Kid-Friendly New Years Eve Events In San Diego

Looking for New Years Eve events in San Diego that are great for the whole family? We’ve got you covered! There’s plenty for the little ones to do around San Diego County this New Years Eve, from a pajama party at the Children’s Museum to an extravagant ice skating and dinner party at the Hotel Del Coronado. Bring the whole family and make NYE 2019 a night to remember at these kid friendly New Years Eve events and festivities in San Diego! 

NYE Gala at Hotel Del Coronado

Where: Hotel Del Coronado; 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado

Adults can ring in the New Year at The World’s Greatest Legend, a once-in-a-lifetime celebration with dazzling star attractions and awe-inspiring performances at the Hotel Del Coronado. The Del’s oceanfront Ballroom will transform into a lavish big top with black tie-clad aristocrats, a delectable five-course feast, open bar, and dancing.

Meanwhile, the kids and teens get a party of their own from 7:00pm until 12:30am! The night includes dinner, ice skating (ages 8+), special shows, games, s’mores roast, and a midnight toast with sparkling cider. Teens ages 13-17 can also hang out in their own teen lounge and watch movies as they mingle.

NYE at LEGOLAND California

Where: LEGOLAND California; 1 Legoland Drive, Carlsbad

The countdown to 2019 starts early at the grand finale of Holidays at LEGOLAND California Resort during the Park’s annual Kids’ New Year’s Eve celebration party! The night kicks off with special musical performances on the Fun Town Stage and Heartlake City Stage. Then, starting at 6pm, the party moves to San Francisco in Miniland USA, where young lego lovers can ring in the New Year and watch a re-creation of the famous Times Square ball drop, complete with a giant LEGO brick falling 22 feet in the air. Families can enjoy a spectacular fireworks display as the brick drops, lighting up the night sky. All activities are included with regular park admission.

Pajama Jam

Where: New Children’s Museum; 200 West Island Ave., San Diego

Pajama Jam at The New Children’s Museum is back for another year! Bring the entire family and get cozy in your jammies. The night includes New Year’s-themed art activities, games, a dance jam, photo booth, catered dinner, and a fun countdown balloon drop. The parents get a free drink ticket. Pajama Jam provides an opportunity for families to experience the Museum at night with catered dinner, drinks, music and special activities/programs, and also helps raise some much-needed funds to keep the Museum running. The evening kicks off at 5:30p and goes until 8:30. Tickets start at $25.

Rockin’ New Years Eve

Where: Corvette Diner; 2965 Historic Decatur Rd., San Diego

Toast the New Year at the classic 1950s-themed Corvette Diner in Point Loma, San Diego! Enjoy burgers, classic milkshakes, and fries as you listen to live music and a local DJ, play arcade games, and watch a balloon artist work his magic. The party starts early to end with a bang at the Big Apple ball drop and toast at 9:00pm.

Speakeasy Roaring 20s Bash at the Westin

Where: The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa; 5480 Grand Pacific Dr., Carlsbad

Dance away the last few hours of 2018 and raise a glass to the New Year at The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa’s family-friendly “Speakeasy” 2018 New Year’s Eve Bash! Costumes are encouraged – come dressed to impress in your finest 1920s attire and get ready for a fabulous night that the whole family will enjoy, complete with live entertainment, costume contests, and prizes for Best Dressed Family and Best Dressed Couple. The party kicks off at 6:30pm with a buffet dinner, champagne and sparkling wine, and a decadent dessert bar.

While adults shake it on the dance floor to spins from a live DJ, the little ones can keep the fun going with face painting, ping-pong, foosball, billiards, and an exclusive Gamer Room at the dedicated Kids Party Zone. Guests can also expect the clock to strike midnight twice at this bash – kids ring in the New Year with an exciting balloon drop for the East Coast at 9pm, while adults celebrate with a complimentary champagne toast and main drop at midnight here on the West Coast.

New Years Eve Family Party

Where: Living Coast Discovery Center; 1000 Gunpowder Point Dr., Chula Vista

Join the Living Coast Family to watch the ball drop together under the stars! Bundle up for wild animal encounters, night hikes, and tons more. This is sure to be a New Year’s party your family will never forget! Your event ticket includes: two drink tickets (champagne, beer, or wine for adults with proper I.D.), wildlife animal encounters, DJ music and dancing, trivia and other family-friendly games, interactive photo booth, crafts for all ages including their famous recycled-dog toy, hot chocolate bar, and cookie decorating. Plus, enjoy live coverage of the Times Square Celebration at midnight (9pm PST/12am EST). Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance, as they won’t be available at the door day of.

The NYE Grape Drop

Where: Temecula Town Square Park; 41000 Main Street, Temecula

Though not technically in San Diego, Temecula is about an hour’s drive northeast and a fun way to get out of town for New Year’s Eve! Party like it’s 1999 (or 2019!) and watch the Temecula grape drop at Town Square Park twice: once with the East Coast at 9pm, and once with the West Coast at midnight. There will be plenty of free activities for kids, food vendors, and live music by Danielle Arribe from 6:00-6:45pm, the Frienz Band from 7-8 pm, City Beat Band 8:30-10pm, and Midnight Ride from 10:30pm-12:15am. Radio host Mama Mia from 101.3 will emcee the evening as adults and kids alike ring in the new year at the park.

Skating by the Sea

Where: Hotel Del Coronado; 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado

Glide into year 2019 bundles up and ice skating by the sea with the entire family. Make a day of it by eating dinner at the outdoor patio and gazing at the lights and holiday decorations that adorn the gorgeous Hotel del Coronado. Skate to holiday music, and afterward, little revelers can sip on hot cocoa and take in the lights. Tickets are $30 per person for skating; be sure to purchase tickets in advance on the Hotel Del’s website.

Looking for more adult-friendly happenings this NYE? Check out our roundup of the best New Year’s Eve parties in San Diego!

The Best San Diego Holiday Parties 2018

What better way to ring in the holidays than with a San Diego holiday party? There is no shortage of fun happenings this year – from a New Year’s Eve yacht party on the Bay to fancy hotel festivities to round out the holiday season. Here’s our roundup of some of this year’s best San Diego holiday parties!

Drink, Play, Create: A Holiday Party

When: December 7, 2018; 8pm
Where: The New Children’s Museum

Head to The New Children’s Museum this December for a free drink, lots of dancing, and a fun party inspired by art, play and the holidays. This year’s party will feature music from local DJs Rob and Dimitri of Booty Bassment, a cash bar, food trucks, a giveaway, photo booth, games, art activities, and open access to galleries and studios. Plus, the first 300 guests to arrive get a free Passion Planner! Tickets are $20 in advance, or $30 at the door.

Parade of Lights Holiday Party

When: December 9, 2018
Where: Chere Amie Yacht; 1901 N. Harbor Drive

Celebrate holiday cheer aboard a 90-ft yacht, enjoying the cool crisp winter air and dazzling lights parade – all while sipping on a chilled glass of Champagne! The 2nd Annual Parade of Lights Holiday Party is sure to be the perfect activity to kick off the winter season. Guests will get to cruise the San Diego Bay during the action of the Parade, and get up close and personal with the decorated lit up boats. On top of having an unbeatable view of the parade, there will be holiday-themed cocktails, seasonal music, Christmas decorations, complimentary champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and more! The yacht comes complete with a full bar, open-view dance floor, and plenty of lounge areas that provide a fun and festive atmosphere perfect for mingling and partying with friends. Tickets start at $35.

12 Things to Do During the Holidays in San Diego

Bad Santa Pub Crawl

When: December 22, 2018; 7pm
Where: Taste & Thirst; 715 Fourth Avenue, San Diego

It’s that time of year! Grab your friends and your Santa hats and get ready to spread some yuletide fun and holiday cheer through the streets of Gaslamp Quarter during this year’s Bad Santa Pub Crawl. Your ticket includes exclusive drink specials at each venue throughout the pub crawl, complimentary VIP entry to all venues, a private host to guide you from venue to venue, and an awesome after-party where you’ll be able to dance the night away. This event sells out every year, so be sure to get your tickets early!

Ugly Sweater Holiday Cocktail Cruise

When: December 22, 2018; 7pm
Where: Hornblower Cruises; 970 N. Harbor Dr.

Come aboard the only floating holiday happy hour in San Diego! Join hosts Tati and Frankie plus DJ Gigi from JAM’N 95.7, and special appearances from STAR 94.1 and Channel 93.3 for the ultimate ugly sweater party on the water. The cruise includes a complimentary boarding holiday cocktail and a cash bar with plenty of drinks on the menu including specials on beer, wine, and specialty Hornblower cocktails along with light appetizers. This is the perfect excursion on the San Diego Bay, or a great way to kick off a night downtown.

New Year’s Eve Gala at the Hotel Del Coronado

When: December 31, 2018; 7pm
Where: Hotel Del Coronado

Ring in the New Year at The World’s Greatest Legend, a once-in-a-lifetime celebration with dazzling star attractions and awe-inspiring performances. The oceanfront Ballroom at the Hotel Del Coronado will transform into a lavish big top with black-tie clad aristocrats, a delectable five-course feast, open bar, and dancing to the sounds of the Mighty Untouchables. Attendees must be 21+.

Have little ones at home? Bring them too! This is a kid-friendly event, and fun for the whole family! Kids and teens can ring in the New Year at their own party from 7pm-12:30am. The night includes dinner, ice skating (ages 8+), special shows, games, a s’mores roast, and a midnight toast with sparkling cider. Teens ages 13-17 can also hang out in their own teen lounge and watch movies as they mingle. Cost is $125 for the first child; $100 for each additional child.

New Year’s Eve Yacht Party

When: December 31, 2018; 9pm
Where: Spirit of San Diego Yacht; 990 N. Harbor Drive

Spend New Year’s Eve aboard San Diego’s most elegant oversized luxury yacht, The Spirit of San Diego! At 146 Feet Long, with three levels, outdoor decks, lounges, and two huge dance floors, this 500-person capacity luxury yacht is guaranteed to make for a memorable NYE. This event has sold out 15 years in a row, so be sure to get your tickets early! Tickets include three levels of entertainment with live music and DJs, a premium open bar all night long, appetizers, and a boat-wide New Year’s Eve countdown.

New Year’s Eve Beachfront Bash

When: December 31, 2018
Where: South Draft Mission; 3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego

Kick off 2019 at San Diego’s newest New Year’s Eve party overlooking the ocean in Mission Beach! Guests will experience three totally different atmospheres at three different venues throughout the evening – from an upscale rooftop vibe at Cannonball to a laid-back groove at Draft and a beachfront party at Beach House to cap the night. Drink specials will be making their rounds all night, and the final beachfront venue will be heated with fire pits and fabulous market lights for guests to enjoy.

Big Night San Diego NYE

When: December 31, 2018
Where: Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Ring in 2018 at the 16th annual Big Night San Diego New Year’s Eve celebration! ​Big Night San Diego is the perfect, all-inclusive night out; each ticket includes unlimited drinks, access to the fully-stocked buffet, and a variety of live entertainment and DJs throughout the ten different party zones. The hotel will be transformed into “Countdown City” and the perfect location to celebrate the New Year! ​Guests will be free to roam, beverage in hand, from party room to party room; get your groove on in the Retro Zone or in one of the several Club Zones, or check out the silent disco. All the while, about a dozen popular bands and deejays will be playing throughout the gala’s many party areas.

Bottoms Up at ALTITUDE Sky Lounge

When: December 31, 2018
Where: ALTITUDE Sky Lounge (at the Marriott San Diego Gaslamp Quarter); 660 K St, San Diego 92101.

Ring in the New Year at the epic rooftop ALTITUDE Sky Lounge, atop the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter. Your free-flowing celebration will include unlimited well drinks, domestic beers, and free-flowing champagne all night for only $189/person, plus unlimited food at gourmet dining stations, a New Year’s Eve countdown, party favors, and live music from local DJs. The dining stations will consist of an array of California cuisine with a carving station, raw seafood bar, a chocolate fountain, and more.

For more fun holiday events and happenings, check out our other holiday blogs!

5 Unforgettable Places to Stay During a Trip to San Diego

San Diego and its surrounding areas have endless lodging options for guests. With so many to choose from, it can be easy to choose based on budget, especially for families looking for a larger rental space. While there’s nothing wrong with having a strictly utilitarian approach to deciding where to stay, there’s something to be said for the unforgettable experience of high-end resorts and unique rentals throughout the southern California area. What’s great about the varied options for your San Diego stay is that they all offer great access to the local communities and attractions. The county’s varied areas and neighborhoods give you more than enough reason to be out and about regardless of where you are staying.

Ranging from affordable to extravagant, here is a short list of truly one-of-a-kind places to stay while visiting America’s Finest City:

Cozy by the beach

While La Jolla is home to some of the most valued real estate in the United States, the cozy little seaside community is not beyond the reach of those wishing to visit the San Diego area on a budget. Better yet, many of the affordable hotels in La Jolla are within walking distance of the beach and other popular sights. Given the budget-friendly nature of their rates, rooms at these hotels go fast, so remember to book in advance. Whether your walking on the beach, watching the seals, or going for a hike in Torrey Pines your time in La Jolla won’t disappoint.

Home on-the-go

Most RV owners are used to pulling into dusty campgrounds off the beaten path with little more than a front desk and a vending machine. Those visiting San Diego have the option to upgrade to something a little better. It’s easy to find a San Diego RV park complete with in ground pool, spa, indoor lounge area, fitness center, and pet-friendly atmosphere all within close proximity to trolley service linked to the best parts of the city. It’s a far cry from the typical accommodations found at most motorhome parks.

Luxury by the sea

The Hotel del Coronado is perhaps the most iconic resort in the San Diego area. Located across the bay from downtown San Diego, “the Del” as its popularly known remains one of the largest wooden structures ever built. Name your dignitary – king, queen, president – one or more has stayed at this palace on the water at some time or another. If the open ocean isn’t the view for you, look into bay front accommodations in other areas of downtown San Diego or Mission Bay where the water is full of activities like jet skiing, paddle boarding, and sailing.

Luxury downtown

The Horton Grand – billed as San Diego’s oldest hotel – was originally two different hotels when built in 1887. The site was slated for demolition in the 1970s but city officials decided to buy it instead for the purpose of historical preservation. Though quaint and old, the Horton Grand has all the trappings of a luxury hotel condensed into cozy accommodations centrally located in downtown San Diego.

Opulence downtown

If you were to merge the Hotel del Coronado with the Horton Grand, you might end up with something like the U.S. Grant Hotel. Also located downtown, the U.S. Grant is a masterpiece of Classical Revival architecture. For those wondering about the name association, the hotel was built by Ulysses S. Grant Jr., son of President Ulysses S. Grant and named to honor his father.

Out in the woods

One famous saying about southern California is that you can ski and surf in the same day! Nearby the sprawling metropolis of San Diego are far out regions for campers and hikers alike. About 50 miles from downtown San Diego, camp and hike inside Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. If you’re up for the world famous Joshua Tree National Park, you can drive, but it will be three times as far. No matter the level of adventure you can always find camping or cabin living near San Diego.

The City of San Diego and the surrounding regions offer a plethora of lodging options for travelers coming from near and far. With so many to choose from, tourists are able to research and customize their vacation based on what attracted them to the area the most. Where will you stay?

Where to Go Ice Skating in San Diego

As the holidays approach and the weather gets colder (well, as ‘cold’ as it gets in America’s Finest City), some of our favorite seasonal activities are already underway. Ice skating in San Diego – especially at an outdoor ice rink – is a great family-friendly activity and the perfect way to get into the holiday season.

There are more festive rinks, such as on Coronado Island, and more toned-down spots, like UTC right here in La Jolla. Some are even open on Christmas day! Here’s a quick list to get you started.

Skating by the Sea – Coronado

Returning for its 15th year starting on November 22nd through January 1st, Hotel Del Coronado is the only place you’ll find beachfront ice skating in San Diego. Head to the Windsor Lawn for spectacular vistas of Coronado beach and the Pacific Ocean, and listen to holiday music while you enjoy some hot chocolate and other goodies to warm up. The Hotel Del’s iconic Victorian Building, adorned with sparkling white lights, provides an awesome backdrop – not to mention a great photo op!

Skating by the Sea is open certain hours each day of the week. Skating is $30 per person and ice skates rentals are included.

Thanksgiving Holidays
Thanksgiving (Nov. 22): 11am – 8pm
Days After Thanksgiving (Nov 23 & 24): 10am – 10pm

Nov 26– Dec 23
Weekdays: 4pm – 10pm
Saturdays: 10am – 10pm
Sundays: 11am – 8pm

Christmas Holiday
Christmas Eve & Day: 10am – 8pm

Dec 26 – 30
Wednesday – Saturday: 10am – 10pm
Sunday: 11am – 8pm

New Year’s Holiday
New Year’s Eve: 10am – 8pm
New Year’s Day: 10am – 10pm

Rady Children’s Ice Rink – Liberty Station

November 17, 2018 – January 6

Rady Children’s Hospital Auxiliary presents another holiday season of outdoor ice skating with support from SENTRE Inc., NBC 7 San Diego, ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station and many friends of Rady Children’s. Raise money for a great cause while you skate outdoors at Liberty Station! Formerly held in Horton Plaza, the ice rink is now located directly behind NTC Liberty Station Command Center.  All proceeds from this event benefit psychosocial services at the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s.

This ice-skating rink is open daily from 10am-10pm, seven days a week (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days).

Tips for skaters: bring an extra pair of socks (the ice can get a little wet during the day), and do dress warmly and bring a pair of gloves or mittens – it can get cold out there! Admission for adults is $15; kids are $13.

UTC Ice Arena – University City

This rink is open year-round, but it’s especially fun during the winter season. This arena is pretty unique, as it’s located inside the UTC Westfield Shopping Center. Those who don’t want to skate can stay warm in the upstairs, glass-enclosed Dining Terrace and enjoy dishes from one of the many brand new restaurants in the center.

All are welcome, from first-timers to the seasoned figure skater. If you’re a beginner and want to get a feel for the ice before heading to one of the outdoor rinks, try a free intro ice skating lesson held every Saturday morning. They last for about 30 minutes and will teach you all the basics; the next time you skate, you’ll be a pro! There are also year-round lessons and clinics for anyone interested in trying hockey for the first time.

Admissions are $15 for adults and $12 for children under 5. Skates rentals are available for $5.

Public skating hours vary daily, so check their website for a full schedule. Most free-skate sessions last for several hours, and they’re also open Christmas Day for those who want to mix things up a little.

Holiday by the Bay – Hilton Bayfront

November 21, 2018 – January 5

The newly re-imagined Holiday by the Bay tradition features Reindeer Run, an exhilarating two-story 100 ft. ice tubing slide and an hourly interactive dynamic light show. Plus stocking trimming at Santa’s Workshop, cookie decorating at Claus Kitchen, festive craft cocktail flights at Yule Lodge, sweet and savory treats from Elven Eatery and Kringle Bakery, cocoa and s’mores at a private Fireside Lounge and much more.

The rink will be open from 5pm-11pm. General admission for adults is $20 Check website for schedule details.

Viejas Casino & Resort (San Diego’s Largest Ice Rink)

November 2, 2018 – January 28

The Viejas Resort has once again transformed into a winter wonderland – and Southern California’s biggest outdoor ice skating rink! Every year, they provide a stunning backdrop for a great winter tradition. When you feel like taking a break, there will be a variety of seasonal snacks and warm hot chocolate available; you can also hit the outlets and take care of all your holiday shopping. It’s also a great place to have a birthday party; low prices make planning for big groups a breeze.

Admission is $14 for kids (12 and under) and $16 for adults and teens; entry is good for a 90-minute skate session and skate rentals.

Hours vary, so visit the Viejas website for complete details.

Snow Day – South Bay

December 15, 2018 – December 30

Snow Day in Bonita is not your average San Diego holiday experience. Besides skating in the festive rink, you can hop on the Penguin Polar Express for a ride on a miniature train and take pictures in an enormous snow globe.

More adventurous visitors should try winter tubing – speeding along the hills of a winter wonderland complete with decorative lights, pine trees, and snow, you’ll forget you’re in southern California and not the North Pole.

Children will love the 12-foot-tall gingerbread house, where there will be free treats and a special surprise. You can even take a moment to share the holiday spirit at Operation Gratitude by writing letters to those on active duty overseas.

Located in Rohr Park, this event is only 15 minutes from Downtown San Diego and perfect for families. It’s only open from December 15-30, from 6:30 pm-10:30 pm, so make sure you don’t miss out!

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

November 30, 2018 – January 1

Start off the holiday season with a good Olde Fashioned Christmas celebration! Every year, the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe opens its outdoor ice rink during one of the most festive events in North County. Beginning at 5:00 pm on November 30, you’ll get to watch the actual ribbon cutting of the ice rink. Later, you can roast s’mores, warm up with soup tastings and hot chocolate, and of course, meet and take photos with Santa. There will also be a lighting ceremony for the 20-foot Christmas Tree.

Sessions at the ice-skating rink are up to 3 hours. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for children under 11, and $10 for groups of 10 or more.

  • Monday – Fridays: 3:30pm – 9:00pm
  • Saturday – Sunday: 10:00am – 9:00pm

San Diego Ice Arena – Mira Mesa

There’s a reason why this ice center has been in business for more than three decades. The San Diego Ice Arena has something for everyone, whatever level of skill. While some time slots are dedicated to freestyle sessions for more serious figure skaters, there are public sessions all week long, with lots of different themes.

If you have young children, you can visit during Family Party sessions; if you want a more grown-up experience, round up your friends and head over to Adult Night where you can skate to nostalgic tunes from the 80s and 90s.

Admissions are $14 for adults and $12 for kids, including skates rentals. Groups can get a discounted price of $10 per person, although larger parties will need to make a reservation.

Public skating is available 7 days a week, but hours vary, so make sure to check their website for accurate times.

IcePlex Escondido

This indoor skating centre is a mecca for ice sports. Equipped with not one but two Olympic-sized rinks, they have everything from skating lessons to pick-up hockey to live band nights. It’s a great place to celebrate your little ones, too, as they have birthday rooms that a perfect for parties.

On the ice, they offer hockey, figure skating, broomball, and curling. Off the ice, they have all the makings of an upscale hotel: a pool, a full-fledged workout complex, meeting rooms, video games, and more.

Admission for skating is $10 for adults and $9 for children 10 and under. Skates rentals are $3. IcePlex is open year-round. It’s a good idea to check out the schedule, as public session times vary.

Where to See Christmas Lights in San Diego (Updated 2018)

There’s really no better holiday tradition or way to get into the holiday spirit than going around to see Christmas light displays in San Diego! With so many unique neighborhoods in the area – each with their own vibe – there are countless light displays throughout the County. It can get a bit overwhelming to try and track them all down, so we’ve gone ahead and picked out some of the very best! Here’s your guide to the best Christmas lights in San Diego and San Diego County. (Updated 2018). 

Sights & Sounds of Christmas: San Diego Temple

The Mormon Temple off I-5 near La Jolla is an awesome feat of architecture, and definitely worth a visit even during the daytime (although only members of the church are allowed inside). This holiday season, it turns into a winter wonderland–walk the Temple grounds and enjoy more than 130,000 lights and nativity scenes. Admission is free.

December 1st – January 1st; 5pm-11pm. 7474 Charmant Dr., UTC.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights: The Bay

Now in its 46th year, the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is truly a sight to behold. Presented by the Port of San Diego, the boat parade of more than 80 lavishly decorated vessels has become an iconic Christmas light installation in the area. This year’s theme is “Arrgh! A Pirate’s Christmas,” so you’ll be sure to see plenty of pirate-themed boats and decorations! The parade starts at Shelter Island, travels through the harbor and ends at the Ferry Landing in Coronado.

December 10th & 17th; 5pm.

Forward House: Banker’s Hill/Downtown

This famous historic house was built in 1905 for then-San Diego Mayor John Forward Sr, and has been adorned with an array of holiday lights every season since 1998. It’s a beautiful, two-story house, and essentially every inch is covered in lights – this is a must-see.

Through December 31st; 5pm-10pm. 108 Ivy Street (1st & Ivy), San Diego. 

Luminaria: South Park

It’s South Park’s very own season of lights! Every tree, lamp post, roof, and courtyard is decorated with lights and ribbons. Stroll through the neighborhood and stop along the way at one of the coffee shops or restaurants in the area.

November 17th – January 1st; starts at dusk. Along 30th St. and Fern St. from Juniper to Grape and Beech Streets. 

Belardo Lights: Tierrasanta

The Belardo Lights display has a beautiful story behind it. Started by the father of two boys, both diagnosed with autism, who wanted to create a special Christmas tradition that they could look forward to and work on together each year. Every year since 2006, he and his sons have worked to create the display entirely from scratch, and this year they’ve upped the ante even further with new light displays. For an extra bonus, this year’s display is synchronized to festive music played on 106.1 FM. 

Through December 27th; 6pm-10pm. 5306 Belardo Drive, San Diego. 

Christmas Park: Clairemont

More than 30 homes are lit up with holiday lights in an area of Clairemont that’s been dubbed “Christmas Park.” The circular street’s colorful display has been going strong since 1977 and continues to delight both locals and out-of-towners alike.

December 1st – December 25th. Lana Drive & Jamar Drive (off Mt. Abernathy), San Diego.

Jingle Bell Hill: El Cajon

Tucked away in El Cajon, you’ll find nearly 80 homes lit up with all kinds of festive holiday themes (some get super creative here, as well). We’ve seen Nightmare Before Christmas references, among others! The display has grown significantly in recent years, lending it its nickname; it used to be called simply the “Pepper Drive Lights.”

December 7th – December 26th; Mon-Thurs 6pm-9pm, Fri-Sun 6pm-10pm. Solomon Ave & Pegeen Place/Pepper Drive plus surrounding areas. 

1838 El Pico Drive: El Cajon

This Christmas light installation is a seriously longstanding local tradition – it’s now going on its 53rd year decorating the 20-foot star that stands 100 feet above El Cajon valley. Visitors will also see a 55-foot long automated train and extensive automated yard decorations.

December 15 – 31st; dusk-10pm. 1838 El Pico Drive, off Hacienda Drive, El Cajon.

Merry-tage Court: Scripps Ranch

This display is definitely pop culture oriented, with nods to Star Wars, Minions, Cars, and more. The entire street gets creative and lights up, so don’t miss this one if you’re in the area!

December 1st – December 31st; 5:30pm-9:30pm. Stonebridge Pkwy. & Merritage Court, San Diego. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Christmas Card Lane: Rancho Peñasquitos

This is one of the liveliest light displays in the County. Each year, residents decorate their yards with plywood greetings depicting cartoon characters or Christmas themes. The display was actually started in 1982 by Rancho Peñasquito resident Alana Hastings as a way to share the holiday spirit of the tight-knit community with others in the city. Originally, only about 15 families participated; now, there are more than 200 – and several have even been known to hand out some hot chocolate!

Nightly from dusk-10pm. Ellingham, Oviedo, and Renato streets off Black Mountain Road.

Knob Hill: San Marcos

This display, located at 1639 Knob Hill Rd. in San Marcos, has been lighting up the North County neighborhood since 1988. Over the decades, it has grown to more than 85,000 lights, powered up nightly through Dec. 30. Visitors will also see 100 plastic holiday figures, 80 snowmen and 100 candy canes, to name a few of the bells and whistles. Santa Claus visits Knob Hill each year and, this season, he’ll be there from Dec. 14 through Dec. 23, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., listening to Christmas wishes and spreading cheer.

Through December 30th from 5pm-9pm. 1639 Knob Hill Road, San Marcos. 

Candy Cane Lane: Poway

Entire cul-de-sacs are lit up in Poway, with more than 100 homes decorating for the holiday season. Parking can be tricky here, so it’s usually best to park a few blocks away and walk through the displays on your own little Christmas light tour.

December 10 – 24; 6pm-9pm. Stoutwood Street, near Brookstone Drive; Poway. 

Fairway Village: Carmel Mountain Ranch

Each year, Carmel Mountain Ranch also spreads holiday magic of its own via Fairway Village, a neighborhood located on the east and west sides of Stoney Gate Place. There, around 80 homes are decked out in Christmas lights through New Year’s Day. Visitors will sometimes find residents playing holiday movies outside, carolers and dancers. On the Saturday evening before Christmas, this neighborhood typically holds a block party featuring hot chocolate, cider, music, lights, cookies, snacks and more. Santa has also been known to make an appearance — depending on the workload at the North Pole, of course.

Through January 1st; 5:30pm-10:30pm. East and west sides of Stoney Gate Place, 92128.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Starlight Circle: Santee

In Santee, this massive lights display known as “Starlight Circle” draws crowds year after year. Located on East and West Glendon circles off Magnolia Avenue, visitors can see elaborate, handmade Christmas displays spanning dozens of homes. Many of the displays follow a theme – from “Star Wars” and superheroes to “Toy Story” and “Sesame Street.” Sometimes, the residents will sell hot cocoa, kettle corn, cookies and other holiday treats, for visitors to enjoy as they stroll the neighborhood. The lights are usually on from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. nightly.

Nightly from 5:30pm – 10pm. Along Tomel Court, off Magnolia St. in Santee.

DB Christmas

Also in Santee is “DB Christmas,” a dazzling display created by Michael Balazs each year at his home. The lights – in honor of Balazs’ late father, who died from cancer in 2009 – include thousands of multi-colored strings, spiraling Christmas trees, lawn displays that read “HOPE” and “CURE,” and even holograms of Santa Claus projected on the windows of the home. Balazs’ display is synced to holiday music played on 98.5FM; he collects donations from spectators to support charities such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital on behalf of his father. Balazs said he gets his holiday cheer from his dad, who loved Christmas. 

Nightly from 5 pm to 10pm. 9773 Roe Drive, Santee. 

Tinsel Town: Lakeside

Each year, more than 20 houses are lit up in Lakeside with festive lights and front-yard decorations. This neighborhood definitely goes all out for the Christmas season!

Nightly from 5pm-10pm. 10248 Paseo Palmas Dr., Lakeside. 

Other Light Displays

If you’re looking for Christmas lights that aren’t in residential neighborhoods, here are a few places around the County to go:

Jungle Bells: San Diego ZooEnjoy the Zoo in holiday mode until January 1st, 9am-8pm every day, complete with a holiday light display, animal experiences, costumed characters, and live music. Head over to Balboa Park after for more holiday cheer! Read our guide for more information about how to purchase San Diego Zoo tickets this holiday season. 

Christmas Celebration at SeaWorld San Diego. This year, SeaWorld is totally decked out with more than a million lights plus a 40-foot Christmas tree with an animated light show. Don’t forget to check out Rudolph’s Christmastown and the new O Wondrous Night, a living nativity performed every night. Through January 6th. For more information about how to purchase Seaworld San Diego tickets this holiday season, check out our guide. 

Holiday Event Planning Tips in San Diego

Everyone knows that hosting the holidays can take your stress level from 0 to 60 in no time; but, not to worry, with careful planning and our top San Diego expert event planning tips, this year will be the holiday entertaining season that you actually enjoy as much as your guests! Here’s how to get some holiday event planning in San Diego done this season.

Make a list!

The ultimate way to create a stress-free holiday is to live by a list: plan ahead, and don’t be afraid to delegate. Know what you’re capable of and comfortable doing, and give other people things to do so you aren’t stuck doing everything. Asking guests to help with tasks when planning an event makes them feel more involved and more times than not they are happy to help, so never be afraid to ask!

Stock up on supplies

You’ll never run out of supplies if you shop with an aim to entertain! Stock your pantry with a selection of small bites and appetizers to nibble on as they chat. A well-placed charcuterie, fresh veggies and dip, or even nuts and cracker assortments can all go a long way, and a signature cocktail that you can have prepared ahead-of-time in large batches will make day-of preparations much easier. Include fun holiday treats such as candy canes or sugar cookies for guests with a sweet tooth.

Pick an awesome venue

If you’re hosting this year, make sure your home is set up to encourage conversation and comfort. A vibrant and cheery atmosphere that guest will want to stay and enjoy is always key! Having open spaces where guests can feel free to chat and socialize with others is a great idea, as well as having seating options so your guests can get comfortable and enjoy the party.

If you’re planning to host a party at an outside venue (such as a restaurant or bar), be sure to book the site well in advance. Having a solid headcount ahead of time is essential to ensuring the venue can accommodate you and your guests. The more you get done ahead of time, the less stress you’ll have during the weeks and days leading up to the event, which is already packed with stress as it is! However, one of the great things about San Diego is its plethora of awesome venues – from restaurants and bars to fun event halls, there is no shortage of great spots to host your holiday event right here in San Diego especially in areas such as La Jolla or Downtown San Diego.

Some of our favorite event venues in San Diego include The Darlington House (a great space to throw a holiday garden party in the heart of La Jolla – there are rooms to explore around every corner at this beautiful home!) and the gorgeous La Valencia, which does a great job of hosting grandiose private events all year long for any celebration.

Save time with catering

If you want to host the event but don’t feel up to the challenge of feeding all of those people yourself, holiday catering is the way to go. Whether you’re looking for a full-service menu here are a few spots in San Diego and La Jolla that cater to all sorts of events and parties year-round, including:

  • The French Gourmet
  • Giuseppe Restaurants & Catering
  • Eco Caters
  • Rimel’s Rotisserie
  • Cuvier Club
  • TOAST
  • Water’s Fine Foods and Catering

However if you are on a tight budget, preparing the food yourself can be a huge money saver. Maybe invite some friends over the night before to help prepare the food in advanced so the tasks isn’t solely placed on you.

Get creative!

There are tons of great ways to shake things up at your next holiday event. Planning interactive activities or games is a fantastic way to get people out of their comfort zones and chip away at lingering discomfort. Making sure you have a variety of activities for guests is also an easy way to make things go smoothly. Here are some other fun ideas for a different spin:

  • Charades may feel cheesy, but getting people to laugh at themselves is a great icebreaker
  • Run a food or clothing drive to collect items to donate to a local nonprofit
  • Plan a Secret Santa (or even better, White Elephant) gift exchange
  • Another fun option is to rent a photo booth with some funny and festive props. Guests can capture their special moments and take their group pictures home to remember the occasion.
  • If you have a flexible budget consider hiring a band for some live music.

Or, you may want to hire a professional photographer to capture all those fun candid moments. You could also choose a little more of a low-key experience like a wine tasting station, where everyone can sample various wines and learn about some different varieties.

Create a fun signature cocktail

If you’re hosting, creating a special cocktail for the night is a fun way to celebrate the holiday and make your event unique – and it can keep the cost of multiple drink options down. It’s also the perfect opportunity to come up with a fun name that gets attendees in the spirit of the festivities. Don’t feel intimidated; most of us aren’t natural mixologists!

To get started, get some inspiration from well-known recipes, or copy a recipe and simply make a play on the name. You can also follow these tips for creating your own cocktails. Whatever you choose, make sure to have plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives in addition to a few standard wine and beer options for those who aren’t fans of mixed drinks.

For more holiday ideas in San Diego, visit our other blogs!

Annual La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival

The annual La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival returns to the Village Sunday December 2nd, 2018 from 10:30am to 5pm. The parade will begin at 1:30pm at Girard Ave and Kline Street, and end at the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla (700 Prospect Street). The holiday festival will start at 10:30am and go until 1:00pm, and will include photos with Santa and live stage entertainment. A tradition that’s been going strong for nearly six decades, the parade and festival are one of La Jolla’s most treasured holiday activities!

The Details

This year, the Holiday Festival will begin at 10:30 am and end at 1pm, with live stage entertainment in front of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. There will also be some arts and crafts and the opportunity to take photos with Santa! The theme changes every year; this year’s being “The Sounds of Christmas.”

The parade will begin at 1:30pm at Girard Ave. and Kline Street. It will head down Girard and make a left onto Prospect, where it will finish in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla.

Santa’s highly anticipated visit to the Christmas Parade is provided by Sunrise Rotary. He will be driven in the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club’s Old Black Goose, a classic 1915 Black Packard Convertible; making it a truly classic La Jolla Christmas!

Highlights

There will more participants than ever before this year from local businesses – the La Jolla Historical Society, the Rotary Club, the Gillispie School, and Birch Aquarium. More than a dozen floats, equestrians, beauty queens and princesses, marching bands, and of course, fire engines, will make up the rest of the Parade. Car lovers will be excited about the lineup of rare and vintage vehicles this year; keep your eye out for some of the rarer cars, like this year’s Antique 1988 560SL Mercedes.

A Few Tips

  • Parking will be extremely limited the day-of, and many streets will become tow-away zones starting at 9:30am. This includes most of Girard Avenue (between Torrey Pines and Kline), most of Kline (between Ivanhoe and Fay), and Herschel (between Torrey Pines and Silverado).
  • Most of Girard Avenue and Prospect Street will be closed, as this is the parade route. Vehicles that are parked in zones cordoned off for the parade or festival will be towed! Make sure you’re aware of all signs and that you park in a designated area.
  • You’ll find all the Holiday Festival activities on the grounds of the La Jolla Rec Center, where the parade will end at 3pm. It’s an easy walk from the parade’s starting location, so it might be easier to just keep your car parked in one spot for the day.

Visit ljparade.com for more information!

[photos courtesy of ljparade.com]

15 Fun Things to Do in North County

Most people visiting San Diego tend to stay in the actual city of San Diego and neglect its suburbs, but you won’t want to miss everything North County has to offer! You’ll find fabulous restaurants, beautiful beaches, trendy cocktail bars, and historic movie theaters, which are just a few of the things that this city is known for. In recent years, places like Del Mar, Encinitas, and Oceanside have become something of a mecca for foodies, art aficionados, and event lovers alike! Here are 15 fun things to do in North County.

1. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

White rhinos, Sumatran tigers, and California condors are among the 3,500 residents at the renowned San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a 1,800-acre extension of the famous San Diego Zoo. Most of the animals live in free-range enclosures, enabling them to interact as they would in the wild.

In addition to exhibits like the Lion Camp, this expansive park also has a petting corral and a walk-through aviary where visitors can feed lorikeets by hand. Special activities range from tram rides and zipline tours to animal shows like the Cheetah Run, which provides an up-close view of a cheetah sprinting at full speed – something the little ones will definitely love!

2. LEGOLAND California

For the lego lovers in your life, LEGOLAND California is the place to be. A celebration of the famous childhood toy, LEGOLAND California was the first amusement park of its kind to open and the first in the United States. The park, geared toward younger children between the ages of two and twelve, features over 60 rides, shows, and attractions, including a LEGO factory tour!

3. Visit Del Mar Plaza

The revitalized oceanfront Plaza in Del Mar offers 50 upscale restaurants and boutique shops to explore, including the Frustrated Cowboy for western gear and Ooh La La for crystal-embellished blouses, lace-and-ruffle tops, and wildly striped sundresses. Several great restaurants, including Il Fornaio Del Mar, Rendezvous, and Pacifica Del Mar, all make for a lovely evening meal after a long day of shopping! Check out other fun activities to do in Del Mar here!

4. Check out the California Surf Museum

Where else can you find an entire museum dedicated to the history of surfing?! Only at the Carlsbad Surf Museum in Oceanside, California. You’ll see wooden surfboards from the 1900s to today’s foam and fiberglass boards. The permanent exhibit includes the surfboard and swimsuit pro surfer Bethany Hamilton was riding and wearing when she was attacked by a shark and lost her left arm. The California Surf Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on Thursday. Kids under 12 get in free; adults pay $5. Admission is free on Tuesday.

5. Visit Queen Califia’s Magical Circle

Imagine a sculpture garden of mythical creature totem poles covered in thousands of pieces of hand-cut colored and mirrored glass and ceramic and stone mosaic tiles encircling a queen standing on top of a giant eagle. That’s what you’ll get at Queen Califia’s Magical Circle! Like wandering through a surrealist dream, the entrance of the sculpture garden is guarded by a wall topped with two mosaic serpents. Before you can reach the center of the garden you must navigate a 3-foot maze made from black and white tiles. Having reached the center, your quest is rewarded with the discovery of Queen Califia’s Magic Circle.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is the only American sculpture garden created by French artist Niki De Saint Phalle. You’ll find this unique place in the Iris Sankey Arboretum in Kit Carson Park, Escondido, California. Escondido gets hot and the tiles conduct heat, so take care when visiting on a hot day. Admission is free, but check their website before you go as they are only open during certain weekends of the month.

6. Spend time at Swami’s Beach Tide Pools

Ask around, and you’ll discover that Encinitas has some of SoCal’s finest beaches. Each beach has its own personality, but we love Swami’s Tide Pools. Here you can catch sea-life in an up close and personal way in the fall. Now’s the perfect time to plan a trip to Swami’s Tide Pools. If you walk the rocky area at low tide you may see Hermit crabs, sea hares, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, brittle sea stars and maybe even an octopus or two!

7. Cardiff Seaside Market

Head over to Cardiff Seaside Market for some early morning goodies – and to stock up on fresh produce and the famous Cardiff Crack (which is slang for a yummy seasoned USDA Choice tri-tip that is trimmed, marinated, and infused with their specialty Burgundy Pepper Marinade). It’s called the ‘Cardiff Crack’ because customers find it addictive!

Not to worry, you don’t have to stick to beef: the scallops and seafood here are restaurant quality, as well as the dozens of spots to pick up some fresh produce and vegetables. The best way to experience the Seaside Market? Enjoy a leisurely stroll and take your time exploring by the water!

8. Visit the Self-Realization Fellowship Gardens

If you’re looking for a place to relax body, mind, and soul, you’ve come to the right place. Walk the gardens built and maintained by the Self-Realization Fellowship and achieve peace of mind (for an hour anyway). The beautifully landscaped gardens boast views of the Pacific Ocean and are dotted with benches and other sitting places for quiet reflection or simply a place to relax.

9. Take a hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve

Perched atop sandstone bluffs overlooking the ocean, Torrey Pines State Reserve offers sweeping views of the Pacific and another stunning natural landscape. The striking Torrey Pines trees and winding hiking trails combine to make this spot one of the most tranquil in the area.

Pick a hiking trail, and meander through the wind-sculpted trees, twisting canyons, knobby cliffs, and bird-filled estuaries. Steps carved into the hillside take you down to the beach should you wish or you can commune with the birds and enjoy your 360-degree ocean view. This is a gorgeous place filled to the brim with serenity.

10. Explore Oceanside Pier

At 1,942 feet, the historical Oceanside Pier is one of the longest wooden piers on the West Coast and a fantastic tourist attraction! Take a leisurely stroll out over the Pacific Ocean, watch the surfers ride a wave, fishermen catch a fish, or grab a bite to eat at the famous Ruby’s Diner located at the end of the pier. At the entrance of the Pier is the Amphitheater, which hosts many musical and cultural performances.

The pier is the backdrop for some great Oceanside events, which include concerts, surf competitions, Iron Man, Fishing Derby, Classic Car Shows, and it’s within easy walking distance to the Farmer’s Market and Sunset Market. Don’t forget to look for some wildlife! The Pier is a great place to spot seagulls, pelicans, dolphins, seals, stingrays, fish, and much more.

11. Stroll through the Carlsbad Windmill Food Hall

The first food hall in North County is definitely a sight worth seeing. Housed in the iconic former Pea Soup Andersen building just off the I-5, the 12,000-square-foot space, with a design inspired by the 1930s and 1940s, features plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, a full bar, and interactive games. You’ll find something to eat for the whole family, with dozens of eateries including Bing Haus, Bread and Cheese, Lobster West, Thai-Style Kitchen, and more.

The food hall is brand new as of fall 2018, and is a fun place to walk around for the day. Don’t forget to visit their 60-seat Chicago-style speakeasy bar, which occupies the entire second floor!

12. Enjoy fine dining at a North County restaurant

North County arguably has some of the best restaurants in San Diego, with a full range of cuisines and fare ranging from casual to ultra-chic. Some beloved local spots have been there for years – Solace & The Moonlight Lounge, Wrench & Rodent, and Flying Pub Pub + Kitchen – and some are brand new, including the second outpost of The Crack Shack, Campfire, and Park 101. You’re sure to find something everyone will love! North County dining hotspots include Encinitas, Carlsbad, Del Mar, and Oceanside.

13. Visit the Carlsbad Lagoon

The Carlsbad Lagoon is a great place to spend the day, especially during the warmer months. Filled with many water sports options, the lagoon has something for everyone. Motorized rentals include Yamaha WaveRunners, boat rentals, and Wakeboarding and Waterskiing (includes a boat with driver). If you want a little slower speed the lagoon rents kayaks, stand up paddle boards, canoes, paddle boats, and aqua cycles. The Lagoon has its own private beach and rents out private party areas for large groups.

14. Go camping

While it may seem counterintuitive, there are actually several great spots for beachside camping in North County! San Elijo State Beach is one of the most popular campgrounds in Southern California. The campgrounds are hard to reserve during the summer months, but if you’re a local, there is plenty of space in the off-season. Camping is a great way to sleep by the beach, and walk to the waves for an early morning surf. Just up the road, South Carlsbad State Beach features RV sites with hookups, a dump station, camp store, restrooms, and showers. Inland sites are $35/night and premium campsites are $50/night.

15. Check out some live music at The Belly Up

The Belly Up is a fun live music venue in the Cedros Design District (Solana Beach). The venue promotes all different genres of music including hip-hop, rock, alternative, reggae, R&B, and more. The venue even has cover bands and a weekly Friday Happy Hour to get the weekend started! Belly Up is 21+, and has a full bar and menu to order from. If you’re in the area early, check out Culture Brewing Company a few doors down; it’s one of North County’s best breweries and a fun spot to grab a quick beer with friends before a night on the town.

Whatever your plans may be, North County, San Diego is a fun spot to spend the day with friends and family. Visit our blogs for more fun things to do in Encinitas and Del Mar!

Things to Know When Planning a Yoga Retreat in San Diego

Looking for a way to recharge, refresh, and replenish? If so, a yoga retreat in San Diego might be your perfect solution! The beautiful surroundings, perfect weather conditions, and pristine resorts make the city one of the best places to travel to for rest and relaxation. If you’re going to have the perfect getaway, however, there are a few key things to remember as you plan.

Which Program You’d Like

Not all yoga retreats are the same. Though all designed for the advancement of one’s health and well-being, they take different approaches. In order to get the most from your San Diego retreat, it is recommended that you choose the right program. Review wellness and yoga programs in the area you’re looking to travel to to see what the objective is. Here is a brief description of common types of yoga retreats:

  • Adventure Retreat: this form of yoga retreat combines adventure and yoga. Participants can expect to do adventurous things like hiking, surfing, paddle boarding, and more.
  • Detox Retreat: ideal for those looking to get their health on track, a detox yoga retreat helps you to detox the mind and body. Such retreats focus a lot on yoga and meditation while also teaching participants proper nutrition to detoxify their bodies.
  • Spiritual Retreat: if you’re looking to heal the spirit and connect with your spiritual being, then a spiritual retreat is recommended. Again, focusing on yoga and meditation, this type of retreat is designed to help you heal internally.
  • Intensive Retreat: for those that have been practicing yoga for years and are looking to up the ante on their skills, an intensive retreat is recommended. Such retreats focus more on yoga and advanced practices.

What to Pack

There are a few key things you want to make sure you have with you on your yoga retreat. These items are essential so that you can get the full experience from your trip and participate safely and effectively in the activities planned for the retreat.

– Clothes: As you participate in yoga classes, you’ll be required to move, flex, and bend your body in ways you never imagined. To make sure you’re safe and comfortable, you should purchase form-fitting clothes. Yoga pants and a yoga top work well because they’re made from stretchy fabrics that make it easy for you to move around, but it also stays secure to your body to prevent you from tripping or getting exposed while doing certain poses.

– Socks: Though you can practice yoga barefoot, many people prefer to wear open toe yoga socks. They provide enough cover and protection so your feet aren’t fully exposed while also absorbing sweat and providing extra traction to prevent falls during exercise.

– Sports bras: You’ll be moving around in all different directions and want to make sure you’re comfortable while doing so. Make sure that you pack a few good sports bras for extra support during yoga classes.

– Blanket: blankets are great for a few reasons. They can keep you warm if you’re traveling to San Diego during times when the mornings or evenings are particularly cold. They can be rolled up and placed underneath the back for support during certain poses. Lastly, they can be wrapped around you during meditation to add a bit more comfort. A small throw blanket, yoga blanket, or meditation blanket will do the trick.

– Yoga Mat: Some retreats may offer these for you, but to be on the safe side it’s ideal to pack a yoga mat. They help you keep traction and avoid slipping as you sweat during your workout.

– Traditional Packing Items: If you have some downtime during your retreat and plan on exploring San Diego, you’ll want to make sure that you’ve packed more than some yoga pants and tank tops. Pack some traditional clothes, shoes, cosmetics, toiletries, and whatever else you need for the vacation.

Yoga retreats are becoming increasingly popular as individuals look to alternative measures to improving their lives. If you’re looking to get away, relax, unwind, and refresh, chances are you can accomplish all of this with a San Diego yoga retreat.

Now that you’ve found a resort or yoga retreat program that’s objectives are aligned with your personal goals and packed essential gear and equipment you’ll need to enjoy the experience, all that’s left to do is hit the road and enjoy yourself!

Exploring La Jolla on a Rented Beach Cruiser Bicycle

One of the most popular ways for visitors to explore the beautiful shores of La Jolla is by bicycle. Multiple bike paths link the Jewel City’s beaches with several high-end shopping districts and other attractions as well as each other, providing riders with plenty of routes to choose from as they set off on their adventure.

But wait a minute – you didn’t bring your bicycle on the trip! Don’t worry, La Jolla has you covered with a number of bicycle shops offering beach cruiser rentals to visitors by the hour or at daily rates. The more in your group the merrier, as several rental shops offer discounts on package deals.

For those who haven’t ridden a bicycle since they were kids and don’t know the difference between a BMX and a mountain bike, a beach cruiser is a classic style of bicycle that saw its heyday during the 1950s. Built with heavy pieces and lacking any gears, beach cruisers are easy to operate along relatively straight and narrow paths – exactly what you need if you’re wanting to slowly travel up and down a sandy coastline.

A Few Tips

Before setting off on your beach cruiser adventure across La Jolla, it’s important to brush up on the basics of bicycle safety and what to do if involved in an accident. Never ride against the flow of traffic, and obey signals just like you would if operating an automobile. In the event you or someone else is struck by a motor vehicle while riding a beach cruiser, have 911 contacted immediately. If seriously hurt, contact a local injury lawyer before leaving town to get the ball rolling on litigation, as an attempt to seek damages will go through the California court system.

Another thing to be mindful of when riding a rented beach cruiser is keeping the bicycle locked when not in use. La Jolla is one of the safest communities in Southern California, but a crime like bicycle theft is the sort of thing that can happen anywhere. Rental companies will provide locks with their bicycles, so make sure to use them.

Also keep in mind that despite great weather year-round, Southern California undergoes a peak tourist season from late May to early August. This may affect the availability of beach cruiser bicycles for rent without a reservation.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that La Jolla is a very hilly community once you get past the oceanside sections. As mentioned earlier, beach cruiser bicycles are single-speed and therefore aren’t suitable for going up steep inclines. While it’s not impossible, you’ll probably be sweaty by the time you get to the top. At least it makes for a fun way down. Just make sure you’re wearing a helmet!

La Jolla can be explored a number of different ways. When it comes to getting around the Jewel City’s breathtaking beachfront, few methods beat the convenience and fun of renting a beach cruiser for the day. Just remember to be safe when riding and practice caution if deciding to venture into the more populated parts of our great community.

12 Things to Do During the Holidays in San Diego

While the holiday season in San Diego may not be your typical snowy winter wonderland, there’s plenty of festive fun to be had in our little slice of paradise! From ice skating by the sea to light parades on the Bay, America’s Finest City has a little something for everyone this time of year. Embrace the opportunity to enjoy must-do activities and experiences during the holidays in San Diego!

Mother Goose Parade

November 18
The Mother Goose Parade is San Diego’s East County’s annual holiday kick-off celebration (and the largest parade in San Diego County!) featuring whimsical floats, clowns, bands, and equestrians. Each year, the Mother Goose Parade attracts thousands of spectators to the streets of El Cajon. More than 100 colorful and exciting parade entries come from around the United States to share in the excitement that is the Mother Goose Parade. The parade entries include spectacular motorized floats, glorious marching bands and drill units, eloquent equestrians, animated clowns, special characters, special guests, performing artists, celebrities, giant helium balloons, specialty vehicles, and of course, Santa Claus.

North Park Toyland Parade

December 1
Celebrate the holiday spirit at the 55th Annual North Park Toyland Parade & Holiday Fair with vintage cars, marching bands, dance groups, beauty queens, and of course, Santa Claus! The historic neighborhood of North Park will warmly welcome friends and family to bundle up and delight in San Diego’s most joyful parade. Gliding down University Avenue between Utah and Iowa Streets, this cheerful pageant will feel like a Winter Wonderland, as melodious marching bands, upbeat dance groups, cool vintage cars, beauty queens and city officials (and more!) warm your spirits. Santa Claus will be riding atop his merry red sleigh and bells will be ringing as loved ones snuggle up in the bright, frosty air.

Ocean Beach Holiday Parade

December 1
This year, the Ocean Beach Town Council is proud to bring you the 39th Annual OB Holiday Parade on Newport Avenue! For nearly 40 years, the quaint little surfing village of Ocean Beach has hosted one of the best Holiday Parades in SoCal; and this year is no different. Watch the Point Loma Marching Band strut their way down the street, or see the SD Roller Derby Dolls in their eye-catching costumes; watch as the VW Beetle club and classic Woodies roll down Newport Ave. There are also motorcycles, bright-lit floats, tons of live music, and of course, Santa Claus, who will make his appearance at the end of the parade.

After the festivities, the nightlife of OB takes off as the locals and visitors celebrate and spread even more Holiday Cheer in one of the many local bars and eateries. People of all ages are invited join us at this fun-filled event – costumes, cheering and laughter are not only welcomed, they are encouraged!

La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival

December 2
Spread some holiday cheer at the annual La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival in downtown La Jolla! This fun, family-friendly event is a decades-old La Jolla tradition, and includes marching bands, community groups, drill teams, vintage vehicles, horses, and even a camel! The Holiday Festival begins at 10:30am outside the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, with live entertainment and photos with Santa. The Parade kicks off at 1pm and will head along Girard Avenue.

Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village

December 1
This holiday season, sidewalks in Little Italy will be filled with holiday cheer for the 20th Annual Little Italy Tree Lighting and Christmas Village from 4pm to 8pm. Families, friends, and visitors will be able to experience a tree lighting ceremony, a Christmas Village with seasonal vendors, festive décor, live music and entertainment, holiday treats, Santa Claus and more.

Santa Claus will be in attendance for meet and greets and photos with all the neighborhood kids and kids at heart starting at 4:00pm. Attendees can catch Santa at “Santa’s Living Room” on India Street and take pictures until 6pm. Next to “Santa’s Living Room” will be fun arts and crafts for the kids to take part in, and seasonal vendors selling perfect stocking stuffers and select Little Italy Mercato vendors with holiday goodies will be lining India Street. Don’t forget to check out the 25-foot tower of more than 1,100 beautiful Poinsettias, located in the center of Piazza Basilone! The community will gather at the neighborhood’s 20’ tall live tree (in the Piazza della Famiglia) at 6:30pm for an official lighting.

December Nights at Balboa Park

December 7 & 8
Join the festivities during Balboa Park December Nights, a two-day holiday wonderland of food, entertainment and fun. The sights, sounds and smells of the holiday season fill the air as the museums and cultural institutions in Balboa Park, the nation’s largest urban cultural park, open their doors free of charge. Festivities include carolers, live holiday music, twinkling lights displayed all over the park, theater and dance performances, and delicious holiday treats and foods from around the world. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy live entertainment and the holiday spirit.

Coronado Holiday Parade & Open House

December 7
Experience the magic of the holidays on beautiful Coronado Island this December. Festivities kick off at the Ferry Landing with Santa arriving at 3:20 PM, with carolers and snow fun at snow mountain. The Holiday Parade will kick off at 6pm along Orange Avenue, as the village transforms into a winter wonderland. Then, at 7pm, be sure to stop by Rotary Plaza for the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony hosted by none other than Santa himself.

Before or after the parade, shop in the stores along Orange Ave – they’ll have treats and festivities to make holiday shopping a memorable and relaxing time.

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

December 8
The Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights, a uniquely California celebration, features boats decorated for the holidays that will sail around the Bay. This free, distinctly California holiday tradition features boats decorated for the annual holiday season that will sail around Mission Bay. A highly anticipated event in the San Diego community, dozens of vessels take to the water for the parade. The boat parade begins at 6:00 PM from Quivira Basin. Best viewing is from Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

December 9 & 16
One of San Diego’s most anticipated holiday events returns Dec. 9th! Enjoy the twinkling waters of the San Diego Bay and more than 80 private boats decorated with holiday lights for the annual Port of San Diego Bay Parade of Lights over two weekends in December. Great views are available on dry land from Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, the pier at Cesar Chavez Park and Coronado’s Ferry Landing.

Skating by the Sea at Hotel Del Coronado

Nov 22-Jan 1
One of San Diego’s most beloved traditions returns to the Hotel Del Coronado this November! Visitors will get the chance to ice skate right next to the Pacific Ocean at the only seaside skating rink in San Diego. The spectacular ice skating rink is located seaside on Windsor Lawn and features stunning views of the Pacific and Coronado beach. The Del’s iconic Victorian Building, adorned with thousands of white lights, provides a magical backdrop as holiday music fills the air and guests enjoy hot chocolate and libations.

New this year, you’ll be able to reserve a private lounging spot in Frostbite, the Del’s rink-side lounge area. Guests will enjoy plush, private seating around a roaring fire pit with full food and beverage service. Choose from your favorite holiday-themed libations or snacks and enjoy unlimited hot cocoa and coffee as you enjoy watching the beachfront ice skating!

Holiday Pet Parade in Gaslamp Quarter

December 16
San Diego’s furriest family-friendly parade returns as the 11th Annual Vet & Pet West Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade takes over the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter! Prepare to unleash holiday cheer through the streets of Downtown San Diego with your furry friends. All pet owners and their furry, feathered, and scaled companions are invited to don their favorite costumes and put their best paw, wing, and fin forward for this jolly promenade and pet expo, which starts and ends at MLK Promenade Park, adjacent to the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter (401 K Street, San Diego, CA 92101) at Fourth Avenue and K Street.

Entry to participate in the Pet Parade is just $15 per pet in advance, and $20 on the day of the event.

Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade

December 31
America’s Largest Balloon Parade returns to San Diego this December! The scenic, bayside streets of downtown San Diego will come alive with the 2018 Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade on December 31st. As always, this exciting family event brings together world-class marching bands, magnificent floats, entertaining drill teams, and a procession of enormous balloons – more than any other parade in the US. Over 100,000 street-side spectators will enjoy the parade, along with a nationwide television audience in celebration of Holiday Bowl game day.

Stay tuned for more fun holiday activities in San Diego!

Encinitas Events & Things to Do

Encinitas is a fun beach town in North County, San Diego that’s known for its surf culture, boutiques, great restaurants, and tight-knit community. At just a 30-minute drive from La Jolla and 45 minutes from downtown San Diego, Encinitas is easy to get to and makes for a great place for a day trip from anywhere in the County – and there’s always something to do! From the weekly Farmers Market to the Taste of Encinitas each summer, this funky coastal town is an exciting place to visit any time of year. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular events and things to do in Encinitas!

Annual Events

Spring Street Fair

Every April, you can enjoy over 450 unique food, arts and crafts vendors plus four entertainment stages, children’s activities, Bike Valets, and a Beer Garden! Take advantage of free family fun, entertainment, a National Award Winning MainStreet and a traditional Southern California beach town.

Savor craft beers and soak up the sun while listening to the best bands in San Diego rock out at the Beer Garden Stage. You can even bring your kids and your dogs! Take a break from the hustle and bustle by listening to the eclectic music at The Lumberyard Courtyard Stage. See the stars of tomorrow perform at the Hansen’s Community Stage! Great news for cyclists, our two Bike Valet stations are open both days to store your bicycles while you peruse the Street Fair!

Encinitas Cruise Nights

On the third Thursday of each summer month from May through September each year, the streets of Encinitas turn into Encinitas Cruise Nights! Old-school hot rods, foreign automobiles, classic cars, and woodies line S. Coast Hwy 101 all the way from D Street to K Street. Classic cars are also parked along the Hwy 101 and on side streets, and oftentimes there is live music being played in various spots along Hwy 101.

The event is open and free to the public. Every car in attendance is eligible for awards and there is no cost for displaying or viewing the cars. Encinitas Classic Car Nights is a great reason to spend a summer night out in historic downtown Encinitas with great restaurants and unique shops.

Taste of Encinitas

Every August, the annual Taste of Encinitas event comes to the streets of historic downtown. This is a great way to experience some of the best Encinitas restaurants and shops, while you slowly stroll through town and listen to the sounds of live music. Treat your taste buds to food samples from more than 30 restaurants and enjoy local wine and craft beer served at 19 “Sip Stops” hosted by shops and salons. Don’t forget to pause along the way to enjoy live music at eight different venues. Tickets cost $45 per person and include all food and 10 drink samples; they can be purchased the day of the event at Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association’s office (818 S. Coast Highway 101).

LeucadiART Walk

Each August, the streets of Leucadia and Encinitas come alive for the LeucadiART Walk, which takes place along two miles of scenic Hwy 101 at various locations in downtown Leucadia. You’ll find local juried artists showing off their art at various booths along the 101, and a few places host live music from local bands. There are also live dance and art demonstrations throughout. This past year, there was a live surfboard art demonstration!

Leucadia ArtWalk doesn’t forget about the kiddos either – the event features a Children’s Art Pavilion complete with children’s activities, wearable art fashion show, art demonstrations, and a raffle for prizes.

For thirsty art-lovers, there is a Beer & Wine Garden (21+) featuring local breweries and distilleries, including Lost Abbey, Port Brewing, and Boochcraft. A free shuttle bus runs during the event, as well as two trolleys, which make several stops throughout downtown.

Summer Series at the Lumberyard

The Lumberyard is an expansive shopping and courtyard area in the middle of downtown Encinitas, and is home to nearly 50 stores and restaurants. The Lumberyard puts on several events throughout the year, and one of the most loved by locals is the Summer Concert Series, which happens August-September on weekend nights. Live music from local bands happens from 5pm-9pm; bring your friends and family to enjoy dinner, shopping, and live music on a warm summer night!

Halloween Safe Trick-or-Treat

Every Halloween, The Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association presents its Annual Safe Trick-or-Treat event. Historic Highway 101(from Encinitas Blvd to K Street) will turn into “Pumpkin Lane” as local businesses stay open late to welcome trick-or-treaters. The public is also invited to see the amazing pumpkins carved by the Self-Realization Fellowship monks each year.

Along the 101 there are several places to stop and enjoy Halloween-themed activities. You’ll find live music and games In the Lumberyard courtyard, and in the SRF parking lot (next to their K Street Store) check out the Queens Court! This event is free and families are welcome to join in the fun!

Annual Holiday Street Fair

Every December, get ready for the holidays with more than 450 food, arts, and crafts vendors and live entertainment on four different stages, as well as children’s rides, a Beer Garden, and bike valets! This is a great way to get started on your shopping for the holidays and support local artisans and makers.
There’s plenty to eat and drink, too! Savor craft beers and soak up some winter sun while listening to the best bands in San Diego rock out at the Beer Garden Stage, or take a break from the hustle and bustle by listening to the eclectic music at The Lumberyard Courtyard Stage. The schedule of events and the bands that play varies with each year, so be sure to check the website for details and real-time updates.

Garden of Lights at the Botanic Garden

Each December, the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas is transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with over 125,000 sparkling lights. Festive holiday activities abound, including sledding and horse-drawn wagon rides, holiday crafts, marshmallow roasting, Nutcracker displays, visits with Santa, food trucks, hot mulled wine, nightly live music and live entertainment, and catered refreshments from local eateries.

Kids are welcome — there are numerous family-friendly activities held throughout the festivities!

Seaside Bazaar (weekly)

Every Saturday and Sunday, The Seaside Bazaar opens in the heart of Encinitas on Highway 101. The Bazaar is an offbeat European style open-air flea market, and is one of the best outdoor shopping experiences in North County! More than 50 vendors sell such crafts as artisan jewelry, wind chimes, weather vanes, photography and art, collectibles, inexpensive antiques, leather goods, clothing, and more. The seaside bazaar is also within walking distance to shops, restaurants, and the La Paloma Theater in historic downtown Encinitas.

Encinitas Seaside Bazaar is held on a dirt lot in tent exhibits, just south of Encinitas Blvd and north of the La Paloma Theatre. Free parking is available on the lot next to the bazaar, as well as along nearby streets.

Leucadia Farmers Market (weekly)

For another local shopping experience, head to the weekly Leucadia Farmers Market every Sunday from 10am-2pm. The market features more than 75 vendors selling fresh flowers, plants, produce, and vegetables, including a large Certified Organic Section. You’ll also find specialty foods, including fresh breads, beef, seafood, marinades, pastas, and sauces. Come hungry, as there is a huge food court that serves breakfast and lunch!

In addition to all the great vendors on-site, the market also features a children’s playground, covered picnic area, live music, balloon twisting, and face painting. The Farmers Market is held at Paul Ecke Central School (185 Union Street, Encinitas 92024).

10 Bars in Encinitas to Add to Your List

Looking to bar hop during your time in Encinitas? We’ve got you covered! This funky coastal beach town is home to dozens of bars, wine bars, and restaurants; and there is no shortage of great beer, wine, and food. We’ve rounded up 10 great bars in Encinitas to add to your list next time you’re going out in North County; from cozy cocktail bars by the beach to laid-back pubs along South Coast Highway! Tip: most of these Encinitas bars are easily walkable, and it doesn’t take too long to walk from one end of downtown to the other.

SHELTER

540 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
SHELTER is a trendy cocktail lounge and bar with an eclectic, funky vibe. The spot boasts a retractable ceiling that allows the night sky to illuminate the interior, which includes booths and a patio area featuring a large fire pit. If you’re looking for cocktails, this is the place to go – SHELTER offers a wide array of specialty cocktails with everything from Mules in copper mugs to VIP Bottle Service in a private booth. DJs play most weekend nights, and there is plenty of standing room if you’re in a larger group.

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The Saloon

546 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas


As the area’s beloved local dive bar (it’s been open since 1934!), The Saloon is a great introduction to the bar scene in Encinitas. Dirty Monday’s deep house and dubstep paired with great drink prices mix well for free-spirited dance moves. Friday and Saturday nights, DJs spin popular hip-hop that flows into faster dance jams, perfect for making an impenetrable dance circle with friends. Young and old alike sip and mingle in this intimate bar that easily transforms into a place to boogie. No cover and casual dress code make it a perfect place to have fun, sport a mustache, and have a more casual night out dancing to hip music.

The Bier Garden

641 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
For craft beer lovers, The Bier Garden in Encinitas is the perfect place to start out a pub crawl! Located in a former steakhouse from the 1940’s, the Bier Garden Encinitas maintains the integrity of the beautiful and historic building while creating a place for all to relax and unwind! It features 32 tap handles from Southern California, a retro cocktail menu, California coastal, local, and beer-infused cuisine to be enjoyed for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. They also have a great Happy Hour, if you’re starting early!

Union Kitchen + Tap

1108 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
As one of the earliest trendsetters to open in Encinitas, we had to mention Union Kitchen + Tap for its great beer and cocktail selection! Union offers three separate dining areas, a lively main bar, and a chic, yet relaxed vibe with reclaimed wood accents and modern furnishings. The menu here features traditional American fare made from fresh, local ingredients, an extensive tap list, craft cocktails, and vintage wines. This is a great spot for groups – there are plenty of large tables and seats, and on weekends, the vibe is lively and fun.

D Street Bar & Grill

485 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
D Street is a comfortable neighborhood pub that offers classic bar food (think onion rings, nachos, and burgers), plus plenty of beer on tap and a fun cocktail menu that features a solid mix of classic and creative. After 10pm most nights, the entire bar turns into a dance venue – DJs and live music play late into the evening, and the seats and chairs are taken away to create a full-bar dance floor. Come here for the drinks, and stay for the dancing!

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Encinitas Ale House

1044 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
Another locally-loved spot, Encinitas Ale House is a small, cozy, and friendly little pub located on a quieter street corner. Besides their large beer selection, the Ale House is known for its incredible variety of “Locally World Famous” Angus and Kobe Wagyu burgers. If you’re feeling adventurous, ask your server about their wild game burgers – we’ve heard they often have everything from lamb to wild boar!

32 rotating taps of Belgian, German, and local San Diego beers, as well as an extensive bottled beer list (many of which are rare vintages or special limited-releases) make this a must-try for any sort of beer lover.

Lumberyard Tavern

967 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
Another historic spot, the Lumberyard Tavern offers a variety of yummy comfort food favorites (including the area’s famous “Cardiff Crack” specialty), as well as an extensive liquor selection: more than fifty different bourbons, Tennessee whiskeys, scotch-whiskey blends, and single malts are all on the menu here.

Lumberyard Tavern has plenty of TVs, a pet-friendly patio, and a large family-friendly dining area. If you’re looking for a laid-back pub that feels like a comfortable place to spend an hour or two after work, this is your place!

1st Street Bar

656 S. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
1st Street Bar was recently renovated, but has been a longtime local watering hole for years; complete with a retro vibe, full bar, live music, plenty of large TVs, and billiards, this is a great spot for watching sports on a sunny weekend afternoon. 1st Street has great weekly drink specials, including Happy Hour seven days of the week until 7pm ($2 off drafts, $4 well drinks, and pitcher specials); $4 and $6 specials on certain drinks from 9pm-close on Monday through Thursday; ½ price pitchers on Friday and Saturday from 7pm-9pm; and industry drink specials plus Karaoke on Sundays starting at 9pm.

It may not be the trendiest spot in town, but come here for the drink specials, the billiards, and the big screen TVs!

Mr. Peabody’s Bar & Grill

136 Encinitas Blvd., Encinitas
Mr. Peabody’s has been in the same Encinitas location since the early 2000s, located next to I-5 in the newly remodeled Lazy Acres shopping center. The spot offers live music and dancing several nights a week, and also offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are plenty of TVs, a jukebox, and Karaoke is offered a couple of times a week. Mr. Peabody’s has a great Happy Hour lineup, most notably because each night of the week is something different: Sundays feature $5 Jameson; Mondays it’s $2.75 well drinks and domestic drafts; Tuesday it’s $10 Budweiser pitchers from 8pm-close, etc.

The music scene here is pretty lively, and you’re guaranteed to happen upon an open mic night or a local band any night of the week. Check their website for the event lineup and full Happy Hour specials.

Beachside Bar & Grill

806 S. Coast Hwy, Encinitas
Beachside Bar/Grill is a fun, friendly neighborhood spot in Encinitas. Beachside features plenty of outdoor seating, 24 different beers on tap, an extensive food menu, and great drink specials. Some kind of event or activity happens most nights of the week: including a weekly Trivia Night, Industry Night, a Wing Night, and a Tacos & Tequila Special on – you guessed it – Tuesdays.

Locals come here for the casual vibe and big tables; perfect for larger groups or big families. They are kid-friendly, too, so this is a good spot to grab dinner and enjoy the football game.

Read more about things to do in Encinitas here, or check out our Encinitas date night tips!

San Diego Halloween Events For Kids

Halloween is in the air and the holiday can be full of fright for little ones. But we’ve rounded-up plenty of scare-free fun so kids of all ages can dress up in their favorite costume and go enjoy the lighter side of the holiday. From the San Diego Zoo’s first Halloween event ever to the Aquarium’s Sea Monster Mash, read on to learn where you can have a monstrously great time with your little ghouls and goblins.

Pillage the Village

Downtown La Jolla
Tuesday October 31st, 3pm-6pm

It’s almost time for the 8th annual Pillage the Village! Every year, trick-or-treaters in La Jolla walk around the Seaport Village in costume and treat the locals to a little Halloween spooky fun. Participating merchants and businesses will have orange and black balloons visible, so you know where you’ll be able to get some goodies. A good starting point is Girard and Prospect. Work your way around downtown La Jolla until you’ve trick-or-treated everywhere!

SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular

SeaWorld San Diego (500 Sea World Drive)
Weekends through Oct 28th

Watch silly and spooky live shows and presentations, enjoy fun Halloween activities, and trick or treat for candy and goodies throughout the colorfully decorated park! Halloween Spooktacular is one of San Diego’s biggest fall festivals, with weekends brimming with family fun. Get in the spooky spirit and catch popular live shows like Clyde & Seamore’s Big Halloween Bash and the all-new Sesame Street Halloween Parade, join delightful Halloween dance parties and let the little ones trick or treat throughout the park in a safe, family-friendly environment. Oh, and be on the lookout for singing pumpkins in SeaWorld.

LEGOLAND Brick-or-Treat Party Nights

LEGOLAND California (1 Legoland Drive)
October 6, 13, 20, 27

Halloween festivities await at LEGOLAND California! Each Saturday evening throughout the month of October, families and little ones will enjoy live entertainment and new shows, character meet-and-greets, costume contests, treat stations (featuring more than 1 million pieces of candy), an AstroBash Dance Party, craft time, and more! Plus, don’t miss special treats and decorations in SEA LIFE Aquarium and take a spook-kooky ride on our updated Ghost Cruise adventure. The home of Halloween fun awaits for your next family adventure!

Boomont & Fall Fest

Belmont Park (3146 Mission Blvd.)
Weekends in Oct & Nov

Returning for its sixth season this year, Boomont & Fall Fest 2018 transforms Belmont Park with fall thrills and chills throughout the beachfront amusement park! Halloween and fall-themed festivities will be happening on Fridays and Sundays in October through November. Attractions include The BOOmont Manor (a family-friendly haunted house), a pumpkin patch where you can participate in pumpkin painting, the Spooky Coaster ( the 1925-era Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster), the Superhero Zip Line & Rock Wall, and Zombie Laser Tag, where creatures will join you in a three-floor maze.

Belmont Park Costume contests on Saturdays. Each day includes trick-or-treating from 6:30pm-7:30pm. The event runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October 31.

HalGLOWeen at the Zoo

San Diego Zoo (2920 Zoo Drive)
Oct 26, 27, 28

Join the world-famous San Diego Zoo for a colorfully creepy celebration October 26 through 28, from 5pm to 8pm. Guests will get the chance to enjoy myriad ghoulishly fun activities and entertainment, including the interactive “Boolahoops,” the hip-hop dancing Funky Monkeys, amazing acrobats, pumpkin and cookie decorating, cupcake walks, and the DJ Dance Party — a rousing bash where guests are invited to dance to spectacular Halloween tunes among bursts of bubbles, with a fun finale featuring black-light bubbles!

The Zoo’s zany maestro of fun, Dr. Zoolittle, will astound the crowd with a special “Creepy Crawly” show that just might change your mind about snakes and spiders. Magician Glowinda the Great and jugglers Humerus and Femur will mingle among guests, astonishing everyone with amazing feats and mind-blowing acts, while the Zoo characters will get into the spirit of the season and don their best Halloween costumes.

Haunted Birch Aquarium: Sea Monster Mash

Birch Aquarium at Scripps (2300 Expedition Way)
October 26 & 27

Enjoy close encounters with Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists and search the galleries for unusual underwater creatures rarely seen at Birch Aquarium during its spooktacular Sea Monster Mash! This spooky San Diego spot allows you to explore a sea of glowing beasts (big and small), make your own seaweed slime, get up-close-and personal with Frankensquid and other spooky species, and enjoy ghost stories, all while boogieing down to live music courtesy of Billy Lee and the Swamp Critters, and having a monstrously good time.

Other Halloween activities this year include:

  • Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography showcasing exciting, and sometimes spooky, research.
  • Glow Critters: Witness creatures that create their own light and glow in the deep, dark ocean.
  • Story Time: Little ones can gather around and listen to a spooky (but not too spooky) tales
  • Witch-Crafts: Enjoy creepy crafts that are fun for all ages, including making your own trick or treat bag

Balboa Park Halloween Family Day

Balboa Park
Oct 27, 11am-4pm

San Diego’s largest free Halloween carnival celebrates its 10th annual extravaganza in Balboa Park! Balboa Park Halloween Family Day features dozens of free craft projects for kids, Day of the Dead-themed display altars and crafts, costume contests and parades, carnival games with prizes, live entertainment, and food trucks. Participating museums also offer free admission to children 12 and under with paying adult.

More than two dozen participating museums, cultural attractions, and community partners will present free hands-on activities for kids in the Plaza de Panama and El Prado walkway, while select museums offer additional Halloween-themed activities inside their buildings. Other highlights include a free performance by the San Diego Children’s Choir, mini-carnival games for prizes, a doggie costume contest in the Spanish Village Art Center, a rooftop pumpkin drop experiment at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, “Thriller” flash mob dance in the Plaza de Panama, and more!

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Halloween Carnival at the La Jolla Rec Center

La Jolla Rec Center (615 Prospect St.)
Oct 27, 1pm-4pm

Head to the La Jolla Rec Center for an afternoon of Halloween inspired games, a bounce house, arts and crafts, and more spooktacular activities! There will be several costume contests held throughout the day (grouped by age), and the first costume contest starts at 1:30pm. Families can purchase wristbands for the day for $10, which include the bounce house, face painting, carnival games, and the arts and crafts stations.

Halloween Celebration at Liberty Station

Liberty Station (2848 Dewey Rd.)
October 28, 12pm-4pm

Liberty Station is inviting the community to join in on a free family-friendly Halloween celebration this October! Fun daytime festivities will include a costume contest, trick-or-treating throughout Liberty Station, a play area presented by Kid Ventures, live music and entertainment, a Hollywood car show, and tons more! Families can also snap some pictures with 501st Stormtroopers and participate in festive games, as well as find their way through an inflatable obstacle course and the Liberty Public Market pumpkin patch.

Kids Halloween Party at the Hotel Del

Hotel Del Coronado (1500 Orange Avenue)
Oct 27, 6pm-11:30pm

Kids ages 4-12 can attend their own Halloween party at the Hotel Del Coronado (while you and your date party at the Hallo-Wine and Spirits Party!). Little ones will delight at all of the spooky decorations and costumes as they enjoy trick-or-treating, games, a themed dinner, and more. This year’s theme is Hotel Transylvania, so bring your favorite vampire, mummy, or spooky monster costume and enjoy all the spooktastic fun. This San Diego Halloween event is a bit of a splurge, but it will make for a memorable evening that can only take place on Coronado Island. Plus, the Hotel is rumored to be haunted – what could make a Halloween evening more fun?

Haunted Tales Aboard the Star of India

Star of India (1492 N Harbor Drive)
October 20 & 27, 6pm-10pm

Is the Star of India haunted? Find out as you board the ship for two nights of creepy storytelling! Enjoy lantern-led tours around the ship while you hear eerie legends from the Star of India’s past. Hear the tales of how young John Campbell fell to his death from the rigging, and other creepy events from the ship’s 153 year history. These tales are creepy – and true – and you aren’t likely to hear these stories during its daytime operating hours; which makes it all the more special. Be sure to bring a sweater because if the harbor air doesn’t chill you, the stories will! Starting at 6pm, storytelling tours begin each 15 minutes, with the last tour starting at 9:15pm. Note: this may not be the best event for children younger than 4 or 5.

Taste of La Jolla 2018: Wine, Dine, & Stroll Through Downtown La Jolla

The Annual Taste of La Jolla, sponsored by the Foundation of La Jolla High School, returns to the Village on October 22, 2018 from 6pm – 8:30pm. Enjoy a fun, festive evening while strolling through the streets of downtown La Jolla Village and sampling signature dishes from a number of local restaurants – from fine dining to quick bites.

Tickets are $50 online or $55 at check-in at Chase Bank (7777 Girard Avenue) on Monday evening, October 22nd.
taste of la jolla

This year’s participating restaurants include:

  • Acquavite
  • Beaming
  • Nine-Ten Restaurant & Bar
  • Girard Gourmet
  • Sushi on the Rock
  • George’s at the Cove
  • We Olive & Wine Bar
  • Herringbone La Jolla
  • Jose’s Courtroom
  • Hennessey’s
  • Gelateria Frizzante
  • Cafe La Rue

For nearly 100 years, La Jolla High School has provided a top-rate public education and vibrant campus for the entire community. In order to maintain this tradition and to enhance the overall experience for our children, The Foundation of La Jolla High raises necessary funds each year to provide school programs and capital items not paid for by the San Diego Unified School District. This year, 100% of the Taste of La Jolla proceeds benefit the students of La Jolla High School! To purchase tickets in advance, head to their website.

Your Guide to the Best Halloween Parties in San Diego

It’s that time of year again – Halloween is just around the corner, you’re beginning to see Fall colors in San Diego, and the spooky celebrations are already getting started! Leave the trick-or-treating to the kids and throw on your best costume to roam the streets and clubs of downtown San Diego and beyond – from epic outdoor parties to all-night bar crawls, there’s definitely something for everyone happening this Halloween.

Halloween Pacific Beach Pub Crawl

When: October 27, 2018
Come in costume and hit the streets of Pacific Beach for a Halloween pub crawl night out! Tickets to this year’s Pacific Beach Halloween pub crawl will get you drink discounts and free welcome shots and entry at over 10 different Halloween parties. Featuring some of the best bars with amazing drink and entertainment specials, there’s no shortage of fun entertainment at this year’s Pacific Beach Pub Crawl. Meet new friends and visit new places on one of the most popular nights of the year, and prepare to dress yourself up in one of your favorite costumes!

San Diego Pre-Halloween Pub Crawl

When: October 26, 27, 31
Put on your best costume for this massive Halloween Pub Crawl over three Spook-tacular nights with a half dozen bars! During select hours on the 26th, 27th, and 31st. Show your wristband at over 10 different bars and nightclubs for free entry and exclusive drink specials including free welcome shots at select venues. The best part? There’s no schedule – so you and friends roam the streets at your own pace and party non-stop all night. This year’s pre-Halloween Pub Crawl will happen on three separate nights at the end of October.

San Diego Zombie Crawl Gaslamp Takeover

When: October 26, 27, 31
If you love Halloween, dining and the nightlife, you won’t want to miss San Diego’s #1 Halloween Celebration! Your San Diego Zombie Crawl ticket includes three nights of access to more than 25 premier club destinations, welcome shots, and food and beverage specials in the Gaslamp Quarter and downtown San Diego. Closing parties will be held at different clubs each night: Parq Restaurant/Nightclub, Bassmnt, and Omnia, three of the most popular spots in San Diego. This is the ultimate way to experience the nightlife and Halloween festivities the Gaslamp Quarter is famous for!

Sinners & Saints: Night at the Haunted Museum

When: October 26, 2018
Head to the San Diego Museum of Man for a spooktacular extravaganza as they raise money for a great cause: Urban Street Angels and the mission to end youth homelessness in San Diego and beyond. 100% of proceeds from the event go directly to aiding homeless youth in the local community.

Sinners & Saints promises to be a frightfully fantastic evening with delectable appetizers, stocked bars, costume contests, live entertainment from DJ Aaron K, and amazing raffle and silent auction items. The Museum will have all of their exhibits open for your enjoyment, including Ancient Egypt, Monsters, and Beerology, so it’s a great time to explore everything Balboa Park has to offer!

WCKD Village

When: October 27, 2018
Monster Bash is now WCKD Village! After 19 years of thrilling festivals, Monster Bash is getting WCKD: prepare to enter into a realm of electrifying adventures as San Diego’s favorite Halloween festival returns, bringing you all the exhilaration of previous years, with a new WCKD twist. Six blocks in the East Village will transform right before your eyes as the WCKD Village comes to life.

Life-size interactive games, four stages of live music and entertainment, extravagant thrills, a creepy costume contest, and haunting experiences (including The Demented Circus and The Village Crypt) converge to become one of San Diego’s biggest Halloween parties of the year!

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Nightmare on Normal Street

When: October 27, 2018
Hillcrest’s epic haunted dance party and Halloween costume competition is back! Nightmare on Normal will take over the Pride Flag Plaza at Normal and University on Saturday, October 2 from 6pm-11pm! This year’s event benefits the San Diego LGBT Community Center and Fabulous Hillcrest.

With late night live entertainment, costume contest (including a special pet contest for your furry, fuzzy, and feathery companions), outdoor bars, and the best people watching in all of San Diego, this is an event you won’t want to miss!

Hard Rock Hotel’s “A Halloween Odyssey”

When: October 27, 2018
Hard Rock Hotel is famous for throwing massive Halloween parties each year, and this year is no different! The theme for 2018 is “A Halloween Odyssey,” and guests will get to experience a chilling reenactment of Stanley Kubrick’s most infamous films on October 27th at one of the biggest parties of the evening.

More than 4,000 costumed party-goers will drink and dance in five rooms over three decked-out floors, each room with a different music format accompanied by a notorious Kubrick-inspired theme. Over 15 DJ’s and two headliners will keep the downtown odyssey going all night long. This year’s headliners include Oliver Heldens and several more TBA.

Hallo-wine and Spirits Party

When: October 27, 2018
Celebrate Halloween at San Diego’s famous haunted hotel on Saturday, October 27! Wear your best costume and head to the 9th annual, adults-only Hallo-wine & Spirits Party full of spooky surroundings, great eats, drinks, and dancing. This year’s theme is Legendary Screams from the Silver Screen. Don’t forget to use #DelHallowine to post your photos and videos of the event!

The evening begins at 9 pm with a reception on the Garden Patio featuring culinary delights and wine tasting. Afterward, the party starts to head into the Crown Room for dessert, drinks, dancing, and the crowning of the year’s best Halloween costume. Make reservations early for this one, as tickets often sell out in advance. The event goes from 7pm-12am.

Halloween Yacht Party

When: October 27, 2018
If you’re looking for a different way to celebrate Halloween this year, try a harbor cruise! Guests will board the Spirit of San Diego from San Diego Harbor for a three-hour cruise with hundreds of fellow costumed party guests. The luxury party yacht will feature all kinds of treats and appetizers, a full bar, DJs and dancing on multiple levels, and costume parties (including a chance to win a $500 cash prize for best costume!). The event is 21+ and the cruise starts at 9 pm.

For more Halloween festivities, fun, events, and Fall activities, visit our Events Page to stay up-to-date on the city’s latest happenings!

Annual La Jolla Art & Wine Festival

The 2018 La Jolla Art & Wine Festival returns to downtown La Jolla on October 6th and 7th! Now in its tenth year, this two-day festival is packed full of great art from more than 120 juried artists, a beer and wine garden featuring local brews and wine from California’s best wineries, a kids’ activity zone, and plenty of food and local craft vendors. Along with a gourmet marketplace, a two-day silent auction, 15 pet adoption stations, and an all-star line-up of live entertainment and music, there is something for everyone at this local festival!

Wine & Beer Garden

Festival visitors who are 21 and older can enjoy regional and international wines as well as local San Diego craft beers at the Wine & Beer Garden. Stop by and sample delectable wines from Valle De Guadalupe, California, France, and of course, a wide variety of internationally renowned brews by several local San Diego craft breweries.

This year, the festival will be highlighting two great restaurants in the Wine and Beer Garden! Sample bites from the Melting Pot on Saturday and Farmer & the Seahorse on Sunday.

Single wine or beer tasting: $5
Five tastes: $20

Live Music & Stage Entertainment

On both days, there will be live entertainment on two different stages starting at 12pm, and ending at 7pm. Artist highlights this year include Whitney Shay, the La Jolla High Marching Band, and Stone Horse.

Some highlights of this year’s live entertainment include a variety of different talks and discussions from local businesses. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the stilt walkers! They’ll be wandering around the festival (and make for some great photo ops) all day.

Geppetto’s Family Art Center & Lab

The Geppetto’s Family Art Center and Lab is an extensive family area that will not only feature fun crafts and art projects, but will also include science experiments and other participatory activities for kids of all ages.

The La Jolla Art & Wine Festival encourages kids to roll up their sleeves and express themselves, all day long. Kids will be able to paint on a car, enjoy multiple hands-on activities, learn all about how 3-D printing works, and contribute to a public space art project. The inspiration is endless and the fun is abundant in this free activity center that continues to grow every year.

The Art

Art is definitely the highlight of the festival! Featuring the works of over 150 established artists from San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Baja and beyond, the LJAWF features something for everyone. The carefully curated, handpicked and juried collection of artists truly showcases the incredible talent of today’s top creators in a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, jewelry design, fine glass, ceramics, woodwork, mixed media, and photography. You’ll be able to purchase most artwork that you see, and the artists will be around to answer any questions or discuss their work.

Stay tuned for more detailed information on which artists will be there this year!

Silent Auction

There will be several auction items this year for trips, spa resorts (including Rancho la Puerta), La Jolla’s finest restaurants, jewelry, and clothes from our best boutiques, gift certificates for local hair and spa services – and much more.

There will be two separate auctions, one on Saturday and a separate one on Sunday. Last year the silent auction raised more than $26,000 to support the underfunded programs in the elementary and middle schools in La Jolla! All of the profits go towards a fantastic cause.

Food, Food, and More Food!

The food never disappoints at the LJAWF! From Greek food to crepes to Maine lobster and everything in between – this is more than your typical festival food so be prepared to indulge in something delicious at this year’s food court. Here’s a list of this year’s vendors!

  • Bread & Cheese Catering
  • Hunter’s Steak House
  • Cousins Maine Lobster
  • Bullseye Kettle Corn & Shaved Ice
  • Rebound Nutraceuticals / Magic Bullet
  • Greek Snack
  • Tacos El Rorro
  • Isola Pizza Bar
  • Sicilian Breeze Gelato
  • Desert Valley Concessions
  • Hawaiian Honey Cones
  • Doggos Gus
  • Lick it Lolly Pops

La Jolla Art & Wine Festival Hours & Location

Saturday, October 6th: 10am-6pm

Sunday, October 7th: 10am-6pm

The festival will take place all along Girard Avenue, between Torrey Pines Road and Prospect Street.

For more information and an up-to-date activity and event schedule, visit the LJAWF website.

Kids are FREE for October Only: Sea World, Belmont Park, and 100+ More San Diego Attractions

During the month-long Kids Free October celebration, your little ones will be treated to free admission at attractions, meals on the house, and tons of other great perks throughout the city. Enjoy more than 100 partner offers —as well as warm fall weather without the summer crowds! There’s big fun waiting for kids, with savings that parents will love. Explore below and plan your perfect trip to San Diego this October.

Kids Free Admission

Note: exact ages included in the promotion may vary for each attraction; check website for details before you go.

  • La Jolla Historical Society
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps
  • Belmont Park (play and ride for free)
  • Empress Hotel (free Kids’ Welcome Gift, $25 value)
  • Bike & Kayak Tours of La Jolla (ride for free)
  • Balboa Park Museums:
    • San Diego Automotive Museum
    • San Diego Air & Space Museum
    • Museum of Photographic Arts
    • San Diego History Center
    • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
    • San Diego Museum of Man
    • Timken Museum
    • Mingei International Museum
    • Fleet Science Center (Galleries only)
    • Japanese Friendship Garden
    • Marston House Museum & Gardens
    • San Diego Natural History Museum (Nat)
    • The San Diego Museum of Art
    • Veterans Museum
  • Maritime Museum of San Diego
  • San Diego SEAL Tours (ride free)
  • San Diego Fly Rides (ride free)
  • USS Midway Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

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Kids Eat Free:

  • The Shores Restaurant (La Jolla Shores Hotel)
  • Sheraton La Jolla
  • Embassy Suites San Diego/La Jolla
  • Torreyana Grille (Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines)
  • Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

SeaWorld Specials

  • Free single-day admission kids ages 3-9
  • Free Aquatica San Diego admission kids ages 3-9
  • Eat for free at Breakfast with the Orcas and Dine With Killer Whales
  • Free Dolphin interaction programs

San Diego Zoo Specials

  • Children ages 11 and younger free admission (when accompanied by an adult with a valid form of entry).
  • There are special activities happening both on weekdays and weekends throughout the month, as well!
  • The Kids Free Special includes the Skyfari Aerial Tram
  • For $5 extra, kids can also ride the Guided Bus Tour and the Kangaroo Bus.

HalGLOWeen on October 26, 27, and 28

From October 26-28, head to The Zoo for a colorfully creepy celebration from 5 to 8pm! The Zoo will be aglow with activities and entertainment: a DJ spinning spooktacular tunes for everyone to dance to among bursts of bubbles, acrobats, jugglers, a cupcake walk, and more. Kids are free for this event, and may wear costumes according to the guidelines posted on the HalGLOWeen website. Dr. Zoolittle has a special “creepy” show, and there is plenty of other festive family fun in store. For more information head to their website.

There are tons of other spots throughout San Diego that are offering special deals and activities in October, so be sure to keep checking the website for updated information!

Where to See Fall Colors in San Diego

Believe it or not, you don’t have to travel to the East Coast to experience fall colors, you can stay right here in southern California! There are a bunch of places in and nearby San Diego County to see the leaves changing colors, many of which are state parks. Every October and fall, the leaves of the black oak make a transition from green to vivid golds and oranges.

Wondering where to see fall colors in San Diego? Look no further! Here are five great spots to scope out the colors of fall in San Diego. Soon, you’ll be a San Diego Expert.

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

Drive about an hour and fifteen minutes east of San Diego and you’ll find one of San Diego’s most beautiful state parks, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. It features over 100 miles of hiking opportunities, a plethora of campsites, and 24,700 acres of oak and conifer forests. At an elevation of 5,000 feet, the seasons come and go similar to Northern California. There is a distinct difference in scenery between fall, summer, winter, and spring. 

Just about every hiking trail here will have something to offer in terms of cool autumn hues on the surrounding trees. There are also plenty of hiking options ranging in length and difficulty, making this a great option for kids. We recommend hiking around Lake Cuyamaca, which provides a nice backdrop for those fall colors.

Looking for more great trails in San Diego? Check out our guide to the best hikes in San Diego.

Palomar Mountain State Park

Some weekends it’s nice to leave behind our hectic lives and hit the road to enjoy some nature. Palomar Mountain is the ideal destination for just that! Palomar Mountain State Park features over 11 miles of trails through oak forests, chaparral, expansive meadows, and staggering fir and cedar woodlands. 

Aside from all its scenic glory, Palomar Mountain is also worthy of the hour and a half drive to simply see fall foliage. Thanks to its dense woodlands, high elevation, and remoteness, it’s the dream location to watch the leaves change colors. Bring the family or simply a friend to walk one of the park’s many trails. Varying in both length and difficulty, there’s a trail for everyone to enjoy. We recommend the French Valley to Weir Trail, a relatively flat 3.8-mile trail that showcases the best of Palomar Mountain’s woodlands and is a prime destination for fall foliage!

Julian

This little mountain town is the epitome of Southern California autumn charm! Once a prominent gold mining town, Julian is now known for its famous annual apple harvest, apple pie, and as one of the best places to go apple picking in San Diego. It’s also known for having four distinct seasons: in winter snow is known to dust the countryside landscape, in spring wildflowers bloom, and in autumn there is no shortage of burnt leaves falling to the ground!

If you want a true fall experience, Julian is the place to go. Spend a day checking out the historic downtown, visiting an old gold mine, or hiking the nearby trails. Julian is located about an hour and fifteen minutes east of San Diego. To really get the fall foliage experience, we recommend hiking the 1.65-mile Canyon Oak Trail within William Heise County Park for views of the great oaks towering above.­­

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Mount Laguna

At just an hour drive east of San Diego, Mt. Laguna offers one of the best San Diego hikes and undoubtedly one of the most popular places to see fall foliage in the area. It lies on the eastern edge of the Cleveland National Forest at close to 6,000 feet above sea level in a towering forest of Jeffrey pines. The main area features a general store, a restaurant/bar, campgrounds, and plenty of hiking opportunities. Among the several hiking trails, we recommend the 3.25-mile Sunset Trail. The trail hikes hikers through a dense pine forest and features stunning panoramic views of the area below. During the fall, this trail is spotted with yellows, oranges, and reds galore.

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Idyllwild

Idyllwild is a small, artsy mountain town located about two hours northeast of San Diego. This area, as well as nearby Lake Hemet, boast incredible fall foliage each year with cottonwoods that turn bright yellow as the summer season comes to an end. Stop by in late November for the town’s annual Harvest Festival, or travel there throughout the months of October or early November to see the leaves changing colors.

We recommend Deer Springs Trail, which is one of the most popular on Mount San Jacinto, above Palm Springs, and it’s accessible any time of year. Deer Springs Trail begins a mile north of Idyllwild on Highway 243, just north of the Strawberry Creek Bunkhouse.

Big Bear Lake

While it is technically a bit beyond La Jolla, its proximity to the city and incredible fall colors makes it worth it! Big Bear Lake is nestled about two hours north among the trees in the San Bernardino Mountains. In the fall, the changing colors contrast dramatically against the many evergreens in the area.

While you can see fall colors almost immediately as you climb the ascent to the lake, we recommend 1.5-mile Woodland Trail. It’s a family-friendly loop that starts at the Big Bear Discovery Center and is a great place to see fall foliage and the lake below. The prime time to see the changing leaves are Mid-October through early November, and the best views are from the hiking trails north of the lake. Big Bear is a 2.5-hour drive from San Diego depending on traffic. 

Lake Arrowhead

On the way to Big Bear Lake, you’ll pass by the small town area of Lake Arrowhead. The area features some of the prettiest colors of the year, and at about a two hour drive from San Diego, you’ll be able to see fall colors as soon as you head into the San Bernardino National Forest.

We recommend the North Shore National Recreational Trail. It features gorgeous mountain vistas and makes for a great day trip to escape the city. You’ll be greeted with incredible fall colors among the pine, cedar, and dogwood trees before you pass by the scenic Little Bear Creek. The trail is about 1.9 miles long and begins just behind the North Shore Campground on Hospital Road off of Hwy. 173. 

On your way home, stop by Lake Gregory in Crestline for more foliage views. You’ll be greeted by black oak and pockets of aspen providing orange, buff, gold and yellow splashes of color among deep green pines. It makes for a lovely walk, and a great pit stop on the way back to San Diego.

For more autumn fun, visit our list of fall activities in San Diego, or check out our guide on the best San Diego pumpkin patches!

Fall Activities in San Diego

Just because summer has come to an end doesn’t mean the fun has to stop!

When autumn arrives and the summer beach crowds diminish, San Diego visitors and locals can relish in our gorgeous weather and enjoy a number of fun-filled Fall activities – America’s Finest City is packed with events and things to do all season long.

From apple picking to haunted houses and everything in between, this San Diego expert has rounded up some of our favorite fall activities in San Diego for you to enjoy!

Go Apple Picking in Julian

Say hello to fall with a day trip to the historic gold mine town of Julian––famous for its fall colors, U-pick apples, apple pie, and apple cider. Head to a U-pick farm to pluck apples from the trees, then make your way to downtown Julian and look through the adorable gift stores.

Miner’s Diner is a good place to grab lunch with the tots in tow. Before leaving, stop by a local pie shop for a freshly baked apple or pumpkin pie.

For more ideas and tips, check out our complete guide to apple picking in Julian!

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos in Old Town

The annual Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) will be celebrated in Historical Old Town on November 1st-4th.

This free event will include the traditional candlelight procession on November 2nd starting at 6 PM, beginning at the entrance of the Old Town State Historic Park.

The procession will travel down San Diego Avenue to El Campo Santo Cemetery.

The celebration will continue throughout the weekend with street food, vendors, and family-friendly activities on San Diego Avenue.

Many Old Town restaurants will be providing special Dia de los Muertos menus and live music, along with activities for the entire family, including traditional face painting, mask making, and more.

Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND California

Starting September 29th, head to LEGOLAND California for Brick-or-Treat Party Nights on select days for Halloween-themed fun, music, costume contests, the Brick-or-Treat Trail, and more!

Families will be able to watch tons of fun, live entertainment, and shows (which are new for 2018) while getting into the Halloween spirit. Visitors are encouraged to come in costume!

Admission to Brick-or-Treat Party Nights at LEGOLAND California is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go San Diego® Card. For more information about this event and to purchase tickets, please visit the event website. LEGOLAND is located in Carlsbad, California, about 45 minutes from downtown San Diego and 30/35 minutes from La Jolla.

Check this out to find out more about what to expect before you visit LEGOLAND California!

Explore Haunted San Diego

Starting at the end of September, you can visit several spooky attractions around San Diego, including a haunted hotel!

Visit the Haunted Hotel downtown and try to find your way back out for a spine-tingling experience – named by Haunt World Magazine as one of the top 13 haunted houses in America, it’s sure to give you the spooks.

Or, enter the mile-long Haunted Trail in Balboa Park for a scary stroll through a haunted old Plantation and a haunted trail walk along Bourbon Street in New Orleans for a night you’ll never forget.

Celebrate at the Fallback Festival in Gaslamp Quarter

Celebrate the history and culture of downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.

Go on an old-fashioned hayride, pan for gold, ride a pony, and more! This year’s festival is on November 4th from 11am-4pm at 410 Island Avenue in the Gaslamp.

This festival will feature lots of fall-themed family-friendly fun, live entertainment, and educational content with a focus on the history of the Wild West in the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego.

Check out the San Diego Bay Food + Wine Festival

Enjoy some of the world’s best wine and culinary creations at the 11th annual San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival. This is one of the biggest yearly festivals in San Diego, and visitors will enjoy cooking classes, tasting panels, celebrity chef dinners, and tons more.

2018 will be the 15th annual San Diego Bay Wine + Food Festival event – and the biggest yet. It’s now the biggest culinary event to take place on the entire West Coast!

Visit a local pumpkin patch

Once late September rolls around, a plethora of pumpkin patches open up around the County. Be sure to read up on our tips and tricks on where to find the best pumpkin patches in San Diego!

Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center is packed with old-school country charm, complete with family-friendly activities including hayrides, a bounce house, a petting zoo, pony rides, a straw maze, and a general store bursting with timeless treats like pumpkin fudge, dried fruits, chocolates, apple butter, and toffee.

This fall, the farm will open its famous pumpkin patch starting September 22nd through October 31st, featuring a variety of pumpkins, gourds, and squash ripe for the picking. Admission is free and parking is $5 on weekends throughout October.

Over the course of the season, Bates will host many autumn-themed events including the Craft Fair Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 6 and Oct. 7, featuring 80+ vendors, and the farm’s annual Scarecrow Contest on Oct. 13. The farm’s annual Halloween Costume Contest and Parade are set for Oct. 20, while a “Howl-o-Ween” doggie costume contest is set for Oct. 21.

Experience Balboa Park’s Halloween Family Day

San Diego’s Balboa Park offers its annual Halloween Family Day on October 26 this year.

The region’s largest free Halloween carnival will be celebrating its 10th year of giving families a fun and culturally inspired kickoff to their Halloween activities.

Over two dozen museums and cultural attractions will present free craft projects for kids, costume parades, and tons of spooky surprises while participating museums offer free admission to children 12 and under with paying adult.

Participate in Kids Free October

Throughout the entire month of October, San Diego County is all about the kids!

In celebration of the San Diego Zoo’s opening more than 100 years in operation, Kids Free San Diego was started more than 30 years ago.

Check out our San Diego Zoo Guide to find out more!

There are free admissions and deals for children at more than 100 participating attractions, restaurants, and hotels throughout the County. Kids Free San Diego includes big-name attractions, too, such as SeaWorld San Diego, LEGOLAND California, and the San Diego Zoo, along with don’t-miss spots like Birch Aquarium, Maritime Museum of San Diego, and the USS Midway.

See Some Nearby Fall Foliage

Believe it or not, it is possible to see some fall foliage here in San Diego County! Although we are blessed with nearly perfect weather year round and a seemingly endless summer, with just a little bit of a drive, you’ll be able to experience a taste of Autumn right here in Southern California. You just have to know where to look for it!

Head to Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Palomar Mountain, or Mount Laguna to experience a wide range of reds, oranges, and yellows. At these higher elevations, oak and conifer forests abound, creating a gorgeous landscape that you won’t find in the city. Dense woodlands, high elevation, and remoteness combine to make these spots the ideal location for watching the leaves change colors!

Head to a Local Oktoberfest Celebration

Originally celebrated in early-1800s Germany in honor of the country’s royal family, Oktoberfest today is simply a reason for 6 million people to come to Munich to drink, eat, and be merry. The Munich celebration may have more than 150 years on us in San Diego, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to throw a party!

There are several Oktoberfests happening throughout the County this year, including Encinitas, La Mesa, El Cajon, Carlsbad, and Ocean Beach. It’s a great excuse to drink delicious German beer, have a couple of bratwursts, and enjoy the beautiful weather San Diego is known for!

Visit Knott’s Scary Farm

For a fun date night idea that’s just a bit north of San Diego (roughly an hour and a half, depending on traffic), head to Knott’s Scary Farm! On select nights from Sept. 20-Oct. 31, you can experience the largest and most haunting Halloween experience in Southern California.

The totally transformed theme park features mazes and attractions, shows, “scare zones,” and more than 1,000 terrifying creatures lurking in the fog and hiding in every corner of the park. Plus, you’ll be able to ride all the usual thrill rides and roller coasters that you normally would – making this a truly awesome experience!

Admission starts at $42, and you can purchase tickets ahead of time online.

Check Out the Annual Pacific Beachfest

On October 5th from 11am-7pm, head to Pacific Beach for a full day of action-packed fun, including a beer garden and so much more!

This year is the 22nd anniversary of the festival and will feature live music, an arts and crafts village, PB merchant sidewalk sale, beach volleyball tournament, Pro AM surf contest, Pacific Beachfest 5k, Best of the Beach Fish Taco Contest, food court, and beer garden.

The fest will take place on the Boardwalk from Diamond to Thomas St. Tip: parking is usually quite difficult, so either arrive early to ensure a good spot or take public transportation or an Uber!

For even more event ideas and fun activities, visit our San Diego events page or check out our various La Jolla guides! There are so many great fall activities in San Diego County and La Jolla.

Guide to the Best Hikes in San Diego

Gorgeous year-round weather and a plethora of landscapes and natural features make San Diego County an incredible hiking spot for outdoor lovers and locals alike. The area offers a diverse array of hiking trails: you’ll find ocean cliffs covered with Torrey pines, rolling mountain ranges, and the incredible Anza Borrego desert. Whatever the season or your hiking skill level, San Diego County is a treasure trove of adventure and wildlife viewing! Here are 15 incredible San Diego hikes.

1. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Torrey Pines is a popular destination, and eight separate trails offer a variety of difficulty levels and types of scenery. From these trails, you can see groves of the unique-to-San Diego Torrey Pine and the otherworldly geology of the cliffs and rock formations overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Beach access is possible as well, from the Beach Trail connecting the reserve to the Torrey Pines State Beach.

Directions: To access the trails, park in the main parking lot at Torrey Pines State Beach (12600 North Torrey Pines Road, San Diego). From there, it’s a short walk uphill to the start of the trails.

2. Mount Woodson (Potato Chip Rock)

The well known 7.5-mile there-and-back trail to Potato Chip Rock offers incredible views of Southern California, but is strenuous and exposed especially in the warmer month. Be sure to bring plenty of snacks, hiking boots, plenty of water, and your patience as you wait in line for your iconic photo on Potato Chip Rock.

Lined with massive boulders that tower over 6.4-miles of zigzagging trail, the difficult hike leads to one of the highest peaks in the county, where views of Lake Poway and Palomar Mountain await.

Directions: Parking is $8 at the lot at 14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway, CA 92064. Once you park in the top parking lot, the trailhead starts near the bathroom and wraps around the lake.

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Active Rest Day 😍

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3. Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve

This is a popular destination for San Diego weekend warriors, and for good reason! It’s just a short distance from the city, but it feels much more isolated, especially compared to other San Diego hikes that have vistas overlooking subdivisions. There are roughly 12 miles of trails within Los Peñasquitos Canyon, which means there’s a great hike for every skill level here.

The main six-mile loop features a waterfall and is a great and easy hike for beginners, but you can make it as long or short as you wish.

Directions: There are several entrance points into the Preserve. The east entrance is located at the intersection of Black Mountain and Mercy Roads. The western staging area is on the south side of Sorrento Valley Boulevard, approximately 1 mile east of Vista Sorrento Parkway. A convenient northern entrance is near Peñasquitos Creek Park at the intersection of Park Village Road and Camino Del Sur in Rancho Peñasquitos.

4. Cedar Creek Falls

Cedar Creek is an amazing six-mile round trip day hike in the San Diego area, though it can be very strenuous. It ends with a stunning view of an 80-foot waterfall into a deep swimming hole known as the Devil’s Punchbowl, and the trail winds through the chaparral hills of eastern San Diego County. Heat is always something to consider before doing this hike, no matter the season (in fact, it’s often closed during the hottest days of the year for safety). As you descend into the valley, expect a 10-15 degree temperature rise. In the summer, temperatures will often exceed 115 degrees!

Directions: The trailhead is located at 15519 Thornbush Road in Ramona. There is a parking lot. All hikers must display an active permit to hike this trail.

5. Three Sisters Waterfall

This is another great swimming hole in the County. Carved out of the Cuyamaca Foothills by Boulder Creek, the series of falls is reached by a quick 2-mile descent into the canyon. This means, of course, that the return can be an incredibly hot 2-mile climb uphill, so be sure to bring and save plenty of water. Dogs are not recommended here, especially during the summer months.

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Directions: From Interstate 8 East, exit at Highway 79 ( the Descanso exit) and drive north. After 1.3 miles turn left on Riverside Drive. Continue to Descanso. From there take Oak Grove Drive 1.6 miles to the intersection of Boulder Creek Road on the right. Follow Boulder Creek Road north for 13.0 miles (the first half is paved and the rest is dirt) to a hairpin turn where unpaved Cedar Creek Road joins from the west. Park at the trailhead.

6. Cowles Mountain

At 1,592 feet, Cowles Mountain is the highest peak in San Diego. Its multiple approaches, easy access, and 360-degree views from the summit make it one of the most popular hikes in the county. Although the route from the most popular Golfcrest Drive Trailhead is only 1.5 miles long, the elevation gain of almost 950 feet makes the short hike quite a workout.

Directions: The parking lot for the trailhead is located at 7001 Golfcrest Drive.

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7. Iron Mountain

Another popular hike just outside of Poway is the 6.4-mile hike to the Iron Mountain summit. The vista offers 360-degree views of the surrounding hills, including the San Vicente Reservoir. For rock climbers, some of the granite formations along the trail make for good bouldering.

Directions: From I-15, exit and travel east on Poway Road. After passing through the city of Poway, Poway Road will dead-end at Highway 67. The trailhead will be on the opposite side of Highway 67.

8. Oak Canyon (Mission Trails Regional Park)

Mission Trails Regional Park is one of the largest hiking areas in San Diego County, and the Oak Canyon Trail is a great option for those exploring it for the first time. This is a 1.8-mile loop that passes historic landmarks (including Mission Dam), oaks along a dry riverbed, rolling hills, and a river crossing. This is a great family-friendly option as there is very little elevation gain along the trail.

Directions: The trailhead for Oak Canyon starts in the parking area at the Old Mission Dam (1 Father Junipero Serra Trl, San Diego, CA 92119).

9. Cabrillo National Monument

A visit here offers hikers incredible panoramic views, a historic lighthouse, and several tide pools. Following a path from the visitor center to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse will take you to the park’s summit, which is one of the best places to take in the view of San Diego and the lighthouse itself is beautiful. Keep an eye out for gray whales, which can be seen in the winter months (usually from December through April).

Directions: The trail can be started from the entrances at Lot 1 or Lot 2 off of Gatchell Rd. Take Cabrillo Rd. from the main entrance of the park to Gatchell and park at either lot.

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10. Sunset Cliffs

This 68-acre park is a picture-perfect area of San Diego County, complete with expansive ocean views, rocky cliffs, and an intertidal area ripe for exploration. It’s popular with surfers, but even if you just want to catch a sunset or listen to crashing waves you won’t be disappointed. You might even catch a pod of California gray whales during their annual migration to Baja. The trail is a short 3.7 miles, and is best hiked during the late afternoon.

Directions: Start the trail at Sunset Cliffs Blvd and Adair St and follow the path along the cliffs.

11. Balboa Park Trails

San Diego’s massive Balboa Park is home to 17 museums, the city’s famous zoo, acres of gardens, and a whopping 65 miles of trails. There’s something for just about everyone, from families and history buffs to avid hikers. In terms of hiking trails, Balboa Park Trail #1 a good one to start with: it’s short, at just 1.5 miles, but it also avoids most of the more heavily touristed parts of the park.

Directions: Trail #1 can be accessed from 6th Ave & Upas. Visit Balboa Park’s website for complete trail information, as there are multiple hikes within the park.

12. Stonewall Peak

While Stonewall Peak still sadly suffers from the lasting effects of the worst fire in California history, the 2003 Cedar Fire, the trail’s popularity has not diminished – nor have the views. After a somewhat strenuous uphill 3.8 mile hike to the summit, you’ll be rewarded with epic views over the rolling Cuyamaca Mountains combined with panoramas across the desert that reach the Salton Sea on clear days.

Directions: Turn left into Paso Picacho campground, pay the fee, and park in the day use area off to the right. The trailhead is across the street.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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13. El Cajon Mountain

The El Cajon Mountain , nicknamed “El Cap,” hiking trail is the most grueling on our list. Used by IRONMAN triathletes for training, the 12-mile hike follows an old mining trail all the way up to its 3,675 foot peak. It’s not for the faint of heart, and it can get very hot on the trail as it’s relatively exposed for most of the way. The trail is actually closed for an entire month during August, so plan accordingly. Layered with steep trails both up and down the mountain, this trek will leave you with sore legs, stunning views, and undoubtedly a sense of accomplishment! Note that this hike is not child- or pet-friendly.

Directions: Follow Highway 67 north until Willow Road. Take a right onto Willow Road and follow it until you see Wildcat Canyon Road. Take a left onto Wildcat Canyon Road and follow it until you see the trailhead for El Cajon Mountain; there is a parking lot here.

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Cuyamaca Peak Loop! Amazing views of San Diego!

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14. Cuyamaca Peak Loop Trail

The Cuyamaca Peak Loop hike is a great experience for those who want a long, challenging hike with different routes to the top. Located near Julian, climbers have their pick of the Conejos Trail, Azalea Glen Loop Trail, Azalea Springs Trail, West Side Trail and the Azalea Springs Fire Road. Once at the top of the second-highest peak in San Diego County (6,512 feet), you’ll get to enjoy the view of the surrounding Cleveland National Forest and Cuyamaca Rancho State Park after a 1,700-foot elevation gain.

Directions: Park at Paso Picacho Campground. Park, then walk through the campground to the cabins in the back. Find the trailhead there.

15. Double Peak Trail

Double Peak is an easily accessed, moderate 3.9 mile hike offering spectacular views over North County, coastal San Diego, and toward East County. In addition to a good climb and even better views, Double Peak boasts a nice park at the summit, complete with picnic benches, a few trees for shade, a free viewfinder, and flush toilets. The views from the top are equal to and sometimes even better than the views available at some of the other peaks in San Diego County. This is a fun one to try for those closer to North County.

Directions: The parking lot for the trailhead is at 900 Double Peak Drive in San Marcos. The lot is open until 8pm.

BONUS: Pumpkin Rock Trail

Okay, it isn’t technically in San Diego, but we love this hike so much we had to include it! The hike to Pumpkin Rock is definitely something you should do at least once; it’s perfect for doing around Halloween, and it’s easy enough for the whole family to take part in – not to mention it’s a great photo opportunity! Pumpkin Rock in Norco is a massive boulder painted in the style of Jack Skellington, the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town from The Nightmare Before Christmas by Tim Burton. Its position on a ridge above Norco, visible from the highway, has made it a bit of a landmark over the years.

Directions: The trailhead address to use is Norco Animal Control Shelter, Norco 92860. The trailhead is close to free public bathrooms; 2 minutes away from the trailhead parking at Pikes Peak Park (111 Sixth St, Norco, CA 92860).

There are a few ways to hike to Pumpkin Rock. Norco Hills has dozens of trails and they all seem to criss-cross and intertwine with each other. This route is preferable because it has plenty of parking, the trail is easy to follow without any scrambles, and there are bathrooms nearby.

 

Looking for more hikes? Check out our favorite off-the-beaten-path hikes in La Jolla!

Where to Find the Best Pumpkin Patches in San Diego

It’s that time of year again – apples, pumpkins, and… pumpkin spice lattes?

If you’re in the mood to pick your own pumpkins for Jack O’Lantern carvings this year, look no further!

We’ve rounded up all of our favorite pumpkin patches in San Diego – from local favorites to family farms in Julian and Ramona. Pack a sandwich, take a road trip and get ready to make some memories with the entire family!

Mr. Jack O’ Lanterns Pumpkin Patch

Mr. Jack O’ Lanterns Pumpkin Patch
Where: 6710 La Jolla Blvd. La Jolla, CA

Open: Starts October 5th

www.mrjackolanternspumpkins.com

La Jolla finally has its own pumpkin patch!

Mr. Jack O’Lantern’s offers premium pumpkins, games, activities, and attractions. Swing by on a weekend and you might catch live music or a food truck.

Items such as spider webs, halloween decorations, pumpkin carving sets, novelties, and more are also available to make it a one-stop-shop for all things Halloween.

Activities include a giant bounce house, haunted maze, corn hole, slides, bowling, ring toss, and tons more. 

Bates Nut Farm

Bates Nut Farm
Where: 15954 Woods Valley Rd., Valley Center

Open: September 22 – October 31

Operating Hours: Open Monday through Friday 9am-5:30pm; Weekends from 8:30am-6pm

www.batesnutfarm.biz

The Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch has been open for nearly 50 years and is a serious San Diego favorite! Along with a pumpkin-picking patch, visitors can enjoy tractor hayrides, a straw maze, petting corral, and Snows Pony Rides.

Grab a wheelbarrow and pick from variety of pumpkins: Big Macs, Ghost, Cinderella, Jack O’ Lantern, minis, squash, gourds and other fall décor.

In addition, Saturdays and Sundays at Bates include live entertainment from 12pm-3pm, BBQ, kettle corn, food trucks, rock climb, bounce, slide and other family friendly events.

Julian Mining Company

Julian Mining Company
Where: 4444 Hwy. 78, Wynola/Julian

Open: Starts September 22

www.julianminingcompany.com

Along with apples and pie, Julian is also known for its fall pumpkin patches!

The pick-your-own pumpkin patch at Julian Mining Co. is open every Saturday and Sunday starting September 29. Prices are approximately $.50/lbs.

If you’re looking to spend more time here, they also have gem sluicing, gold panning, a petting zoo, and tomahawk throwing.

Mountain Valley Ranch

Mountain Valley Ranch
Where: 842 CA-78, Ramona

Open: September 22 – October 31

Operating Hours: Open seven days a week from 9am-6pm

www.mountainvalleyranch.com

Free admission!

The whole family can enjoy an assortment of pumpkins, gourds, and Indian corn. There is also a corn maze, a corn cannon, petting zoo, hay rides (weekends only), and pony rides.

Snacks and refreshments will be available on the weekends, as well.

Farm Stand West & Fran’s Original Farm Stand

Farm Stand West & Fran’s Original Farm Stand
Where: 2115 Miller Ave., Escondido;
and 1980 Summit Dr., Escondido

Open: Starts October 1st

Operating Hours: Open weekends from 10am-6 pm

www.thefarmstandwest.com

All throughout the month of October they’ll be hosting a you-pick Pumpkin Patch. Head over to the Farm Stand West or the Original Farm Stand and pick your own bunch of pumpkins for the season.

Lavender Hill Pumpkins

Lavender Hill Pumpkins
Where: 1509 East Mission Rd., Fallbrook

Open: Starts September 29

Operating Hours: Fridays 2-5 pm; Sat. & Sun. 10am-5 pm

www.lavenderhillpumpkins.com

Lavender Hill Pumpkins is a super popular spot in Fallbrook; their u-pick pumpkin patch is located on a beautiful family-owned farm on a hillside.

They take pride in growing a selection of varieties that produce unusually large or unique pumpkins; this year’s crop includes about 10,000 pumpkins in three dozen varieties, ranging from the very large to the very small, from the mildly eccentric to the shamelessly grotesque.

Pumpkin Station

Pumpkin Station
Where: Multiple Locations:
Del Mar, Rancho Bernardo, Mission Valley, National City & Bonita

www.pumpkinstation.com

Pumpkin Stations are in multiple locations throughout San Diego: Del Mar, Rancho Bernardo, Mission Valley, National City & Bonita.

Each spot also offers kiddie rides, giant slides, corn maze, inflatable play centers, petting zoos, game zones, and even school tours and party packages. All locations have free parking and admission. Pumpkins are priced individually on size.

Summers Past Farms

Summers Past Farms
Where: 15602 Olde Highway 80, Flinn Springs 92021

Open: Starts October 1st

Operating Hours: Open Wednesday-Saturday 9am-5pm, and Sundays 10am-5pm

www.summerspastfarms.com

Summers Past has been a country favorite since they opened in 1987.

Besides a large farm, the property also features an herbal soap shop, where they make their own in-house soap products. Wander through the pumpkin patch at Summers Past Farms throughout the month of October and pick your own pumpkin to take home.

Other activities include a bounce house, crafts, and snacks for everyone like popcorn, coffee, and smoothies.

Where to Go Apple Picking in San Diego

Fall is just around the corner – and what better way to celebrate its arrival than apple picking in Julian?

Apple picking season has been a big-hitting family favorite for years in San Diego; especially in and around Julian and nearby mountain towns.

This year, we were lucky enough to have plenty of rain early on; meaning that all of these apple picking farms are officially open for a long season! Here are the best spots for apple picking in Julian and San Diego.

Apple Starr Orchard

1020 Julian Orchard Drive, Julian, CA 92036.
Open every weekend from 10am-5pm.

The original orchard at Apple Starr was planted by the Farmer family after whom “Farmers Road,”  the road to the town, is named. Parts of the land were earlier used as a milk dairy, and the old barn was constructed in the early 1900s.

The orchard is home to roughly 1000 apple and pear trees. The trees range in age from 20 to 70 years and the majority have low branches that children can access. They only use certified organic products and are inspected annually to maintain their certification.

Pear varieties include Bartletts, Comice, Anjous, Bosc; and apple varieties include Jonagold, Granny, Fuji, Gala, Red Delicious.

No reservations are necessary for u-pick!

Volcan Valley Apple Farm

1284 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian CA 92036.
Open Friday-Monday from 9:30am-4:30pm.

Julian’s largest orchard, Volcan Valley Apple Farm, attracts big crowds every year with 7,000 trellis-grown apple trees of red and green apples ready to pick.

Choose between seven different varietals of apples, including Gravenstein, Empires (a cross between a Red Delicious and a Macintosh), Jonathans, Golden Delicious, and Pippins. Pick up a bag for $12 and then head into the fields to fill it up yourself! They will also have cold water, fresh cider and applewoods for your smoker.

Also on-site: Granny’s Pies! Grab a sweet treat after you’ve filled up your bag for the day.

Apples & Art Orchard

1052 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian CA 92036.
Open daily at 1pm and 3pm by appointment only.

For groups of 20 or more, this u-pick apple orchard offers tours and picking sessions by reservation.

For $12 per person, groups will get the chance to pick a “half peck of apples” (which is about 5 pounds) and spend a relaxing afternoon checking out the Apples & Art Orchard.

The adventure includes an apple fact lecture, apple picking, group cider making, and a tasting. This season’s apple varieties include: Red Delicious, Arkansas Black, Fuji, heirloom apples, and more.

Their harvest is always pesticide-free and all natural, so you can be sure it’s healthy too!

They book tours at 1pm and 3pm daily for groups only (no individuals), and you must book a tour online ahead of time. Be sure to book your reservation soon – they fill up fast and are only open until the apples are gone.

This is a great idea for Boy/Girl Scout troops, homeschoolers, and camps!

Julian Farm & Orchard

4444 State Hwy 78, Julian CA 92036

On Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm, you can go apple picking at Julian Mining Company, or pick raspberries and blackberries at Julian Farm & Orchard.

Julian Farm is owned and operated by the same owners as Julian Mining Company, and for the first time this year are opening their new farm for u-pick, tractor-drawn hayrides, the Farmer’s Wife store, and barnyard visits. Be sure to check their website before you go for the most updated information on their apple picking.

Calico Ranch

4200 Highway 78, Julian CA 92036
Please call(858) 586- 0392 ahead of time for information about opening times.

Calico Ranch is a family-run apple and pear orchard located just outside of Julian. The farm has remained in production since it was first planted in the early 1930s, and is one of the oldest remaining farms in Julian today.

The Young family has owned the 30 acre orchard for more than twenty years. Calico Ranch offers u-pick experiences on the weekends, Saturday and Sunday, and usually open at 9am.

Tips for Visiting Julian

  • Make a day of it! Downtown Julian has to much to offer and explore, especially for families – from restaurants to antique stores and, of course, apple pie.
  • Don’t expect cold weather – September is historically very warm in Juilan (usually in the 70s and 80s), so be sure to pack sunscreen, a hat, and dress for warm weather.
  • Plan your trip ahead of time – and call the orchard you plan on visiting to be sure they are open.

Other Spots to Check Out

  • Oasis Camel DairyThis is a great place to visit after you’ve finished your apple picking! Check out their hand-crafted camel milk soap, lotions, and camel milk chocolate. They offer daily tours, camel rides, and special events throughout the year.
  • Julian Cider Mill: The Cider Mill has been in operation since 1975, making and producing their own apple cider along with homemade fudge, classic preserves, and candies. They also have many varieties of apples, pears, preserves, raw honey, French prunes, Italian plums, dried fruits, nuts, candy, caramel apples and other gifts.
  • Fort Cross Old Timey Adventures: Fort Cross is a family owned and operated hands-on spot that focuses on historical education, outdoor adventuring, agritourism, music, art, and family fun. Activities include Archery, Tomahawk Throwing, Slingshot Paintball Range, Petting Zoo, Candle Dipping, Gold Rush Station, Hayrides, Hoedowns, Guided Overnight Camping, and more.

Labor Day 2018 Activities in San Diego & La Jolla

Labor Day weekend in San Diego is always a little bittersweet – it’s technically the end of summer; the kids go back to school; and those long evenings of daylight are coming to a close. However, there is some consolation! We’re lucky enough to live in a beautiful city that has sunshine pretty much year-round, and Labor Day is one of the most event-filled weekends of the year! Here are a few activities for Labor Day in San Diego and La Jolla 2018.

Sand Sculpting Challenge & Dimensional Art Exposition

August 31 – September 3, 2018
Broadway Pier & Landing

Thousands of people come every year to see master-class sculptors build beautiful three-dimensional works of art. Not only that, but they actually build a beach above the water to do it – by bringing in 300 tons of sand to the Broadway Pier! There will be eleven official master sculptors carving for all four days, from countries all over the world here to challenge the US on our own soil.

Throughout the festival, there will also be live entertainment (big bands and singers), a sand box and rides for kids, a dozen gourmet food trucks, a great view of the bay, and tall ships and cannon battles.

Bayside Summer Nights

August 21 – September 2, 2018
Embarcadero Marina Park South

San Diego’s glorious summer is winding down, but not before the cannons and fireworks light up San Diego Bay to Tchaikovsky’s awesome ‘1812 Overture’. Join the San Diego Symphony as they celebrate summer’s end in spectacular style!

Labor Day Stickball Tournament in Little Italy

September 1st & 3rd; 8am-5pm

What better way to spend Labor Day weekend in San Diego than outdoors enjoying the sunshine?

The Labor Day Stickball Tournament, presented by the Little Italy Association, takes over the streets of Little Italy on Saturday and Sunday and allows players to revisit some of those old school childhood memories. The activity is all about honoring long-standing traditions, paying tribute to this East Coast sporting pastime, and of course; having fun!

Come out and see these teams grab a broom stick, table leg, or any other kind of bat-like stick that will send a rubber Wilson ball flying!

Spend the Day at the Beach

There’s no better weekend to hit the beach and soak in some sun! La Jolla Shores is a great spot for a beach side picnic, barbecue, or soccer game. There’s plenty of grass, a playground for the kids, and restrooms/showers directly nearby. The parking lot does fill up quickly, so try to arrive early; if not, there is also plenty of street parking in the adjacent neighborhoods.

Why not extend the evening and have a bonfire? Bring the s’mores and grab a bonfire pit located along the beach at La Jolla Shores! Visit our guide for making the most out of your bonfire experience.

Hit the Trails

Weather permitting, Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to get out there and hit the trails! San Diego and La Jolla are home to hundreds of hiking, biking, and walking trails; many of which supply gorgeous views and a terrific workout. If you’re looking to be active and still get a great view, Torrey Pines State Reserve has several trails for people of all abilities.

If you’re looking for something a bit more laid back, the Coast Walk Trail right here in La Jolla is breathtaking, and not too long of a hike. There are also a few other great trails in and around downtown La Jolla.

Leopard Shark 101

If you’ve been to La Jolla Cove in southern California during the summer, you’ve probably heard about the leopard sharks! Swimming and snorkeling with these incredible creatures is a popular summertime activity with both locals and tourists alike. And while the word ‘shark’ may sound a little scary, leopard sharks are actually completely harmless to humans and offer a fun way to explore the underwater world off the shores of La Jolla. Here’s everything you need to know about leopard sharks!

Markings and Features

Leopard sharks (Triakis semifasciata) are a member of the Houndshark family and have quite distinctive features; including large dark spots and saddle type markings. The sharks have a broad, short snout, triangular pectoral fins, a short dorsal fin, and a notched, asymmetrical tailfin. On top they are usually a silver or bronzed-gray, fading to white underneath, with distinct dark spots and blotches on its back, sides, and pectoral fins.

They can live up to 30 years, and take more than a decade to reach maturity. They generally only grow to about four or five feet (in rare occasions they can reach up to seven feet) and the heaviest ever recorded weighed in at a whopping forty pounds.

 

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Habitat

The leopard shark is found in continental waters, both nearshore and offshore, and their preference is for waters that are cool to warm in temperate or sandy/muddy bays or estuaries. They love sand flats, mud flats, and rocky bottom areas near reef sites and kelp beds – which explains their love of La Jolla!

The sharks are usually found near the bottom of shallow water, and they are exceptionally strong swimmers. Oftentimes, they are joined in a school of others that include the Smooth-Hound, gray Smooth-Hound, or the Piked Dogfish.

They’ve been found all across the Eastern North Pacific, from Oregon to the Gulf of California and Mexico.

Interaction with Humans

Leopard sharks are harmless to humans. Only one attack has ever been recorded, and it happened in 1955 in Trinidad Bay, California. Fortunately, the diver was not seriously injured.

The leopard shark has recently become a protected species in California and Oregon waters so that they are not overfished. Sports anglers, spearfishers, and small-scale commercial line fisheries are typically the ones who go after the shark.

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Mating Season

Female leopard sharks travel to La Jolla each summer to mate with males and spawn their young, which is why there is such a large influx of them at the beginning of summer (around June).

The female leopard becomes mature at ten to fifteen years of age and males at seven to thirteen years. During the annual breeding season, schools of these sharks move from deeper water into nearshore shallower water. Fertilization is internal. The type of reproduction is called aplacental viviparity or ovoviviparity. The fertilized eggs hatch inside the female’s body and pups are born live. After a ten to twelve-month gestation, seven to thirty-six pups about 17.8 cm (7 in) in total length are born. They are independent at birth, but usually stay in shallow bays and estuaries before venturing out into deeper ocean waters

Female leopard sharks have been observed giving birth in a variety of habitats along the California coastline from eel grass to sandbars and the open ocean.

Behavior

Leopard sharks congregate by size and sex in large nomadic schools. The schools appear and disappear within a few hours. Schools follow the tide as they feed, moving closer to shore as the tide comes in and then swimming away before it recedes. In addition to feeding, the movement may be influenced by temperature, salinity and amount of dissolved oxygen. Large schools have even been observed in the surf zone. They are also known to form schools with California round rays and with sevengill sharks, and smoothhound sharks. The latter are close relatives.

The leopard shark diet consists mostly of smaller shellfish; including clams, crabs, shrimp, squid, and fish eggs.

Conservation Efforts

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife closely manages the leopard shark fishery within state waters. Use of gill nets in waters typically inhabited by these sharks is prohibited. The recreational fishery for leopard sharks is open year-round and coast-wide to diverse and shore-based anglers. The fishery is open to boat-based anglers year-round in designated areas only. Outside these areas, it is open seasonally between January and June.

In federal waters, leopard sharks are one of three shark species under the management authority of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service through the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (Groundfish FMP).

Currently listed internationally as Least Concern, overfishing, loss of shallow water nurseries, and pollution of these areas from runoff are threats to these sharks. They have been found to contain high levels of mercury attributed to either water quality or ingestion of food items containing mercury.

Snorkeling with the Leopard Sharks

The end of August and September are usually the best times to see La Jolla Leopard Sharks, as this is towards the end of the mating season and there are higher numbers of sharks. The ideal time to go is during the day, when there are calm waters and when it’s sunny (as they will be easier to spot).

La Jolla Shores, where the water is warmer and shallower, is usually where snorkelers and swimmers venture out to see and swim with the leopard sharks. It’s easier for them to search for food in the sand and kelp forests, which are protected by the La Jolla Underwater Park Preserve. Their diet consists mostly of smaller shellfish; including clams, crabs, shrimp, squid, and fish eggs.

During peak season, you can simply swim out into the water at La Jolla Shores and see the leopard sharks – they will often be that close to shore. Wade out up to your knees or hips, and you’ll see them swimming around your feet (which is quite an experience!). There’s no reason to be scared of these little guys, as they are completely harmless to humans and won’t bite or bother you.

There are a few different ways to really see the La Jolla Leopard Sharks. You can:

  • Swim out by yourself at La Jolla Shores and simply watch them through the water, which is usually pretty clear.
  • Snorkel the La Jolla shores to get a better look at the sharks through a snorkel mask; either with your own gear or a snorkel rental. If you don’t have your own gear, many companies will rent you gear for the entire day at one price: Everyday California and La Jolla Kayak are just a couple.
  • Take a guided snorkeling tour from any number of companies located in La Jolla Shores:
  • Take the guided snorkeling tours offered by the Birch Aquarium at Scripps in southern California. The tours are typically held from July through September, and these are a great option if you want to learn more about the sharks, as there is a trained naturalist guiding each tour. Intermediate swimming ability is required and previous snorkeling experience is recommended (ages 10+).

A Few Fun Facts About Leopard Sharks

  • Sometimes the leopard shark is referred to as a cat shark.
  • They can form large schools that contain other types of sharks.
  • Leopard sharks have a tooth pattern that is called “pavement-toothed.”
  • They often rest on the ocean floor and pump water over their gills.
  • The genus Triakis is derived from the Greek word “triakis” meaning three-pointed, referring to its three-pointed teeth. This shark species name semifasciata refers to its “half-banded” markings.
  • In the San Francisco Bay, leopard sharks and piked dogfish have been observed engaging in a unique feeding strategy: the two sharks species will swim at the surface, with mouths open, in a counter-clockwise direction. At the same time, densely packed schools of anchovies are gathered at the surface and will swim in a clockwise direction. While the sharks don’t exhibit any specific hunting behavior or directed movements toward the oncoming anchovies, the sharks’ posture and movement does result in ingestion of incidental prey (i.e. anchovies) which inadvertently swim into the open maw of the prowling sharks.

To learn more about activities and fun things to do at La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove, visit our guides section!

San Diego Museums to Add to Your List

San Diego County is home to more than 90 different museums and galleries, each offering visitors a completely unique and memorable experience. From model railroads and the history of art to military aircraft and music-making, it’s no wonder USA Today has called San Diego one of America’s most creative cities! Whether you want to take in the serene beauty of Balboa Park or you want to head downtown to explore San Diego’s urban center, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best San Diego museums to add to your list!

*If you’re planning to visit a San Diego museum anytime in February, remember that it’s San Diego Museum Month! You can get half-priced admission to over 40 museums in the County. Head here for details!

Balboa Park Museums

Balboa Park is the largest urban park in the entire United States, and represents San Diego’s cultural core with a whopping 17 museums dedicated to all kinds of topics; including anthropology, art, aviation, natural science, and technology. The museums and exhibitions are spread throughout the pristine gardens and historic Spanish Colonial architecture in Balboa Park:

  • Centro Cultural de la Raza
  • Fleet Science Center
  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • Marston House
  • Mingei International Museum
  • Museum of Photographic Arts
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum
  • San Diego Art Institute
  • San Diego Automotive Museum
  • San Diego History Center
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • San Diego Museum of Man
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • The San Diego Museum of Art
  • Timken Museum of Art (free)
  • Veterans Museum
  • WorldBeat Center

Pro-tip: if you’re in town for several days, the Balboa Park Explorer Pass is the way to go. There are one-day, multi-day, and annual Explorer Pass options that allow you to experience everything Balboa Park has to offer at a discount. You’ll see savings of more than 50%, in addition to the convenience of it being a one-time purchase. The Multi-Day Explorer/Zoo Combo includes the Balboa Park Multi-Day Explorer Pass plus a one-day admission ticket to the San Diego Zoo. Visit their website for more details!

SEE ALSO: Balboa Park Dining Guide

While you’re at Balboa Park, make it a point to stop and stroll through at least one or two of their 19 gardens. The Botanical Building is one of the most photographed buildings in Balboa Park, and The Rose Garden, Zoro Garden, and the Children’s Ethnobotany Garden are also very popular spots especially during the spring and summer. Don’t forget your camera!

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park Museums

Considered the birthplace of California, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park offers visitors a unique glimpse into San Diego’s colonial period from 1821-1872. Many of the historical sites and museums in this neighborhood have free admission, and along the way you’re able to stop at over a hundred shops, boutiques, and restaurants.

At the center of Old Town is the Whaley House Museum Complex, which consists of five historic buildings – the most famous of which is the Whaley House, the most haunted house in the country according to the Travel Channel’s “America’s Most Haunted!”

For a more mellow exhibit, visit the original stagecoach at the Wells Fargo Museum, see a scale model of 19th century Old Town at the reconstructed Robinson-Rose House, and tour the Black Hawk Livery & Blacksmith, the first public schoolhouse in San Diego. Casa de Estudillo is considered one of the finest adobe haciendas in the state. Up the hill you’ll discover Heritage Park, a 7.8 acre county park where seven Victorian homes have been relocated and now house shops, bed-and-breakfasts, and the Serra Museum, site of California’s first mission and fort. Here is the complete listing of museums in the Old Town area:

  • Black Hawk Livery & Blacksmith
  • Casa de Carrillo
  • Casa de Estudillo
  • Casa de Machado y Silva
  • Casa de Pedrorena
  • Casa del Rey Moro African Museum
  • Heritage Park
  • Mason Street School
  • San Diego Sheriff’s Museum & Educational Center
  • San Diego Union Building
  • Seeley Stables
  • Serra Museum

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Coastal Museums

The USS Midway Museum offers a unique opportunity to visit America’s longest-serving aircraft carrier. Complete with 35 exhibits and tours exploring its rich 47-year history, this is a fun way to spend an afternoon learning about San Diego’s naval history. Many of the story-telling docents are veterans who served aboard the carrier.

The floating Maritime Museum of San Diego features one of the finest collections of historic ships in the world, including the Star of India, the oldest active sailing ship.

Other San Diego Museums

There are plenty more museums throughout San Diego County; almost too many to name! Here are a few other popular spots:

Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
Living Coast Discovery Center
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
New Children’s Museum
Women’s Museum of California

San Diego, California has a world of cultural exhibitions to explore and discover while you’re visiting, whether you’re here for a few days, weeks, or a permanent resident! Because there are so many great activities, we recommend making a list of your must-sees and tackle those first.

For more information on events and things to do in San Diego, visit our handy guides section or check out our favorite museums in La Jolla.  

10 Things to Do in Encinitas

It’s no surprise that the city of Encinitas was recently named as one of the best surf towns in the world! Encinitas, California takes the beach seriously; and with six miles of Pacific Ocean coastline to its name, the small community is a beautiful reminder of the historic Highway 101 beach culture that has thrived there since the mid-1900s. Here are ten fun activities to do in Encinitas the next time you visit!

things to do in encinitas

1. Stroll through the downtown shopping district.

The quaint downtown Encinitas shopping district is more than 100 years old. Today, the historic corridor along Highway 101 is home to little sidewalk cafés, cute boutiques and shops, and great restaurants. Though it was once a main thoroughfare from San Diego to Los Angeles, today it boasts a bit slower pace of life. Keep an eye out for the artwork! Visitors will see a variety of wall murals, eclectic street art, and colorful banners on the streetlight poles that were donated by the thriving artists colony there.

Other amenities of the downtown Encinitas shopping district include wide sidewalks, benches, and a huge Encinitas sign stretching from one side of the highway to the other (hint: it makes for a great photo op!). Old Encinitas is also incredibly pedestrian-friendly, and it’s only two blocks from the ocean and not too far from the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course.

On your excursion downtown, make it a point to stroll through the outdoor Seaside Bazaar, which takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Additionally, between F and I streets on S. Coast Highway 101, you’ll find a local favorite called the Lumberyard Shopping Center. It’s home to more delightful shops and lots of wonderful places to eat. Recommendations include 3rd Corner, which is a wine shop and bistro serving lunch and dinner; St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro, serving authentic French cuisine, baked goods and delicious desserts; and the Lumberyard Tavern & Grill, which is a great place to stop for lunch.

2. Take in a show at the La Paloma Theater.

Opened in 1928, the La Paloma was one of the first theaters to show “Talkies” and has hosted many a Hollywood celebrity (Mary Pickford attended the opening gala) in its time, as well as performers from Jerry Garcia, Eddie Vedder and Timothy Leary to Jay Leno. The venue has also premiered a number of surf films, and today, its claim to fame is a nightly midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

3. Have a bonfire Moonlight Beach.

Moonlight Beach starts where Encinitas Boulevard turns into B Street, and is one of the most popular beaches in Encinitas with both locals and tourists. It’s sandy and wide, great for kids and adults, and perfect for picnics, playing volleyballs, making sand castles, and summer evening bonfires. Moonlight Beach is an excellent swimming, snorkeling, and surfing beach, band it’s popular for surf fishing.

The area boasts tennis courts and kids’ playgrounds, a space to rent beach gear, and a nice snack bar. The beach used to be very popular with locals for midnight picnics in the 1900s, which is how it became known as Moonlight Beach. Even today, you can still see people lighting bonfires and having late parties in the moonlight!

4. Visit the San Diego Botanic Garden.

Packed with four miles of trails, the San Diego Botanic Garden off of Quail Gardens Drive is home to an incredible diversity of plant life and native flora and fauna – you’ll see everything from arid deserts to a tropical jungle and bamboo groves. The plants thrive, and you will enjoy different vistas, numerous flowering trees, majestic palms, and the largest bamboo collection in the country. The San Diego Botanic Garden is one of the best things to do in Encinitas, California!

5. Swim or surf at Swami’s Beach.

Swami’s Surf Beach is one of the most well known local surfing haunts in the area. During the winter when the swells are particularly good, surfers often put on quite a show at Swami’s – the best spot to watch them is from the park on the cliff above the beach. This lovely park is the main entrance point for Swami’s Beach and has many benches in the shade, several picnic tables, and a well-tended shady lawn.

From the park, a long and steep wooden staircase leads down to the beach, which has a lifeguard station. If the tide isn’t too high, you’ll be able to walk along the beach all the way to San Elijo State Beach. If you are wondering what to do in Encinitas with kids, this is a great place to visit!

6. Visit the Self-Realization Fellowship Gardens.

Whether you want to visit beautiful gardens on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, spend a few days at the Retreat, or simply browse at the Books & Gifts store, Self-Realization Fellowship Hermitage, Retreat & Meditation Gardens is an interesting place to visit.

You can also take a walk to the SRF Temple in Encinitas, located just a few short blocks away from the Hermitage & Retreat Center. The temple is part of Self-Realization Fellowship, a non-profit spiritual organization founded in 1920 by Paramahansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi) to disseminate his teachings of Kriya Yoga, an ancient Indian spiritual science.

7. Check out the Leucadia Farmers Market.

The Leucadia Farmers Market is a great place to spend the day, and they are open every Sunday from 10am to 2pm. There are over 75 vendors at this certified market, which offers everything from fresh flowers and plants to meats and baked goods. Visitors will find specialty foods like beef, seafood, marinades, pastas, and sauces; to name a few. The Encinitas Farmers Market is held at 185 Union St, Encinitas, CA 92024.

8. Take surf lessons.

Reviewed as the “ultimate California experience,” the Leucadia Surf School does just what you’d imagine! Whether you’re looking for private lessons or group lessons, there’s definitely something for everyone. Open seven days a week, the school provides visitors with a soft board and a wetsuit, and offers basic instructions before students ride the waves.

An experienced instructor is with you and the group at all times. Already know how to surf? No problem, because Leucadia also does just rentals – they’ll give you some tips on where to catch the best waves and surf right alongside you.

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Blue as the water, white as the foam, this building is a proper historical monument to a town that has always resided so close to the ocean. Constructed in 1883, the Encinitas Schoolhouse is this town's oldest building. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Back when Encinitas was a town of less than 30 people, this building was constructed to accommodate one teacher and eight students. It was designed with shiplap siding in a frontier architecture Classic Revival style. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Becoming outdated with time, as the building fell into disuse it was relocated in 1928 to serve as a private residence. Slated for demolition in the 1980s, it was saved—and moved back to its original location—by the newly formed local historical society, who now use it as their main office. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Still in its original condition for the most part, the structure's only major difference today is that it faces south instead of east. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ For more info on the schoolhouse, check out this local news article: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ http://www.thecoastnews.com/2013/10/09/residents-party-like-its-1883-for-historic-schoolhouses-130th-birthday/ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #encinitas #carlsbad #oceanside #backtoschool #foreverlearning #discovering #wanderlust #exploring #sightseeing #adventuring #admiring #history #historylover #architecture #frontier #oldstuff #playinghooky #socal #westcoast #pacific #happybirthday #happymelonday #MelonAndMe #lifeisgood

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9. Tour the Encinitas Historical Society.

Visitors to the Encinitas Historical Society are in for a treat, as the organization is located in an 1883-era one-room schoolhouse built for the eight children who lived in the town at that time. Walk across the original wood floors to discover the history of this unique city through photographs, exhibits, research papers, and docents eager to share their story.

We can guarantee you’ll fall in love with this quaint beachside community during one of the many tours led by the Encinitas Historical Society! These tours showcase landmarks and festivals, and give visitors an opportunity to get to know the friendly locals.

10. Have dinner and drinks by the beach.

Encinitas is home to several great beaches, restaurants, bars, and pubs. A few local favorites include the Bier Garden of Encinitas, the Encinitas Ale House, and Union Kitchen + Tap. For more ideas, see our list of the top 10 Encinitas bars

The Bier Garden is a great place to hang out with friends after work or after a day on the beach. You can perch on a vivid green stool in front of 32 tap handles offering some of the best craft beer from Southern California. The menu is designed to work well with beer, and whether you go for a full dinner or choose a bunch of small plates (such as skewers with chicken thighs marinated in peanut sauce, or short rib corn nachos with mango salsa and tomato soaked in Bier cheese sauce). You also might want to sample something from their unique Bloody Mary menu – they come with beer chasers!

Only 25 miles north of San Diego, Encinitas has a distinct, quirky personality, attracting not only surfers that flock there for the city’s six miles of Pacific coast, but also visitors exploring the city’s great attractions, restaurants, live music, and shops.

date night ideas in san diego

21 Date Night Ideas in San Diego

With so many awesome things to do in San Diego year-round, you never have to resort to a boring date night at the movies!

From harbor cruises and epic outdoor adventures to romantic beach walks and magic shows, we’ve put together what we think is a pretty complete list of fantastic date night ideas in San Diego.

Whether you’re a long-term couple looking to spice things up, browsing first date ideas, or just looking for something new, we’ve got you covered. Keep reading to discover our ultimate list of 21 date night ideas in San Diego.

Make sure to read all the way to #21 for a Bonus Tip that includes 10 additional fun dates for couples.

1) Explore La Jolla Cove

Spend the late afternoon taking a kayak tour around gorgeous La Jolla Cove, where you’ll get the chance to see seals and sea lions, plus the La Jolla sea caves up close.

Afterwards, freshen up for a gourmet dinner at one of the local fine dining restaurants; there are tons to choose from!

As the night comes to a close,  grab a blanket and cozy up on the grass at Ellen Browning Scripps Park or hunt for your own secluded piece of paradise on the beach.

2)Check out a local winery

If you feel a bit ‘been there, done that’ with the local craft brewery scene, why not mix things up a little and check out a local winery?

Most people visit Temecula for the winery scene, but there are plenty closer to home – from right here in downtown San Diego all the way to north county.

Bernardo Winery, which is San Diego’s oldest winery, is home to a wine tasting room, several adorable shops with hand-crafted items and often hosts special events. This family-owned winery is a great place for couples to enjoy the perfect date night.

Salerno Winery in Ramona is another great destination; complete with a sculpture garden and a large outdoor space with sweeping views of the vineyards, this is a romantic and lovely spot to spend the evening.

3) Go apple picking in Julian

apple picking in Julian
Just a little over an hour from La Jolla, Julian and its surrounding mountain towns are great places to explore and experience a unique opportunity to pick apples at one of its many local apple orchards.

Starting in September each year and lasting until the apples run out, what better way to welcome in Fall than to take a day trip and collect your own apples from the thousands of trees in this picturesque region.

A great trip for two, a double date, group of friends or even the entire family, fill a bag of the many varietals including Empires, Fuji, Golden Delicious and more.

Many orchards offer fresh apple cider, apple preserves and apple pie to satisfy your sweet tooth!

We’ve got you covered with locations and details of a few of our favorites.

4) Catch a full moon dinner cruise

What could be more romantic than gazing at San Diego’s vibrant skyline from the water, beneath a glowing full moon?

Hop aboard Hornblower Cruises’ signature full moon dinner cruise and enjoy a glass of bubbly champagne, a three-course dinner, and plenty of time to dance under the stars and enjoy the sparkling sights around San Diego Bay. Tickets start at $85 per person.

5) Take a cruise during the day or at sunset

If getting on the water is what you are after but you’d prefer something during the day, without the dinner or perhaps a little more low key, San Diego has lots of great options for your date.

Many of San Diego’s best sights can be seen from the comfort of a cruise ship. Wheather a day cruise around the bay, an evening sunset cruise that’s a bit more romantic or a cruise with some booze, San Diego is a perfect spot for a few hours on the water!

Consider some of our favorites below.

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6) Get competitive at a local trivia night

Trivia nights are a great way to mix up your typical night out at a bar – and you’ve got options for basically every night of the week.  

True North in North Park pairs trivia with $4 Bacardi or Jameson shots on Mondays, Park & Rec in University Heights is a popular spot on Tuesday nights, The Regal Beagle in Mission Hills has Wednesdays covered and the East Village’s Knotty Barrel Gastropub combines trivia with half-price bottles of wine every Thursday night.

7) Spend the night at a local La Jolla hotel

A night away from home can be just what the doctor ordered for some rest and relaxation. Pamper yourself and your significant other for the night or a weekend and let someone else do the laundry this time.

For an experience above and beyond dinner and a movie, consider splurging and staying in one of San Diego’s amzing hotels. With so many to choose from, we narrowed down the list to 5 or our favorites below.

8) Catch a drive-in movie

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Friday’s with The King 🙌🏼

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Every Wednesday night, the iconic Pearl Hotel hosts a free dive-in theater event poolside. Get there early to grab a bite at the newly revamped Charles and Dinorah restaurant (named for the couple who owned the hotel originally).

After dinner, grab a cocktail from the bar and a pool chair, or simply hop into the pool to watch the show!

Classics such as Jaws, The Parent Trap, and Wet Hot American Summer have all made an appearance.

If you’d rather stay dry, there are plenty of outdoor movie venues throughout San Diego County as well. Check out our complete guide to outdoor movies to get the scoop!

9) Adventure through Balboa Park

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#NoFilter needed for this beautiful #sunset.

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With twelve museums, multiple parks, beautiful gardens, and fabulous restaurants, Balboa Park really does have something for everyone.  Whether you’re in the mood for an artsy date at a museum or an outdoor outing to admire the beautiful gardens and century-old architecture, you can find everything you need for a romantic time here.

Pro-tip: pack a picnic to enjoy in a secluded section of the park (there are even a few spots where drinking alcohol is allowed), or catch a play that night at the Old Globe Theatre.

10) Take a sunset hike

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When all the colors come out to play 🎨

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Few things are more romantic than watching the sunset together on a warm evening; and what better place to do it than along the coast?

Torrey Pines State Reserve, just 20 minutes north of La Jolla, offers several picturesque coastal hikes. Get there around 6 or 7pm to start your hike, and finish it off at one of the benches with a gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean and the San Diego coastline.

Afterwards, grab some dinner in nearby upscale Del Mar or back in La Jolla.

Stay the Night in Torrey Pines
For the ultimate experience, consider staying the night at one of our favorite hotels, The Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines.
Check Availability

 

11) Watch some live music under the stars

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Amazing concert venue! #SNC #Allaboutthebase

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Outdoor concerts at places like Humphrey’s by the Bay happen a few times a week, every week. Fridays and Saturdays are the most popular, and you can purchase tickets for just the show or a package deal with dinner.

They also offer package deals that come with a hotel room for the night – a romantic bonus for those willing to spend a bit more cash! The setting is serene; arrive early to watch the sunset on the bay and have a few drinks.

12) Take a romantic ride in hot air balloon

For a big first impression, treat your date to an evening in the clouds!

Local hot air balloon companies like Sky’s the Limit Ballooning Adventures offers daily sunset champagne adventures leaving from Del Mar that offer gorgeous views of the coastline and surrounding areas.

It’s a bit pricier than our other date night options, but it’s hard to beat the romance factor! Afterwards, have some dinner in downtown Del Mar and walk over to Powerhouse Park on the water.

If you’re willing to venture a bit farther, Temecula (about an hour north of San Diego) is home to a multitude of hot air balloon vendors; there are several options that range in price and timing.

13) Enjoy some comedy or improv

San Diego is home to a surprising amount of comedy clubs and improv show venues. From our very own Comedy Store La Jolla (which boasts an incredible history that dates back to the ’80s) to Finest City Improv in downtown San Diego, there are plenty of places to take a significant other who’s always up for a good laugh.

Stop by the Gaslamp District during the weekend. There are usually shows every Friday and Saturday, and occasionally there will be one or two during the week.

Check the venue’s website for details before you go.

14) Experience a secret speakeasy

Secret bars are all the rage in San Diego right now!

Noble Experiment, False Idol (a secret tiki bar), Bar Three Piece (behind Seven Grand), and Prohibition are all in central downtown San Diego; the Charles Kenneth Speakeasy is up north in Carlsbad; and Raised By Wolves is at Westfield UTC La Jolla.

Grab some dinner and then pick your poison! Note that several of these spots require reservations, so do check in advance to ensure you have a spot for the evening you wish.

15) Play some old-school arcade games

Coin Haus in La Mesa is one of the newer additions to the Cohn Restaurant Group, and is a self-proclaimed “beercade” that features 50 self-serve taps: including 43 craft beers, four keg wines, hard kombucha, and cold pressed coffee.

Once you’ve poured yourself a cold one, play one of their 29 retro arcade games – including Games of Thrones and Ghostbusters pinball. It’s the perfect place for all you adults who are kids at heart! 

Afterwards, grab a bite to eat with your boo at BO-beau kitchen + garden.

If you’re looking for something more central, Coin Op has locations both in North Park and the Gaslamp Quarter; it’s a similar vibe as Coin Haus, but a bit smaller. The games are still great though!

16) See a magic show

 

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Enjoy a night of enchanting stories, sleight-of-hand, and humor in Old Town at San Diego’s only venue dedicated to the art of magic.

The Red Spade Theater, often called Old Town’s best-kept-secret, was opened by Sebastian Figueroa nearly seven years ago. It accommodates only 28 guests, which creates an intimate and cozy setting for an old-school magic show. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area!

After dinner, treat you and your significant other to some of Old Town’s famous Mexican Food.

Promo Code for La Jolla Date Night Activities
Take an additional 5% off NOW with our exclusive LaJolla.com discount off of a digital GoCity discount pass. Plus, save an additional 20% off when you choose two or more of 50+ of the most popular attractions in San Diego.
*30-day full refund risk free guarantee
Additional 5% off PROMO

 

17) Explore Liberty Station at night

Stroll through the trendy Liberty Station Arts District on the first Friday of every month from 5pm to 9pm and you’ll get to meet working artists, enjoy dance, theater, and music performances, and visit museums and galleries.

Wander through the latest exhibits at the Visions Art Museum and the San Diego Comic Art Gallery, then hit up Comickaze Comics for an eccentric selection of mainstream and independent comics, graphic novels, statues, and action figures.

Cap off an excellent evening with dinner at one of Liberty Public Market’s dozens of food venues.

18) Wander through Seaport Village – and learn how to Salsa!

Try your salsa moves in the beautiful outdoor courtyard at the Headquarters at Seaport Village!

On the third Friday of every month (through September), local musician Manny Cepeda and his orchestra will be playing their repertoire of classic salsa, merengue, cumbia, bachata, and Cuban music from 6pm to 9pm.

New to salsa? No worries, as there’s no experience necessary for this free event.

19) Take an evening stroll along Oceanside Pier

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Midsummer colors 🌴✨🎨

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At 1,942 feet, the historical Oceanside Pier is one of the longest wooden piers on the West Coast.

Take a leisurely stroll out over the Pacific Ocean, watch the surfers ride a wave, fishermen catch a fish, and cap off your stroll with a chocolate milkshake for two at Ruby’s Diner at the end of the pier.

Afterwards, take some time to explore historic downtown Oceanside; grab a bite to eat at Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub, or have a beer at Bagby Beer Company.

20) Enjoy a rooftop cocktail under the stars

Few things are more beautiful than the San Diego coastline under a blanket of stars.

Head downtown to the rooftop at The Nolen for incredible panoramas of downtown and delicious handcrafted cocktails; or stop by Altitude Sky Lounge, a swanky outdoor club high atop the Gaslamp Marriott with impressive views of Petco Park, DJs, and fire pits.

If you’re in the mood for some grub, head over to Catania’s rooftop dining area in La Jolla for some decadent Italian food and a Happy Hour cocktail.

21) Drink wine and paint a masterpiece together

Anyone can be an artist at Pinot’s Palette in the beautiful Liberty Station Arts District!

Each two- or three-hour session takes you through the creation of your own colorful painting, no experience required. Grab a glass of vino to get your creative juices flowing, then relax and follow the instructor-led, step-by-step directions.

Bonus Tip for Date Night in La Jolla

Running a bit tight on budget? We understand! Great dates can be had in La Jolla for all budgets.

With amazing weather, great beaches and views at every turn, La Jolla has lots of amazing opportunities to go on a date without spending a fortune.

Check out our list of 10 fun date ideas for couples, mostly completely free!

Explore on your own

When all is said and done, there are so many activities to choose from in San Diego that it can be hard to decide!

Whether you and your date prefer spending time adventuring outdoors or you’re looking for a cozy night inside together, there is something for every type of date night idea in San Diego.

14 Ways to Experience Comic-Con International 2018 Without a Badge

One of San Diego’s biggest events of the year is almost upon us – San Diego Comic-Con International! Thousands of people flock to America’s Finest City every year to experience activities, exhibits, movies, and more; but unfortunately, not everyone was able to purchase a badge. The good news? You don’t need a San Diego Comic-Con badge to get your nerd on with the thousands of guests attending the annual convention this year!

During SDCC, the Gaslamp Quarter becomes a superhero’s playground filled with immersive experiences, events and photo-ops themed to match the convention — and many don’t require a badge. Here are 14 ways to experience the Comic-Con hype without a ticket.

Family Con

When: Wednesday Jul 18th, 4pm – 7 pm
Where: Liberty Station.
Small but mighty superheroes are being called to this party at Point Loma’s Liberty Station as the annual pop-culture convention gets underway. Youngsters are invited to dress up in their superhero best for Family Con, which features a costume parade, a petting zoo, a scavenger hunt and more. This free event starts at 4 p.m.

Esports Arena Drive

When: Thursday Jul 19th, 9am – 9pm
Where: Petco Park in the Park.
Test your gaming skills at this mobile gaming arena stopping by Petco Park’s community ballpark, Park in the Park, during SDCC. The arena is made of an 18-wheel semi-truck that will unfold to create a stage and VIP lounge perfect for gaming. Guests will be able to test an array of gaming products from HyperX and have the chance to win prizes.

Super Pup Yappy Hour

When: Thursday Jul 19th, 4pm-7pm
Where: Hotel Republic
Your pups want to get in on the Comic-Con action, too. Head to Hotel Republic’s Yappy Hour for a chance to find the perfect costume for your furry friend while sipping on Comic-Con themed cocktails and mingling with other pet owners. There will also be a pet costume contest and a chance to win prizes.

Her Universe Fashion Show

When: Thursday Jul 19th, 6 pm
Where: Manchester Grand Hyatt
Enjoy a geeky fashion show featuring couture stylings from both professional and amateur designers. The show’s finalists, chosen from hundreds of submissions, showcase original sci-fi and pop-culture inspired designs for a chance to join Her Universe founder, Ashley Eckstein, in creating a new collection for Hot Topic. Fashion and pop-culture fans line up for hours for this free fashion show that may even include a celebrity sighting or two. Seating is first come, first served and the line opens at 1 p.m.

SEE ALSO: 10 Other Things to do in La Jolla This Summer

DC Universe Experience

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday 21st, 9:30am – 7pm (5 pm on Sunday)
Where: Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
In what will likely prove to be one of the more popular experiences outside San Diego Comic-Con, DC Universe is bringing dozens of interactives to their activation at the Hilton. For example, fans will get the chance to search for clues to find Dick Grayson, they’ll create mayhem with Harley Quinn in her chaos room, traverse the sewers with Batman and view rare DC memorabilia. Guests can register in advance but it will not guarantee admission or speed up the process. Get there early, because the lines for this one will be long.

Hop Con: The w00tstout Festival

When: Thursday Jul 19th, 7 pm – 11pm
Where: Stone World Bistro & Gardens (Liberty Station)
Pop-culture enthusiasts and beer aficionados alike will love this suds-tasting event presented by San Diego staple Stone Brewing. For the sixth year during Comic-Con, Stone founder Greg Kock, Fark.com creator Drew Curtis and actor Wil Wheaton will debut a special batch of brew — this year, it’s w00tstout 6.0. The brew is described as a complex-flavored imperial stout made in a pecan, rye and bourbon-soaked barrel. A $75 ticket to this year’s event gets attendees 15 three-ounce tastes of w00tstout 6.0 and other Stone creations, unlimited tastings of gourmet bites — like mac and cheese croquettes, lamb meatball melts and Vietnamese spring rolls — plus access to lawn games, music and “a few extra surprises.”

Comic-Con at the Library

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday Jul 21st, times vary
Where: San Diego Central Library
Even without a badge, you don’t have to miss out on SDCC panels this year. Comic-Con is teaming up with the San Diego Central Library at 11th Avenue and K Street for a series of educational panels. Some highlights include a creator panel called “When I See Myself in Comics,” a chance to meet the makers behind comic books and a panel on how to comics can make a social impact, just to name a few. To attend without a badge, register online in advance before July 17.

MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition

When: Friday Jul 20 – Sunday Jul 22nd, 10am – 6pm
Where: Fleet Science Center
Can you pull a tablecloth off a table without disturbing the dishes on top? Do you stay drier running or walking in the rain? Get the answer to some of your burning questions at the new exhibit based on the popular TV show, “Mythbusters.” Just like the show, this hands-on exhibit will allow guests to use the scientific method to test some commonly-held theories. Access to the exhibit at the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park, can be added to a general admission ticket for $5.

Dead Quarters

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday Jul 22nd, 11am-6pm
Where: Outside Hilton Gaslamp
Outrun the undead at “The Walking Dead’s” off-site SDCC activation. Creators boast an immersive walk-through that will take visitors through the series’ settings, including a 22-foot Zombie slide like the one seen in “Fear the Walking Dead.”

‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Gallery

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday Jul 22nd, 11am – close
Where: Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery
The Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts Gallery (363 Fifth Avenue) in the Gaslamp will be transformed into an immersive Mirror Universe Experience during Comic-Con 2018. The exhibit will feature a photo opportunity with Emperor Georgiou’s throne and will showcase props and costumes from the series. There will also be “Star Trek” Comic-Con exclusives for sale.

FXHibition

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday Jul 22nd, times vary
Where: Outside San Diego Hilton Bayfront
On the lawn outside the San Diego Hilton Bayfront, FX will present several interactive exhibits featuring some of their most popular television shows, including “Legion,” “American Horror Story,” “Mayans M.C.” and “Archer.” Guests can register in advance at FXSDCC.com. The FXHibition is open to the public from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Adult Swim State Park

When: Thursday Jul 19th – Sunday Jul 22nd, 4pm-2am
Where: Behind the San Diego Convention Center
Archery, canoes and a mechanical bull hot dog — it must be Adult Swim. The tv network is bringing nature to the con with a variety of games (open until 8 p.m.), a merchandise store and more to guest 18 and up. Adult Swim State Park will be located at Convention Way and 5th Avenue Pier.

Oddities: Hidden Heroes of the Scripps Collections

When: Thursday Jul 19 – Sunday Jul 22, 9am – 5pm
Where: Birch Aquarium at Scripps
A new comic book-inspired interactive exhibit has opened at the Birch Aquarium to highlight the “superpowers” of some of the ocean’s most awe-inspiring creatures. From supervision to an electricity zap — marine life make amazing adaptations to survive in their environment and the team of scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego want to share what they’ve learned with you. The exhibit, open just in time for Comic-Con, is available to guests who purchase a ticket to the museum ($18.50 for adults and $14 for children 3 to 17).

SyFy Fan Party

When: Friday Jul 20 and Saturday Jul 21, 9pm
Where: New Children’s Museum
The lines were around the block for SyFy’s fan parties at San Diego Comic-Con last year and they hope to make this year’s even bigger. With a DJ spinning until 1 a.m. and giveaways galore, this event is a great place to be after other offsite activations and the convention center floor closes. An RSVP is required. Keep an eye on @SyFy on Twitter for details.

Del Mar Opening Day & Summer Concert Series Lineup

It’s back! One of San Diego’s favorite summer activities kicks off next week, with Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack on July 18th, and the Del Mar Summer Concert series beginning on July 20th. We’ve got the rundown for you – from how to spend Opening Day to the full concert lineup.

San Diego horse racing takes place where the “turf meets the surf” at the Del Mar Racetrack. Fans flock to the track each summer to wager on their favorite horses during the annual Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racing season, which runs from mid July through early September. Del Mar’s horse racing tradition dates back all the way to 1937, when Bing Crosby greeted the track’s very first guests – and Seabiscuit won by a nose in the infamous race in 1938. The 2018 season features the nation’s top race horses, trainers and jockeys, and plenty of fun in the sun!

Opening Day

Opening Day at the Racetrack kicks off at 11:30am on Wednesday, July 18.

More than 40,000+ race fans are expected to attend what’s defined as one of the most fabulous, fashionable and fun festivities in the west – Opening Day at Del Mar. The day isn’t just about big bets and fast horses, it’s also about celebrating in style! Fashion-minded guests may participate in Del Mar’s annual tradition, the Opening Day Hats Contest; where entrants compete for cash prizes and judged on creativity and style.

Opening Day Hats Contest

Explore your sense of hat creativity and you could win a share of more than $5,000 in total prizes! Strut your stuff between 11:30 AM and 3:00 PM in Plaza de Mexico (located inside the Stretch Run admission gates).

Enter in one of the following five categories: Most Glamorous, Best Racing Theme, Funniest/Most Outrageous, Best Fascinator and Flowers/All Other. There is no fee to participate, and all entrants will receive two free admission passes to return to the races.

The first race of the day kicks off at 2:00pm, so be sure to stick around!

SEE ALSO: More Summer Activities in San Diego!

Del Mar Summer Concert Series Lineup

Summer concerts are free with racetrack admission (Stretch Run general admission is just $6), and the concerts usually begin shortly after the last race (a bit before dusk). Do note that if you arrive AFTER the last race, concert admission is $30. Here’s this year’s lineup!

July 20: Psychedelic Furs

July 21: Iration

July 27: Steel Pulse

July 28: Switchfoot

Aug. 3: Matisyahu

Aug. 10: Aloe Blacc

Aug. 11: Reggae Fest with Ziggy Marley

Aug. 17: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

Aug. 24: Tribal Seeds

Aug. 25: Warren G & DJ Quik

Aug. 31: Cafe Tacvba

Sept. 1: Slightly Stoopid

Sept. 2: Ice Cube

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Parking and Transportation

  • Concert Parking after the last race is $20
  • Racetrack parking is $10
  • No overnight parking is available
  • Shuttles to public transportation, taxis, and pickup zones are also available

For more information and this year’s complete racing schedule, visit the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s website.