Kathleen

Comic-Con-worthy Comic Book Stores

comic con

With the eagerly awaited arrival of Comic-Con International this week, San Diego is gleefully celebrating all things comic. And whether or not you were lucky enough to have scored Comic-Con tickets, you can certainly partake in San Diego’s love affair with the genre.

comic con

No need to get angry! There are plenty of places outside of Comic-Con to stock up on comics.

Just wandering the street of downtown during Comic-Con is entertaining. The general fanfare of the event spills out from the Convention Center with revelers and vendors costumed and ready to party. But no matter what time of year you visit San Diego, you’ll find the spirit of Comic-Con thriving at San Diego’s many comic book stores. Here are a few to seek out:

Villainous Lair

Villainous Lair is one of two San Diego comic book stores named among the world’s best by Comic-Con in 2014.  It is a one-stop shop for comics, RPGs, board games and collectibles.  They also host Yu-Gi-Oh and other gaming tournaments throughout the year.

3320 Adams Ave.
San Diego, 92116

comics

Southern California Comics has such a big selection you might be overwhelmed, too.

Southern California Comics

Southern California Comics was the other local store named by Comic-Con as one of the world’s best this year. Located in a large warehouse, they offer a great selection of comics plus an equal amount of space devoted to graphic novels. But what makes this store special is that they buy directly from collectors so they have a lot of exotic and rare comic books.  They also have hundreds of boxes of $1 comic books, a revolving selection of comic book sets, original art and a special Kids Corner for young enthusiasts.

8280 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. #124
San Diego, 92111

Rising Sun Creations (Ani-Manga)

Rising Sun Creations carries a good selection of both comic books and manga materials including model kits and merchandise. Located directly across from the Mission Valley Mall, look for the Ani-Manga sign.

1640 Camino Del Rio North, Suite 1478
San Diego, 92108

Comickaze Comics Books and More

Stocking a good selection of comics, graphic novels, manga and collectibles, Comickaze is a local favorite. The store is very engaged with the larger comic community, including hosting events, fan forums and involvement in a retailer network. The staff is very friendly and will happily special order any comic or book you’re after.

5517 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, Suite AB
San Diego, 92117

comic book store

Fans gather for an event at Mysterious Galaxy.

Mysterious Galaxy

This bookstore’s tagline is “books of martians, murder, magic and mayhem,” and as it suggests, they offer a great selection of science fiction, mystery, fantasy and horror books. The owners are also very involved in the community, and the store hosts regular author signings and other events.

7051 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, 92111

Comics N Stuff

Comics N Stuff has seven locations in San Diego, but the one in San Diego’s east county is the largest.  The store has a huge selection of comic books, both newly released, back issues and harder to find comics. They also have a large selection of collectibles, toys, apparel, trading cards, DVDs, etc.  and an adult section.  The great staff is very knowledgeable and helpful.

1020 El Cajon Blvd.
El Cajon, 92020

What is your favorite comic book store in San Diego? Tell us in the comments below!

Kathleen

Experience Authentic Asian Cuisine in San Diego

Shabu Shabu House in San Diego

Locals and tourists will enjoy Authentic Asian Cuisine

Although not officially named an Asian Restaurant Row, Convoy Street between the 1-52 freeway and Mesa College Drive surely fits the bill for authentic Asian cuisine. Here you’ll find fabulous Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean and Chinese culture and cuisine in an amalgamation of flavors, sights and sounds.

Shabu Shabu House in San Diego offers authentic Asian cuisine

Savor authentic Asian food at Shabu Shabu – where you cook the food – just the way you like it!

Convoy Street is lined with wonderful restaurants, shops and bakeries; some of my favorite spots to nosh include Shabu Shabu House, where you cook your own meats and vegetables and dip them into delicious dipping sauces, and Tofu House, where kimchi and Korean hot pots filled with tofu, meats and seafood are the specialty.  For dim sum try Emerald Restaurant, which specializes in Seafood dim sum and for great Vietnamese, try Pho T Cali just West of Convoy Street on Clairmont Mesa Blvd.  If you’re craving Ramen, Tajima Ramen House and Yakitori Yakyudori & Ramen, both on Convoy are delicious.

Enjoy authentic Asian cuisine at Yakitori Yakyudori & Ramen on Asian Restaurant Row in San Diego

Yakitori Yakyudori & Ramen on Convoy Street is a local favorite!

If you like to mix and mingle with the locals, try one of several Asian markets in the area.  The brand new Zion Market features a tasty Korean indoor food court as well as a French-Asian fusion bakery complete with cronuts on the weekends.

A little of the beaten path for visitors to San Diego but well worth the effort, Convoy Street is sure to satisfy any craving for Far East cuisine.

What is your favorite Convoy eatery?  Let us know below or tweet us @VisitSanDiego!

Kathleen

Save Big this Holiday Season at San Diego's Premium Outlets

Las Americas Premium Outlets

Who doesn”t like holiday outlet shopping? San Diego has two awesome premium outlets, one in North County and the other in the South Bay, where you can find designer, name brand gifts at incredible prices.

Both outlet centers offer an upscale outdoor setting with full food courts including Starbucks, fast food and seated dining. Plus, during the month of December, both centers are offering a “Deal of the Day,” coupon books with 25-30 savings offers beyond the outlet discounts and plenty of holiday fun for the whole family.

Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Carlsbad Premium Outlets offers amazing deals in San Diego”s North County

The Carlsbad Premium Outlets features 90 luxury factory outlet stores like Barneys New York, Banana Republic, Juicy Couture, Brooks Brothers, Theory, Cole Haan, Coach, Zales, Sunglass Hut and Godiva Chocolates to name a few.

In addition to all the amazing shopping indoors, Carlsbad Premium Outlets offers plenty of festive fun outdoors during the month of December. Santa is available for gift lists and photos. Carolers fill the center with sounds of the casino online holidays on select weekends. You can even get your presents wrapped while supporting the local Carlsbad High School Orchestra.

> Find out more about Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Las Americas Premium Outlets

Las Americas Premium Outlets

Discover amazing deals from brand names at the Premium Outlets in South Bay and Carlsbad

In the South Bay, the Las Americas Premium Outlets features 125 factory outlet stores including American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Taylor, Chico”s, Forever 21, Nike, J Crew, Toys R Us, Tommy Bahama, Wilsons Leather, Game Stop, Bath & Body Works and the Disney Store Outlet.

And during the month of December, Las Americas is full of holiday cheer with a strolling Santa on Saturdays (bring the camera!) and carolers on Sundays.

> Find out more about Las Amercias Premium Outlets

The best part about shopping at the Premium Outlets is that with the money you save on gifts you can afford to splurge on something for yourself. Happy holidays from San Diego.

Where”s your favorite place for holiday shopping in San Diego? Tell us in the comments below.

Kathleen

Land, Ocean and Culture: Exploring San Diego Parks

Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflower Season

San Diego is a paradise of parks. The Trust for Public Land named San Diego one of the 10 best U.S. cities based on access to and size of our parks, which comprises close to a quarter of the city’s total area. But ratings aside, the best facet of San Diego’s many parks is the diversity. From water to grass, from culture to desert, San Diego has it all.

Balboa Park

balboa park san diego

Balboa Park is the nation’s largest cultural park.

Known as the Smithsonian of the West, Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the United States and a must-stop on any San Diego vacation. Housing 14 museums including the San Diego Natural History Museum, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Air & Space Museum as well as the Old Globe theater, Balboa Park is the cultural heart of San Diego. The park is also home to the San Diego Zoo, Spanish Village Art Center and wonderful gardens including the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Botanical Building and Lily Pond. The park – which celebrates its centennial in 2015 – features a host of seasonal events and celebrations where you can mix and mingle with the locals.

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument

The only National Park in San Diego, the Cabrillo National Monument celebrates the arrival of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who landed at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542 and was the first European explorer to set foot on the west coast of the United States. At the highest point of the park stands the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, a San Diego icon since 1854, where visitors can enjoy spectacular views of San Diego Bay and skyline. The park features a visitor center and just below the park at the shoreline, some of the best tide pools in San Diego.

Mission Bay Aquatic Park

Mission Bay Aquatic Park

Mission Bay Aquatic Park is the largest park of its kind in the world.

The largest park of its kind in the world, the Mission Bay Aquatic Park is a 4,600 acre aquatic playground. Around the bay, 27 miles of shoreline is lined with grass playgrounds, picnic areas and fire pits, bike paths, boat launches and resorts. Bikes, boat and equipment rentals are readily available including sailing, waterskiing, wave runners and paddle boards. Mission Bay is one of the main hubs for San Diego sport fishing offering day and overnight trips as well as whale watching excursions. It is also home to SeaWorld San Diego and a host of great events including the annual Crew Classic.

Anza Borrego

Anza Borrego State Park gets colorful every spring thanks to wildflowers.

Anza Borrego State Park gets colorful every spring thanks to wildflowers.

Five hundred miles of dirt roads and 12 wilderness areas compose Anza Borrego, the largest state park in California. The park offers miles of hiking trails, including a leg of the Pacific Crest Trail, and camping can also be enjoyed with a quick stop by the visitor center. Yearly temperatures can range from near freezing to as high as 108 degrees Fahrenheit, and you might spy wildlife including roadrunners, kit foxes, mule deer, bighorn sheep, iguanas, rattlesnakes, hawks and golden eagles. Each spring, the park transforms in a blaze of color when the desert wildflowers bloom. There are also a number of outstanding Native American cultural preserves including archaeological sites, pictographs and rock formations.

Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park - Bikes

Discover natural San Diego beauty on the trails of Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park comprises nearly 5,800 acres and offers over 40 miles of trails, including the popular Cowles Mountain, whose summit is the highest in the city of San Diego. Beyond hiking, activities in the park include camping, mountain biking, boating and horseback riding. Mostly covered in chaparral, oak woodlands and sage scrub, it’s hard to imagine that you can get this deep into nature just an hour from downtown. The park features a great visitor and interpretive center offering nature walks and low cost children’s education classes on local wildlife including butterflies, hawks, owls, deer and coyotes.

Which of these San Diego parks will you visit next? Let us know in the comments below.

Kathleen

San Diego Burgers Teens (and Adults) Will Love

hodads san diego burgers

If there’s one thing San Diego knows how to do, it’s make a great burger – just ask the readers of Travel + Leisure. If your burger tastes run toward the exotic, then Trioli’s Crazee Burger is for you where burger ingredients include venison, buffalo and kangaroo.  But for my family (which includes a teenage boy), the classics done really well are what we crave. Here’s a short list of some of our favorites.

Five Guys

five guys burgers san diego

Five Guys has several locations around San Diego.

If you don’t have a Five Guys Burgers & Fries near you or haven’t tried one yet, then make this a stop on your San Diego vacation. There are four San Diego locations including HillcrestPoint LomaCoronado and Barrio Logan. Made to order just the way you like it and very reasonably priced, Five Guys serves up a great burger. Plus, they don’t charge extra for any of the dozen toppings offered.

Burger Lounge

burger lounge san diego

Turkey burgers are a popular option at Burger Lounge (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of  Serious Eats. Read the complete Burger Lounge review at Serious Eats.)

With several locations in LA and seven (soon to be eight) in San Diego, Burger Lounge is a Southern California favorite that started in San Diego. Touted as 100% fresh, single source American grass-fed beef and cooked on a high temperature flat top grill, this is just a terrific bite. Burgers are served with fresh toppings and their own fresh baked buns.

Smashburger

smashburger-san-diego burgers

Smashburger wins the teen vote (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of Serious Eats. Check out Erin’s complete review of Smashburger.)

Hands down my teenage son’s favorite burger, Smashburger is another chain exploding across the U.S. and San Diego is lucky enough to have 11 locations including three near downtown, two in Mid-City, three along the North County coast and two in East County. What makes Smashburger so fantastic is the fresh, not frozen, Angus beef, which is very tasty and juicy. The burgers are served with fresh produce, lots of toppings and your pick of an artisan bun. They also have awesome milkshakes made with Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

Hodad’s

hodads san diego burgers

Hodad’s loads up their burgers (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of Serious Eats. Read the full review of Hodad’s on Serious Eats.)

Only found in San Diego, Hodad’s has been recognized by CNN as one of the top 5 burger joints in the country, and for good reason. With sizes from a mini to a double double, these extra-large, extra tasty burgers come conveniently served with large cut homemade fries in a combo.  There are three locations in San Diego, boasting a classic surf grunge atmosphere, including the original in Ocean Beach and two in downtown on Broadway Ave. and in Petco Park.

The Waterfront

waterfront san diego restaurant tavern burger

The Waterfront serves up a classic burger (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of Serious Eats. See the Serious Eats full review of the Waterfront’s burger. )

Located in Little Italy, the Waterfront is San Diego oldest tavern.  Opened in 1933, the Waterfront remains true to its origin: a neighborhood hangout serving cold drinks and delicious noshables.  The tavern is 21 and over only and has a revolving calendar of bands and events.  But the real draw is the burgers.  Big, tasty and loaded with grilled onions – yum.

Do you have a favorite teenager-approved San Diego burger? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Special thanks to Erin Jackson, burger blogger for Serious Eats, for the photos. Check out her reviews for more San Diego burgers at SeriousEats.com

Kathleen

Teen Dream Day – Segway Tour in San Diego

Segway Tour with Another Side Tours

Just like a golf cart, teens love “driving” around on a Segway Tour

I’m always looking for new fun ways to engage my teenage son and this past weekend I hit the jackpot. We took a Segway tour through downtown San Diego and the embarcadero that was in a word, awesome. One of the things that made the day so special was seeing my teenager display the fun-filled enthusiasm that used to be so common but these days is hard tap.

There are a couple of good Segway companies in San Diego including San Diego Segway Tours but we chose Another Side of San Diego Tours for our adventure. The staff there is wonderful and they are conveniently located adjacent to Horton Plaza, where you can park for three hours if you spend $10 in the mall.

Our Segway Tour Through Downtown San Diego

Our tour guide was a hospitality college student named Evgeni and he had just the right mix of youth and professionalism to make for a great time for both my son and I. Since we had never been on a Segway before, we started the day watching a 15 minute movie on safety and then about a 10 minute lesson on how to mount the Segway, go forwards, backwards, make turns, and go up and down ramps. While a little shaky at first, we honestly felt like old pros within about two blocks of riding.

The tour started at Horton Plaza and took us by Petco Park, the Convention Center, the famous Gaslamp Sign, and then down to the waterfront embarcadero. We passed several beautiful marinas, the famous “kiss” statue and the USS Midway Museum. Along the way Evgeni had fun facts and trivia about historic buildings, dining recommends and celebrity gossip that added to the overall stunning scenery and views.

Throughout the tour my son was zipping and zagging on the Segway, showing pure delight at driving his own motorized vehicle through the streets of San Diego. At one point he exclaimed, “Wow, I’d like race one of these things.”

Overall, the tour lasted two hours which was enough for me but my son could have continued on for the rest of the day. When I asked him what was his favorite part of the tour he answered (with an inflection only available to teenagers), “Mom, that’s like asking what’s the best part of eating a hamburger. It’s the hamburger.”

Needless to say, I’d highly recommend booking a Segway tour with Another Side of San Diego Tours the next time you’re traveling to San Diego with a teenager. You won’t be disappointed.

> Find more San Diego Tour and Sightseeing Options

Have a San Diego activity your teen loves? Help out other parents by letting them know in the comments below.

Kathleen

Aquatica San Diego – New SeaWorld Waterpark in South Bay

Big Surf Shores - Aquatica San Diego
Waterslides - Aquatica San Diego

Which waterslide at Aquatica San Diego will you ride?

This past weekend my husband and I with our 12 year old son and a pal in tow, visited the new Aquatica San Diego waterpark in South Bay. I can sum up the day with just one word – awesome! The park just opened in June and SeaWorld has turned the formerly Knotts Soak City site into a waterpark paradise.

To start with, the water slides are everything they should be. Gentle slopes for little ones, medium slides with speed for teens, tweens and old ladies like me, and the flat out knurly HooRoo Run for adrenaline junkies. Our favorite was the WooHoo Falls where you have a nice long ride, either open air or in an enclosed tube, sitting on an intertube.

Apart from slides the park is everything you’d expect from SeaWorld. The landscaping is lush; there are scattered animal encounters, including up close interaction with flamingos; the grounds are clean; and the food is good. In addition to the typical amusement park fare, they offer some healthier choices like wraps and salads. For those over 21, Aquatica San Diego also serve strawberry and lemon lime margaritas and beer on tap.

We went early on Sunday expecting large crowds but the morning was actually light and we were able to find seating in the shade next to the wave pool.

My son’s favorite part of the day was that his friend and he were able to go off on their own to experience the park. The contained nature of the grounds and the easy to navigate layout made it easy for even helicopter parents like us to let our boys run free. All and all, a great way to spend the day.

> Cool off at one of San Diego’s Waterparks

Aquatica San Diego Information

Location: 2052 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista, CA 91911
Park Hours:
– Weekdays: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
– Weekends: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Admission: Starting at $25 with special online offer
> Get your Aquatica San Diego tickets today