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.

4 Surprising Ways La Jolla Inspired Dr. Seuss

Theodor Geisel, affectionately known as Dr. Seuss or simply “Ted,” remains one of the most renowned children’s book authors of our time. Geisel and his wife of many years, Audrey Geisel, moved to La Jolla in 1953, where they bought an old observation tower high atop Mount Soledad. It was tucked away in “The Tower” that he wrote many of his most beloved and popular stories, including “Horton Hears a Who!,” “The Cat in the Hat,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”

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

The “Truffula Trees”

Geisel was notoriously upset about the billboards and construction that threatened his tranquil community of La Jolla. He was incredibly environmentally conscious and concerned about the earth as a whole; this was evident in his multiple political cartoons and subtle messages within his literature. The Lorax, a Dr Seuss book published in 1971, weaves a familiar tale of just that: a good thing gone wrong. The irresponsible, ambitious Once-ler builds a huge, thriving business at the expense of Truffula trees and the creatures who depend on them.

Though much of the scenery in La Jolla is reminiscent of Seussian-style illustration, the trees in The Lorax are particularly notable. They belong to the fictional Truffula species in the book, but the real-life inspiration is called the Monterey Cypress and unique to the California coast. Although they aren’t numerous, some have been dated at two thousand years old!  A lone Cypress can still be spotted at Ellen Browning Scripps Park – ask any local La Jollan where the “Lorax Tree” is, and they’ll surely point you there. Geisel could actually see that exact tree from his mountaintop home.

The Spires of Hotel Del Coronado

Just to the south of La Jolla, you can see another one of Dr. Seuss’ real-life inspirations firsthand: the Hotel Del Coronado. Ted Geisel’s painting, aptly titled “I Dreamed I was a Doorman at the Hotel del Coronado,” is a colorful rendering of the 1888 Victorian hotel in its 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 and disgruntled orange fish (referred to as Mr. Krinklebein in the TV show, but referred to simply as “The Fish” in all of the books) with a high-stress personality who is constantly trying to restore order in his home. It’s arguably his most famous child ‘s books, and 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, 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!, View from a Window of a Rented Beach Cottage, 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.

Ted Geisel won a special Pulitzer Prize in 1984, a testament to his enduring legacy. 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 “Green Eggs and Ham” and “Yertle the Turtle,” Seuss has truly captured the whimsical, fantastical world of a child’s imagination. The realm of children’s books would be incomplete without his works of art, and his ties to San Diego and La Jolla California are indisputable – from the quote on the Coast Walk Trail to his very own art exhibit at the Legends Gallery – which is why we celebrate Dr Seuss birthday on March 2nd every year!

Today, the most notable memorial to Geisel is UC San Diego’s Geisel Library, in La Jolla California. It 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.

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!