Robert Arends

Make Waves on Mission Bay During Kids Free Month!

Have you heard? It’s Kids Free month in San Diego! Nope, that doesn’t mean San Diego is free from kids. But rather, just about everything for a kid’s visit (with their family) to San Diego is Free – as in free admission to all the major attractions, museums and so much more.

Kids Free month deals abound in Mission Bay!

Kids Free month deals abound in Mission Bay!

One area that was made for play is Mission Bay, a 4,600-acre aquatic wonderland of beaches, walking/bicycling trails, family-friendly resorts, water activities and famous attractions like SeaWorld.

Following are some of the coolest free offerings I scoped out around Mission Bay:

Play!

SeaWorld San Diego

Dolphin Encounter - SeaWorld San Diego in Mission Bay

Kids can enjoy the Dolphin Interaction Program at SeaWorld for free!

SeaWorld San Diego offers kids 3-9 years old free admission (1 child per paid adult), free Dine With Shamu (1 child per paid adult) and free Dolphin and Beluga Interaction Programs (1 child 10-13 years old per paid adult).

Belmont Park

Free kids rides on the Giant Dipper roller coaster by Mission Bay!

Free kids rides on the Giant Dipper roller coaster by Mission Bay!

At nearby Belmont Park, home of the thrilling Giant Dipper roller coaster, kids can enjoy unlimited free rides and laser tag (1 child per paid adult). They also ride for free (1 child per 2 paid riders) on FlowRider or FlowBarrel.

Paradise Point Resort

The tropical Paradise Point Resort offers kids free bike rentals to cruise the bayside plus free kayak and standup paddleboard rentals.

Bahia Belle Sternwheeler

Bahia Belle on Mission Bay

Kids ride free on the Bahia Belle sternwheeler!

Ahoy! Kids ride for free (1 child per paid adult) on the Bahia Belle sternwheeler cruise at the Bahia Resort Hotel.

Eat!

Kids eat free (with each adult purchase) at the Bahia Resort, Catamaran Resort (The Atoll restaurant) and The Dana on Mission Bay (Blue Pearl restaurant). They also get free breakfast at Hyatt Regency Mission Bay.

At Belmont Park, get your grub on with free kids’ meals (1 kids meal per paid adult meal) at Wavehouse Beach Club, South Mission Draft and North Shore Café.

Gifts!

Upon check in, Hilton San Diego Resort is giving out a free welcome gift to kids who check in. At the hip Tower 23 Hotel, each kids receives free milk and cookies plus a movie rental!

Free Animal Encounters in Mission Bay

Meet a parrot named Cornell at Catamaran Resort!

Meet a parrot named Cornell at Catamaran Resort!

You’ll also want to check out these awesome free animal encounters on Mission Bay!

> Browse even more Kids Free Offers in San Diego

Who knew there was so much to see and do for free?! 🙂

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
Maren

5 to try in San Diego in 2013

Happy New Year! Have you made your resolution yet? I resolve to learn Spanish, make time for travel, and enjoy the variety of activities San Diego has to offer. Maybe this year you’ll resolve to take a trip to San Diego’s 70 miles of beach, near perfect weather, and laid-back vibe. If so, here are 5 great things you should resolve to experience on your next trip to San Diego:

Enjoy a family ride along the Pacific Beach Boardwalk. Photo courtesy Brett Shoaf Artistic Visuals

Enjoy a family ride along the Pacific Beach Boardwalk. Photo courtesy Brett Shoaf Artistic Visuals

Bike the Boardwalk: Biking, skating, or strolling the 3 ½ mile boardwalk running from North Pacific Beach to South Mission Beach is a quintessential San Diego activity, and a great way to enjoy the ubiquitous New Year’s “I will exercise more!” resolution. At the north end, the boardwalk runs along a 75-foot bluff until Crystal Pier/Palisades Park.  The park supplies a natural resting point, looking out over the ocean, with great places to brunch and shops to explore. Continuing south from Crystal Pier, the boardwalk becomes level with the beach as it moves by charming beach rentals, Hamel’s Surf Shop, and Belmont Park, featuring the historic Giant Dipper Roller Coaster and the Wave House. From Belmont Park to the end of South Mission Beach, the boardwalk becomes more peaceful and subdued, eventually ending in a park with some excellent beach volleyball courts.

Make Stone Brewery and Bistro one of the stops on your San Diego Craft Brew Tour. Photo courtesy StudioSchulz.com

Make Stone Brewery and Bistro one of the stops on your San Diego Craft Brew Tour. Photo courtesy StudioSchulz.com

Take a Craft Beer Tour: With over 60 breweries in the area and having recently been cited as a “sunny heaven for suds lovers” by the New York Times, San Diego is quickly gaining recognition as one of the hottest craft beer destinations. It looks like 2013 is the perfect year to see what all of the fuss is about by joining one of the brewery tours offered by companies such as Brew Hop, Brewery Tours of San Diego and San Diego Beer and Wine Tours. Best part of joining a tour? They provide the designated driver, insuring a safe and fun time for everyone.

Enjoy the fresh air and clear skies sailing Coronado Bay.

Enjoy the fresh air and clear skies sailing Coronado Bay.

Enjoy a Sailing Excursion: From winter whale watching to America’s Cup race simulations, companies such as Next Level Sailing, Sail San Diego, America’s Cup Sailing San Diego, and San Diego Sailing Tours provide the perfect sailing experience for everyone, from the novice to those with the most stable sea legs.

See the very first Mariachi Opera with the renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. Photo courtesy of San Diego Opera.

See the very first Mariachi Opera with the renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan. Photo courtesy of San Diego Opera.

Mariachi Opera: Never heard of a Mariachi Opera? You aren’t the only one! The renowned Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan, known as the World’s Best Mariachi, take the Civic Theatre stage on March 16, 2013 for the first mariachi opera, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (To Cross the Face of the Moon). This bi-lingual work follows three generations of a single family, spanning countries, cultures and customs, presented by San Diego Opera.

Rubio's is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the variety of San Diego's famous fish taco.

Rubio’s is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the variety of San Diego’s famous fish taco.

The Best Fish Taco: Although it originally hails from Mexico, the fish taco has found a happy home in San Diego as a Taco Tuesday mascot and everyday local favorite. Ralph Rubio helped make it an institution when he opened his chain, Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill, in 1983, but the San Diego fish taco has more reinventions than Madonna. From taco truck to fine dining, everyone has their prefrence and finding your favorite  is more about savoring the journey (so many tacos!) than arriving at the destination. To start you on your journey, here are some key jumping off points: South Beach Bar and Grille in Ocean Beach, El Zarape in University Heights, Brigantine Seafood in Coronado, Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill in Mission Hills, Tin Fish in Downtown.

Do you resolve to visit San Diego in 2013? We hope so! In the comments below, tell us what you’ll be doing once you’re here.

Brent Bernasconi

New Octotron at Belmont Park is Famous

Minh Tra - Courtesy Belmont Park

MSNBC recently highlighted 11 new rides for thrill seekers. The Octotron in Mission Bay’s Belmont Park made the list! Here is what MSNBC had to say:

As the newest addition to San Diego’s beachfront amusement park, this ride never leaves the ground yet still manages to provide a good gut-churning experience. Like the mutant love child of a Tilt-A-Whirl and a tea-cup ride, it features individual cars that circle around a ground-hugging undulating track. However, instead of spinning in flat circles, each two-person car spins forward and backwards with riders controlling just how much head-over-heels (or heels-over-head) motion they can stand. “We must’ve spun upside down like 50 times,” said Robb Alvey, owner/creator of ThemeParkReview.com. “I’ve never felt so sick in my life.”

It is time to visit Belmont Park again and enjoy the ride! I will however wait until after the ride for some food.

You can read the MSNBC article here.