San Diego Essential Guide



Get down at San Diego Blues Festival

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in Festivals, What's New? | Comments Off on Get down at San Diego Blues Festival

One of San Diego’s premier music events is just around the corner. The 2013 San Diego Blues Festival is set for Sept. 7 at Embarcadero Marina Park North. This year’s headliners include three members of the Blues Hall of Fame and a Grammy Award winner. Hall of Famers include harmonica great Charlie Musselwhite and Chicago musicians Billy Boy Arnold and Jody Williams, who helped Bo Diddley and others transform blues into rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s.They will be joined by Grammy winner Dave Alvin, who has assembled a special blues band just for this year’s festival. Musselwhite is one of the best known blues harmonica players today and has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards.He recently released an album with guitarist Ben Harper. Others set to take the stage include Billy Watson and his Submarine Trio, The Fremonts, Nikki Hill, Eden Brent, The Tighten Ups, the Bill Magee Blues Band and the indefatigable Lucky Peterson, whose work as a musician, arranger and composer has been featured on nearly 600 albums. The 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. festival features continuous music on two stages – and it’s one of the best music values anywhere: General admission costs just $15, plus two cans of food. The fest benefits the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank with all proceeds going to the Food Bank. (In its first two years, the festival raised more than $100,000 and collected nearly eight tons of food for the food bank.) VIP tickets cost $100 and include lunch and admission to exclusive, shaded viewing areas by each stage. A $500 Star Benefactor pass includes reserved seating, lunch, drinks, free parking, a Blues Fest t-shirt, a signed festival poster and a framed photograph with one of the musicians. Children are welcome at the event; those 12 and younger are admitted free with a parent. Bring your own low-back beach chair, sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen and a windbreaker for late afternoon and early evening. Each festival-goer is allowed one factory sealed bottle of water. No other drinks, food or coolers are allowed. There are numerous public parking lots near the venue, but your best bet is to take public transportation.The San Diego Trolley stops two blocks from festival grounds. Learn more and buy tickets online at...

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Del Mar racetrack has kids’ day care

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in North County, What's New? | Comments Off on Del Mar racetrack has kids’ day care

Heading off for a day at the races? Don’t forget the kids. The Del Mar racetrack’s best bet might just be its child care program: Camp Del Mar is a just-for-fun day camp designed to keep 5-to-12-year-old youngsters safe and entertained while their parents enjoy a day at the races. The program is based in the track’s Mission Tower Building. Kids enjoy arts and crafts, movies and video games, tournaments and excursions. Thursday is miniature golf day. On Wednesdays, Fridays and weekends children compete in hippity hop races on the racetrack. Children are supervised by trained counselors – one for every 12 kids. Staff includes teachers and recreation professionals. Campers get lunch, snacks and a camp t-shirt. The camp program will operate every day of the Del Mar racing season, from July 17 through Sept. 2, (closed Mondays except Labor Day, Tuesdays and Sept. 4).Camp will open at 11:30 a.m. on opening day, at 10:30 a.m. on Pacific Classic Day, at noon on other Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day. It’ll open at 2 p.m. on Fridays. Camp closes 30 minutes after the last race. Tuition is $24 per day, per child and includes all activities, lunch, snacks and a way-cool t-shirt. No reservations are required.  Parents must remain at the track while their youngsters are at camp. Learn more at...

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Dress to impress at superheroes brew fest

Posted by on Jul 22, 2013 in What's New? | Comments Off on Dress to impress at superheroes brew fest

Want to be part of Comic-Con, but couldn’t score a badge this year? No worries. Don your tights, mask and dress to impress at the Heroes Brew Fest, a superhero-themed craft brew festival set for 1 until 5 PM Saturday (July 20) at Embarcadero Park North. More than 30 brewers will offer suds at the event. There will be live music, interactive vendor booths and food trucks as well as a superheroes costume contest. Attendees must be at least 21 years old. General admission costs $45 and includes a tasting mug with 20 tasting tickets. (Additional tickets can be purchased in increments of 10 for $10). VIP tickets, which include unlimited tastings, early admission (at noon), plus access to an exclusive VIP area, cost $60. Designated driver tickets are available for $20. The event will benefit San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation. Learn more at...

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Free twilight concerts rock San Diego summer

Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in What's New? | Comments Off on Free twilight concerts rock San Diego summer

Free twilight concerts have become summertime traditions in neighborhoods throughout San Diego County. They’re an opportunity for visitors, locals and their families to socialize, picnic, enjoy music together – and maybe even dance as the sun sets on another perfect San Diego day. Here’s a sampling of what to expect this summer: •    The Point Loma Summer Concert Series opens July 12 with Jumping Jack Flash (a Rolling Stones tribute band) and continues on consecutive Fridays through Aug. 9. Shows run 5:30-8:30 PM. Pack a picnic or buy food at the venue. Bring blankets, lawn chairs and Frisbees to Point Loma Park, 1049 Catalina Blvd. •    Pacific Beach Concerts on the Green are set for Sundays July 21 through Aug. 11. Shows run from 4-6:30 PM at Kate Sessions Park (Lamont Street, just north of Beryl). Bring your own food and drink. •    Mission Hills’ Concerts in the Park series opens June 21 at Pioneer Park and continues on consecutive Fridays through Aug. 23. Once exception: No concert on July 5 because of the community’s big Fourth of July celebration, which includes a concert. The series opens with Hullabaloo followed by Zydeco Patrol on June 28 and Dr. Elvis on July 4. Pioneer Park is at 1425 Washington Place. •    Balboa Park’s Twilight in the Park concert series kicks off at 6:15 PM June 18 and continues on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through Aug. 29 at the park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The hour-long shows feature everything from classical music to R&B. •    Enjoy organ music? The International Summer Organ Festival features organists from around the world. Showtime is 7:30 – 9:30 PM on Mondays, June 24 through Aug. 26, at Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion. •   The Bird Park Concert Series in North Park will open June 15 with jazzman Lenny Rankins. More concerts are scheduled June 29 (indie rock), July 13 (Latin jazz), July 27 (country rock) and Aug. 10 (blues). All shows run 5:30-7:30 PM. Bird Park is at 28th and Thorn streets. •    Coronado’s Concerts in the Park series is set for 6 PM on Sundays, May 26 through Sept. 8, at Spreckels Park, 7th and Orange. Families (but no dogs) are welcome to picnic during the 90-minute shows. The Coronado Community Concert Band will open the series. •    Del Mar’s Summer Twilight Concerts are set for Powerhouse Park, overlooking the Pacific, at 1600 Coast Blvd.  The series begins June 18 with Atomic Groove, followed by Mrs. Robinson on July 9, Back to the Garden on Aug 13 and Mark Wood and the Parrot Head band on Sept. 8. Show time is 7 PM, with pre-show entertainment beginning at 6 PM. •    Carlsbad’s TGIF Jazz in the Park is staged at three community parks. The 28th season opens at Stagecoach Park (3420 Camino de los Coches), with concerts on June 28, July 5 and 12. The party moves to Poinsettia Park (6600 Hidden Valley Road) for concerts on July 19, 26 and Aug. 2. The season closes at Calavera Hills Park (2997 Glasgow Drive) with concerts on Aug. 9, 16 and 23. Showtime is 6-8 PM. Wear your dancing shoes. •    El Cajon’s Dinner & a Concert series is set for 6-8 PM Fridays through Sept. 30 on the Prescott Promenade near East Main Street and Rea...

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Frugal fair fans find deals

Posted by on Jun 20, 2013 in What's New? | Comments Off on Frugal fair fans find deals

Adult admission to the San Diego County Fair costs $14 – but deals abound. For super fans, the “Best Pass Ever” can’t be beat. It includes daily admission – all 24 days of the fair – for just $24. You’ll need a school or government-issued photo ID to use the pass. Tuesdays are the magic day for kids 6-12 years old. They get in free. (Kids 5 and younger get in free everyday.) Youngsters 12 and younger can get in free ANY day if they read 10 books and have it verified by their teacher or librarian. The certificate you’ll need to get signed can be downloaded in English or Spanish. Adults can get $4 admission on Tuesday, June 11 or June 18. You’ll need a ticket available with any $10 purchase at Albertsons/SavOn stores. (Tickets must be purchased in advance; none will be available at the fair.) Been laid off in the past year? Present an unemployment check stub and a photo ID at the will-call window on June 18 or 25 to get free admission for yourself and a guest. County auto dealers are in on the action this year, starting June 1. Visit a Toyota dealership to get a coupon valid for two adult admissions for the price of one. Visit a Ford dealership to get a 4-tickets-for-$32 coupon. Once you’re inside, there are tons of free things to enjoy – including concerts by big name artists. Get free unreserved seats at performances by top artists including the Beach Boys, REO Speedwagon, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Switchfoot, Chubby Checker, Colbie Caillat and La Arrolladora Banda El Limón. Love the rides? On “Pepsi Pay-One-Price” days, spend $35 for a wristband that allows unlimited access to Fun Zone and Kiddieland rides from noon until 8 PM.  The deal is valid June 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 26 and 27. On valid Wednesdays or Thursdays wristbands are for sale at the fair; on other valid days, they must be purchased online. (You’ll buy and print out your Pay-One-Price voucher online; there’s an additional $2.50 fee for online purchases.) Food? On Tuesdays, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., more than 100 food vendors offer smaller portions for $2. Or bring your own picnic; there are six designated picnic areas. (No alcohol, glass containers or metal utensils.) Avoid the fair’s $10 parking fee by opting for free parking at Horsepark, about 2 miles east of the fairgrounds, at 14550 El Camino Real; a free shuttle will get you to the front gate.  On weekends and July 4 there’s additional free parking (with shuttle service) at Torrey Pines High and Mira Costa College’s San Elijo campus. Taking public transportation to the fair is a super deal. For $15, travel roundtrip on the Coaster and get free fair admission. The “Fair Tripper” is valid for any age, but those 62 and older save more by buying fair admission and Coaster tickets separately. Kids 5 and younger ride the Coaster free and get free fair...

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Five easy seaside walks

Posted by on May 30, 2013 in Get Physical, What's New? | Comments Off on Five easy seaside walks

Face it. Fitness is easier here. Weather is our ally. Opportunity is everywhere. Instead of meeting a friend for coffee or cocktails, why not meet for a walk?  Here are a sampling of  bay- and ocean-side walks that are especially conducive to easy conversation. All of the treks are scenic – and each can be as easy as you want it to be, modified to a distance that works for you. Wear the right shoes, carry plenty of drinking water, use sunscreen and wear sunglasses. Enjoy the outdoors while being good to your body. Mission Bay Park –There’s always plenty of parking at Rose Marie Starns South Shores park, so start there and head east.  Along the way, you’ll see jet skiers whizzing around the bay, have the chance to watch dancers on roller skates, and will inhale whiffs of dozens of tantalizing ethnic family picnics. Make it all the way to the end of the walkway at De Anza Cove and back and you’ll have racked up about seven miles. Mission Beach/PB Oceanfront – Park at the South Mission Beach jetty and head out on the paved walkway known to locals as the Mission Beach Boardwalk – or, at low tide, walk the beach.  Either way, drink in great gulps of salty sea air – and savor the eye-candy.  Continue past Belmont Park and its historic roller coaster, past luxury condos, aging beach cottages, funky shops, crowded beach bars and restaurants.  Make it to the small park beyond Crystal Pier and back and you’ll have logged close to six miles. Torrey Pines State Reserve – The reserve spans 2,000 acres with eight miles of trails overlooking the Pacific. Pick up a trail map at the visitors center – or even better, join one of the free docent-led nature walks at 10 AM and 2 PM on weekends.  Trekkers can count on seeing lots of the nation’s rarest pine tree, plus native chaparral, wildflowers, extraordinary sandstone formations, dozens of bird species, squirrels, cottontails, skittering lizards and butterflies. Keen observers may spot gray fox, mule deer or even bobcat tracks. On clear winter days, there’s even a chance you’ll catch a glimpse of migrating California Gray Whales. Tip: Grab a parking space along the beach and walk up the hill to the reserve to add yardage to your walk – and save the $12-$15 it costs to park at the reserve. Liberty Station/Harbor Island – Park in the free public lot near Liberty Station’s Corvette Diner and head south along the bayside trail.  For a better look at this ever-changing new neighborhood, meander up and down Liberty Station blocks. Or stick to the bayside trail, past Homewood Suites to the Halsey Road pedestrian bridge over the bay. On the other side, take a right on to a dirt trail that links with the Spanish Landing walkway.  As you continue walking,  check out the Maritime Museum’s ongoing efforts to build a replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s flagship, San Salvador. Then view modern-day adventure craft docked in the sheltered bay of Harbor Island.  Walk past the Sheraton, cross Harbor Island Drive at the signal, then walk all along the pathway fronting San Diego Bay.   If you make it a roundtrip back to Liberty Station, you’ve logged at least seven miles.   (Or make...

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ArtWalk draws art lovers of all ages to Little Italy

Posted by on Apr 30, 2013 in Festivals, Little Italy, What's New? | Comments Off on ArtWalk draws art lovers of all ages to Little Italy

Enjoy art? Next weekend, April 27-28, Little Italy is the place you’ll want to be. White tents and an array of booths are taking over 17 blocks of Little Italy for the 29th annual Mission Federal ArtWalk. More than 350 artists will exhibit and sell their work – and tens of thousands of art lovers will be buying. Admission is free – but festival goers will spend about $1 million during the event. Visitors will find a wide range of visual arts – from pottery to jewelry, sculpture to basketry, art glass to digital media, photography to oil paintings. And we’re not talking schlock. A selection committee reviews artists’ works before participation is permitted. The two-day event has become the city’s largest art festival – with live music and dance performances on six stages, a wide selection of food vendors offer everything from wood-fired pizzas to chocolate-covered strawberries – while Little Italy restaurants do voracious business. There’s also lots of artsy hands-on fun for children. Youngsters will even have the opportunity to create their own art to take home. About 100,000 are expected to visit ArtWalk. Avoid the parking frenzy by taking the MTS Trolley. Get off at the “County Center/Little Italy” stop, between Cedar and Beech streets. Walk east to the festival – which stretches along India, Kettner and Columbia streets between Beech and Grape. Festivities run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Learn more at...

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Carlsbad Flower Fields are bloomin’ spectacular

Posted by on Apr 19, 2013 in Attractions, North County | Comments Off on Carlsbad Flower Fields are bloomin’ spectacular

Each spring, Carlsbad’s flower fields come alive with spectacular blooms – more than 50 acres of vibrant petal power. From early March through mid-May, visitors can get lost among vibrant rows of flowers on a gentle hillside overlooking the Pacific.  Families can find their way through a sweet pea maze, ride an antique tractor ($5 for adults, $3 for kids 3-10) and stroll through a greenhouse to inspect more than 20 varieties of poinsettias. The season is short – and filled with special events. Enjoy everything from concerts to photography workshops, depending on the day you choose to visit. There’s even a day just for kids.  Check out the calendar of events on the Fields’ website: Flower Fields general admission costs $11, $10 for those 60 and older. Kids 3-10 years old get in for $6, those 2 and younger get in free. Season passes cost $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $14 for...

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February is San Diego Museum Month

Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 in Museums, What's New? | Comments Off on February is San Diego Museum Month

February is Museum Month in San Diego – and everybody gets a gift: half-price admission at 42 county museums and cultural attractions.  You’ll need a pass available this month at Macy’s stores throughout the county; they’re free as long as supplies last. Pass holders get half-price admission for up to four guests per visit at most of San Diego’s top museums – everything from downtown’s New Children’s Museum  to the USS Midway aircraft carrier to the historic Marston House. It’s a chance for the family to visit La Jolla’s Birch Aquarium, the fascinating ships at the bayfront Maritime Museum and more than a dozen museums in Balboa Park — from The Fleet Science Center to the Museum of Photographic Arts to the San Diego Museum of Art – all for half price. The annual promotion was launched in 1989 by the San Diego Museum Council. Get a full list of participants at...

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A Valentine farewell to Whaling Bar

Posted by on Feb 9, 2013 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Valentine farewell to Whaling Bar

The legendary Whaling Bar at La Jolla’s La Valencia will serve its last cocktail on Valentine’s Day. The venerable watering hole will be stripped of its dark, clubby maritime décor – to become part of an expanded Café La Rue.  Construction crews will remove the wall that separates the bar from the existing restaurant. The new look will be lighter, in a French Art Deco style. The beloved Whaling Bar mural depicting a whale hunt, along with model ships and scrimshaw, will be stored until they’re eventually installed in a new hotel boardroom, said Mark Dibella, the hotel’s managing director. Since the 1950s, the Whaling Bar has been a sanctuary for artists and writers.  Raymond Chandler was a regular; Gregory Peck frequented the place when he acted at La Jolla Playhouse.  Beloved local newspaper columnist Neil Morgan drank there with pals like Art Buchwald and Walter Cronkite.  Nearby bookstore owner Dennis Wills brought visiting authors, including Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Christopher Hitchens, Maureen Dowd, Jill Abramson and Beat-era poet Michael McClure. Even Dr. Seuss (Ted Geisel) hung there. Writer Mary Duncan, who splits her time between La Jolla and Paris, is among those mourning the bar’s end:  “I think what I’ll miss most about the Whaling Bar, and bars like it, are the auras of those past occupants sitting at the bar lost in contemplation or immersed in interesting and diverse discussions. Those moments will now be lost forever....

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