Step into to a bird's house. Get eye-to-eye with a moray eel. Greet a sea turtle as he swims up to say hello. The Living Coast Discovery Center isn't a nature museum?it's a chance to hang out with Southern California's plants and animals on their own turf. The Discovery Center's "living, breathing, flapping, buzzing, and splashing home" sits on the 316-acre Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, the ideal location for exploration of the region's most memorable residents in their native habitats.
A walk-through aviary encompasses the tidal slough habitat of black-crowned night herons, red-breasted mergansers, and endangered clapper rail chicks, freshly hatched from the in-house breeding program. Bald and golden eagles await up-close encounters at the Eagle Mesa, but the rays get even closer: an interactive touch pool puts the aquatic creatures beneath your fingertips. Raptor Row hosts the Center's rescued birds of prey, all of which have injuries or other conditions that prevent them from surviving outside the refuge on their own. Visitors are also free to pursue their own wildlife adventure along the center's 1.5 miles of walking trails.
UltraStar Cinemas cossets moviegoers in cushy seating as they enjoy Hollywood hits alongside buttery servings of popcorn. Film buffs can peruse the current showtimes to handpick an action-packed flick, romantic comedy, or chilling thriller featuring inexplicably aggressive hamsters. The concession stand outfits moviegoers with snacks, drinks, and buckets filled with warm kernels, keeping stomach grumblings to a minimum during showings and providing crunchy projectiles in case of sudden younger-sibling attacks.
Split and strike through 30 frames at East Village Tavern + Bowl. You get three games plus shoe rental during a single visit to this 12-lane bowling alley—a Gaslamp favorite for its laid-back atmosphere and low rates. SignOnSanDiego.com called East Village Tavern + Bowl a "bowling oasis/sport paradise" for its polished bar, flat-screen TVs, upstairs loft with pool tables, great food, fun bowling, and a polished bar.
Fun 4 All entertains clans with a merry mishmash of family-oriented indoor and outdoor activities, including miniature golf, go-karts, and a fully stocked arcade. Club-brandishing cliques can play their way across the polychromatic fairways of an 18-hole miniature-golf course, which offers all the excitement of a regular golf excursion without the added expense of golf-cart toll roads. The facility's circular go-kart course loops around rings of worn-out tires, generating a secure driving track ideal for young operators. Hone small-craft boating skills on vibrant yellow, green, and red bumper boats, which impart lifelong skills like steering and celestial navigation via streetlights. A broad-ranged arcade dazzles eyes with neon-hued entertainment that includes skee-ball, air hockey, and Shoot N Hoops.
Kayaks glide serenely through the South Bay as the sightseers dip paddles into the water or stop to take pictures of migrating birds. Led by a docent for the Living Coast Discovery Center with five years of experience, Chula Vista Kayak’s tours navigate these oft-overlooked waters in search of rare sights, such as the local Pacific green sea turtles coming up for air or the abundant wildlife including raptors, great blue herons, and egrets. Tours welcome beginners and seasoned kayakers alike; no matter their experience level, guests brush up on water safety with a 15-minute introduction before they’re clear to push off and explore.
With weekly hockey leagues and tournaments open to any willing participants, Skate San Diego welcomes and encourages visitors to hone their inline-skating skills inside a well-appointed facility. For those looking to recapture the feel of a classic roller rink, open skate is available each weekend, where skaters can groove to the music from a state-of-the-art sound system. And for kids who want to celebrate their birthday on wheels, private party rooms can accommodate up to a dozen guests; a party host serves kids pizza and soda before they take to the rink.