Get Out of Town!
Families can Play and Create in San Diego
June, 2009 - Issue #56
The Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina offers the perfect vantage point to watch the sun set over San Diego Bay.
The Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina offers the perfect vantage point to watch the sun set over San Diego Bay.
I'm smitten with San Diego. But what's not to love about our neighbors to the south? They've got a scenic waterfront, tons of great things for kids and adults to appreciate together, postcard weather and they're producing our next generation of heroes.

On almost any given Friday morning, several hundred young men graduate from basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego (MCRD). It's one of only two places in America you can become a United States Marine. And that was the reason for our latest visit.

My wife's brother, Tim, completed the required 13 weeks of training, and it was our privilege to see him graduate. The nearly two-hour ceremony is rich with symbolism that echoes the storied history of the Marine Corps. But when it ends, the precision marching and Marine Hymn give way to the jubilant shouts of several hundred new Marines who just received their last - and most welcome - order from their drill instructors. Dismissal, which marks the beginning of their 10-day leaves.

Not surprisingly, Tim was anxious to depart MCRD, so he left with his parents and fiancee to find a Guacamole Bacon Six Dollar Burger from Carl's Jr. And that gave us a weekend to enjoy in San Diego.

Our first stop was the San Diego Zoo, which I hadn't visited since I was a kid. I'd forgotten how big it is, and how close you can get to the animals. But my 3-year-old daughter Brooke will always remember.

The highlight of our afternoon came when she knelt down at the tiger exhibit's lower-level glass window and caught the attention of a playful resident. It lunged forward and swiped a huge paw at her.

"They just like to play," Brooke said with a giggle.

It must have been a playful day at the zoo. We watched a black jaguar toying with a stream supplying its exhibit with fresh water. Two camels chased each other around their paddock, creating a ruckus and a cloud of dust. And even the normally nocturnal cougar was awake and prowling around.

We returned to our suite at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina in time to watch the sun slide behind the Pt. Loma Peninsula and illuminate the expanse of harbor below our balcony with a balmy glow.

Given our long day, we decided to stay in for dinner. With pizza en route through the miracle of online ordering, we wandered upstairs to the comfortable Club Lounge and sampled some of their delectable hors d'oeuvres. It was a relaxing way to wind down, and gave us the energy we needed for our adventure the next morning.

The New Children's Museum opened little more than a year ago, and it's unlike any museum for kids. Here, they can experience contemporary art in a way that engages them, and they can express their own creativity. That might mean ascending the climbing wall decorated by graffiti artists, or slapping paint on a Volkswagen Bug reborn as a giant three-dimensional canvas. Every exhibit begs for interaction, and my children obliged, darting here and there, laughing the entire time.

With that much energy expended, it meant they were sure to sleep in the car, making for a nice, quiet ride home.

I love San Diego!

Eric Harnish lives in Newhall when he's not vacationing in San Diego.

Fall in Love with San Diego
Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina


San Diego Zoo

The New Children's Museum
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