In this episode of Destination San Diego, we’ll explore the diverse terrain and miles of open spaces in San Diego’s Northeast region – an exceptional place to hike or bike, play a round of golf or spend an afternoon at a local winery. We’ll dig into the unexpected history of Ramona and explore the storied past of the Old Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside. Plus, PGA-certified teaching professional and mom, Tina Mickelson, talks about her family’s favorite places to play and what makes golf different in San Diego. Finally, we’ll reveal a hidden, magical garden in Escondido.
San Diego is increasingly becoming a more attractive destinations for touring bands to play, and there’s certainly no shortage of places for bands to play in town. But it would be a mistake to overlook the many excellent homegrown musicians that make San Diego’s music scene unique. San Diego had an explosion of talent in the early ’90s, and since then, has given rise to a long list of unique, innovative bands. There are a few bands today that stand out for being great live acts, however, and if you get the chance to see them, don’t pass it up.
Rocket from the Crypt
Since the early ’90s, Rocket from the Crypt has been an iconic staple of the San Diego music scene, thanks to their legendary live shows, which include a long list of great rock ‘n’ roll songs (which most fans know all the words to) and a constantly changing wardrobe of matching onstage uniforms. They took a six-year break beginning in 2006, but since reuniting, their shows have been just as thrilling as they were in the early days.
If you’ve spent a good amount of time in San Diego and you haven’t seen The Burning of Rome, you’re missing out on a guaranteed good time. Their raw, but theatrical indie rock tunes are catchy and full of energy, but even better yet is their live presence, particularly guitarist Joe Aguilar, whose animated antics will keep your eyes glued to him through the duration of the show.
First and foremost, Wild Wild Wets simply write great songs. That’s a good starting point for why they’re worth investigating, but their live show becomes a sensory experience that involves psychedelic projections and heavy doses of reverb and effects. It’s a trip. They also curate a quarterly showcase of similar-minded but eclectic bands from San Diego and Los Angeles called the San Diego Freak Out, which is never anything less than an uproarious party.
If you want something that has a little more groove than grit, then there’s a lot happening in the local funk and soul community. The best of the bunch is The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, whose “cinematic soul” style is like the lost soundtrack to a 1970s crime drama. They groove hard, but with some subtle nuances – not that those nuances are crucial when you’re getting down to their concise, highly danceable funk when they’re onstage.
Balboa Park offers many ways to wile away an afternoon, but for the next few months, one of the best options is at the Museum of Photographic Arts.
It’s there you’ll find the exhibit “7 Billion Others” on view through September 13, 2015. It’s an incredibly moving look at the human condition and finds universal themes across drastically different living conditions and cultures.
The exhibit features multiple videos of individuals from 84 different countries. The videos are the work of authors Sybille d’Orgeval and Baptiste Rouget-Luchaire, who traveled the world for seven years with reporters, asking interview subjects the same 45 questions. “What meaning does life have for you?” “What did you learn from your parents?” “What message do you want to pass on to your children?” “What do you fear?”
They recorded all the testimonials, ending up with a quilt of interpretations and experiences.
It’s hard to avoid clichés when describing 7 Billion Others because the themes are so universal and broad. Cliché or not, we’re going to describe it here in the hopes that you’ll visit this groundbreaking work.
The videos are grouped by questions and by subjects, like those of love, fear, or happiness. In one video, a Los Angeles woman admits her idea of happiness is a cliché. Every day she tries to imagine that something fabulous will happen to her. A woman from France says happiness is harder to find. She believes some people are born with a propensity for happiness and she isn’t one of them. A 26-year-old man from Bangladesh says he isn’t completely happy because he hasn’t yet found love. He asks: why don’t girls like me?
Almost all of the interview subjects are filmed from the neck up, with their faces filling the frame. As you watch face after face appear, the physical differences are so captivating. It’s amazing to think we all have the same parts – two eyes, a nose and mouth – yet we look so drastically different and individualistic.
The interview subjects discuss plenty of weighty topics. An Iraqi Christian woman explains that she left her country because of killings and robberies while a Serbian man, now living in France, tells of how he dreams of his homeland every night. A woman in Senegal describes poverty as a kind of violence. A man in Japan says in order to fall in love, you have to be willing to destroy yourself. One woman from Africa fears living through another volcano. A common fear across countries is going to hell or fear of God. A man from Cuba said he’s more afraid that God doesn’t exist and that we’re alone in the universe.
Part of the7 Billion Others exhibit includes videos of the authors and reporters at work in the field. You see them going through footage at the end of a long day, often in third world countries. Some of the behind-the-scene videos give more context to the interview subjects. You might see their houses or families surrounding them.
All of this creates an overwhelming sense of connectedness and understanding with individuals living across the world. San Diego marks 7 Billion Others’ U.S. premiere. I guarantee you’ll leave feeling inspired and in awe of how complex we are as human beings.
San Diego has more than its share of small-, medium- and large-sized venues to see rock and pop music. But beneath the din of the punks and the beatmakers, there’s a small but thriving jazz scene in San Diego that always has something to offer, whether it grooves in the pocket or goes wild with free improvisation. Pick up on what San Diego jazz musicians are laying down at these clubs.
Croce’s Park West
For the traditional jazz experience in San Diego, there’s no better place to start than Croce’s. After 30 years in the Gaslamp Quarter, owner Ingrid Croce recently relocated the restaurant and jazz club to Bankers Hill, where it continues to host live jazz musicians nightly, as well as during their Sunday jazz brunch. Serious jazz heads and casual listeners alike will feel right at home here.
Seven Grand isn’t exclusively a jazz club. It is, first and foremost, a whiskey bar, and if you want to taste some top shelf bourbons or scotches before the show, there’s a lot to choose from. But around 9:00 PM, the stage opens up to an eclectic lineup of acts, from the weekly Gilbert Castellanos jazz jam to the more modern approach of artists like Ian Tordella. And best yet, there’s never a cover for any of its shows.
Dizzy’s, admittedly, is in a peculiar spot. By day, it’s the showroom for San Diego Jet Ski Rentals, so if you think you’ve ended up in the wrong spot, just keep that in mind. But it turns out that a big, open showroom for watercraft is actually a fine spot for a jazz concert. It’s spacious, and with excellent acoustics, and there’s no noisy bar scene to distract from the subtler performances. If you want an antidote to the louder and more chaotic clubs, this is the jazz venue for you.
A casual coffeehouse, wine bar and music venue all combined into one space on the UC San Diego campus, The Loft has had quite a few notable touring and local bands on its stage. But a hefty chunk of its music programming comprises jazz, both conventional and avant-garde – much of it courtesy of some talented locals (and students to boot!). It’s a comfortable space to chill, but just remember, it closes while school’s out for the summer.
San Diego is a haven for bargoers – the explosion of the craft beer scene has proven that this is a town that enjoys an IPA or two. But for those not yet of legal drinking age, that means being able to see live music can be a bit more complicated. As it turns out, however, there are several great options for under-21 music fans, and here is a handful of the best all ages live music venues.
If The Irenic looks like a church, that’s because, technically it is. Operating as Mission Gathering on Sundays, North Park’s The Irenic acts as a functional and non-denominational music venue the rest of the week. Its live music program is diverse, hosting everything from punk to electronic and indie rock throughout the year. And all ages are welcome at every show, making it a perfect spot for kids with a thirst for live music.
A little bit mellower than other venues in town, Lestat’s regularly showcases folk and singer/songwriters in San Diego, with occasional touring acts coming through as well. So if you’d rather ease into the live music scene with something a bit more laid-back, it’s a comfortable and friendly spot, with a coffeehouse next door that’s open late at night, just in case the show lets out early (just check in with your folks, they worry).
From marquee touring bands on its main stage to smaller indie acts in its Voodoo Room, the House of Blues – located in the Gaslamp Quarter – can have anywhere between one and three shows happening on any given night. And while it’s not strictly an all ages venue, a great many of its shows are open to those under 21. Just make sure to check their website before buying tickets to avoid confusion.
Like the House of Blues, the 1,100-capacity Observatory North Park isn’t an all-ages venue every night; sometimes it’s limited to 18-and-up audiences, and occasionally, 21 and up. But a quick look at the calendar reveals that most of the time, the venue is pretty teen-friendly, and under certain circumstances – like Future Islands’ two upcoming shows in September – bands will book separate shows for two different age groups.
It’s no secret that San Diego is a great city for live music. It’s home to legendary bars like The Casbah, historic venues like The Observatory (formerly the North Park Theater), and open-air venues like Humphreys. And in just the last month, none other than The Rolling Stones paid a visit to the city with a blockbuster concert at Petco Park. The concert calendar only keeps getting better through the summer, however, with headlining acts that range from younger buzz bands to living legends. Here are five of the best bets for summer concerts in San Diego.
Best Coast hail from Los Angeles, but their ultra-catchy, melodic indie pop and aesthetic that celebrates all things California could just as easily be the soundtrack for San Diego. And when they come to the Observatory in North Park, it most certainly will be. The group just released their third album, California Nights, and it’s a more mature and nuanced, though no less accessible collection of pop gems. Swoon to their moody dream-pop ballads and have a giddy sing-along to favorites like “The Only Place.”
Willie Nelson is 82 years old, but the country music legend is still as musically active as ever, having just released Django and Jimmie, his new collaboration with fellow icon Merle Haggard. Willie’s catalog is so deep and varied that you never really know what you’re going to hear. Some standards from Stardust? An outlaw number from his Shotgun Willie days? A selection or two from the Red-Headed Stranger? All of the above, perhaps, with a sprinkling of Hank Williams covers and “On the Road,” come encore time. Timeless classics, all of them.
Where: Harrah’s Resort Southern California – 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center, CA 92082 When: July 24, 2015 Cost: $55-$125 > Get Tickets for Willie Nelson
Echo & the Bunnymen
Those of us who grew up in the ’80s have a special kind of reverence for new wave/post-punk favorites Echo & the Bunnymen. From their debut album Crocodiles on up to their self-titled 1987 album, they pretty much owned the decade (not to mention placement of their songs in films like The Lost Boys and Pretty in Pink). And though they’re probably not touring with a string section like they did when they were playing Ocean Rain in its entirety, that doesn’t mean you won’t get a chance to hear “The Killing Moon.”
Gotta have that funk! George Clinton didn’t invent funk, but he most certainly helped shape it in the 1970s with his bands Funkadelic and Parliament. Those two separate entities and their cosmic, conceptual catalogs have been merged into one psychedelic funk revue, and the hits run deep: “Flash Light,” “One Nation Under a Groove,” “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker,” etc. Free your mind and your hindquarters will follow.
Taylor Swift has come a long way since starting off her career as America’s teenage country sweetheart. She’s pretty much conquered the pop game, and the ubiquity of “Shake It Off” is proof enough at that. I tend to prefer the songs on Red (“State of Grace” is the jam), but whatever era of Taylor you consider best, this will no doubt be one of the biggest concerts of the summer.
Summer in San Diego isn’t all beaches and barbecues. There’s a lot of great theater happening on our local stages. With our city’s laidback attitude and sense of style, you can leave the beach and head to the theater in your flip-flops – just make sure to change out of that bathing suit!
Here are some of your best drama and musical options for the summer of 2015.
Motown the Musical
Photo courtesy of Motown The Musical
It doesn’t get more toe-tapping and hip-shaking than a musical about the greatest hits of Motown. This is the national touring production of the Broadway musical about Berry Gordy, the legendary founder of the Motown record label. You can expect to hear all your favorite songs by Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5.
A rock-inspired, original musical about what happened to the small town of Gander, Newfoundland when 38 planes were diverted there on September 11, 2001. An international slumber party ensues, despite the tragic circumstances, with the townspeople entertaining travelers with music and an open bar. Original musicals are tough to find these days and this world premiere looks very promising.
If you were around in the 70s, you surely remember these song lyrics: “Everybody’s Talkin’ at me,” “Can’t live, if living is without you,” “One is the loneliest number,” and “You put the lime in the coconut.” The songs of Harry Nilsson are so recognizable, yet not many know the story of this musician and his wild escapades. The Rep’s world premiere musical includes Nilsson’s beloved music and some top talent, including Tony-Award winning actors in the leads.
Based on the classic indie film of the same name, this musical is about three young marines on the eve of their deployment to Southeast Asia. The night of debauchery turns serious when one of them becomes entangled with an awkward waitress at the center of a cruel bet. Her idealism changes him, and challenges his compassion and ideas about romantic love.
This Cole Porter classic will get the premiere treatment of recent Tony Award-winning director Darko Tresnjak, who charmed audiences with his hilarious staging of “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.” Porter’s witty songs mixed with showstopping dance numbers tell the story of a divorced couple whose battles threaten to take down a musical version of “The Taming of the Shrew.” As far as entertainment goes, this is a sure thing.
For a smaller, more intimate theater experience, head up to Carlsbad to see “The Quality of Life,” a drama about two very different couples: one living in a yurt in Northern California after a fire destroys their home and another from the Midwest who recently lost a child. As the couples converge, their different life perspectives inform how they handle tragedy. Intrepid is a small, ambitious theater company that has won the praise of critics and audiences. This theater experience will undoubtedly be powerful and worthy of discussion over a glass of wine after the show.
You know the old saying, “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” Well, San Diego has its own historic maritime tale: “In 1542, Cabrillo sailed the ocean blue and discovered…San Diego.” Yep, hard to believe that over 470 years ago(!)Portuguese explorer named Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who sailed for Spain, came across our little slice of paradise.
Cabrillo didn’t stay long, though; just enough time to anchor his ship, the San Salvador, off Point Loma, note and name our beautiful bay, and continue up the coast.
Launch of the San Salvador
The completed San Salvador and its amazing construction crew. Photo credit: Jerry Soto
San Diego makes history again Labor Day Weekend, September 3-5, 2016, during the Maritime Museum of San Diego‘s maiden voyage celebration of the first full-scale, historically-accurate working replica of the San Salvador, the “Mayflower of the West.” The impressive $6.2 million vessel stands 60 feet tall, weighs 230 tons and took the Maritime Museum five years to construct.
Coinciding with the museum’s annual Festival of Sail, the largest tall ship festival on the West Coast, visitors can for the first time board the San Salvador and enjoy a variety of onshore exhibits spotlighting this seaworthy recreation of Cabrillo’s 16th century galleon.
The adventure continues through October as the San Salvador embarks on a Pacific Heritage Tour of California’s coast, serving as a seafaring symbol of California’s origin story and the history of America from a West Coast perspective, and it will anchor in the following cities:
September 15-18: Oxnard, Channel Islands Maritime Museum
September 23-25: Monterey, Monterey State Historic Park
September 30 – October 9: Morro Bay, Central Coastal Maritime Museum Association
At each port, visitors will be able to board the ship and discover immersive dockside exhibits and events.
More Cabrillo Sites in San Diego
For history buffs, following are a few other cool Cabrillo sights (including a couple hidden in plain sight) to check out while you’re here:
Cabrillo National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego’s only national park, commemorates Point Loma peninsula (Ballast Point, to be exact) as the “Plymouth Rock of the West” where Cabrillo came ashore. Cabrillo, the first European to set foot in California, claimed the bay for Spain. He noted it was “a very good port.” Couldn’t agree more, señor Cabrillo 😉
It would be more than 200 years later before the first Spanish mission was founded here.
There’s a 14-foot statue of Cabrillo with panoramic views of San Diego Bay and downtown; a phenomenal photo opp! Did you know: the Cabrillo sculpture was initially envisioned as a colossal statue that would exceed the Statue of Liberty in height!
California Tower in Balboa Park
California Tower in Balboa Park
Cabrillo find #2 is located high atop the California Tower in Balboa Park, part of the San Diego Museum of Man. You’ll need binoculars to spot this one. The large weathervane on top of the cathedral-like tower is, in fact, the San Salvador. Pretty cool! For the first time in 80 years, the California Tower is now open for visitors to climb. Reservations required. Don”t forget to bring your camera!
On the museum’s façade, there’s also a clay and plaster figure of Cabrillo. If you’re facing the building, he’s just below and to the right of Junipero Serra , father of the California missions (right of the balcony).
San Diego Museum of Man façade. Can you spot Cabrillo?
So now you know about our discoverer, Cabrillo, and his mark on San Diego’s – and California’s – history 🙂
With sunny skies and warm weather in the forecast, it’s not too late to plan your escape to San Diego for the weekend and enjoy these outdoor top things to do:
Festa do Espirito Santo
Celebrate Portuguese Heritage by joining in the city’s oldest ethnic festival that commemorates Portugal’s Queen St. Isabel feeding the poor during a centuries-ago famine. This family friendly festival will feature plenty of live music, a bazaar, food and a parade on Sunday.
Steer Wrestling, Barrel Racing and Bull Riding at the Ramona Rodeo
Yeehaw! One of the country’s top PRCA sanctioned full-scale pro rodeos, the Ramona Rodeo is a 3-day event featuring barrel racing, tie-down roping, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, and bareback riding. Also, don’t miss the Ramona Main Street Parade on Saturday.
North Park Festival of the Arts & Craft Beer Block
Live music, art, food and craft beer at the North Park Festival of Arts & Craft Beer Block
Spend the day in North Park enjoying a diverse line-up of bands, dancers and artists into one marathon day of performances spread across multiple stages. For the beer lovers in the audience, a ticket to Craft Beer Block will include over 25 local breweries, 12 4-ounce tasters and a commemorative glass.
Are ye brave enough to climb aboard for Pirate Days?
Arrr, matey! Sail on down to the Embarcadero to embark on a two-day celebration for kids of all ages. The days will include kids costume contests, carnival games, cannon firings, weapon demonstrations, sword fights, scary stories, and scavenger hunt for the pirate treasure, which the mermaid holds at the end of the treasure hunt.
The Escondido Street Faire is fun for the whole family
Since 1989, the Escondido Street Faire has brought live entertainment, over 500 vendors, children’s rides and activities, and food from around the world to the downtown tree-lined streets of Escondido.
Godetevi il cibo, la musica e la danza della Sicilia al festival siciliano a Little Italy
Venite a festeggiare un anniversario…stile siciliano! La musica, la danza, la cultura e la cucina della Sicilia arrivano in piazza di San Diego, in zona Little Italy come parte della celebrazione l’annuale Festa di Siciliano.
Come celebrate an anniversary…Sicilian-Style! The music, dance, culture and cuisine of Sicily come to the streets of San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood as part of the 20th Annual Sicilian Festival celebration.
In anticipation of the main CicloSDias event on Sunday, August 11, this weekend’s CicloSDias Mini will close the Marston Loop in Balboa Park to cars and open it up to everyone on bikes, roller blades, skateboards, two feet and anything else. Make sure to bring a blanket, and picnic food and games to enjoy a car free afternoon.
From North County to Old Town to Coronado, San Diego is closing out April with some amazing events. Make sure to check out at least one of these top things to do:
Best of North County Party
Enjoy food, wine and good friends at San Diego Magazine’s Best of North County.
Sample, sip and party along with the best that North County has to offer. Special appearances by the region’s top chefs, wine and food tastings from leading dining destinations and unexpected entertainment elements make for an unforgettable evening.
Pick up new plants, enjoy live music and learn about water conservation gardening at the Spring Garden Festival.
Urban farming is the theme of this year’s festival, which marks the event’s 20th anniversary! Visitors will enjoy demonstrations, the college nursery’s biggest plant sale of the year, Petting zoos, face painting and a farmers market.
Enjoy the traditional Folklorico Dance in Old Town State Historic Park.
Folklórico is a traditional Latin American dance that emphasizes local folk culture with ballet characteristics. Folklórico dancers from throughout Southern California will come to Old Town State Historic Park to perform their best dances as they compete for the championship.
Actor John C. Reilly is scheduled to perform at the 2013 Adams Avenue Unplugged
Over the course of 2 days and along the two-mile stretch of Adams Avenue, more than 180 artists will play live at 25 venues including restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, galleries and four outdoor community stages. A free shuttle will make it from one set to the next before the music starts.
Food, music, rides, a beer garden and over 450 vendors at the Encinitas Street Fair.
Enjoy two days of unique food, five live music stages, children’s rides, beer garden, and over 450 vendors selling clothes, accessories, plants, household products, environmental products, art, antiques and home decor.
Cheer on these endurance runners at the La Jolla Half Marathon.
Enjoy the coastal views while cheering on these endurance runners as they run 13.1 miles through this La Jolla course. (As someone who has run this half marathon before, any encouragement at the top of Torrey Pines is welcome…that is one heck of a hill!). If you are up for it, there is still time to register for the much shorter 5k.