Robert Arends

About Robert Arends

I’m a native San Diegan and man of many hats: PR, roadside America traveler/backyard tourist (especially our mountains and Anza-Borrego Desert), photographer (motto: capture the moment!), music fan, sci-fi buff, tiki collector and constant gardener. What would you do on your ideal San Diego day? I would spend the day snorkeling in La Jolla Cove. It’s like swimming in a huge aquarium – Garibaldi fish, lobsters, sea lions, oh my! If you were invisible, where would you go? I’d go surfing in Coronado. I’ve never surfed, but have always wanted to. If I was invisible no one would see me fall (again and again! – LOL). What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity? Walking the Prado in Balboa Park; feels like I’m in Spain. The architecture is amazing!  I also enjoy hiking Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see the annual wildflowers and exploring the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument. Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine? Linguine and red wine (wine list, please!), with tableside views of San Diego Bay. Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are… Magic Man: Paris, Bear Hands: Giants, Capital Cities: I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo, Man Man: Head On, London Grammar: Nightcall (Freemasons Remix). Follow Robert on Twitter @groovestar
Robert Arends

Top 5 San Diego Spots to Explore the Birthplace of California

The new San Salvador, the Mayflower of the West! Photo credit: Jerry Soto

The new San Salvador, the Mayflower of the West! Photo credit: Jerry Soto

Did you know, San Diego was discovered by Europeans 473 years ago? Yep, only 50 years after Columbus and more than 200 years before the Spanish missions were started.

Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailed his galleon ship, the San Salvador into San Diego Bay on Sept. 28, 1542 – going down in history as San Diego’s “first tourist.” He didn’t stay long, though, as there was no San Diego Zoo or LEGOLAND for the crew to explore. 😉

Today, tourists by the millions are drawn to our attractive sun-kissed shores in search of sun and fun, as well as the fascinating living history of San Diego.

Following are Top 5 places to step back in time and trace Cabrillo’s momentous discovery, and the founding of San Diego:

1. Maritime Museum of San Diego

San Salvador docked at the Maritime Museum. Photo credit: Jerry Soto

San Salvador docked at the Maritime Museum. Photo credit: Jerry Soto

Last month the Maritime Museum of San Diego launched a full-size, functioning replica of the San Salvador – the Mayflower of the West – much to the delight of landlubbers like me! The $6.2 million vessel took 5 years to construct (check out this cool time-lapse video of the ship’s construction) and can be seen docked at the museum’s pier on Harbor Drive. Plan is to have it open to the public (as in actually go onboard) later this year, hopefully by the holidays {fingers crossed}.

2. Cabrillo National Monument

Impressive statue of Cabrillo at Cabrillo National Monument

Impressive statue of Cabrillo at Cabrillo National Monument

Wonder what Cabrillo looked like or what he saw as he sailed into San Diego’s impressive natural harbor? Head to Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego’s only national park. There’s a 14-foot high statue of Cabrillo (originally envisioned as a 150-foot tall sculpture!) and incredible 360-degree, birds-eye views of the city. Also fun to explore are the Old Point Loma Lighthouse (one of eight original lighthouses on the West Coast), tide pools and bunkers from WWII.

3. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Folklorico dancers at Old Town State Historic Park

Folklorico dancers at Old Town State Historic Park

The Junipero Serra Museum on a hill overlooking Old Town, marks the spot where Spanish friars and soldiers established a presidio and the first Mission San Diego in 1769 (the original structures are no longer visible; the ruins are buried). Downhill, Old Town State Historic Park with its adobe buildings, old timey plaza and other sites, shows what life was like at San Diego’s first “downtown” in the 1800s. This is where the Wild West meets mariachis and our Hispanic heritage.

4. Mission San Diego de Alcala

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala

California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcala in Mission Valley

In the aptly named Mission Valley near Old Town, is the second Mission San Diego de Alcala – which was moved here in 1774 to be closer to the San Diego River (makes sense). You can stroll through the mission and its beautiful gardens, chapel, church, a museum with original artifacts and an excavation site out back, believed to be the monastery.

5. Mission Trails Regional Park

Old Mission Dam in Mission Trails Regional Park. Photo credit: Ce Helton

Old Mission Dam in Mission Trails Regional Park. Photo credit: Ce Helton

Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S., is just up the road from Mission San Diego. Highlights include the original Old Mission Dam, a state-of-the-art Visitor and Interpretive Center featuring exhibits dedicated to the Kumeyaay Indians who lived here 1,000 years ago and 60 miles of hiking trails including an awesome trek to the top of Cowles Mountain, the city of San Diego’s highest peak (1,593 feet).

See you in San Diego, and make your own history! 🙂

Robert Arends

Fashion Week San Diego Guide to Lovely La Jolla

NApostol Couture at La Valencia Hotel-Photo Credit Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

NApostol Couture at La Valencia Hotel-Photo Credit Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

Cameras ready prepare to flash! The fashionable glitterati are about to descend upon the posh area of La Jolla this weekend for Fashion Week San Diego, happening October 1-4.

If you’re one of the lucky fashionistas that got tickets early to this fab high-profile event, congrats! You’re in for a visual treat, with fashion shows set amidst one of the most beautiful, postcard-perfect backdrops in Southern California.

For those unable to get tix, or finagle a front row seat by the catwalk, fret not. La Jolla is San Diego’s most fashionable address any day of the year, and you’re likely to mix and mingle with models and fashion designers throughout La Jolla Village during the duration of Fashion Week. Where, you ask?

Following are Top 5 spots around La Jolla to rub shoulders with San Diego’s best and brightest fashion stars and fans:

1. La Valencia Hotel

Quynntessential Couture at La Valencia Hotel. Photo Credit: Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

Quynntessential Couture at La Valencia Hotel. Photo Credit: Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

La Valencia Hotel, the glamorous “Pink Lady of La Jolla,” is a perfect place to strike a pose and gander around the property, as it’s the host hotel for two fashion shows on October 1 and 4. It’s also right on Prospect Street, the “Rodeo Drive of San Diego” where fashion shoppers flock.

2. Wall Street

Wall Street, bisected by trendy Girard Ave. with its chic boutique shops, will be the site of a fabulous outdoor, open-sky runway (only in San Diego, where temps are still summer-like in the high 70s!) featuring two fashion shows by 24 designers on October 2 and 3.

Chic Murals of La Jolla can be found throughout La Jolla, including this one by artist Julian Opie.

The chic Murals of La Jolla can be found throughout La Jolla, including this one by artist Julian Opie.

Quick tip: For an artsy side trip on Wall St., check out the La Jolla Athenaeum Music & Arts Library with its eclectic art exhibitions, classical/jazz concerts, studio art classes and more. On display now is a Retrospective of Phel Steinmetz, regarded as a pioneer of conceptual art in California. Another must-see: The Athenaeum’s Murals of La Jolla, featuring internationally renowned artists.

3. La Plaza La Jolla

La Plaza La Jolla, a new hot spot for shopping in the Village. Photo Credit: Paul Body

La Plaza La Jolla, a new hot spot for shopping in the Village. Photo Credit: Paul Body

The new La Plaza La Jolla captures La Jolla’s luxe lifestyle with an upscale selection of San Diego-based boutique retailers and dining options. The eye-catching Spanish/Moroccan design adds an international flair, sure to attract the “it crowd” here for Fashion Week. Plus it’s perfectly located in the middle of the fashion action, at the corner of Wall St. and Girard Ave.

4. Catania restaurant

People watching is always in style at the hip new Catania restaurant high atop La Plaza La Jolla.

People watching is always in style at the hip new Catania restaurant high atop La Plaza La Jolla.

Grab lunch or dinner at the new Catania restaurant on the top floor of La Plaza La Jolla. You’ll not only enjoy sensational, seasonal Italian coastal cuisine, but also people watching, which is always in style.

5. La Jolla Design & Art District

Fashion-forward folks are sure to enjoy the La Jolla Design & Art District along upper Girard Ave. View popular art galleries like the new Monarch Arredon Contemporary Art, Joseph Bellows Gallery of photographic art and Quint Contemporary Art, featuring works by some of the biggest names in contemporary art.

Bonus: La Jolla Art & Wine Festival

La Jolla Art & Wine Festival is another must-see fall event in La Jolla, Oct. 10-11.

La Jolla Art & Wine Festival is another must-see fall event in La Jolla, Oct. 10-11.

If you’re in San Diego after Fashion Week, be SURE to visit the prestigious La Jolla Art & Wine Festival on October 10-11 along Girard Ave. (between Prospect St. & Torrey Pines Rd.). The works of more than 150 artists from San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Baja and beyond will be on display. Plus there’s live entertainment, a gourmet marketplace, family art center and a wine and beer garden.

Cutting-edge fashion, eye-catching art, fine food and more… La Jolla is the place to see and be seen this fall! 🙂

Robert Arends

Explore the Treasured Islands of San Diego Bay!

Birds-eye view of Kona Kai Resort on Shelter Island

Birds-eye view of Kona Kai Resort on Shelter Island

Did you know…San Diego Bay is home to three unique islands, located real close to downtown San Diego? Their names are Harbor Island, Shelter Island and Coronado Island. Truth be told they’re technically peninsulas, two of which are man-made (Harbor and Shelter). But they sure feel like island getaways, worlds away from the every day.

In fact, Shelter Island was specifically created to be “San Diego’s Hawaiian Isle” – a tropical escape without having to spend hours on a plane to the South Pacific. Join me on a voyage to all three islands, highlighting the coolest sights on each:

Shelter Island

Shelter Island is a fun fav with its swaying palms, Hawaiian architecture and other Polynesian touches. Top 5 don’t miss sights are:

1. Bali Hai Restaurant

Bali Hai Restaurant, Shelter Island's "tiki temple"

Bali Hai Restaurant, Shelter Island’s “tiki temple”

San Diego’s original tiki temple, featuring tiki icons Mr. Bali Hai and The Goof on the Roof, plus strong Mai Tais, fabulous views and Polynesian dishes.

2. Kona Kai Resort

Beach at Kona Kai Resort

Enjoy your own private beach – with drink service! – at Kona Kai Resort

The newly renovated Kona Kai Resort with its own private sandy beach (yep!) and chic new Vessel Restaurant.

3. Fathom Bistro

Fathom Bistro on the Shelter Island pier, a best-kept secret serving 15 beers on tap, gourmet hotdogs and sausages.

4. Pacific Portal sculpture

Pacific Portal sculpture on Shelter Island

Pacific Portal sculpture on Shelter Island

The giant seashell-looking Pacific Portal sculpture by James Hubbell, “San Diego’s Gaudi”!

5. Yokohama Friendship Bell

The Japanese-style pagoda that houses the Yokohama Friendship Bell, a gift from San Diego’s sister city Yokohama.

Coronado Island

Coronado Island is called the “Crown City” for good reason. It’s a postcard-perfect jewel on the bay. Top 5 must-sees on the bayside:

1. Coronado Island Marriott Resort

Catching some rays in Coronado Island Marriott's double hammocks.

Catching some rays in Coronado Island Marriott’s double hammocks.

Relaxing double hammocks at Coronado Island Marriott Resort for afternoon siestas.

2. Gondola Rides

Authentic Italian gondola rides at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

3. Coronado Ferry Landing

Bike & Kayak Tours' kayak adventure from Coronado Ferry Landing

Bike & Kayak Tours’ kayak adventure from Coronado Ferry Landing

Coronado Ferry Landing, featuring a small sandy beach (great for kids!), “Secret Art of Dr. Seuss” at Stephen Clayton Gallery, affordable rides on the Coronado Ferry and San Diego’s only urban kayak tour.

4. Candelas on the Bay

Authentic Mexico-style cuisine at Candelas on the Bay. Their Sunday brunch buffet is phenomenal!

5. Shoreline Park

Shoreline Park, a secret “pocket park” on the bay that’s the perfect place to chill out or picnic away from the hustle and bustle.

Harbor Island

Harbor Island is blessed by its super convenient location across the street from San Diego International Airport. Top 3 must-sees:

1. Island Prime-C Level Lounge

Primo bay views and food at Island Prime restaurant

Prime bay views and food can be found at Island Prime on Harbor Island

For fine dining, Island Prime-C Level Lounge with its bayside setting and succulent seafood and steaks is second-to-none.

2. Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

Check out the renovated landmark Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, a fully functioning lighthouse and restaurant with the best Sunday brunch on the island.

3. Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina

Sheraton San Diego Hotel Pool and Marina

Water activities about at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island

Rest your head at Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina with its two sleek towers overlooking the bay. It’s very family friendly and even offers a Bayfront Shuttle ($1 per person) to nearby waterfront attractions like the USS Midway Museum, Maritime Museum of San Diego and Seaport Village.

Here’s to a fantastic summer of island vibes and good times on San Diego Bay! 🙂

Robert Arends

La Jolla: A Dazzling Destination for Your Wedding’s “I Do”!

Lovely La Valencia Hotel wedding.

Lovely La Valencia Hotel wedding.

Spring is here and love is in the air! San Diego’s sun and warmth beckon couples to begin planning their dream wedding – and honeymoon – along one of Southern California’s most picturesque and pristine stretches of coastline: La Jolla, the “Jewel of San Diego.”

This lovely seaside town is tailor made for romance with breathtaking scenery, sparkling beaches, close to perfect year-round weather and elegant venues that go above and beyond to make your big day a memorable one.

A few of La Jolla’s Most Notable Wedding Offerings

The romantic Lodge at Torrey Pines.

The romantic Lodge at Torrey Pines.

Situated on coastal bluffs with panoramic views of the world-renowned Torrey Pines Golf Course, The Lodge at Torrey Pines dazzles with its grand California Craftsman setting and offers three all-inclusive wedding packages that cover everything from the ceremony, reception and cake cutting to deluxe accommodations for the wedding couple.

Nestled in the heart of Torrey Pines mesa, the enchanting Spanish rancho-style Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa welcomes wedding couples with richly landscaped outdoor spaces and elegant interior event rooms. Their Romance & Rendezvous Stay Package, perfect for honeymoons, features accommodations and 50-minute couple’s massages; upgrade to the Couples Bungalow for the ultimate private romantic escape.

Beachside wedding bliss at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.

Beachside wedding bliss at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club.

The landmark La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club celebrates 80 years of “happily-ever-afters” on one of SoCal’s few private beaches. La Jolla Shores Hotel, its adjacent sister property, is equally ideal for beachfront nuptials.

In La Jolla Village, the chic La Valencia Hotel has become a tradition for wedding couples, featuring indoor and outdoor venues with phenomenal ocean views. If money is no object (translation: ULTRA-luxurious), check out La V’s Ultimate Wedding Collection’s California Experience which transforms the whole hotel into the wedding party’s private Mediterranean-style villa!

Bride at the Grande Colonial hotel.

Bride at the Grande Colonial hotel.

A perfect marriage of historic grandeur and modern luxury await wedding couples at the Grande Colonial, offering postcard-perfect settings overlooking the Pacific. Their Wedding Reception Package includes tray passed hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast and one-night stay for the newlyweds, complete with breakfast in bed the following morning.

Two other fabulously unique La Jolla wedding locations are the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego with ocean views and a modern architectural backdrop, and Birch Aquarium at Scripps, pairing the enchantment “under the sea” with stunning views of the Pacific.

> Plan Your Dream Wedding in San Diego

If you’re recently engaged, I propose you check out La Jolla for a wedding that will seriously wow you and your family and friends! 🙂

Robert Arends

San Diego’s ‘Mayflower of the West’ San Salvador Sets Sail Labor Day Weekend!

You know the old saying, “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” Well, San Diego has its own historic maritime tale: “In 1542, Cabrillo sailed the ocean blue and discovered…San Diego.” Yep, hard to believe that over 470 years ago(!)Portuguese explorer named Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who sailed for Spain, came across our little slice of paradise.

San Salvador

Cabrillo didn’t stay long, though; just enough time to anchor his ship, the San Salvador, off Point Loma, note and name our beautiful bay, and continue up the coast.

Launch of the San Salvador

San Salvador Completed - Maritime Museum of San Diego

The completed San Salvador and its amazing construction crew. Photo credit: Jerry Soto

San Diego makes history again Labor Day Weekend, September 3-5, 2016, during the Maritime Museum of San Diego‘s maiden voyage celebration of the first full-scale, historically-accurate working replica of the San Salvador, the “Mayflower of the West.” The impressive $6.2 million vessel stands 60 feet tall, weighs 230 tons and took the Maritime Museum five years to construct.

Coinciding with the museum’s annual Festival of Sail, the largest tall ship festival on the West Coast, visitors can for the first time board the San Salvador and enjoy a variety of onshore exhibits spotlighting this seaworthy recreation of Cabrillo’s 16th century galleon.

The adventure continues through October as the San Salvador embarks on a Pacific Heritage Tour of California’s coast, serving as a seafaring symbol of California’s origin story and the history of America from a West Coast perspective, and it will anchor in the following cities:

  • September 15-18: Oxnard, Channel Islands Maritime Museum
  • September 23-25: Monterey, Monterey State Historic Park
  • September 30 – October 9: Morro Bay, Central Coastal Maritime Museum Association

At each port, visitors will be able to board the ship and discover immersive dockside exhibits and events.

More Cabrillo Sites in San Diego

For history buffs, following are a few other cool Cabrillo sights (including a couple hidden in plain sight) to check out while you’re here:

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument - the Plymouth Rock <a href=

Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego’s only national park, commemorates Point Loma peninsula (Ballast Point, to be exact) as the “Plymouth Rock of the West” where Cabrillo came ashore. Cabrillo, the first European to set foot in California, claimed the bay for Spain. He noted it was “a very good port.” Couldn’t agree more, señor Cabrillo 😉

It would be more than 200 years later before the first Spanish mission was founded here.

There’s a 14-foot statue of Cabrillo with panoramic views of San Diego Bay and downtown; a phenomenal photo opp! Did you know: the Cabrillo sculpture was initially envisioned as a colossal statue that would exceed the Statue of Liberty in height!

California Tower in Balboa Park

California Tower Balboa Park

California Tower in Balboa Park

Cabrillo find #2 is located high atop the California Tower in Balboa Park, part of the San Diego Museum of Man. You’ll need binoculars to spot this one. The large weathervane on top of the cathedral-like tower is, in fact, the San Salvador. Pretty cool! For the first time in 80 years, the California Tower is now open for visitors to climb. Reservations required. Don”t forget to bring your camera!

On the museum’s façade, there’s also a clay and plaster figure of Cabrillo. If you’re facing the building, he’s just below and to the right of Junipero Serra , father of the California missions (right of the balcony).

San Diego Museum of Man façade. Can you spot Cabrillo?

San Diego Museum of Man façade. Can you spot Cabrillo?

So now you know about our discoverer, Cabrillo, and his mark on San Diego’s – and California’s – history 🙂

Robert Arends

Rock Out – Rock Climbing in Mission Valley and Beyond!

Nope, we’re not talking rock concerts, but rather rock climbing! Located in the center of San Diego, within easy reach of most major attractions and activities, Mission Valley is the gateway to some of the best rock climbing and bouldering in Southern California.

If you’re looking for some serious face climbing (ascending a vertical rock face using finger holds and edges), scaling the best new handcrafted rock climbing wall in San Diego or just hiking to amazing photo-worthy rock formations (bring your camera!), Mission Valley and environs has something for everyone.

Following are a few standouts:

Grotto Climbing & Yoga

Mission Valley's new Grotto Rock Climbing & Yoga

Mission Valley’s cool new Grotto Climbing & Yoga

The new Grotto Climbing & Yoga is perfect for all experience levels (translation: you don’t need to be a pro). This urban rock climber’s dream features a massive 7,000-square-foot climbing/bouldering wall with 13,000 handmade holds that mimics San Diego’s rocky climbing trails. This is the spot to hone your rock climbing skills before heading into our great outdoors. Afterward, relax your weary muscles and Zen out in their studio offering 11 types of yoga classes.

Check out this cool time-lapse video of the action at Grotto Climbing!

Mission Trails Regional Park’s Mission Gorge

Climber's Loop Trail along Mission Gorge in Mission Trails Regional Park

Climber’s Loop Trail along Mission Gorge in Mission Trails Regional Park

For climbers ready to ascend real rock walls, Mission Gorge, part of Mission Trails Regional Park – one of largest urban parks in the U.S. – is San Diego’s best and oldest established climbing area, encompassing over two miles of the San Diego River. The granite slopes here are steep (40 to 80 feet high) and slick, offering a mix of crack and face climbing.

Main Climbing Wall in popular Mission Gorge

Main Climbing Wall in Mission Gorge

The one-mile Climber’s Loop Trail leads to a great mix of rock climbing areas, including a popular Main Climbing Wall, The Thumb, Skyline Pinnacle, Lunch Rock, Limbo (full of granite towers) and Middle Earth (calling all J.R.R. Tolkien fans!).

Santee Boulders

A bouldering playground at Santee Boulders!

A bouldering playground at Santee Boulders!

East of Mission Valley, the Santee Boulders is San Diego’s most popular bouldering area. (Bouldering is the practice of climbing on large boulders vs. rock cliffs 😉

Potato Chip Rock

The popular Potato Chip Rock atop Mt. Woodson Trail

The popular Potato Chip Rock atop Mt. Woodson Trail

There’s also the famous Potato Chip Rock on the Mt. Woodson Trail in Poway, which attracts shutterbugs galore. Our friends at So San Diego Tours did a great write-up on the hike up to this aptly named, narrow strip of stone.

If you’re up for a rock solid adventure in San Diego, look no further than Mission Valley and a couple popular points to the east. 🙂

Robert Arends

Jolly Good Times in La Jolla this Holiday Season!

La Jolla for the holidays! Festive entrance to The Lodge at Torrey Pines

La Jolla for the holidays! Festive entrance to The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Happy Holidays from La Jolla, one of San Diego’s most magical winter getaways. Sparkling beaches, warm sun shiny days and a welcoming Village vibe await holiday visitors to this enticing seaside enclave.

Christmas Celebration

Make some merry memories at the La Jolla Christmas Parade!

Make some merry memories at the La Jolla Christmas Parade!

Festivities kick off this Sunday during the popular annual La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival. This year’s theme is “Spirit of Christmas – Peace on Earth.” Parade begins at 1:30 PM along Girard Ave. and Prospect Street. There will be marching bands, vintage cars, equestrians and floats. Arrive early for prime viewing spots.

Afterward, head to the La Jolla Recreation Center (615 Prospect Street) for a fun festival featuring local businesses like Birch Aquarium and Surf Diva, photos with Santa Claus, a live entertainment stage and Christmas tree lighting at 5:00 PM.

Did you know: One of the parade sponsors is Audrey Geisel and the Dr. Seuss Fund. Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was one of La Jolla’s most famous residents!

> Dr. Seuss on the Loose in La Jolla

Where: Girard Avenue & Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
When
: December 7, 2014
Time: 1:30 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival

Curtain Call

“Fa la la la la!” at the La Jolla Theatre Ensemble’s briskly-moving adaptation of the holiday classic Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Where: La Jolla Community Center – 6811 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92037
When
: December 13 and 15, 2014
Time: 7:30 PM
Cost: $10 suggested donation
> Find out more about Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Shop Till You Drop

La Valencia Hotel's 14 ft. Christmas Tree in La Sala Lounge

La Valencia Hotel’s 14 ft. Christmas Tree in La Sala Lounge

Shop for everyone on your holiday list – and yourself! – at the shops in La Jolla Village, particularly along Prospect St. and Girard Ave. The La Jolla Festival of Lights is sure to bring a twinkle to your eye as storefronts and hotels glow with colorful lights, Christmas trees, menorahs and other eye-catching holiday décor.

This Friday, the Allied Artists Association of San Diego (aaaSD) presents an Art Reception and Holiday Shopping Bazaar at the La Jolla Community Center; a great chance to meet and mingle with local artists and shop for one-of-kind handmade holiday gifts including crafts, glass creations and paintings.

When: December 5, 2014
Time: 5:00 to 7:00 PM
Cost:  Free
> Find out more about the aaaSD Art Reception and Holiday Shopping Bazaar

La Jolla Hotel Holiday Deals

Chef's yummy holiday cookies at La Valencia Hotel!

Chef’s yummy holiday cookies at La Valencia Hotel!

Some wrapped and ready packages to make your La Jolla visit merrier include:

See you in La Jolla for the holidays! 🙂

Robert Arends

Holiday Cheer and Lights on San Diego’s Big Bay!

San Diego Big Bay Holiday of Lights
San Diego Big Bay Holiday of Lights

From boats decorated with lights to a Big Balloon Parade, there plenty of Holiday Fun on San Diego’s Big Bay. Photo courtesy of Cook & Schmidt

For those of you making holiday plans to visit San Diego, following are a few fun and festive ways to make some merry on San Diego’s sparkling Big Bay.

43rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

What’s better than a cool holiday boat parade? Two holiday boat parades! Yep, the 43rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights takes place on two Sundays next month. More than 80 boats lavishly decorated from bow to keel with colorful twinkling lights and decorations will glide the waters of San Diego Bay.

It’s quite a spectacle and best part, it’s free! This year’s theme is “Children’s Stories” which is sure to be a hit with the kids. Check out the route map here. The procession starts at 5:30 PM, but head to the Bay early for prime viewing spots including the Embarcadero and Embarcadero Park (North & South), Seaport Village, Coronado Ferry Landing, Harbor Island and Shelter Island.

When: December 14 & 21, 2014
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade

San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Giant inflatable characters at Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Check out the Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade, “America’s Largest Balloon Parade” floating down Harbor Drive along the Embarcadero. And who knows, you might be on TV! The parade is televised nationally and on local Channel 4. You’ll see world-class marching bands, colorful floats, drill teams and of course, a procession of enormous balloons of familiar cartoon and pop culture characters. Over 100,000 spectators are expected!

The parade is part of our big annual National University Holiday Bowl festivities when the eyes of the nation are on San Diego for exciting gridiron action between two Pac-10 and Big 12 Conference teams.

Where: San Diego Embarcadero – W Cedar Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 26, 2014
Time: Parade starts at 3:00 PM
Cost: Free. Grandstand Seats – $20
> Find out more about the Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade

Whale Watching

California gray whale breaching off the San Diego coast

California gray whale breaching off the San Diego coast

December is the launch of San Diego’s exciting whale watching season, when hundreds of majestic California gray whales are spotted of the coast making their annual migration from the Arctic to the warm lagoons of Baja California. These “peaceful giants of the sea” can be seen swimming our local waters through April. Hop aboard the HornblowerFlagship Cruises or one of the many other whale watching cruises departing daily from the Embarcadero on San Diego. The whales can also be seen from high atop Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma – bring your binoculars, though! 🙂

> Find out more about Whale Watching in San Diego

> Discover More Holiday Happenings in San Diego

Make some waves on San Diego Bay this holiday season!

Robert Arends

Merry Mission Bay for the Holidays!

Mission Bay Parade of Lights!

Mission Bay Parade of Lights!

The holidays are just around the corner and there’s no better place to be than San Diego’s sparkling Mission Bay where distinctly California festivities await!

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay lights up December 13 during the Parade of Lights

Everybody loves a holiday parade. But in San Diego, they don’t just happen in the streets. A unique maritime way to make some merry this holiday season is the popular Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights on December 13, featuring dozens of boats festooned with holiday lights and décor sailing around Mission Bay.

All are welcome to this free aquatic pageant which attracts tens of thousands of spectators to the shoreline.

The boat parade begins at 7:00 PM from the Quivira Basin. The best viewing spots are from Crown Point, Santa Clara Point Park (by Sail Bay), the east side of Vacation Island and west side of Fiesta Island. Check out this map of Mission Bay to scope out the area beforehand.

When: December 13, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

Twinkling Holiday Skytower at SeaWorld

Twinkling Holiday Skytower at SeaWorld

Also on Mission Bay, SeaWorld San Diego makes a big splash with its annual Christmas Celebration, beginning this Saturday. Festivities include Christmas-themed animal shows, holiday décor throughout the park, Santa’s Cottage for the kids, the 320-ft. Skytower Christmas Tree of Lights and SnowWorld, a winter wonderland with hills of snow for kids to sled down and practice making snowballs. Yep, it snows in San Diego! (we just have to make it 😉

SnoWorld at SeaWorld!

SnowWorld at SeaWorld San Diego!

When: November 15, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Cost: Included with Admission
> Find out more about SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration

Mission Bay Hotel Holiday Deals

After a jolly day on the bay, rest your head at one of these top 5 tropical waterfront resorts that dot the shoreline:

See you this holiday season in Mission Bay! 🙂

Robert Arends

Kids Free Deals Abound in Seaside La Jolla this October

Surf Diva Surf Lessons for Kids
La Jolla offers Kids Free offers all month long!

La Jolla offers Kids Free offers all month-long!

La Jolla, the sun-kissed “jewel” of San Diego, rolls out the red carpet for kids throughout October during Kids Free San Diego month.

Families can save a bundle with 10 terrific free kids offers around La Jolla, ranging from free meals and passes to cool museums and attractions to comp beach tours and surfing lessons.

Check these out:

Eat!

Kids love to eat and they get to eat for free (with each adult purchase) at Indulge restaurant at Embassy Suites San Diego-La Jolla, Torreyana Grille at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines (for lunch or dinner, up to 2 kids) and Humphrey’s La Jolla Grill at the Sheraton La Jolla (up to 2 kids).

Enjoy free kids meals at La Jolla Shores Hotel, located on the beach of La Jolla Shores

Enjoy free kids’ breakfast at La Jolla Shores Hotel, located right on the beach.

Kids also eat free at La Valencia Hotel, and kids 12 and younger can enjoy free breakfast at The Shores Restaurant at La Jolla Shores Hotel.

[Tweet “Save during your visit to #LaJolla this October with these amazing #KidsFreeSD offers!”]

Surf!

Surf Diva Surf Lessons for Kids

Kids hang 10 for free Surf Diva!

Wiggle your toes in the sand at La Jolla’s famous family friendly beaches and hang 10 with Surf Diva, offering kids free surfing lessons (a $71.50 value – wow!) with the purchase of an adult lesson.

Kids can hop aboard the Old Town Trolley Tours‘ new La Jolla & Mission Beach Tour for free (with the purchase of an adult ticket) or the splashy Seal Tours on San Diego Bay or narrated city tour to top tourist sites like Old Town and Coronado.

Sightsee!

Birch_Aquarium_children_viewing_fish_-Courtesy_Bir

Kids admitted free all month to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps!

Three of La Jolla’s popular attractions are free for kids, including admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego – La Jolla (1 child per paid adult), the La Jolla Historical Society museum at Wisteria Cottage (2 children per paid adult) and Birch Aquarium at Scripps (1 child per paid adult).

Birch Aquarium, nestled high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, is one of my top “must-sees” with 60+ tanks of colorful marine life including coral reefs, a kelp forest (My fav! It’s like snorkeling without getting in the water 😉 ), sharks, jellyfish and three outdoor tide pools where you can touch sea anemones, starfish and more!

As you can see, there’s lots of fun for free in picture-perfect La Jolla! Bring the kids and make it a fall getaway to remember. 🙂

> Browse even more Kids Free Offers in San Diego