Music To Dine For

Croce's is extra romantic in black & white!

Headed downtown with your special someone?  Want to make it a night to remember? 

Then choose a joint that’s jumping.  From jazz to blues to the festive sounds of flamenco, nothing turns up the volume on date night like a little live music with your meal. 

These are a few of my downtown favorites for dinner and a show:

  • They say you don’t mess around with Jim but, in truth, you really can’t go wrong at Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar.  You will recognize the gold records hanging on the walls as belonging to 70’s singer-songwriter, Jim Croce, but the real star of the show is Ingrid, his wife and one-time singing partner, who pioneered downtown San Diego’s revitalization with the opening of Croce’s in the mid-eighties and still turns up most evenings to play hostess to food and music fans.  Founding the restaurant in the wake of her husband’s untimely death, she dedicated it to his legacy and their shared dream of opening a restaurant where you could go any night of the week to enjoy good food and great tunes.  Romantic, right?
  • Prefer to take a page from Bogie and Bacall?  For a modern twist on the great supper clubs of the 30s and 40s, Anthology is the spot.  Here you can have a cocktail, enjoy dinner and watch an intimate performance by world-renown artists.  Settle into a cozy booth in one of the balconies or a table on the main floor – every seat is designed to have great views of the stage and perfect acoustics – and dine while you watch sets by touring artists in genres ranging from jazz to blues to Latin and more.   Concert schedules are constantly being updated so you can plan your date around seeing one of your favorite musicians or check out the awesome house band.
  • If you’re style is a little more rock and roll, check out the House of Blues and channel your inner Jake and Elwood.  The San Diego location is home to the famous Bead Wall covered in Mardi Gras beads from New Orleans and, in keeping with House of Blues tradition, there’s a box of mud from the Delta Mississippi underneath the stage.  Whether you opt for tickets to a nationally touring band downstairs on the main stage or a local band on stage in the dining room, the House of Blues’ down-home menu and cool vibe are sure to set the mood. 
  • In the mood for some Latin lovin’?  Spicy tapas and sweet sangria?  Café Sevilla has long been a downtown favorite for their fiery flamenco performances and, I for one, can’t wait until their new location opens later this winter.  Moving over from 4th to 5th Avenue, they are completely renovating a new space and building out more room to dine, enjoy live classical guitar and dance the night away.  Ole!

Would you like to take your sweetheart out for dinner and music at Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar? 

Comment below by Wednesday, December 8 at 10 a.m. PST and one lucky winner will receive a $50 gift certificate for use at Croce’s any time before September 17, 2011, plus, a copy of Ingrid’s photo memoir “Time In A Bottle.”


Go Tide Pooling With Experts From the Birch Aquarium

She sees Sea Hares down by the sea shore!

The San Diego coastline is dotted with incredible tide pools from Point Loma to Ocean Beach, La Jolla and beyond.

And, according to the scientists at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, fall and winter are great times for checking out area tide pools because lower tides expose wider sections of the beach and the “pools are teeming with native marine life, like hermit crabs, sea hares and sea anemones.”

Sea hares? Oh, yeah, of course. Sea hares. (Yikes!)

Luckily for you and me, we don’t have to know what sea hares are in order to explore the beauty and mystery of life along the San Diego coast. Because, starting Saturday, expert naturalists from the Birch Aquarium will be leading regular excursions to area tide pools. 

Here’s a list of the outings planned for now through February:

  • Nov. 20, 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Dike Rock in La Jolla
  • Dec. 5, 1:30-2:30 p.m. at False Point in La Jolla
  • Dec. 19, 1-3 p.m. at Dike Rock in La Jolla
  • Jan. 16, 12:30-2:30 p.m. at Hospital Point in La Jolla
  • Jan. 29, 12-2 p.m. at False Point in La Jolla
  • Feb. 13, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Dike Rock in La Jolla
  • Feb. 27, 12-2 p.m. at Hospital Point in La Jolla

The cost is $12 per person, ages 2 and older. Just RSVP by calling 858-534-7336 or online at the Birch Aquarium’s website. Directions to the meeting places for each excursion will be provided at time of RSVP.

If you can’t make one of these scheduled excursions, don’t fret.  You can get in on the tide pool action anytime you visit the Birch Aquarium. 

They have a fantastic living Tide Pool Display where you can touch and learn about tide-pool animals under the guidance of their friendly docents. Windows in the habitats provide up-close views of brilliant sea stars, hermit crabs, sea cucumbers, lobsters, and other unique animals local to San Diego’s tide pools.

Would you like to visit the Birch Aquarium to check out the tide pool display and all their amazing exhibits?

Comment below by Monday, November 22 at 10 a.m. PST and two lucky winners will each win a family four-pack of tickets for use any time before June 30, 2011. 

Happy tide pooling!


Help Us Bring Dave to San Diego

Dave PriceThe Early Show’s weather anchor, Dave Price, is about to set out on a weeklong, one-man reality show called “No Way Home” and we need your votes to make sure his journey begins in San Diego.

He’s heading out on the road with only a one-way ticket, $50, a cell phone, a laptop and his ingenuity to get him back home to New York.

Last year, Dave’s starting point was the Santa Monica Pier.  This year, we get to decide his drop off point and we need your help…

Click here and vote for the San Diego Zoo, or call **04 from your mobile phone; voting ends Nov. 10.

Vote for the San Diego Zoo!

Vote for the San Diego Zoo!


Relax Away the Day at Kin Spa

San Diego is a place most people already think of as a relaxing destination. With year round great weather, the beach, fantastic hotel pools, etc., there are so many options for visitors looking for a little R&R. One spot I like to go to when I have girlfriends in town is the Kin Spa at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.

Located on the third floor, the spa offers everything from facials and massages to hair services and mani/pedis. The adult-only pool has some of the best views of San Diego Bay and features spacious cabanas with plush couches and chairs, perfect for napping, lunching or curling up with a book. You’ll never have to leave! In fact, you can even have pool-side treatments in one of the cabanas.

The other night, I was lucky enough to attend an event and have a sampling of some really great treatments. And boy could I use it! Between work, my kid’s school, and baseball and dance practice, I really needed some help. Oleg came to my rescue and treated me to a great massage. I left feeling very relaxed and ready to face another day! Right now, my favorite treatment is the Gold Coast Facial. They use pure golden nectar from the honey bee, called Propolis. It is rich in antioxidants and is renowned for its unique anti-aging properties. My skin is left feeling smooth and hydrated (perfect after spending time in the pool!)

To get you ready to face the holiday stress, Kin Spa at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is treating one lucky person to a $50 gift certificate. Simply post a comment on our blog by Saturday, October 30th by noon PST. Winner must “like” San Diego and the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego on Facebook.


Explore Kid City at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Kid CityThis weekend, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is reopening their Kid City exhibition after two weeks of renovations, and you’re invited to check it out! 

The Kid City experience starts at the “Ball Wall” with its multiple chutes, tracks and moving objects. Nearby, kids can direct an air blower in different directions and make a set of colorful pinwheels rotate round-and-round. The new “Little Learner’s Lab” features an innovative microscope-on-a-rope for up-close exploration of objects of many different shapes, sizes and textures. A new “Fire Truck” is fun for kids as they turn different knobs to create movements and sounds similar to those found on a real fire truck. And for babies still in the crawling stage, the new “Infant Area” offers a safe space for them to move and explore textured objects – all contributing to their developing motor and social skills. 

This Saturday is the Kid City grand opening party and we’re giving away family 4-packs of exhibit gallery passes to four lucky winners; tickets will be available for a one-time use between October 23 and April 23.

If you’re interested in taking the family to the Kid City exhibit, comment on this post for a chance to win.  Comments must be made by 10 a.m. EST on Friday, October 22; please be sure to use your daytime email address.


Burn the Floor

The San Diego Civic Theatre presents Burn The Floor, October 12 – 17, a new Broadway dance production with energy so electrifying, there’s no cutting a rug, the dancers are straight up burning the floor. 

Featuring some of the best  dancers in the world, Burn the Floor showcases the passionate drama of Latin and Ballroom dance with 21st century edge. You’ll feel the heat as they steam up the stage with the Foxtrot, Tango, Samba, Cha-Cha, Viennese Waltz, Swing and more.

Interested in seeing the show?  Comment below for your chance to win two tickets to opening night on October 12 at 7 p.m. You must comment by Friday, October 8 at 10:00 a.m. PST for a chance to win.


Get Your Culture On During National Museum Day

Saturday, September 25th is National Museum Day.  What is National Museum Day you ask? It’s an annual event hosted by Smithsonian Media in which participating museums across the country open their doors for FREE to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket.  Sounds like a good idea to me!  The great thing is there are over 15 museums participating in San Diego County!  Everything from the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park are taking part. 

It’s a great opportunity to see a museum you have never been to.  I have never been to The Whaley House Museum, so that is where I will be using my free pass.  Where will you go?  See the list below for participating museums.  Be sure to bring your Museum Day Ticket with you for free admission.

A favorite museum of ours is also the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park. It really has something for everyone.  Can’t make there on Saturday?  No problem, comment on our blog below and two lucky winners will receive four complimentary passes to the Science Center! Comment by Monday, September 27th at 10:00 a.m. pst.

San Diego County Participating Museums:
Barona Cultural Center and Museum – Lakeside
California Center for the Arts – Escondido
Creation & Earth History Museum – Santee
Escondido History Center – Escondido
Marston House Museum – San Diego
Mingei International Museum – San Diego
Museum of Contemporary Art – San Diego
Museum of Making Music – Carlsbad
Museum of San Diego History – San Diego
Oceanside Museum of Art – Oceanside
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center – San Diego
San Diego Air & Space Museum – San Diego
San Diego Archaeological Center – Escondido
San Diego Botanic Garden – Encinitas
San Diego Chinese Historical Museum – San Diego
San Diego Natural History Museum – San Diego
The Adobe Chapel Museum – San Diego
The Whaley House Museum – San Diego


“The Tramp” Comes to the La Jolla Playhouse

The La Jolla Playhouse is one of my favorite places to experience theatre in San Diego. With over 50 Playhouse-originated productions having been transferred to Broadway, I am always curious to see what new and exciting show they have come up with. Therefore, I am so excited to see the world-premiere musical Limelight: The Story of Charlie Chaplin, currently playing through October 17, 2010. The musical delves into Charlie Chaplin’s personal life: from the gritty streets and smoky music halls of London to movie screens across the globe, Limelight goes behind the camera to show how a comic genius found soaring success and later fell from grace.

Charlie Chaplin’s image is iconic even if you have never seen any of his movies. And I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of Charlie Chaplin, but I am intrigued by the idea of a musical about a man who mostly made silent films. Playing the role of “Charlie Chaplin” is Robert McClure. He recently starred as “Princeton” in the Broadway and national touring productions of Avenue Q. The musical is directed by Warren Carlyle and Michael Unger.

Have you ever seen a play at the La Jolla Playhouse? If so, which one?

Win two tickets to see Limelight! Comment below for your chance to win. You must comment by Friday, September 17th at 10:00 a.m. PST. Tickets are good through September 30th (excluding Saturdays). Find more information on the La Jolla Playhouse at www.facebook.com/lajollaplayhouse or follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ljplayhouse.

Guest Blogger

Just Call Me Gidget

Photo by Greg Spector

As some of you know, I won a group surf lesson with Surf Diva via the San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website.  Surf lessons? Me? BWAHAHA!  But in the spirit of Embracing the Crazy this summer (it’s been a doozy!) I did just that.  I took the challenge and just went for it. 

My family and I take an annual trip to San Diego every year as part of a family reunion on my husband’s side.  We are both native Californians, attended SDSU and lived in San Diego for some time, so it’s a great time catching up with family and friends.  We now live with our two munchkins (ages 6 & 4) in what I call the “Kinda Country”, in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.  Kinda the antithesis of San Diego.  After I won the free lesson I decided to add that to our agenda for this year’s Big Fat Summer Vacation.

Now saying your going to take a surf lesson and doing the actual lesson were two totally different things.  In my mind, I was pumped and excited. yes! I’m doing something totally out of my mommy comfort zone!  Something for me– not for my husband or kids. Just me.  I was going to be like Gidget, one of my all time favorite movies.  I had visions of long boards, my Moondoggie and being under the watchful eye of the Big Kahuna.  With me me surfing perfectly, of course.

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Mad About Cycling in San Diego

With year round outdoor weather and varied terrain, San Diego is a cyclist’s paradise. If mountain biking is your thing, the East County has some great desert trails and rocky mountain paths that will surely please even the most discerning cyclist. One of the better known rides is Cuyamaca to Noble Canyon, located in the heart of the Cleveland National Forest. This ride, designated by the International Mountain Biking Association as an “epic” ride, is a 30 mile journey along the spine of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

If the waterfront is more your style (it is definitely mine), there are many coastal bike paths that provide opportunities for cyclists of all skill levels. I enjoy more of the leisurely stroll down the boardwalk and lately we have been riding a lot on Coronado Island. It’s a great path that takes you around the Island and is perfect for kids because it is almost entirely flat.

Do you love to ride in San Diego? Then you should try the 37th Annual Midnight Madness Fun Bicycle Ride. On Saturday, August 21st, 2010, there will be a fun night of cycling, contests, prizes, and entertainment to support community youth programs. The cycling route is an 18-mile, primarily flat loop course along some of San Diego’s most beautiful waterfront and historic areas.

Win two entries to Midnight Madness! To win two entries into the 2010 Midnight Madness Fun Bicycle Ride, comment below. One winner will be chosen on Thursday, August 5.