Outdoor Movies in San Diego & La Jolla: Your Summer Nights Just Got Way Better

What better way to enjoy a balmy summer evening in San Diego than with some popcorn, a blanket, your friends, and a movie under the stars?! We can’t think of one, to be honest. Some of our favorite venues throughout the city are showcasing some pretty excellent films this season, and the ‘theaters’ range from sandy beaches to cozy, lantern-lit patios.

We’ve done the hard work and put together a big list of the best spots to watch outdoor movies in San Diego and La Jolla this summer; so sit back, relax, and start planning your epic summer nights.

Flicks on the Bricks

Where: Athenaeum Music & Arts Library (1008 Wall Street, La Jolla 92037).
When: 7:30pm, Thursdays in August

One of La Jolla’s most beloved traditions returns this August at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. Get ready to enjoy classic films, complimentary wine, and tasty bites on the outdoor patio! This year’s program is focusing on La Jollans of Noir: Vintage Crime Thrillers Starring Actors with a La Jolla connection. With so many great films noir to choose from, this series focuses on films with La Jolla stars!

August 15 | Underworld U.S.A. (1961)

August 22 | Mirage (1965)

August 29 | Sudden Fear (1952)

Movies on the Beach

Where: Hotel Del Coronado (1500 Orange Ave., Coronado 92118
When: Saturdays at 8:00pm

Experience a movie under the stars at the Hotel Del Coronado! Guests can snuggle up on one of the comfy Del Beach sand chairs, or, for the ultimate VIP movie experience, get cozy around a private beach bonfire with s’mores and a daybed. General admission tickets start at $20. Doors open at 7:00pm and the movie starts promptly at 8:00pm. We do suggest reserving your tickets in advance to guarantee seating.

The Ultimate La Jolla Summer Bucket List!

June 28 | Hook (1985)

July 6 | Top Gun (1986)

July 13 Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

July 20 | Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

July 27 The Goonies (1985)

August 3 The Incredibles 2 (2018)

August 10 Back to the Future (1985)

August 31 The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Screen on the Green

Where: Museum of Art (Botanical Lawn) at Balboa Park
When: 8pm, Thursdays in August

Take a trip into the art world as you sit under the stars on the Botanical Lawn (east of the Museum) in beautiful Balboa Park. Grab a picnic, a blanket, and a few friends and enjoy a selection of films whose themes take inspiration from the Museum’s summer collection. Admission to the film series is free.

Note: alcoholic beverages are allowed in Balboa Park until 8:00p.m. Pets are allowed on the lawn, so feel free to bring Fido!

2019 Schedule TBA.

Summer Movies in the Park

Where: Various venues throughout San Diego
When: Dusk (approximately 15 mins after sunset); May 25-October

Summer Movies in the Park is one of San Diego’s longest-running outdoor movie series. It began in 2007 as a ‘take back our parks’ initiative, giving local residents a reason to visit their local county and city parks for a free and fun evening event. This year, the venues are all across San Diego County – from here in La Jolla all the way to Oceanside.

Summer Moves in the Park: La Jolla Venues:

2019 Schedule TBA. Check back later for details! For a complete venue lineup and film schedule, visit the Movies in the Park website.

Liberty Station Outdoor Movies

Where: North Promenade Lawn; Liberty Station
When: 8pm; 2nd Saturday of each month, May-October

Arts District Liberty Station presents its free outdoor film series once again this summer! These six curated films reflect the diverse arts and culture offerings at the growing ARTS DISTRICT at Liberty Station and appeal to film lovers of all ages. Evenings feature surprise pop-up performances or activities along with curated shorts preceding the feature film. So, bring your lawn chairs and blankets and settle down for a fabulous evening of great cinema! Space is limited, so plan to arrive early to set up your spot on the lawn.

2019 Schedule TBA.

Movie Nights at Stone Brewing Liberty Station

Where: Stone Brewing at Liberty Station (2816 Historic Decatur Road)
When: 7:30pm; Tuesdays from June-Aug

Craft beer lovers, this is the film series for you! Every Tuesday this summer (June through August), bring your lawn chairs and blankets and settle down for a fabulous evening of great beer and even better cinema. Space is limited, so plan to arrive as early as 5pm to set up your spot on the lawn and have dinner in their garden before the show. For more information, see their website.

2019 Schedule TBA.  

 

Where to Have the Perfect Spa Day in La Jolla

Sometimes, we all just need a day off – to relax, recuperate, and escape the hassle and stress of everyday life. What better way to de-stress than with a massage, facial, or a manicure/pedicure? La Jolla offers plenty of ways to relax, from luxurious day spas to world-class hotel salons and spas. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite spots to have the perfect spa day in La Jolla, whether it’s with your girlfriends, Mom, a special someone, or a solo day out.

The Spa at Estancia La Jolla

The award–winning spa at Estancia La Jolla, which was recently enhanced, is meticulously decorated and designed for ultimate relaxation. The spa’s spacious lounge area has a luxurious, Moroccan décor with French doors that swing open to reveal a beautiful outdoor space, complete with a beautiful fireplace and a Zen garden for meditation. An added bonus: you won’t be smelling nail polish when you walk into the spa. The stand–alone canvassed “Nail Bungalow” funnels the noxious fumes away from visitors in an open–air environment, so you can fully sink into your experience.

The women’s side of the spa offers a salt-water whirlpool with an outside rain shower and an indoor Eucalyptus steam room. The menu of facials, massage therapies, and body treatments is extensive and offers a little something for everyone.

What to try: The Ginger Renewal body treatment is a blissful 80 minute-treatment; let ginger’s healing and warming properties invigorate and nourish in this pampering head-to-toe experience with a head, back, neck and shoulder massage.

The Spa at Torrey Pines

Taking advantage of its seaside location, almost all of the treatments at the Spa at Torrey Pines (located in the Lodge) utilize marine and botanical-based products; particularly sage. Sage is known for its purifying and detoxifying properties and is the main ingredient in The Spa’s signature Coastal Sage Scrub, performed in the Vichy shower. Torrey Pines State Reserve, located just a few minutes’ walk from the resort, is actually home to seventeen different types of sage! All spa treatments and rituals were designed to focus on wellness and are performed to meet the needs of each individual.

In addition to 14 separate treatment rooms, the Spa features a relaxation lounge with a fireplace, dry saunas, herbal infused steam rooms, and aromatherapy inhalation rooms. A cardio/strength room features state-of-the-art treadmills, elliptical trainers, stationary cycles, and weight-training equipment. Yoga classes and guided nature walks through the Reserve are also offered. An outdoor pool and whirlpool take advantage of the year round temperate weather and beautiful views.

What to try: The Coastal Sage Scrub is definitely at the top of the list — a three-step experience that begins with a natural loofah cleanse and finishes with a luxurious application of their Lemongrass and Sage Lotion.

Cove Wellness

If you’re looking for something more than a traditional day spa/salon, look no further! Cove Wellness offers various purifying therapies that focus on the entire body, a synergistic approach to wellness and healthy aging by supporting the body as it strives to maintain its natural alkalinity and ideal weight. The Spa provides a wide range of unique services, including oxygen facials, specialty therapeutic massages, cleanses and whole body detoxes, cellulite reduction, lymphatic therapy, Reflexology, Hydrotherapy, and much more.

What to try: The Lymphatic Oxygen Facial coupled with the 4-step Signature La Jolla Detox makes for an incredible afternoon of rejuvenation.

La Jolla Cove Salon & Spa

La Jolla Cove Salon and Spa is situated in the heart of beautiful La Jolla Cove overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The salon and spa energy and creativity is determined to ensure every client that walks out of the front door has had the ultimate La Jolla Cove experience! They offer a wide array of hair services in addition to manicures, pedicures and gel nail polishes as well as spa services that includes facial and body massages.

What to try: For the best of both worlds, try the Cove Ultimate Package. It includes a manicure, pedicure, Signature Facial, and a 15-minute hand and feet massage.

Turn your relaxing day into a staycation! Spend the night at one of the many luxurious hotels in La Jolla and escape the hustle and bustle of the ‘real world’ for a little while. Where are your favorite places to unwind?

How to Explore Scripps Pier by Moonlight This Summer

Imagine – walking above the Pacific Ocean on a warm summer night, using only the moon’s glow as your guide while you explore one of La Jolla’s most fascinating landmarks. You can do just that during one of the Birch Aquarium’s Full Moon Scripps Pier Walks, which are held all summer long!

A working research pier still used by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the beautiful Scripps Pier is usually closed to the public. Every summer, however, visitors are invited to explore all 1,090 feet of this La Jolla treasure by moonlight. Attendees have full access to the pier and the chance to ask guides (naturalists from the aquarium and staff members from the Institute) all about the pier and how it’s used. A warm night lit by a full moon is the perfect time to explore one of La Jolla’s most prominent landmarks!

scripps pier full moon walks

How it Works

Your Pier Walk evening kicks off with a video about the history of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. As you head out on your walk from the Auditorium, you’ll learn about the 100-year history of data collection at Scripps. Once you arrive at the pier, you’re welcome to soak up the striking scenery by the moonlight, or, if you’re feeling ambitious, there are hands-on activity tables – where the staff may or may not ask if you’d like to dissect a squid or help dig through clumps of mussels.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate La Jolla Summer Bucket List!

Otherwise, the Birch Aquarium naturalists will be around to give you the 411 on subjects like shark teeth, the latest in plankton studies, and for the serious nature lovers, the unique donut-shaped brain of a squid.

An added bonus, especially for those with a penchant for photography: the event is timed perfectly so that you walk out of the Sumner Auditorium, down the campus hill, and right into the sunset ducking down beyond the pier. This is a rare – not to mention gorgeous – photo opportunity in La Jolla, so come camera ready!

Pier Walks 101

The pier walks are held twice a month from June through October. Tickets are $35 for adults ($30 if you’re a Birch Aquarium member), and can be purchased ahead of time on the Birch Aquarium website. The walks are from 7:00pm – 8:30pm.

Children must be at least 9 years old to participate, and attendees under 13 must be accompanied by a paid adult.

This year’s Pier Walk schedule:

June

  • Sunday, June 16th

Dates TBA!

The original Scripps Pier was built in La Jolla between 1915 and 1916 as a 1,000 foot long facility for acquiring clean seawater for campus labs and Birch Aquarium. Ellen Browning Scripps provided all of the funds necessary for its construction. Extensive repairs were made to the pier in the 20s and 40s, though major concerns about its structural soundness led to the pier’s complete rebuilding later on.

The Bottom Line

Today, the pier is a remarkable and beautiful structure that is rarely available to be explored. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seen-it-all local, a Full Moon Pier Walk is the rare VIP event that’s both exclusive and completely unique; you’ll be hard-pressed to find another working research pier to explore under the moon’s glow!

For a similarly unique adventure, head down the 145 steps at The Cave Store to explore Sunny Jim Cave. For the slightly less adventurous, walk over to La Jolla Cove to watch the sunbathing seals, grab a bite to eat, and take in the stunning views.

For more information on the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla or other things to explore while you’re there, head to the aquarium’s website.

Enjoy a 3-Course Mother’s Day Brunch at Flemings La Jolla

This year, treat Mom to a special 3-course Mother’s Day Brunch at Flemings La Jolla. They’ll be serving up a one-of-a-kind three-course brunch and all-day dinner menu designed to delight, with options curated especially for her – from Signature Eggs Benedict and Filet & Lobster to a Steak and Spring Vegetable Quiche. Even the little ones will be delighted by a special three-course children’s brunch menu. All entrées include a choice of one starter, sides to share, and your choice of dessert. Brunch starts at 10:00am on May 12th.

Starters

CAESAR SALAD
Hearts of romaine, parmesan, fried capers, crispy prosciutto

LOBSTER BISQUE
North Atlantic Lobster, spiced sherry cream

Entrees

SIGNATURE EGGS BENEDICT: choice of –

  • Sliced Filet Mignon with Hollandaise
  • Crab Cake with Tomato Hollandaise
  • Surf & Turf

STEAK & SPRING VEGETABLE QUICHE
6oz Filet Mignon, caramelized onions, asparagus, green peas, herbed goat cheese with tomato hollandaise

BARBECUE SCOTTISH SALMON FILLET
Mushrooms, barbecue glaze

FILET & LOBSTER
6oz Filet Mignon, North Atlantic Lobster Tail

Sides to Share

LYONNAISE POTATOES
Caramelized onions

FRESH ROASTED ASPARAGUS
Herb butter

Desserts

KEY LIME PIE
Fresh key lime, graham cracker crust, Chantilly whipped cream

CARROT CAKE
Three-layer cake with cream cheese frosting, topped with a drizzle of caramel

Beverages

BERRY MIMOSA

BUTCHER’S BLOODY MARY

BELLE GLOS PINOT NOIR BLANC

Flemings Steakhouse is located at 8970 University Center Lane, San Diego 92122. To make reservations for Easter Brunch at Flemings La Jolla, visit their website or give them a call at (858) 535-0078.

Best Spots for Mother’s Day Brunch in La Jolla

Treat your mother to an incredible meal for Mother’s Day brunch in La Jolla by taking her out to these fancy spots! Delicious food paired with spectacular ocean views will definitely make it a day to remember. From unlimited buffets to specialty prix-fixe and à la carte menus, there’s definitely something for everyone on the list. Shower the mom in your life with love on Sunday, May 13th! Please note that a reservation is required for most of the restaurants on this list, unless otherwise noted.

Flemings La Jolla

When: Sunday May 12th; starts at 10am
Where: 8970 University Center Lane, San Diego 92122
Cost: a la carte
Flemings will open early this year at 10am, so you can celebrate Mom all day! Treat Mom to a special 3-course Mother’s Day Brunch at Flemings La Jolla. They’ll be serving up a one-of-a-kind three-course brunch and all-day dinner menu designed to delight, with options curated especially for her – from Signature Eggs Benedict and Filet & Lobster to a Steak and Spring Vegetable Quiche. Even the little ones will be delighted by a special three-course children’s brunch menu. Reservations required; reserve online or give them a call at (858) 535-0078.

NINE-TEN Restaurant & Bar

When: Sunday, May 12th; 10am-2:30pm
Where: 910 Prospect St
Cost: 3 courses for $45/person
Tell Mom you love her with the gift of food!  She deserves nothing more than to be treated to a special, 3-course, prix-fixe Sunday Brunch featuring a choice of starters, entrees, and desserts.  $16 bottomless mimosas and other drink specials will also be available. This is a lovely spot within the Grande Colonial Hotel, and has a cozy and historic feel. Top your meal off with a selection of specialty coffee drinks and pastries! Call (858) 964-5400 or make a reservation online.

The Marine Room

When: Sunday May 12th; 11am-7pm
Address: 2000 Spindrift Drive
Cost: å la carte
The Marine Room boasts one of the best (if not the best) views in La Jolla. Situated right on the water, every seat in the house has incredible ocean vistas; the sound of waves crashing against the windows can be heard anywhere you sit! This year’s a la carte menu features items in their signature contemporary French/seafood style: Ginger Sesame Cured Steelhead Salmon Crudo, Thai Style Butter Basted Lobster Tail, and of course, their Signature Maine Lobster Bisque. Top it off with one of their incredible desserts: the Spindrift Cobblestone Pie, Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake, and an organic Lavender Lemon Cake. For reservations please call (855) 203-8511 or make an online reservation.

George’s At The Cove (California Modern)

When: Sunday May 12th; 10am-2pm for brunch
Address: 1250 Prospect St
Cost: 3-course menu
Voted La Jolla’s best restaurant, George’s at the Cove is the perfect place to treat your mom to a special brunch. Mother’s Day is one of only two occasions throughout the year that they serve brunch, and this holiday, they have a very special 3-course menu planned. Head to California Modern, their signature fine dining experience, and savor dishes like Bay Scallop and Corn Fritters with Béarnaise, Lobster Quiche with peas and green garlic, Grilled Salmon with mushroom risotto, and Chilaquiles with soft egg and queso fresco. Because it’s so popular, make sure to get a reservation ASAP. Call (858) 455-1616 or book a reservation online.

The Shores Restaurant

When: Sunday May 12th; 9:30am-2:30pm
Address: 8110 Camino Del Oro
Cost: $68 per adult, $39 children 10 to 6 years, $6 per year children 5 and under (buffet style)
This ocean-view feast in the heart of La Jolla Shores shopping and dining district is a brunch to be remembered! Featured buffet items this year are Seasonal Berry Cheese Blintzes, Herb Seared Local Sea Bass, Brown Sugar Pineapple Ham, and Buchmann’s Ranch Cage Free Egg Station. There is a special Children’s Station for the little ones, which will feature kid-friendly dishes and sides. Finish off with a scrumptious dessert, like their Butterscotch Banana Cream Pie or Chocolate Raspberry Bars. Call (858) 456-0600 or make a reservation here.

Eddie V’s Prime Seafood

When: Sunday May 12th, 10am-4pm
Address: 1270 Prospect Street
Cost: $49 for adults (three-course menu)
This year Eddie V’s is pulling out all the stops for Mother’s Day! The 2019 brunch menu includes a three-course meal where you have a few different options for each course (however, with each meal you receive a basket of warm cinnamon rolls topped with a citrus glaze!). Dishes this year include Norwegian Smoked Salmon, Deviled Egg Trio, Pan-Seared Steak & Eggs, King Crab Omelette with Three-Citrus Hollandaise, and plenty more. Brunch cocktails are $9, and there will also be a children’s menu available. Call (858) 459-5500 or make reservations online.

The Med at La Valencia Hotel

When: Sunday May 12th; 10am-2pm
Address: 1132 Prospect St
Cost: $89 per adult, $39 per child
Celebrate Mother’s Day at the “Pink Lady” and enjoy a Mother’s Day Brunch Buffet! This year, Executive Chef Alex Emery and his talented team have created a whimsical menu featuring Valencia Orange French Toast, Spinach & Heirloom Tomato Quiche + Leek & Black Truffle Quiche, Assorted Tea Sandwiches, a Carving Station, Slow Roasted Herbed Cornish Game Hens, and a decadent dessert station, to name a few. Regular dinner service starts at 5:30pm. Online reservations are required.

Estancia La Jolla

When: Sunday May 12th; starts at 10am
Address: 9700 N. Torrey Pines Road
Cost: $75 per adult; $25 for children
Celebrate mom surrounded by Estancia’s beautiful botanical gardens at their Roses & Rosé brunch! Mom will receive a complimentary glass of rosé to toast her special day plus an expansive buffet prepared by Executive Chef Vincent Savignano. Dishes this year include Linguica-Potato Hash with poached eggs and parsley crema, Chicken & Waffles with sage-infused maple syrup, a complete Egg Station, a Carving Station, Paella Station, and Risotto station, plus plenty more. Reservations are required.

Cusp Dining & Drinks

When: Sunday May 12th; starts at 9:00 am
Address: 7955 La Jolla Shores Drive
From the food to the views, Cusp’s Mother’s Day Brunch is sure to impress Mom. Chef Ingrid Funes will be serving her regular brunch menu with a few decadent specials. Start the meal one of Chef Funes’ specials, like Crab Benedict with herb focaccia, roasted tomatoes and hollandaise, Brioche Fresh Toast with lime curd and blueberry compote, and Fresh Cinnamon Rolls. Classic dishes includes Greek Salad, Barbacoa Hash, and Housemade Pancakes with assorted toppings. In addition to brunch, guests are encouraged to take mom out to dinner, where Chef has a special surprise for dinner guests! Mother’s will enjoy a welcome glass of bubbly during dinner only. Reservations strongly suggested.

Our Favorite San Diego Brunch Spots

Nothing says the weekend like a leisurely brunch with family or friends, especially in gorgeous San Diego! From classic egg omelettes and Bloody Marys to pastries and house-made sweet treats, these local restaurants are serving up all the best breakfast fare. Enjoy a leisurely Sunday morning at one of these essential San Diego brunch spots – and maybe a mimosa or two!

Farmer & the Seahorse

10996 Torreyana Rd.
San Diego, CA 92121
Farmer & The Seahorse offers al fresco brunch with amazing views and live music every Sunday morning/afternoon. It’s a popular spot for brunch near La Jolla, as it’s just a few minutes’ drive north. Menu favorites include multi-grain pancakes, chilaquiles, and a Moroccan scramble. Also: try one of their flavored mimosas, which come with unlimited bottle service for $20. Guests can choose from five juices to accompany each bottle of bubbly: triple rosemary berry, pineapple mango, traditional orange juice, grapefruit, and blood orange. Farmer & the Seahorse offers mimosa bottle service on Sundays from 10am-2pm.

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Madison

4622 Park Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92116
Madison on Park is a local favorite for dinner and now, with their new brunch menu, is a great spot to dine on the weekends. New brunch items include brioche french toast, huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, paleo bowl, white bean shakshuka with carnitas, banana strawberry Nutella waffle and classic favorites like the beet waffle, avocado toast and waffled churro sticks.

Madison’s bottomless Mimosas are available by the glass or pitcher, and include the Black Magic mimosas with activated charcoal, the Blue Dream mimosa with blue-green spirulina and the Purple Rain Mimosa with aloe vera juice and butterfly pea flower. Brunch hours are Saturday and Sunday from 9:30am to 2:30pm.

Herb & Wood

2210 Kettner Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
Little Italy favorite Herb & Wood launched a brand-new brunch menu this past April, which is served on weekends between 10am and 2:30pm. Though known for its excellent dinner options, the new brunch menu is definitely holding its own! Menu highlights include the dutch baby soufflé pancakes, a Jamón Ibérico Benedict, and scallop ceviche. Brunch cocktails and a special brunch dessert menu are also available.

 

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TRUST Restaurant

3752 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92103
Since opening last spring, TRUST Restaurant has quickly become one of the city’s hottest gathering spots. Diners can people watch on the patio while digging into delicious brunch plates from executive chef Brad Wise and his team. Local favorites include the pancakes and fried chicken plate, spicy pork belly grilled cheese, and a seriously epic sticky bun – a show stopping cinnamon roll topped with cinnamon ice cream. Brunch is served on weekends from 9am to 2pm.

The Med

1132 Prospect St.
La Jolla, CA 92037
If you’re looking for a little glamour with your brunch, our very own La Valencia in La Jolla is the perfect spot! Executive Chef Alex Emery’s renowned weekend brunch includes dishes like house-cured salmon, a brunch board loaded with pastries, cheeses and seasonal berries, local spiny lobster Benedict, and grilled flat iron steak and eggs. There are fruit flavored mimosas as well, plus six decidedly different Bloody Marys – standouts include the Sriracha and soy sauce crafted Shanghai, to the namesake Lady V with its impressive crab claw and bacon garnish.

Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30am to 2:30pm.

Galaxy Taco

2259 Avenida de La Playa
La Jolla, CA 92037
Still one of our favorite taco spots in La Jolla, Galaxy Taco does not disappoint when it comes to Sunday brunch! Yummy menu items include a tasty pazole verde with pork, blue and white corn hominy, radish and avocado; and pork huarache (pulled pork flatbread) with fried eggs and roasted tomatillo salsa. If you’re looking for something on the sweeter side, try the fresh cream, banana, lemon zest, and Mexican chocolate dusted waffles while sipping on bottomless Mimosa and Micheladas.

Brunch at Galaxy Taco is served on Sundays from 10am to 3pm.

Oceana Coastal Kitchen

3999 Mission Blvd
San Diego, CA 92109
Panoramic bay views and alfresco dining make Oceana’s Sunday Champagne brunch well worth the splurge! Located at the Catamaran Resort Hotel, you’ll be able to feast on sushi, nigiri, and sashimi selections from the cold bar, in addition to fresh fruit, pastries, salads, and antipasto. Larger plated options, like salmon and prime rib, can also be ordered, plus breakfast favorites such as the Waffle Romanoff, a Belgian style waffle topped with Grand Marnier, strawberries, whipped cream, and maple syrup. Brunch hours are Sundays from 10am to 2pm.

 

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Craft & Commerce

675 W Beech St
San Diego, CA 92101
For some serious next-level indulgence, head to the newly revamped Craft & Commerce in downtown San Diego. Brunch offerings from executive chef Ted Smith range from the goat cheese and orange marmalade topped grilled toast (dubbed ‘The Orange Rides the Goat Toast’) to an old-school hearty fried chicken and waffle plate. Other menu favorites include an over-the-top foie gras breakfast burrito filled with marinated skirt steak. Brunch is served every Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 3pm.

Café 21

2736 5th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Lines for brunch are always out the door at this cozy Gaslamp Quarter restaurant (they have another location in North Park). Along with its popular mimosa and sangria flights, there are some new morning items worth the wait; with sweet and savory crêpes joining the menu’s cast-iron skillets, omelets, pancakes, and classic French toast with powdered sugar. Other brunch favorites include flavored pancakes like the tiramisu with espresso maple syrup, mascarpone cream, chocolate sauce and cocoa powder; shrimp corn cakes; and a fusion Eggs Benedict with cilantro cream sauce.

Bloody Marys are offered with a red, green or yellow heirloom tomato mix, while mimosa and sangria Flights are served on a tasting tree, with rotating weekly flavors. Brunch is served until 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Crown Room at Hotel Del Coronado

1500 Orange Avenue
Coronado, CA
San Diego’s flagship fancy brunch is still running strong and remains a beloved favorite of locals and visitors, alike. Every Sunday, their Victorian Crown Room dining room fills up with food like King Crab legs, a gourmet Bloody Mary bar, sushi, egg dishes, french toast and much, much more. The regular brunch costs $93 per person for adults, $23 for children, but their Chef’s Table option has one seating at 10am and includes a garden tour, Champagne reception, specially plated courses and a reserve wine selection for $150.

 

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The Pearl Hotel

1410 Rosecrans St
San Diego, CA 92106
The Pearl Hotel’s new restaurant, Charles & Dinorah, is now serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Favorites include chilaquiles with two sunny eggs, black beans, farro and salsa verde; chicken fried steak with sausage gravy and hash browns; a Croque Madame with black forest ham, mornay, Irish cheddar and sunny side-up egg; and Nutella french toast with brioche and buckwheat pancakes with apple butter, both served with a house-infused cardamom maple syrup. Brunch hours are 10am to 3pm on Sundays.

Little Lion Café

1424 Sunset Cliffs Blvd
San Diego, CA
Sunset Cliffs’ Little Lion Cafe is a brunch favorite for many locals in Ocean Beach and Point Loma — so much so that people forget they serve dinner, too! The granddaughters of the (now closed) Belgian Lion owners are serving up a rotating menu of superfood bowls, baked eggs in cream, savory lunch options, bruschettas, poached eggs and more in this cozy and super stylish restaurant. Another bonus: vegetarians, vegans and meat- eaters alike will all find something delicious to suit their needs. Don’t skip the vanilla latte and make sure you get there early on weekends to avoid crowds!

For other brunch and breakfast ideas, visit our favorite brunch spots in La Jolla or visit our restaurant directory!

High Tide Dinner at The Marine Room: Oceanfront Dining at its Best

Since it opened its doors in 1941, The Marine Room has been the benchmark for quality oceanfront dining in La Jolla. It brought first-class French-inspired cuisine to San Diego for the first time; and with it, an inclusion of all things nautical: even its seahorse emblem, which has remained the same for more than 75 years, has become synonymous with quality and elegance.

We were invited to experience what a High Tide Dinner at this special place is all about! Here’s an inside look at the magic behind one of La Jolla’s most beloved icons.

76 Years in the Making

Spindrift Inn was built in 1916 and for years served as the only lodging along La Jolla Shores. In 1935, the Inn, along with the La Jolla Beach & Yacht Club (now La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club), were purchased by Frederick W. Kellogg. It was actually his son, William Scripps Kellogg, who opened the restaurant we know today in 1941.

The opening day menu featured Fresh Lobster à la Newburg in a shell for $1.35; Rainbow Mountain Trout Sauté Amandine for $1.25, and martinis for just 35 cents!

Remarkably, it wasn’t until the El Niño storms of 1982 that the relentless tide forced its way through the windows and flooded the restaurant, resulting in a nine-month remodeling and restoration project. This included installation of even tougher windows; ever since, the glass has held and the windows have remained beautifully intact.

Not Your Typical Oceanfront View

Being situated on multiple levels, the views begin right when you step foot into the restaurant and make for a stunningly dramatic entrance. A short, winding staircase leads one to the main dining areas, where there are tables and elevated booths arranged with white linens and elegant tableware. Wall-to-wall windows give patrons a sweeping 180-degree panorama of the ocean, and waves can be heard crashing against the windows from nearly every table.

This really isn’t your typical ‘oceanfront dining;’ you are quite literally on the water, which, needless to say, makes those crashing waves all the more dramatic.

It’s interesting to note that this is the only restaurant of its kind in the area, and that is mostly due to present-day building restrictions. Because it was built in 1941, before local authorities were closely watching coastal development, the Marine Room’s construction was uninterrupted – and the result is breathtaking.

Mouthwatering Cuisine

Our dinner that evening was ordered from their specialty a la carte menu, created especially for the High Tide Dinners. We began with the signature lobster bisque, a wonderfully sweet rendition of the classic, and the crab cakes; paired cleverly with acorn noodles, the cakes were warm, moist, and perfectly flavored.

For the entrees, we ordered the Lobster tail, which was melt-in-your-mouth delicate; and the Ahi Tuna (recommended by our server), which did not disappoint with a side of sticky black rice, avocado, mango, and an unusually evocative white port hibiscus infusion.

Dessert was a lovely finish to the meal: the Spindrift Cobblestone Pie, which has been on their menu for years and remained a consistent favorite. The pie comes with espresso and vanilla ice cream, toasted hazelnuts, and a perfectly flavored Maker’s Mark bourbon sauce for just the right amount of kick. It wasn’t too sweet or too heavy, which is perfect on the palate after an incredibly flavorful three-course meal. We definitely did the right thing going with seafood for our main dishes – everything was cooked to perfection.

Wall of Waves

During dinner (reservations are held from 5pm to 10pm), it’s common to see kayakers, scuba divers, and even the occasional seal or sea lion trying to snatch up the last of their meal. A floodlight is angled directly onto the water, illuminating sea life several feet outward and enhancing the up-close view of crashing waves.

Between courses, we took nearly every opportunity to photograph the waves crashing against the windows; there is something to be said for having that kind of entertainment to accompany your meal! High tides typically range between 4 and 5 feet above sea level, so the 6-foot to over 7-foot high tides during summer are reason enough to make this a memorable experience.

That evening, the peak tide was reported to be 6.7 feet at 9:52pm. We arrived around 8:00 and were able to see the progression towards the larger and more impressive tide. Once night fell, two seals made an appearance; our waiter noted that over the years, several seals have situated themselves right on their property for days (even weeks) at a time!

The magic of The Marine Room is more than just the waterfront views. It’s the ambiance, the attention to detail, and the tireless hospitality that truly place this restaurant in a class of its own.

Other opulent dining experiences throughout the year include Mother’s Day and Easter Brunch and special Father’s Day dinners. High Tide Breakfasts are held every October through March, and High Tide Dinners are from April through September. The Marine Room is located at 2000 Spindrift Dr. in La Jolla Shores. To make a reservation call (858) 459-7222 or visit their website!

Exploring Balboa Park: Museums, Gardens, & Dining

Balboa Park

This historic San Diego park is a must see, no doubt about it. Built in 1986 and majorly re-vamped in 1915, Balboa Park holds over 100 years of Southern California life and culture. It’s home to seventeen award-winning museums, more than fifteen green promoting gardens, the famous San Diego Zoo and (if you can believe it) much more! Here’s the basic layout of what you’ll find, events to look out for and information to help you plan the ultimate trip.

Museums

Whether you’re a lover of science or art, trains or sports…there’s a museum for everyone, even the typical non-museum goers. Some of the most applauded favorites include:

San Diego Natural History Museum
San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Air & Space Museum
San Diego Museum of Man
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
Mingei International Museum
Museum of Photographic Arts
Timken Museum of Art
San Diego Automotive Museum
San Diego History Center

As for prices and packages, there are multiple options. If you’re a resident, did you know you can go for free? On each Tuesday of each month, Balboa Park hosts “Residents Free Days,” where different museums offer free admission to San Diego residents (you’ll need ID confirming your residency) each week.  Find out which museums are free on which Tuesdays here.

If you’re not a resident or you’re interested in going on a day other than a Tuesday, you can :

• Pay for admission at each museum individually (prices vary)

• Purchase a Go San Diego Card for discounted admission to more than 40 San Diego attractions – including Balboa Park!

• Purchase an Annual Balboa Park Explorer Pass: This pass gives you entry into all 17 museums for an entire year. And this isn’t Disneyland; there are no blackout days.

**It’s important to note that with any of these options, special exhibits aren’t included, such as the Natural History Museum’s King Tut or Museum of Man’s Torture Exhibit.**

Balboa Park Gardens

If you enjoy botany or simply looking at beautiful flowers, there’s plenty to see here. Walk through the Botanical Building to transport yourself across the world. Not only is the inside captivating, but the outer design is very striking and in many classic Balboa Park photographs.

Just outside its main doors are plants known for housing caterpillars. They blend in well, but look carefully amongst the green leaves and you’ll find them; you may be surprised at just how darling a yellow caterpillar can be! One of the best parts about this spot though? It’s free.

As far as larger gardens go, the other two main ones are the Rose Garden across the road from the Natural History Museum and the Japanese Friendship Garden. The Friendship Garden is lovely, especially the coy fish it features in its shaded pond. It’s good to note that it’s the only garden that charges a fee.

The other smaller gardens you’ll find sprinkled amongst the park; we recommend walking and exploring to let yourself surprisingly stumble upon them. Go far enough? You’ll find trails around the park’s edges, the most intricate and steep going along Florida Street to Morley Field.

All of the gardens at Balboa Park:

    • Old Cactus Garden
    • Alcazar Garden
    • Botanical Building & Lily Pond
    • Native Plant Garden
    • Casa del Rey Moro Garden
    • Desert Garden
    • Children’s Peace Garden
    • Florida Canyon Native Plant Preserve
    • Memorial Rose Garden
    • Japanese Friendship Garden
    • Marston House Garden
  • Palm Canyon
  • Trees for Health Garden
  • Veterans Memorial Garden
  • Zoro Garden

San Diego Zoo

The world famous San Diego Zoo is famous for many reasons, some of the top being the pandas and Australian koalas, of course. There’s so many wonderful things here that we gave it its own page. Learn more about this zoo and what it has to offer at our San Diego Zoo page.

The Old Globe Theatre

You were transported to Asia in the Japanese Friendship Garden. You experienced Australia taking in the zoo’s koalas. Now, let’s take you over to Europe by putting you in the recreation of England’s Old Globe Theatre. We think Shakespeare would be proud the Old Globe created right here in San Diego, still performing his plays to this day.

You’ll find more than just Shakespeare, though. Famous Broadway and locally written plays are performed here, as well. Watching a play here is a brilliant way to experience theatre the way it was back in Shakespeare’s time, a great way to transcend time.

Events

There’s a constantly updated calendar for Balboa Park. Between all the museums, the theatre and zoo, there’s always something going on. We want to highlight two particular noteworthy events, one that’s weekly and one yearly.

International Cottages Sunday:

Every Sunday from noon to 4 pm, head to the international cottages located on the lovely stretch between the Organ Pavillion and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. Each of the cottages represents a different country and is filled with cultural decor, educational information and folks (usually from and) very knowledgeable about the country.

On these Sunday afternoons, they have samples of treats from that nation. For example, head to House of England for tea and samples of tea cakes, House of Spain for Spanish cookies and House of Iran for a savory treat so magical….you just have to eat it to believe it.

There’s also a lawn program included. Every Sunday, one of the nations’ cottages puts on an afternoon of cultural performances and entertainment. It rotates throughout the year, so you’ll enjoy Filipino dancing one week and witness Ukrainian performances the next!

December Nights:

Each year at Christmas time, usually the first weekend of the month, Balboa Park features December Nights. To say this event wows is an understatement. Attendance is at over 350,000 folks a year, and that’s just across 2 days.

These high numbers are drawn by the museums offering free admissions (certain ones at certain times), endless food booths (not free), cultural cuisine hosted by the International Cottages (also not free), no-cost performances in the Organ Pavillion, stages hosting performances around the entire park and so much more.

We find that it’s good to go in with some knowledge, but, when it comes down to it…you’re going to discover things you had never heard about simply arriving in-person. Show up and let the event sweep you off your feet.

In Conclusion

Balboa Park truly does have something for everyone. As with anywhere, the earlier you come for parking the better and the weekdays are less busy than weekends. However, because it is such a vast space and there are so many lots as well as street parking along the sides, even if there’s some hunting, you’ll be able to find a spot! Learn more about San Diego and it’s nearby downtown at our Downtown San Diego & Gaslamp Page.

Enjoy a Handcrafted Easter Celebration at Flemings La Jolla

This Easter Sunday, April 21st, create unforgettable moments with family and friends over a three-course brunch at Flemings La Jolla! Complete with favorites like Brioche French Toast, their signature Filet Mignon Eggs Benedict, and a Spring Vegetable Quiche, plus dessert entrees like Flourless Chocolate Cake and beverage options including a Berry Mimosas, there is truly something for everyone this weekend! Brunch begins at 10:00am.

You can choose from the three-course brunch, their full dinner menu, or a three-course Filet & Lobster menu – also available all day.  Even the little ones will be delighted by a special three-course children’s brunch menu.  All entrées include a choice of one starter, sides to share, and your choice of dessert.

Starters

CAESAR SALAD
Hearts of romaine, parmesan, fried capers, crispy prosciutto

LOBSTER BISQUE
North Atlantic Lobster, spiced sherry cream

Entrées

SIGNATURE EGGS BENEDICT: choice of —

  • Sliced Filet Mignon & Hollandaise
  • Crab cake & tomato Hollandaise
  • Surf & Turf

SPRING VEGETABLE QUICHE
Caramelized onions, asparagus, green peas, herbed goat cheese with tomato hollandaise

STEAK & SPRING VEGETABLE QUICHE
6oz Filet Mignon, caramelized onions, asparagus, green peas, herbed goat cheese with tomato hollandaise

BRIOCHE FRENCH TOAST
With strawberry sauce & maple syrup on the side

SALMON COBB SALAD
Hard-boiled eggs, danish blue cheese crumbles, bacon, tomatoes, creamy honey-lime vinaigrette

Sides to Share

LYONNAISE POTATOES
With caramelized onions

FRESH ROASTED ASPARAGUS
With herb butter

Dessert

NEW YORK CHEESECAKE
Classic preparation, topped with caramel & fresh citrus

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
Strawberry sauce & Chantilly whipped cream

Beverages

BERRY MIMOSA
BUTCHER’S BLOODY MARY

Flemings Steakhouse is located at 8970 University Center Lane, San Diego 92122. To make reservations for Easter Brunch at Flemings La Jolla, visit their website or give them a call at (858) 535-0078.

Where to Go Whale Watching in San Diego

Where to Go Whale Watching in San Diego

We are in the throes of the perfect time to go whale watching in San Diego! Every winter, more than 20,000 Pacific gray whales travel 10,000 miles round-trip (the longest migration of any mammal on earth) from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California. That makes San Diego, with its 78 miles of coastline directly in the migration path, the perfect place to watch.

The best time to watch for gray whales is from December through mid- to late April, depending on the year. To see a blue whale, wait until the spring and summer seasons. That’s when several hundred Blue whales migrate into southern California waters to feed on huge quantities of krill. Dolphins, Finback whales, Humpback whale, Minke whales, and other whales may also be viewed then.

There are plenty of boat tours that will take you out on the water for a close-up glimpse, but if you’re looking to stay dry and just take it easy, here are some great ways to go whale watching in San Diego and in and around La Jolla.

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Western Overlooks at Cabrillo National Monument

The gray whales have been known to pass right by the western overlooks of Cabrillo National Monument – the heights and incredible panoramas from the park’s Whale Overlook and Old Point Loma Lighthouse offer the best viewing of the San Diego coastline. Bring binoculars if you have them: they can make things much easier! If you don’t have any, a limited number of binoculars are available at the Visitor Center during whale season. Just ask for them at the information desk.

Luckily, it’s possible to see the whales anytime during daylight hours – they swim 24 hours a day.

Where to Look

Look west from the park overlooks, toward the ocean and San Diego Bay. The whales are migrating south towards mainland Mexico, so they will be moving from the north (right) to the south (left) as you look from the park. Expect them to be moving at a steady clip of about five miles per hour, and although some whales swim close to shore, most swim in an area that extends from the kelp beds (about three-quarters of a mile out) to the horizon.

Later in the spring, the gray whales will migrate north again, but they are generally too far out in the ocean to see from the park.

 

Torrey Pines State Reserve

Located on the cliffs above Torrey Pines State Beach, the State Reserve is comprised of 1,750 miles of hiking trails, Torrey Pine trees, and indigenous wildlife. Its beautiful coastal wilderness coupled with easy, family-friendly paths and hiking trails, makes for a perfect place to whale or dolphin watch in La Jolla.

The Beach Trail (3/4 of a mile) or the Razor Point Trail (1.4 miles) are probably your best bet for some action. Much of the Beach Trail, as the name implies, does indeed hug the beach. Razor Point is a longer loop and gives you more time on the trail, and never strays far from views of the water. Much of the path also overlooks the beautiful, jagged cliffs the area is known for.

Take a Kayak Tour

This is a popular one – many people have reported whale sightings during their La Jolla kayak tours. This is a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the whales, and it’s safe to say there’s no better way to experience the migration.

There are several companies at La Jolla Shores that offer specific Whale Watching kayak tours on a daily basis (weather permitting). Depending on the tour, you may also get to explore the seven sea caves along the shoreline.

According to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, gray whales generally travel alone or in pods of two or three but more may be seen traveling together during peak migration season (Mid-January), so keep an eye out for large pods. Fun fact: adult gray whales can be up to 45 feet long and weigh up to 33 tons!

Book a Boat Excursion

If you want to get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures, a whale watching San Diego tour around San Diego harbor is your best bet. Book a tour through any number of whale watching companies in the area; most are located near Point Loma or San Diego Bay.

Book a discounted tour with the Go San Diego Card here:

San Diego Whale Watch is one of the more popular ones, but any one of them will get you out on the water. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for dolphins (particularly the common dolphin, the most prevalent) – they have been seen during blue whale and gray whale season, as well as sea lions! Additionally, Hornblower Cruises offer San Diego Whale & Dolphin Watching Tours starting December 9.

The tours are 3.5 hours and each ride features informational narrative by an onboard naturalist about the marine life you’ll see. Each yacht has plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, plus a snack bar featuring food and a full bar. Cruise-goers often spot whales, sea lions, dolphins and other types of marine life!

What to Look For…

The Birch Aquarium has some great guidelines for what to expect to see when you’re grey whale watching:

The Blow or Spout

When warm, moist air exhaled from the whales’ lungs meets the cool air at the ocean surface, it creates what we call a blow or spout. A gray whale’s blow can spray up to 15 feet high, and each blow is visible for about five seconds. Anticipate that the whale will dive for three to six minutes, then surface for three to five blows in row, 30 to 50 seconds apart, before diving deep for three to six minutes again.

The Flukes (Tail)

Before making a deep dive, a gray whale often displays its 12-foot wide fan-shaped flukes or tail. The weight of the tail above the whale’s body helps it to dive deep, so you’ll see it surface just before they go under. Fun fact: a whale’s fluke has no bones; it only connects to the body and tail muscles by banks of tendons.

Knuckled Back and Footprint

If the lighting is right, and if the whale is close enough, it’s possible to see the back of a gray whale during and after the blow. It’s generally shiny and black or gray, with a knuckled ridge along the spine. After the whale submerges you may note an elongated, smooth oval of calm water, known as a footprint, where the whale has been.

Breach and Splash

Gray whales occasionally hurl themselves out of the water and plunge back in with a tremendous splash. This is called breaching. Scientists don’t know exactly why they do this, but it’s incredible to watch. Sometimes other whales in the area will copy the behavior, so keep your eyes open!

If You Do Spot a Whale…

Remember that they are migrating south – so once you’ve spotted a whale, you can expect that it will surface again to the south. After watching an individual gray whale for a while, you will be able to anticipate its unique rhythm of breaths and dives and where it will surface next.