 5 and San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge construction removed 5,000 homes and businesses. Over 10 years the population had shrunk from 20,000 to 5000 residents. Spirits were both crushed and ignited as residents began demanding their rights. Open spaces in Barrio Logan had otherwise disappeared. Barrio Logan residents requested that the land under the bridge be turned into a park for the community. The city agreed to a park in 1969. Five months later bulldozers were spotted where the park was to be built. It was April 22, 1970. Instead of the park, they were there to break ground for a California Highway Patrol station.

In an oversimplification of events, residents and demonstrators mobilized peacefully but forcefully to take back the land which they had been promised. They occupied the land for twelve days until the city agreed once again to build a park. Community vision for the park included turning concrete freeway supports into works of art depicting Chicano culture. Artists began painting murals in Chicano Park in 1973, and though it would take several years until completion, the park and murals continue to stand as a symbol of the community.

Additional Articles & Resources:, Explore the Murals of San Diego’s Chicano Park, An Iconic San Diego Park Is Now a National Historic Landmark

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A History of Barrio Logan (Part One)

What Barrio Logan lacks in shiny attractions is made up for in the history, art, food, and pride in cultural heritage that make the Chicano neighborhood of Barrio Logan a destination worth exploring. Download our free Beyond the Zoo Guide to Barrio Logan for a family friendly activity guide.

Understanding the past is essential as you explore Barrio Logan. The neighborhood dates back to the late 1800’s when it was known as Logan Heights. In 1871 Congressman John A Logan wrote legislation that he hoped would pave the way for a transcontinental railroad ending in San Diego. Plans for the railroad didn’t pan out and the area instead became residential. Between 1910 and 1920 the neighborhood became predominantly Mexican-American with refugees from the Mexican Revolution. The southern part of Logan Heights became known as Barrio Logan.

Remembering Our Past – History of Barrio Logan is a documentary video created by San Diego teenagers that does a good job of summarizing the history of Barrio Logan.

“In California during the 1920s, Chicanos constituted up to two-thirds of the work force in many industries. A small Chicano middle class developed, often oriented toward serving the Chicano population. The growth of barrios and colonias fostered expansion of small businesses such as grocery and dry-goods stores, restaurants, barber shops, and tailor shops. Small construction firms emerged. Chicanos entered the teaching profession, usually working in private Chicano schools or in segregated public schools.” (

By the 1930’s Barrio Logan was a thriving community extending all the way to the bay. A pier and community beach were built in 1938. Barrio Logan lost access to the waterfront when World War II began. Naval, defense, and shipbuilding industries grew and took over the waterfront. In the 1950’s Barrio Logan was re-zoned as mixed residential and industrial. Junkyards owned by non-community members moved into the neighborhood next to homes and schools. During the 1960’s the neighborhood was literally divided in half by the building of Interstate 5 in 1963 followed by the construction of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in 1969. Tensions continued to grow as residents were forced out of their homes and the quality of life for remaining residents deteriorated. (To be continued…)

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Play Activity: 1, 2, 3 Calabaza

The neighborhood of Barrio Logan in San Diego prides itself as a Mexican-American community. You don’t have to speak Spanish to enjoy the food, art, and culture. But why not have fun with your kids by playing this simple game and learn a new Spanish word in the process?

Calabaza is the Spanish word for pumpkin. 1, 2, 3, Calabaza is similar to Red Light, Green Light. The person who is “it” is la calabaza. Download the Beyond the Zoo Guide to Barrio Logan for more on how to play.

Our Beyond the Zoo Guides aren’t just about where to go in San Diego. Each guide also includes activities and talking points to help you create meaningful family memories. Subscribe to receive a new guide each month! 

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Barrio Dogg: Chicano comfort food takes the shape of a hot dog

Barrio Dogg at 2234 Logan Ave is self-described Chicano comfort food. Packed with flavorful ingredients, these elevated street hot dogs take a cue from international recipes, but are uniquely Barrio Dogg’s own creations. Go ahead and take a peek at their menu.

Popular menu items are the El Xolito and El Pueblito washed down with a Mexican Coke. We also recommend the elotitos side dish. Families will appreciate the $6 kid’s meal.

Barrio Dogg is just one of many family-friendly food experiences suggested in our free Beyond the Zoo Guide to Barrio Logan. Automatically receive a new visitor guide each month when you subscribe to