Sarah Weinberg

4 Fall Events in San Diego You Don’t Want To Miss

Fall is a gorgeous time to visit San Diego. The weather and ocean temps can still be downright summery, and the opportunity to experience outdoor celebrations of local food, wine, beer and fun abound.

Some of my fave fall fests include:

Adams Avenue Street Fair

Adams Avenue Street Fair

Dance like nobody is watching at SoCal’s largest free two-day music festival, the Adams Avenue Street Fair

For fall family friendly free music festivals, nothing beats the Adams Avenue Street Fair, September 26-27 in the Normal Heights neighborhood with four beer gardens, seven stages and more than 90 musical acts, performing rock, country, folk and more. A great neighborhood festival that brings back local talent gone national and allows all ages to wander from outdoor stage to intimate lounge to experience live music.

> Find out more about the Adams Avenue Street Fair

Kids Free in San Diego

Great deals for locals and visitors abound this fall with the Kids Free San Diego all October long. All major San Diego attractions, including SeaWorld, the world-famous San Diego Zoo and LEGOLAND California will offer free admission to kids with adult admission throughout the month, along with more than 30 other area museums and attractions. In total, more than 100 San Diego attractions, hotels and restaurants will offer Kids Free specials throughout October.

> Browse 100+ Kids Free Offers

San Diego Beer Week

San Diego Beer Week

San Diego is Beer Week is actually ten full days of multiple beer-centric events held countywide at San Diego’s 100+ breweries and tasting rooms. For an affordable overview, attend the Brewers Guild Fest kick off and sample from 50 San Diego breweries (if you can). For an intimate experience, enjoy special beer and food pairings at some of San Diego’s best locally sourced restaurants like Tidal at Paradise Point Resort or The Patio on Goldfinch. For the ultimate in upscale SDBW experiences, purchase a ticket to The Beer Garden at the Lodge at Torrey Pines for an outdoor brewery and chef inspired tasting experience the closing day of Beer Week.

> Find out more about San Diego Beer Week

12th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

San Diego Bay Food & Wine Festival

Photo courtesy of Joey Hernandez.

The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival takes over the Embarcadero Marina Park North and other venues throughout San Diego from November 15-22. I love this event because there’s an overwhelming choice of very specific food- and drink-centric sessions to attend (personal fave is the Fish Taco TKO) and one can also attend the comprehensive culinary kickoff Grand Tasting Event outside on the bay with tent after tent of San Diego’s best food and alcohol choices to sample and vote on.

> Find out more about the 12th Annual San Diego Wine & Food Festival

> Discover more Fall Fun in San Diego

Sarah Weinberg

A Hole Lotta Choices: Donuts Take Over San Diego

Great Maple Hillcrest Donuts

While San Diego reigns as America’s craft beer capital, there’s another delicious culinary trend brewing: upmarket craft donuts. Nowadays in San Diego County, diners can find just about any style of donut imaginable, including flavors previously not imagined. Here’s a scouting report of a few options, from tried-and-true original family bakeries to trendsetting storefronts with Michelin star pastry chefs.

Coastal Classic

VG Donuts

One of the oldest and best shops is VG Donut & Bakery located in Cardiff-by-the-Sea in Coastal North San Diego County.

VG stands for Very Good and these outstanding donuts have been made by the Mettee family since 1969. With all the crazy combinations offered in today’s donut shops, I love the simplicity of a plain raised, glazed, and this is the place for that pure, traditional style. That doesn’t mean shoppers can’t find cake donuts with cherry icing and chocolate sprinkles or devil’s food, buttermilk, jelly-filled and even seasonal red velvet and pumpkin spice selections at VG donuts.

Where: 106 Aberdeen Drive, Cardiff, CA 92007
> Find out more about VG Donut & Bakery

Old School

Peterson's Donut Corner Escondido San Diego

Since 1981 Peterson’s Donut Corner in Escondido has been serving volumes of freshly fried delicacies 24 hours a day.

I grew up in San Diego’s North County and the place to be for late night or early morning post-club munchies was and is Peterson’s Donut Corner in Escondido. Still run by the Peterson family, this 24-hour small box shop serves all manner of fried and baked delights. The donuts are oversized, a great price and made by bakers who know their craft after 30+ years in the business. Peterson’s offers a huge range of flavors and styles, including the traditional bear claw and old fashioned, but also French crullers, crumb cake, croissants and cream cheese pockets. It was at Peterson’s that I had my first cro-nut, and I’m spoiled for their version ever since.

Where: 903 Escondido Blvd, Escondido, CA 92027
> Find out more about Peterson’s Donut Corner

Donut Bar

Donut Bar

The line out the door and the “Sold Out” sign painted daily on the storefront window attest to the popularity of this craft donut mecca in downtown San Diego. Specializing in large, cake style donuts, this trend-tackling donut group whips up a unique selection day to day and posts the menu daily on their website. Two favorites are the big poppa-tart donut and D.B’s Nutella. This cheeky group creates specialty treats such as French Ferrero Rocher eclairs or maple bacon cinnamon rolls with thick slabs of center-cut premium on the inside. Donut Bar also embraces holidays major and minor, such as May 4th with a Star War’s R2D2 donut and a “Mom” version for Mother’s day.

Where: 631 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
>Find out more about Donut Bar

A Streetcar Named Desire

StreetCar Merchants' Donut Friend Chicken Sandwich

At StreetCar Merchants, diners get the best of both worlds: fried chicken on a donut bun.

Is it ok to admit in a donut blog that I actually like the fried chicken at Streetcar Merchants even more than their wonderful donuts? Yes, you heard right. There’s a place in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood called StreetCar Merchants of Fried Chicken, Doughnuts & Coffee. You can get both types of fried delicacies all day, but generally mornings are for fried dough and afternoons and evenings taste fried chicken made to order and made to perfection. My kids flipped over the square donuts with flavors such as Nutella, PB&J and wild berries, but they were even more impressed by the crispy-fresh fried drumstick, unlike anything the Colonel had ever processed. Or, go for the best of both worlds, fried chicken on a donut bun!  This concoction is called The Southerner and they also do a Nashville hot version and a Korean twice fried version called Seoul Bender.

Where: 4002 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about StreetCar Merchants of Fried Chicken, Doughnuts & Coffee

Nomad Donuts

Nomad Donuts

Just up the street from StreetCar Merchants in North Park, Chef Kristianna Zabala, who previously served as the Executive Pastry Chef at San Diego’s famed Mister A’s, Petco Park and the Michelin starred The Village Pub, works her magic at a little place called Nomad Donuts. Chef Zabala came to Nomad Donuts because she was seeking creative freedom and the donuts at Nomad win the creative prize. In addition to many flavors of vegan donuts daily, customers can try a blueberry cheesecake or blackcurrant chili donut. I had Coronado Brewing Co “Mermaid Red” custard with chocolate, black current and salted chipotle caramel on top. Nomad Donuts frequently partners at local breweries for pairings.

Where: 4504 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Nomad Donuts

One Great Maple Donut

Great Maple Hillcrest Donuts

Great Maple offers three maple bacon donuts on their dessert menu.

Calling itself a “European Dinette,” Great Maple,  in the Hillcrest neighborhood, offers craft cocktails, local beers, seasonal, responsible produce, seafood and meat that arrives in large portions of comfort food, including incredible pies that change daily. My family experienced donut nirvana here one evening after my daughter ordered the maple bacon donuts for dessert. Maple bacon is not my favorite, but when the stack of three fluffy yeast donuts topped with a maple bacon glaze and fresh chopped bacon arrived at the table, I just had to try and was so glad I did. Tasting a donut made fresh and hot to order, not sitting in a case, was truly the way to go.

Where: 1451 Washington Street, San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about Great Maple

Sarah Weinberg

All Aboard! San Diego on Track with Train Travel

Pacific Surfliner - Amtrak California

Take a step back in time and explore San Diego aboard everything from steam locomotives to exquisite model train exhibits to coastal views to die for.

Coaster Train – Ride with a View

View from the second story seating on North County’s Coaster from Oceanside to San Diego.

View from the second story seating on North County’s Coaster from Oceanside to San Diego.

Visitors to San Diego County can ride the rails on double-decker Coaster and Amtrak California trains along the coast with not-to-be-missed views of the ocean. The trains also travel through seaside surf towns like Encinitas and intersect the Pacific Ocean and Del Mar Race Track and fairgrounds (“where the turf meets the surf”) on each side of the train, making taking San Diego’s “commuter” trains vacation-worthy excursions.

> Find out more about San Diego’s Trains & Trolleys

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Is this a real town or a model?! Step back in time to the old San Diego at the Model Railroad Museum

Once in the city, visit the San Diego Model Railroad Museum (SDMRM) in Balboa Park. The world’s largest operating model railroad museum, this unique venue contains four enormous scale and model layouts that will delight young and old with their accurate and playful re-creation of famous railways throughout the southwest. In addition, the museum features a Toy Train Gallery with an interactive Lionel layout for children, and seasonal visiting exhibits, such as the John D. Spreckels: Building San Diego’s Crown Jewel exhibit currently on display.

Centennial Railway Garden

San Diego Model Railroad Museum Centennial Railway Garden

A portion of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum’s new Centennial Railway Garden Exhibit to debut April 25, 2015

Balboa Park is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year and the SDMRM is creating a 2015 Centennial Railroad Garden to be unveiled in late April. This open-air model railroad features a miniature recreation of Balboa Park as it existed in 1915 and showcases new technology that enables visitors to interact with the layout directly by using a smart phone or tablet.

Vintage San Diego Silver Line

San Diego Silver Line Car

I did a double take the first time I saw this vintage car on the tracks of our trolley line downtown. Photo by By Nehrams2020 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to actually ride in vintage trains, opportunities abound. Even our city trolley system has a restored green 1946 vintage car on the tracks running limited service on a downtown loop among the modern red trolley cars.

> Find out more about the San Diego Vintage Trolley Project

Poway Midland Railroad

My daughter rides the rails at a train-themed birthday party at Old Poway Park.

My daughter rides the rails at a train-themed birthday party at Old Poway Park.

Family fun can be had at Old Poway Park where the Poway Midland Railroad offers weekend rides on various vintage trains, including an original steam locomotive, a speeder and a trolley depending on the weekend and season. The park plays host to many community events and festivals year round and is a great place to bring a picnic.

Where: 14134 Midland Road, Poway, CA 92064
> Find out more about the Poway-Midland Railroad

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

Golden State Train - Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

All aboard the PSRM’s Golden State Limited Train!

A trip to Campo in San Diego’s southeastern regions lets visitors experience the Old West at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum. The 40-acre interpretive museum at Campo and a small satellite museum in downtown La Mesa educate visitors about the rich history of rail travel in the U.S. At the Campo venue, PSRM operates real, old-time trains on 14 miles of the mountainous San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railway, a historic rail line built by John D. Spreckels in the early decades of the 20th century. Passengers can take weekend, select Tuesday, and seasonal rides aboard the Golden State Limited locomotive during a one hour round trip train ride on the historic railway. The PSRM offers special event excursions for private groups, school field trips and seasonal rides such as “The Bunny Train” and “The Polar Express” during the winter holidays, offering rides to The North Pole to visit Santa.

Where: 750 Depot Street, Campo, CA 91906
> Find out more about the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

A Few More “Train” Stops in San Diego

And finally, if you are interested in buying vintage model trains, San Diego’s Frank the Train Man retail store opened in 1943 and is still going strong in its current North Park location. Or if you’d like to sip one of San Diego’s famous craft beers while sitting in an old trolley stop, check out Station Tavern for a burger and a family friendly play area that includes a model trolley car for the kids to play on. The site was originally a trolley station for San Diego’s No. 2 line from 1929-1948. Make your last stop The Whistle Stop Bar, a hangout for locals that dubs itself “the little bar that could” and is only a few steps away from Station Tavern.

Sarah Weinberg

Mommies Go Glamping at San Diego KOA Resort

I’m not a camper, my parents were not campers, but I want my kids to experience more than I did, so when I was invited by a friend for a Mother-Daughters “glamping” trip (Glamorous Camping), I thought it was the perfect way to ease into the rustic outdoor life.

Cabin Glamping – Home for the Weekend

Glamping with a San Diego KOA Cabin

Home for the weekend! The cutest luxury cabin, all ready to go for our glamping weekend.

It turns out glamping at KOA San Diego Metro is far from rustic. Our two-bedroom-plus-sleeping-loft deluxe cabin housed us six glamping girls beautifully. Everything was provided to make us comfortable in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and outdoors.

No need to roll up your sleeping bag: bedding, pillows and towels are provided inside this luxury escape.

Enjoying The Comforortable Great Outdoors

As for outdoors, yes! It was great making s’mores at our own personal fire pit using the cooking utensils, firewood and starter provided by the campground.

Outdoors in January in San Diego, no problem! This campground heats its pool to 80 degrees and the external temp was in the mid-70s for our visit, so we roughed it poolside with towels provided.

A heated pool and jacuzzi added to the glamour of our January camping weekend.

A heated pool and jacuzzi added to the glamour of our January camping weekend.

Outdoor Exercise?

You bet! Even our dog had a dog park and canine obstacle course onsite to romp around. For human guests, there’s a rock climbing wall and playground with play structure. The most exciting outdoor activity for our girls was an inflated jump hump that puzzled us all as we scouted the camp the evening we arrived. Since it is deflated at night; we wondered, “what could it be?”

An outdoor bouncing area was the highlight of the girls' afternoon.

An outdoor bouncing area was the highlight of these glamping girls’ afternoon.

By morning the girls discovered the joys of an alfresco bounce house.

The camp also provides bike, surrey bike and other wacky pedal equipment for rental, so our kids enjoyed trying out a variety of contraptions.

Ready to race around the KOA Metro San Diego campground.

Ready to race around the KOA Metro San Diego campground.

A tip from a friend who stores her RV at this park and regularly escapes here for a hassle-free weekend: Have your kids bring their skates, skateboards and scooters, as this is a kid-friendly, low-traffic paved campground and at dusk there were groups of newly-made friends scooting through the campsite working up an appetite for BBQ and s’mores.

Outdoor Dining?

You betcha! We dined at our own picnic table on the front “patio” area, using the propane BBQ outside the cabin to grill our own food the first night. The second night we were treated to The Sandcastle Café, KOAs new locally sourced onsite café with outdoor seating area. This little kitchen can do it all, serving delicious, reasonably priced options grown from an onsite garden and neighboring organic farm housed on land owned by the campground. The kale salad was delightful and healthy, the sweet potato fries and pulled pork sandwiches disappeared too quickly, and the hamburger pizza was a hit with the kids. Note: The café’s freshly brewed lattes made our morning constitution along the river all the more civilized.

After an evening stroll, we left the great outdoors to play board games inside the cabin and enjoyed a good night’s sleep on fresh sheets (that I did not have to take home and launder)!

About the San Diego KOA Campground

Located only minutes from downtown, this KOA campsite was founded by a local family and continues to be run by three generations of the Bell family. When Ted and Carol Bell purchased beautiful land next to the San Diego River in 1968 and decided to make it a campground, they could not have anticipated the phenomenal urban growth that would eventually extend to their rustic site and result with a property smack dab in the center of it all. For visitors, day trips to the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld or the nearby Aquatica SeaWorld’s Water Park take only 20 minutes because the freeway is so close.

Mature trees, tidy landscaping and well paved paths make biking around the KOA Metro San Diego campground a joy.

Mature trees, tidy landscaping and well paved paths make biking around the KOA Metro San Diego campground a joy.

The trees planted on the site in the 1960s make for mature foliage and there are many regulars who park their RVs in the lots and stay for an extended time. In addition to the deluxe cabins with all mod cons, standard cabins and tents that sleep up to six are available to rent, so the campground really does provide for all types of camping experiences. While it turns out my daughter was not introduced to “camping” on this trip, it was a delightful getaway from city within the city.

> Find out more about Camping in San Diego

Sarah Weinberg

Del Mar Racetrack Adds New Fall Bing Crosby Season

Bing Crosby - Opening Day
Table at Fall Season courtesy Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Sit in style or hug the rails for great views all around during the new fall racing season at Del Mar.

With the recent closing of Hollywood Park racetrack in Los Angeles, an opportunity for more racing at the historic Del Mar Racetrack opened up on the West Coast circuit. Del Mar has hosted a summer season since 1937 when Bing Crosby stood at the gate and collected the first ticket for admission. It’s been a San Diego summer tradition ever since.

Bing Crosby - Opening Day

Bing Crosby, one of the founders of the Del Mar Racetrack, takes the first ticket on opening day, 1937.

Ironically for my family, thoroughbred racing and Thanksgiving go hand in hand. My relatives would spend Thanksgiving afternoon at Bay Meadows racetrack while my Nana Rose stayed home and cooked the turkey. It was a way to keep us out of her hair while she prepared the big meal. All my relatives had a blast at the rails watching the ponies run. So today, San Diego families have a similar opportunity to enjoy the delicious fall weather near the coast, the excitement of live racing, and even a one mile family fun run on the actual track, followed by a delicious family meal together. It’s a recipe I can recommend.

The added season pays tribute to the glamour and excitement of 1930s when Hollywood icon Bing Crosby founded the track with some of his celebrity pals. The Bing Crosby Season will run a total of 15 racing days – primarily Thursday through Sunday.

What to Expect from the Bing Crosby Season

Vintage Hollywood Fashion Contest - Bing Crosby Season

Dress up movie star style on opening day to participate in the Vintage Hollywood Fashion Contest.

Vintage Hollywood Fashion Contest

The season kicks off on Friday, November 7 with a “Vintage Hollywood Fashion Contest,” including awards for Best Dressed Couple, Best Celebrity Lookalike and Most Glamorous.

Concerts, Food and Beer Festivals, and Giveaways

Del Mar is known for its exciting lineup of concerts, food and beer festivals, and giveaways – and the Bing Crosby Season continues that tradition and adds in Football Sundays, when fans can take in a day of racing and NFL action in Del Mar’s Paddock Football Lounge. Multiple TV screens, bars and food options will keep racing and football fans happy all day.

Race-goers can enjoy Reggae Fest featuring Iration on the 15th and alternative rock band CAKE closing out the season on the 29th. Food trucks are back Saturday, November 22, along with a plush black and gold diamond blanket giveaway. November 29 will feature a craft beer and cider festival, a Movember event and the biggest race of the meet – the Hollywood Derby. Closing Day – Sunday November 30 – is a free day.

Bing Crosby Season Schedule

Racing during the Bing Crosby Season will take place Friday through Sunday during the first week; Thursday through Sunday the other three weeks. Weekday post time will be 12:30 PM, 12 noon on weekends. The one exception will be Thanksgiving Day, November 27, with first post shifted to 11:00 AM. Admission is $6.

> Find out more about the Del Mar Bing Crosby Season

Sarah Weinberg

Music and Wine Pairings at San Diego Wineries

San Diego County wineries are overshadowed by the reign of amazing craft breweries throughout the county (the region is close to surpassing 100 breweries). But vitoculturist visitors to San Diego can have a wonderful time exploring the more than 70 wineries and tasting rooms from chic urban settings to mountain resort retreats nestled in the vineyards. Many of the wineries offer outdoor entertainment such as Jazz series or special event concerts. While most of these music and wine pairings occur during the summer season, a few wineries take advantage of the spectacular views and gentle autumn weather to provide performances into the fall.

Music at Milagro

Relax on a Sunday afternoon in the country listening to local music and sipping local wine at Milagro Farms Vineyard & Winery in Ramona, in San Diego's East County.

Relax on a Sunday afternoon in the country listening to local music and sipping local wine at Milagro Farms Vineyard & Winery in Ramona, in San Diego’s East County.

The 110 acres that compose Milagro Farm Vineyards & Winery abound with myriad plants, trees, wild life, and open spaces. Tucked into the Ramona Valley near the Cleveland National Forest, the property features a naturally rolling landscape dotted with granite boulders and coast live oak trees. With the shorter days and cooler temperatures, the Music at Milagro acoustic series has shifted from Friday to Sunday afternoons beginning in October. Take a Sunday country drive and visit this beautiful destination to hear local musicians and sip local wines. Taste six estate-grown wines and keep the glass for $12; the live music is free. Milagro has partnered with Treasure Limo for guests from San Diego who want to go beyond “tastings” and really enjoy a bottle of wine with the performance, and not have to drive home.

Upcoming performances include:

The Sunday Music at Milagro series takes place every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month from 2:00 to 4:00 PM at the tasting room.

Where: 18750 Littlepage Road, Ramona, CA 92065
> Find out more about Milagro Farm Vineyards & Winery

From Lazy Sunday Afternoons to Swinging Saturday Nights

San Pasqual Winery La Mesa Tasting Room courtesy Wayne Swanson

San Pasqual Winery La Mesa Tasting Room courtesy Wayne Swanson

If a Sunday drive to the countryside doesn’t fit your itinerary, San Pasqual Winery has an urban Tasting Room in the town of La Mesa that hosts rock, blues, and folk music on Saturday nights. Seating is on a first come, first-served basis in the intimate back room, and the shows start at 7:00 PM. The music is free and local, and the wine, cheese and crackers and desserts are available for sale. San Pasqual Winery blends California grown grapes including varietals from Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara to produce a wide range of wine offerings.

Their Saturday night music series also offers a wide range of styles. Upcoming shows include:

  • October 18: Jefferson Washington is a local San Diego blues and folk musician who showcases a blend of American roots style music
  • October 24: the Sock Monkeys play variety of fun music from the past to the present, in addition to mixing in their own entertaining original music.
  • November 1: Mercury Street Blues play a variety of music – jazz, blues, folk and rock.

Where: San Pasqual Winery La Mesa Tasting Room – 8364 La Mesa Blvd., La Mesa, CA 91942
> Find out more about San Pasqual  Winery

Opera, Art & Wine

Salerno Winery in San Diego County's rustic town of Ramona, includes an extensive sculpture garden of internationally acclaimed artists. Photo courtesy Angie Clement.

Salerno Winery in San Diego County’s rustic town of Ramona, includes an extensive sculpture garden of internationally acclaimed artists. Photo courtesy Angie Clement.

Salerno Winery, a small family owned boutique winery is a cultural destination located in the hills of Ramona Valley. In addition to established favorites such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petite Sirah,  Salerno Winery offers hand crafted wines such as their signature Elegante, a double gold medal and gold sweepstakes winner. The property offers guests a unique experience complete with tasting room, sculptures from more than 20 world-renowned artists and classical opera.

Every Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 to 5:00 PM, visitors can enjoy lilting operatic performances from Jorge D’Soria – a gifted tenor who sings in six languages including Italian, Spanish, Latin and French – and Salvador Padilla, a brilliant baritone who has performed around the world and won numerous awards for his vocal talent.

Where: 17948 Highway 67, Ramona, CA
> Find out more about Salerno Winery

What are your favorite non-traditional music venues in San Diego?

Sarah Weinberg

Fall Theater Takes Center Stage in San Diego

With temperatures still in the high 70s, it doesn’t yet feel like fall in San Diego, and with so many great live theater choices available year round, San Diego performing arts are always in season.

The Old Globe

Billy Cane, a young soldier just home from World War II, meets Alice Murphy, the brilliant editor of a southern literary journal in the Old Globe's Bright Star.

Billy Cane, a young soldier just home from World War II, meets Alice Murphy, the brilliant editor of a southern literary journal in the Old Globe’s Bright Star.

Old Globe is a Tony® Award winning theater complex located in Balboa Park featuring Shakespearean classics, contemporary plays and popular musicals. Current and upcoming shows include:

The world premiere of Bright Star, a new American musical with music by Edie Brickell and Steve Martin inspired by their Grammy Award-winning collaboration “Love Has Come For You.” Bright Star features nearly 20 new songs – Americana with a touch of rock – and tells a beguiling tale that unfolds in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina between 1923 and 1945.

Other plays featured this fall include: The Royale and Pericles, Prince of Tyre.  The 2014-2015 season also includes the 17th annual production of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, beginning November 15, 2014.

La Jolla Playhouse

La Jolla Playhouse brings to stage a musical adaptation of Disney’s 1996 animated picture and winner of five Tony Awards on Broadway, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

La Jolla Playhouse brings to stage a musical adaptation of Disney’s 1996 animated picture and winner of five Tony Awards on Broadway, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

San Diego’s Tony® Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse continues to offer groundbreaking theater along with classic favorites. The buzz in town swirls around the upcoming stage musical adaptation of Disney’s 1996 animated picture and winner of five Tony Awards on Broadway, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Opening October 26). The show’s anticipated success has already resulted in an extended run through December 14. This is the only stage collaboration from two masters of the American musical theatre, composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz.

La Jolla Playhouse hopes to start a new holiday tradition with the production of The Second City’s Nut-Cracking Holiday Revue (November 28 – December 21), capturing the magic of the season with original songs, sketches and improv.

North Coast Repertory Theatre

In Freud's Last Session, the fictional meeting of Sigmund Freud and writer C.S. Lewis is infused with gentle humor and sharp dialogue at The North Coast Repertory Theatre.

In Freud’s Last Session, the fictional meeting of Sigmund Freud and writer C.S. Lewis is infused with gentle humor and sharp dialogue at The North Coast Repertory Theatre.

North Coast Repertory Theatre features seven top-notch productions year-round in an intimate setting in Solana Beach. Opening soon: playwright Mark St. Germain’s Freud’s Last Session (October 15 – November 9) in which St. Germain creates a fictional meeting between Sigmund Freud and writer C.S. Lewis. Winner of the 2011 Best Play Award by the Off Broadway Alliance, this San Diego premiere is a must-see for the discerning theatre lover.

More Great San Diego Theater Options this Fall:

> Discover San Diego’s Award Winning Theater Scene

Sarah Weinberg

Strike a Pose for 2014 Fashion Week San Diego

Broadway Pier courtesy Fashion Week San Diego

Strut down the Broadway Pier for a variety of different events and runway shows during Fashion Week San Diego from September 29 to October 5.

There are a trunk load of different events over the span of Fashion Week San Diego (September 29-October 5, 2014), including international designers, hair and make-up shows, knitwear and textiles, and even runway shows with kids wear and “Haute Dogs” (adoptable pets!). But the runway show that I’m most excited to see is more home grown.

Fashion Week San Diego – International to Down the Street

In keeping with the unique neighborhoods that make up San Diego county, Fashion Week San Diego has created a show that goes beyond the de rigueur tank tops and flip flops of our beach communities and delves into contemporary coastal fashion for the SoCal lifestyle and beyond.

When I say “beyond” I’m talking about the debut of San Diego native Nicholas Huerta’s women’s wear line in which he plans to put what he describes as “a futuristic gothic cowgirl” down the runway. I can’t wait!

Other San Diegans featured are Laced with B swimwear, which incorporates chains, studs and textured lace, and Love is a Devil, a local designer who creates romantic jewelry with an “edge of sorrow.”

Audience courtesy FWSD

Fashion is serious business, but Fashion Week San Diego is fun for audience and designers alike.

But what I really do value beyond the glitz, twist and hype, are the local designers who keep it real at the beach like A’doreus for the full figured woman and Dos Caras Swimwear, two local women who offer color and flash, but also more coverage than what traditional skimpy fashionistas typically showcase for runway shows.

This 4th night runway show, called “SoCal Style” on October 2, is dedicated to the talent we have in our region and the shopping neighborhoods of San Diego, so let’s put on our bejeweled, wedged flip flops for this event and show some San Diego style.

Sarah Weinberg

Cool Off at San Diego’s Wet and Wild Water Parks

From the newest public water park on the San Diego harbor to favorites at LEGOLAND and Aquatica, visiting San Diego splash zones offers ample opportunity for a soaking good time beyond the beach.

Here are some top choices for  San Diego non-salt-water adventures.

San Diego County Waterfront Park

Locals and visitors alike enjoy the harbor views and interactive fountains at San Diego County's new Waterfront Park.  Courtesy Stephen Whalen

Locals and visitors alike enjoy the harbor views and interactive fountains at San Diego County’s new Waterfront Park. Courtesy Stephen Whalen

The County of San Diego gave a great gift to locals and visitors alike with a free harborside water park. The park includes large civic greens, children’s play area, intimate garden rooms and expansive interactive fountains that kids and adults are allowed to run around and play in! Yes, you can tell the kids, it’s okay to jump in the fountain!

Where: 1600 Pacific Coast Highway, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about the County of San Diego Waterfront Park

Aquatica San Diego, SeaWorld’s Water Park

Hop aboard Aquatica's Loggerhead Lane lazy river, 1,250 feet of easy tubing the whole family can enjoy.

Hop aboard Aquatica’s Loggerhead Lane lazy river, 1,250 feet of easy tubing the whole family can enjoy.

This amazing conglomeration of twisty turning slides and long, lazy river rafting rides offers acres of water fun set amid gorgeous live tropical plants, flamingos and turtles. I was pretty wowed by the extensive offerings for every age group, from knee-deep pools with tiny slides for toddlers, to Tassie’s Twister, a waterslide in several parts that I dared only look at. At Aquatica, friends and families can race each other down six-lane slides on Taumata Racers or travel solo in complete darkness through a tube slide on the Kiwi Curl. The park knows how to make a visit enjoyable for guests with plenty of free lounge chairs, cabanas for rent, lockers throughout the park and a new “cashless wristband” connected to your credit card that lets you charge chicken tenders and margaritas without having to access your wallet.

Where: 2052 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista, CA 91911
Open: Memorial Day through Labor Day
> Find out more about Aquatica SeaWorld Waterpark San Diego

LEGOLAND: Now Two Water Parks in One!

Children enjoy Cragger’s Splash at the new Legends of Chima Water Park. Courtesy LEGOLAND California Resort.

My family flipped when LEGOLAND opened its original water park in 2010, turning what was already a favorite theme park into a place with rides and a water park! What could be more fun than building your own LEGO raft and floating down the lazy river after spending a warm day riding roller coasters and propelling self-powered rides at LEGOLAND? There is something for all of us at the LEGOLAND water park, including my little toddler nephews (3 and 5) and my daring 12 year old. We all love the Orange Rush, a giant tube-boat that slips and slides down a wide waterslide way up high while mom shrieks at the top of her lungs (yes, I’m a wimp, but I love a water slide).

This spring, LEGOLAND debuted a Chima-themed water park, a connecting water world based on the popular toy line and Cartoon Network’s “Legends of Chima,” featuring more slides for all ages, a large wave pool and over 50 interactive water play opportunities for visitors.

Where: One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008
> Find out more about LEGOLAND California Resort

The Wave House in Mission Beach

Learning to surf the Flow Ride Wave Machine at Belmont Park is just one of the fun activities at Belmont Park in Mission Beach.

While I admit that I lack the nerve and coordination to try the two flow wave machines at The Wave House in Belmont Park, I have sat in the centrally located outside, beachy dining area and ordered sushi and watched those braver than I battle the fake sea. I love the setup here: real Pacific Ocean waves rolling in on one side (and the people watching of Mission Beach Boardwalk); on the other side is the amazing skill of the Flow Riders, experts tackling the Flow Barrel‘s consistent and unique waves while they practice surf board tricks. Nearby is the Flow Rider, a beginner friendly wave simulator where you can watch students eat it (a wave, that is) while you dine nearby.

Where: 3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
> Find out more about The Wave House

Other Water Park Options in San Diego County

San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park has a small area for toddlers called the Savannah Cool Zone near Lion Camp. Small children are allowed to climb on three animal sculpture fountains that spout water.

The Wave Waterpark in Vista is a large water park in San Diego’s North County  with extensive camps, lessons and slides and more.

Sarah Weinberg

San Diego’s Newest Baby Animals – Both Great and Small

This spring and summer yielded a bumper crop of adorableness at San Diego’s attractions. Take a gander at the new baby animals and “toddlers” on display – or soon to be on display – at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park and SeaWorld San Diego.

Baby Animals – Warts and All at the San Diego Zoo

Two Visayan Warty Piglets

This critically endangered Visayan Warty piglet was born at San Diego Zoo in a successful breeding program that has produced 80 piglets since 2002. Courtesy Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo. - Baby Animals

This critically endangered Visayan Warty piglet was born at San Diego Zoo in a successful breeding program that has produced 80 piglets since 2002. Courtesy Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo.

In its effort to bring species back from the brink of extinction, the San Diego Zoo was delighted with the birth of two Visayan Warty piglets, born on June 26. The baby animals are just beginning to eat solid foods of vegetables and fruits. Keepers describe the piglet as extremely energetic and curious. Visayan warty pigs, endemic to the Visayan Islands in the central Philippines, are a critically endangered species due to loss of habitat, illegal hunting and hybridization

Southwest African Meerkat Pup

A Southwest African meerkat pup is carefully watched over by its mother. Photo courtesy Ken Bohn at the San Diego Zoo.

A Southwest African meerkat pup is carefully watched over by its mother. Photo courtesy Ken Bohn at the San Diego Zoo.

Such a punim! (Yiddish for “what a cute face”). This meerkat pup was six weeks old when it recently emerged from its burrow, and while it still spends most time below ground, it is beginning learning to forage for food and play above ground with its mother and other members of its mob, or family group.

Shadow – Grey Wolf Pup

Wolf pup is eager to play courtesy Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo.

Wolf pup is eager to play courtesy Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo.

The playful two-month-old 23-pound grey wolf pup pictured here is now three months old and just moved from the Children’s Zoo nursery at the San Diego Zoo. The pup, named Shadow, will live at Wegeforth Bowl and serve as an ambassador for his species.

Bundles of Joy at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

4 Lion Cubs

Lion cubs born June 22, 2014, courtesy Ken Bohn San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Lion cubs born June 22, 2014, peer out of the maternity den at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Photo courtesy Ken Bohn San Diego Zoo Safari Park

I had the pleasure of peeking at these kitty cuties in the nursery last week. Keepers report lioness mom Oshana is attentive and the cubs appear healthy – nursing, moving and vocalizing well. The cubs will continue to bond with their mother behind the scenes and when they are older and stronger, they will be able to explore a larger habitat and gradually be introduced to their father Izu, and the Safari Park’s other adult female, before going on public view at the Safari Park’s Lion Camp.

Joanne – Baby Gorilla

Baby gorilla at San Diego Zoo Safari Park enjoys the ride. Photo courtesy Ken Bohn.

Baby gorilla at San Diego Zoo Safari Park enjoys the ride. Photo courtesy Ken Bohn.

Now five-months old, baby gorilla Joanne has been growing and gaining independence, reaching milestones such as riding on her mother’s back and crawling. Joanne was born at the Safari Park on March 12 after a rare emergency C-section. This was the first baby for mother Imani and the 17th gorilla to be born at the Safari Park.

Black Rhino Calf

Black rhino baby takes charge at San Diego Zoo Safari Park courtesy Ken Bohn.

Black rhino baby takes charge at San Diego Zoo Safari Park courtesy Ken Bohn.

This male black rhino calf, born on July 12,  marks a significant achievement, since black rhinos are a critically endangered species with approximately 5,000 left in the wild. “Poaching is the main reason why the numbers of black rhinos are on the decline,” according to Julie Anderson, a keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Any birth here at the Park is an important birth, and we have been very fortunate to have a newborn baby here.”

Birds of a Feather Hatching Now at SeaWorld and the Safari Park

Flamingos

SeaWorld San Diego Caribbean flamingo chicks

SeaWorld San Diego is celebrating a successful Caribbean flamingo breeding season in 2014, with 18 chicks hatched so far.

SeaWorld’s latest flamboyance of Caribbean flamingo chicks range in age from two weeks old to two months old.  The birds are currently being raised by their parents (both mother and father play a role) in the flamingo habitat. The park’s bird keepers are on watch as additional eggs will hatch out in the coming days and weeks. SeaWorld San Diego has been caring for and breeding flamingos since the 1970s.

Three Magellanic Penguin Chicks

SeaWorld San Diego recently celebrated the hatching of three Magellanic penguin chicks, one of which was conceived through artificial insemination. Courtesy Mike Aguilere/SeaWorld San Diego.

SeaWorld San Diego recently celebrated the hatching of three Magellanic penguin chicks, Courtesy Mike Aguilere/SeaWorld San Diego.

Celebrating the marriage of science and conservation, one of these little guys was conceived through artificial insemination and a frozen sample, perhaps a milestone for preserving endangered species in the future. These baby animals just joined the adult colony of Magellanic penguins in an outdoor habitat outside the Penguin Encounter at SeaWorld San Diego. Since 1980, more than 600 penguin chicks have been hatched and raised at the marine park, including the first-ever chinstrap and emperor penguins. SeaWorld aviculturists have had a worldwide impact on pioneering techniques for rearing penguin chicks.

Two East African Crowned Crane Chicks

Crowned crane chicks take a walk, courtesy Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Crowned crane chicks take a walk, courtesy Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Two East African crowned crane chicks hatched in mid-June at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park get daily exercise to strengthen their feet and long legs and to gain balance before they can join the adult birds in the Safari Park’s African Plains habitat. East African crowned cranes are listed as an endangered species due to the loss, transformation and degradation of their habitat. These two baby animals represent the 62nd and 63rd hatchings of East African crowned cranes at the Safari Park.