Including a Tasty Stop at The Round Up BBQ Grill
Looking for Something to Do in San Diego on the Weekend? How about Palomar Mountain and Lake Henshaw?
On Sunday morning, my boyfriend Ed and I were deciding what we could do for the day. Decisions are somewhat difficult as we have Henson, my six-month-old pup with us. Ed looked on a website that talked about 50 dog friendly places to go, and one of them was the Palomar Mountain Observatory, home of the 200-inch Hale Telescope. Decision made!
We packed what we would need for the dog and ourselves and off we went. We took the curvy scenic route up the mountain, which was about 16 miles from Escondido area. There are plenty of pullout spots on the ride up to enjoy the scenery or to get out of the way of some very crazy motorcyclist. Ed and I ride, but safely. On Sunday, there were hundreds of speed bikers screaming down those curves and it was frightening, not going to lie. First time that has happened though. We have ridden up to Palomar numerous times and it is always peaceful and pleasant. This time, we were in a car since we had the dog.
If you do pull off to the side of the road, just keep an eye out for poison ivy as it is very abundant in places. We stopped once to enjoy the view, the trees, and to watch a group of three hawks circling and calling overhead.
The observatory is easy to find. Just keep following the signs. There is a large parking lot (but keep in mind, there are no gas stations on the mountain). The observatory area closes around 4 p.m. so be sure and check times and weather conditions prior to making the drive. There is a small museum and gift shop right near the parking lot entrance, as well as a large picnic ground. Everything is clean and the path to the observatory is paved. The fall colors were emerging on the plants and it was lovely. There was also a wonderful breeze in the area.
There are some shaded benches near the observatory with pretty views over the hills and mountains.
Once you get to the observatory (a fairly short flat walk), be prepared for steps up to the entrance and 70 steps inside up to the actual telescope mirror and the information area. There is an entrance around the back for the mobility impaired but it was not attended when we were there and there was no bell to ring or anything. So I enjoyed myself outside, sitting on a bench looking at the beautiful views around me while Ed explored inside.
We then left Palomar and instead of turning back down the twisty grade, we veered left towards Lake Henshaw. An easier ride and also very picturesque. (Signs leading the way to Lake Henshaw out of Palomar are easy to spot and follow.) Also a note, there are no dog friendly restaurants or much of anything in the way of places to eat on the mountain.
There are two main paved lookouts with parking lots on the way down to Lake Henshaw. The first one is partway down Palomar Mountain and provides a wide-sweeping view of the area. Lake Henshaw can be seen in the distance (which is easier in the winter as there is more water).
The second viewing area is practically on top of Lake Henshaw and overlooks the entire area. It is gorgeous in winter but not bad in summer either.
We then went for a lunch/dinner at one of our favorite places. Yes, it is out of the way and from the outside, does not look like much, but the chef is amazing. We have never had a bad meal or bad service there. And they have the best appetizer wings, hands down, which come in a variety of flavors. Everything is delicious and we were allowed to come in with the dog in their front enclosed patio seating area which overlooks Lake Henshaw.
Fried pickles with a spicy sauce. So good!
Mushroom Swiss burger.
Roasted tomato flatbread. So wonderful. Flavors from the roasted tomatoes and light homemade tomato sauce just burst in your mouth.
The Round Up BBQ Grill is located at 26439 CA-76, Santa Ysabel, 92070. They are open from 11a.m. to 7p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7a.m. to 7p.m. Friday through Sunday. There is a store attached to the restaurant where you can pay for access to Lake Henshaw, which we will plan for next time. There is always something cool and interesting to do in San Diego County.