San Diego Essential Guide

Point Loma

Former NTC thrives as Liberty Station

San Diego’s Naval Training Center was dedicated in 1923. Over the years, it turned nearly 2 million boys into men — sailors who made San Diego the home base for the Navy’s Pacific Fleet. When the Navy closed the base in 1997, a master developer went to work transforming the 361-acre site into a massive mixed-use neighborhood.  While the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it remains a work in progress. More than 50 of NTC’s original Spanish Colonial Revival buildings have been restored and transformed into performance spaces, artists’ studios, galleries, fitness salons, shops, grocery stores and restaurants.  The neighborhood also includes a residential district, office space, schools, churches, two hotels (Homewood Suites and Courtyard by Marriott), and nearly 50 acres of park/open space along a boat channel that leads to San Diego Bay.  The community’s parks have become a popular venue for special events and ethnic festivals. Seasonal kayak and paddleboard rentals are offered. One of the best ways to experience Liberty Station is with a free audio tour. Stop by the visitor center (the former Command Center) to pick up a map. Then call 619-342-8021 on your cell phone, enter a number from the map and hit the # key. Another great option: Attend Friday Night Liberty, beginning at 5 PM on the first Friday of each month. It’s an opportunity to visit galleries and performance venues for free and meet artists at work in their studios. There’s plenty of free parking throughout the...

Posted by on Jun 3, 2014

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Point Loma, What's New?

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It’s festival time at Cabrillo National Monument

The annual Cabrillo Festival, Sept. 28-29, will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year – and next month the monument itself celebrates its 100th birthday. A centennial weekend celebration is set for Oct. 12-14.   The Cabrillo Festival commemorates the day in 1542 when Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed on the shore of what is now known as San Diego Bay. (He had christened it San Miguel.) Sailing under the flag of Spain, he was the first European to land on the west coast of what is now the United States. A highlight of the festival is the re-enactment of Cabrillo’s landing. “Cabrillo,” his soldiers and a priest sail into the bay on the San Salvador (The Californian) and once again claim the land for Spain.   Cabrillo Festival activities begin with a commemorative ceremony at 4 p.m. on Sept. 28 at the monument. That evening there’s a dinner/dance at the SES Portuguese Hall. (Tickets cost $50; phone 619-426-0769.)   The big day is Sunday Sept. 29 at Ballast Point– one of the few times the Navy’s nuclear sub base at the end of Rosecrans on Point Loma is open to the public. (Admission is free, but you’ll need valid photo ID to get in.) Festivities, which run from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., will include music, dancing and activities for children. There will be demonstrations of Kumeyaay basket making and knot tying. Visitors can view a 16th Century Spanish soldiers living history encampment.  Vendors will native-American foods as well as foods from Mexico, Spain and Portugal.  (Cabrillo’s landing is set for around 1 p.m.)   Next month’s Cabrillo Centennial celebration will include living history tours to the top of the lighthouse (from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12), bayside trail hikes, food vendors and entertainment. On Sunday, Oct. 13, an exhibitor fair is planned at the Visitors Center Complex – and actors portraying World War II soldiers will offer tours of newly restored military bunkers. The fun concludes on Monday, Oct. 14, with an 11 a.m. centennial commemoration ceremony.   Admission to Cabrillo National Monument costs $5 per car. Get more info on the Cabrillo Festival at Learn more about centennial celebration at...

Posted by on Sep 22, 2013

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Attractions, Festivals, Museums, Point Loma, What's New?

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It’s Portuguese Festa time in Point Loma

San Diego’s Portuguese-American community will gather in Point Loma this weekend (May 25-27) for the 102nd annual Festa do Espirito Santo (Feast of the Holy Spirit). The city’s oldest ethnic festival commemorates the Holy Spirit’s miraculous intercession helping Portugal’s Queen St. Isabel feed the poor during a centuries-ago famine. Festa headquarters is the Portuguese Hall at 2818 Avenida De Portugal. Festivities start on Friday evening with an outdoor bazaar that includes Portuguese food vendors, games, folkloric dancing and performances by the Portuguese Philharmonic.  Paulo da Rosa and Groovology will take the stage in the main hall for a dance beginning at 8 PM.  (Admission is free; the dress code requires all to wear pants or jeans – no skirts or dresses.) On Saturday evening, the bazaar reopens at 5:30 PM, followed by DJ dancing at 6 PM.   After a 7 PM ceremony at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church (1140 Evergreen St.), a candlelight procession will head back to Portuguese Hall for open-air music and folkloric dance performances. Sunday is the big day.  It begins with a 10 AM parade from Portuguese Hall to the church. Participants include youngsters dressed as angels and saints, marching bands and young women dressed in spectacular gowns and bejeweled capes, representing Portuguese royalty.   The parade, which includes many 4th and 5th-generation participants, always includes a salute to the Portuguese-American fishermen who built San Diego’s once thriving tuna industry. After a ceremonial high Mass, around noon, the parade proceeds back to the Portuguese Hall. At the hall, volunteers serve a traditional meal of Portuguese sopas (beef braised in stock, served with potatoes, cabbage, kale, mint and broth-soaked French bread.)  Admission is free but donations are appreciated.  The bazaar continues through the afternoon. The formal Queen’s ball begins at 6:30 PM Sunday in the main hall, with The Mighty Untouchables on stage. An eveningwear dress code will be enforced. Teens convene in an outside tent, where a DJ will spin discs from 6 until 10 PM.  A traditional highlight of the evening is the announcement of which Portuguese-American family will host next year’s...

Posted by on May 23, 2012

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Festivals, Point Loma, What's New?

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San Diego’s Asian Cultural Festival

Locals will gather at Liberty Station on May 12 to celebrate San Diego’s Asian-American community. The 3rd annual Asian Cultural Festival, free and open to the public, is set for 11 AM – 6 PM at NTC Park. Festivities will include cultural dances, cooking demonstrations, food vendors, martial arts demos, an anime exhibit and cultural booths displaying artifacts and focusing on history.  There will be a crafts tent where children can learn about Asian customs and make a Mother’s Day gift for mom. Cultural performances will be presented throughout the day on two stages. Among presenters: the San Diego Chinese Folk Dance Ensemble, Rhythm and Sabor Andaloz, the San Diego Korean Pungmul School, the Khmer Arts Academy, Ke Polani Ohana and the Buddhist Temple of San Diego. Martial arts experts from throughout the region will perform on a specially erected martial arts platform. Local chefs will demonstrate the arts of Thai, Korean, Indonesian and Filipino fusion cooking. Asian Americans comprise about 16 percent of San Diego’s population. Countries that will be represented at the festival include Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Samoa, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Learn more at...

Posted by on May 13, 2012

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Festivals, Point Loma, What's New?

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It’s picnic time

Summertime in San Diego is picnic time. Ask five locals to name their favorite picnic spot and you’ll get five different answers.  Got kids and want a playground? Prefer a romantic oceanfront perch? How about a great spot for watching fireworks? Want music with your bread and cheese?  San Diego has so many great spots for picnicking that choosing a site is purely subjective. Given that, here are several suggestions: My favorite spot is on the grassy bluff overlooking the surf at Coast Boulevard Park, just south of the backside of the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. My husband and I picnic there year round; it’s where he proposed all those years ago – and where we opt to renew our contract each year on the anniversary of that date. At low tide, some take their picnics to a wide patch of bluff closer to the surf. From any vantage point, the view is breathtaking. For a more serene Pacific view, consider spreading picnic fixings in the bunker just beyond the lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument.   Take beach chairs to enjoy comfy views of the wide Pacific. And don’t forget a jacket; it’s breezy out there.  (Admission to the monument costs $5 per car.) Want entertainment with your picnic? Check out parks throughout the county where free concerts will be staged this summer. Read our blog entry on the concerts… Prime spots for picnics with fireworks viewing include Rose Marie Starns South Shores Park on Mission Bay. The sandy beach has fire rings – and a perfect sightline for watching Sea World fireworks. For music and fireworks, spread a picnic blanket at the tip of Embarcadero Marina Park North when Summer Pops is on stage at the tip of Embarcadero Marina Park South. Balboa Park is filled with great picnic spots.  After visiting a museum or two, generations of local families have picnicked at Pepper Grove,  south of The Fleet along Park Boulevard. The big draping pepper trees remain – and there’s a large playground and 15 picnic tables. In East County, Santee Lakes is a 190-acre recreation preserve with seven lakes, a 300-space RV campground, cabins for rent – and plenty of fun for picnickers. Go fishing. Rent a pedal boat, rowboat, canoe or kayak  ($11-$15 per hour). Kiddies can romp at five playgrounds (each geared for specific ages). The Sprayground” is wet and wild fun for kids up to 13 years old. (Pay $2 at the front gate for a wristband and get soaked all day long.) Technically admission to the park is free, but parking costs $5 on weekends, $3 weekdays. Want to extend your picnic? The park has 10 new cabins for rent – including three floating units.  Each has an equipped kitchen and can accommodate up to six – but you’ll have to bring your own linens. Rates start at $100 per night midweek for lakefront units and go to $145 a night for a floating cabin on weekends and holidays.  There are two swimming pools and a whirlpool spa exclusively for overnighters – including the many snowbirds who rent RV spaces by the month. You have a favorite picnic spot we haven’t included here? Please tell...

Posted by on Aug 1, 2011

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Balboa Park, East County, La Jolla, Mission Bay, Point Loma

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Con Pane wins raves at Liberty Station

Here’s where to find some of the best artisan breads in San Diego County. Catherine Perez was a financial analyst who dreamed of starting her own business. There were no real artisan bread bakers in San Diego back then – so she went to the National Baking Center in Minneapolis to study with master baker Didier Rosada. In 1999, Perez opened Con Pane in a vacated bank building on Canon Street in Point Loma.  She outgrew the space and moved to Liberty Station in June, 2010.  The lunch line still stretches out the door. (Locals know to phone in orders and go directly to the “Pick Up” line.) The bakery offers more than 20 kinds of hand-made artisan breads – from sourdough baguettes to garlic, tomato & cream cheese foccacia, to weekends-only loaves filled with Belgian milk chocolate chunks; from gruyere and chive boules to cranberry-orange-walnut bread.  There are sinful cinnamon rolls, berry-filled scones and amazing cookies – think butter toffee peanut butter, dark chocolate chunk or vanilla bean shortbread. The turkey cobb sandwich on fresh-baked rosemary-olive-oil bread has legions of fans; the “Almost Grilled Cheese,” is worth every calorie. Even the coffee sings – it’s roasted by Caffe Calabria. Costs: Breads $2-$5.25, sandwiches $4.75-$7.25; cinnamon rolls $3, scones $1.75, cookies $1.35-$1.75, large latte $3.45. Con Pane is at 2750 Dewey Road in Liberty Station. Phone 619-224-4344.  Open 7 AM-6 PM Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays; 8 AM – 6 PM Saturdays; 8 AM – 4 PM Sundays. Closed Wednesdays.,  There’s street parking and a free lot across the street from the...

Posted by on Jul 7, 2011

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Eats, Point Loma

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