5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

From festivals to flowers to a tasting of some of the best restaurants in Hillcrest, there is plenty to do in San Diego this weekend!

Fallbrook Avocado Festival

1. Fallbrook Avocado Festival. Since the 1960’s, tens of thousands of avocado lovers converge in Fallbrook, located in San Diego’s North County, to sample avocados, check-out the crazy cooking contest entries, buy funky avocado-themed gifts and enjoy bands, live entertainment and friendly beer gardens. Avocado loving day is Sunday, April 17th.

Spring Busker Festival

2. Seaport Village comes with a celebration of street performers during the Spring Busker Festival, April 16-17. In a battle of entertainment, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind performers including jugglers, sword swallowers, comedic stuntmen and Didgeridoo players take to Seaport Village’s cobblestone streets for a weekend of outdoor family amusement.

Taste of Hillcrest

3. Get ready to experience this year’s most tantalizing taste event as you explore the Taste of Hillcrest taking place on Saturday, April 16th from noon to 4:00 pm. Enjoy a self-guided stroll that will take you around to some of the top chefs in San Diego. With samples created from over 40 of the area’s prominent restaurants, you are sure to find a new takeout favorite or dining hotspot.

Coronado Flower Show

4. The 86th Annual Coronado Flower Show, taking place in Spreckels Park, is the largest tented flower show in the West. This year’s theme is “Dig, Design and Dine.” Flower exhibits are displayed inside tents surrounding a central gazebo, which becomes the stage for live entertainment and trophy presentations. There are also flower sales and food vendors. Check out our Coronado Flower Show 5 to Try.

Lakeside Rodeo

5. Giddy up! During April 15-17, the Annual Lakeside Rodeo and Parade aspiring cowboys and cowgirls can see bareback bronco rides, calf roping and other traditional rodeo competitions along with food and crafts at the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds in San Diego’s East County.


5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

1. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park presents Butterfly Jungle, April 9-May 8. During this four-week celebration, guests can walk through the Park’s Hidden Jungle, an African aviary, and surround themselves with thousands of butterflies of every shape, size and color. A variety of butterfly species flutter freely throughout the Hidden Jungle along with more than 100 birds, creating a realistic rainforest environment.

South Coast Winery Resort and Spa

2. This annual spring event is a must see for any wine lover out there. South Coast Winery celebrates spring on April 10th from 3:00 – 7:00 pm with a blessing of the vineyards, followed by live entertainment, a barbecue, dancing and of course wine! Interested in a wine tasting? Comment on our blog and five lucky people with receive a 2 for 1 Wine Tasting gift card. Comment by Monday, April 11, 2011 at 10:00 am pacific.

The Lindley Lopez Circus

3. Head downtown with the kids for the Shake & Shout Family Festival, Saturday April 9 at the New Children’s Museum. From urban dance with Culture Shock to circus arts with The Lindley Lopez Circus, the Shake & Shout Family Festival appeals to kids and adults alike. Additional performances include Birdie’s Playhouse, Aaron Nigel Smith, and San Diego Young Gunz. Free with museum admission.

Photo by Jessica Packard

4. The season is just getting underway in San Diego as the San Diego Padres take on the Dodgers April 8-10. Special promotions include fireworks and rally towels on Friday, Padres mesh caps on Saturday and a special Military opening day on Sunday.

Ramona Music Fest

5. A variety of music artists will light up two stages at the annual Ramona Music Fest IV on Saturday, April 9th. The music kicks off at noon and continues to 6:00 pm at Dos Picos County Park. Ten bands and solo performers are expected to entertain the crowd with everything from rock, country and reggae, to a full brass band.


5 To Try This Weekend

1. Over 90 races in two days will be held in Mission Bay at the 38th Annual San Diego Crew Classic. Spectators can watch as collegiate, junior and masters athletes compete for early season honors and coveted trophies. Be sure to check out the shore-side tent row for alumni and clubs, the jumbotron displaying races start to finish, a beer garden on the sand, and much more!

2. Did you know there are over fifteen designated gardens in Balboa Park? Spring is a great time to see what is blossoming at the nation’s largest urban cultural park. One of my favorites is the Rose Garden. The Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden displays over 2,500 roses of nearly 200 varieties on three acres and in April and May, the roses are at their peak.

3. Opening March 30th at the Valley View Casino Center for eight performances is Cirque du Soleil Quidam. Cirque du Soleil’s latest installment is full of creativity, acrobatics, athleticism and illusion. Quidam tells the story of Zoe, a young girl who is very bored with her life. To fill the void, she slides into an imaginary world where she meets characters who encourage her to free her soul. Plays at various times through April 3rd.

4. This Sunday, car enthusiasts can descend upon the Ellen Scripps Browning Park in La Jolla and preview over 150 automobiles in 30 speciality car classes at the 7th Annual La Jolla Motor Car Classic. The featured marque for this year is German Automobiles. The event will also showcase top stateside automobiles, including Chevy Corvettes, Shelby Cobras, Packards, and Ford Mustangs.

5. On April 1st, the San Diego Zoo will unveil several new features for Zoo visitors. The Zoo will debut its newly remodeled front plaza with color-coded pathways and its freshly painted, double-decked tour bus. Then starting April 2nd the Zoo will begin its latest event, Play Days, which offers guests 23 days full of 23 different animal experiences each day. From Pachyderm Pedicures to Bonobo Popsicle Parties, visitors are sure to see the Zoo’s animals in a whole new light.


5 To Try This Weekend

1. 4th Annual SUPERSEAL Triathlon & SEAL Sprint: Come out to Coronado and cheer everyone on as they complete the course designed by local Navy SEALs. The SUPERSEAL Triathlon consists of a 1,500 meter swim in the Silver Strand State Beach Bay, followed by a 40K bike course on Highway 75 and 10K running course. The SEAL Sprint consists of a 500 meter swim, 20K bike course and 6K run.

2. Mission Valley Craft Beer Festival: Beer lovers will gather to enjoy local craft brews for a purpose. The 2nd Annual Mission Valley Craft Beer Festival is being held to promote local San Diego craft beers and local San Diego chefs with proceeds donated to Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. Over 30 local craft brewing companies and 15 local chefs will be on hand at the Handlery Hotel and Resort.

3. Julian Daffodil Show: Visitors to Julian can enjoy an annual celebration of spring’s most cheerful blooms. Daffodils are on display both days from noon to 5:00 p.m. at the Julian Town Hall and Blue Heron Garden Shop.

4. Flower Fields of Carlsbad, California: Visitors to the Flower Fields will see a giant ranunculus flowers on over 50 acres of hills. During March through May, guests can stroll past oceans of flowers and through beautiful gardesn, including a miniature rose garden, fragrant sweet pea maze, and a garden featuring more than 50 All American Rose Selection winners.
5. Silent Film Night with the San Diego Symphony: One of the most visually innovative films of the Silent Era comes to Symphony Hall with the San Diego Symphony as the live soundtrack! Performance starts at 8:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Robert Arends

Puttin’ on the Glitz at Coronado’s Classic Movie Theater

San Diego Magazine recently spotlighted the remarkable transformation of Coronado’s historic Village Theatre (located on Orange Ave.) in their March issue. It’s well worth a read!

Rendering of the new Village Theatre.


Originally built in 1947 and then closed in 2000, this magical main street movie house from yesteryear is being lovingly renovated by Vintage Cinemas into a modern, Art Deco-inspired three-screen cinema. I’ve got to say, these designers are the best in the business at capturing the glitz and glamour of the silver screen. Locals and visitors alike are in for a Hollywood-style treat!

Puttin' on the glitz! Mural I spotted in the lobby.

The theatre is expanding to three screens – a spacious 200-seat big screen and two 45-seat screens – and incorporating the latest technology; two screens will have 3D projection capabilities.

The 200-seat main screen BEFORE.

I had the privilege of meeting with Lance Alspaugh, Vintage’s owner/partner, who gave me a sneak peek at the progress being made inside. It’s admittedly still rough around the edges, but they’re on target to open in May just in time to entertain summer beachgoers and day trippers to Coronado island.

I’ll stop in again this spring to take some more photos before they officially roll out the red carpet to the public.

200-seat main screen AFTER…San Diego-inspired - check out the Balboa Park silhouettes!

Robert Arends

5 To Try: East County’s Quirky Roadside Attractions

From quaint and quirky to weird and wonderful, San Diego has numerous backcountry marvels that dot the expansive East County region. Roadside attractions have always fascinated me because they meld America’s love affair with the road with a creative entrepreneurial spirit that makes drivers do a double take.

Following are five fun ones to try. Get your motor running!

A sweet tart of roadside attractions in Lemon Grove.

  1. The “World’s Largest Lemon” in Lemon Grove (located off Historic Highway 94, alongside the San Diego Trolley tracks at Broadway & Main Street). This gigantic fiberglass lemon is a nod to the area’s citrus boom of the early 1900s and commemorates the town’s incorporation in 1977. The lemons are long gone except for a small grove adjacent to this tart 10-foot wide wonder. The base of the sculpture reads, “Best climate on earth.”

    Ranchita's roadside Rancheti!

  2. “Rancheti” Bigfoot statue in Ranchita (along County Highway S22, 9 mi. SW of Borrego Springs): This 11 foot, 300-pound white yeti statue – built by Ranchita resident/realtor Joe Rauh to bring attention to his tiny desert town  – keeps watch over the parking lot by the Ranchita Country Store. A must-see for “snowbirds” and other desert visitors; stop by, take photos and pick up a souvenir T-shirt or tote bag.
  3. Desert View Tower in Jacumba (located on Historic Highway 80): This 70-foot, San Diego historic landmark – commissioned in 1922 as a tribute to early pioneers – is renowned for its incredible panoramic views of the desert floor below (views stretching from the Salton Sea to Mexico!) and a wonderfully weird Americana museum and boulder garden filled with whimsical painted animal rock carvings. Admission: $3. Ensuing laughter from this offbeat roadside attraction: priceless. 
  4. I’ve mentioned them before, but the “Sky Art” Sculptures in Borrego Springs (Galleta Meadows Estate along Borrego Springs Road) – a magical metallic menagerie of dozens of freestanding life-size sculptures of creatures that roamed the valley millions of years ago – are well worth repeating.

    All that's left of Dinosaur Land in Alpine is this friendly fellow.

  5. Speaking of dinos, there’s a little known find of the prehistoric kind called Dinosaur Land in Alpine (located in Alpine Mobile Home Estates along historic Highway 80). There’s not much left of this nifty amusement park from yesteryear (1960s) and its 10 ancient inhabitants, except this curious creature that was too massive to move when the mobile home park was built. Stop by and say hi – we promise it won’t bite 😉

5 to Try This Weekend

1. All month long, 40 museums throughout San Diego are 50% off during San Diego Museum Month! From the San Diego Air & Space Museum to the Oceanside Museum of Art, you can definitely get your culture on. Be sure to pick up your pass at any Macy’s in San Diego County. It’s a great time to try your favorite museum or something new.

2. I love having a three-day weekend; that extra day allows me to do something I wouldn’t normally have time for. This weekend I’m going to the Little Italy Mercato on Saturday (weather please hold up). With over 6,500 farms in San Diego County, there is always plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and other goodies to be found at Farmers Markets.

3. The 21st Annual San Diego Jewish Film Festival runs through February 20th. Some of the films playing this weekend include “The Matchmaker” and “Who Do You Love”.

4. Did you know that Friday, February 18th is going to be a full moon? Take a romantic full-moon dinner cruise on a Hornblower yacht and enjoy dinner, champagne, music and dancing under the stars and the beautiful San Diego skyline.

5. One of our staffers recently saw “Superior Donuts” playing at the San Diego Repertory Theatre through March 6. She said it was both a funny and poignant play set in a 1960’s donut shop. Eat before you go, otherwise you may be drooling over the donuts during the show!


5 To Try This Weekend

1. The Navy is celebrating 100 years of naval aviation in a big way this weekend. On Saturday, February 12th, the Navy will showcase its “Parade of Flight” with more than 200 planes flying over Coronado and the Bay. It will be the largest naval flyover since WWII! Be sure to check out the Union-Tribune’s special section that gives viewers tips on best spots to view the flyover as well as a viewer’s guide to aircraft.

2. With museum month in full swing, the New Children’s Museum is featuring a fun KidFunk Family Festival on Saturday. The festival runs from 10 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and will feature award-winning musical talent, dance crews, and a unique animal presentation by Wild Wes and the San Diego Zoo. It includes special appearances by Rhythm Child, Egg, and Super Galactic Beat Manipulators, culminating with an interactive Karaoke and DJ session.

3. It’s the year of the Rabbit, and you can celebrate at the 29th Annual San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair Saturday and Sunday. This free, family friendly event will feature lion and dragon dancers, martial artists, acrobats and musicians at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and J Street. No matter what zodiac you were born under, there will be plenty of fun for the whole family as they celebrate the most exciting Chinese holiday of the year.

4. This weekend in Balboa Park, Circus Vargas has set up its Big Top Tent. Arrive early for the free Preview Show, and join Jon Weiss as he invites kids of all ages into center ring to learn juggling, feather-balancing and hula-hooping. Circus Vargas unites skilled performers with clowns that actually make you laugh. They will be in Balboa Park from February 10-21.

5. Start your Valentine’s Day off early and take your sweetheart to see Jane Austen’s Emma A Musical Romantic Comedy currently playing at the Old Globe. Deliciously charming, this new romantic comedy from Tony Award-nominated composer Paul Gordon and directed by Tony Award nominee Jeff Calhoun brings Jane Austen’s classic story to musical life. Playing through February 27th.

Robert Arends

5 To Try: Centennial of Naval Aviation in Coronado

History that literally flies off the pages is my kind of history! The spectacular Centennial of Naval Aviation (CONA) is coming to Coronado this Saturday. The ‘Crown City” is gearing up for thousands of expected spectators to view an historic “Parade of Flight,” featuring over 200 aircraft – from vintage planes to the famous Blue Angels. It’ll be the largest naval aircraft flyover since WWII… yep, you’ll be telling your grandkids about this one!

The Blue Angels to soar over Coronado!

Coronado is where naval aviation began, in 1911, when aviator/inventor Glenn Curtiss trained a Navy officer to fly a seaplane from the sandy, formerly scrub-covered isle.

Following are five fun – mostly free – things to do in (and just off) Coronado to celebrate this momentous occasion:  

  1. Flight of fancy… The US Navy is packing 100 years of naval aviation history into one day – February 12 – showcasing its rich and exciting aviation heritage. Most anticipated event: the colossal CONA Parade of Flight, starting at 1 p.m. and lasting approx. two hours. Prime viewing spots: Coronado Beach and the bayside Coronado Ferry Landing.

    Vintage planes to fly in historic Parade of Flight.

  2. Make waves… If you want to see the Parade of Flight nautical-style, reserve your seat for Hornblower Cruises & Eventsexclusive three-hour CONA Parade of Flight Spectator & Lunch Cruise on San Diego Bay. They promise the best views from the water, as planes fly high overhead. It includes a gourmet lunch and free-flowing champagne. Now that’s the way to toast the Centennial! Tickets: $54.95. ($30 sans lunch); discounts for children, seniors, and military.
  3. On the house… Before/during/after the parade, check out NAS North Island’s CONA Open House (event gate opens 9 a.m.). Festivities include aircraft carrier/ship tours, 75 static aircraft (my father, CAPT Ret., flew the classic H-3 Sea King helicopters), Leap Frogs parachute jump team demo, classic car show, stunt motorcycles, Centennial Historic Village, live entertainment and more. Best part: it’s all FREE! – Free admission, free parking and free blanket seating to watch the once-in-a-lifetime air show.

    Flying into the history books over Hotel del Coronado.

  4. Wing it… In conjunction with CONA, the Coronado Museum of History & Art opened a “Wings of Gold: Coronado and Naval Aviation” exhibit (continuing through Sept.), featuring “fly” artifacts from yesteryear, including a pilot license signed by Orville Wright(!), helmet of one of the first female naval aviators and scale model of the original seaplane designed/built by Curtiss and flown off Coronado’s shores.  Admission: free.

    Glenn Curtis trains first naval aviator in Coronado.

    The Coronado Historical Association also proudly presents “Home Front” Project – free self-guided driving tours of over 150 former naval aviators’ homes with a brochure/map and brief bios on each pilot.

  5. By the book… The Coronado Public Library has six high-flying CONA programs scheduled throughout 2011, including exhibits, talks and films, starting with the Emmy Award-winning documentary, “Glenn Curtiss: The Forgotten Eagle” on Feb. 18. John Wayne even makes an appearance – in “Flying Leathernecks” – on May 20. Cost: free. ‘nuff said.

See you Saturday in Coronado for the big Centennial of Naval Aviation launch!


5 to Try: Art Rules at Museum Month

Nominate San Diego for a social media award in the Shorty Awards!Nominate San Diego for a social media award in the Shorty Awards travel category

Sure, the great weather and beautiful beaches are what San Diego is best known for, but away from the shore are some of San Diego’s real treasures: great art museums.  With Museum Month happening through February 28, now is the perfect time to soak up some color (and I don’t mean by working on your tan).

Swing by any Macy’s store in San Diego County, Imperial County or Riverside County  to pick up your free Museum Month Pass.  The pass is good all month long and will get you and up to 3 family or friends half off admission at more than 40 museums!

From Balboa Park to Oceanside and La Jolla to Encinitas, you’re never far from world class works of art.  Here are 5 San Diego art museums not to miss during Museum Month:

Carlos Amorales from Mexico: Expected/Unexpected

Museum of Contemporary Art

Opening Feb. 5 at their La Jolla location, MCASD presents Mexico: Expected/Unexpected featuring more than 100 artworks from one of Mexico’s most comprehensive contemporary art collections, the Isabel and Agustín Coppel Collection.  Juxtaposing contemporary Mexican artists like Carlos Amorales with more traditional historical figures like Gordon Matta Clark, Mexico:Expected/Unexpected is sure to stir up visitors’ perceptions of how art is categorized and the conversations that different artists and artworks create amongst each other.

Alison Saar at LUX

LUX Art Institute

On view through March 16 is LUX artist in resident Alison Saar.  Saar’s sculpture explores issues of identity in captivating and surprising ways.  Influenced by African and Haitian folklore, contemporary African-American culture, Catholicism, mythology and voodoo, Saar invites viewers to contemplate heavy subjects such as fertility, politics and human vulnerability with a little bit of humor.

Duane Michals from Imagine That!

Museum of Photographic Arts

It’s hard to pick which exhibition will captivate visitors to MoPA more: Imagine That! or Streetwise: Maters of 60s Photography.  Culled from the museum’s permanent collection, Imagine That! showcases photographers who create images beyond just what the eye sees, while Streetwise, opening Feb. 5, includes  documentary style portrayals of life on the street by iconic photographers including Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, Lee Friedlander, Garry Winogrand and more.

Thomas Gainsborough

San Diego Museum of Art

Though he may be best known for his portrait of “Blue Boy,” the San Diego Museum of Art explores how Thomas Gainsborough portrays women’s role in society with Thomas Gainsborough and the Modern Woman.  On view through May 1, the exhibition looks to Gainsborough’s portraits of women as a way to understand art, fashion and gender roles in the second half of the eighteenth century.

Artwork by Michelle Monjoy

Oceanside Museum of Art

On view through May 22 are the breathtaking botanical images of Imogen Cunningham, a pioneering photographer whose work with natural elements emphasize pattern, texture and detail.  And don’t miss Whole: Michelle Montjoy before it closes on Feb. 20.  Montjoy’s unexpected pieces transform old maps, fabric and pieces of clothing into delicate works addressing themes of memory and mapping systems.