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Family-friendlySan Diego County

Wait for the green flash on the Sunset Cliffs in San Diego

Sunset Cliffs. But no green this night. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)
Sunset Cliffs. But no green this night. (Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Why: You might as well stand somewhere gorgeous while hoping to see that elusive phenomenon as the sun dips beneath the horizon.

What: Sunset Cliffs, an upscale residential neighborhood in San Diego's Point Loma area, sits on crumbling bluff, the Pacific churning below. The advantages of this situation include some nice surfing, dramatic views of the Pacific and fascinating cliff formations as the sea gradually eats away at the earth.

The downside is that the sea never stops eating. Chain-link fencing cordon off the areas of most recent collapse. At some point, as the cliffs crumble, Sunset Cliffs Boulevard may need to be narrowed. As for long-term prospects of the houses closest to the ocean -- who knows?

But for now, the views can't be beat, and it's a great place for a run or a bike ride. At Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Ladera Street, where the rugged, 68-acre Sunset Cliffs Natural Park shows yet more erosion at work, a sturdy set of concrete stairs leads down to the beach and tidepools. There are great photo opportunities here, but don't let high tide catch you in the wrong place.

Oh, about the green flash, a.k.a. the green ray: It's an optical phenomenon. Some people think it's a hoax. Others (like me) say they've seen several. This pop-science explanation sounds plausible. And Jules Verne, he of "Around the World in 80 Days," made the idea a key part of his 1882 novel "The Green Ray." 

Where: Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, Ladera Street, San Diego, 121 miles southeast of downtown L.A.

How much: Free.

Info: Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

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