Exploring Balboa Park: Museums, Gardens, & Dining

Balboa Park

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

Museums

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balboa Park Gardens

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

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

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

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

All of the gardens at Balboa Park:

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

San Diego Zoo

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

The Old Globe Theatre

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

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

Events

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

International Cottages Sunday:

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

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

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

December Nights:

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

Dr. Seuss – ‘The Lorax Tree’ and other La Jolla Inspiration

Theodor Geisel, affectionately known as Dr. Seuss remains one of the most renowned children’s book authors of our time. Theodor and his wife, Audrey Geisel, moved to La Jolla in 1948. They bought an observation tower high atop Mount Soledad which Dr. Seuss would use as his office.

Theodor Geisel at work in his studio. Photo courtesy of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, LP

Dr. Seuss at work in his office overlooking the La Jolla coastline.

Overlooking the picturesque view of the La Jolla coastline and the famous Monterey Cypress trees in Ellen Browning Scripps Park, Dr. Seuss would find the inspiration for many of the his most beloved and popular stories. It was during his time in La Jolla that he would write 48 books including “Horton Hears a Who!,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Sign for Ellen Browning Scripps Park home of The Lorax Tree

Sign for Ellen Browning Scripps Park – home of famous ‘The Lorax Tree’.

The “Truffula Tree” a.k.a The “Lorax Tree”

Dr. Seuss famously said that his favorite of all of his books was The Lorax. Calling it straight propaganda, he was notoriously upset about the billboards, homes and condos that threatened his tranquil community of La Jolla. Written at the age of 67 and published in 1971, The Lorax is the story of the ambitious Once-ler who builds a huge, thriving business at the expense of Truffula trees and the creatures who depend on them.

The 'Truffula Tree' a.k.a The 'Lorax Tree' prior to it's collapse in June of 2019.

The ‘Truffula Tree’ a.k.a The ‘Lorax Tree’ overlooking the La Jolla Cove hotel prior to it’s collapse in June of 2019.

The real-life inspiration for the fictional Truffula species in the book is called the Monterey Cypress. Formed by the wind and unique to the California coast, one tree in particular is said to have inspired this environmental story about letting the trees grow.

The 'Truffula Tree' a.k.a The 'Lorax Tree' overlooking the coves of La Jolla prior to it's collapse in June of 2019.

The ‘Truffula Tree’ a.k.a The ‘Lorax Tree’ overlooking the coves of La Jolla prior to it’s collapse in June of 2019.

Estimated at 80-100 years old, the famous tree known simply as ‘The Lorax Tree’ fell in June of 2019. While city officials knew the tree had a termite problem, its collapse at it roots was unexpected and upsetting for those that knew it well. The exact cause of the fall is under investigation and there are talks of replacement. For now the tree has been removed and parts of the tree may even be repurposed.

Location where the Lorax Tree stood prior to it's collapse with a view of the la Jolla coastline

Location where the Lorax Tree stood after it’s removal

Though much of the scenery in La Jolla is reminiscent of Seussian-style illustration, the trees in The Lorax are particularly notable. With a view of the ocean atop one of the many beautiful overlooks in La Jolla, The Lorax Treeinspired Dr. Seuss to write a story that will be beloved by children for generations. Adapted into a cartoon in 1972 and a feature length movie in 2012, the famous words of the Lorax himself will outlive the famous Monterey Cypress in Ellen Browning Scripps Park.

I speak for the trees
-The Lorax

View from Ellen Browning Scripps Park

One of the many picturesque views of the La Jolla coastline.

The Spires of The Hotel Del Coronado

Just to the south of La Jolla,you can visit one of Dr. Seuss’ real-life inspirations firsthand: The Hotel Del Coronado.

Dr. Seuss’painting, aptly titled “I Dreamed I was a Doorman at the Hotel del Coronado,” is a colorful rendering of the 1888 Victorian hotel. It features a beachside setting with sharp angles, whimsical colors,and an eclectic feel. The doorman is just a tiny speck in the middle of whirlwind of activity and color.

The Del’s bright, red-shingled roofs and storybook style make it something of a fairytale castle, something that surely inspired Geisel; he was fond of all things whimsical (in fact, the word ‘Seussian’ is actually in the dictionary!). He could also see the hotel directly from his Tower perch atop Mt. Soledad.

One Fish, Two Fish…

“The Cat in the Hat,” published in 1957, features a rather odd-looking, high-stress personality, disgruntled orange fish. Referred to as Mr. Krinklebein in the TV show, but simply as “The Fish” in all of the books, he was constantly trying to restore order in his home.

As arguably his most famous book, Dr. Seuss only needed to look out into the bay to see his inspiration for this one – the State of California’s colorful and precocious Garibaldi fish. Though found frequently in La Jolla, the bright orange fish is rarely seen in places away from the southern California coast. And interestingly enough, they are usually aggressive defenders of their natural territory – much like its textual counterpart!

“The Fish” character appears in other stories and almost every other Seuss book, and they always play a similar role: an overly nagging, moralistic creature that admonishes any type of wrongdoing. Geisel actually once referred to his book’s fish character as “my version of Cotton Mather,” the Puritan moralist who advised the prosecutors during the Salem witch trials.

The La Jolla Birdwomen

In the 1960s, Dr. Seuss drew a series of illustrations titled “La Jolla Birdwomen.” They were gently but decidedly satirical, comparing the many birds of La Jolla with the upper-class socialites in La Jolla – a vehicle for another bit of Geisel’s spicy social commentary.

As one of the few men in town who worked from home, Geisel lightheartedly considered himself a “bird watcher on the social scene, always looking to create gentle spoofs of his chic female friends taken up in their whirl of luncheons, parties, and charity balls.”

The Birdwomen series consisted of eleven paintings with comical titles and equally captivating captions: My Petunia Can Lick Your GeraniumNot Speaking, Martini Bird, Gosh! Do I Look as Old as All That!, and View from a Window of a Rented Beach Cottage to name a few.

One of the more direct titles simply exclaims “Oh, I’d love to go to the party, but I’m absolutely dead.” The subtle social jabs became characteristic of Geisel even in the later years, though other than “The Lorax,” many of them remained less popular than his other, more lighthearted works.

Honoring Dr. Seuss

Today, the most notable memorial to Geisel is UC San Diego’s Geisel Library, in La Jolla California. Just outside the entrance visitors will find a life sized bronze Dr. Seuss statue sitting with one of his most beloved characters, a 7’5” tall bronze Cat in the Hat.

The Library was renamed in 1995 (four years after his death) in he and Audrey Geisel’s honor for the generous contributions that they made to the library and their devotion to children’s literature and improving literacy around the world.

Dr. Seuss and La Jolla

Dr. Seuss called La Jolla home for more than 40 years until his death in 1991. His children’s literature, and all of the creatures within his children’s books, are indelibly etched in millions of children’s imaginations around the world. From “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” and “The Cat in the Hat” to “The Lorax” and “Yertle the Turtle,” Seuss has truly captured the whimsical, fantastical world of a child’s imagination.

Dr. Seuss won a special Pulitzer Prize in 1984, a testament to his enduring legacy. His children’s books would be incomplete without his works of art, and his ties to San Diego and La Jolla California are indisputable. Dr. Seuss birthday is celebrated on March 2nd every year, a great time of year to visit La Jolla and explore the inspirations of Dr. Seuss. From the quote on the Coast Walk Trail to his very own art exhibit at the Legends Gallery, you might say Dr. Seuss and La Jolla go together like…

Green Eggs and Ham.’

The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance: A World-Class Car Show at the Cove

Beauty, elegance, and vintage cars intersect for the annual La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, which happens each spring at La Jolla Cove. This spectacular show features one-of-a-kind automobile gems from all over the world, and every year avid car enthusiasts head to the coast for a display of classic, unique, and timeless automobiles – a showcase that’s been going strong for over a decade.

This year, three main events will be held April 12-14, 2019 at Ellen Browning Scripps Park and The LOT La Jolla. From specialty craft cocktails to the more than 150 specialty restored automobiles, we can’t think of any reason not to attend this fantastic car show.

A little history of the event

With origins in the late 17th century, the early Concours was a leisurely social affair where lighthearted competitions were rewarded with rosettes, wine, and champagne. As coaches and carriages segued into automobiles in the late 19th century, the competitions became more defined. By the mid 1920s, no society season on the French Riviera was complete without a variety of organized Concours events.

After World War II, a trio of visionaries – Jules Huemann, Reverend Paul Woudenberg and Loren Tryon – created what was to become the grandfather of all post-war Concours — Pebble Beach. What was a European staple for centuries has now become a true international tradition that pays homage to its French roots, and is a world-class event that La Jolla is proud to host each year.

Bring the entire family

General tickets for Concours d’Elegance range from $55 to $70, but children under 10 are free – which makes it a great opportunity to bring your children and create some great family memories. With more than 150 classic cars ranging from vintage Rolls Royces to modern sports cars, it’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The main car show event will take place from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday, April 14th.

Enjoy craft cocktails & delicious hors d’oeuvres

This year’s Sunday car show will feature live music, spectacular views, and a complimentary French 75 Cocktail and honey tasting from Southern California (in the La Jolla Concours Champagne and Honey Tasting Garden). For a VIP experience, you can spend a little extra and enjoy fabulous bites from 15 of San Diego’s finest restaurants, a hosted bar in the VIP Sponsor Lounge, and more.

View vintage and classic automobiles

Have you ever seen a 1937 Puegot Cabriolet by Poutrout? It’s okay if you haven’t seen or heard of it, because most people haven’t — but this burgundy and silver car was the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance Best Show Winner in 2015. It’s a rare gem that has withstood the test of time, and remains a testimony to the caliber of cars that the Concours showcases.

The oldest car at the 2016 show was the 1934 Bugatti T-57 Four Door Pillarless which typically retails for about $130,000 and comes standard with an eight cylinder engine. Bugatti is known for creating some of the fastest cars in the world, and it’s no surprise that the 1934 model remains a classic gem. The cars for 2018 have not yet been announced, but they’re guaranteed to be more incredible classics!

Bonus: Aston Martin & Fraser Present A Night of Steampunk

Gears will turn as you enter the Night of Steampunk on the field of the La Jolla Concours adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. The night’s clock will take you back in time while you enjoy delicious tastes from 20 of San Diego’s finest restaurants, taste creative cocktails from the William Grant Portfolio, bid on Silent and Live Auction items, and enjoy a hosted bar while dancing through time!

And don’t miss the Friday night event: this year, the can’t-miss Friday night kick off party for the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance with the Pacific Sotheby’s Concours Social Club presented by The Lot La Jolla and Ferrari of San Diego. The evening will be divided into overlapping rooms of whimsy, color, and print where you can enjoy a full hosted vibrant bar and whimsical treats for the palate. This is your chance to get a sneak peek of the weekend ahead!

All proceeds this year will benefit the La Jolla Historical Society, which has been a champion for the preservation of La Jolla’s heritage since 1964 through discovery and tireless documentation. More than 100 historical monuments, annual art exhibits, and community events and tours are just a few of the ways the Society continues to promote awareness of our seaside town’s incredibly rich background.

For more information and to purchase tickets for the La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, visit their website.

The Farmers Insurance Open Returns to La Jolla January 24th

The Farmers Insurance Open Returns to La Jolla January 24th

The upcoming Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego is the golf event of the year! It has been held at Torrey Pines every year since 1968. Tiger Woods has confirmed he’ll be playing this year; Woods, who recently turned 42, won eight of his PGA Tour victories at the Torrey Pines Golf Course, including the 2008 U.S. Open. Woods is a clear favorite, especially among locals: keep an eye out for him and you just may score an autograph!

Overview

Opening Day is on Thursday, January 24, and each day through Sunday, January 27 holds a Championship round in the morning. Here’s the schedule breakdown for the week:

  • Thursday, January 24
    • Opening Round, North and South Courses
    • Post Party presented by Harrah’s Resort SoCal at The Fringe
  • Friday, January 25
    • Second Round, North and South Courses
    • Post Party presented by Harrah’s Resort SoCal at The Fringe
  • Saturday, January 26
    • Third Round, South Course
    • Post Party presented by Harrah’s Resort SoCal at The Fringe
  • Sunday, January 27
    • Final Round, South Course

In addition to Tiger Woods, players this year include defending champion Jon Rahm (who won in 2017), Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth. Before you go, purchase tickets online at the Farmers Insurance Open website. You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the parking options available and the detailed Spectator Guidelines. Specific tee times will be updated the night before each event.

History of the Farmers Insurance Open

The tournament (originally called the San Diego Open) was first played in Chula Vista, then moved in 1954 to Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, which had hosted the Crosby Pro-Am prior to World War II. The event was played at Mission Valley Country Club in San Diego in 1955 for one year, then moved to El Cajon in 1956.

In 1968, the event began its present relationship with Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, a 36-hole public facility owned by the City of San Diego. In the current tournament set-up, players split the first 36 holes between the North and South Courses, then play the final 36 holes on the South Course. In 2008, the South Course hosted the U.S. Open, won by Tiger Woods in a playoff. Today, the Farmers Insurance Open is a PGA Championship tournament known as the “West Coast Swing,” and is organized by The Century Club of San Diego .

Itinerary

6:00 am – Get breakfast! Nearby restaurants include Caroline’s Seaside Cafe open at 8 am, and Farmer & The Seahorse open at 7 am weekdays. The Grill at Torrey Pines also opens at 6 am, situated at The Lodge at Torrey Pines hotel right next to the golf course for a closer breakfast.

7:00 am – Gates Open. If you’re an early bird, now is a great time to get yourself situated and set up your chairs or look for autograph opportunities (Tiger Woods if you get lucky!).

9:00 am – The round opens. You can bring pop-up stools and chairs without their carrying bags, but no lawn chairs or step stools. Times for each of the holes are on the schedule, and the player list is here. Then grab lunch at the event zones found at multiple locations throughout the event. See below for a full list of concession areas and food spots!

3:30 pm – Typically, the day’s round lasts until about 3:30 pm. The Post Party hosted by Harrah’s kicks off after the end of the rounds (Thursday, Friday and Saturday). Enjoy drinks and live music while mingling with other tournament attendees.

Attractions

SERVPRO Fan Village:

  • The Michelob ULTRA Zone: Open to the public, the 30,000-square foot Michelob ULTRA Zone features premium food and drink offerings.
  • Champions for Youth Tent in the Fan Village: Buy an official Farmers Insurance Open “Keep Calm & Torrey On” quiet paddle. All proceeds benefit at-risk youth charitable organizations!
  • Official Merchandise Tent: Shop all Official Tournament gear.
  • Fan-Friendly Expo: Try the latest golf equipment, learn more about special offers from Tournament partners, and engage in interactive displays.
  • The Fringe: Located on the 15th green. Upgrades on site are available at The Fringe entrance so check out what has become our most popular venue with artisan menu choices for purchase and a premium cash bar.
  • The Post Party: When play ends, keep the party going with live music from local DJs and Happy Hour drink specials.

The Swell Coffee Co. Grove (located between the 7th and 18th Fairways):

  • Grey Goose 19th Hole and Flight Deck: The expanded Grey Goose 19th Hole and Flight Deck will feature an all-new elevated viewing deck with panoramic views of the course, a Pétanque course and specialty drinks including the 2018 signature cocktail, the Torrey Breeze.
  • Concessions and picnic benches

Vantage Point (located near the 1st tee and 18th hole of the South Course).

  • Grey Goose La Cantine: Get the morning started with signature Grey Goose Boody Mary
  • Practice Putting Green: Watch the Pros as they prepare to play.
  • Autograph Area: Snag an autograph from your favorite player after the round.
  • Torrey Pines Golf Shop: Buy Official Tournament merchandise and accessories.

 

The PGA Championship Tour continues after the Farmers Insurance Open with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February, the Genesis Open in Pacific Palisades, and the Honda Classic in Palm Beach, Florida in March. Open tickets and tickets for each upcoming event can be purchased at pgatour.com, along with a complete schedule and list of players. Tee times will be announced as each event approaches. The highly anticipated World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational will be held in August of this year in Akron, Ohio; the current American favorite player for that one is Zach Johnson.

What to Do with Your Best Photos of Southern California

Southern California has some of the most diverse landscape in the United States. From sweeping mountain ranges and sprawling cities to gorgeous sandy beaches and the mostly placid ocean on Earth, Southern California is a vacation destination for plenty of tourists.

Once you’re home after that much-needed Golden State sabbatical, you find yourself scrolling through the photos on your phone. Your photos of Southern California are gorgeous! Beautiful sunsets over the ocean, the neon-lit nightlife of the cities you visited, that jaunt you took to learn to ski in the mountains; all of these photos just sitting on your phone, waiting to be used! So, what exactly should you do with them?

There are a few different ways to display your breathtaking photos:

Commission a Painting

The world is drowning in photographs thanks to smartphones. This means your amazing photo of La Jolla Cove at sunset is, despite its brilliance, one of many very similar looking images. One way to make your gorgeous photo stand out from the crowd is to have it painted. Artists are able to turn a photo into a painting for you to hang up in your house or give to someone as a gift. It’s a simple yet effective way to take an amazing photo from your trip to California and make it even more interesting.

Assuming you lack the artistic skills to paint a photo, you could always commission a local artist to recreate your photo for you. If time is not on your side or there isn’t anyone available nearby, consider using services that turn photo into painting fast and affordable. These services offer quick turnaround time without sacrificing on quality.

Glassy is Classy

Another way to display your fantastic snapshots is to have them turned into a glass photo. There are so many different styles to choose from! Use a curved glass print to display those gorgeous panoramic ocean views, or a tri-print on glass to showcase up to three different pictures. They can be displayed on your end-tables or even framed and hung up. With a glass print, you don’t have to worry about your picture getting stuck against the glass in a frame, it’s already the glass!

They also bring a touch of classy elegance to modern and chic rooms. You can have your glass photo in a base instead of a frame to give that overall smooth modern feel.

Print, Frame, Hang

A tried and true option is to print out your photos and create a gallery wall. Choose your display area wisely, making sure it has enough space to accommodate frames of different shapes and sizes. Pick your prints with a theme, whether it be color, landscape type, or cherished memories. Utilize both landscape and portrait style pictures to add a bit of uniqueness to your gallery wall.

Once you’ve cleared your area, and chosen your photos, just head on down to the local photo print booth and print your pictures out. Choose your frames by the size of the photos you printed, but don’t be afraid to throw in a couple of frames that have a splash of color or pattern. Lastly, hang your photos up proudly!

However you choose to display your photos of your picture-perfect picnic in La Jolla or other wonderful moments in Southern California, remember that a picture says a thousand words and holds even more memories. Your aesthetic and taste are as important as the photos you want to display. You’ll delight your family and friends with your photographer’s eye.

new years eve san diego

New Years Eve Events in San Diego

We’re officially in the throes of the holiday season, and New Year’s Eve in San Diego is right around the corner! If you’re looking to get out and about for NYE this year, there are plenty of fun events, parties, and happenings going on around San Diego County – from epic hotel parties in the Gaslamp Quarter and downtown to casual craft beer dinners and everything in between. Here’s our roundup of the best New Year’s Eve events in San Diego this year!

Big Night San Diego NYE

Where: Hilton Bayfront

Ring in 2019 at one of the biggest parties in San Diego! The 16th annual Big Night NYE is back with an all-inclusive extravaganza, including unlimited drinks all night, a buffet, and live entertainment at ten different party zones (with eight dance floors) throughout the hotel. Guests are free to roam – beverage in hand – from party room to party room, from the Retro Zone to the Club Zone and the silent disco. About a dozen popular bands and DJs will be playing throughout the gala’s many party areas all evening. At midnight, celebrate with exclusive party favors and a big countdown.

New Years Eve at Tower 23

Where: Tower 23 Hotel; 723 Felspar Street, San Diego
Tower 23 in Pacific Beach is a fun lifestyle hotel situated right on the beach. This year, make your way there to pop, sparkle, fizz, toast, and sip as you ring in the new year! Dine before you dance with dinner at JRDN (there are two seatings, at 5:30pm and 8:30pm), then enjoy live music and sets from local DJs starting at 10pm. Stay overnight with an exclusive discount hotel package, and enjoy a special New Year’s Day brunch the next morning until 3:30pm!

New Years Eve Hornblower Cruise

Where: Pier 1 Hornblower Landing, 1800 North Harbor Drive
This NYE, head to an Old Hollywood-themed Hornblower cruise! This special night will include a fun four-hour cruise around the San Diego Harbor, and feature plenty of free-flowing champagne, a five-course gourmet seated dinner, a live jazz band, New Years Eve party favors, and of course, incredible views of the San Diego coastline! The High Spirits, built in 1929, is a beautifully restored classic motor yacht that’s going to be decorated in the spirit of Old Hollywood this New Years Eve. The upper deck offers a bar and dining room with breathtaking views, making the High Spirits perfect for a themed celebration. Be sure to wear your best black and white ensemble as you step back in time and are swept away by the glitz and glamour of yesterday and a night of fun on the water.

New Years Eve Gala

Where: Hotel Del Coronado; 1500 Orange Avenue, 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 at the Hotel Del Coronado. The oceanfront Ballroom will transform into a lavish big top, complete with black tie-clad aristocrats, a delectable five-course feast, open bar, and dancing to the sounds of the Mighty Untouchables. Kick the evening off with Cocktail Hour in the Crown Room from 7pm-8pm, then head to the Ballroom at 8pm for an extravagant dinner, live performances and music, and dancing until 1am. For an extra special experience, be sure to book a room at this world-famous hotel and cap off your evening in style!

NYE Beach Party

Where: Catamaran Resort; 3999 Mission Blvd.
Ring in 2019 at the beach this year! Head to the Catamaran Resort for an all-inclusive evening packed with unlimited drinks and cocktails, festive hors d’oeuvres, four rooms of top-tier entertainment featuring San Diego’s hottest DJs, themed photo booths to create lasting memories, and an epic LED screen midnight countdown and balloon drop. For a five-star evening, upgrade to the VIP Party Boat and cruise around Mission Bay on the William D. Evans. Aboard you’ll find multiple decks of music, two open bars, a dance floor, and casino games, all in addition to the fun inside the Catamaran.

Craft Beer New Year

Where: Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens at Liberty Station; 2816 Historic Decatur Rd.
Go all-out on the last night of the year with an extravagant affair at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station! Your $99 ticket includes three drink tickets, light bites throughout the night, a celebratory toast pour at midnight (with souvenir tasting glass), two dance floors and live music from DJ Tropixx, a cigar lounge in the movie courtyard, speakeasy room, interactive photo booth, and a midnight countdown and ball drop. Group packages and discounts are available for parties of nine or more.

Black & Gold New Year’s Eve

Where: Maritime Museum of San Diego; 1492 North Harbor Drive
Celebrate the new year in style at the Maritime Museum! Located directly on the San Diego Bay, guests can spend a gorgeous and exciting night in one of the most unique venues in town. The event center located on the historic 1898 Steam Ferry Berkeley will be transformed into a classy lounge, complete with live music and dancing from the era, a 30’ candy and dessert bar, photo booth, party hats and favors, appetizers all night, and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Be sure to reserve your tickets early.

NYE at Hard Rock Hotel

Where: Hard Rock Hotel; 207 Fifth Avenue
The biggest New Year’s Eve bash in the Gaslamp Quarter returns this year with Kid Ink and live DJ Pauly D at the Hard Rock Hotel. This year, experience a festive journey to the world’s most epic party cities, including Beijing, Los Angeles, New York, Giza, and Mykonos to ring in 2019. Don your holiday finest and celebrate until long after midnight on three hotel levels and five totally decked-out party rooms. A limited number of Hotel Room Packages are available this year, and include two party tickets and a one-night hotel stay. VIP Bottle Service Packages are also available.

Ball on Broadway

Where: Parq Restaurant & Nightclub; 615 Broadway
Head to Parq Restaurant and Nightclub this New Year’s Eve to dance the night away and bring in 2019 in style! Toast to the new year in an expansive venue featuring 35,000 square feet and two nightclubs as part of a five-room opulent experience. Wander through each room, listening to multiple DJs and enjoying five distinct musical experiences to ring in the New Year. Parq Restaurant and Nightclub is located in downtown San Diego in the Gaslamp Quarter.

2019 Bottoms Up NYE

Where: ALTITUDE Sky Lounge (Marriott Gaslamp Quarter)
Level up your New Year’s Eve! From the lobby to Altitude Sky Lounge, enjoy free-flowing champagne, unlimited well drinks, domestic beers, and two of San Diego premier DJs plus an exceptional selection of gourmet food stations, including a raw seafood and sushi bar, street taco stand, chocolate fountain, carving station, and more. Your top-to-bottom evening will include unlimited drinks and food all night, party favors, a New Years Eve countdown, and live music from various DJs in the lobby and on the 22nd floor. Guests can roam between the San Diego skyline lounge and the lobby all evening long at this epic downtown San Diego hotel party!

Have kids in tow? Check out our kid-friendly New Year’s Eve events in San Diego!

Things To Consider When Choosing a Venue for an Event

If there was ever a perfect destination to plan an event, San Diego would be it. The city has plenty of beautiful beaches, luxury hotels, cultured restaurants, and popular bar scenes to choose from. Whether you’re planning a business event, birthday party, bridal shower, or gender reveal party, there are several options available to you. With so many venues, however, you’ll need to iron out a few details to determine which is best for you.

Location

Though you know you’re going to have your event in the San Diego area, you have to consider the location of the venue based on attendee convenience. If it’s a local event, it is ideal to have it somewhere neutral to those you’re inviting so they don’t have to travel far. If you’re expecting mostly out-of-towners, then you might opt for a venue closer to an airport.

Number of Attendees

How many people will be attending your event? This will be important for several reasons. First, you’ll need to find a venue that can host that many people. You’ll also need to make sure there is enough parking. Lastly, you’ll need to know how many are in attendance for seating, food, and beverage preparations.

Services and Amenities

As you think about the type of event you’re planning, what type of services will you need? If you were planning a corporate event, for instance, you might need a conference room, technical equipment, and lunch catering. If you were planning a wedding you might prefer a venue with a caterer, baker, and wait staff. You’ll also want to ask about things like tables, chairs, tents, and whatever else you might need to host your event.

Decor Acceptions

The decor is often a big part of event planning. However, not all venues allow all types of decor and devices onto their premises. If you were throwing a gender reveal party, for example, you might want gender reveal smoke bombs and gender reveal confetti cannons to share the sex of the baby. What makes a lot of gender reveal celebration products great is they are safe for indoor and outdoor use! You can pop gender reveal confetti and make a moment to remember. You may want to check with the venue if you are planning to use gender reveal smoke though. This might be fine at a venue that has an outdoor area, but for a secluded place like a small restaurant or bar, these things may not be allowed. However, you can also decide to just use gender reveal confetti cannons.

Availability

San Diego is a really popular place to host events, so you’ll want to find out about availability right away. Try to choose several dates that your event could take place, just in case the date you want isn’t available. Find out about what options are available if there’s inclement weather or another unforeseen reason you need to postpone your date.

Layout

The layout of a venue will need to be considered for your event. You need to consider the number of people you’re inviting, the type of event it is, and activities that will be taking place. You’ll need to have enough space to accommodate your guests, food, and anything else you plan on having at your event. Going to see venue layouts in advance is recommended to ensure it flows with your vision.

Holiday parties, weddings, business conferences, gender reveals, birthday parties, they can all be great when you host them in a city like San Diego. As you browse the town for the perfect venue, be sure to keep all these factors in mind. In doing so, you’ll ensure that your event goes off without a hitch.

Great Decor Options To Light Up Your Nighttime Outdoor Wedding

Planning a wedding under the stars? There’s something magical about getting married at night in a destination as beautiful as California. The crisp evening breeze, starry skies, and beautiful landscapes really set the tone for a romantic affair. The only thing that can make the day even better (outside of the attendance of your loved ones) are the right decorations. Wedding decor helps to tie in the theme and send the event over the top. Here are some ideas that are sure to make your nighttime wedding shine!

Strings of Lights

Adding illumination to your wedding is a great way to brighten up the evening. Strings of lights, such as those you’d use around the holidays are perfect for an outdoor wedding. They come in various colors and styles to tie in with your theme. You can hang them from trees, shrubbery, or overhead in your wedding tent.

Lanterns

Lanterns are another nice touch to consider for your outdoor wedding. They can be placed throughout the venue to help light up the night skies. Adding a lantern at the end of each row of chairs for the wedding ceremony can serve as a great touch for the aisles. It gives a romantic vibe as the bridal party walks down.

If you really want to light up the skies at your wedding ceremony, you might also consider floating lanterns. You and your guests can light the lanterns, make a wish for the bride and groom, and cast them into the air. The view is really amazing and the symbolism quite special.

Wedding Sparklers

You can’t have too much light and sparkle with an outdoor evening wedding. Create a little shine and shimmer with wedding sparklers. You can buy individual sparklers for attendees to hold as the bride and groom exit the ceremony as husband and wife. There are other sparklers for weddings that can add to your outdoor wedding decor like bottle sparklers. You can add them to the champagne bottles and hand them out to tables right before it’s time for the toasts. Wedding sparklers are quickly becoming one of the hottest wedding trends. You can either choose to use 36 inch or 20 inch sparklers for weddings. Either choice is a no brainer and sparklers are very affordable and help take amazing pictures. Wedding Sparklers will end your wedding night in style!

Candles

If there’s one decor item that screams love and romance it’s candles. Candles are commonly included in the wedding theme and add a nice personal touch. A great way to use them would be to incorporate them with your reception table centerpieces. You could use the candle as the base and surround it with flowers, or get creative with floating candles.

Fire Pits

Getting married during cooler seasons? Fire pits are a great wedding decor item and they can help to keep the chill off you and your guests. You can invest in one large pit or purchase a few smaller ones to place around the venue.

Floating Lights

If your outdoor wedding happens to be near a pool, light it up with beautiful floating lights. They come in an array of sizes, shapes, and colors and can easily be accompanied by floating flowers. They help to add more light to the evening and also look awesome as they reflect on the water.

Outdoor weddings really are amazing. With nature as the backdrop, brides are able to design truly romantic ceremonies. Of all the things to add to your wedding planning checklist, don’t forget lighting. Lighting is a very important element to the design and it helps to illuminate the rest of the decor. If you’re planning a night time wedding, these decor items are easy to incorporate into any theme making your special day shine just as bright as your future.

Holiday Party Venues in San Diego

The winter season is upon us, and nothing says ‘the holidays’ like a fun party at one of San Diego’s best venues! Toast to your colleagues, friends, or family at one of these unique San Diego party venues fit for a day or night of merriment this holiday season. From casual craft breweries and romantic, urban-chic eateries to rooftop bars and skyline-view museums, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best San Diego venues made for the perfect 2018 holiday gathering!

1. Clara (Carlsbad)

Having just opened this summer, Clara is the newest addition to the ever-growing downtown Carlsbad Village scene. The space here is serene, casual, and comfortable; making this spot pretty ideal for a dinner feast with your friends or colleagues. The neutral interiors and menu offerings work well for vegetarians and carnivores alike – from the chili braised cauliflower tacos to skirt steak skewers, there is a little something for everyone here. The craft cocktail menu is expansive and innovative, and many of the drinks are infused with locally grown produce.

2. Madison on Park (University Heights)

Located in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, Madison on Park serves upscale Mediterranean and Southern California inspired cuisine in a modern, gorgeous atmosphere. Madison features a full bar and an upscale menu offered in the main dining room, which is a dramatic 3,000 square-foot space built by industrial design firm ARCHISECTS that features sky-high vaulted ceiling made of wood and cedar walls in colorful geometric patterns. The whole space has a fresh, eclectic indoor-outdoor vibe, which makes it a great choice for your holiday party in San Diego.

3. Kettner Exchange (Little Italy)

The open-air rooftop of this Little Italy restaurant is a huge draw for locals – and one of the best rooftops in the city – with the only private cabañas and ocean views in the neighborhood. The cabañas are definitely the main attraction here; each one is totally private, complete with a variety of wines, craft cocktails, and self-serve tap beers. Standing parties of up to 400 can celebrate with innovative cocktails and sophisticated bites – think suckling pig larb, hamachi ceviche, foie gras French toast, and grilled quail char sui – but if you’re hosting a smaller group, consider the hidden, more private Chef’s Table for a special five-course dining experience.

4. BRICK (Point Loma)

From the simple elegance to the stunning ambiance, BRICK just oozes charm, character, and originality. This beautiful, historic Point Loma space can hold up to 450 guests, and there are no curfews or noise ordinances. The best part? The space is yours for a full 24 hours! The aesthetic is modern-industrial, and features market lights, exposed beams, and plenty of (of course) natural brick walls.

5. Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa (Rancho Santa Fe)

This expansive, luxurious oasis covers 45 beautiful acres in the hills of Rancho Santa Fe, providing eight garden-filled options for celebration spaces. Each space – from the popular Croquet Lawn to the turquoise fireplace of the Sunrise Room – has its own vibe and aesthetic, and can work for a low-key day party or formal nighttime affair. Each room has a different capacity and rules, so be sure to inquire ahead of time to plan your special event.

6. Luce Loft  (Downtown)

Housed within a historic 1928 Carnation Dairy Factory, Luce Loft boasts cathedral ceilings, exposed brick, and romantic market lights to create the perfect urban party backdrop. One of the best aspects of hosting an event here is that you can customize essentially everything – including booze, as it’s one of the only venues in San Diego that boasts a BYOB policy. Pick from one of 10 catering vendors from nearby restaurants and food trucks, and get the party started with a DJ and photo booth.

7. Darlington House (La Jolla)

Throw an elegant holiday garden party in the heart of La Jolla Village at the Mediterranean-style Darlington House. This historic home is an architectural gem, and echoes the days of vintage La Jolla and a lifestyle of elegant dinner parties and delightful musical concerts (it’s also a popular wedding venue). There are different rooms to explore around every corner; consider The Library, which features dark wooden bookcases, a Moroccan fireplace, and a gorgeous Moorish-inspired staircase and is perfect for smaller, more intimate events, or the Andalusian Patio, which was modeled after the style of Southern Spain and features stunning Roman arches.

8. The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe (Rancho Santa Fe)

Sitting on 21 lush acres in the heart of Rancho Santa Fe Village, this quaint, luxury inn boasts seven dreamy indoor-outdoor event spaces. The Azalea room is perfect for more intimate parties, while the Croquet Cottage & Lawn features a larger space complete with vaulted wood ceilings, a stone fireplace, and an accompanying outdoor patio for indoor and outdoor seating.

9. The Lodge at Torrey Pines (La Jolla)

In an endless-summer city, it’s not always easy to create a festive wintery ambiance but at this craftsman-style resort, that’s a different story. The Lodge features a great variety of indoor-outdoor venue options (with capacity for up to 400 people), and boasts panoramic Pacific Ocean views, cozy fireplaces, a golf course, and of course, the rare Torrey Pine trees make it a location that pretty much guarantees to put everyone in the holiday mood.

10. Farmer and the Seahorse (La Jolla)

The playful details of the Farmer and the Seahorse in La Jolla (near Torrey Pines) give it a naturally festive vibe — from the vintage Airstream to the telephone booth to the inviting corn hole games on the lawn. Combining the best produce from the restaurant’s gardens and local farms with the freshest catch from the Pacific, the menu from celebrity chef Brian Malarkey is all kinds of delicious.

11. Juniper & Ivy (Downtown)

Treat friends, family, or coworkers to a magical holiday dinner at chef Richard Blais’ high-end restaurant in Little Italy, where he seriously pushes the limits of fine dining. What’s great about this spot is the variety of private dining areas to choose from; including a second-floor overlook or an al fresco patio experience. Take your experience a step further and reserve the exclusive and highly coveted Chef’s Table, which can seat between 14 and 65 and puts you right at the heart of Juniper & Ivy’s main dining room with a clear view into the action in the kitchen.

12. Vin de Syrah (Gaslamp)

This Gaslamp District speakeasy is truly a one-of-a-kind San Diego gem. The quirky, understated décor has been compared to Alice in Wonderland — picture oversized, cushy booths and botanical chandeliers — and the entertainment options go way beyond a live cover band. Reserve a burlesque show, a tarot card reading, or an illusionist, and your friends and family won’t forget your epic Holiday Party of 2018!

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

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!

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]

Kid-Friendly Holiday Activities in San Diego

The holidays are a wonderful time of year for anyone, but especially so for the little ones in your life! Each holiday season, San Diego comes to life with dazzling lights, live shows, outdoor markets, and sweet treats. Experience the best of this year’s holiday magic with the whole family at these kid-friendly holiday events and activities in San Diego – from nighttime fun at the San Diego Zoo to a LEGO themed holiday wonderland! Whether you’re a San Diego expert looking for fresh ideas, or simply coming into town for the holidays we’ve got you covered!

La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival

December 3
Spread some holiday cheer at one of La Jolla’s most beloved traditions: the annual La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival! Complete with marching bands, floats, vintage automobiles, and of course, Santa Claus, this is a family-friendly event that shouldn’t be missed.

You’ll see floats, marching bands, community groups, drill teams, vintage vehicles, horses, and more. There will also be a Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting Ceremony, featuring children’s arts and crafts, live entertainment, educational exhibits, and photos with Santa, all steps away from one of the most magnificent ocean views San Diego has to offer. Stay tuned for the lighting of La Jolla’s official Christmas Tree at the La Jolla Rec Center!

SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration

Starts November 17
SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration is a great way to spend the day with kids; complete with seasonal shopping, festive food and drinks, and fun live shows. Holiday music will fill the air and guests will walk through a sea of lighted trees sparkles, transforming the park into a wintery, watery wonderland. Visit Santa’s Christmas Village to see Santa himself, meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends, and savor holiday flavors as you shop for unique gifts and decorations. Don’t forget to check out the massive 40-foot Christmas tree!

Balboa Park December Nights

December 7 & 8
Balboa Park December Nights is the largest free community festival in San Diego. This event is one of the most popular kid-friendly holidays in San Diego and is entering its 40th year with festive fun, food and attractions throughout the park. This event includes complimentary admission to Balboa Park museums from 5-9 p.m. Be sure to arrive early because December Nights draws thousands of visitors. Consider parking off-site and taking advantage of one of the complimentary shuttles.

Holiday Festival at Hotel Del Coronado

November 28
Join the Hotel Del Coronado for its Annual Holiday Festival! The evening will feature the season kickoff of Skating by the Sea, professional ice skating demonstrations, and spectacular fireworks displays. Children will delight at Santa’s Village, which will be filled with games, prizes, and photos with St. Nick. Best of all, families and friends will be front row at a holiday performance by Coronado’s schools. Afterwards, don’t miss out on the carnival games and the chance to make magical holiday memories with roasting s’mores on the beach! Tickets are available to purchase online.

Holidays at LEGOLAND

Through December 31st
Enjoy holly jolly fun throughout LEGOLAND with festive shows and décor all month long. The whole family will feel the holiday spirit when they see the 30-foot LEGO Christmas tree trimmed with awesome LEGO ornaments as it sparkles each night with music and light. This year, there will be new shows and live entertainment including a new holiday light show; LEGO Holiday character meet-and-greets at the new Holiday Village; special holiday treats and food offerings, including peppermint shakes, Nutella and peppermint crepes, and more; and a Fun Town Holiday Market on select days with limited time food offerings, such as grilled sausages, giant Bavarian pretzels, and spiced wine. LEGOLAND Hotel is also a great place to stay with kids, as it’s possibly the most kid-friendly hotel in all of the hotels in San Diego. The LEGO themed hotel fully adopts the LEGO theme throughout the guest rooms to the outdoor swimming pool.

Tree Lighting at La Valencia Hotel

November 27
Join La V’s annual family-friendly holiday tradition in La Sala Lounge at La Valencia Hotel (1132 Prospect Street), complete with warm holiday beverages, homemade cookies, classic carols, and children’s arts and crafts. The La Jolla Country Day School Madrigal Singers will begin caroling at 5pm, and the official Tree Lighting will be held at 6pm. Live entertainment from Roman Palacios will follow to complete the evening.

North Park Toyland Parade

December 1
Unwrap some magic this holiday season and partake in festive fun at the 55th Annual North Park Toyland Parade & Festival! Gliding down University Ave. between Utah and Iowa Streets, this cheerful Parade will feel like a Winter Wonderland, as marching bands, upbeat dance groups, cool vintage cars, beauty queens, city officials and more, warm your spirits. Santa Claus will be riding atop his merry red fire engine, and kids will delight in the colorful, festive floats and live music. All-day parking will be available for $1 at the North Park Parking Garage. The parade will be from 10am-1pm.

Seas ‘n’ Greetings at Birch Aquarium

Through December 31st
The magic of the holidays meets the magic of the underwater world at Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla during Seas ‘n’ Greetings, a month-long holiday celebration featuring SEAsonal activities for the whole family! Birch Aquarium will be transformed into a holiday wonderland all month long. Deck the Hall (of Fishes) and get into the holiday spirit every day from 9am to 5pm and check the schedule for special appearances by Scuba Santa, as well as themed animal encounters, a scavenger hunt, and fun photo opportunities. All Seas ‘n’ Greetings activities are included with admission ($19.50 for adults, $15 for children ages 3-17).

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

December 8 – January 1
This holiday season, the San Diego Zoo will be transformed into a wild wonderland of twinkling lights, merry-making performances, and festive foods. Santa will be on hand before Christmas to visit with the little ones, and some of his elves keep things hopping with an energetic trampoline performance, the Toy Shop Hop. For more Santa-themed adventures, there will be two special 4-D experiences: a train ride to the North Pole through the magic of The Polar Express and Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas, where guests join Manny, Sid, and Diego on a fun adventure.

From Dr. Zoolittle’s animal-themed version of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” to the Northern Frontier Holiday Forest aglow with stunning, specially decorated and lit trees, Jungle Bells is a fun event for the whole family! Sounds of the season will fill the air with an interactive jingly, jazzy carol session and a strolling musician engages guests in songs of the season. Don’t miss the two “dancing light” experiences set to holiday music.

Garden of Lights at San Diego Botanic Garden

December 1-23 & 26-30
Each December, the San Diego Botanic Garden is transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with over 125,000 sparkling lights for a magical holiday experience. Festive holiday activities for the whole family include sledding, holiday arts and crafts, a Nutcracker display, marshmallow roasting, food trucks, hot mulled wine, beer and refreshments, as well as visits with Santa (Dec. 1 – 23) and horse-drawn wagon rides. Enjoy great live entertainment, including local blues and jazz bands, every night from 6pm-8pm, as well as delicious treats and food from Isaac’s Catering and local food trucks.

Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Balloon Parade

December 31
If your little ones love all things balloons, this is the holiday event for you! This New Year’s Eve, the scenic, bayside streets of downtown San Diego will come alive with the Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade. 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 western United States!

More than 100,000 street-side spectators will enjoy the parade this year, along with a nationwide television audience, to celebrate the big Holiday Bowl game with the parade. Street side viewing of the parade is totally free, so bring the whole family! The parade starts at 10am, but we recommend arriving early as parking downtown can be even more difficult during big events.

Frosty Farm at Helen Woodward Animal Center

December 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 15 & 16
This festive event in San Diego combines hands-on animal encounters with family-friendly activities, which makes it the perfect place to create new memories! In addition to fun activities that you can do at your own pace, families will also get a one-hour excursion led by a member of their crew; this includes season’s greetings with a variety of animals, and a holiday craft that is yours to keep. “Santa’s helpers” will be at Frosty Farm from 9am-1pm each day, so you can arrive before your excursion starts or stick around after to enjoy several activities, including a personal meet-and-greet with Santa, photo ops with animals, a petting zoo, a variety of arts and crafts, an elf obstacle course, cookie decorating and hot cocoa, holiday music, face painting, and outdoor games.

For more San Diego holiday ideas, visit our events page!

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.

7 San Diego Rooftop Bars to Visit This Weekend

Spending time outdoors is pretty much a given if you live in San Diego, and dining al fresco is no exception! There are few better ways to spend a lazy weekend afternoon than hanging out on a rooftop, cocktail in hand, enjoying the sunshine. From panoramic views of the downtown skyline to chic rooftops along the coast, there are a ton of fantastic rooftop bars in San Diego perfect for doing just that. Here’s a rundown of our seven must-see favorites!

 

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Altitude Sky Lounge

660 K Street
San Diego, 92101
Standing at 22 stories, Altitude Sky Lounge is the highest open-air rooftop bar in the area, which means you’ll have better views of the city here than anywhere else. In addition to the bird’s eye view of downtown, Coronado Island, Coronado Bridge, and Point Loma, ALTITUDE’s location next to Petco Park also means you can catch a free ball game during baseball season!

Their weekday Happy Hour is definitely a must-try. On Mondays-Fridays from 5 pm to 7 pm, well drinks are $7, domestic draft beers are $5, and artisan flatbreads are all half off. It’s the perfect spot for a little after-work cocktail action!

 

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The Poolhouse

550 J St
San Diego, CA 92101
Head to the Pendry Hotel Downtown for the city’s newest rooftop lounge. During the day the third-floor space is reserved for hotel guests, but from 5pm-9pm the general public is invited to the hotel’s daily rooftop social, with specials on drinks, light bites, and bottle service. We love the $1 oysters, available during the 5pm-6pm Happy Hour.

On Sundays, The Poolhouse turns into a daytime party venue featuring a ton of gourmet food options and a signature bar and cocktail experience; including bottle service, champagne, specialty cocktails, fresh juices, and frozen libations. The luxe urban oasis boasts private cabanas and lavish daybeds to lounge on, and a live DJ provides background tunes. It’s a fun way to end your week in style!

 

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The Nolen

453 6th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
An extravagant 14-story jewel in the Gaslamp Quarter, The Nolen features both a patio and a rooftop lounge. Its beautiful setting – which features a communal fire pit – underlies an immersive spirit-forward cocktail menu. Come for the drinks, but stay for the food at their Sunset Hour which features $6 select sips and snacks.

Consistently ranked among the hottest bars in San Diego, The Nolen also recently began serving Sunday brunch with a build-your-own mimosa setup and specialty cocktails. The cocktail menu highlights local small-batch distilleries and one-of-a-kind blends aged in American oak barrels; you’ll find classic drinks, like Sidecars, as well as new-age handcrafted spirits, like “Christmas in Nicaragua.” You can’t go wrong with anything on the list!

 

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Rustic Root

535 Fifth Ave.
San Diego, 92101
Located in a prime spot in the Gaslamp Quarter, Rustic Root is a local favorite for its fresh, contemporary cuisine and yummy cocktails – and ideal for when you want a bit of a reprieve from insane lines and fighting for elbow room at the bar. The super-relaxed atmosphere pairs really well with the panoramic views for people watching along Sixth Avenue!

The rooftop bar menu here highlights rustic American cuisine, where dishes are packed with modern flavors. Their signature cocktails revolve around timeless and iconic classics, with the addition of more creative options like their craft cocktail shots – fun sip-sized versions of the classics finished with yummy garnishes.

 

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Catania

7863 Girard Ave.
La Jolla, 92037
This recent addition to Whisknladle Hospitality Group (open since 2015) is right here in La Jolla and boasts amazing sweeping views of La Jolla Village from the top of the Moroccan-themed La Plaza shopping center. With a choice of indoor or outdoor seating, the latter is a hands-down winner, allowing guests to enjoy lazy afternoon lunches, small plates, and leisurely dinners while taking in the sights from above.

Named after the coastal Italian city in Sicily, the restaurant focuses on authentic food from the area while highlighting seasonal ingredients. Their cocktails are all handcrafted with an Italian spin, and many feature a splash of Prosecco. Pro-tip: visit Catania on Mondays for their “Meatball Madness” special and a rotating assortment of traditional Italian dishes like chicken Marsala, eggplant Parmesan and, of course, spaghetti and meatballs. Stay through dusk for unparalleled sunset views!

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Kettner Exchange

2001 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego, 92101
One of Little Italy’s biggest hotspots, Kettner Exchange boasts a luxurious, stylish rooftop patio bar complete with private, curtained cabanas that come with their own flat-screen TV and wet bar. This particular patio is ideal for private parties, but if you’re looking to mingle, head to the dedicated bar and grab a seat by the counter or at one of the many tables.

The restaurant’s rooftop menu includes light bites and small plates; one of our favorites is the Bigeye Tuna Pizza, topped with red onions, ponzu, shiso, and truffle oil. Their cocktail menu is impressive and expansive and features everything from light and refreshing mixtures to high-end sipping whiskey. There is definitely something for everyone here!

 

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Upper East Bar

435 6th Avenue
San Diego, 92101
This fourth-floor rooftop in East Village, previously known as JSix Lounge and located at the Kimpton Solamar Hotel, has been completely revamped with a new layout and transformed into a luxurious, modern oasis. Cocktails and menu offerings were also updated with refreshing creations by executive chef Anthony Sinsay. Aside from the name change, it still offers sweeping views of Petco Park and surrounding buildings. You can enjoy outdoor games, fire pits, and private cabañas while you sip on a cocktail, or simply lounge poolside.

Some cocktail menu favorites include the East Fizz, a delicious combo of Grey Goose, grapefruit liqueur, and sparkling wine; and the Frosé, complete with dry rosé wine, Bacardi tangerine rum, and topped with fresh fruit. Fun pro-tip: On Mondays, the bar hosts “Veuve Around the Clock,” featuring a chilled glass of Veuve Clicquot for $5 at 5 pm, $6 at 6 pm, $7 at 7 pm, and $8 at 8 pm.

There you have it, 7 San Diego Rooftop Bars to visit this weekend. Looking for something a little closer to La Jolla? Check out our favorite spots in the Village for Happy Hour!

Fleming’s La Jolla Hosts Dinner & Wine Pairing Featuring Orin Swift Wines

On August 17th, Flemings La Jolla will host their second Orin Swift Wine Dinner of the summer! The event will feature an incredible four-course meal prepared by Flemings exclusively for the event, paired with a series of wines from Orin Swift – and we are giving away two tickets!

The Dinner

In addition to a pre-dinner Reception with appetizers and a specialty wine feature, the main dinner at Flemings will include four courses.

The first course will feature a Peach Panzanella Salad with Mannequin from Orin Swift. The second course will feature Wild Mushrooms and Grit Toast, paired with Palermo from Orin Swift. Third will be a Filet Mignon topped with Crab and Shrimp, paired with Papillon; and fourth will feature a Key Lime Tart served with coffee and tea.

During the event, there will be multiple opportunities to win prizes, including raffles and giveaways. The prizes include bottles of wine, gift cards, rare skateboard desks crafted and painted exclusively for Orin Swift, and more.

GIVEAWAY

We are giving away two tickets to this exclusive Wine Tasting & Dinner Pairing! Tickets are valued at $110 per person. Entries must be submitted by August 15th, 2018. To enter, visit our Giveaway PageIf you win, you’ll receive an email with instructions and details on the event!

Fleming’s La Jolla is located at 8970 University Center Lane, San Diego 92122. Flemings’ menu is filled with your fresh favorites and a local chef’s table that changes with the season. The bar manager has curated a wide selection of locally selected wines, hand-crafted cocktails, and spirits.

About Orin Swift Wines

The history of Orin Swift Cellars dates back to 1995 when David Swift Phinney took a friend up on an offer and traveled to Florence, Italy to spend a semester “studying.”

A year later, he founded Orin Swift Cellars. With two tons of zinfandel and not much else, he spent the next decade making wine for others as well as himself and grew the brand to what it is today. Their eclectic varieties of wine combine bold, intense flavors with balance and focused sleekness. The creative individuality of the labels is also a key part of the brand; the evocative packaging features classic art, dramatic photography, abstract image collages, and more.

Swim With Leapard Sharks

Why You Should Swim With La Jolla Leopard Sharks This Summer

Yes it’s true, La Jolla is filled with leopard sharks. No, they are not dangerous – in fact, they are pretty friendly!

The first thing you probably imagine when you hear “shark” is vicious predator. But not all sharks are threatening to humans. In fact La Jolla’s leopard sharks are friendly and even fun to be around. La Jolla is a summer getaway for thousands of beautiful leopard sharks. They’re non-lethal to humans and a delight to the eye. They even fun to swim, kayak, or scuba dive next to.

What makes leopard sharks different?

Well for one – they’re one of La Jolla’s most prized attractions. They draw visitors from all over the world, especially during summer. Their beautiful appearance is fascinating to look at, and despite being carnivores, they never attack humans.

Biologists estimate that the sharks that come to La Jolla are 97% female. Scientists estimate that a majority of of them show up to find a mate. The ones that are pregnant claim La Jolla as home to raise their young.

The toasty San Diego climate is a great location for the developing embryos to grow up. The warm weather sets up the perfect environment for healthy development in maturing sharks. There is plenty of food and resources for them to grow and mature.

Fun facts about leopard sharks

Andrew Nosal, a researcher at La Jolla’s Birch Aquarium says, “What the [females] are essentially doing is incubating… like [how] a mother bird sits on eggs to keep them warm.” Leopard shark mothers are pregnant for about 10 months to a year and give birth to about 15-20 babies. They take about 10 years to reach adulthood.

The sharks themselves are quite fascinating. Despite being fierce carnivores, they are known for their timid nature when interacting with humans. In fact, they are harmless to people. Most of the time when they encounter a human in the ocean, they swim away scared. In La Jolla, there has never been a recorded injury from a leopard shark.

Although they have the word “shark” in their name, the sharks don’t attack humans unless heavily provoked. Their small mouths have about 75 to 100 tiny teeth that may appear sharp and menacing, but they’re nonlethal to humans.

Nosal, who spent years researching the sharks, cautions the public, “It’s always important to remember that these are wild animals and should not be touched or harassed in any way.” Despite being a fish, leopard sharks have one thing in common with leopards (besides their skin of course). They are both predators who hunt down their prey.

Their diet consists primarily of shrimp, clams, crab, and fish. The food they consume is similar to what you can find at some of La Jolla’s most exclusive seafood restaurants. And despite a fierce carnivorous nature, it’s the beauty of leopard sharks that’s most fascinating. Their beautiful skin is a pleasure to the eye. Each leopard shark skin is unique to the fish with no two patterns being the same, just like human fingerprints.

Leopard sharks at La Jolla Shores are a beautiful tourist attraction you need to experience.La Jolla kayak shops offer tours to experience them up close. The tours take visitors to the leopard shark hot spots including feeding grounds and mating spots.

According to LaJollaKayak.com “[the sharks] can be seen just a few yards away from shore…” There’s just no excuse to not experience the sharks.

During the summertime from July to September, Birch Aquarium offers 2-hour leopard shark Snorkeling Adventures where they cover the abundant variety of animals that live in La Jolla’s waters. Participants must provide their own snorkeling gear.

If you don’t feel like renting, you can head straight into the water and experience them first hand. Although the fish are easily frightened and often swim away from people, they are quite fun to be around. Nosal suggests that, “The best thing to do is to stay motionless and allow the shark to come to you.” While most people don’t feel comfortable letting a shark come to them, it’s one of the coolest experiences you will ever have.

Come experience the sharks for yourself – there’s nothing quite like it!

La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival: Experience the Cannes of Fashion Film in La Jolla!

This July, the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival returns for its ninth annual year!

Hundreds of fashion filmmakers from around the world will showcase the very best in fashion film in a truly one-of-a-kind experience; in fact, the festival is the first and only fashion film festival to be founded in North America. This year, the event will be from July 19th-21st, 2018 at various venues throughout La Jolla including The Lot and the Price Ballroom at UC San Diego.

From Hollywood to the international fashion capitals of the world, some of the top names in the industry will come together once again to attend the festival. The films that make it into the final program will represent some of the most brilliant and creative directors in filmmaking today.

Curated from the dynamic and exploding world of fashion film, these films are a glimpse of what’s trending in the minds of the world’s top fashion houses, designers, and stylists interpreted through the lens of their filmmaking counterparts.

La Jolla Fashion Film Festival 2018 Highlights

Thursday, July 19: Art Installation Night and Pre-Opening Reception 
Mingle with some of fashion’s finest artists as world renowned fashion photographer and artist Jacques Silberstein, Florence Italy based director and artist Rossano Maniscalchi, and Mexico City fashion artist and historian Antonio Contreras display their art pieces. Venue: The LOT La Jolla

Friday, July 20: Opening Night Screening Program 
After reviewing over 11,000 films, these are the best! Pick up your wrist bands at the registration table in front of the theater between 7 and 8pm. Venue: Price Center Ballroom at UCSD.

Friday, July 20: Fashion Body Art Creation Demos 
Watch as one of the world’s foremost body painters and makeup artists, Einat Dan, and world champion body painter and costume designer Birgit Mortl hold an on-going demonstration of the creative process behind the scenes! Venue: Price Center Ballroom at UCSD.

Saturday, July 21: International Fashion Film Awards
Who will go home with the most coveted award in the world of fashion film? Find out on fashion film’s most important night. Presenters are called up to the stage Academy Award style and announce the winners. Venue: Price Center Ballroom at UCSD.

SEE ALSO: Fashion Week San Diego Hosted in La Jolla

More Information

The festival is the passion project of Fred Sweet, owner and founder, who has used his model and talent agency background to embrace his belief in the importance of fashion film. His goal was to create a platform where talented directors and designers could showcase their work. While some directors are beginning to produce big budget films for brands like Chanel and Prada, many are still funding them out of their own pockets. The passion, creativity, and dedication to the medium is apparent in many of these films.

Every year, the festival chooses from over 11,000 films; separating the best of the best to create a mix of 100 films to showcase at the festival. In all, the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival offers attendees the perfect combination of cosmopolitan glamor and creative, cinematic masterpieces.

LJIFF 2018 Awards

  • Best Hairstyling
  • Best Makeup
  • Best Message
  • Best Narration
  • Best Accessories
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Sound Design
  • Best Jewelry
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Music
  • Best Creative Concept
  • Best Visual Effects
  • Best Editing
  • Best Art Direction
  • Best Actress
  • Best Actor
  • Best Fashion
  • Best Director
  • Best Picture

To learn more about the world’s largest gathering of fashion filmmakers, visit the La Jolla Fashion Film Festival website.

Why La Jolla Is (Definitely) a Better Weekend Getaway Than L.A.

la jolla weekend getaway

Angelenos often say, “There’s no city quite like Los Angeles,” which is true; it’s one of the most recognizable cities in the world, and is known for its upscale nightlife, celeb sightings, and its great food scene. However, if you’re looking for a quiet weekend getaway, La Jolla should be at the top of your list!

Whether you’re a family of four or a couple looking to escape for a few days, there is no shortage of activities and things to do in La Jolla. From top rated restaurants to water activities and hiking trails with ocean views, there’s a little something for everyone. Here are six reasons La Jolla should be your next vacation destination!

There’s Traffic, Then There’s LA Traffic

L.A. traffic is horrible. I wish I could it put it differently, but I can’t. According to a Forbes article published in 2017, L.A. has the 10th worst traffic in the world and the worst in the United States. The San Diego region doesn’t have enough traffic to even make that list. Not only that, if you want to visit the city on a weekend, everything is jam packed. Restaurants, hotels, bars, and museums are overcrowded with people. There’s always somebody nearby pushing you or bumping into you.

La Jolla doesn’t have much traffic. Yes, there’s an occasional blocked road or minor accident. Yes, there’s two streets in La Jolla with traffic (La Jolla Village Drive & Torrey Pines Road). But besides that, you can get around with ease.

la jolla weekend getaway

Easy Breezy Weather

La Jolla weather is cooler than L.A. During the summer, L.A. is on average hotter than La Jolla by about 5 degrees. That may not seem like a lot, but imagine if every room you walked into was 5 degrees hotter than what you’re used to. You start to really feel it.

Because La Jolla is on average 5 degrees cooler, it means whether you want to relax on the beach, eat outdoors, or do outdoor activities, you don’t feel like you’re melting in the heat. Not to mention, Los Angeles is more humid too.

La Jolla is also conveniently located next to the ocean. So there’s a cool breeze that’s unmatched anywhere in the world. L.A. is windy at times, but there’s no refreshing breeze that calms you down year round.

Restaurants

It seems like a no-brainer that L.A. has more restaurants than La Jolla (and many good ones). There are, so many I couldn’t count them (trust me, I tried). But La Jolla is better because there are more high-quality restaurants per square mile.

La Jolla has 20 Zagat rated restaurants in its small borders including George’s At The Cove, The Marine Room, Donovan’s Steak & Chop House, while L.A. has 19 Zagat restaurants total. Take into account the size of L.A. It’s over 500 square miles while La Jolla is just over seven. La Jolla restaurants are incredibly good and close to each other.

Let’s use Yelp to judge the food. La Jolla has about 25 highly rated restaurants (4.5 stars or higher) on the review app. L.A. has over 1000 restaurants with 4.5 or higher. People often say “more is better” but not when you’re looking for just two or three good places to eat. There are just too many choices when you go to L.A. – if you’re in town for just one weekend, finding a delicious restaurant shouldn’t mean scrolling through thousands of options. You should be able to find a place and enjoy a delicious meal without much hassle.

la jolla weekend getaway

Hiking

Hiking in La Jolla is easier to access. If you’re looking for a hike, everything is a 15-minute drive or closer. One of La Jolla’s most popular hikes, Torrey Pines, is a state natural reserve. It’s open 365 days a year, from 7:15 am to sunset. There is a small fee for parking in the South lot ($10-12 on Mon -Thurs & $12-20 on Fri-Sun) and even cheaper in the North lot. Best of all, there’s a breathtaking view of the ocean throughout the trail.

L.A.’s most famous hike is the Hollywood sign. While a fun hike, it’s complicated to even find the entrance (try it for yourself). There’s a high amount of traffic and it’s more crowded. Although there’s free parking, you’re not guaranteed a parking spot. Finally, despite beauty being subjective, I think an ocean view beats a cityscape any day. That’s just us though.

la jolla weekend getaway

Fun Beaches

It’s not fair to include beaches in this article, but we did because that is what makes La Jolla a better weekend getaway. The fact of the matter is La Jolla is a coastal city and Los Angeles isn’t. Regardless, we thought about looking at the nearest beaches would hammer the point home.

La Jolla Shores is one of the most sought after beaches in the world. It’s known for its breath-taking views, infamous leopard sharks, and mysterious sea caves. Plus there are all types of fun activities to do near the shores including kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba-diving. And of course, La Jolla Cove is well known pretty much around the world for its crystal-clear blue water, seals and sea lions, and beautiful views.

Santa Monica Beach is L.A.’s most popular and (unfortunately dirty) beach. It’s known for its chronic pollution. Plus, from the heart of L.A., it’s about 17 miles away, which is more than 30 minutes of traffic. And there’s always traffic.

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Location, Location, Location

La Jolla’s location is unbelievably convenient. Directions to La Jolla are fairly straightforward: it’s located 10 miles from downtown San Diego and major attractions like the Gaslamp District, Balboa Park, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Everything is close to L.A. too – it just might take you over an hour to get five miles across the city!

La Jolla is a better weekend getaway than L.A., not because there’s more to do in the small city, but because you don’t lose half the day battling traffic. Whether you want to get to the beach, restaurant, or hiking trail, it’s easier in La Jolla and La Jolla Cove. That means you get more time to explore. If you’re here for a weekend, enjoy the most possible time experiencing the city, not traveling from one part to another.

Have you visited both places? Leave us a comment below with your opinion of which city makes the best weekend getaway.

Guide to the Museums in La Jolla

Despite its small size, La Jolla is a haven for local arts and culture; there are multiple museums, art galleries, and historic spots to see in the Village, from the Museum of Contemporary Art to the Map & Atlas Museum. If you’re looking to spend the afternoon brushing up on some culture, spend time in these locales absorbing new knowledge, renowned art, and local history.

Museum of Contemporary Art

The La Jolla branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has been bringing folks into its Prospect Street location since 1950. The museum is home to multiple constantly rotating exhibits to keep things fresh, and is currently undergoing extensive renovations to further enhance its art exhibitions.

After spending time walking the interior and taking in the galleries, make sure to take in the ocean view from the front of the museum, then head to the Edwards Sculpture Garden out back to wander the sculptures and have a picnic. If you’ve been inspired to do some art of your own, bring a sketchpad and let your artistic side take over!

Please note that the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla is currently closed until 2019. Head to the MCSASD downtown San Diego location until then, and stay tuned for updates!

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library

This library is free to enter, though it’d be worth an admission price! The Spanish-Renaissance styled library was built in 1921, and the exterior is as beautiful today as it was then. Step inside and you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time; the museum is filled with books, magazines, CDs, DVDs and other materials on a wide range of artistic and musical genres. You can simply take in the interior and explore the works, or become a member to take materials home and receive special offers.

Each month, the Athenaeum hosts Murals of La Jolla Walking Tours. These docent-led tours take visitors on an hour-long excursion throughout the Village to see each of the seventeen murals that grace various walls, alleyways, and nooks and crannies. Visit their website for the tour schedule.

The Athenaeum is open 10am-5:30pm Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; and 10am-8:30pm on Wednesday.

La Jolla Historical Society

The quaint museum run by the La Jolla Historical Society is the epitome of charming. Located at 7846 Eads Avenue, just off Prospect, this cottage gives you a historical feel and context for the very city you’re in (in fact, the cottage is one of the first buildings to be built in all of La Jolla, and was initially the home of Ellen Browning Scripps). Step inside the to see the carefully put-together exhibits of this historic Wisteria cottage, which has had many significances since it’s creation. Across more than 100 years, it’s served as a home, a school, a bookstore and, since 2005, a museum.

The Historical Society also hosts events. We particularly want to highlight their yearly spring event, the Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla. Buying a ticket lets you explore normally off-limits, private gardens in the community that are truly tremendous.

The Historical Society is open noon-4pm Wednesday through Saturday.

Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla

When you think of maps, you may think of the giant foldout ones you grab on trips to foreign cities or locals ones to have in your car in case the GPS fails. However, there is a lot of history, beauty, and culture surrounding maps and mapmaking (also known as cartography) that we don’t think about, specifically with antique maps and atlases. This is a great niche museum that offers rotating exhibits throughout the year, showcasing things like “A Selection of 19th Century Gold Rush Maps” and various other mapmaking trends.

This spot is a real treat, and there is nothing else like it in San Diego County. Come explore this small but impactful museum for yourself: it’s open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month from 11am to 4pm.

Near La Jolla: Balboa Park

We would be remiss to not mention Balboa Park in San Diego when talking about museums! Home to 17 world-class museums and galleries, Balboa Park is an incredible cultural center in the heart of San Diego.

With multiple gardens, restaurants, art galleries, and exhibits, this is definitely a must-visit during your time in the city. Keep an eye out for incredible Spanish architecture while you’re there: the park was built in the early 1900s for the Panama-California Exhibition, and one of its defining features even today is the California Tower; which you can now tour!

List of the museums within Balboa Park

  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • San Diego Museum of Art
  • San Diego Hall of Champions
  • San Diego Air & Space Museum
  • San Diego Museum of Man
  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Learn more about the park and its museums at our Balboa Park Page.

San Diego Surf Film Festival Returns to La Jolla

san diego surf film festival

The San Diego Surf Film Festival returns to San Diego and downtown La Jolla for its seventh year this May 9th-12th! Films will be shown at a dozen locations all around San Diego, with its hub being one of the newest art galleries in La Jolla: Misfit Gallery on Pearl Street. This year, a roster of fifteen of the best international surf films are being presented over the four-day festival. From La Jolla Cove to north county, here are some of this year’s SDSFF highlights!

This Year’s Highlights

Opening Night

The festival kicks off at 6pm on Wednesday, May 9th at Wade Koniakowsky’s (this year’s featured artist) art gallery in the Cedros Design District area of Solana Beach. The Opening Night movie begins at 7pm, but arrive early to catch a gorgeous sunset, take in the live art, and enjoy some refreshments. This year’s Opening Night will also feature a special tribute to Bruce Brown, the legendary filmmaker behind one of the most important and well known surf cinema productions of all time: Endless Summer. 

In tribute, the festival will be presenting three films on different screens that evening: Endless Summer, On Any Sunday, and Discovering Mentawais.

San Diego Surfing Hall of Fame Induction Ballot Ceremony

Thursday, May 10 is the highly-anticipated San Diego Surfing Hall of Fame Induction Ballot Dinner Ceremony, introduced by Hank Warner at the La Jolla Community Center. More than a dozen local eateries have come together to create a special tasting menu to be paired with Ballast Point beer, ZioBaffa wine, and Babe Kombucha in what looks to be an incredibly memorable evening amongst the legends of San Diego surfing. The dinner and event is $75, or included for VIP Nautilus Pass holders.

Last year the SDSFF presented Skip Frye with their highest honor, the Spirit of the San Diego Surf Film Festival. For SDSFF 2018, they have invited over two dozen San Diego Surfing Legends to show up for the San Diego Surfing Hall of Fame Induction Ballot. With the approval and guidance from these legends, they compiled a list of around 100 of the Most Influential San Diego Surfers; and during the ballot ceremony, you’ll be able to have your voice heard in the process! The Hall of Fame will inducts its first 25 Surfers in September, 2018.

3 Nights of Surf Films

All six nights of film viewings, as well as the closing Awards Ceremony, will be held at Misfit Gallery in La Jolla (565 Pearl St., #100). Friday and Saturday include the majority of the films, as well as special events running throughout the day and into the evening.

This year’s film highlights include:The Church of the Open Sky, Nathan Oldfield

  • Proximity, Taylor Steele
  • Biarritz Surf Gang, Nathan Curren & Pierre Denoyel
  • Big Wata, Gugi van der Velden

Special Events

The festival isn’t just about surf films! Other activities will be happening throughout the week, including morning surf and yoga sessions, special Filmmaker Workshops by Salty Surf Housings, and the 3rd Annual SDSFF Art & Surf Expression Session Invitational in Carlsbad on Saturday (artists will be riding the waves and creating works of art on the beach throughout the day). Afterwards, enjoy the Filmmaker & Artists Meet and Greet at El Pescador in La Jolla, followed by Happy Hour at the Misfit Gallery.

The San Diego Surf Film Festival boasts seven years of incredible films, hard work, and talent behind it. The fest was founded by Pierce Kavanagh  as a small film showcase in 2012; that first year, every film sold out and they had lines around the block. The City of San Diego presented them with a plaque, and seven years later, it has become one of the largest and most respected surf film festivals around the world. 2018 returns with another awesome lineup of the best surf films, filmmaker Q&As, special events, and more.

Visit the SDSFF website to purchase tickets or see the full film lineup.

How One Woman Shaped La Jolla: The Legacy of Ellen Browning Scripps

Ellen Browning Scripps was many things to many people throughout her 96 years; a sister, schoolteacher, journalist, philanthropist, patron of the arts, among others. She and her brother, E.W. Scripps, created what would become America’s largest chain of newspapers, linking midwestern industrial cities with booming towns in the west. By the 1920s, Scripps was worth an estimated $30 million and was one of the wealthiest individuals in the United States – but more than 99% of that wealth was donated to or invested in charitable causes and buildings throughout La Jolla and San Diego.

In honor of Women’s History Month, a short look into Ellen’s lifelong legacy and how she helped to shape one of San Diego’s most unique communities.

Family portrait, circa 1915. Front row: Virginia Scripps, Ellen Browning Scripps, E.W. Scripps, sons Robert and John, Nackie Scripps (Mrs. E.W. Scripps), Mrs. James Scripps, E.W.’s mother, Judith Osborne. Back row: Fred Scripps, Mrs. Willam Scripps, William Scripps, James E. Scripps [source].

English Roots

Ellen was born in 1836 in London, England, to James Mogg Scripps (a bookbinder by trade) and Ellen Mary Saunders. She had five siblings, only four of whom lived to adulthood. When her father’s bookbinding shop failed and her mother passed away, the family emigrated to Illinois, where he remarried. The youngest child from that marriage, E.W. Scripps, would eventually become a well-known newspaper tycoon and the founder of The E.W. Scripps Company.

Ellen was the only one of her ten siblings to attend college. She studied science and mathematics at Knox College, one of the few educational institutions to admit women. She graduated in 1859 with a certificate (they did not yet give degrees to women) from the Female Collegiate Department. Afterwards, she returned home to teach in a one-room schoolhouse.

Business Beginnings

After the American Civil War, Scripps gave up her job as a schoolteacher and headed to Detroit, at that time a burgeoning industrial center in the West. She joined her brother James E. Scripps in publishing The Detroit Evening News, a short and politically independent newspaper pitched to the city’s working class. This was the start of the Scripps family fortune.

Ellen herself wrote a daily column, titled “Miss Ellen’s Miscellany,” that reduced local and national news to short sound bites. In the 1870s and 1880s, the Scripps papers expanded to include The Cleveland Press, The Cincinnati Post, and the St. Louis Chronicle.

As a shareholder, Ellen Scripps played a big role in the family company. She was business-savvy, and gave financial advice to her younger brother E.W. many times over the years; he actually credited her with saving him from financial ruin in more than one instance! In the 1880s, his attempt to seize control of the Scripps Publishing Company failed, resulting in a divisive lawsuit; he and his brother James had a falling out, though E.W. stayed close with Ellen.

Ellen’s first La Jolla home, South Moulton Villa [source

Settling in La Jolla

Ellen traveled to the west coast and eventually settled in La Jolla in 1899, when she moved into a seaside cottage that she had built. She loved the peace, solitude, and unmarred natural beauty of La Jolla; it was a much different world than her bustling hometown. Ellen named her little cottage South Molton Villa (sometimes spelled South Moulton Villa), after the street on which she’d been born.

Ellen gradually settled into her new home and started to get to know her community. La Jolla had a growing number summer and year-round residents, many of whom were unmarried women or widows. She remarked that in the early days, “It was a woman’s town,” which she happily immersed herself in. She became quite the active socialite: she listened to music at the Green Dragon colony, went to lectures, chaperoned dances at the Pavilion, picnicked at Del Mar and Pacific Beach, visited neighbors, took sightseeing trips, and invited friends to her cottage for dinner and conversation. She a founding member of the La Jolla Woman’s Club and became involved in a wide variety of progressive causes as the years went on.

The Bishop’s School, early 1900s [source]

Enduring Contributions: Education, Medicine, & the Arts

Her love of learning, the arts, and the land were clearly evident from the buildings and institutions she established while in La Jolla:

  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego
  • Scripps Aquarium, La Jolla (now Birch Aquarium at Scripps)
  • The Bishop’s School
  • Scripps Memorial Hospital
  • Scripps Metabolic Clinic
  • Scripps Research Institute
  • La Jolla Woman’s Club (of which she was a founding member)
  • La Jolla Recreation Center
  • Torrey Pines State Reserve
  • The Children’s Pool (1931)

She also made donations to the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library and the La Jolla Library. Sources estimated that during her lifetime, she donated as much as $2 million to charitable causes. Ellen and her brother’s vision shaped the development of San Diego and La Jolla through the 1940s, if not longer. Today, many civic leaders still share the Scripps’ utopian vision of San Diego – as a sustainable paradise that fosters a sense of belonging and peace.

Ellen Scripps in the library of her La Jolla home [courtesy of Scripps College]

Celebrating Her Love of La Jolla

“The most important and beautiful gift one human being can give to another is, in some way, to make life a little better to live.” — Ellen Browning Scripps, 1924. It was clear that La Jolla held a special place in Ellen’s heart, and her generosity and philanthropic efforts were truly extensions of that love of her community. She carefully chose causes or institutions, and donated to those she found deserving of her support.

Her philanthropy extended beyond La Jolla, as well. She contributed to institutions throughout San Diego, including donations to the Natural History Museum, the San Diego Zoo, and the Zoological Garden and Research Laboratory in Balboa Park.

A Lasting Legacy

By the 1920s, Ellen Browning Scripps was worth an estimated $30 million (roughly $3.7 billion in 2018 dollars) and was one of the wealthiest individuals in the United States – but more than 99% of that wealth was donated to or invested in charitable causes and buildings throughout San Diego. She would later appear on the cover of Time magazine, after founding Scripps College in Claremont. After years of dedicating her life to the betterment of her community, Ellen was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007. And of course, today we have Ellen Browning Scripps Park, which was dedicated to and named after her in 1927.

Ellen Browning Scripps died in her La Jolla home on August 3, 1932, just a few weeks shy of her 96th birthday. Her obituary described her as a woman who had perfected “the art of living” as well as the art of giving. Today, we see her legacy throughout La Jolla – from the seaside park that was named after her to the museums, schools, and other institutions she helped to establish.

[Sources: sandiegohistory.orgsandiegoreader.comoac.cdlib.org]

10 Fun Date Ideas for Couples in La Jolla

La Jolla is full of things to do, whether you’re with a group of friends or that special someone! If you’re looking for an especially romantic day or evening, however, La Jolla is definitely one of the top places to be in San Diego. Here are a few of our favorite date spots for couples in La Jolla and La Jolla Cove! As always, we recommend that you call ahead to check for availability on tours or screenings.

Spend the day at one of La Jolla’s beaches with a picnic.

La Jolla Cove, La Jolla Shores, and Windansea Beach are all great spots to watch the waves and relax. Swimming, tanning and paying frisbee are all great additions to this free date option (if you own a frisbee already). You can also schedule a walking tour of Scripps Pier with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography to learn more about what they do and catch some great ocean views from out above the water. Afterwards, head to Shell Beach and sit at one of the green belvederes to watch a beautiful sunset!

Go on a walking tour of the La Jolla Murals.

Many of the murals are hidden in small areas of La Jolla, often out of the way of main traffic. Hunting out the murals will not only let you stretch your legs, but introduce you to new areas of La Jolla. (Hint: the murals also make for great Instagram photos).

Tour the gorgeous Salk Institute, especially if you’re an architecture fan.

Just off of UCSD, the Salk Institute is a research institute that is beautifully designed with a focus on geometry, symmetry, and simplicity. Walking amongst the tall buildings and down angular hallways almost makes you feel like you’re in an alternate reality.

Stroll through the Stuart Collection at UCSD.

Sprinkled throughout the UCSD campus are several unique works of outdoor art. Ranging from neon lights to a house perched precariously atop a building named, Fallen Star, and a bear made from boulders, these 18 pieces are hidden gems – and finding each of them makes for a great day of exploration! Follow this printable map. The Fallen Star is free and open to the public on Tuesday and Thursdays from 11-3pm.

Check out Torrey Pines State Reserve

La Jolla has many great hiking options in easy reach, which means barely any planning on your part! Torrey Pines Reserve features a beach, trails of various difficulties, and a species of pine native only to La Jolla. Mt. Soledad is also a great hiking destination where visitors can see monuments to fallen U.S. soldiers from the Korean War, gaze up at a 42-foot cross, and enjoy panoramic views.

Head to the La Jolla tide pools

Keep an eye out for nature! When we’re caught up in the shopping and dining, we can forget that cities are included in “the natural environment” too. La Jolla’s great weather means we may not notice the seasons too much, but wildlife sure does. The La Jolla tide poolsalso make for a great free date where you can find beautiful creatures and experience the the biodiversity our area has to offer. There’s also several types of animal attractions at the beach to enjoy from afar, including dolphin sightings, leopard sharks, baby seals, and more. You likely won’t be able to see all these things at once, though. November to March is the best time for tide pools because of the lower tides, while December to May is when baby seals are born and August and September is when most of the leopard sharks appear.

Image from Facebook.

Watch the sunset above La Jolla Cove.

The little green belvederes above the Cove and along the rest of the beach in La Jolla are great spots to bring a mini picnic, some blankets, and hot cocoa to watch the sunset. Get there a bit early to snag a spot, and enjoy the show!

Walk the sea wall at Children’s Pool before a romantic dinner.

If you have dinner reservations at a cozy La Jolla restaurant, walk by the ocean or along the sea wall at Children’s Pool beforehand. Dusk is a beautiful time to be on the water, especially during a full moon!

Treat yourselves to a spa day

It’s no secret that La Jolla is home to tons of great resorts, beautiful spas, and relaxing hotels! Treat you and your honey to a relaxing day at the spa – indulge in a couple’s massage or treat yourselves to a facial. The best part is, most spas allow you to stay as long as you like enjoying their facilities afterwards!

Check out one of La Jolla’s many art galleries

Many art galleries in the Village are open to tour, including the Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery, Madison Gallery, Peter Lik Gallery, and more. The Athenaeum Arts Library on Wall St. also hosts rotating art exhibits that are open to the public, which typically feature a mix of sculpture and visual arts. It may not be the most romantic of venues, but depending on your interests, the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla could also be a really cool place for a free date.

Celebrate the Season at the Annual La Jolla Holiday Open House

Kick Off the Holiday Season in La Jolla

Get into the holiday spirit at the annual La Jolla Holiday Open House, a 30 year tradition, on Sunday, November 19th from 10am-5:30pm! The event is a great opportunity for guests to buy the best holiday décor and gifts while experiencing the magic of the season with some of Girard Avenue’s finest merchants. Participating shops include Adelaide’s, Bendls, Meanley & Son Ace Hardware, Muttropolis, Cos Bar, Geppetto’s Toys, Warwick’s, Girard Gourmet, and more! 

The Open House will take place along the 7700 and 7800 blocks of Girard Avenue right in the downtown Village of La Jolla.

Shop For A Cause

The Holiday Open House is more than just a shopping event. It’s also a great opportunity to do something positive for the community as a whole. Participating merchants will be donating 10% of all their sales to local charities, including the San Diego Humane Society.

Guests will also be treated to great refreshments and food while enjoying live music performances. Other activities include book signings, exciting product demonstrations, and plenty of kid-friendly happenings.

Special Happenings

10am – 4pm: Strolling Carolers & Elf appearances (in front of all participating merchants)
10:30am – Noon: Meet Santa at Geppetto’s.
11am – 11:30am: Country Day/Madrigal singing performance at Adelaide’s.
12:15pm – 1:15pm: Read with Santa at Warwick’s. Also enjoy complimentary refreshments and free raffle drawings.
1:30pm – 3pm: Meet Santa at Adelaide’s.

The La Jolla Holiday Open House takes place on Sunday, November 19th from 10am – 4pm. Participating shops will be located on the 7700 and 7800 blocks of Girard Avenue in the downtown Village of La Jolla – just look for the green and gold balloons.

 

 

San Diego Beer Week at Torrey Pines Lodge

There is no seriously no better location for the closing event of San Diego Beer Week than the Arroyo Terrace of the Lodge at Torrey Pines right here in La Jolla! The Beer Garden will bring together the best of San Diego’s breweries and local chefs to celebrate the craft beer movement. With 28 different breweries paired with 14 chefs, the Beer Garden is a uniquely San Diego food and beer pairing event. The Beer Garden will take place on Sunday, November 12th from 12pm-3pm. Each admission includes unlimited tasters of beer and food. General admission tickets are $85.

San Diego Beer Week, which is hosted annually, is a ten-day countywide festival that puts on numerous events throughout San Diego at various venues. This year, it will be held from November 3-12, and will kick off with 17 different tastings/events on November 3rd alone! Check out the rest of the calendar and event schedule here.

Now the important part – here are all of the participating breweries and chefs at this year’s Beer Garden! Each restaurant will feature a chef plus two brewery pairings.

Carnitas’ Snack Shack (Hanis Cavin)
Societe Brewing
Killowatt Brewing

Tom Hams Lighthouse (Kyle Kovar)
Karl Strauss Brewing
Duck Foot Brewing Co.

Urban Solace (Matt Gordon)
Monkey Paw Brewing
Black Plague Brewing

Stone World Bistro & Gardens (Tom Connolly)
Stone Brewing
Novo Brazil Brewing

Grand Restaurant Group (Amy Dibiase)
Societe Brewing
Killowatt Brewing

[source]

Trust (Brad Wise)
Coronado Brewing
Thunderhawk Alements

Nine-Ten (Jason Knibb)
Pizza Port Brewing
Bear Roots Brewing

Grill at Torrey Pines (Kyle Wiegand)
AleSmith Brewing Co.
Bagby Beer Co.

CH Projects (Phillip Esteban)
North Park Beer Co.
Amplified Ale Works

Pamplemousse (Jeffrey Strauss)
Rip Current Brewing

Golden Door (Greg Frey)
Green Flash Brewing Co.
Home Brewing Co.

Terra American Bistro (Jeff Rossman)
Burning Beard Brewing Co.
San Diego Brewing Co.

University Club (Lance Repp)
Mikkeller Brewing
Resident Brewing

Leroy’s Kitchen & Lounge (Ronnie Schwandt)
Alpine Beer Co.
Benchmark Brewing

This is definitely going to be a great event, especially if you’re a fan of beer and good food! Don’t miss out on this or all the other San Diego Beer Week festivities happening in November.

 

“Hot Stuff”! The Donna Summer Musical Comes to the La Jolla Playhouse This November

 

A biopic about the life and times of America’s favorite Disco Queen, Donna Summer, is making its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse this fall. From November 7th through December 17th, “SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical” will be at the Playhouse, charting Summer’s rise to international fame from her early, modest beginnings in Boston.

The musical is directed by Des McAnuff, of “Jersey Boys” fame, and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo. Here’s a look at the Playhouse’s newest musical masterpiece.

The Donna Summer Musical

Told through the dramatic lens of her final concert, “SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical” showcases the complexities and conflicts the iconic singer/songwriter struggled within her meteoric rise to fame and eventual descent. Featuring a score with more than 20 of Summer’s classic hits, the musical is a moving tribute to the voice of a generation and the undisputed “Queen of Disco.”

La Jolla Playhouse Director Emeritus Des McAnuff is known for creating performances about popular music icons, such as “The Who’s Tommy” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.” Now, with this production, Des is joined by his “Jersey Boys” choreographer Sergio Trujillo to combine the heartfelt story of Summers’ life with the kinetic music and dance that characterized her musical career.

[From left to right: LaChanze, Storm Lever, Ariana DeBose]

A Metamorphosis

What is especially unique about the musical, however, is that three different actresses will be playing the titular role of Donna Summers. LaChanze (who won the prestigious Tony Award for her performance in 2006’s “The Color Purple”), Ariana DeBose (whose credits include “Hamilton” and “A Bronx Tale”), and Storm Lever (who recently performed in the Playhouse’s “Freaky Friday) will each play Summers at different times in her life, to really show what a metamorphosis the singer experienced through childhood, superstardom, and then as a fading pop icon.

LaChanze will play “Diva Donna”; DeBose will be “Disco Donna,” which will shine a light on the pop star’s rise to Disco fame (and what gave way to her eventual Queen of Disco nickname); and Lever will portray “Duckling Donna,” in her early childhood years.

[Summer in a recording studio, September 1977. Wikipedia]

What to Expect

The musical is a straightforward biography, focusing solely on Summer’s journey through life. The singer was born and raised in Boston to working-class parents; she landed a role in a European production of “Hair” and began to make a name for herself working in Germany. She spent several years living, acting, and singing throughout Europe, where she met music producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte. Her meteoric rise to fame happened during disco’s heyday, then drifted into limbo-land when Studio 54 and that era came to an end.

Summer became a born-again Christian in her later years, and became something of a Tragically, she died of lung cancer in 2012 at the age of 63. In her obituary in The Times, she was described as the “undisputed queen of the Seventies disco boom” who reached the status of “one of the world’s leading female singers.”

Of course, all of Summer’s biggest hits will make an appearance in the show – “Love To Love You Baby,” “Heaven Knows,” “Bad Girls” — toot, toot, yeah, toot, toot! — “Dim All the Lights,” “No More Tears,” “On the Radio” and, of course, “MacArthur Park.”

The musical premieres November 7 at La Jolla Playhouse. Tickets start at $58. For more information, visit lajollaplayhouse.org.

 

Boo! 5 Halloween Celebrations in La Jolla & San Diego

Halloween in La Jolla has arrived! From the spooky Haunted Aquarium to the annual Pillage the Village in downtown La Jolla, plus other events nearby in San Diego County, we’ve got you covered on all the best spots to start celebrating. All of these Halloween happenings are family-friendly and make for a great afternoon out with the family! For more information on other events happening in La Jolla, head to our Events page. 

birch aquarium

Pillage the Village

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

It’s almost time for the 7th annual Pillage the Village! Every year, trick-or-treaters in La Jolla walk around the Village in costume and treat the locals to a little Halloween 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!

Haunted Aquarium: Sea Monster Mash

Birch Aquarium at Scripps
October 20 & 21, 6pm-9pm

Halloween at Birch Aquarium is a great experience for the whole family. Enjoy close encounters with Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists and search the galleries for unusual underwater creatures rarely seen at Birch Aquarium. Your kids will discover a sea of glowing sea creatures, get sticky with slime, and enjoy spooky stories, all while enjoying live music.

Activities:

  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography Scientists showcasing their latest research
  • Make your own seaweed slime (and take it home!)
  • Frankensquid: Get up close and personal with a huge Humboldt Squid and learn what makes it unique
  • Experience a tiny 3-D microscope, developed by Scripps Oceanography scientists.
  • Check out spooky species, including skeleton shrimp and sea spiders
  • Costume contest – complete with a prize giveaway
  • Witness creatures that create their own light and glow in the deep, dark ocean.
  • Story time with a spooky shipwreck tale
  • Creepy crafts for all ages
  • Live music brought to you by Billy Lee and the Swamp Critters
halloween in la jolla

BOOmont Park

Belmont Park
Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in October

Head to Belmont Park as the beachfront amusement park transforms into “Boomont” Park on weekends in October! Get into the spirit of the season with a game of Zombie laser tag, ride the roller coaster, choose from tons of different crafts, stroll the pumpkin patch, trick-or-treat, and join in the costume contest at this Halloween-themed extravaganza.

Hallo-wine & Spirits Party

Hotel Del Coronado
October 28th, 7pm

The landmark Hotel Del Coronado (that’s rumored to be haunted) is throwing a rip-roaring bash that welcomes trick-or-treaters ages 4-12. You and your date will rock out like Max Dennison’s parents while your minis are treated to a special costume  party of their own that includes dinner and trick-or-treating. This event is a bit of a splurge, but it will make for a memorable event that can only take place on the island.

Balboa Park Halloween

Balboa Park
October 28, 11am-4pm

If you have younger kids who aren’t quite ready to take on Balboa Park’s Haunted Trail (which is happening throughout the whole month!), take the family to Halloween Family Day instead. More than 24 museums will have a bunch of themed activities, craft projects for kids, costume parades, and other spooky surprises. Participating museums will be offering free admission to children 12 and under (accompanied by a paying adult).

 

 

Exploring La Jolla Tide Pools with Kids

“Look here, look here! Come and see this Mami!” The kids usually shout excited looking at the marine life they find at the La Jolla tide pools.

We recently visited the tide pools for the first time ever and now we are hooked! It’s so fun to go see sea creatures in their natural habitat.

Dike Rock Tide Pools

Our adventure included two La Jolla Tide Pools: Dike Rock and Hospitals Break. When you explore tide pools with kids you are probably going to discover more because kids are such experts to point out the best finds!

That said, I decided to take them to Dike Rock first which is north of Scripps Pier. I parked close to the entrance of Scripps Beach on La Jolla Shores Dr., just make sure to park where there isn’t time limit because you’ll spend a long time exploring and you don’t want to rush back! (It happened to us!!).

Once you get down to the beach you walk north until you see the rocks where the tide pools are located.

We started exploring immediately. The first creatures we saw were crabs, they were everywhere and in lots of different sizes. We even saw one that was eating! It was moving his claws one after the other to his mouth!

Another creature that you will probably see a lot are Sea Anemones, they are greenish inside and sometimes if they are curled you won’t notice them, they are brown and covered with shells on the outside.

Hospitals Break Tide Pools

The second and final stop in our tide pool exploration was Hospitals Break, it’s south of the Children’s Pool and it’s quite a big area for tide pools. The rock formations there are very unique, there are some rocks covered with what seems like a carpet of seagrass, it’s amazing.

The kids can’t stop talking about their experience at the tide pools, we are planning to come back with some friends. I recommend you to go with your kids, if you do, make sure to check out the tide charts before you go, look for a minus (-) number for the best experience!

What to bring:

  • Wearing swimming suit is best or clothes you don’t mind getting wet
  • Water shoes (not flip flops)
  • Don’t forget the Sunscreen
  • Camera

Where to go:

And here is a list of the most talked-about La Jolla Tide Pools you can visit, starting north and going south:

  • Dike Rock
  • South of La Jolla Shores Beach
  • La Jolla Cove
  • Shell Beach
  • Hospitals Break
  • Whispering Sands Beach
  • Marine Street Beach
  • Windandsea beach

Happy tide pooling in La Jolla!