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!

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]

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.