With Spring Break long gone and only three weeks left in the semester, students at Palomar will be starting the last push to get assignments done, finish major projects, hope for extra credit and otherwise do everything possible to either keep up or bring up their grades.
Brace yourselves, finals are coming.
This can be a hectic time, so if you’re feeling stressed, burnt out, or just stuck half-way through your research paper it may be a good idea to plan a study break and take some time out to relax.
Luckily, living in North San Diego County it’s possible to find a number of unique spots to unwind that will appeal to people with different interests and cost next to nothing. So, without further ado, here are your top five new places to relax, spanning some of the different communities of North County.
Best place to relax outdoors: Lakeview Park, San Marcos
A number of local parks can be found throughout the county, but Lakeview Park makes the list for its accessibility to the Palomar community and various opportunities for relaxation.
Located only seven minutes from Palomar College, this park offers something for everyone. The facilities include a small picnic area, shaded benches to sit and read or take in the tranquil surroundings, and a fountain that doubles as a splash pad (though this feature is temporarily closed down due to drought). Those with young children will appreciate the small playground that sits on elevated ground and away from trails and areas of traffic.
But what really sets Lakeview apart, is its 5-acre lake and flat trail loop where park-goers can bike, run, or simply walk and enjoy the sounds of the lake’s ecosystem. Trail buffs may hike up to Double Peak, as there is a trail that connects both parks. After all, exercise is an effective way to decrease stress.
With so many offerings it seems that this park would be a hectic place to visit, but the trails and open spaces keep any one area from becoming congested. Even the trails themselves are wide enough for cyclists and runners to comfortably pass people walking.
ProTip: For some inspiring views and cool photo ops, take the trail uphill or walk down to the dock on the northwestern edge of the lake.
For more information, including directions to the park, visit the City of San Marcos Parks and Recreation website.
Best place to relax at night: Oceanside Pier
The Oceanside Pier serves as a great spot for anyone in need of a break after the sun sets
West Coast, the Oceanside Pier essentially provides a 1,942-foot, well-lit walkway for folks to take a stroll under the calm of the mild coastal night.
A variety of people actually visit the pier at night (and the adjacent bonfire pits), from fishermen to families, to college students, surfers, tourists, and couples young and old, so there is always something to watch. Yet the pier rarely feels crowded, and despite higher numbers of people on some summer nights, the mood among pier-goers is always calm and even friendly. You’ll find that your mind gradually clears as you pass by all these unknown companions.
Now if you prefer something with more action, don’t count this spot out yet. Fishing is allowed on the pier, and while there are a few rules to follow, no license is required. This provides a convenient opportunity for those who enjoy this activity as well as for those who would like to try something new. The best nights to fish remain unknown to this writer, but if you figure them out you can join the other folks who line the length of the pier to fish into the late hours, as the pier is open 24 hours a day.
ProTip: Bring a friend. While the area is relatively safe, there is a greater feeling of safety at night when you have company. Moreover, the length of the pier allows for just enough quality time to chat with others, always a great way to sort out your thoughts and reduce stress.
Most unique place to zen: The Self-Realization Fellowship Meditation Gardens, Encinitas
If you prefer to relax through self-introspection, you might find the lush gardens of the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) center to be your new favorite place to decompress.
Located in Encinitas, the gardens are a sort of oasis hidden at the edge of the county. Those who visit will find themselves surrounded by a variety of flowering plants, trees and other greenery clearly inspired by a love of nature. The garden is sectioned into a few different areas that provide visitors with spaces to meditate or just relax for a little while. These spots include an overlook with a view to the ocean, a series of pools (including a koi pond) connected by small waterfalls, a number of partly secluded nooks with benches to sit, and a couple of spots of historical interest. A series of narrow paths connect each area of the garden, most of it shaded by trees that envelop the grounds, giving the feeling of being away in a private retreat.
The garden is part of the Self-Realization Fellowship Retreat and Hermitage grounds that sit on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean along K Street in Encinitas. The center was founded in 1937 by Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, a spiritual teacher who helped introduce the practice of meditation to the U.S. in the 1920s. If the name sounds familiar, it may be because Swami’s Beach, located next to the center, was nicknamed and later formally named after him.
According to information provided by the SRF, Yogananda intended the peacefulness of the grounds to be shared with others and as such the gardens are open free of charge to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (although donations are welcome).
ProTip: According to a center staff person, the number of visitors has increased significantly in recent times, so if you’re looking for a more secluded opportunity, it would be best to visit on a weekday, when less people might be visiting. Indeed if you visit on a Saturday, you’ll find a steady flow of casual visitors that increases as late afternoon sets in. However, most people maintain courteous levels of noise for those that come to meditate.
Most relaxing place to grab a bite: The Yellow Deli, Vista
Going out to grab a bite can make a great way to take a break. But if you want to eat somewhere where the atmosphere itself enhances tranquility, the Yellow Deli may be the place to go.
Located in downtown Vista, the Yellow Deli is something of a hidden hometown character; it forms a unique part of it, yet stays away from the fray. Indeed, when you’re inside it’s hard to believe one of the city’s busiest roads runs one street over.
The feel of this two-story eatery is cozy and quite serene. It has the look of a small, intimate country villa, with a rustic interior that’s illuminated by warm lighting. Perfect for enjoying a hot tea study break.
As the name implies, the Yellow Deli specializes in sandwiches but also offers other light foods and a fairly large selection of drinks that include fresh fruit juices, teas and mate. The menu stands out in that a lot of the food is reported to be made fresh, often with organic or locally-grown ingredients. In fact, the people who run the restaurant reportedly bake the sandwich breads themselves. The menu also includes vegetarian options and with names such as “Yoga Vista Special,” you get a real feeling that this is a place to find healthy options.
One last contributor to the calm of this spot is the staff itself. The folks that work at the Yellow Deli are all members of a communal religious group who, if anything, are known for serving visitors in a mellow and pleasant manner. Even during busy times you’d be hard-pressed to find stressed out servers rushing around the restaurant. And the attitude can be contagious; it’s hard not to respond equally calm to such interaction.
ProTip: The wait to be seated can be long during peak times, so plan accordingly. Additionally, this may also be a good place to get some late-night food as it is open 24 hours a day on Monday through Thursday.
Best place to relax with your best bud: Dog Beach (North Beach), Del Mar.
According to studies, spending time with dogs can promotes stress relief in people, so what better way to unwind than to spend a day at the beach with these four-legged companions? Thus, the last place on this list goes to North Beach, also known as Dog Beach in Del Mar.
Dog Beach is precisely what it sounds like: a place where people can take their pooches to run around freely and spend some time together.
Here you’ll find a number of people and their canine companions playing, walking, or simply sitting on the sand and enjoying the laid-back atmosphere that the beach offers. As one human visitor put it, “it’s definitely a great place to relax.”
While some parks and other dog-friendly open spaces are available in North County, Dog Beach takes the recognition as a favorite due to its truly open space. Really, the only thing that fences in visitors is the ocean. Dogs are allowed off-leash during most of the year, from the day after Labor Day through June 15 and many take full advantage of the opportunity. But even with the number of loose canines, owner responsibility keeps the beach an enjoyable place to visit.
Now those who don’t own a dog needn’t feel left out. The North Beach area is a nice spot to walk or jog and connects directly to the Main Del Mar Beach Area, which includes two coastal parks. But with the beautiful coast that distinguishes our county, it is difficult to find a beach that doesn’t inspire relaxation.
ProTip: Parking may be difficult to find, so try to take the first spot you find along Camino Del Mar after you cross the San Dieguito Lagoon outlet overpass (you’ll see the Del Mar Fairgrounds to the East). Additionally, check out the city of Del Mar’s website for the complete rules regarding Dog Beach at http://www.delmar.ca.us.
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