Explore San Diego

Summers Past Farms

EL CAJON, Calif. --  Summers Past Farms is East County charm meets English countryside beauty. At this hidden gem, you can stroll through a garden full of flowers, relax by a peaceful pond or get lost in a mesmerizing maze.

All of it was created by Marshall and Sheryl Lozier, who dreamed of having an open space where families can relax in nature.

“We love the greenery, we love the plants…we love the sound of kids playing,” Marshall said.

Inspired by the sights and sounds of Monet’s garden in France and countryside gardens they saw in England, the couple first drew up the plans, then landscaped.

“It’s kind of romantic to build an old barn,” says Marshall, who relied on his background as a contractor. He also built Sheryl a chicken coop where they raise French hens.

“I used to come home in the afternoon and Sheryl would be on an old ride mower here and she was mowing half weed dirt fields. She’d get off that tractor and she would just be covered in dirt and I just thought that was the cutest thing I’d ever seen,” Marshall said.

Their years of planning paid off in 1992 when they opened Summers Past Farms in Flinn Springs, which quickly became a community favorite. And when the Cedar Fire threatened their hard work, they took a stand.

“We watched it from the morning, it was a Sunday morning. It was on a hillside and watched it come over the hills. It seemed like it ran faster than people could drive, the neighborhood was being evacuated…We were watering down the buildings."

The farm was spared and the community was rebuilt. Now the farm gets booked for weddings and craft fairs. Sheryl teaches soap making and stocks the shop.

“My fondest memories – when you start seeing people you recognize, you become friends with them and it’s a pleasure to have such a community out here,” Sheryl said.

“I love the coffee shop and being able to hang out and have coffee and let the kids run around,” said Lindsay Mills, who lives nearby in El Cajon.

Every spring, the Loziers host Sweet Pea Day. Hundreds of people go through their maze picking fragrant flowers, delighted by the surprise at the center, which we won’t give away in this story -- you’ll have to see for yourself in person.

“Things in the country can be kind of fun,” Marshall said.

For more information, click here.

Galleta Meadows

BORREGO SPRINGS, Calif. -- Deep in the desert, hidden among the cacti, is a sight to behold. It’s in the Anza Borrego Desert, home to creatures of the present and ancient past. Giant birds, mammoths and raptors. Some of the animals once roamed these very lands; others are pure fantasy.

The main attraction is a 350-foot long magnificent metal monster with the tail of a rattlesnake, body of a serpent and head of a Chinese dragon. It took the artist, Ricardo Breceda, 3 months to design and another 3 months to install.

And it’s not the only desert leviathan.

Further south and after a little bit of off-roading, you’ll find a different group of apex predators, T-Rex and friends.

All of it done by a world-renowned metal sculptor from Temecula whose daughter asked for a dinosaur after watching “Jurassic Park,” and not wanting to let her down, he built his first metal sculpture. From there, his work took off and his now-grown daughter Lianna helps him manage his gallery in Temecula.

He also has sculptures along Interstate 215 in the Inland Empire but it’s his work in Borrego Springs that really made him famous.  There he made at least 130 sculptures with incredible detail – fur, feathers, scales – all carved from metal to look like the real thing. Together the pieces are known as “Sky Art” and they were commissioned by the late Dennis Avery. Avery was a philanthropist and lived and raised his family in Borrego Springs. He bought land there that he held in conservation and kept it open to the public, calling the area Galleta Meadows.

World-renowned artist Ricardo Breceda stopped by the FOX 5 Morning News to show us some of his show-stopping metal sculptures featured in the Anza-Borrego Desert.  Click here to watch. 

BEHIND-THE-SCENES: Take a look at this behind-the-scenes video of FOX 5's desert shoot, including incredible drone video of the sculptures you won’t see anywhere else. FOX 5’s Kathleen Bade sits down with Executive Producer of Special Projects, Ruby Chen to chat about how she learned of this place and a look at the making of the story.

Miniature Museum

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Planes, trains and automobiles. Inside an unassuming building lies a treasure trove of miniature masterpieces.

The Miniature Engineering and Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad is home to a collection of more than 1,400 items, carefully crafted in metal, plastic and wood. Some items have historical significance, others are pure imagination realized. There’s even a dollhouse section with some of the most elaborate and detailed miniature homes you’ve ever seen.

There are mini machine guns that can lock and load and fire. You’ll also find a 1:4 scale of the plane that carried the Wright brothers on their first flight at Kitty Hawk. The oldest item is a handmade wooden clock from 1793. The smallest of the miniatures is a working wrench, nut and bolt made to 1:30 scale. And if that’s not impressive enough, the crème de la crème is the miniature Duesenberg, which took 10 years straight to make, runs perfectly and is the only one in the world.

In the back of this special museum is Santa’s workshop, where a master machinist builds, restores and maintains.  For a few select hours a day, he opens up his machine shop to the public demonstrating all his gadgets and gizmos.

Spend any amount of time here and you’ll realize that what’s a hobby for some, is a lifetime of work for others, celebrating the little things in life.

So next time you marvel at giant feats of engineering, stop and remember that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

To visit the museum's website, click here.

King of the Missions

OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- Beauty, tranquility and history. For anyone looking to unplug and unwind, this is the place.  Private rooms surround a rose garden, quiet enough to meditate. Or take a stroll through the labyrinth and let the sound of silence clear your thoughts.

So where are we talking about?

Old Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside was founded in 1798 and nicknamed the “King of the Missions” because it’s the largest in California. The grounds are full of history, from the oldest pepper tree in the state to the oldest cemetery in North County and also a centuries-old church standing since 1815 and still holding daily mass. Inside you’ll find original designs, famous paintings and a side chapel for prayer.

There’s also a museum with several artifacts, like an original document signed by President Lincoln giving ownership of the church back to the Franciscan Friars.

So whether you come for a day tour or a weekend retreat, be sure to not disturb the friars who live and study at this historic San Diego landmark.

Pretty in pink: Burlingame Historic District

SAN DIEGO -- It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, famous for its unmistakable pink sidewalks.

“You know you’re home when you see them," says Craig Blakey, who moved here earlier this year.

Welcome to Burlingame, a community busting with character – from the rose-stained sidewalks to the historic homes and much more.  You won’t find cookie cutter houses here; rather homes of unique styles, each with a special story, nearly all built in the early 1900’s.

The oldest home is on Maple, sold in 1912 for $7,500. Today’s it’s worth more than a million dollars and gets featured in tours and calendars.

Another home was owned by the original hat lady of the Del Mar races in the '30s.

These days residents proudly show off their place in San Diego history. They also put on elaborate holiday displays.

So while people might come to Burlingame for the pink sidewalks, it’s the charm of the homes and residents that keeps them from leaving.

Blakey says, “it’s kinda the neighborhood that so many of us remember when we were growing up as children.”

Untold stories of the lighthouse

POINT LOMA, Calif. – It’s one of San Diego’s most scenic and oldest landmarks. If walls could talk, there would be plenty to say about the Old Point Loma lighthouse, standing watch since 1855, keeping sailors safe and harboring secrets.

Its most famous keeper was Robert Israel, who lived here with his wife Maria and children for 18 years. Life was modest and lonely; they are what they grew and collected seashells for fun. They also hid a secret – Maria helped man the light, which was illegal back then since women weren’t allowed to work.

The drama doesn’t stop there.

After 18 years of faithful service, Robert was suddenly fired and no one knows why, though some believe he and Maria never truly left.

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1891 after constant fog defeated its purpose. Today, it’s a museum with ranger-led tours. It’s part of Cabrillo National Monument and popular with tourists and school field trips. Twice a year, visitors can even climb to the top. So while the light has dimmed, the lighthouse still stands watch over San Diego Bay.

Magical maze garden

ESCONDIDO, Calif. – Nestled deep within Kit Carson Park in Escondido is a hidden gem not many know about.

A maze takes you from the real world to a whimsical garden.

This is Queen Califia’s Magical Circle – an homage to an Amazon warrior who, according to folklore, inspired the name of our great state.

She stands proudly on her favorite bird, guarding a golden egg under a bedazzled starry sky. You might notice the bird has five legs – and nobody knows why!

Eight totems surround the Queen, each with its own theme like “Bullhead” and “Yelling Man.”

The entire park is guarded by a wall of the friendliest snakes you’ll ever see.

All of this is designed by world-famous artist Niki de Saint Phalle, who brought stones, tiles and gems from around the world to complete her vision.

What used to be an empty lot is now a cultural landmark for all ages to enjoy.

The biggest beauty? It’s all open to interpretation -- so your imagination’s the limit.

ALPINE, Calif. – It’s not every day you come across a home like this – a dwelling nicknamed “The Hobbit House.”

Every detail is carefully considered and crafted to highlight nature’s beauty. Take the upstairs window, for example, which, when open, floods the space with light, inviting the sounds and scents of Mother Earth.

“In the winter, you can see the Milky Way,” says Lynne Davidson, one of the original owners of the house.

The heart of the home is the fireplace, at the bottom of a steep staircase that takes skills to climb.

What’s more impressive is that Lynne and her husband Carl raised four daughters here – the girls sharing one room, one closet and the six of them sharing one bathroom!

“Yes, we had small closets and yes, we had a big family, but we all survived,” says Lynne.

The couple built this fairytale home in the ‘70s from ground up – with a lot of help.

They were inspired by another famous San Diego home – Ilan Lael, built by renowned architect James Hubbell.

And when the current owner, Chuck Samples, took over, he added his own backyard flavor.

“I just consider the whole house an art masterpiece really,” says Samples.

He also listed the home on Airbnb, so you, too can experience a night with nature – though he has strict rules to make sure this jewel of a home remains in prime shape for years to come.

Stories by Executive Producer, Special Projects Ruby Chen

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