Robert Arends

Holiday Cheer and Lights on San Diego’s Big Bay!

San Diego Big Bay Holiday of Lights
San Diego Big Bay Holiday of Lights

From boats decorated with lights to a Big Balloon Parade, there plenty of Holiday Fun on San Diego’s Big Bay. Photo courtesy of Cook & Schmidt

For those of you making holiday plans to visit San Diego, following are a few fun and festive ways to make some merry on San Diego’s sparkling Big Bay.

43rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

What’s better than a cool holiday boat parade? Two holiday boat parades! Yep, the 43rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights takes place on two Sundays next month. More than 80 boats lavishly decorated from bow to keel with colorful twinkling lights and decorations will glide the waters of San Diego Bay.

It’s quite a spectacle and best part, it’s free! This year’s theme is “Children’s Stories” which is sure to be a hit with the kids. Check out the route map here. The procession starts at 5:30 PM, but head to the Bay early for prime viewing spots including the Embarcadero and Embarcadero Park (North & South), Seaport Village, Coronado Ferry Landing, Harbor Island and Shelter Island.

When: December 14 & 21, 2014
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade

San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Giant inflatable characters at Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Check out the Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade, “America’s Largest Balloon Parade” floating down Harbor Drive along the Embarcadero. And who knows, you might be on TV! The parade is televised nationally and on local Channel 4. You’ll see world-class marching bands, colorful floats, drill teams and of course, a procession of enormous balloons of familiar cartoon and pop culture characters. Over 100,000 spectators are expected!

The parade is part of our big annual National University Holiday Bowl festivities when the eyes of the nation are on San Diego for exciting gridiron action between two Pac-10 and Big 12 Conference teams.

Where: San Diego Embarcadero – W Cedar Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 26, 2014
Time: Parade starts at 3:00 PM
Cost: Free. Grandstand Seats – $20
> Find out more about the Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade

Whale Watching

California gray whale breaching off the San Diego coast

California gray whale breaching off the San Diego coast

December is the launch of San Diego’s exciting whale watching season, when hundreds of majestic California gray whales are spotted of the coast making their annual migration from the Arctic to the warm lagoons of Baja California. These “peaceful giants of the sea” can be seen swimming our local waters through April. Hop aboard the HornblowerFlagship Cruises or one of the many other whale watching cruises departing daily from the Embarcadero on San Diego. The whales can also be seen from high atop Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma – bring your binoculars, though! 🙂

> Find out more about Whale Watching in San Diego

> Discover More Holiday Happenings in San Diego

Make some waves on San Diego Bay this holiday season!

Robert Arends

Big Bay Boom – Star-Spangled 4th of July Fun on San Diego Bay!

San Diego's Big Bay Boom 4th of July Celebration
San Diego's Big Bay Boom 4th of July Celebration

Celebrate the birth of our nation with fireworks in San Diego including the Big Bay Boom 4th of July Extravaganza.

When it comes to 4th of July celebrations, three words that say it all: “Big Bay Boom” the biggest most spectacular fireworks show in San Diego!

This star-spangled extravaganza, impeccably choreographed to music (105.7 FM), takes place on San Diego Bay – “The Big Bay” – launching from barges strategically placed off Shelter Island, Harbor Island and the Embarcadero North and South.

Where to Watch Big Bay Boom

More than 850,000(!) people are expected to ring the bay throughout the day to claim a prime viewing spot. The best viewing is at the north Embarcadero (scope out the beautiful new Waterfront Park), Seaport Village, Embarcadero Marina Park North and South, Coronado Ferry Landing, Shelter Island and Harbor Island.

Waterfront Park - prime new spot to watch the Big Bay Boom (photo credit: County of San Diego)

Waterfront Park – prime new spot to watch the Big Bay Boom (photo credit: County of San Diego)

The Port of San Diego is offering a FREE shuttle service to/from Shelter and Harbor Islands starting at 6 PM, going until 11 PM. Shuttles depart from the Port’s Administration Building parking lot (3165 Pacific Highway) and near the West Marine parking lot (3717 Rosecrans St.).

What to Do on the Bay Before the Fireworks

Big Bay Boom begins at 9:00 PM and lasts about 17 minutes. Since you’ve got all day to play beforehand, check out the plethora of attractions and activities on the bay, including:

Make a Splash

Take a ride on an authentic U.S. Navy Swift Boat!

Take a ride on an authentic U.S. Navy Swift Boat!

Ahoy! Maritime Merriment

Fun for all ages on the USS Midway!

Fun for all ages on the USS Midway!

  • Cabrillo National Monument, the Plymouth Rock of the West where explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay in 1542; kids will love the tidepools!
  • Spanish Landing Village where you can view a life-size replica of Cabrillo’s flagship San Salvador taking shape (it’ll be set to sail this September)
  • Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship (Arrr! 😉 )
  • USS Midway aircraft carrier, where San Diego’s rich Navy history comes to life on the world’s most visited ship museum!

Animal Attractions

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

Fine Dines and Shop-Portunities

Have fun on San Diego Bay and see you at the Big Bay Boom! 🙂

> Browse the Comprehensive list of 4th of July Fireworks and Celebrations in San Diego

P.S. Just for fun, check out 2012’s Big Bay Boom which went off accidentally in one big 15-second boom seen around the world.

Robert Arends

San Diego’s Coronado Blooms – and Zooms – this Weekend!

Blooomin' good times at Coronado Flower Show!

Spring has sprung! Big white tents are sprouting up like flowers in Spreckels Park, Coronado in preparation for the big 87th Annual Coronado Flower Show this weekend, April 21-22. The delightful kaleidoscope of colors, encompassing the 600 block of Orange Avenue, makes it the most popular springtime event on the island!

Did you know: Coronado’s grand floral fête is the largest tented flower show in the U.S.!

Flower Beautifulness! Photo credit: LevacyPhoto.com

This year’s theme, “A Floral Olympiad” celebrates the summer Olympic games in London with design categories incorporating iconic images like the Olympic rings, release of the doves and the Olympic flame. Trophies for best blooms are awarded on Sunday at 3:00 pm; definitely bring a camera!

Cost is only $5; children 12 and under are Free. Hours are 1:00 – 5:00 pm this Saturday and 10:00 am – 4:00 pm on Sunday.

Coronado Flower Show

Stop and smell the roses!

Oh, and if you think it’s just flowers, think again! There’s also a beer garden, flower/plant marketplace and huge Coronado Library Book Fair. And if you’re up for exploring Coronado, be sure to pick up a self-guided map to award-winning home gardens throughout the island. It’ll inspire any aspiring gardeners.

Motorcars on MainStreet in Coronado

Vroom! with a view - Motorcars on MainStreet

To top off the weekend, there’s more “wheel fun” to be had at the 22nd Annual MotorCars on MainStreet this Sunday, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm. Location: Isabella and Orange Avenues.

Check out 400 classic (pre-1973) cars, convertibles, roadsters, trucks, street rods and other cool custom rides that’ll get your motor running (my Chrysler PT Cruiser didn’t make the cut 😉 )

Rock to live entertainment all day by Tommy Price & The Stilettos and DJ Scooby spinning Solid Gold hits.

MotorCars on MainStreet in Coronado

Lookin' good under the hood! Motorcars on MainStreet

Admission is Free. There’s also a Free street trolley running all day to take visitors around the island: from Motorcars on MainStreet to the Hotel del Coronado, the Coronado Flower Show and down to Coronado Ferry Landing shops by the bay.

There are LOTS of good reasons to put you “petal” (hee hee!) to the metal and head over the bridge to Coronado this weekend. See you there!

(Coronado Flower Show photos courtesy of LevacyPhoto.com)

Robert Arends

Deck the (Music) Halls in Coronado!

In addition to Santa Claus serenading guests on “Buon Natale” gondola cruises at Loews Coronado Bay Resort, there are other joyful tunes being heard throughout the island of Coronado this holiday season.

Singing Santa gondolier at Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

From sweet and soulful to grand and commanding, the sound of music fills the air. With various venues throughout the “Crown City” – from the scenic bayfront to the seashore – following are my Top 5 Picks of places to hear some magical melodies this month and into the New Year:

  1. Babcock & Story Bar in the Hotel del Coronado is a great go-to nightlife spot to relax with a drink, meet new friends and enjoy live music, Tuesday through Saturday from 7:00 – 11:00 pm
    Coronado Ferry Landing Concert

    Bayside concerts at Coronado Ferry Landing.

  2. The Coronado Ferry Landing Concert Series takes place every other Sunday, featuring live music in the afternoon. Upcoming acts include the wonderfully talented Teagan Taylor Trio (Dec. 18 and Jan. 29), Stiletto’s (Jan. 8), Cool Fever (Jan. 15) and Peter Hall Acoustic (Jan. 22)

    Blue 44 performing at Candelas on the Bay.

  3. Located at the Coronado Ferry landing, Candelas on the Bay features Live Music Friday’s at 6:00 pm, featuring Blue 44, plus live music on Thursday and Sunday from 6:00 – 9:00 pm (the music on their website, BTW, is great to lounge to as you’re getting ready for a night on the town Coronado-style!)

    Rockin' out at McP's Irish Pub.

  4. Popular McP’s Irish Pub (fit for royalty, by the way, as in Prince Harry!) has live music every Tuesday through Saturday night, featuring the finest local talent. Check out the lineup here, featuring bands like Harmony Road, Trunk Monkey, 4-Way Street, Ron’s Trio and the Offbeats.

    Jazz it up at Wine Styles

  5. Got a taste for jazz and wine? Head to Wine Styles on Thursday through Saturday to enjoy finger-snappin’ live music, while sampling an expansive selection of wines and craft beer.

Coronado is music to my ears! 😉

Robert Arends

20 Perfect Days to Play in Coronado!

Have you entered Loews Coronado Bay Resort’s 20 Days, Your Way” giveaway yet? If not, time is ticking… Last day for submissions is next Tuesday, October 25. Grand prize: 20 free room nights! It’s all to celebrate the resort’s big 20th Anniversary. Good luck!

So I was thinking, if I was eligible to enter and I WON, what would I do, not only at Loews’ resort, but around the picturesque island of Coronado? Fortunately, there’s a plethora of delightful and exciting activities to enjoy: arts & culture, fine dining, spas, outdoor recreation and much more.

Read on to see Robert’s 20 picks for 20 days on Coronado…

Robert Arends

Arts Month San Diego: Art Makes a Splash in Coronado

Art & Frames by Wood Gallery - part of Coronado Gallery Walk.

This week, Arts Month San Diego is focusing on the island of Coronado.

Nestled between the Pacific surf and sparkling San Diego Bay with its palm-lined boulevards, Coronado is pretty as a postcard. The town’s picturesque setting is accentuated by a plethora of public art dotted around the island.

San Diego Magazine recently featured Coronado’s treasure trove of artistic wonders in its September issue. Heidi Wilson, Chair of Coronado’s Public Art Subcommittee, narrowed down her Top 5 picks  (scroll down to Coronado section)– two of which are my personal favorites!

Following are my five fav public artworks in Coronado. I definitely enjoy art’s more playful, whimsical side:

"My Bike" sculpture at Tidelands Park.

  1. “My Bike,” located in Tidelands Park, is just plain cool! A figure with wind-swept hair rides through the sky, taking in the fantastic bayside views.

    "Eye" see you! "Seaside Seating" at Tidelands Park.

  2. Nearby “Seaside Seating,” also in Tidelands Parks, is an octopus-like creature with one eye that begs for a close encounter of the visitor kind!

    Wizard of Oz glass panels at Coronado Public Library.

  3. Ease on down the road to the Coronado Public Library (640 Orange Ave.) to view the wondrous “Wizard of Oz Glass Panels”which jump right off the pages of L. Frank Baum’s famous children’s books. Baum, by the way, lived in Coronado and penned a few of his classics here.

    "Sea Passage" fountain on Gloriettta Bay.

  4. “Sea Passage,” a fountain by James Hubbell overlooking Glorietta Bay, is a gorgeous example of the natural aesthetic “San Diego’s Gaudi” is known for.
  5. “Solstice Clock” on the Silver Strand is Nature’s splendidly simple timepiece – but only tells time twice a year! On June 21 (longest day of the year) and December 21 (shortest day of the year) the rising sun aligns perfectly with this bayfront sculpture.

Coronado offers a fantastic self-guided public art walking tour of these plus 25 other great works of art. And best part: it’s completely free!

Coronado Art Walk. Photo credit: Bob Gardner

Hop over to the island this weekend (Sept. 17-18) to also check out Coronado Art Walk at the Coronado Ferry Landing, featuring paintings, photography, ceramics and other mediums by over 100 artists. Admission is free with a complimentary shuttle transporting attendees along Orange Avenue, with a stop at Art-in-the-Park in Spreckels Park.

Get a jump start on the weekend with Coronado’s first ever Gallery Walk this Friday from 5:00 – 8:00 pm (also free with a complimentary ArtMobile between the Ferry Landing and Hotel del Coronado), featuring 12 galleries – the perfect date night prior to Art Walk!