Category Archives: Around Town

New Hamilton Children’s Garden in Encinitas CA

The new Hamilton Children’s Garden, a place where children and families can enjoy the outdoors and experience the wonder of being close to nature, is now open at the San Diego Botanic Garden (formerly the Quail Botanical Gardens) in Encinitas CA.  The centerpiece is Toni’s Tree House, an ADA-compliant banyan tree environment that combines a man-made “trunk”, with living trees that kids can explore from roots to canopy through tunnels, walkways, and rope ladders. 


Throughout the themed gardens that make up this 1 acre space, whether it’s building structures in Earth Builders, casting shadows to “read” the time at the Amazing Sundial, hopping from rock to rock in Rock Hoppers, touching and smelling in Spell and Smell, or making mud pottery in Art’s Garden – the rule is most definitely “hands on”.  It’s a perfect location for a fun filled and educational birthday party.  Just remember – no party dresses needed!

Encinitas’ Quail Botanical Gardens becomes the San Diego Botanic Garden

On September 12, 2009, the Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas CA offically became the San Diego Botanic Garden.  Although the name has changed, thankfully, the wonderful experience of visiting this magical place has not.

QuailBotanicalGarden, courtesy of bjhanifin

The Quail Botanical Gardens began as a 30 acre private estate belonging to Charles and Ruth Larabee.  The Larabees landscaped their property with exotic plants they acquired while traveling around the world. They created this amazing place where people could walk through different ecosystems–all right here in San Diego County!

Highly involved in scouting and the education of area youth, the couple used their garden to teach about nature.  Continuing in the same spirit, Ruth Larabee left her beautiful garden and grounds to the County of San Diego in 1957.  Quail Botanical Gardens was officially born.

The Quail Gardens Foundation was founded shortly thereafter to support this one-of-a-kind botanical garden here in North San Diego County.  The County provided funding and management until 1993 when tough financial times in local government forced the garden to go private as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. 

Still holding true to the original mission to serve the botanical and horticultural needs of San Diego County, this amazing urban retreat is still right here in Encinitas for all to experience and enjoy. 

The San Diego Botanic Garden provides demonstration gardens including Bamboothreatened and endangered plant species, drought resistant gardens and a chance to see all of these plants fully grown in a majestic setting.  From tropical to local sage, the garden has glorious presentations in a park like setting. One of my favorite exhibits are the bamboo groves – the Garden has the largest bamboo collection in the nation with tens of different species represented.

These days we are dealing with prolonged drought conditions and severe water shortages.  Places like the San Diego Botanic Garden are just what we need to help us be part of the solution.  Here one can learn how to grow and maintain a gorgeous thriving landacpe with a minimum of water and a modest burget. 

While visiting this beautiful and educational place, many people discover that their gardening habits may be damaging the environment or even damagin or killing their home gardens themselves.  Problems like over watering and smart plant selection are addressed while you look at these demonstration gardens already designed and established.  You quickly learn that many drought resistant plants from around the world are quite colorful and will grow extremely well right here.

The beautiful environment of the Gardens, located at 230 Quail Gardens Drive in Encinitas CA, is the perfect setting for all types of events.  Weddings and other social engagements can be held in the garden. Other fun and exciting events are sponsored throughout the year.

Admission to costs $12 for adults, $6 for children (3-12), and $8 for senior, students, and the military.  It is free on the first Tuesday of every month and car pools of four or more can waive the $2 parking fee anytime. Memberships are also available for free entry and other benefits.

Whether you are looking to start your own drought-resistant garden or are just looking to relax and experience the beauty of nature at its best, take a trip to San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas CA.  It’s a Zen experience!

Del Mar Racing Season’s Drawing to a Close, but the Fun Continues!

If you live or have spent any time at all in San Diego County, chances are you’ve at least heard of the Del Mar Fairgrounds if not visited a few times.  Located 20 miles north of downtown San Diego in beautiful Del Mar, this historic facility is home to fun activities all year long. 

Del Mar Racetrack

A Brief History of the Del Mar Fairgrounds

San Diego residents have been participating in “County Fairs” since 1880.  Early fairs were agricultural gatherings but included such fun activities as horse racing and pie contests.  The location of these annual celebrations moved from place to place yearly which lead to struggles for the sponsors.

In 1936, the 22nd District Agricultural Association bought land at the mouth of the San Dieguito River for a new San Diego County Fairgrounds to help promote successful venues.  Thus was the beginning of the San Diego County Fair. The Fair was renamed the Del Mar Fair decades ago, and, while it returned to its original name in 2002, locals still refer to it as the Del Mar Fair.

Today’s fair offers displays of everything from livestock to fine jewelry.  Of course, now there are the wild rides and quality concerts to draw just about every type of person who lives in Southern California. This year, even in a severe recession, a record 1,274,442 people visited the Del Mar CA fair making it not only one of the biggest in the nation but arguably one of the best!


Here Come the Ponies!

Courtesy Ewen and Donabel, Flickr

Courtesy Ewen and Donabel, Flickr

The Thoroughbred Club was later established in 1937 by major motion picture personalities  Bing Crosby and Pat O’Brien with corporate  support by Paramount Studios.  Crosby was at the gate on that first opening day to personally greet the fans.  In 1938 Seabiscuit ran a historic race that was the first nationally broadcast on the radio right here in Del Mar CA.  Early purses ran as high as $25,000.  Today, the Pacific Classic pays a solid $1,000,000 to the owner of the winning horse.  Traditions, such as “Hat Day” on opening day, prevail today much as they did during the Hollywood era in the 1940s.  Del Mar racing season runs from mid July to mid September annually.  And, after 7 weeks of excitement, the 2009 season will be drawing to a close tomorrow, with “Free and Easy Wednesday” on September 9th.

Fans can continue to bet on the ponies after the Del Mar race season closes in mid September at the Surfside Race Place.

What’s Happening at the Fairgrounds and Track Now

Today’s Del Mar Fairgrounds and Race Track are home to numerous events throughout the year, most of them family oriented.  From bazaars to home expos to gun shows, you will find it at the fairgrounds.
The more prominent events are:

• The Del Mar National Horse Show in April
• The Del Mar Fair in June and July
• The Del Mar Races in July, August and September
• The Scream Zone in October
• The Holiday of Lights in December

There are many other fun and exciting events such as the San Diego Home and Garden Show and the Crossroads of the West Gun Show. No matter what your taste, you will find year round fun and entertainment at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Racetrack!

Paradise Found…

Living in Paradise

Sometimes, when you live and work in a gorgeous vacation destination like Del Mar California, you find that you don’t often get a chance to take advantage of the many attractions the area has to offer – you’re too busy living life!

A weekend getaway at The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla CA

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to play “tourist”.  A friend (who also happens to be my hairdresser and the owner of Do’s and Lipstick, an upscale salon located in the design district on Cedros in Solana Beach CA) mentioned he had a connection at The Lodge at Torrey Pines.  He had arranged through her to have a weekend getaway at the Lodge at a phenomenal rate, but was going to have to cancel – instead of letting it go to waste, the sweetheart that he is, transferred the reservation to my husband and me!

Torrey Pines Golf Course with Glider

A perfect place to stay while looking at Del Mar CA homes

What an exquisite place!  Situated adjacent to the world renowned Torrey Pines Golf Course on the ocean bluffs in La Jolla, just a mile and a half from Del Mar CA, this craftsman style resort offers spectacular golf course views, majestic ocean vistas and fresh sea breezes.  For those of you exploring the possibility of purchasing a second home here in Del Mar CA or La Jolla CA, or perhaps those who might want to relocate to this neck of the woods, I can’t think of a more idyllic spot to stay while looking at Del Mar CA real estate.

The Lodge at Torry Pines, courtesy of Esther Dyson

Give me a call – I’ll help you negotiate the best price for your very own piece of paradise!

Cottonwood Creek Environmental Film Festival

Our local coastal community of Encinitas, CA has become host to a new annual film festival dedicated to featuring the most innovative and inspiring films regarding environmental issues, nature and the ocean.  The mission of the Cottonwood Creek Environmental Film Festival (CCEFF) is to use film to bring awareness and inspire positive action on behalf of the environment and encourage stewardship of the planet.  A noble and worthy cause!

It is no surprise this festival was born and conceived here in our very own Encinitas, CA, a lovely coastal town that boasts world class surfing, a thriving artist community, breathtaking seascapes, the nationally renowned Quail Botanical Gardens, and a historic and walkable downtown community.

The event takes place June 5th through Jun7th at La Paloma Theater and other locations in Encinitas.  Get more info on the CCEFF website, and join my family and me at Cottonwood Creek Park on Sunday, June 7th for Encinitas Environment Day.  Be sure to bring the kids!

And, by the way, if you’re new to the area and need assitance finding one of your own Encinitas homes, or are interested in buying a Del Mar property or a Solana Beach home, please contact us, Maxine Geller and Eva Meier.  We specialize in customized assistance when relocating to North San Diego County, we offer sound and intelligent real estate advice, and we provide excellent representation when purchasing a North San Diego County home.  We will guide you through the process and make it as pleasurable and painless as possible.  We look forward to meeting you!

Cardiff to Leucadia Beach Shuttle

Starting in late May and continuing throughout the summer, look out for a new “Coast Cruiser” shuttling folks up and down along the beach corridor, from Leucadia, CA to Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA.

Approved by the Encinitas council last May (2008), it was agreed that the launch of the minibus would be postponed until summer of 2009.  We’re almost there! 


The intention of the delay was to provide more time to seek additional grants and sponsorships to offset the operational expenses, and apparently, the Leucadia 101 MainStreet Association, who has primarily been responsible for seeking grants and administering the pilot project, has succeeded in raising the funds.  The cost of a ride will only be $1, and weekend passes will also be available, so, folks, please take advantage of it!  Grab your surfboard and hop on!  Service will be hourly on Saturdays and Sundays. 

One particularly cool feature is that the minibus bus will run on vegetable oil donated by local restaurants, so you’re really reducing the carbon footprint by leaving your car at home!

I’ve whined before about the lack of public transport, so I, for one, will sit back and enjoy the ride!

Encinitas Garden Tour This Weekend!

The Annual Encinitas Garden Tour is coming this Saturday, April 25th, from 10 am – 4pm!  In its fourth year, this fun event presents a truly rare opportunity to visit a series of exquisite gardens in the private backyards of select Encinitas and Cardiff homes.  

gardenEvery year, the organizers pick a different area where visitors can WALK to the 20 or so participating gardens.  This year, the gardens are located in the composer district of Cardiff-by-the-Sea

The Festival will also include a Gardener’s Marketplace at Cardiff Elementary School with unusual plants, vegetable seedlings, garden art, and information about gardening.  Parking will be at the San Elijo campus of Mira Costa College, and shuttle buses will be provided.  Visit to get more info or buy tickets.  By the way, volunteers are still needed, so, if you’re interested, call to get more info.

Avoiding Traffic at the Del Mar Fairgrounds

I found myself stuck in another traffic bottleneck this morning.  It took me half an hour to drive off the exit ramp and creep the 1/2 mile to my Coldwell Banker Del Mar Village office.  And, what gets me is that it was totally avoidable!

Del Mar Fairgrounds

Del Mar Fairgrounds

I ought to know better after living and working next to the Del Mar Fairgrounds for the last 20 years!  Summer after summer, we locals learn to arrange our schedules around the traffic patterns generated by the San Diego County Fair and the race track season.  The problem is we forget that the Fairgrounds are also used throughout the year for a variety of events. In fact, the facifilites are used for over 350 events a year.  They include weddings, receptions, equestrian and other animal shows, concerts, craft shows, home shows, car shows and other social and consumer events.

When there’s an event going on, it can take hours to go a mile, and sometimes, there’s no way to turn around and take another route.  It can be rather frustrating, to say the least, and as I mentioned, it’s totally avoidable!  I am hereby promising myself to visit and check the schedule once a month to make sure I know what times and days to avoid.  Hey, and who knows?  I may even learn about an event I wouldn’t want to miss!  For example, I’m sure my 2 yr old and my 4 yr old would enjoy the circus that’s coming next week – I never would have known about it had I not written this post and checked the schedule!

If you’d like to take advantage of the great prices out there and buy a second home – a launching pad, so to speak – to all the wonderful events at the Fairgrounds, give me a call (760-815-1318)!  It is a phenomenal time to buy.  Or, if you just can’t take the traffic anymore and want to sell your Del Mar CA home, I have buyers for you!  Give me a call!

Sushi comes to Cardiff

Those of us fortunate enough to live in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, have been anxiously awaiting the opening of the new restaurants Zenbu Sushi and Rimel’s Rotisserie in the old Yogi’s site in Cardiff Town Center. 

Ever since Starbucks came in a few years ago, the center has developed a character of its own and become a real gathering place for locals.  I’ve never once stopped by without running into at least 3 or 4 people I know. 







While some were sad to see Yogi’s Sportsbar leave the center, the neighborhood institution seems to have survived the relocation to its new site on Coast Hwy rather well, and business is booming.  Sports fans have not lost their hangout.

The new restaurants Zenbu and Rimel’s are more upscale and in keeping with new look the owners seem to be striving for.  As fun as Yogi’s was, it was somewhat of a rowdy scene, particularly during football season, and the parking lot was always littered with bottles and other waste (sometimes human) on the weekend…  Ughh…

As a huge sushi fan who has missed having a local spot to get my fix, I’m looking forward to giving Zenbu’s a try. I’ll let you know what I think. 

By the way, whether you’re looking for a beach bungalow or a low maintenance twinhome, Cardiff-by-the-Sea may offer you the perfect home you’ve always dreamed of – especially if you like walking to dinner and the beach!  To find out about the great values on the market right now in this quiant neighborhood, visit my site or give me a call (760-815-1318).  I’d be happy to help you find a home.

“Garden Del Mar” approved by city council

The Del Mar City Council formally approved the Garden Del Mar development yesterday, clearing the way for the project to move forward.  Voters overwhelmingly approved of the proposal last November during the election when it was on the ballot as Prop G, but now it’s official.

This mixed use development will include almost 20,000 sq ft of retail, restaurant and office space in six two-story buildings arranged around several central courtyards.  It will provide a much needed new center of activity for Del Mar Village, which, as it stands now, seems a bit of a ghost town as you walk away from the “Plaza” on 15th….  Whether the tough economy will impede the process and prevent this project from revitalizing the downtown as planned remains to be seen. 

One thing is for sure, with the stock market as volatile as it’s been, interest rates as low as they are, and prices already substantially reduced, Del Mar Real Estate is looking better and better as a great place to put your money.  For information about the great values on the market right now, visit our North San Diego County Real Estate website at or contact us by phone (760-815-1318).