Edna Gutierrez

Draft at Mission Beach: San Diego Beer and Food with a View

Just in case you haven’t heard, there are two things that define San Diego: the beach and beer. Magic happens when these two come together. Such is the case with Draft, the newest restaurant at historic Belmont Park on Mission Beach. Draft recently opened its doors on the boardwalk overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. So, in the spirit of research, and a much-needed drink, I stopped by with the mission to draft you a picture.

Beer labels dress the tables and rails of Draft

I visited during lunch time and sat inside near the patio to enjoy the beautiful ocean view. The décor can be labeled as exactly that: labels. Beer labels cover the tables and rails, over by the bar you can see the more than 69 beer taps that make this place so special. Next to the bar adjacent to two pool tables, you can’t miss the wall-sized 31.5-ft television screen displaying scenic images of San Diego and local brewing companies. Draft shows major sporting events and has become quite the hot spot to watch sports. On the other side of the bar, tucked away in a glass room, you can see all the kegs being pumped to keep the beer flowing.

The pistachio crusted salmon sandwich was the perfect choice for a nice lunch near the beach

Looking at the menu, it was hard to make a decision. I went for the pistachio crusted salmon sandwich (with meyer lemon aioli, arugula and fennel) and a side of fries, of course. My burger-looking-sandwich is one of the best I’ve had, so many graceful flavors twirling on my taste buds. I could barely taste the pistachio, which was perfect because I was afraid it would be overwhelming. The fries where perfect too, thick and crispy – a must in my book.

Draft offers 69 beers on tap and 50 bottles from local, national and international breweries

Drinks? Obviously by the name, this is beer paradise, offering a true representation of San Diego’s IPAs, Porters, Stouts and beyond. With more than 60 options on tap and 50 bottles that rotate seasonally, it really comes down to picking your poison, or should I say passion? If you are not sure what to order, ask the staff, they will happily guide you to the right choice.

Close the deal with a lemon meringue milkshake or the churro bites

When dessert time came, I couldn’t say no. I’ve heard so much about the lemon meringue milkshake (with toasted meringue and lemon curd) that I had to have it. I also ordered the churro bites (cardamom, lemon and horchata anglaise) since I grew up eating churros and am always curious to try different versions. When the desserts came, the milkshake took the spotlight, even the table next to me asked what it was. The best way I could describe the flavor is: lemony, but not too lemony, sweet, but not too sweet. It was good! I was so full by the time I finished my milkshake that I couldn’t eat much of the churros bites. They were very soft, but not too sweet, with more of a subtle taste.

If you love beer, the beach and great food, give Draft a go. It’s a delicious addition to the Mission Beach scene and to America’s finest and hoppiest city.

Good to know:

  • They have a kids menu.
  • Happy Hour is served Monday – Friday from 4 to 6pm.
  • Brunch is served Saturday – Sunday from 9am to 4pm.
  • Parking is free at Belmont Park, but might be difficult to find during summer and weekends. If you can’t find parking on the three lots adjacent to Belmont Park, you can try the lot across the street from the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster.

 What else to order:

  • Slacker jack popcorn
  • Pork belly corn dogs with truffled mustard
  • Mac n’ cheese with English peas, thyme, mushrooms, chives and smoky cheese

 The details:

  • Draft is located at 3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego, CA 92109 
  • Open Monday – Friday from 11am to 2am and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 2am
Edna Gutierrez

Soak Up the Sun with your Four-Legged Friend at San Diego’s Dog Beaches

Ocean Beach Dog Beach

Let your four-legged best friend run free at one of the dog beaches in San Diego

If you are a dog owner like me, you know the heart-breaking sad look your pup gives you when you are about to leave him home alone. Luckily, San Diego is a city that loves our furry friends and offers many dog friendly places to enjoy the city. Among those you can find many great dog beaches to play on the sand and swim in the ocean.

Dog Beach – Ocean Beach

Off Leash 24 hours

Located in laidback community of Ocean Beach, you can find the Original Dog Beach. This is the mother of all dog beaches, considered one of the first official leash-free beaches in the United States. Frequented by surfers and boogie boarders, this popular dog beach offers free parking, nearby restrooms, showers and a dual-level drinking fountain for canines and humans. The dog beach area is not only easy to find, but it’s set between a marina and jetty, which prevents adventuresome dogs from sprinting into the sunset. You can find shallow waters, ideal for smaller pups, and sturdier waves, for intrepid ones. If your dog loves mingling with other pooches, playing with the waves, then this is the place to go.

North Beach – Coronado

Off Leash 24 hours

Just a few miles north from the legendary Hotel del Coronado and adjacent to the Naval Air Station, Coronado North Beach is a little piece of doggie paradise. This white sandy dog beach offers strong waves, nearby amenities and a beautiful view. Driving there will give you and your companion the opportunity to dribble at the sight of Coronado’s elegant homes and mansions. Parking is off-street and might be difficult to find during weekends, so unless you get there early or in the evening you might have to walk a couple of blocks. Be ready to bump into many happy wet noses, this is definitely the perfect place if your dog likes to socialize and you don’t mind being randomly greeted by curious pups. A few of the perks that I personally enjoy are the nearby bathrooms, free dog littler bags and showers for canines.

Jeremy Loves San Diego's Dog Beaches

Jeremy loves to play fetch in the waves at San Diego’s Dog Beaches

Fiesta Island’s Dog Run – Mission Beach

Off Leash 24 hours

If your four-legged friend prefers calmer waters and less crowded areas, this is the place for you. Located in Mission Bay, facing SeaWorld, Fiesta Island is home to the San Diego Youth Aquatic Center and a popular location for recreational water sports. Driving towards the end of the island, recognizable by the fenced area, you will find Dog Run. This is one of San Diego’s largest off-leash areas for dogs with lots of greenery areas, very calm waters and plenty of sand. There are no restrooms available, except for the occasional scattered port-a -potties. Visiting the island you will encounter many families that spend the whole day there either camping or on their jet skis. The dog area is calmer, bliss for the doggies who love to swim and play fletch.

Dog Beach in Del Mar – Del Mar

Off Leash from September 15 – June 15

North Beach, affectionately called Dog Beach, is the middle point between stunning million dollar houses and the Pacific Coastline. The off-leash season is September 15 through June 15, otherwise leashes are required. You can find the dog beach area on the border of Del Mar and Solana Beach, adjacent to the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Parking might be challenging, since most parking spots are metered, so make sure to bring plenty of change if you don’t want to get a ticket. Free parking can be found south of the river, but that area can get crowded on the weekends. Just like in Fiesta Island, port-a-potties are provided along the beach area. When the tides are low, Fido or Fifí can find plenty of room to run about. One of the pluses is the beautiful scenery, which you can enjoy while your pal splashes along the water chasing the waves.

Other Available Dog Beaches

  • Cardiff State Beach – Located one mile south of Cardiff on Old Highway 101
    Dogs are allowed here on leash only
  • Imperial Beach – Located north of Palm Avenue and south of Imperial Beach Blvd
    Dogs are allowed here on leash only
  •  La Jolla Shores Beach – Located along Camino Del Oro
    Dogs are allowed on leash here and at the adjacent Kellogg Park from 6:00 PM to 9:00 AM

> Find more tips on traveling to San Diego with your pets

Robert Arends

Affordable Mission Valley – Where to Play and Stay!

View From Cowles Mountain

I’m on a “mission” (pun intended 😉 ) to find the most affordable sights, bites and places to stay in Mission Valley and share them with you for when you visit San Diego.

Find out how to win a stay in San Diego when you finish reading this post!

Mission San Diego de Alcala

Did You Know - Mission San Diego Alcala is one of four missions in San Diego County

Mission San Diego de Alcala in Mission Valley

Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first in a chain of 21 Alta California missions, is our first stop. For only $3 you can visit a small museum brimming with artifacts from the mission’s early years. It’s pretty cool and surreal being able to step back into time to the 1770s – especially with so much modern development in the valley now. Also be sure to check out the quaint chapel, padre’s quarters and stroll through the beautiful gardens, including a cool archeological dig!

Where: 10818 San Diego Mission Rd., San Diego, CA 92108
> Find out more about the Mission San Diego de Alcala

Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park

Just down the road is Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the nation’s largest urban natural parks covering over 6,005 acres and featuring 42 miles of scenic trails for hiking, mountain biking, birding and rock climbing. Best of all: it’s Free – everything! – including free guided nature walks every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 AM. Stop by the Visitor Center to get the lay of the land.

View From Cowles Mountain

A fantastic view from the top of Cowles Mountain

My favorite spots are the historic Old Mission Dam on the San Diego River and Cowles Mountain where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular 360 degree views of all of San Diego from its 1,592 foot peak!

The San Diego River

San Diego River flowing through Mission Vallley

San Diego River flowing through Mission Valley

Running through Mission Valley is the picturesque San Diego River. It’s sometimes hard to find through all the condos and shopping centers, but it’s there. Pedestrian/bicycling paths can be found along the Mission Valley Greenway between Texas Street and Hazard Center. There’s also urban kayaking, for the more adventuresome!

Mission Valley Eats

If you’ve worked up an appetite, at Mission Valley Center the popular new Broken Yolk Café is perfect for breakfast or brunch (recommend the eggs benedict and hash browns). Nearby Pho’ Cali serves up some of the tastiest Vietnamese beef noodle soups. And for dinner, local favorite Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza is yummy, as is Oki Ton Japanese Bistro, one of the best sushi bars in town!

Tiki Oasis in the Heart of San Diego

Tiki Oasis art at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Mission Valley

Tiki Oasis art at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Mission Valley

If you’re looking for a place to rest your head at night, look no further than Hotel Circle North and South dotted with numerous affordable motels, hotels and resorts. My personal fav is the tiki oasis known as Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly the Hanalei).

Back in the day it was much more tiki-fied, but remnants remain and it’s a hoot to spot Polynesian artifacts in the lobby and pool areas. The Crowne Plaza, BTW, is the site of 14th annual Tiki Oasis festival on August 14-17. I’ll be there! 🙂

Getting Around

Tip: To see all of Mission Valley in one fell swoop, catch a ride on the San Diego Trolley’s scenic Green Line which hugs the San Diego River. It only costs $2.50 ($5 for a day pass), with convenient stops at Mission Valley Center and Mission San Diego.

See you in Mission Valley – in the middle of it all!

Mission Possible: Stay and Play in San Diego Sweepstakes

Mission Possible: Stay and Play in San Diego Sweepstakes

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to stay and play in the heart of San Diego.

Enter for the chance to complete this mission with two nights at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, two tickets to a San Diego Padres game, meals at DEN restaurant, and two San Diego Trolley passes.

Just steps from the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley’s central location, the Rio Vista Trolley Station makes it a breeze to visit some of the best of San Diego offerings including Petco Park, Old Town, Gaslamp Quarter and the Embarcadero.

The entry page will self destruct on Monday, 9 June 2014, at 10:00 AM.

> Enter Now

Robert Arends

San Diego’s East County is Music to Our Ears!

Taylor Guitar Factory in San Diego's East County

See music in the making on a tour of Taylor Guitars’ factory floor

Bet you didn’t know that three of the world’s most renowned musical instrument companies are headquartered in San Diego’s picturesque East County – in the cities of El Cajon and Spring Valley and small town of Mount Laguna.

Join me for a fine tuned tour of East County to discover where world-class guitars, banjos and harps are made:

Taylor Guitar Company

Rockin'! Taylor Guitars Factory Tour

Rockin’! Taylor Guitars Factory Tour in El Cajon

Our first stop is Taylor Guitar Company in El Cajon, a world-famous designer of top-line acoustic and electric guitars celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. Taylor Guitars are played by some of the top musicians in rock and country music, including Neil Young and San Diego’s very own Jason Mraz. Visitors can take a free guided tour of the Taylor factory Monday through Friday at 1:00 PM.

Did you know: Taylor made 130,000 guitars in 2013!

Where: 1980 Gillespie Way, El Cajon, CA 92020
> Find out more about the Taylor Guitar Company Factory

Deering – The Great American Banjo Company

Taylor Swift playing a Deering Banjo

Taylor Swift playing a Deering Banjo

Nearby Spring Valley is home to Deering – The Great American Banjo Company, played by contemporary musicians like Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Mumford & Sons and even Steve Martin (who’s collaborating with Edie Brickell BTW on the world-premiere musical “Bright Star” at  The Old Globe theater in Balboa Park). Deering is the largest banjo manufacturer in the U.S., producing 10,000 of the sweet twanged musical instruments last year. Visitors can take a free Deering factory tour Tuesday through Friday at 1:00 PM. Call/email in advance to schedule a tour date: 1.800.845.7791, carolinabridges@deeringbanjos.com.

Did you know: Deering produces more than 80 banjo models, including their basic Goodtime banjo that sells for $499.

Where: 3733 Kenora Dr., Spring Valley, CA 91977
> Find out more about Deering – The Great American Banjo Company

Janet, Greg and Jamie Deering, founders of Deering Banjo Company

Janet, Greg and Jamie Deering, owners of Deering Banjo Company

(American Profile magazine recently featured Deering in their March issue.)

Robinson’s Harp Shop

Tucked away, high atop East County’s Mount Laguna – popular for hiking, camping and frolicking in the snow during the winter – is a world-renowned music marvel most San Diegans don’t know about: Robinson’s Harp Shop. Since 1967 this harp string manufacturer, housed in a cabin near the town’s general store, has been sending custom-made strings to loyal customers around the world. There aren’t any visitor tours, as it’s a low-profile, five-person operation that makes the most of its time to produce 150,000 handmade harp strings per year. But Laguna is lovely to visit any time of year…Check out my camping blog, featuring Laguna’s pristine alpine wilderness.

Did you know: Robinson’s is one of only four such harp shops in the U.S., and three of those are related to each other!

> Find out more about Robinson’s Harp Shop

See you in East County where wonders like these never cease!

Candice

Find Art in Unexpected Places throughout San Diego County

Art Alive at the San Diego Museum of Art

With all the beautiful beaches and great hiking trails, it can be easy for visitors to San Diego to forget that the city is also home to incredible art museums and up-and-coming galleries. Fortunately, for locals and visitors alike, you don’t have to head indoors to find great art – it’s all around you in San Diego!

Murals of La Jolla

TOMASELLI_3347-55-81AA_860

A mural by Fred Tomaselli is just one of the Murals of La Jolla

Since 2010, more than a dozen artists have transformed the coastal seaside village of La Jolla into an outdoor contemporary art gallery. The Murals of La Jolla feature massive painted and photographic works by local artists as well as international contemporary art stars.

Writerz Blok

writerz blok graffit art

Writerz Blok, a project of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation

Started as a community initiative to prevent vandalism, Writerz Blok in southeast San Diego offers one of the most unexpected and extraordinary art experiences in San Diego. Young San Diego street artists continually make over the park’s 10,000 sq. ft., which is covered inch for inch with graffiti art.

Galleta Meadows

Galleta Meadows Dragon art sculpture

Galleta Meadows Dragon sculpture!

Surrounded by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and citrus groves, Galleta Meadows features 40 fantastic metal sculptures of dinosaurs, mammoths, saber-tooth tigers, sloths and other ancient former residents, as well as life-size animals of the non-prehistoric kind: camels, tortoises and wild stallions. Created by artist Ricardo Breceda, his “Sky Art” project tells the tale of San Diego’s fascinating and fossilized past one free standing, steel-welded sculpture at a time.

Outdoor Art Comes Indoors: Art Alive at the San Diego Museum of Art

San Diego Museum of Art's Art Alive 2013

Bella Meyer’s moss angel for Art Alive 2013. What will this year’s design look like?

In April, the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park blossoms during Art Alive, an enchanting spring exhibition. Transforming the museum into a colorful display of art and flowers, 120 floral designers take inspiration from the museum’s renowned art collection and create floral renditions of famous paintings and sculptures.

However, the most spectacular part of Art Alive is always the museum’s atrium. Each year, one designer is picked to create and enormous floral design that fills the rotunda from top to bottom. This year’s designer, Carlos Franco of Green Fresh Florals, was inspired by the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain. Expect to see a design composed of 175 hanging pots, 120 bunches of roses, 300 boxwood bunches, 200 bunches of yellow china and white china mums, 8 date palms, 16 conical cypress trees, and 10 rose trees.

san diego museum of art art alive 2014

Volunteers prep hundreds of plants and flowers for Art Alive at the San Diego Museum of Art.

Still looking for more places to find art in unexpected places? Check out the Los Angeles Times‘ suggestions for finding outdoor art in San Diego, or watch our video tour or art in usual places:

[youtube http://youtu.be/bl7tHQE23L0]
Robert Arends

5 to Try for Big Fun on San Diego’s Big Bay!

San Diego's Big Bay
San Diego's Big Bay

Pick your adventure on San Diego’s Big Bay

Spring is here and there’s no better time to make a splash on San Diego Bay – also called the “Big Bay” –  with its treasure trove of attractions, tours, events and cool points of interest.

Following are my top 5 to Try:

1. The Port of San Diego’s Annual Day at the Docks

Kids fishing at the docks

Spend a day with the kids fishing.

The Port of San Diego’s Day at the Docks celebration in April is the West Coast’s largest public sportfishing celebration – and the official start of Southern California’s popular spring saltwater fishing season. Festivities at American’s Cup Harbor include over 200 maritime exhibits, live entertainment, a casting competition, captains’ dunk tank, free fishing and kids art areas. It’s fun and free!

2. The San Salvador

Rendering of how the San Salvador ship will look when completed.

Rendering of how the San Salvador ship will look when completed.

Did you know: in 1542 European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed aboard his ship, the San Salvador, and reached “a very good enclosed port” naming it “San Miguel.” Today we call it San Diego Bay and visitors can step back in time to check out the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s building of a full-sized, fully functional, historically accurate replica of Cabrillo’s flagship, the San Salvador. The framing is nearly complete and it’s easy to imagine the ship that she will become. Ahoy!

3. The Living Coast Discovery Center

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

The South Bay city of Chula Vista is home to one of my favorite attractions for up-close animal encounters: the Living Coast Discovery Center. You can see endangered green sea turtles (tip: go during feeding time!), leopard sharks, friendly stingrays (minus the stingers so you can pet them!) and magnificent birds like falcons and burrowing owls. The observation tower and hiking trails afford picturesque views of the surrounding wetlands and bay.

4. Seeing the Big Bay…While on the Big Bay

Flagship Patriot Jet Boat Tour

Speed across San Diego’s Big Bay aboard a jet powered boat like Flagship’s Patriot

Water activities abound on the bay, from the affordable Coronado Ferry ride, to narrated harbor tours (on Flagship and Hornblower), SEAL Tours, whale watching excursions, kayak tours (including San Diego’s only urban kayak adventure), Jetpack America rides (you too can fly like a superhero!) and two new thrilling, turbo-charged boat rides (the Sea Rocket and Flagship Patriot). Let’s make some waves!

5. Headquarters at Seaport District

The Headquarters at Seaport District. on San Diego's Big Bay

The stylish new Headquarters at Seaport District

Foodies and shoppers are in for a treat at the new Headquarters at Seaport District, located in San Diego’s former Spanish-style police headquarters (pose for pix in an actual jail cell). Nosh on gourmet tacos at Puesto or grab a slice at Pizzeria Mozza, Chef Mario Batali’s first foray into San Diego’s dining scene. Shop-portunties include local surf photographer Aaron Chang’s Ocean Art Gallery and Kitson, a celebrity hot spot and go-to fashion boutique dedicated to pop culture.

Pick your own adventure and discover the many wonders of San Diego’s Big Bay this spring! 🙂

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – April 1-6, 2014

Goodguys Meguiar's Del Mar Rod & Custom Nationals

From butterflies to beaches to beers to bodacious hot rods, there is a lot going on in San Diego this weekend with these top things to do.

San Diego Crew & Brew Classic

Rowers - San Diego Crew Classic

Don’t miss the excitement as it rows on by at the San Diego Crew Classic

With the excitement of rowing races complemented by sunny skies and warm temperatures, the San Diego Crew Classic provides a perfect backdrop for a spring getaway to San Diego.

> Read all about the San Diego Crew Classic

Butterfly Jungle

Butterfly Jungle at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Meet a few of the over 10,000 butterflies in the Butterfly Jungle

Each spring the Safari Park’s Hidden Jungle exhibit is filled with amazing and delightful exotic butterflies of all colors and sizes, and guests can walk among them, take photos, and enjoy pointing out different species using a butterfly identification guide provided by the park. There’s something for everyone, from fun kids’ activities to special presentations to fascinating facts about these wonderful winged insects.

Where: San Diego Zoo Safari Park – 15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92027
When: April 5-27, 2014
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Butterfly Jungle

VinDiego Wine and Food Festival

VinDiego Wine and Food Festival - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Swirl and savor more than 200 handcrafted wines at VinDiego

VinDiego is about people coming together to celebrate a shared passion; a passion for great wine and mouth-watering gourmet food. Come sip, swirl and savor a selection of over 200 handcrafted wines from top-tier wineries. There will also be a fantastic variety of wonderful local restaurants offering delicious culinary samples.

Where: NTC Liberty Station – 2875 Dewey Road, San Diego, CA 92106
When: April 4-5, 2014
Cost: Varies by event
> Find out more about the VinDiego Wine and Food Festival

Goodguys Meguiar’s Del Mar Rod & Custom Nationals

Goodguys Meguiar's Del Mar Rod & Custom Nationals

It’s a full weekend of roddin’ at the beach in ol’ Del Mar.

It’s a full weekend of roddin’ at the beach in ol’ Del Mar featuring a giant show and shine with 1972 and earlier, rods, customs, classics, muscle cars and trucks. Watch the crowning of the Goodguys March Performance Street Rod d’Elegance and a Super Sunday Get-Together for late-model American made or powered cars on Sunday. See more than 3,000 cars, indoor and outdoor car shows, plus vendor exhibits, swap meet and car corral, Goodguys AutoCross, nightly parties, special woody exhibit, live music, model car show and much more!

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA 92014
When: April 4-6, 2014
Cost: $6-$18
> Find out more about the Goodguys Meguiar’s Del Mar Rod & Custom Nationals

San Diego Opera Presents Don Quixote

San Diego Opera Presents Don Quixote

In the magical world of Don Quixote’s Spain, the eccentric knight pursues his impossible dream of capturing the heart of Dulcinea, his idealized woman, who sends him on a quest to recover her stolen necklace. With his loyal sidekick Sancho, he tilts at giant windmills, confronts bandits, and is nearly killed, but achieves his goal. However, when he returns with the prize, he is mocked, scorned and rejected. In one of the most emotional scenes in opera, the delirious Quixote dies believing he hears Dulcinea’s voice calling to him from a distant star.

Where: San Diego Civic Theatre – 1100 3rd Ave., San Diego, CA 92101
When: April 5-13, 2014
Cost: $35-$225
> Find out more about San Diego Opera Presents Don Quixote

Craft Beer + Bites

Craft Beer + Bites - SILO in Makers Quarter

Enjoy craft beer from 10 local breweries paired with small bites from 10 local restaurants, including Green Flash Brewing, Lost Abbey, Societe Brewing, Urbn Street and Alchemy Cultural Fare. In addition to local craft beer and delicious food, SILO will host a variety of interactive games including bocce ball, ping-pong, beanbag toss and life-sized Jenga. Local makers will also be on-hand displaying and talking with guests about custom menswear, murals, silk-screening and home brewing.

Where: SILO at Makers Quarter – 753 15th St, San Diego, CA 92101
When: April 5, 2014
Time: 4:00 to 8:00 PM
Cost: $30-$35
> Find out more about Craft Beer + Bites

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Browse the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of some other top things to do this weekend in San Diego? Let everyone know in the comments below.

Sarah Weinberg

San Diego Crew Classic Rows Its Way on Mission Bay

Rowers - San Diego Crew Classic

With the excitement of rowing races complemented by sunny skies and warm temperatures, the San Diego Crew Classic provides a perfect backdrop for a spring getaway to San Diego.

San Diego Crew Classic

Rowers - San Diego Crew Classic

Don’t miss the excitement as it rows on by at the San Diego Crew Classic

More than 4,000 collegiate, junior and master-level rowers converge each spring in San Diego for the San Diego Crew Classic. Held on the waters of picturesque Mission Bay, this thrilling competition draws rowers and spectators from throughout the United States.

More than 126 universities, clubs and high school programs participate in this premier rowing event, with rowers ranging in age from 14 to 84 years old. For many rowers, the San Diego Crew Classic is the highlight of their competitive rowing careers and also tests the competitive skills of potential future Olympians.

In addition to the exciting races on the water, the San Diego Crew Classic features a trade show, alumni and corporate tents, food vendors, the waterfront Sierra Nevada Beer Garden, and a massive Jumbotron offering a perfect view for the start of the races.

Where: Crown Point Shores Park, Corona Oriente Road, San Diego, CA 92109
When: April 4-6, 2014
Cost: $12-$15. Active military with ID and children under 12 years old – Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Crew Classic

San Diego Brew Classic

San Diego Brew Classic

Enjoy local craft beers and water front views at the San Diego Brew Classic

Enjoy the beautiful views of Mission Bay and the City skyline while sipping your favorite local brews at the beach. On tap will be beers from 10-15 breweries including Karl Strauss, Stone, Coronado Brewing Company, Hillcrest Brewing, Twisted Manzanita and more. Food will also be available for purchase.

Regular admission includes ten 4 ounce tasters and a souvenir cup. VIP admission adds an additional hour of beer tasting.

Where: Crown Point Shores Park, Corona Oriente Road, San Diego, CA 92109
When: April 6, 2014
Time: 2:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $35-$40
> Find out more about the San Diego Brew Classic

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – March 25-30 2014

Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival

The last weekend in March is going out with a bang. Come and enjoy all the amazing activities and attractions San Diego has to offer along with these top things to do.

5th Annual LPGA Kia Classic

5th Annual LPGA Kia Classic - Top Things to Do in San Diego

The Kia Classic features 144 of the best women golfers playing for the $1.7 million purse. The field features 2013 Kia Classic Champion Beatriz Recari and crowd favorites Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson. Sunday is Family Day, full of fun family activities including a scavenger hunt, special autograph sessions and the junior clinic held at 3:00 PM on the driving range featuring LPGA players.

Where: Park Hyatt Aviara Resort – 7100 Aviara Resort Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92011
When: March 24-30, 2014
Cost: $10-$100
> Find out more about the 5th Annual LPGA Kia Classic

Spring Busker Festival

Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival

Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival. Photo courtesy of Boardwalk Betty

The celebration brings colorful street performers from across the country including entertaining sword swallowers, jugglers on unicycles, escape artists and comedic stuntmen performing along the bayfront in downtown’s Seaport Village. The extraordinary and bizarre talents will provide outdoor amusement for all.

Where: Seaport Village – 849 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 29-30, 2014
Time: 12:00 to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Spring Busker Festival

San Diego Zoo Play Days

San Diego Zoo Play Days - Top Things in San Diego

Mark your calendar with Play Days at the San Diego Zoo

Play Days at the San Diego Zoo is a whirl of animal activities and fun for all ages, as guests enjoy special presentations, keeper talks, and animal encounters. Come visit animals that climb, prowl, and plunge!

Where: San Diego Zoo – 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 29 – April 20, 2014
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about San Diego Zoo Play Days

San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Series

Inside Petco - Courtesy Petco Park

Catch the Padres take on the Dodgers at the beautiful Petco Park

Spring is here! Catch the San Diego Padres take on the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Sunday’s game is sold out, but you can watch the fun unfold at many bars and restaurants downtown and throughout the county. Pick up tickets for Tuesday’s game and get an opening day hat! During Wednesday’s game they will be giving away a schedule cling.

Where: Petco Park – 100 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 30 – April 2, 2014
Cost: Check website for seat pricing
> Find out more about the San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Series

CicloSDias Pacific Beach

CicloSDias Family

Bring the whole family to the waterfront community of Pacific Beach for some safe fun in the streets at CicloSDias

CicloSDias will open 2.5 miles of streets, car-free, in Pacific Beach to hundreds of pedestrians and families on bicycles. This is a fun opportunity for visitors and locals alike to come together and enjoy open, car-free streets in San Diego.

Where: The hubs of the event are the intersections at Garnet and Ingraham, Garnet and Mission Blvd, Turquoise and Cass St, and Turquoise and La Jolla Mesa Dr.
When: March 30, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about CicloSDias Pacific Beach

Shout House’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/87526588]

The Shout House in the Gaslamp Quarter has been rocking dueling pianos for 10 years! To thank everyone, they are hosting an anniversary celebration with a hosted bar from 7:00 to 8:00 PM, free appetizers, giveaways and a special 10 Year Anniversary Show. RSVPs are required so don’t wait!

Where: The Shout House – 655 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 27, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM
Cost: No Cover when you RSVP
Shout House’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Browse the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of some other top things to do this weekend in San Diego? Let everyone know in the comments below.

Chelsea

9 Fun Stops For Kids Along Highway 101 in San Diego County

Moonlight Beach along the Highway 101
Moonlight Beach along the Highway 101

Moonlight Beach is just one of the places your kids will love along Highway 101

Growing up, my dad always wanted to “take the coast” home. In San Diego local speak, this meant driving along the Highway 101 versus taking the freeway. In fact, when my husband and I moved to Los Angeles for a brief four years, it was this exact stretch of road that had us asking, “Why did we ever move out of San Diego?!” Hence, we moved back. In other words, the coast highway is a gorgeously scenic route that is worth taking a drive. And if you feel like stopping along the way, here are some fun for the whole family stops to check out along Highway 101:

1. Harbor Fish Cafe

Let’s start at the north end of the Highway 101 in the town where I grew up, Carlsbad. Enjoy the very walk-friendly sidewalks along the ocean to work up an appetite and fuel your family at Harbor Fish while you catch the sunset. Go for the fish and chips while enjoying surfers and sunset views.

Where: 3179 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA

2. Moonlight Beach

Just as the hot weather hits, the snow cones start calling! Head to the recently renovated snack shack at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas to pick your favorite ice flavors, then enjoy pushing your kids in the swings or watch a volley ball game or two all the while seeing the waves crash along the shore. Locals Hint: Starting in October/November, the sand hills are usually back and San Diego’s very own version of “sledding” is to grab an actual snow sled or boogie board and watch your child’s delight as they glide down the sandy “mountain.”

Where: Encinitas Blvd, straight to the water.

3. Lumber Yard

No visit to San Diego would be complete without souvenirs! Check out this seaside set of shops, including every local’s favorite kid’s store: Magical Child. Pick up a unique gift that will entertain your child on the trip home, then grab some hot chocolate from Chuao and enjoy it next to the fountain as you toss coins to make their little wishes come true.

Where: 967 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA

4. The Self Realization Center

First stop at Java Depot for what my kids call “monkey hot chocolate” since they attach a plastic monkey to the cup or grab smoothies from Swami’s Café. Once finished, walk over to check out the amazing plants, Koi fish and views from The Self Realization Center. With so much to see and easy to navigate, it is often an afternoon favorite for our family to visit. Also, it’s great practice in learning to be quiet as they do ask that you “keep it down.”

Where: 939 2nd St, Encinitas, CA

5. Swami’s Tide Pools

Just a short distance down the highway from The Self Realization Center is one of the top surf spots. Even better for small kids than watching the waves is searching for sea urchins in one of the many tide pools at low tide.

Where: Coast Highway, Encinitas

6. Bull Taco

True, this is an eating spot on a camping ground, but it’s a family favorite for a spectacular sunset dinner. Perched high on a cliff, enjoy 360-degree ocean views, including of La Jolla. Grab an ice cream at the camp store to finish off your delicious tacos and burritos. Local hint: pull onto the campgrounds and let them know you just need temporary parking for dinner. Or park on the coast highway and enjoy a nice walk back to the car with ocean breezes after filling those tummies.

Where: 2050 S Coast Highway 101, Cardiff, CA

7. Fletcher Cove

A gorgeous beach just two blocks in from the 101,  start your day with breakfast at the ocean view restaurant Naked Café, followed by some play time at the Fletcher Cove park play structure, then head down to the beach to collect shells. Just when you start to feel you have sufficiently worn out your wee ones, finish off the day with some lunch at the popular Pizza Port. Oh! And if you have train lovers, be sure to check out the station across the street.

Where: Solana Beach, CA – where Lomas Santa Fe meets the water

8. Torrey Pines

For a great hike in San Diego with kids, check out the easy trails along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline. Enjoy the wild flowers and the beauty of the Torrey Pine trees. Head to the ocean after to cool off while splashing in the waves.

Where: 12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, Ca

9. Birch Aquarium

It’s difficult to match the view from this fun for all ages aquarium atop a bluff overlooking the ocean. Stop by to see the Octopus and “hall of fishes,” then head to the hands on exploration area for kids. And when you are ready to have your breath taken away, step outside and enjoy the tide pool display all the while taking in the magnificent views.

Where: Birch Aquarium at Scripps – 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA

With so much to do and see along one of the world’s most scenic highways, your kids are sure to be requesting “let’s take the coast” and Highway 101 in no time, too.

> Discover more of Historic Highway 101 in San Diego