Though dinosaurs haven't roamed the earth for 65 million years, another hulking beast first roared through the American countryside only two centuries ago. That creature was the locomotive, and the subject of the preservation and public education efforts at the Pacific Southwest Railroad Museum. There, engineers conduct hands-on lessons in the form of one-hour or full-day excursions in vintage cars amid the last transcontinental link of track ever constructed in the United States. Inside the museum proper, experts restore railroad artifacts while docents lead tours among antique cabooses' steel frames and wheels made of pocket watches, and a gift shop is available in the Campo depot. Notable exhibits include the visionary industrialist John D. Spreckels’s personal business car and a San Diego and Arizona Railway steam locomotive built in 1904.
Giant Paintball Parks' five locations spider across Southern California, causing flickering rainbows of color that splatter players failing to find cover. Shelter such as castle walls or Old West storefronts dot fields at the Alpine and Lakeside places players in a 23-acre universe populated with authentic movie sets from the likes of Starship Troopers and Godzilla. At SC Village in Chino, camouflaged paintballers trek through 25 fields of jungle and desert landscape, popping off rounds from behind mesh-covered tanks and army-green helicopters. The wide open battle zones of California Paintball Park in Castaic, meanwhile, challenges competitors' long-distance sharpshooting as they navigate gigantic wooden spindles and wooden forts. At each of Giant Paintball's sprawling venues, teams rent gear such as Tippmann guns and buy battle-proven equipment at their pro shops.
At FunBelievable Play, British owners Lynne and Adriana introduce the San Diego area to “British-style” indoor play with playground equipment imported from the United Kingdom. Meeting all playground safety regulations, the 6,000-square-foot facility helps children use their imaginations while developing their physical and mental capabilities, and climbing structures and interactive games encourage social skills that come in handy when imaginary friends go off to college. A colorful three-level play structure hosts fun amenities such as tube slides, climbing walls, tiki-figure punching bags, and a ball shower, whereas the sports arena gives future athletes the chance to kick goals and shoot baskets. Wobbly walkers and toddlers enjoy more age-appropriate play in their own space, which scales down big-kid fun into an area littered with soft toys, a mini ball pit, and mini slides.
Parents can sip coffee in a lounge area and rest easy knowing their children are playing on equipment that's sanitized and inspected daily. The staffers are fully trained and have passed background checks, and many of them also are certified in first aid and CPR and boast an encyclopedic knowledge of cartoons.
Presented in part by Dan Clark, also known as Nitro, of American Gladiator fame, the Gladiator Rock'n Run is a unique and challenging event, pairing an obstacle-heavy running course and an attempt at breaking the record for the world’s longest mud pit with post-race entertainment, including beer, music, and food. Those prepared to race must dance through tires, army-crawl through mud, and clamber up rope ladders to avoid barrels thrown by giant apes. The roar of spectators rings throughout the course as bystanders cheer on runners to inspire strong finishes.
Yacht Sylvia is a 56-foot, 35-ton staysail ketch designed in New Zealand by naval architect John Alden. Launched in 1973, the yacht has circumnavigated the globe on multiple occasions, survived hurricanes, and now ferries passengers and students to remote destinations. The below-deck interior features a maritime museum with artifacts from around the world displayed on the bulkhead and countertops. Sailing lessons range from two-hour tours and explanations of basic sailing techniques to three-week immersive trips abroad during which participants learn as they perform crew duties. In addition, Yacht Sylvia Sailing can host charters for up to six to international destinations including the Channel Islands and the Sea of Cortez.
To the uninitiated, the dusty, mountainous expanse just north of the Mexico border might sound like a war-torn battleground—it has borne the boots of soldiers in the US Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. However, the troops simply visited to practice plane evacuations at Skydive San Diego, whose private, skydiving-only airport is buffeted by steady winds and outfitted with state-of-the-art Cessna and DeHavilland jump planes.
Civilians can jump there too, drinking in views of the Pacific before leaping out of an aircraft for solo jumps or tandem dives, in which a USPA-certified instructor is securely attached to the jumper with professional harnesses and a powerful hug. With 8,000 square feet of padded packing area, the full-service facility not only houses an airport but also a bunkhouse for overnight stays and a deck for barbecuing post-jump feasts.