Located on the site of a historical adobe stagecoach station, Lions Tigers & Bears brings visitors fare-to-face with 17 species of animals at its no-kill rescue sanctuary. A team of dedicated volunteers and staff helm this non-profit wildlife preserve, feeding and caring for its residents—a motley crew that includes regal African lions, Bengal tigers, a trio of bobcats, and several black bears. In a separate area, domesticated animals such as goats and llamas roam.
The preserve rescued each of these creatures, including these four bears from North Carolina, from lives of in-captivity abuse and neglect. And yet the handlers don't stop at caring for their furry charges—they also work to ensure other animals won't endure similar experiences. In educational programs such as animal encounters, these handlers teach principles of responsible farming and pet ownership and give their students hands-on experience with feeding and reading bedtime stories to the domestic animals. An array of seasonal events, such as interactive festivals, are also designed to benefit the big cats and bears.
A family-owned-and-operated farm nestled in the hills of Jamul, Hidden Haven Farms maintains the camaraderie of the Old West lifestyle through educational field trips. In its tranquil setting far from metropolitan stressors, the farm's owners lead visitors along serene jaunts, meandering through the farm’s rolling countryside and ranch layout to take in sites and look out for time-traveling rustlers trying to take livestock back to the 1860s.
Hidden Haven's pastures also provide a space for outdoor education, as the family welcomes visitors for field trips, home-school programs, summer camp, and birthday parties. During these visits, guests can master the process of shearing a sheep, watch bee pollination, and witness the first seconds of new life at a live egg hatching. Throughout the experience, guides stress the importance of maintaining a healthy connection and respect for all four-legged comrades.
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.