Diamond Resorts Riviera Oaks Resort Racquet Club

This resort is a hidden gem. It is located at 25382 Pappas Road.
Ramona, California, 92065. Ramona, California, is close to another resort I just stayed at, so I will be transferring to this resort from the Diamond Resorts Riviera Shores Resort location.

Video by Daniel Kusper

Day One Travel and Arrival at Diamond Resorts Riviera Oaks Resort Racquet Club

The location’s name is a mouthful. It is, however, only about 1 hour and 20 minutes from my previous resort. So that makes driving to the new location a breeze. When I do these multiple resort trips, I really like the reduced travel time. I feel like I get an extra day in the area. You check out of one at 10 AM or earlier and do not check in until after 4 PM at the new resort. This means you get to fill the time with your chosen activities during the day.

This resort offers both 1 and 2-bedroom options. I have a 1 bedroom again at this location so it should feel pretty seamless from one resort to the next.

Villa Amenities

  • Balcony/Porch
  • Blender
  • Cable TV
  • Coffee Maker
  • Dishwasher
  • Ice Maker
  • Microwave Oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove/Range

Then the resort itself offers all of these options.

Resort Amenities

  • Free WiFi
  • Outdoor Pools
  • Fitness Center

San Diego Zoo

Driving to the resort I was going to pass almost pass by the San Diego Zoo so I had to stop and spend a few hours today there. If you have not been you must go if you or one of your group with you love animals. This is one of the nicest zoos in the nation for certain.

I had prepurchased a Go City Explorer pass for this part of my trip. These are smart ways to get good discounts on tickets. They even have a daily ticket option. That is great if you are a fast mover and want to see more every day. I am more casual these days, so picking a few key spots during my trip worked better for me. When the zoo tickets are $56, a person pays to strategize.

If you pay at the gate, be prepared. Currently, adult tickets are $56 and child tickets are $46. A little bonus tip is kids are traditionally free in October.

Now, remember, the hours vary. I came in the dead of summer so they were open from 9 am to 9 pm. Download the app before you go. This is a great digital map. It’s how we were able to navigate the park with ease.

It was easy to locate attractions and restrooms. Arrive early because this is when the animals are most active and when the park is less crowded. Parking is free! Enough said. Don’t pack too much. There’s a lot of walking and a lot of it is uphill.

The zoo allows you to bring in food and if you have a backpack and the willpower you can freeze some water and juice as well as snacks and carry them with you. Given the mild weather, your drinks will be ice cold for hours here.

Once you get through the gate, immediately hop on the guided bus tour.

It’s about a 40-minute ride that takes you around the perimeter of the park. This bus tour is included in your price of admission. It will help you get the lay of the land and see so much. And here’s a bonus tip: sit on the right-hand side for the best viewing of animals. Also, the kids will love it. I grew up going to Bush Gardens in Williamsburg a lot and this reminded me of the train that circles the park there. WARNING! This is not a round trip, so you do have to get off at the end, and go back through the line to go back. The line goes fast and for us, it only took a couple of minutes. Now let’s jump into seeing the zoo. You’re going to start with the reptiles located down on Front Street across from the Children’s Zoo.

Do the Reptile Walk and then you can go through the Reptile house before heading back down Front St. Now this may seem odd to walk all the way over to visit the reptiles first, but this will help you land at the perfect place to rest your legs just in time for lunch.

Next, go and visit the Urban Jungle. This is where you can see giraffes, rhinos, and kangaroos. When we visited in the Summer of 2019, we were able to see 2 adorable baby giraffes and our daughter Kate absolutely loved them.

Bonus tip, Summer is a great time to visit if you want to see adorable baby animals. The workers there say the mating season is during the Spring time and so Summer time is when you get to see all the cute little babies. Once you finish visiting the kangaroos, hop on over to The Outback where you can visit the koalas. Continue down in the same direction and go through Africa Rocks. There, you’ll be able to see some monkeys and some big cats.

Then you can walk back through Africa Rocks and take the corner around to Elephant Odyssey. This is where you can sit down and eat lunch at the Saber Tooth Grill. And then afterward visit the elephants, of course. They were so playful whenever we visited them. After you’ve visited the Elephant Odyssey, be sure to check out the lions. There are a ton of dining choices available as you can at the link above. Chose what is right for your tribe. Like any amusement park (in comparison) the food prices are high, but they do allow you to bring food and drinks, so it is not a gotcha setup.

Next, this is where you’ll hop on the Skyfari. Be sure to take this round trip so you can pick up where you left off. This was probably our favorite thing to do as a family. We got to fly above the park and see so much. Also, it was a nice cool breeze and a nice break for our legs.

Once you finish your Skyfari round trip, go over and see the polar bears and reindeer at the Northern Frontier. Unfortunately, the polar bear was hiding from us. Walk up Park Way and take the elevator to cross Basher Bridge. There’s a small cafe and snack shop and then you’re going to follow the Monkey Trail. Follow it through the middle portion of the zoo and then back to the front.

Now, the monkeys were probably our favorite animals there. They were so playful and so interactive and our daughter wanted to take one home.

Again, as I said earlier, make sure to download the map to your phone. This is a giant zoo and you can get turned around. The apps are great, but I am old school and miss the old giant folding maps.

After walking around the giant zoo for a few hours, I enjoyed myself but also remembered I am out of shape. This meant by 3 PM I was done and headed for the exit and my rental car to finish the trip to the resort.

Once I arrived, I was happy to find my villa ready one time, and once I got inside the sofa was calling my name. I cranked down the AC to the freeze setting and broke out a few items from the local grocery store. I had just packed away some breakfast items, snacks, and a six-pack, as well as some soft drinks. I wanted to make sure that the six-pack was still fresh, so I pulled one to test.

Day Two San Diego Fun

I woke early. The sun was rising and so was I. That happens to me a good deal when I am on the West Coast. That time difference does not make it through to my inner time clock and I am up early every day.

Belmont Park

Now if you have kids and are in the area, consider taking them to Belmont Park. This is an old-school beachfront amusement park. They just do not make them like this anymore and it is great fun to share with the kids. We used to have a similar amusement park close to my home on the East Coast, and this reminds me much of that one. A full-size wooden roller coaster and all here.

At Belmont, you will find 13 larger rides and many attractions too. I am a complete sucker for nostalgia and the skeet ball in the arcade drew me in like a moth to a flame.

They also have Midway games and I stopped and spent some money and time there. I won a few prizes, then looked for little folks with parents that were OK with me giving them the prize. I did best at the clown around, which was their name for the baseball knocking over the target game.

I think all together I spent $20 and gave away 3 giant prizes for wide-eyed kids. I chose the approach of asking the dad in the family if they forgot this and held out the prize. I did not want to just offer them and then force the family to carry one around all day. 1 dad turned me down or did not understand the offer, not sure which. But all 3 were given away in minutes and the kids seemed happy. Hopefully, the dads were to that they saved a small fortune trying to win the prizes. I have a knack for the games, but I earned that skillset with thousands spent over too many years.

There were a good number of families here today and that was nice to see. If I was 30 years younger, I would have really had a ball since there were also a ton of young single women on this trip too. This was literally like the saying shooting fish in a barrel. Or, as my military friends would say, a target-rich environment. Those days of having the energy to chase around young gals are gone. I just want someone closer to my age these days.

As a wife, you need not worry about your man’s head spinning around. There is enough park fun here to have him acting like a kid with the kids instead of staring at other ladies. I just noticed and took note of a nephew or younger friend. It makes sense, though, being close to the beach in California, at a safe amusement park.

Day Three A Guided Tour

Often when traveling, I will take a day or part of a day to do a guided tour. I do this to see as much of an area as possible within a given amount of time. Today I will be doing a 4-hour guided tour of San Diego. It focuses on Explore San Diego, La Jolla Coastline, Balboa Park, Old Town San Diego, and Coronado. This is a four-hour city tour with a local tour guide, so you are with a small group and have time in each area to check things out solo.

The La Jolla Coastline

 This is one lovely stretch of beach. When you combine that with the amazing weather in the area, it makes all things beachy seem nearly perfect.

Balboa Park

From the website:

Balboa Park began as 1400 acres of land set aside in 1868 by San Diego civic leaders. Known then as “City Park”, the scrub-filled mesa that overlooked present-day Downtown San Diego sat without formal landscaping or development for more than 20 years. (Today the Park’s total land parcel has been reduced to 1,200 acres.)

The first steps in Park beautification were made in 1892, largely due to the contributions of Kate Sessions. Sessions offered to plant 100 trees a year within the Park as well as donate trees and shrubs around San Diego in exchange for 32 acres of land within the Park boundaries to be used for her commercial nursery. Several popular species, including the birds of paradise, queen palm, and poinsettia, were introduced into the Park’s horticulture because of Sessions’ early efforts. In fact, many of her original trees are alive and visible today. It is no wonder that Kate Sessions earned the title “The Mother of Balboa Park” at the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.

Just after the turn of the century, a master plan for Park improvements and beautification was formally introduced. Supported by a city tax levied in 1905, the process began in 1903 and continued through 1910. Water systems were installed, planting continued, roads were built, and the Park began to take on much of the familiar look of today.

San Diego was set to play host to the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, and “City Park” was a less-than-memorable or distinctive name for such an internationally prestigious event. In 1910, Park Commissioners announced plans to rename City Park, and the public was eager to throw potential names into the hat, including San Diego Park, Silver Gate Park, Horton Park, and Miramar Park. After months of discussion and great public interest, the Park Commissioners decided on the name Balboa Park, chosen in honor of Spanish-born Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, the first European to spot the Pacific Ocean while on exploration in Panama.

The Panama-California Exposition Digital Archive is a permanent Digital Archive of documents, images, audio, and video related to San Diego’s 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition. Learn more.

Early Museums

The San Diego Natural History Museum was founded by a handful of citizen naturalists in 1874; the museum is an active research institution and is the oldest scientific institution in Southern California. The Marston House museum (3525 Seventh Ave.) is a classic 1905 Arts and Crafts style home, which was built for noted civic leader and merchant, George W. Marston and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by renowned local architects William Hebbard and Irving Gill, it sits on five acres of landscaped gardens.
First Fair: The 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition
Art and Culture, Gardens and Spanish-Renaissance Architecture

The 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition commemorated the opening of the Panama Canal and provided a major impetus for the creation of the Park as it appears today—the first of two Expositions that created many of the cultural institutions as well as the stunning architecture in the Park. Most of the arts organizations along Balboa Park’s famous El Prado pedestrian walkway are housed in Spanish-Renaissance-style buildings constructed for the 1915 Exposition. It was one of the first times that this highly ornamented, flamboyant architectural style had ever been used in the United States.

The California Tower and dome, which houses the Museum of Us, (formerly the San Diego Museum of Man), the Cabrillo Bridge (historic 1,500-foot-long bridge), and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion (one of the world’s large fairs. The San Diego Museum Association was established in 1915 as a museum of anthropology-its name changed in 1942 to the Museum of Man (with “San Diego” added in 1978).

The former Food & Beverage Building (today’s Casa de Balboa, which houses the Balboa Art Conservation Center, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego History Center & Archives, and San Diego Model Railroad Museum), the Casa del Prado (San Diego Botanical Foundation, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, San Diego Floral Association, San Diego Junior Theater and the San Diego Youth Symphony) and the House of Charm (Mingei International Museum and San Diego Art Institute (now Institute of Contemporary Art, San Diego) were also built for the 1915 Exposition as temporary wood-and-plaster structures and have all since been reconstructed.

The extensive landscaping the Exposition brought to the Park has earned it the moniker, the “Garden Fair.” The Park’s landmark tree is the Moreton Bay fig growing north of the Natural History Museum. This tree, planted before 1915, is over 60 feet tall with a spread of 120 feet. Also built for the 1915-16 Exposition, along with the adjacent Lily Pond, the historic Botanical Building is one of the largest lath structures in the world. The view of the Botanical Building with the Lily Pond in the foreground is one of the most photographed scenes in Balboa Park.

The world-famous San Diego Zoo was established in the second year of this exposition (1916). Dr. Harry Wegeforth, a surgeon for the fair, conceived the idea of starting a zoo after hearing the roar of a lion, one of the few wild animals displayed in cages at the Exposition. Wegeforth became the San Diego Zoo’s first president and remained in office until his death in 1941 Today the Zoo is home to more than 4,000 rare and endangered animals representing more than 800 species and subspecies—a world-famous conservation organization where visitors view exotic animals in habitat environments.

Old Town San Diego

Old Town is the location of the first European settlement in California. It is the oldest neighborhood in San Diego, located in the heart of San Diego county. A visit here is a step back in time to the founding of the State of California and to the local cultures that existed in the area as far back as 9,000 year ago.


Coronado is a California resort city on a peninsula in San Diego Bay. It’s known for the grand Victorian Hotel del Coronado, which opened in 1888. This area and the island here are simply amazing. The views and sea air. Everything comes together here to make a perfect stop on your trip to the area.

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