Back to school

Thousands of San Diego Students Return to School This Week

San Diego County students were finally able to experience their first day of school this week. 

This exciting step toward normalcy comes only days after officials initiate the Orange Tier throughout the state. 

 According to NBC 7 San Diego, students across all grade levels returned to in-person school on Monday, much to the delight of parents and students alike.

“It was great, excellent, he loves it,” said Lori Kluck in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune of her second-grade son’s first day at Torrey Pines Elementary. 

Like thousands of other parents and students throughout San Diego County, Kluck was ecstatic to return to somewhat of a normal weekly routine after more than a year of distance learning

The Unified School District, the largest in San Diego County and the second-largest school district in San Diego, is only returning to school four days per week, maintaining hybrid learning. Although, only 27% of the student body is opting to continue staying home full time. 

In an online orientation last week, parents and students saw the safety measures upheld. These measures include socially distanced desks, a mask mandate, testing taking place every two weeks, and proper ventilation throughout the school. 

These safety measures help parents like Lori Kluck feel confident in sending their children back to school. 

“Walking into school today, there was an energy that was amazing,” Kluck told the U-T, “We’re back, baby!”

Relax Like A Local

Check out some of our best local stories on ways to kick back and enjoy La Jolla for all its perks.

People are out during the Orange Tier on Sunset Cliffs

San Diego’s Orange Tier – The Next Big Step Towards ‘Normal’

San Diego County residents enjoyed their first weekend as officials de-escalate the COVID-19 threat to the less-restrictive Orange Tier. 

The announcement, made on Friday, April 9, 2021, comes less than a month after the de-escalation to the Red Tier on California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy

“It’s the next big step to coming back to normal,” said Bernardo Namé, owner of Biggie’s Burgers in Pacific Beach, in an interview with NBC 7 San Diego

The Orange Tier is just one away from the least restrictive Yellow Tier, which will complete the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. This tier means that places of worship, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, and other similar indoor congregation areas throughout San Diego can increase their indoor capacity to 50% (or 200 people, whichever is fewer). Amusement parks, gyms, and indoor playgrounds may open at 25% capacity. (See our article: Things to Do in San Diego During COVID.)

Meanwhile, offices, personal care facilities, hair salons/barbers, and hotels can open with much fewer restrictions.

Plus, with vaccination or proof of testing negative, the Orange Tier allows for even greater freedoms, including family entertainment centers opening to 50% occupancy, from the otherwise 25% occupancy restriction. (See our article on La Jolla COVID vaccine locations.)

The only areas that remain closed under the Orange Tier are conventions and indoor hot tubs, saunas, or steam rooms.

According to the County News Center for San Diego, you can expect tier restrictions to further diminish by April 15, 2021, with hopes that the tier system will disappear completely by June 15, 2021.

While remote work and social distancing are still strongly encouraged, the movement to the Orange Tier and the positivity that officials have going forward is a critical step for San Diego County residents to return to their normal lives. 

San Diego Outdoor Activities

San Diego is known as one of the most active, fit, and outdoor living communities in the whole country. When the weather is this nice all the time, who wants to stay stuck inside? Over the year's has had the privilege of covering some of the best outdoor activities in all of San Diego. Take a look at our favorite articles and let us know in the comments what your favorite activity is or which ones we're missing!

The Shell venue for the San Diego Symphony

Will There Be 2021 Summer Concerts for the San Diego Symphony at ‘The Shell’?

The Shell is the newest addition to the San Diego Symphony, an $85 million bayside venue that the Symphony hoped to open in the summer of 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Symphony postponed those plans.

Fortunately, after putting the finishing touches on the outdoor arena, complete with open-air pavilions and a stage-side gourmet kitchen will open sometime, hopefully toward the beginning of summer 2021.

“We are preparing to open as soon as it’s clear the time is right,” said San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer.

The Shell can seat audiences of between 3,500 and 8,000. However, the venue can seat up to 10,000 for special events. 

In addition to seating, though, the bayside venue has plenty of other accommodating features: Del Mar-based celebrity chef Richard Blais heads The Shell’s gourmet kitchen. Plus, the two open-air pavilions will house beers from local brewmasters and food from Biga, Lola 55, and other popular San Diego restaurants.

According to The Shell’s principal designer, Greg Mueller, the venue is just “fine-tuning” the finishing touches. Mueller seconds Gilmer’s comment by adding, “If the state said: ‘Tomorrow, you can hold a concert here,’ we would.”

Last summer, Gilmer posted a cancelation update that devastated the musical community but ended it with a heartwarming message regarding the first show at The Shell, “…I know that the music will mean more to all of us than ever before. We cannot wait for that happy occasion.”

Thankfully, according to the newest information coming from the Symphony’s higher-ups, during summer 2021, the people of San Diego will be awarded that happy occasion.

 To read the full coverage, check out the original San Diego Union-Tribune report here. The banner photo is courtesy of the @theshellsd Instagram account.

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Carlsbad strawberries

Carlsbad Strawberry Patch is “Berry” Excited to Open This Year

Is the Carlsbad Strawberry Patch open in 2021? The answer is yes!!

 The Carlsbad Strawberry Company and Pumpkin Patch are opened this year for the same family fun it’s provided for decades and a couple of new attractions. 

This year, Carlsbad adds a sunflower maze, a fresh produce market that will stay open all year, and a Bounceland. The sunflower maze will wind explorers through a labyrinth of majestic, floral beauty, providing just enough of a challenge to be fun and exciting.

Then, the produce market, which will be open daily from 9 am until 5 pm. However, if you are looking to purchase specific items, call ahead because sometimes they run out early.  Their phone number is (760) 603-9608.

Finally, Bounceland opened on May 26, 2021, and is an excellent way to get the kids moving after so much time indoors.


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A post shared by Carlsbad Strawberry Company (@carlsbadstrawberrycompany)

In addition to the new attractions, the family-owned business continues to offer U-pick throughout the strawberry season. Admission is $5 admission per person, which gets you entrance to the strawberry field and the sunflower maze, with a single bucket fee of $10.

Plus, if you can’t visit the main farm, on Cannon Road in Carlsbad, visit one of the company’s strawberry stands:

  • Warehouse Market: 1205 Aviara Pkwy Carlsbad 92011
    • Hours: 8 am-4 pm Daily 
  • Del Mar Stand: on the southeast corner of San Dieguito Rd and El Camino Real
    • Hours: 9 am-4 pm Daily
  • Flower Field Stand: corner of Palomar Airport Rd and Paseo Del Norte
    • Hours: 9 am-4 pm Daily

When you visit the farm, please know that masks are required.

To read the full coverage or for more information, check out the original report here.

San Diego Outdoor Activities

San Diego is known as one of the most active, fit, and outdoor living communities in the whole country. When the weather is this nice all the time, who wants to stay stuck inside? Over the year's has had the privilege of covering some of the best outdoor activities in all of San Diego. Take a look at our favorite articles and let us know in the comments what your favorite activity is or which ones we're missing!


Bioluminescence Might Illuminate San Diego Beaches for the Second Year in a Row

Bioluminescence is a phenomenon that causes the waves of the California shore to illuminate with an iridescent blue light at night. This phenomenon is a wondrous gift from Mother Nature, with experts believing that the effect results from excessive rainfall over the past couple of years.

Before 2020, the bioluminescence phenomenon was extremely rare. Yet, lucky night beachgoers and surfers are experiencing it for the second year in a row off the California coast.

Fortunately, this is a natural occurrence, albeit rare and extraordinary, but it is not dangerous. The safety assurance helps people in San Diego enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience wholeheartedly, and it certainly is a sight to behold.

Last year, a 37-year-old pastor and south-eastern San Diego resident, Dale Huntington, said, “I’ve been surfing for 20 years now, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

On March 14, 2021, the majestic bioluminescence phenomenon was spotted again in the Dana Point, Newport Beach, and Laguna Beach sections of Orange County. 

The La Jolla area also witnessed a mild occurrence of the phenomenon in early March. Still, as the Spring progresses, it is likely for La Jolla and other local beaches throughout San Diego to have more chances to experience the Bioluminescence phenomenon again.

To read the full coverage, check out the original San Diego Union-Tribune report here. And here’s the photo credit for the bioluminescence banner photo on this page.

Relax Like A Local

Check out some of our best local stories on ways to kick back and enjoy La Jolla for all its perks.

Jellyfish in an aquarium

Which La Jolla Museums Are Open While San Diego Is in the Red Tier?

La Jolla’s animal and art enthusiasts are pleased to receive positive updates regarding the reopening of the following museums: Birch Aquarium, Athenaeum, and Museum of Contemporary Art. After closing their doors due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, officials cleared indoor attractions last week with limited capacity. 

Birch Aquarium

The Birch Aquarium opened its indoor activities on Friday, March 19, 2021. Currently, the aquarium can facilitate indoor visitors up to 25% capacity. 

This indoor opening comes after the aquarium opened its outdoor activities for patrons on February 27, 2021. This initial opening came after three months of being closed completely.

To adhere to the 25% capacity restriction, you must make a reservation before your visit.

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library

The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library will reopen its doors to visitors on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. Due to safety concerns, only 25 people will enter the Athenaeum at a time. 

However, with reservations, guests can enjoy the  “Zandra Rhodes: Some Artworks” exhibit through Friday, March 26, followed by the “Paula McColl: Celebrating La Jolla,” available from April 1 to May 8.

Museum of Contemporary Art 

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s (MCASD) update is not as straightforward as the previous San Diego attractions. MCASD will not be opening its doors yet, but not because of COVID-19. 

MCASD started a massive expansion in April 2017, through which the museum’s size will double, and the number of galleries will quadruple, according to MCASD’s official expansion press release.

Fortunately, since the Red Tier allows indoor attractions, MCASD will continue to offer high-quality exhibitions and programming at The Jacobs and Copley Buildings.

For more details on these updates, check out the original La Jolla Light report here.

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UCSD traffic

UCSD Is Approved to Upgrade Intersections with ‘Smart Lights’

The University of San Diego is readying the roads and the campus to welcome students back to classes. 

In a meeting on Thursday, March 11, 2021, UCSD officials presented a plan to the La Jolla Town Council to add smart lights to 26-intersections. This plan aims to help the traffic flow for students and overall community betterment improvements.

This three-phase plan, which has gotten a green light of its own to move forward, anticipates completing the project by the summer of 2022.

Although UCSD just presented the plan to the council, it has been in the works for many months. 

The  assistant director of communications and community planning Anu Delouri said  UCSD “has been collaborating closely with the city of San Diego to implement these adaptive traffic control systems.”

None of the community factions involved took the extensive changes these traffic lights and crosswalks will implement on La Jolla’s infrastructure lightly. The council, UC representatives, and the community planning board all agree that this benefits the community extensively.

The main purpose of smart traffic lights is to help control the flow of traffic throughout the day. Instead of being stuck on an immovable timer, the traffic lights change to accommodate the current commute’s safety and productivity. If traffic is light, these lights will turn green more frequently, while if traffic demands, the lights could also remain red for a longer period.

Ultimately, this upgrade will help normalize commuter’s daily routine and make the roads safer for all travelers.

For more details on the Smart traffic light project, check out the original La Jolla Light report here.

For San Diego County schools, class is in session

Red-Tier Restrictions Allow All San Diego County Schools to Reopen

For San Diego County schools, class is in session, thanks to red tier restrictions.

San Diego County Officials have cleared schools to open for in-person classes throughout all private and public districts in the county.

Although expected, the announcement, officially made on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, green-lighting the Wednesday, March 17, 2021 reopening, caused San Diego county residents to breathe a collective sigh of relief. 

For weeks school boards have asked officials to consider opening the schools, with many middle and high schools throughout the San Diego area opening their doors one-day-per-week to facilitate the adjustment. 

Fortunately, though, despite getting the go-ahead from officials, school districts are still being cautious. Many of the schools are only opening for one or two days per week to start. Other schools, though, continue to hold off reopening their doors until May and even July.

Nevertheless, there is a monetary incentive for schools to be opening their doors again. On Monday, the state of California announced that all public schools that return to in-person learning by the end of March would receive a portion of a $2 Billion funding package.

Many school districts are taking advantage of this offer and hurrying to at least get their students back in the classroom for one or two days per week before the end of March. However, there are still counties and school districts that are not swayed by the funding, as they are opting to continue online learning for the next few months, at least.  

The reopening of schools is a big part of the less-restrictive Red Tier safety protocol. However, this tier also includes eating indoors at restaurants and visiting indoor attractions (at 25% capacity). 

For more details on when specific counties and school districts will open their doors, check out the original The San Diego Union-Tribune report here.


The Mermaids and Cowboys restaurant in La Jolla

La Jolla Restaurant Mermaids and Cowboys Re-Opens

Mermaids and Cowboys, a surf and turf restaurant with an upscale feel, opened in La Jolla on March 11, 2021, after a hiatus, due to the pandemic. 

According to their website, this uniquely themed restaurant “marries ocean and land through the rich history of the Pearl Diving Mermaids of Japan and the historic Cattle Ranches of La Jolla.”

Like many new and existing restaurants opening their doors to the public during the pandemic, Mermaids and Cowboys started serving their offerings through outside seating for dining and dinner service. The restaurant intends to offer a launch happy hour, weekend brunch, and lunch once it is safe for indoor dining.

Regardless of whether patrons are eating inside or outside, the Mermaids and Cowboys’ staff dedicate themselves to serving delectable dishes, including everything from porterhouse steak to Main lobster, and make sure you leave room for one (or more) of their playfully named desserts.

Other restaurants that have opened throughout San Diego during the pandemic include: 

Milk Tea Lab: Where you can get an assortment of decadent concoctions, ranging from the love potion called Cupid Tonic to the out-of-this-world Alien Tonic. 

La Taverna: Offers guests a genuine touch of Europe, as the owners are natives of Rome And Sicily. This restaurant is open for outdoor dining, takeout, and delivery. La Taverna features a menu of housemade pasta and a plethora of sauces and add-ons. 

The Marlin Bar: Combines retail and restaurant for an interesting mix of Tommy Bahama tastes and textures. The bar and restaurant serve island-style favorites while the retail area gets stocked with your favorite Tommy Bahama merchandise. 

 To read the full list of San Diego restaurants that have opened during the pandemic, check out the original San Diego Eater report here.


Coronavirus model

San Diego COVID Vaccine Locations

San Diego began rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination on January 31st, and there are a variety of locations where residents can get the San Diego COVID vaccine for free. To speed up the process, it is imperative to know where you can go to get the vaccine when your turn is up.

Everyone has to make an appointment when they’re eligible and the rollout may become more impacted as time goes on. Still the large number of sites ensures that each citizen will have a chance to get vaccinated when their Phase has arrived. While it is necessary for people to continue getting tested for COVID-19, finding the site where you can get vaccinated makes it easier when it’s your turn to receive the first shot. Here is a complete list of locations and hours where the vaccine is available. 

The Importance of Being Tested for COVID in San Diego

When you look into COVID vaccine news in San Diego, you’ll find that COVID-19 testing is vital because some people who contract the virus have no symptoms at all. This is one of the many reasons that the pandemic has been so difficult to mitigate. Testing is integral to decreasing the amount of transmissions and getting a handle over the virus. COVID testing in San Diego is available at a variety of locations. 

Not only are there places to get tested in person, there are even at home COVID tests available. While vaccines are needed to mitigate the infection rates and deaths that result, testing is still very crucial. Until you get the vaccine, and even after you do, if you feel that you’ve been exposed you should get tested. 

The Phases for COVID Vaccinations in San Diego

The rollout for San Diego COVID vaccines is on its own unique schedule like other counties in the country. While San Diego is following federal and state guidelines for priority demographics, the County is working with communities to ensure the vaccine is distributed equally among the people. The rollout is gradual and split into San Diego COVID vaccine phases.

Phase 1A has been split into three San Diego COVID vaccine tiers, which are now all eligible for vaccination. These include staff working in hospitals and nursing facilities, paramedics, EMTs, as well those working in emergency medical services, dialysis centers, and behavioral centers. 

The second tier for Phase 1A includes staff providing care for people who require non-continuous nursing supervision and supportive care, people who are providing in-home health-care and support services, community health workers and public health staff, those working in primary care clinics, and staff working in federal health and rural health centers. This tier also includes people working in correctional facilities, urgent care clinics, and behavioral non-residential outpatient facilities.

The third and final tier of Phase 1A includes other settings for healthcare personnel and staff in specialty clinics like laboratory workers, dental health clinics, pharmacies, and funeral workers. While these tiers are complex and were rolled out individually, all of the people above are now eligible to make their San Diego COVID vaccine appointment. 

Phase 1B of the COVID vaccinations has also begun. Those who are eligible include people above the age of 65 and frontline essential workers at risk of exposure through their work. These include workers in emergency services, emergency operation workers, fire and law enforcement, as well as people who work in education, childcare, food service, and agriculture. 

The 1C Phase hasn’t started yet. This tier includes people 16-64 years old with one or more pre-existing conditions including cancer, chronic kidney disease, and chronic pulmonary disease. Furthermore, individuals with Down syndrome, an immunocompromised weakened state, sickle cell disease, heart conditions like heart failure, severe obesity, and type 2 diabetes will be eligible in this Phase. Women who are pregnant will also be eligible for the vaccine. Other individuals who are eligible for the vaccine under this tier include those who are likely to develop severe life-threatening illness or death from COVID-19 infection. 

The last of the San Diego COVID vaccine phases is Phase 2, when the general population over 16 years of age will be able to get vaccinated. This is subject to change depending on the vaccine supply and local recommendations. 

Where to Go for the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The logistics are key. Even when you are eligible, it is wise to be diligent about making your appointment. Below are the locations where you can get vaccinated when you’re eligible for it. 

UC San Diego Petco Park Super Station

One of the largest San Diego COVID vaccine locations is the UC San Diego Petco Park Super Station. It is a drive-thru vaccination site where appointments are required and vaccines are provided at no-cost. With hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., you can get the vaccine at 1235 K St., San Diego, 92101. 

Tubman-Chavez Community Center

The Tubman-Chavez Community Center opened up for people to get the COVID vaccine in San Diego. It is located at 415 Euclid Ave., 92114. The site offers vaccinations from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday. While it isn’t open for vaccines every day, the Community Center is a good choice if you make a San Diego COVID vaccine appointment for Friday or Saturday. 

Balboa Park POD

The Balboa Park POD is a walk-thru site where appointments for free vaccines are required. You can get vaccinated from Tuesday to Friday during the times of 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It is located at 2111 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA, 92101. 

Rady’s Children Hospital

Another place to get a San Diego COVID vaccine is Rady’s Children’s Hospital. It is a walk-thru no-cost vaccination site where you can get vaccinated from 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Monday through Saturday. The hospital is located at 8001 Frost St., San Diego, CA, 92123. 

Sharp – South Bay Super Station

The Sharp Super Station in Chula Vista is located at 565 Broadway St. They are offering free vaccinations by appointment only. You can give them a call at 800-827-4277. The site is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends and 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays. 

Sharp-Grossmont Center Mall Super Station

Located in La Mesa, the Grossmont Center Mall Super Station is a walk-thru vaccination site where appointments are required for vaccines at no cost. You can get vaccinated Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. as well as Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is located at 5500 Grossmont Center Dr. Suite 212, La Mesa, CA, 91942. 

North Coast- Scripps Del Mar Fairground Super Station

The Del Mar Fairgrounds is a drive-thru vaccination site where you can make San Diego COVID vaccine appointments. They were providing no-cost vaccines Friday 3/5 and will be doing the same on Friday 3/12 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at 2260 Jimmy Durante BLVD, Del Mar, CA, 92014. 

Sharp-City of Coronado

The Sharp vaccination in Coronado is located at 1845 Strand Way, Coronado, CA, 92118. Make an appointment for a free vaccination Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. It is a walk-thru site. 

North Coastal Live Well Center

The North Coastal Live Well center is located at 3708 Ocean Ranch BLVD. in San Diego. It is open from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and is a walk-thru vaccination site where you should make an appointment. 

San Marcos Vaccine Super Station at Cal State University, San Marcos

The San Marcos Vaccine Super Station is located in the sports center at 103 Campus View Dr., San Marcos, CA, 92078. It is a walk-thru vaccination site where appointments are required for free vaccinations. Its hours are Sunday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Palomar Medical Center Downtown Escondido

The drive-thru vaccination site in Downtown Escondido is at the Palomar Medical Center. Appointments are required for no-cost vaccinations. You can get vaccinated from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The address is 555 E. Valley PKWY, Escondido, 92025. 

With so many vaccination sites available in San Diego, as individuals get their shots we will be able to get through the pandemic. As the country gets vaccinated, people will be able to have some fun. People will feel more comfortable about going out. When you feel comfortable enough to do something, you can check out the things to do in San Diego during COVID. While the pandemic will not be over just because people are vaccinated, the pressure will be alleviated and normalcy will slowly return. 

About the author: Ryan Beitler is a writer, journalist, and blogger who has worked for a variety of publications including The Slovenia Times, Paste Magazine, AI TIme Journal, Addiction Now, and many more.


To-go coffee cups

Why this San Diego Coffee Company is Getting Rid of Single-Use Cups

A San Diego coffee shop started 2021 off sustainably by upgrading from paper to-go cups to a jar exchange program. 

On December 15, 2020, an Instagram post shared James Coffee Co’s intentions to transition to the sustainable jar exchange program. On January 1, 2021, the San Diego coffee shop made its intentions a reality.

Since the first of the year, James Coffee Co. has initiated a sustainability program, where patrons put a deposit of $1.25 down to receive their beverage in a glass jar, with a James Coffee Co. sleeve and a metal lid.

Once the customer finishes their beverage, they are encouraged to rinse the jar out and bring it, along with the sleeve and lid, back to the coffee shop. Upon returning with the jar, the patron will choose to order another drink or receive their $1.25 deposit back. 

When the jar gets returned, it is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized by the James Coffee Co. team.

David Kennedy, the owner of James Coffee Co., estimates the business’ jar exchange sustainability program is saving landfills from 7,000 to-go cups per week. 

“You try to create an environment that you’re proud of, and that’s all you can do,” said Kennedy.

Fortunately, Kennedy adds that the response from customers is largely positive. 

Still, James Coffee Co. is not the only business implementing sustainability efforts like the jar exchange. Many coffee shops in San Diego have undertaken similar programs to offer more eco-friendly solutions to their patrons. 

Although, James Coffee Co. has certainly taken the small business’ level of proactive sustainability to a new level. 

To read the full coverage, check out the original NBC 7 San Diego report here.