Steel blades rhythmically slice the ice across two spacious rinks at Ice-Plex (formerly Iceoplex Escondido), an all-purpose facility pairing leisurely open skates with practiced instruction from director Courtney Moebs and a staff of pro figure skaters. Specialties span everything from choreography and freestyle to ice dancing and yeti dodging, though basic lessons for both kids and adults are also available. Public-skating sessions beckon amateurs and experts on a daily basis, during which skaters can emulate the moves of their favorite hockey players. Replete with a well-appointed gym, indoor pool, and jacuzzi, an attached fitness center offers classes in aerobics, aquatics, and an aquatic-aerobics class led by an off-duty Aquaman.
The instructors at Waterworks Aquatics believe anyone can learn to swim, no matter their age. This belief drives each instructor-led session, accommodating everyone from babies as young as 3 months old who are just getting acquainted with the water, to older children learning more advanced strokes and adults learning to swim for the first time. The instructors focus on teaching stroke techniques that utilize muscle memory and rhythms that are easy to grasp, while cultivating a fun, relaxed environment to help reduce students' anxiety. They lead private, semiprivate, group, and Parent and Me lessons, all of which move at the pace of the swimmers' abilities. Beyond bestowing swimmers with efficient form, the lessons also help them stay safe in the water by teaching them how to control their breathing, reduce unnecessary movement, and stay completely still in the presence of pool krakens to avoid begin seen.
In the middle of The Wave Waterpark, people lie upon colorful rafts that float gently down the lazy river. It’s a serene way to soak up some rays and keep cool. But in the center of the lazy river, separated by raised concrete and a foot bridge, an adventure awaits: the Flow Rider. This simulated surfable ocean wave dares visitors to try and hang ten without falling off their boards into the safe, if rollicking waters.
These two attractions represent the broad spectrum of activity at The Wave, a family-friendly destination equally suited to mild-mannered relaxation, adventurous fun, or something in between. Other rides include a tangle of waterslides, such as the Slam Dunk, an enclosed-tunnel body slide with plenty of twists, and Rippity’s Rainforest, a kid-friendly playground gushing with fountains and waterfalls.
From April to September, lifeguards teach swim lessons in the park’s competition pool for kids as young as 6 months, as well as adults. The Wave is also an ideal spot for birthday parties, with rental cabanas that can fit as many as 30 people or one enormous birthday clown, and a Surf Spot Grill that refuels revelers with burgers, burritos, and pizza.
Favoring small group swimming lessons targeted to all ages, The Aquatic Zone's instructors are trained in the Aquatic Concepts, Inc. method, and use positive reinforcement to teach beginning swimmers the basics of water comfort, body balance, and movement. Once budding amphibians have gotten their foot-flippers wet, they'll try out various strokes and other swimming must-knows such as wall kicks, breathing patterns, and psychic communication with sea life. Lessons are available for children as young as six months and are offered at multiple skill levels for every age group. The goals at each stage are clearly presented and taught, ensuring that the time spent in the pool is always productive and goal-oriented. Awards such as toys, certificates of completion, and surgically implanted gills are bestowed upon students when all the elements of a particular level are mastered. Sessions typically last a half hour, and the saltwater chlorination pools keep water clean without irritating eyes or skin.
Disguised in wetsuits, flippers, and diving masks, humans almost seem indistinguishable from the scores of aquatic life that thrive among the San Diego coastline. In the water, curious sea lions tug playfully at divers' fins, and thick stalks of kelp wave like Queen Elizabeth telling the gathered crowd to go home already. With access to five separate sites in which to see such wonders, the guides at San Diego Excellent Adventures tailor their adventures—whether snorkeling, diving, or paddling—around the experience level of each tour group, ensuring an easy assimilation to undersea life.
During guided dives along La Jolla Shores, swimmers peer in on frolicking creatures such as lobsters, octopuses, and leopard sharks, and standup paddleboards grant access to Mission Bay's shoreline views previously seen only by terribly lost Venetian gondoliers. Currently the largest manmade bay in the country, Mission is known for its calm waters suited to beginners just learning to explore the ocean.
WaveHouse San Diego exhilarates guests with a nonstop beach party that spans four restaurants, various bars, wave machines, and a 400,000-gallon saltwater pool. Guests catch 10-foot waves in the FlowBarrel, which pumps 100,000 gallons of water per minute to simulate the powerful waves and inter-island motorways of Hawaii. After a session of backflips and wipeouts, surfers can fuel up on burgers and brews at the Bar & Grill before grooving out to a live show on the outdoor stage.