Aki

About Aki

After living in 8 cities in 4 countries, I adopted San Diego as my home town 10 years ago. Everything I love is here - the Pacific Ocean as my back yard, museums and galleries exhibiting world-class art, endless dining options, the coolest attractions, friendly people, a dynamic business community… the list goes on. And after a decade of living here, there is still so much more to see!

What would you do on your ideal San Diego Day?

As a resident of coastal North County, my perfect San Diego Day always starts with a good surf session. Packing up the family, we’ll head to our favorite beach in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. After some fun in the sun and surf, we’ll head to Swami’s Café in Encinitas for their famous Acai bowl, then hit the road down south to any of the great San Diego attractions. Maybe a day at the Zoo, or check out some museums in Balboa Park? As an art lover and former gallerist, I love checking out new exhibitions at local galleries in La Jolla or Little Italy.

In the evening (if we can get a sitter), we love seeing live music at any of the great music venues in town. A concert at Spreckels Theater, a show at the Casbah, or an outing to the Belly Up in Solana Beach is always a treat. For dinner, we'll gather up some friends and head out to Stone Brewery Bistro & Gardens, or Cucina Urbana in Bankers Hill. What's the best way to cap off a perfect day in San Diego? With perfectly crafted cocktails at Starlite, Craft+Commerce, or Noble Experiment.

What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Surfing & hiking. I also love yoga, which you can enjoy outdoors in San Diego. And shopping too, it’s officially an outdoor sport here.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?

That’s an apples and oranges question... On most days, I’m a linguine and red wine kinda gal. But I’ll go for a good Kobe burger and wash it down with a Hefeweizen.

Latest music purchases for my iPod player are…

Archade Fire, Bon Iver and The xx.

Follow Aki on twitter: @akimartinsd
Aki

What Would You Endure for an American Dream?

Hands on a Hardbody Cast - La Jolla Playhouse

This is the inadvertent question asked by the latest La Jolla Playhouse production, Hands on a Hardbody. Based on a 1997 documentary about a group of Texans vying to outlast each other by placing one gloved hand on brand new Nissan truck in hopes of driving off with it, this new American musical engages the audience to ask themselves these questions: What you are willing to do for your dream? Would you stand under the searing Texas sun for days with nine other strangers? Endure sleep deprivation, hallucinations and numbness of limbs for a chance to drive off the lot in a brand new truck?

Hands on a Hard Body Poster

As I sat comfortably in the La Jolla Playhouse’s intimate Mandell Weiss Theater, I knew I wasn’t crazy enough to put myself through that kind of torment, which is what made the premise all the more intriguing. But an alluring premise does not a successful musical make. After all, how do you make a group of people standing around a truck come alive on stage? My curiosity peaked as the first character took the stage.

La Jolla Playhouse - Hand on a Hard Body

Creative force behind Hands on a Hardbody (L-R): Doug Wright, Trey Anastasio, Amanda Green and Benjamin Millepied.

The creative force behind Hands on a Hardbody consists of Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award Winning writer (and Texas native) Doug Wright, music composed by Trey Anastasia (founder of the band Phish), lyrics by Amanda Green (Broadway’s High Fidelity and Bring it On: The Musical) and stage choreography by Benjamin Millepied (Black Swan). The result of their collaboration is nothing short of a vibrantly composed, elegantly choreographed and spirited production.

Hands on a Hardbody Cast - La Jolla Playhouse

(L-R) Jay Armstrong Johnson, Keala Settle, Hunter Foster and Keith Carradine. Photo by Kevin Berne.

I have not seen the original documentary, but after viewing some clips on YouTube, it seems they remain quite true to the real people, down to the mustache of Benny Perkins (played by Hunter Foster) and the headphones of Norma Valverde (played by Keala Settle). The colorful cast of characters each have their own motivation and purpose, but are all driven to the truck by the same force of economic depravity. The truck, symbolizing the American Dream (ironically a Japanese-made Nissan model) is the notable 16th character, which lights up, honks and moves fluidly on the stage with the characters. Each character’s story unfolds through song. The catchy melodies and heart-felt lyrics draw the audience into their struggles. The truck means something different for each person: a one-way ticket to Hollywood; God’s will; or a means for college tuition.

Hands on a Hard Body Cast - La Jolla Playhouse

(L-R) Jay Armstrong Johnson, Allison Case and Hunter Foster. Photo by Kevin Berne.

I found myself rooting for my favorite character, just as an observer from grand stand at the Texas dealership or the radio listener who followed the 5-day contest must have. One by one, the characters drop off as their hopes for the truck fall away with them, until one victor remains. As the cast takes the stage one last time for the final score, their collective hopes rise again, permeating the audience with the enduring message that far exceeds the prize itself: If you love something, keep your hands on it.

The performance on Saturday night ended with a standing ovation from the crowd. My husband and I left the theater, hand-in-hand, reminded and inspired to pursue our lives with a little more heart, and how gel insoles could help us along the way.

La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere, commissioned musical Hands on a Hardbody runs through June 17 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre. Book by Doug Wright, lyrics by Amanda Green, music by Trey Anastasio and Amanda Green, directed by Neil Pepe, musical staging by Benjamin Millepied.

So tell us in the comments below, would you be willing to endure five days under the scorching sun for the chance to take home your dream…a new car?

Aki

10 Reasons to Explore San Diego’s Mission Federal ArtWalk

Mission Federal Art Walk in Little Italy

Along with colorful blooms and warm winds, Springtime in San Diego brings a signature event that’s as vibrant and lively as the budding flowers of the region.

Mission Federal Art Walk in Little Italy

Each year, Mission Federal ArtWalk takes over San Diego’s Little Italy District for two days, to celebrate the talents of visual and performing artists from California and beyond. Now in its 28th Year, ArtWalk is the largest art event that takes place in San Diego. With over 350 renowned artists displaying their work for purchase, you just may find the next piece of art to covet in your collection. Plus, with musical and dance performances, art activities for the kids, and much more, there’s plenty of things to do, see, taste and experience.

When: Saturday, April 28 through Sunday, April 29. 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Where: 17 city blocks of San Diego’s Little Italy District

10 Reasons to Go:

1. It’s free!
Need I say more? Read on for the activities and festivities for you and your family to enjoy during the two-day festival, all without an admission fee.

2. Live Music
With five stages set up along India Street featuring local bands and musicians, lively tunes will fill the streets of Little Italy. Check the schedule to see who’s playing when and where.

Mission Federal Art Walk Music

3. Dance Performances
New this year, there will a stage devoted to celebrating the dance community in San Diego. “Dance on Edge” features a showcase by Peter Kalivas, Artistic Director of the PGK Dance Project, featuring San Diego’s talented dancers.

4. Art Activities for Kids
Collaborating with leading local arts organizations like The New Children’s Museum, Birch Aquarium and Coronado School of the Arts, ArtWalk presents KidsWalk, a free interactive arts area for kids. Enjoy 20 interactive arts activities with your family, including painting, performing arts, music and more.

5. Food
Situated in what some consider the culinary center of downtown San Diego, visitors have an opportunity to experience the delectable restaurants of Little Italy, as well as street food stands that will be set up at the Festival.

6. Meet the Artists
With over 350 exhibiting artists, the festival provides a great opportunity to meet and engage with working artists, including nationally renowned artists like photographer Chris Honeysett, or ceramicist Hasuyo Miller. For a full list of this year’s featured artists, click here.

7. Acquire an Original Work of Art
ArtWalk provides a rare opportunity to examine a work of art up close, in a casual and approachable setting. The artists are there to tell you about their inspiration and process, providing great insight in to a piece that may have drawn you in at first glance. This is my favorite part of ArtWalk, to see a gem, then have the opportunity to engage with the artist on the spot. With prices ranging from $50 to $15,000, this is a great venue to purchase an original. Whether you’re a novice or experienced art collector, you may find the next perfect piece to add to your collection.

8. Get Outdoors
Experiencing 17 city blocks worth of visual art, dance, music and cuisine with your family only gets better under clear blue skies, balmy temperatures and the legendary SoCal sunshine.

9. Interactive Printmaking Activity
Roll up your sleeves and tap into your inner artist! You’ll have a chance to work with noted artist Valentine Viannay to create an original silkscreen print of your own, or to contribute to a community collaboration piece of art.

10. Learn About Art Outreach in Schools
ArtWalk and ArtReach are committed to promoting the arts in San Diego schools. Representatives from both organizations, as well as from Mission Federal Credit Union, will engage with festival-goers about their commitment to fostering an interest, love and appreciation for art amongst younger generations.

Aki

20 Reasons Why San Diego is America’s 8th Greenest City

Who says it ain’t easy being green? In San Diego, being green is a way of life. That’s why Travel + Leisure Magazine recently listed us as the eighth greenest city in America.

San Diego was voted as the Eighth Greenest City in America by Travel+Leisure

There are a few tidbits in the article that I wasn’t aware of, like the fact that San Diego County boasts more farms per capita than any other county in the U.S. All the more reason to enjoy the bounty of San Diego at the local farmers markets I love to visit on the weekends!

Here are 20 more reasons why it’s easy being green in San Diego:

1. San Diego was voted California’s #1 solar city two years in a row!  There are more solar installations in San Diego than in any other city in California.

2. The San Diego International Airport’s has begun its largest building project ever – and it will have Silver LEED status!

3. The Port of San Diego is committed to beautifying and projecting our bayfront, with the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, which broke ground in January 2012.

4. With trolley, coaster and bus service, and now Car2Go (cited in the Travel+Leisure article) taking public transportation on your trip to San Diego has never been easier.

Balboa Park's Alcazar Gardens is a natural oasis in the middle of urban San Diego.

5. San Diego is home to Balboa Park, the nation’s largest urban park.

6. Ever wanted to get to know the environment up close and personal.  You can by going on a kayak ride with an environmental guide.

7. For water views and coastal eco-culture, you can’t beat Torrey Pines State Reserve with its rare pines, other worldly sandstone formations, canopied trails, lagoons and million dollar ocean views. Spanning over 2,000 acres, it preserves its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree, and other indigenous wildlife in its native environment.

8. Aptly named Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach is another local gem with 68 acres of bluffs and walking paths high above the Pacific Ocean. This large sandy beach also offers surfing, swimming, volleyball and other recreational activities, perfect for getting your heart pumping while surrounded by panoramic ocean views.

9. Sure we love our surf boards, but San Diegans are also very attached to our bikes. Whether it’s a mountain bike or a beach cruiser, hopping on 2 wheels is great way to experience this city – from La Jolla to Mission Bay to Coronado Island. San Diego Hike Bike Kayak Sports, Inc. offers the “La Jolla Plunge Tour”, which starts at Mt. Soledad and winds you down a 3.5 mile descent with breathtaking views of the La Jolla Cove and beyond.

San Diego has plenty of farmers markets to pick up fresh, locally grown produce all year long.

10. Did you know that  San Diego County has more farms per capita than any other county in the U.S.? With dozens of farmer’s markets each week, you can buy the freshest locally grown produce from these farms, and take advantage of the bounty of local farms.

11. Our restaurants and local chefs are committed to the Farm-to-Fork movement.

San Diego Zoo Global is the world's leading animal conservation organization.

12. San Diego Zoo Global is the largest animal conservation organization in the world. Dedicated to the science of saving endangered species worldwide, they operate the world famous San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

13. Traveling with children? Check out the New Children’s Museum – an environmentally sustainable building that utilizes San Diego’s year round weather, with lots of natural light and windows. Their educational and interactive exhibits are a perfect way to engage your kids, and to bring out the kid in all of us.

14. For more than 40 years, the Worlds of Discovery – better known as SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove – have initiated and supported wildlife conservation, research and education at home and around the world. Upon visiting Worlds of Discovery, many guests are inspired to help protect the animals they encounter and get involved with wildlife conservation.

15. Hotel Indigo is San Diego’s first 100% LEED certified hotel.

16. Experience Birch Aquarium’s award-winning exhibit presenting the science of global climate change, backed by a half century of groundbreaking research from Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

17. Reuben H. Fleet Science Center  received LEED Silver Certification for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance in May of 2010.

18. Hornblower Cruises and Events works toward sustainability by purchasing green products, implementing recycling programs and building the innovative Hornblower Hybrid boat.

19. The Mission Bay Aquatic Center is 100% powered by the sun.

20.  San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park has a LEED certification, and they recycle 100% batteries, bulbs, ballasts, e-waste, plastics, glass, and metal. Plus, the Dinosaur Café serves organic, free trade, shade grown coffee products.

 

Aki

Jumpin’ Good Times for Kids Await at the San Diego Crew Classic

If you’re a parent, you may have an unhealthy love for jumpies. That’s right, those gigantic inflated structures provide hours of fun, allowing kids to burn off their infinite energy source as they bounce, slide, laugh and frolic their way to a good night’s sleep.

Jumpies galore at the San Diego Crew Classic

Well, parents and kids of all ages in San Diego can rejoice, because on March 31 and April 1, there will be jumpies galore in the Kid Zone of the 2012 San Diego Crew Classic, taking place in beautiful Mission Bay. And new this year is the San Diego Zoo Family Festival area, featuring rides, local artists and craft activities, providing festive fun for the whole family.

Catch the excitement of regatta glory

And of course, there’s plenty of thrilling rowing action on the water to watch! A hallmark tradition in San Diego since 1973, the Crew Classic is considered to be the marquee regatta for rowing. Setting the stage for triumphs in competitive rowing and future Olympians, there are plenty of excitement in store for the weekend as 4,000 athletes from schools across the U.S. compete for glory. Kids under 12 get free admission, $10 in advance and $12 day of event. And active military also get in for free.

Aki

San Diego Voted #9 in Trip Advisor’s Top U.S. Beach Destinations

If San Diego is known for one thing, it would be for our gorgeous beaches. And Trip Advisor agrees! San Diego was included in their list of top 10 Beach Destinations in the U.S. Sure enough, 70 miles of pristine coastline and legendary weather, you can enjoy the surf and sand almost any day of the year.

From expansive sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, reefs, tide pools and everything in between, the beaches in San Diego are as varied as the beach communities that were built around them. And there are so many kinds of beaches to discover: ones perfect for families and dogs; ones coveted by the world’s top surfers; even some that you can enjoy in the buff (although nude sunbathing is illegal!)

Whether digging your toes in the white mica sands of Coronado, roasting s’mores by the fire, playing an intense game of beach volleyball, exploring sea critters in tide pools, or simply relaxing as you’re lulled by the sounds of crashing waves, one thing’s for sure: On any given day at any beach in San Diego, you’ll find a front row seat to a magnificent display of the western sky as the sun descents into the Pacific.

So grab your beach towels, slather on the sunscreen, and get out to explore some of the finest beaches in the U.S.!

Tell us in the comments below, what’s your favorite beach in San Diego? And what is your favorite beach activity?

Aki

Attraction Action: 10 SeaWorld Rides Deliver Thrills and Chills

A few things are synonymous with San Diego. While our perfect weather and gorgeous beaches are prevalent in any conversation about San Diego, there are several attractions that are also inevitably mentioned when speaking of America’s Finest City. SeaWorld San Diego is one such attraction, as iconic as the destination itself.

Popular with adults and kids alike, I sheepishly admit that I didn’t set foot in SeaWorld until I had a child. Now we are season pass holders and frequent the park, even if it’s for an hour to catch the exhilarating One Ocean show featuring Shamu, or the crowd pleasing Pets Rule show.

Some features of SeaWorld that we haven’t fully experienced yet are the roller coasters. With the height requirement of 42 inches, our daughter (turning five this month) has been greatly motivated to eat her vegetables so that she can grow quickly, and experience the Journey to Atlantis ride. Each time we visit the park, we stand by to watch the great splash created by the ride’s 60-foot plunge. With each drop we witness, she squeals with excitement as her eyes fill with determination to grow taller so she can experience the thrill for herself.

She has one more inch to go, and will probably be tall enough by early summer just in time as the newest of SeaWorld’s ride, Manta opening in May.

SeaWorld San Diego offers a range of rides, from the thrilling and exhilarating roller coasters, to rides that are perfect for chilling, and a few that are for designed especially for the ‘lil ones. Here is a list of all the current and upcoming thrills and chills you can experience.

Heart-Pounding Thrill Rides

Height Requirement for these rides are 42″ (107 cm) or taller. Guests between 42″ and 48″ tall must be accompanied by a supervising companion (14 years of age or older) sitting beside them.

1.  MANTA – Opens May 2012


Manta is SeaWorld’s first multi-media double-launch coaster that delivers thrills you can only experience at SeaWorld San Diego. This highly anticipated new coaster takes you on an immersive journey through the sky and sea, as seen through the eyes of the Manta ray. As you climb aboard, the ride will have you gliding, spinning and soaring at top speeds in a way that only SeaWorld can deliver.

2.  Journey to Atlantis


Be transported to a lost civilization on Journey To Atlantis. The ride begins with a 60-foot plunge into water, and ends with face-to-face sea animal encounters. Lines are shorter early in the morning, and around Shamu and Blue Horizon show times.

3.  Shipwreck Rapids


Be cast away on this tube-style raft ride as you experience the thrill of winding down a rapid river. Whirls, swirls, splashes and crashes await as you plunge through a waterfall into an underground cavern. Onlookers can drench castaways on the rafts with six water cannons that are placed on the main pathway between the ride’s entrance and the Cirque de la Mer stadium.

4.  Wild Arctic Ride


This ride combines the mesmerizing features of a flight simulator with a thrilling adventure aboard a jet-helicopter. Soar through the Arctic Circle as you take in breathtaking views of perilous, icy landscapes. Put yourself in your pilot’s hands as he maneuvers treacherous frozen peaks and valleys en route to Base Station Wild Arctic.

5.  Riptide Rescue


Experience your own sea turtle rescue mission as you climb aboard the yellow rafts of Riptide Rescue. But hold on—like SeaWorld’s actual rescues, it can be a wild ride! This ride requires guest to be 50″ tall to ride independently. Guest between 45” and 50” tall must be accompanied by a Supervising Companion (14 years of age or older) sitting beside them.

Chillax and Take in the View

6.  SkyTower


Take a ride high above SeaWorld for spectacular 360 degree views of the surrounding areas of Mission Bay and beyond. Sit back and enjoy a leisurely ride up the tower as the platform spins at a slow and steady pace, revealing spectacular views that stretch out to  Pacific Ocean and the gorgeous downtown San Diego. With clear skies, you can see up to a hundred miles in every direction.

7.  Bayside Skyride


This gentle two-way gondola ride takes you on a relaxing six minute journey as you float above the tranquil waters of Mission Bay. Catch the ride around sunset for spectacular views of the Bay and the Pacific.

Fun Rides for the ‘Lil Ones

For toddlers and younger kids, there are still some joyful rides at the Sesame Street Bay of Play, located in the heart of SeaWorld.

8.  Elmo’s Flying Fish


Kids love this up and down ride that takes them across an imaginary ocean. With fish-shaped carriages that looks like adorable Elmo, younger kids will enjoy watching as much as riding in them.

9.  Abby’s Sea Star Spin


For some whirling and twirling fun, enjoy this classic spinning teacup ride. How much you spin is up to you, as you control with the wheel at the center of your starfish-inspired riding cup.

10.  Oscar’s Rocking Eel


Oscar the Grouch might be grumpy, but his eel pal is one slippery character! Hang on as he spins and slithers you along on a side-to-side slide of an adventure.

Want to take a ride for yourself? We are giving away four (4) one day admission passes to SeaWorld San Diego, good through 6/30/2012. Leave a comment on this blog post by 10:00 am P.S.T. on Thursday March 8, 2012 for a chance to win.

Aki

Ishmael’s Got Nothin’ on Us: Whale Watching on Yacht America

On a brisk 64-degree Sunday morning in February, we climbed aboard the historic sailing yacht, America, for a 4-hour whale watching excursion with Next Level Sailing. Filled with anticipation and excitement, dressed in plenty of layers and loaded up with Dramamine, we were ready to set sail for an adventure day on the high seas.

Upon arrival in front of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the staff at Next Level instructed the group (about 40 of us) on safety protocols, what we can expect to see, and where the whales have been. This year has been the best season on record for whale watching, they told us, with the largest whale sightings to date.

Whale watching season in San Diego begins around mid-December, where majestic gray whales make their yearly migration from the coast of Alaska down to Baja California, to feed and breed, then make their way up the coast again by April. In the weeks leading up to our excursion, I kept track of Next Level’s trip statistics, and was certain we were guaranteed sightings of whales, but also dolphins and sea lions. If only Ishmael and Captain Ahab had the folks at Next Level on their side, the hunt for Moby Dick may not have been so treacherous.

Once we set sail, the very capable and courteous Captain and crew of America made us feel right at home. As we made our way out of San Diego Bay, we enjoyed breathtaking views of the downtown skyline behind us and Point Cabrillo ahead.

As we hit the open water, we were greeted by hundreds of dolphins who frolicked around us, popping up and showing off their speed as they kept up with the ship.

There She Blows! The first of many whale sightings on our voyage.

About two hours in, we saw and heard the first blow of a finback whale, the second longest of the whale species and the sixth largest living animal on the planet. During our 2 hours or so out in the open water, we saw a dozen or so fins, but no grays.

Our time was up and we had to head back to shore before seeing any gray whales. The winds were strong so the crew hoisted the front sails, turned off the engine and we enjoyed a peaceful trip back towards the bay.

Just as we started to see land again, the Captain heard of a gray whale sighting over the radio,  just south of where we were. The crew steered the ship to meet the coordinates as we peeled our eyes towards the southern horizon. After a few minutes, we saw a spray in the distance. Approaching closer, we caught another spray and a glimpse of the gray’s tail and fin. Our voyage was complete.

Whale watching may be coming to a close, but there are plenty of sailing excursions you can enjoy throughout the year in San Diego. Tell us about your San Diego sailing experience below.

Aki

Museum Month: With Seven Days Left, Head North!

With only seven days left until the end of San Diego Museum Month, I still have a few museums to check out. As a resident of Encinitas, I’ve got a few favorites in North County that I frequent, and one in particular that tops my list of best museum I haven’t been to yet, but love already.

Music History Comes Alive at The Museum of Making Music

As a music lover and North County resident, I’m frankly ashamed that I haven’t been to this museum yet. Located in Carlsbad, The Museum of Making Music is the only museum of its kind in San Diego County. Founded in 1998 by the National Association of Music Merchants, the museum showcases and celebrates the music products industry.

The museum’s exhibits are arranged chronologically in five galleries, beginning with the coming of age in America’s music industry between 1890 to 1909, all the way to the 1980’s. Each gallery showcases hundreds of vintage instruments, along with historic audio and video clips and interactive displays, providing a 360 degree look at the innovations, trends and popular music of the era.

Unlike the traditional hall of fame or celebrity instrument collection, the Museum of Making Music focuses on the historical changes and innovations of musical instruments, how they came to be made and sold, and how these developments influenced popular music. Some of the breakthrough instruments in their collection include a Gibson mandolin, the Ludwig drum pedal, a Rickenbacker Lap Steel guitar, Fender Telecaster guitar, and Yamaha DX-7 Synthesizer.

Currently on view is a special exhibition that provides a comprehensive survey on the history of reed instruments, Roots of Reeds (through March 2012). I am completely jazzed about visiting the museum (pun intended), as I know it will surely deepen my appreciation of music and may even inspire me to finally sign up for that guitar lesson.

William Glen Crooks at the Oceanside Museum of Art

There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a deserving friend get their due. In the case of William Glen Crooks, it was only a matter of time that his talent would be celebrated. I had the pleasure and privilege of working with him in my past life as a San Diego gallerist, and watched with glee as his star steadily rose over the years. His career retrospective exhibition Point of View at the Oceanside Museum of Art, curated by leading San Diego gallery Scott White Contemporary Art, celebrates a life’s work by the gifted painter and Imperial Beach native.

Known for glowing landscapes and timeless scenes, Glen’s paintings emanate a warmth that makes you feel the atmosphere of his pictures. He has an uncanny ability to bring out the extraordinary in what would otherwise be a mundane scene, and he does so with his own brand of modesty and humility that makes him a true original. On view through April 22, this is an exhibition you won’t want to miss!

Fantastical Home Furnishings at the Lux Art Institute

One of the most inspiring institutions and spaces in San Diego is nestled in the hills of Encinitas. The Lux Art Institute is a museum unlike any other, where you can witness the creative process and engage with the artists as they produce their work in a studio setting. Lux invites internationally renowned artists to live and work in their beautifully designed facility for several weeks as they create and exhibit their work.

Current artist-in-residence, sculptor Lila Jang, puts a whimsical spin on home furnishings. Restricted by a small apartment and armed with a desire to escape the mundane routine of everyday life, Jang looked at traditional home furnishings in a new light. By removing the need for functionality from chairs, dressers, stools, and other furniture, she transforms these everyday objects into fantastical sculptural works that are animated, playful and expressionistic. Ms. Jang’s residency and exhibition closes on March 3, 2012. Go for the art, and stay to explore the gorgeous architecture and lush landscapes that surround the museum premises.

Aki

True Jewels of San Diego: Explore the Museums of La Jolla

As one of the most beloved communities in San Diego, beholden by its natural beauty, rich heritage and a luxurious yet laid back vibe, La Jolla is a must-visit stop on any San Diego vacation itinerary. From the dramatic coastline unmatched in majesty, to premier dining establishments, elegant hotels, world-class shopping, treasured art and cultural institutions, La Jolla certainly lives up to the meaning of its name, which translates to “the jewel” in Spanish.

If you”re exploring La Jolla during February Museum Month, don’t miss three great arts and culture attractions that you can enjoy at 50% off admission. Just pick up a Museum Month pass at any San Diego County Macy’s location, and head to one of the following museums to take in mind-blowing contemporary art, explore wondrous sea creatures or dive into La Jolla’s historic past. Continue reading

Aki

Attraction Action! Explore San Diego Zoo Safari Park

One of the best features of San Diego as a vacation destination is the countless number world-renowned attractions that offer adventure, thrills, education and engagement for your family. For those of us lucky enough to live here, especially with children, every weekend or holiday poses a dilemma of choosing which attraction to explore. From the Zoo that made San Diego world-famous, to close encounters with Shamu, there’s some serious voting and lobbying that goes on in our house when deciding what to do on a gorgeous San Diego weekend.

One attraction that often wins out on these debates is the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park) and as a member of the San Diego Zoological Society, our annual pass gets us in. February and March are great months to explore the park, when the temperatures are still mild and the animals are quite active.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Located 30 miles northeast of downtown San Diego in the beautiful San Pasqual Valley in Escondido, the drive out to Safari Park is always a treat. Taking in the gorgeous mountain views and wide open vistas, the journey there serves as a precursor to the Safari adventure ahead.

Africa in San Diego

The sheer scale of the park alone is impressive. Situated on a 1,800-acre preserve, wild animals roam free over vast expanses as they would in their native habitats of Africa and Asia. Upon our arrival, we always beeline to the African Plains first, for the Journey into Africa Tour. Hopping aboard an open-air tram, this Safari tour bring us at eye-level with exotic animals like white rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, Roosevelt’s gazelles and African crowned cranes. The ride is quite long too, lasting 30 minutes, which takes you around the perimeter of the park’s three expansive African field enclosures: Lion Camp, Heart of Africa and Nairobi Village. This ride is free with park admission and is a great way rest your feet while observing the animals.

Flightline over Africa and Asia

Seeking some thrills? Why not fly 400 feet across the park at speeds up to 60 mph on the Flightline zip-line. You’ll need to make reservations, as the 1.5-hour experience features a training lesson, behind-the-scenes narration and an aerial adventure that soars across the Asian and African field exhibits. It’ll cost you $70 per person on top of park admission, but the experience is well worth it.

Get up and close at Safari Park

In addition to the various Safari rides that get you up close to the animals, Safari Park features plenty of exhibits to walk around, like the Elephant Overlook, Lorikeet Landing, and Hidden Jungle. Many of these exhibit house endangered species in enclosures that mimic their natural habitats, and offer visitors an intimate encounters with these magnificent animals.

What’s your favorite Safari Park encounter?