San Diego Essential Guide

North County

Deals for frugal fair-goers

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 – from June 7 to July 6, every single day of the fair – for just $24. You’ll need a school or government-issued photo ID to use the pass. Tuesdays June 24 and July 1 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 through July 5, 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. Get Fair admission for just $4 on June 7 or 11, with a ticket available with any $10 purchase at Albertsons/SavOn stores. (Tickets must be purchased in advance; none will be available at the fair.) County auto dealers are in on the action this year.  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 Smokey Robinson, REO Speedwagon, Huey Lewis and the News, Taylor Hicks and Grand Funk Railroad. Love the rides?  On  “Pepsi Pay-One-Price” days, spend $35 for a wristband that allows unlimited access to Fun Zone and Kid Zone rides from noon until 8 PM.  The deal is valid June 7-8, 11-15, 18-19 and 25-26.  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, June 24 and July 1, 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...

Posted by on Jun 7, 2014

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Festivals, North County

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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...

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013

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North County, What's New?

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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: TheFlowerFields.com 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...

Posted by on Apr 19, 2013

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Attractions, North County

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Explore new ground during “Kids Free” month

Time is closing in October — the month that kids 12 and younger get free admission at dozens of San Diego museums and attractions. Act now to take advantage of  “Kids Free San Diego” month. Participating attractions include all the kids’ favorites: Sea World, the Zoo, Legoland and the New Children’s Musuem.  But don’t overlook the opportunity to introduce youngsters to attraction they may not yet know – such as the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas, home of the largest interactive children’s garden on the West Coast. The botanic garden’s 1-acre Hamilton Children’s Garden is fertile ground for growing young minds – a great place for nurturing a child’s love of nature. It includes 14 themed sites – ranging from a butterfly garden to a rhythm garden, where kids can make music playing nature’s instruments.  Youngsters can make mud pottery in Art’s Garden,  practice their ABCs at the alphabetical Spell and Smell Garden and be awed by fruits, vegetables and flowers growing from bales of hay. A favorite destination is the massive kid-friendly tree house that combines a man-made trunk, with living trees that kids can explore from roots to canopy through tunnels, walkways and rope ladders. Beyond the Children’s Garden there are 36 more acres for exploring – with plants and trees from 15 geographic regions, including Central and South America, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, the Canary Islands and Mediterranean regions. Visitors can wander everything from an “undersea” succulent garden that simulates a coral reef to a tropical rain forest.  There are herb and topiary gardens – and of course, plenty of native plants and trees. The San Diego Botanic Garden, open from 9 AM to 5 PM daily, is at 230 Quail Gardens Drive in Encinitas.  Admission costs $12 for adults; during October, each paid adult gets to bring along two kids, 12 or younger, for free. Add $2 for parking (except cars with four or more passengers get in free).  There’s a small gift shop, a plant shop, a snack bar and the Children’s Garden has picnic tables. Learn more a...

Posted by on Nov 13, 2012

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Attractions, North County, What's New?

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Del Mar’s racetrack isn’t just for adults

Heading off for a day at the Del Mar racetrack? Don’t forget the kids. Camp Del Mar is a just-for-fun day camp designed to keep youngsters 5 to 12 years old 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 as well as excursions. Thursday is miniature golf day. On Wednesdays, Fridays and weekends children compete in hippity hop races on the racetrack. Campers are supervised by trained counselors – one for every 12 kids. Admission costs $24 per day and includes all activities, lunch, snacks and a Camp Del Mar t-shirt. Camp opens two hours before post time on race days; it closes 30 minutes after the last race.  Drop off your children any time; no reservations are required.  Parents must remain at the track while their youngsters are at camp. Learn more at...

Posted by on Sep 5, 2012

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Attractions, North County, What's New?

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‘Out of this World’ deals for frugal fair fans

San Diego’s County Fair is  “Out of this World”  — but there’s plenty that we Earthlings can do to keep our fair expenses grounded. Adult admission to the fair costs $13 – 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.) Kiddies can’t make it on a Tuesday? No problem. Youngsters 6-12 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 opening day and on Tuesday, June 12. You’ll need a ticket available with any $10 purchase at Albertsons 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 19 or 26 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-$28 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 Kenny Loggins, KC & the Sunshine Band, Ben E. King,  Bill Medley,  Switchfoot, Lonestar, Grand Funk Railroad and La Arrolladora Banda El Limón. Love the rides? Wednesdays and Thursdays until June 28 are “Pepsi Pay-One-Price” days.  For $30, get a wristband that allows unlimited access to Fun Zone and Kiddieland rides from noon until 8 PM.  The deal is available on certain other days – but you’ll have to check availability, then buy and print out your Pay-One-Price voucher online. (There’s a $2.50 fee for online purchases.) Food? On Tuesdays more than 100 food vendors offer smaller portions for $2. Or bring your own picnic any day; there are six designated picnic areas. (No alcohol, glass containers or sharp 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 Wednesdays there’s additional free parking (with shuttle service) at Torrey Pines High and Mira Costa College’s San Elijo campus. Better yet, blast off to the fair on public transit. If you’re visiting on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays or July 4, the $15 Weekend Fair Tripper includes fair admission, plus roundtrip public transportation aboard the Coaster, Sprinter and/or Breeze Bus.  Buy your ticket online in advance or on the day of travel at any Sprinter or Coaster ticket machine (just press “Current Promotions” and “Fair Tripper”).  Show your transit ticket at the Fair’s West Gate to get $3.50 off...

Posted by on Jun 27, 2012

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Festivals, North County, What's New?

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