San Diego Magazine

Where to Explore San Diego’s Art Scene during Museum Month

Visit MCASD during Museum Month in San Diego

San Diego’s local art scene is thriving more than ever. World-class museums abound across the county. As do independent galleries, unique pop-ups, and outdoor installations that can be enjoyed year-round, thanks to our perfect climate. February is Macy’s Museum Month in San Diego, which means you can enjoy half off admission to more than 40 local museums. When you’re looking for inspiration, it’s easy to enjoy the bounty of artistry right here in these creative-minded ‘hoods.

Little Italy

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego‘s downtown location is a must-visit for modern art aficionados and just blocks from Little Italy. This acclaimed museum offers a rotating schedule of shows in addition to a large permanent collection, which includes everything from video art to large-scale sculptures. Nearly a dozen boutique galleries can be found in Little Italy, and local galleries like Subtext Gallery or Sparks Gallery are close by in the Gaslamp Quarter. Best of all, Little Italy is arguably one of San Diego’s hottest drinking-and-dining ‘hoods. So cocktails and fine dining await in spades just outside the MCASD’s doors.

Balboa Park

Fans of photography, contemporary folk art, European master painters, and everything in between will be wowed by at least one (if not all) of the 17 museums in Balboa Park during Museum Month. Stroll through the Botanical Gardens on your way to the San Diego Museum of Art, or enjoy a cheese plate among the sculptures next to Panama 66. Visitors can also pop into local artisans’ studios in the Spanish Village Art Center to watch working artists in action and purchase one-of-a-kind prints, jewelry, pottery, and more.

Liberty Station

In the past 10 years, Point Loma’s Liberty Station has evolved into a world-class arts-centric destination. From promenades that feature massive sculptures to art studios open to the public, the Arts District is a thriving creative hub with something for everyone. And they’re just getting started; new restaurants, galleries, and shops seem to open every day. Don’t miss Friday Night Liberty every first Friday of the month from 5:00 to 9:00 PM. It’s the city’s biggest (free!) monthly art walk and features art, music, dance, and theater.

North Inland

Escondido, located in the northeast region of San Diego, boasts some of the best art in the county. The California Center for the Arts, Escondido is home to a contemporary art museum, art studios, concert hall, theater, and more, making it one of San Diego’s biggest centers for arts and culture. Catch a performance by a touring symphony or stop by for one of the famed Jazz Jam Sessions before.

North Coastal

Head north along the coast to the Oceanside Museum of Art. This seaside museum hosts temporary exhibits and arts workshops for a variety of ages. Just around the corner is the California Surf Museum, home to thousands of rare surfing artifacts and photographs. Once you’ve had your art and history fill, visit the beautiful Oceanside pier to catch a Pacific sunset.
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Jennifer Davies

Can’t Miss February Events in San Diego’s Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Balboa Park

It’s February and love is in the air and there is plenty to love in Balboa Park, too. From the science of love to pop-up Latin art to strolling Japanese gardens in a kimono, the park is alive with experiences you won’t want to miss.

Say Yes to the Mess – Don’t Try This at Home: Live Science Shows

When: February 1-11, 2018
Where: The Fleet Science Center – 1875 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Some science is just too messy, too noisy and, well, maybe a bit too daring to try at home. Luckily, the Fleet Science Center is more than happy to offer up hair-raising experiments through its live show of “Don’t Try This at Home.” The shows are included with museum admission and start every 30 minutes past the hour. There are explosions, shocks and even a leaf blower and toilet paper pairing.

Woven through Time – Demonstration and Trunk Show with Master Weaver Porfirio Gutiérrez

When: February 3, 2018
Where: Mingei International Museum – 1439 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Learn about the craft and culture of weaving with a demonstration and trunk show at the Mingei Museum with Porfirio Gutiérrez, a master weaver who was recently profiled in The New York Times about his work to keep traditional Zapotec practices alive. These century old traditions include the use of insects and plants to make environmentally friendly dyes that produce an array of vivid colors. Gutiérrez, who comes from generations of weavers from Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico, will have his works for sale and provide a free weaving demonstration in the Mingei’s Collectors Gallery on from noon to 3:00 PM.

Alive with Art – Local Latin American Masters: Live Art Event

When: February 9, 2018
Where: San Diego Museum of Art – 1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
See art in action as six local artists create works inspired by the San Diego Museum of Art’s Modern Masters from Latin America: The Pérez Simón Collection. In addition to live art, there will also be live music from Mariachi Estrellas de Chula Vista and Air Nandez. Admission to the museum is free from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.

Love Naturally – The Secret Society of Adultologists: Courtship, Love and Sex

When: February 9, 2018
Where: TheNAT – 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
For those who would love to know more about love, the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) is where you should head. As part of its Secret Society of Adultologists series, a nighttime 21-and-over event, theNAT is looking for love in all the right places by exploring courtship in the natural world with a variety of activities, including unique specimens from the museum’s expansive collection, a Valentine’s Day crafting station, and games that test your love IQ. There will also be a photo booth, live music and special access to the museum’s rooftop bar. Tickets are $15 for members and $25 for non-members. Food and beverages are not included but can be purchased at happy hour prices. The event runs from 7:00 to 10:00 PM.

Free Love – AXIS: Give Love San Diego

When: February 10, 2018
Where: The Old Globe – 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego, CA 92101
Give love and get love at this interactive event in the courtyard just outside The Old Globe Theater. The event is part of the theater’s AXIS program, which is designed to offer up free cultural events for the community. Give Love, a project that started in New York and has spread through cities around the country, is intended to inspire kindness, and the Saturday event will include everything from free flowers, playful games, dancing, a photo booth, arts and crafts, and other dialogue-inspiring activities. The event runs from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM.

Want some more time to wallow in the frothiness of love with a witty twist? Then definitely make plans to see The Importance of Being Earnest, which will have a matinee at the Old Globe right after the Get Love event. The play runs through March 4.

Sights and Sounds of Love – Music & Masters: Love is in the Air

When: February 13, 2018
Where: Timken Museum – 1500 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Looking for a romantic event that delivers the not only the sights but also the sounds of love? The Timken Museum is offering a performance of Antonin Dvořák’s String Quartet No. 12 in F alongside the its exhibition of Romantic Impulse in the American Landscape Tradition, 19th to 21st Century. Nuvi Mehta, the San Diego Symphony’s concert commentator, will lead a discussion prior to the evening’s performance, and serve as the violinist, joining Chi-Yuan Chen, principal viola, Xian Zhuo, viola and Zou Yu, violin, also of the San Diego Symphony. Tickets $45 for members and $55 for non-members. The program starts at 6:30 PM.

Dress the Part – Kimono Rental with Yuko Niwa

When: February 25, 2018
Where: Japanese Friendship Gardens – 2215 Pan American Way E, San Diego, CA 92101
Why just visit the Japanese Friendship Gardens when you can stroll through in true Japanese style in an authentic kimono? The Japanese Friendship Gardens has teamed up with Yuko Niwa to offer kimono and yukata rental for both visitors and members alike. Participants must pay admission to the gardens and rental fees for a kimono, yukata or hakama range from $20 to $35 an hour and include dressing time and assistance. Charges are at an hourly rate, but the dressing time is not part of the rental period. RSVPs and walk-ins are welcome. To schedule an appointment, contact or

Robert Arends

Hillcrest Neighborhood Spotlight – Home of San Diego’s LGBT community

Walking under Hillcrest Sign
Walking under Hillcrest Sign

Happening Hillcrest!

San Diego’s uptown neighborhood of Hillcrest, home of San Diego’s LGBT community, celebrates diversity year-round with a vibrant rainbow mix of accommodations, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, chic boutiques, vintage clothing stores, kitschy novelty shops and so much more.

With San Diego Pride coming up next month (July 12-14), now is the perfect time to spotlight a few of my favorite places worth checking out:

Where to Stay

The historic Inn at the Park, located right across the street from Balboa Park, is home to the best happy hour in Hillcrest: Top of the Park, a Friday night tradition where hundreds gather on the rooftop to soak up the sunset and kick-off the weekend over cocktails.

Stay at Ann Callahan’s Hillcrest House Bed & Breakfast for a relaxing escape in the heart of Hillcrest and still just a short walk away all the shops, restaurants and bars on University Avenue.

Bar Hop

Bar hopping in Hillcrest

Bar hopping in Hillcrest

Urban Mo’s is fun and boisterous with strong margaritas and booming dance music on a packed outdoor patio and indoor dance floor. Hillcrest Brewing Company, claiming to be the World’s First “Out and Proud LGBT Brewery”(wow!), has 9 tasty in-house craft brews on tap to quench your thirst. If crafty cocktails are more your thing, Martinis Above Fourth is a swanky go-to spot.

Gotta Dance

If you’ve got to get your groove on, Rich’s with its two dance floors and sexy go-go boys can’t be beat!

Java Joint

Filter Coffee House is the place to see and be seen while sipping espresso and “studying” the crowd for cuties, day or night.

Dinner & a Show

D Bar restaurant is my new fav with its sleek moderne design and delish dishes like Southern fried Belgian – a sweet waffle with fried chicken (yep!). Their macarons are also off the charts! Afterward, head to Diversionary Theatre for cutting edge theater at its finest.

Brunch ‘n Lunch

Colorful Café on Park with its deliciously imaginative breakfast dishes like egg scrambles, Captain Crunch pancakes (yep!) and crab cake benny, is sure to satisfy!

Shop till you drop

Shopping in Hillcrest

Shop-portuunities galore in Hillcrest

Stroll along Fifth Ave. and University Ave. for funky, one-of-a-kind finds. Park Blvd. is great for retro, mid-Century modern treasures.

> Discover more of San Diego’s Hillcrest

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego: February 7-10, 2013

LIttle Italy Carnevale - Top Things to Do in San Diego

It’s never too early to start planning your weekend celebration. From frisky nighttime parties to relaxing strolls through wildflower, here are our top things to do in San Diego this weekend that are sure to please a variety friends and family.

Little Italy Carnevale

LIttle Italy Carnevale - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Celebrate Carnevale Venetian Style at the family friendly Little Italy Carnevale

Revel in a Venetian style Carnevale celebration in San Diego’s Little Italy. The 10th Annual Little Italy Carnevale is a family-friendly event with plenty of fun including live music and dancing, stilt-walkers, art and mask-making for kids, as well as great Italian food.

Where: India Street between W. Fir and W. Cedar Streets (Downtown)
When: February 9, 2013
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Little Italy Carnevale

Wildflowers in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Boreggo Desert State Park Wildflowers

Wildflowers in the Anza-Boreggo Desert State Park

The chance of showers on Friday means the chance to see the wildflowers bloom in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on Saturday and Sunday! Make sure to call the 24-hour “Wildflower Hotline” at 760-767-4684 to get an update before heading out.

Where: Visitor Center – 200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004 (East County)
When: Through April
Time: Dawn to Dusk
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Wildflowers in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The Red Ball 2013 – A Chinese New Year Celebration

The Red Ball 2013 - A Chinese New Year Celebration

Don’t forget to wear red to ring in the Chinese New Year!

Ring in Chinese New Year in style! As we bid farewell to the Year of the Dragon and welcome the Year of the Snake, guests are invited to dress in red and re-do New Year’s Eve with an official countdown at midnight to kick off the Lunar New Year, live music, DJs, tapas, cocktails and more.

Where: The Grand Del Mar – 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, Del Mar, CA 92130 (North County Coastal)
When: February 9, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM
Cost: Complimentary admission. Priority entry with Bottle Service, starting at $180.
> Find out more about The Red Ball 2013 – A Chinese New Year Celebration

Brazil Carnival Mardi Gras 2013

Brazil Carnival Mardi Gras - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Brazil comes to San Diego during this Carnival Mardi Gras!

Rich in beauty and color, the Brazil Carnival Mardi Gras presents a “Spectacular Samba Show” featuring dancers in glittering costumes adorned in sequins, beads and feathers accompanied by percussionists playing the authentic Batucada rhythms of Rio de Janeiro, even more carnival bands, capoeira, parades, and Mardi Gras beads!

Where: San Diego Museum of Art – 1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92108 (Downtown)
When: February 9, 2013
Time: 8:30 PM to 1:30 AM
Cost: $25-$99
> Find out more about Brazil Carnival Mardi Gras 2013

Ray at Night

Ray at Night in San Diego's North Park

Art, food, music and more at Ray at Night in San Diego’s North Park.

Join local artists, gallery owners, and hipsters alike during this fun, family friendly evening of art and creativity, music and food. Artwork on display includes paintings, sketches, sculptures, ceramics, blown glass, organic art and jewelry. Entertainment runs the gamut from jazz, blues and cultural music to poetry readings and performances by dance groups.

Where: Ray Street, between University Avenue and North Park Way (Downtown)
When: February 9, 2013
Time: 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Ray at Night

San Diego Padres Fan Fest

Top Things to Do - San Diego Padres Fan Fest

Get ready for the 2013 season with Padres FanFest presented by State Farm. Meet the players, play on the field, get some tips on your pitching and hitting, buy unique padres gear, see what goes into opening day, and more.

Where: Petco Park – 100 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101 (Downtown)
When: February 9, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego Padres Fan Fest

San Diego Winter Brew Fest

Start off the weekend with The San Diego Winter Brew Fest and celebrate craft beverages from around California and beyond with live local music, food, and other vendors.

Where: Broadway Pier – 1000 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101 (Downtown)
When: February 8, 2013
Time: 6:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: $40-$60
> Find out more about San Diego Winter Brew Fest

> Browse more top things to do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of some other top things to do this weekend? Let everyone know in the comments below.

Brent Bernasconi

Museum Monday: Exciting New Exhibitions in San Diego’s Balboa Park

Learn to Fly at the San Diego Air & Space Museum

Over 16 museums and cultural institutions are spread throughout the almost 1,200 acres that make up the “Smithsonian of the West,” Balboa Park. Each museum offers unique experiences enticing visitors to return.

All of the museums keep things fresh with special traveling exhibitions that highlight exciting topics. These special exhibitions are always thought-provoking, educational and interactive. Below are just a few of these great exhibitions currently on display:

How Things Fly…

Learn to Fly at the San Diego Air & Space Museum

Learn to fly the Wright Flyer at the San Diego Air & Space Museum

Through January 2013
Ever wanted to learn to fly a plane, or simply wondered how they fly? You can at the San Diego Air & Space Museum’s How Things Fly… special exhibition. For the parents in the audience, the exhibition sneaks in education through four different areas of hands-on fun: aerodynamics, propulsion, meteorology and air traffic control. The kids won’t see the learning coming!

Even the adults will have fun while attempting simulated flight on a helicopter or the temperamental Wright Flyer. Visitors can also strap on wings in a small wind tunnel, watch global updates of weather around the world in real time, or rediscover the simple joy of the flying a paper airplane.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

Journey through the Titanic at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Take a journey through the Titanic at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Photo courtesy of the Carnegie Science Center

Through September 9, 2012
While visitors might not find the Heart of the Ocean diamond (sorry, I just had to!), visitors to the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum will encounter over 200 artifacts retrieved from the wreckage of the doomed RMS Titanic, including delicate bottles of perfume, china bearing the logo of the elite White Star Line, and many other now-priceless objects.

As visitors enter the exhibit, they will climb inside recreations of the Titanic’s beautiful interior, assuming the identity of one of its unfortunate passengers to relive the ill-fated journey. Moving through the exhibit, the artifacts provide an intricate narrative of the sunken wreckage as they lay dormant beneath the sea between 1912 and their discovery in 1985.

Woodies! Woodies!

Woodies! Woodies! at the San Diego Automotive Museum

Surfs Up with classic Woodies at the San Diego Automotive Museum

Through May 27, 2012
Imagine driving west, with the warm summer wind blowing though the rolled down windows, the surfboards strapped to the roof, the Beach Boys blasting through the speakers and the car filled with excitement as you head toward the beach. What type of car would you be driving? Why the Woodie of course!

At the San Diego Automotive Museum, the endless summer continues with over a dozen impeccably restored Woodies take visitors back in time.  Explore the history of these iconic and quintessential beach vehicles. Swim trunks and flip-flops are encouraged! Surf boards not included.

Black Holes: Space Warps & Time Twists

What is a Black Hole? at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Leant what a Black Hole is at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Through April 29, 2012
Discover how to avoid be sucked into a black hole at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center! Young and old scientists will journey into space to learn about how the theory of black holes came to be. The interactive exhibits provide an insight into how black holes work, and clears up many common misconceptions.

Remember to not get sucked in for too long, there is plenty more to see at the Fleet including Geometry Playground, on display through June 19, 2012.

There are even more great exhibitions throughout Balboa Park and you can find more information at Pick up a Passport to Balboa Park or Stay-for-the-Day Pass to save on admission. (Note: Some special exhibitions have an added cost).

Tell us in the comments below, why do you keep going back to visit the beautiful Balboa Park?


5 to Try: San Diego Museum Month

Over 40 museums are participating in San Diego Museum Month and this is the last weekend to take advantage of half-off admission. Simply stop by any Macy’s to pick up your pass. Here are my top five picks for this weekend.

1. San Diego Natural History Museum

Be sure to check out the film Sharks 3D inside the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater. The film explores an amazing underwater universe inhabited by larger-than-life creatures which ruled the seas millennia before dinosaurs conquered the Earth and even face-to-face encounter with the “T-Rex of the Sea!”

2. Mingei International Museum

Through June 17, 2012, the exhibit A Fantastic Voyage – The Art of Ynez Johnston is on display. The exhibit will survey six decades of the artist’s wood and bronze sculptures, paintings, prints and ceramics from the 1940s to 2010, including recent works that have never publicly been shown.

3. San Diego Museum of Art

On display through May 31, 2012 is the Special Installation of French Modern Paintings. An important group of Modern French paintings from a local collection will be juxtaposed with the highlights of the Gluck Collection. The loans will include paintings by Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Paul Serusier, Fernand Leger, Édouard Vuillard, and Pierre Bonnard, which will be shown alongside other Post-Impressionist and early twentieth-century paintings by Vuillard, Bonnard, Georges Braque, Amadeo Modigliani and others from the Gluck Collection.

4. San Diego Botanic Garden

A special feature at the Botanic Garden is the Sculpture in the Garden. Through April 16, 2012, 26 artists will present their sculptures set against the beautiful backdrop of dragon trees, fruit gardens, bamboo groves, and many more unique garden areas in Sculpture in the Garden.

5. The New Children’s Museum

A great exhibit at the Children’s Museum is TRASH. The artists in TRASH, each with differing prerogatives and intentions, share the common desire to draw attention to an invisible issue that increasingly dominates our lives. Did you know that in the United States, the average American produces 4.5 pounds of trash every day? In this exhibition, their mission is to change how we see trash, and changing perspective starts by asking more questions.


Kids Celebrate October in San Diego with Freebies

Free Kid Fun During October

October is a great month for families to visit San Diego County museums and attractions – because at many of them, kids under 12 get in free all month-long. About two dozen museums and attractions are participating. It’s a great opportunity for families to learn about art, history or science in a fun and interactive environment. Up to two children get in free with each paying adult. The freebie is for general admission and doesn’t apply to field trips or special events and exhibitions. Make sure to print the require coupon!

Find out which museums are participating…


Arts Month San Diego: Balboa Park Can’t Be Beat

The country’s largest urban cultural park, Balboa Park, has been one of my favorite San Diego spots since childhood. I can remember taking class field trips to the many museums, my 8-year-old self awestruck by their enormous grandeur. As an adult, I still love visiting Balboa Park. No matter how many times I wander the park’s vast Spanish Colonial walkways, I always find something new and exciting to explore that awakens my inner 8-year-old spirit.

To celebrate Arts Month San Diego, take your inner child to explore the arts offerings of the nation’s largest cultural park. With 15 major museums and spectacular performing arts venues, art lovers of all walks are sure to find something to marvel at. Here are just a few of the inspired offerings you’ll find this September in Balboa Park:

Legendary designer Zandra Rhodes serves as the honorary chair for this annual exhibition and special event gala at the Timken Museum of Art. Fashion enthusiasts will be bowled over by the extraordinary fashions inspired by 15 artworks from the museum’s collection. Proceeds from tickets to the grand celebration on Saturday, Sept. 24 benefit the Timken’s art education programs, and Art of Fashion programming will continue at the Timken through October.

Outrageous fashions take center stage at both the Timken Museum of Art and The Old Globe

Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show at The Old Globe

Fashion certainly plays an important role in this ground-breaking show that launched a cult phenomenon. The Old Globe’s stage production features all the outrageous music and characters created by Richard O’Brien, who wrote the original book, music, and lyrics for The Rocky Horror Show. Do the time warp back to Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter’s castle as it was meant to be seen – live onstage. The show runs through Nov. 6.

See the Spanish masters at the San Diego Museum of Art

From El Greco to Dalí : Spanish Masters from the Pérez Simón Collection at the San Diego Museum of Art

On view through Nov. 6, this momentous exhibition spanning five centuries showcases 64 masterful pieces from Spain’s most celebrated artists, including Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Joan Miró, and Salvador Dalí. In addition to the big names, visitors will discover works by artists little-known in the U.S., such as the Romantic Manuel Barrón y Carrillo, or the Modernist Romero de Torres.

Innovative photography captivates at the Museum of Photographic Arts

Works from the Bank of America Collection at the Museum of Photographic Arts

From the Spanish masters to masters of photography, Balboa Park’s art museums are some of the best in the country. Be sure not to miss Imagine That! at the Museum of Photographic Arts, now through Oct. 9. Expect to see the unexpected in this exhibition that highlights unique perspectives, unknown realms and phenomena inaccessible to the naked eye and immediate senses.

Enjoy a free concernt at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion

Free Sunday concerts at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion

Donated to the City of San Diego by John D. and Adolph Spreckels in 1914, the Spreckels Organ is one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs, containing 4,530 pipes that range in length from the size of a pencil to 32 feet. Since 1917, San Diego has had a civic organist, who performs free weekly Sunday concerts.

Want to experience all the Balboa Park has to offer for free? Leave a comment on this blog post  to be entered to win two Passport to Balboa Park certificates. Each Passport includes a one-time admission coupon to each of 14 museums, and the coupon booklet is valid for seven consecutive days. A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, Sept. 28, so be sure to post before 10:00 am on Wednesday!


Get Your Culture on During National Museum Day

Lux Art Institute Encinitas

Saturday, September 24 is National Museum Day, an annual event hosted by Smithsonian magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors for Free to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket. You must register on the Smithsonian magazine website in order to receive the Museum Day ticket.

There are 14 museums participating in San Diego County including the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad.

It’s a great opportunity to visit a museum you’ve never been to, or visit your favorite.  I’ll be trying the Lux Art Institute in Encinitas…where will you go?

Below is a list of participating museums and be sure to bring your Museum Day ticket with you for your free admission.

Robert Arends

San Diego Arts Month: Wild, Wonderful Art Finds in East County

In celebration of San Diego Arts Month, let’s trek into San Diego’s backcountry where the art scene is as diverse as the topography. From pop art to pioneer museums, there’s a plethora of fascinating art finds. Following are some of my favorites:

Galleta Meadows Dragon sculpture!

  • The Galleta Meadows Sculpture Installations in Borrego Springs (along Borrego Springs Rd.) are TV’s “Land of the Lost” come to life! Dozens of metallic dino-type creatures and other wild animals roam freely through the desert landscape. Artist Ricardo Breceda’s newest, largest and most wondrous creation: A 350-foot long Chinese dragon!
  • Two more roadside pop art wonders that are definitely worth the drive: Rancheti Big Foot sculpture in Ranchita (on the way to Borrego Springs) and the World’s Largest Lemonsculpture in Lemon Grove.

    Kaleidoscope of color at Hubbell House & Studios!

  • Tucked away in the Julian hillsides is San Diego’s own Barcelona of the backcountry: James Hubbell House and Studios, a 40-acre arts complex showcasing the fantastical designs of artist/sculptor/architect extraordinaire James Hubbell, considered “San Diego’s Gaudi.” Group tours are available by appointment.

    Raven Hill sculpture.

  • Speaking of Julian, their popular annual apple harvest is just around the corner (mid-Sept. through mid-Nov.). Head to Raven Hill Orchard to not only pick apples from an orchard of 8,000 trees with seven varieties of apples(!), but also stroll through a marvelous outdoor gallery of sculptures by accomplished artist Patrick Brady.

    Julian Pioneer Museum.

  • East County’s Wild West culture of cowboys, pioneers and prospectors who set their sights on this vast inviting frontier comes alive at the Julian Pioneer Museum, features gold mining equipment, Native-American artifacts, animal and bird mountings, an original “Julian City” buggy and sleigh, Victorian clothing and one of the finest collections of lace in California.

    "His Wealth" painting by Olaf Wieghorst.

  • Giddyup to the Olaf Wieghorst Museum and Western Heritage Centerin downtown El Cajon to view dozens of paintings by nationally renowned artist Olaf Wieghorst, portraying the 19th century American West, including cowboys, Native Americans and pioneer settlers.

    Reed baskets and art at the Barona Museum.

  • For the Native American perspective, the Barona Cultural Center & Museumis a must-see; San Diego’s only museum on an Indian reservation dedicated to the perpetuation and presentation of local Native-American culture, including handmade pottery, reed baskets, paintings, arrowheads and other artifacts dating as far back as 10,000 years!

    El Cajon offers enticing palette of galleries.

  • Modern art aficionados will want to check out El Cajon’s burgeoning Art Gallery Walk on Main Street downtown (between 120 and 140 E. Main), including the fabulous new Studio C Contemporary, Silver Creek Fine Art, Main Street 5 Gallery, The Rich Artist Studio, White Sage Gallery and Merkabah Gallery.