Courtney

About Courtney

I love fashion, Gerbera daisies, and yoga. I recently moved back to San Diego after 10 years of living in LA. I couldn't be more excited to rediscover the best activities, views, food, and more in this amazing city. My husband of two years is my partner in crime (thankfully he loves exploring SD as much as I do).

What would you do on your ideal San Diego Day?

My perfect day would start with a cup of tea (no matter the temperature outside). A breakfast burrito from Pipe's would definitely be in order. Then I'd go for a leisurely bike ride or walk at the beach with my husband. We’d eat sushi for dinner, watch a movie at home, and drink a glass of red wine.

What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

It’s impossible to pick one thing! I love biking, walking, shopping, dining outside.

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

Linguine and red wine. Done!

Latest music purchases for my iPod player are…

Josh Tuner, Keith Urban, the Best of Elton John
Courtney

Restaurant Week Picks: (Re)discover Some San Diego Gems

Having moved back to San Diego last year, I am still exploring the San Diego culinary scene. A foodie at heart, I look forward to experiencing some San Diego dining hot spots, revisiting well-known establishments, and discovering local gems during this year’s San Diego Restaurant Week. Here are my top picks:

Kensington Grill

Kensington Grill
My number one choice for a night out with the girls (or guys) is Kensington Grill, a hip neighborhood eatery on Adams Avenue. The award-winning restaurant from the Urban Kitchen Group is known for exceptionally executed rustic “New American” cuisine served up family-style or traditionally coursed. Their special Restaurant Week menu includes your choice of the pepper bacon corn chowder (as a starter), salmon with tomato braised cauliflower and basil butter (entrée), braised short ribs in a pinot reduction with honey glazed baby carrots (entrée), apple cobbler with vanilla sorbet or chocolate banana bread pudding with rum flambé (dessert). I’m ready to order!

George's at the Cove

George’s at the Cove – California Modern
When you think of George’s at the Cove, world-class views, romance and amazing seafood are just a few of the attributes that come to mind. So it should come as no surprise that my “date night” pick for Restaurant Week is California Modern (the main dining room at George’s). Featuring an ever-changing menu with ingredients at the peak of their flavor, California Modern claims to offer the culinary essence of San Diego on a plate.

Knotty Barrel

Knotty Barrel Gastropub
Knotty Barrel, located in San Diego’s East Village, features delicious locally-sourced traditional British pub-grub and more than 60 local, domestic and imported beers from around the world. Located in the East Village, the people-watching is top-notch. With more than 16 craft beers on tap (and a great wine selection to boot), Knotty Barrel is the perfect place for a low-key dinner-and-drinks night out with friends.

Courtney

Arts Month San Diego: Little Italy

This week, Arts Month San Diego is highlighting the cultural neighborhood of Little Italy.

Little Italy, located on the northern edge of the San Diego bay, is a vibrant neighborhood steeped in history and tradition. The area is well-known for authentic Italian restaurants and shops that stock Italian imports, but also boasts a nascent art and design district centered around galleries, design showrooms, and marquee arts and culture events.

WINDOW SHOPPING

With galleries, antique shops, and home accessory stores Little Italy North (North of Grape Street) has been dubbed San Diego’s newest Art & Design District.

The Art and Design District of San Diego’s Little Italy was modeled after New York City’s trendy SoHo and Chelsea districts

Two popular galleries are Meyer Fine Art and The Andrews Gallery. Meyer Fine Art specializes in limited-edition prints and works on paper, ranging from pieces by Miró and Chagall to vintage Italian posters. The Andrews Gallery is an artist space that combines the roles of art gallery, creative studio and performance venue in one interactive environment. The Gallery focuses on solo-exhibitions of emerging and mid-career artists, as well as hosts musical performances, poetry readings, and other creative happenings.

Insider Tip:  Many of the art galleries in Little Italy have limited business hours, but will open by appointment only. Kettner Nights is a great time to explore the area and get a lay of the land.

FALL EVENTS

Little Italy hosts Kettner Nights and Festa, two signature arts events that offer fun for the whole family.

  • Kettner Nights (Sept. 9): Discover the art, design and antiques on display and for sale in Little Italy during Kettner Nights, an art walk held the second Friday of every other month from 6pm to 9pm.

Authentic chalk art at Little Italy Festa

  • 17th Annual Little Italy Festa (Oct. 9): Celebrate the romance of Italian culture with authentic music, fine foods and specialty crafts. Don’t miss the Gesso Italiano chalk art painting exhibition created by more than 150 artists in two days.
Courtney

Child’s Play: Plans for LEGOLAND Hotel Unveiled

Who's gonna clean up that mess? More than 28,000 thousand multi-colored DUPLO® bricks were poured out of a big front loader in celebration of the LEGOLAND Hotel announcement.

LEGOLAND California announced yesterday that plans for a three-story LEGOLAND Hotel are underway. Slated to open Summer 2013 on the site of the current LEGOLAND California Resort in Carlsbad, the LEGOLAND Hotel will be the first of its kind in North America.

Children invited from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Carlsbad wore pajamas to the press conference to get in the “hotel mood” and squealed with delight as the bricks came pouring down on to the bed.

Like LEGOLAND California and the SEA LIFE Carlsbad Aquarium, the hotel will be designed for families with young children and will feature rooms and suites themed after the most popular LEGOLAND areas. The 250-room LEGO-themed hotel will feature brightly colored LEGO décor, a pool, and restaurant.

Courtney

SD Can’t Get Enough of Cygnet Theatre’s Little Shop of Horrors

Audrey II is the man-hungry plant in Little Shop of Horrors, on stage now at Cygnet Theatre. Photo by Daren Scott

Cygnet Theatre announced today it is extending the run of Little Shop of Horrors through October 2nd.  The musical, based on a 1960 low budget, B-horror film by the same name, has garnered rave reviews and packed houses since its July 28th debut at the Old Town Theatre.

If you haven’t experienced a performance at Cygnet, Little Shop of Horrors is the perfect introduction to this San Diego gem.  My husband surprised me with tickets to Cygnet’s previous production (Our Town, my all-time favorite play). I was amazed by the incredible home-grown talent on display.  From set-design to the performances themselves, the caliber of a Cygnet production is spectacular and makes for a more enriching night than one spent at home on the couch.  I highly recommend it!

Tickets can be purchased by visiting Cygnet’s website at www.cygnettheatre.com or by calling the box office at 619-337-1525.

Courtney

Happy Birthday to You, You Live in a Zoo

Yun Zi celebrates his 2nd birthday

The San Diego Zoo celebrated the 2nd birthday of its youngest panda, Yun Zi, today. The toddler was presented with a 3-tier birthday cake made of ice and bamboo, decorated with bows made out of bamboo leaves, colored pieces of ice, and topped with the number “2.” The base of the cake was drizzled with honey and filled with the giant pandas favorite fruits and vegetables: yams, carrots, and apples.

The San Diego Zoo is one of four zoos in the United States with giant pandas. The Zoo began its long-term giant panda conservation partnership with the People’s Republic of China in 1996. Since then, the Zoo has welcomed the birth of five healthy pandas, the most of any zoo in the nation.

Happy Birthday to you Yun Zi!

You don’t have to be in San Diego to see these beautiful animals up-close.  You can watch all of the San Diego Zoo’s giant pandas– Yun Zi, Bai Yun, and Gao Gao– on the Giant Panda cam.

Courtney

10 Great Ways to Beat the Heat in San Diego

With mild coastal temperatures in the 70s complemented by refreshing ocean and bay breezes, San Diego is the perfect place to beat the heat during this sweltering summer. Here is a list of 10 Great Ways to Beat to the Heat in San Diego.

Sunset on Coronado, rated the #2 beach in the country by Dr. Beach

1. Swim, snorkel, surf, kayak, paddleboard and build sandcastles along San Diego’s 70 miles of picturesque coastline. With refreshing Pacific waters, San Diego’s beaches offer a variety of unique settings, from the white sandy shores of Coronado Beach (rated the 2nd best beach in the country by Dr. Beach) to the Mediterranean-like coves of luxurious La Jolla.

SeaWorld San Diego's 25-degree Penguin Encounter is home is five species of Antarctic penguins

2. Chill out at the Penguin Encounter at SeaWorld San Diego and spend time with some of the park’s coolest inhabitants. Guests can watch the playful antics of nearly 300 penguins including regal emperor penguins and smaller Adelie, gentoo and macaroni penguins.

3. Sample chilly, creamy treats from San Diego’s top sweet shops. Guests of all ages can indulge with an exotic Pineapple Chili or Lavender Lemonade popsicle from Viva Pops in Normal Heights or blend their own custom creation at MooTime Creamery in Coronado.

4. Enjoy an entertaining outdoor Summer Pops concert by the world-class San Diego Symphony along San Diego Bay. During the summer, light jackets and blankets are often recommended after the sun sets above San Diego’s most beautiful outdoor music venue.

Splash Zoo at LEGOLAND California

5. Build a raft and float down a lazy river at the LEGOLAND Water Park in LEGOLAND California Resort. Visitors can enjoy a variety of splash-filled water activities including a wet-and-wild climbing structure, six-person raft slide, tube slides, body slides and much more.

6. Take a libation break with a frosty pint of some of San Diego’s award-winning craft beers. Rated the “#1 Beer City in the U.S.” by Men’s Journal magazine, San Diego’s 35 local breweries are sure to quench the thirst of the most parched beer lovers.

Tatqiq (left) and Kalluk (right) at Polar Bear Plunge. Photo by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo.

7. Embark on an expedition to the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge at the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and encounter the rulers of the frozen tundra: the mighty polar bears. Along the way, guests can also come across other northern neighbors like reindeer and Arctic diving ducks.

8. Let the wind blow through your hair as you take a thrilling ride on San Diego Bay with San Diego Speedboat Adventures. Guests sit in the captain’s seat and charter their own two-person mini speedboat around San Diego’s busy harbor, enjoying one-of-a-kind views of U.S. Navy ships, the sweeping San Diego-Coronado Bridge,  downtown skyline, USS Midway Museum and more.

The gentle waters of Mission Bay are ideal for SUP (standup paddleboarding)

9. Take a relaxing, carefree bicycle ride along the 27 miles of pathways on the shores of Mission Bay. After bike riding, guests can enjoy waterskiing, jet-skiing, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, or SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) in this 4,600-acre water playground.

10. Feast on local fresh seafood and produce at one of San Diego’s many waterfront restaurants. Peohe’s on Coronado offers foodies award-winning meals along with spectacular downtown views, while George’s at the Cove in La Jolla offers a chic, modern dining experience with gorgeous views of La Jolla Cove and the Pacific.

Click the link below and enter the Thank a Million sweepstakes from Smart Destinations

Go San Diego Card (from Smart Destinations) is a  multi-attraction ticket that gives you access to many of these “cool” San Diego attactions and activities. Throughout the entire month of August, Smart Destinations is running a sweepstakes as part of their “Thanks A Million” promotion to celebrate the passing of their millionth customer. 

Click here and get entered to win one of the great prizes: a 3-day Go City Card for any destination (including San Diego) or an Explorer Pass for any 3 attractions in New York City or Las Vegas; plus the Grand Prize of a 4-day/3-night vacation for two to any Smart Destination locale, along with two 3-day passes for that destination!

Courtney

Boundless Energy on Display at Birch Aquarium

Propel this mechanical fish with solar energy at Birch Aquarium

Boundless Energy, Birch Aquarium at Scripps’ new exhibit, opens Sat. July 9.

The interactive exhibit explores the science behind renewable energy with fun outdoor installations powered by the sun, wind, and waves.  The hands-on activities create a dynamic outdoor play area that offers hours of fun for the child in all of us.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps is open from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm daily. Visit aquarium.ucsd.edu for more information.

Courtney

5 to Try in Mission Valley/ Old Town this Summer

Discover San Diego’s Neighborhoods with our Summer Sweepstakes. Join us every week as we showcase the best in what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in some of San Diego’s unique neighborhoods. Be sure to check back for exciting insider tips, giveaways, and more! This week’s spotlight is on centrally-located Mission Valley and historic Old Town.

The cast of "Our Town." Photo by Daren Scott

1. “Our Town” at Cygnet Theatre – “Our Town,” the iconic Thornton Wilder play about life, love and death, is running now to July 10th. Cygnet Theatre’s color-blind and age-blind rendition of this Pulitzer Prize-winning tome will not disappoint.

Mission San Diego de Alcala

2. Festival of the Bells – Festival of the Bells celebrates the anniversary of the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the Mother of California’s 21 Missions, from July 15-17. Events and activities for the whole family include the blessing of the bells, Mariachi performances, and a pancake breakfast.

Celebrate the culture of early Southern California at Stagecoch Days

3. Stagecoach Days – Giddy on down to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park for Stagecoach Days this summer. Taking place every Saturday in July and August, Stagecoach days celebrates life in San Diego in the 1860s through demonstrations and living history activities.

4. San Diego Beer-ConThe first-ever San Diego Beer-Con, a conference by and for craft beer lovers, is taking place August 27 at the Handlery Hotel. Attendees will mingle with beer pros including Greg Koch (Stone Brewing Co.) and Anat Baron (filmmaker, “Beer Wars”), and will get exclusive insider access to the world of craft beer.

Handmade wares from the Latin American Festival

5. Latin American Festival – From August 5-7, the annual Latin American Festival at Bazaar del Mundo presents one of the nation’s most extensive collections of authentic Mexican folk art, traditional clothing and textiles, colorful collectibles and dazzling jewelry, plus entertainment and Mexican cuisine.

Courtney

Dining Spotlight: Mission Valley/Old Town

Discover San Diego’s Neighborhoods with our Summer Sweepstakes. Join us every week as we showcase the best in what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in some of San Diego’s unique neighborhoods. Be sure to check back for exciting insider tips, giveaways, and more! This week’s spotlight is on centrally-located Mission Valley and historic Old Town.

Mission Valley and Old Town are adjacent to each other, but they have two distinct dining communities. Mission Valley is a prime location for family-friendly fare and well-known restaurant chains. When it comes to authentic Mexican food in San Diego, there’s no better place than Old Town. Here are a few of our favorite restaurants in Mission Valley/Old Town:

Sammy's Caprese Pizza

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza

An upscale casual family-friendly restaurant featuring gourmet pizzas, savory pastas, and tasty tapas.  Heralded as the “Best Gourmet Pizza” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Sammy’s is a local favorite.

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant

Serving handcrafted beer and bold made-from-scratch American cuisine, Gordon Biersch in Mission Valley offers something for the whole family.  Love a cold brewsky?  Gordon Biersch holds tasting events around their seasonal brews.

Outdoor dining at Casa de Reyes

Casa de Reyes

Just steps away from the Fiesta de Reyes stage, be entertained by energetic mariachis or traditional folklorico dancing while you dine at Casa de Reyes.  Watch out for the 58 oz. El Jeffe margarita and the Hot Licks Suicide Verde Pork Burrito, a dish so (spicy) hot that you have to sign a waiver to eat. Both items will knock you off your feet.

Café Coyote

A family restaurant with a festive atmosphere. Strolling Mariachis entertain while tortilla-makers prepare fresh tortillas the traditional way, a mano (by hand). Café Coyote also has an in-house Tequila Ambassador to guide guests through their selection of more than 100 tequilas.

Rockin' Baja's famous seafood bucket

Rockin’ Baja Coastal Cantina

A Puerto Nuevo-style restaurant known for big buckets of king crab, shrimp, and lobster available in eight different combinations, and all prepared Baja style. Rockin’ Baja features not one, but two Happy Hour menus: Mon. to Fri. from 3:00 to 6:00 pm in the bar, and Late Night from 9:00 pm to close, seven days a week.

We want you to enjoy Rockin’ Baja Coastal Cantina. Comment below by Monday, June 27, 2011 at 10:00 am and get entered to win a $50 gift certificate to Rockin’ Baja. Tell us, where do you love to dine in Mission Valley/ Old Town?

Courtney

Neighborhood Spotlight: Mission Valley/ Old Town

Discover San Diego’s Neighborhoods with our Summer Sweepstakes. Join us every week as we showcase the best in what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in some of San Diego’s unique neighborhoods. Be sure to check back for exciting insider tips, giveaways, and more! This week’s spotlight is on Mission Valley/ Old Town.

Located in the San Diego River Valley, Old Town has historic significance as the birthplace of San Diego (and some argue of California), and Mission Valley is a centrally-located business and entertainment corridor with a slew of restaurants and outdoor shopping centers. Here’s a list of the top 10 things to do and see in Mission Valley/ Old Town.

Serra Museum located in Presidio Park

  1. Presidio ParkA 50-acre park offer more than two miles of hiking trails in the middle of urban San Diego and views from Mission Valley to the Pacific Ocean.
  2. Serra Museum Located in Presidio Park, the Serra Museum interprets San Diego history during Native American, Spanish and Mexican periods.
  3. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park – Features such historic sites as the main plaza, California’s first public school house, and an 1850 Catholic Cemetery.
  4. Whaley House Museum The number one most haunted house in the U.S., according to the Travel Channel’s “Most Haunted.”

    Heritage Park Village

  5. Heritage Park Village – Features seven restored Victorian homes built between 1887 and 1896.
  6. Old Town boasts two dining, shopping, and entertainment complexes specializing in authentic Mexican cuisine, one-of-a-kind treasures, and live performances: Fiesta de Reyes and Bazaar del Mundo.
  7. Old Town Trolley TourExplore the best of San Diego aboard an Old Town Trolley.  Experience more than 100 points of interest on this hop-on, hop-off tour equally as enjoyable for locals and tourists alike.
  8. Sheriff’s Museum – Captures more than 150 years of San Diego Sheriff’s Department history, providing visitors with a look into early communication, crime scene investigations, search and rescue, and the K-9 unit.

    Fashion Valley

  9. Fashion Valley – An upscale outdoor shopping center with high-end department stores (Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom), specialty retailers (Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton), and a variety of eateries (PF Chang’s, The Cheesecake Factory).
  10. Play a round of golf at one of Mission Valley’s courses, including: Riverwalk Golf Club (host to the PGA Tour in the 50’s and 60’s), Mission Trails Golf Course (a scenic course adjacent to Cowles Mt. and Lake Murray), and Presidio Hills Golf Course (one of the oldest par 3 courses in the nation).

We want you to explore San Diego’s greatest sights aboard the Old Town Trolley. Comment below by Wed. June 22nd at 10:00 am and get entered to win four Old Town Trolley Tour passes. Tell us, where are your favorite places to visit near Mission Valley/ Old Town?