Brent Bernasconi

Find the Perfect Jack-O-Lantern at a San Diego Pumpkin Patch

Fall in San Diego means warm days, cool nights, Halloween fun and, of course, pumpkin patches! Browse the list below to find the perfect pumpkin patch near you.

Bates Nut Farm

Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch

Over 50 years of fall traditions and memories have been created at the Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch. Family and friends enjoy the tractor hayrides, straw maze, petting corral and Snows Pony Rides. Grab a wheelbarrow and pick from variety of pumpkins: Big Macs, Ghost, Cinderella, Jack O’ Lantern, minis, squash, gourds and other fall décor. In addition, weekends at Bates include live entertainment from 12:00 -3:00, BBQ, kettle corn, food trucks, rock climb, bounce, slide and other family friendly events. Check our calendar for details and schedule.

Where: 15954 Woods Valley Road, Valley Center, CA 92082
When: September 24 – October 31, 2016
Hours: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free Admission. Pumpkin and activity prices vary. $5 Parking on October Weekends
> Find out more about Bate’s Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch

Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt

Boomont Park Fall Festival & Haunt

Pick an amazing pumpkin by the beach at Belmont Park’s Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt. While you’re there, pick out your perfect pumpkin to style your way, play zombie laser tag, ride the spooky Giant Dipper and enter the costume contest on Saturdays. Don’t forget to bring the pumpkin pail for free trick-or-treating.

Where: 3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
When: October 1-31, 2016 (Fridays-Sundays)
Hours: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free admission. Rides and Some Activities – Varies.
> Find out more about the Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt

Pumpkin Express

Pumpkin Express

Join the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association in their Annual Pupmkin Express Halloween Celebration. Ride their decorated vintage railcars through the San Diego county mountains as fall descends upon Campo, CA. Walk through their themed Display Building complete with two haunted trains, a pumpkin patch, and our creepy cast of ghosts and ghouls.

Where: The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum – 750 Depot Street, Campo, CA 91906
When: October 8-30, 2016 (Saturday-Sunday)
Hours: Departures at 10:30 AM, 12:15 PM and 2:30 PM
Cost: $5-$18
> Find out more about the Pumpkin Express

Farm Stand West’s Pumpkin Patch

Farm Stand West's Pumpkin Patch

Get a true pumpkin picking experience by picking the perfect future jack-o-lantern straight from Farm Stand West’s pumpkin fields. Stop by over the weekend of October 22-23 between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM for the Annual Farm Stand Fall Harvest Festival & Boutique. Have fun on a hayride, pick up some delicious homemade jams and farm fresh produce, and shop from local artisans.

Where:
Farm Stand West – 2115 Miller Ave., Escondido, CA 92025
Fran’s Original Farm Stand – 1980 Summit Dr, Escondido, CA 92027
When: October 1-31, 2016 (Closed on Mondays)
Hours: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free admission, pumpkins vary
> Find out more about Farm Stand West’s Pumpkin Patch

Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch

Up near the small mountain town of Ramona is the Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch. Take some time to find the perfect carving or cooking pumpkin, get lost in the gigantic corn maze, launch an ear of corn out of a cannon, pet a few farm animals and add a few pictures of the kids on antique farm equipment to the scrapbook.

Where: 842 Hwy 78, Ramona, CA 92065
When: September 24 – October 31, 2016
Hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Varies
> Find out more about Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch

ABC Tree Farms Pick of the Patch Pumpkins

Tiger inflatable slide and pumpkins at ABC Tree Farms Pick of the Patch Pumpkins

Offering inflatable amusements including bounce houses, giant slides and obstacle courses, Super Slide as well as different types of Pumpkins, Gourds, Pumpkin Accessories, Snacks, Beverages and more.

Where: 2205 Vista Way, Oceanside, CA 92054
When: October 1-31, 2016
Time: Sunday-Thursday: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Friday-Saturday: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Cost: Varies. Ride Wristbands: $10-$15
> Find out more about ABC Tree Farms Pick of the Patch Pumpkins

17th Annual Oma’s Pumpkin Patch

Over in Lakeside, Oma’s Pumpkin Patch is offering fun for the whole family. The child admission includes a Jack Patch pumpkin, a bottle of water, covered hay rides, a hay bale maze, petting corral, kid-powered games, sand pile with toy trucks & tractors, and a large play area with the climbable Cottonseed Mountain.

Where: 14950 El Monte Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040
When: September 27 – October 29, 2016 (Tuesday-Saturday)
Hours: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Cost: Ages 1-13 – $10 per child. Ages 14 and Up – $5.
> Find out more about the 17th Annual Oma’s Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Station

Pumpkin Station Pumpkin Patches

All aboard…one of the six convenient Pumpkin Station locations (including the two actual farms) throughout San Diego County. At the Pumpkin Stations, kids can peruse for the perfect pumpkin while enjoying the kiddie rides, slides, inflatable play centers and petting zoo. At their two farms in Rancho Bernardo and Bonita, little pumpkin carvers will find a living pumpkin patch, corn maze, farm animals and a tractor-pulled haywagon ride.

When: Vary by location
Hours: Vary by location
Cost: Free admission. Ride tickets start at $2 (discounted ticket packages available)
> Find out more about the Pumpkin Station

Summer Past Farms Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch sign and pumpkins at Summer Farms

Head on over to Summer Past Farms Pumpkin Patch picking weekends for family fun including a jumpee, popcorn, corn-dogs and smoothies.

Where: 15602 Olde Hwy 80, Flinn Springs, CA 92021
When: October 1-31, 2016 (Closed Monday & Tuesday)
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Sunday: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Varies
> Find out more about Summer Past Farms Pumpkin Patch

Suzie’s Farm Pumpkin Palooza

Suzie's Farm Pumpkin Palooza

Make a day of it in San Diego’s South Bay with pumpkin picking at Suzie’s Farm. Bring a wheelbarrow to carry home plenty of pumpkins for carving and cooking picked right from the fields, fresh produce, jams and more. During Pumpkin Palooza, enjoy live music and plenty of delicious food. Don’t forget the camera!

Where: 2570 Sunset Avenue, San Diego, CA 92154
When: October 8, 15, 22 2016
Hours: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Cost: Free Admission, Pumpkins Vary
> Find out more about Suzie’s Farm Pumpkin Palooza

Stehly Farm’s Pumpkin Patch

Stehly Farm's Pumpkin Patch

Come on out to Valley Center and visit a real working farm! With your admission you will have a guided tractor farm tour from owners Noel & Jerome Stehly, kids train ride, petting zoo, corn maze and playground. They will have farm fresh pizza, tacos, salads, smoothies and our famous gelato for sale. Their farmers market stand will be open as well!

Where: 12630 Santa Catalina Rd, Valley Center, California 92082
When: October 9, 2016
Time: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: $7
> Find out more about Stehly Farm’s Pumpkin Patch

Waynes Pumpkin Patch

Where: 3615 Manchester Ave, Encinitas, CA 92024
Hours: 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
> Find out more about Wayne’s World of Trees and Pumpkin Patch

> Discover more to do in San Diego this Fall

Have a great time at the pumpkin patch? Notice one is missing? Could I have possibly made a mistake on the info? Let me and others know in the comments below.

Brent Bernasconi

San Diego Guide to Pokemon Go – Catch Them All

Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go stops and gyms are all over San Diego!

There’s never been a better time to catch them all in San Diego. Long days and warm weather invite champions to hunt for the rare Articuno, Zapdos or Moltres in Pokémon Go!

Downtown

Hand’s down one of the best places play Pokémon Go! Almost every corner is a Pokestop or Gym. Be on the look out for lures at local restaurant and breweries like Mission Brewery that will offer discounts when you catch one inside.

Downtown Gym Highlights

  • Home Plate at Petco Park
  • Horton Plaza Obelisk
  • San Diego City College Trolley Station
  • San Diego Central Library
  • Tweet Street Fire Hydrants
  • Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery (Can you catch them all after a pint or two?😀)

> Explore San Diego’s Vibrant Downtown

Balboa Park

With 17 museums, several performing arts venues, more than 15 gardens and numerous recreational attractions including the San Diego Zoo, it is no surprise that Balboa Park is swarming with Pokestops and gyms.

Regular Lure Party

A lure party is regularly held at the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden on the east side of Park Blvd. Just cross over the bridge past the Bea Evenson Fountain and start throwing Pokéballs.

Balboa Park Gym Highlights

  • San Diego Museum of Man / Old Globe Theatre
  • Lily Pond / Botanical Building
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • El Cid Campeador Statue
  • Marston Point

> Spend a Day at the cultural core of San Diego, Balboa Park

Embarcadero

Hatch a few eggs as you journey along San Diego’s downtown Embarcadero to the San Diego cruise terminal, the Navy Pier, Seaport Village and the Headquarters. Unique Pokestops can be found aboard the ships at the USS Midway Museum and the Maritime Museum of San Diego, where sought-after creatures have been spotted.

Embarcadero Gym Highlights

  • San Diego Convention Center
  • Embarcadero Marina Park South Gazzebo
  • Unconditional Surrender Statue
  • Maritime Museum of San Diego

> Take a Walk along San Diego’s Waterfront Embarcadero

Point Loma Peninsula

The optimum training location can be found at a former Naval Training Center now known as Liberty Station. The likes of Aerodactyl and Rhyhorn have been seen all around this hub for arts, shopping and dining. Pokestops and gyms are also located on Shelter Island and Cabrillo National Monument

Point Loma Gym Highlights

  • NTC Park
  • Shelter Island Pier
  • Friendship Bell (Shelter Island)
  • Cabrillo Statue

> Discover the Point Loma Peninsula

Old Town San Diego

Egg hatching can be achieved with ease while walking among the 17 museums and historical sites, quaint shops, and colorful art galleries that populate Old Town San Diego, the birthplace of California. The aroma of freshly made tortillas and the sounds of mariachi are the perfect lure for gamers eager to try San Diego’s authentic Mexican fare.

Old Town Gym Highlights

  • Washington Square
  • Miner’s Gems
  • Mormom Battalion Historic Site

> Step Back in Time at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

LEGOLAND California

Pokémon masters can earn ninja status at LEGOLAND® California. While tracking more than 40 Pokestops, guests can learn to control fireballs, lightning, shockwaves and ice at the new LEGO® Ninjago® World featuring a Ninjago interactive ride, the first in the world to utilize cutting-edge Maestro™ technology that enables effects such as heat, smoke and wind incorporated throughout the adventure.

> Learn More about LEGOLAND California

Uptown and Mid-City

The eclectic neighborhoods that make up Uptown and Mid-City are a hot-spot for Pokestops. Hunters will want to travel along 30th Street, University Avenue, El Cajon Boulevard and Adams Avenue. Trainers can recharge while sipping on craft beer or relax with a pour-over coffee at the numerous breweries and coffee shops in the area. Many shops and restaurants are continually dropping Lure Models while offering Happy Hour and specials for Pokémon Go players.

Uptown and Mid-City Gym Highlights

  • Ward Canyon Park
  • Fire Exit Street Art
  • Live Wire Bar
  • Hillcrest Pride Flag
  • Pioneer Park

> Explore San Diego’s Uptown and Mid-City Neighborhoods

This post just scratches the surface of Pokémon Go stops and gyms throughout San Diego County. Check out the map below for the most up-to-date sightings.

San Diego Pokémon Go Map

Brent Bernasconi

Celebrate the San Diego Zoo’s Centennial

San Diego Zoo Centennial

San Diego Zoo Centennial

In 1916, Dr. Harry Wegeforth, a local physician, exclaimed “Wouldn’t it be splendid if San Diego had a zoo! You know…I think I’ll start one.” With a rag-tag collection consisting of a row of cages along what is now Park Boulevard, with wolves, coyotes, bears, monkeys, lions, and a few other small species, plus groups of bison, elk, and deer in Balboa Park, Dr. Wegeforth and others established what would become the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

A century later, the San Diego Zoo is known for its two world-class facilitates in San Diego County, cutting-edge conservation efforts that span the globe, its pioneering concept of cage-less animals, panda and California Condor re-population programs, kids outreach and education programs, and more.

In 2016, the San Diego Zoo invites everyone to share their memories and celebrate 100 years of conservation, research, and most importantly, inspiring generation after generation to care for the world and the animals around us.

San Diego Zoo Centennial Celebration

The San Diego Zoo is turning 100, and we’re ready to celebrate. This is the Zoo’s way to say “thank you” to the community for a century of support! Join us for a spectacular evening filled with excitement and fun, including:

  • Family-fun crafts, food, face painting, hands-on activities…and an opportunity to set a Guinness World Record
  • Live bands, dancers, and Dr. Zoolittle
  • Animal presentations by Zookeeper Rick
  • Free entrance to several Balboa Park museums, including the San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Photographic Art
  • And featuring a magical, musical extravaganza featuring a live orchestra, and Tony and Grammy award-winner Heather Headley at Spreckels Organ Pavilion at 8:00 PM.

Participating Food Trucks:

  • New Orleans Food Truck: New Orleans Cuisine
  • Seoul Man Food Truck: Korean
  • Smoothie Rider: Fruit Smoothies
  • Salt + Lime: Mexican
  • Totally Tasty: Sliders & Burgers
  • Bella Vita Pizza: Pizza
  • Sun & Sea: Mexican Seafood
  • Wishbone Wings: Chicken
  • Slider House: Sliders & Burgers
  • Back to Foods: Spanish Sandos
  • Sushi Uno: Sushi

Where: Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Balboa Park
When: May 14, 2016
Time: 6:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free

More Centennial Highlights and Events

Wegeforth Bowl

During 2016, the history of the San Diego Zoo is part of the daily Centennial Show at Wegeforth Bowl. It opens with a film sharing 10 reasons to celebrate the San Diego Zoo’s 100th birthday – including the amazing animal collection and world-class Safari Park – leading into an exciting new animal show that incorporates special video clips and features some of the Zoo’s most beloved animal ambassadors.

Where: San Diego Zoo
When: All Year

Centennial Plaza and San Diego Zoo History Mural

After the show at Wegeforth Bowl, a new costumed character experience designed especially for children features performances on a gigantic birthday cake stage in Centennial Plaza. Characters include Dr. Harry Lion, Bamboo Panda, Churchill P. Bear, Matilda Koala, and Sydney Koala. Kids join in a rousing chorus of “You Belong in the Zoo” and have the chance to dance with the characters. Then take a stroll down memory lane with the San Diego Zoo History Mural: a 75-foot-long graphic art installation located next to the birthday cake stage, which features historical photos from the San Diego Zoo archives with descriptive captions of 10 extraordinary decades.

Where: San Diego Zoo
When: All Year

Centennial Theater and Guided Bus Tour

For their 100th birthday, the San Diego Zoo has opened the Centennial Theater at the bus depot. Before boarding a double-decker tour bus, groups of guests enter a standing theater and are treated to a beautiful short film about one of San Diego Zoo Global’s many conservation field projects. The 40-minute guided bus tour then shares details about the Zoo’s history, and efforts underway to end extinction by saving one species at a time. The Guided Bus Tour is included in the 1-Day Pass admission price. A Spanish version of the bus tour is offered Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00 PM.

Where: San Diego Zoo
When: All Year

Nighttime Zoo

The summer nighttime activities for 2016 will carry the theme from the community event throughout the summer. Nighttime Zoo will include special presentations and a fun procession to add centennial dazzle, plus a special centennial-themed show from zany Dr. Zoolittle and lively musical entertainment.

Where: San Diego Zoo
When: June 19 – September 5, 2016
> Find out more about Nighttime Zoo

The Lore Behind the Roar

In collaboration with the San Diego Zoo, this celebration of the Zoo’s centennial explores its evolution to the World-Famous San Diego Zoo. Lore explores the Zoo’s contributions to popular culture, to San Diego and to the animal world, from the pioneering concept of cage-less animals to the high-tech Frozen Zoo.

Where: San Diego History Center – 1649 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Through January 1, 2016
Cost: Included with Admission
> Find out more about The Lore Behind the Roar

> Find out more about the San Diego Zoo Centennial

Brent Bernasconi

See Christmas Lights in San Diego this 2015 Holiday Season

Warm up the car, fill a thermos to the brim with hot chocolate, pack some cookies and head out with the family for an evening of twinkling Christmas lights in San Diego.

Please note, some light displays and events are weather dependent.

Here are just a few of San Diego’s Christmas Lights highlights:

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Holidays-Parade-of-Lights-Boats-1200x627

More than 80 lavishly decorated boats will sail over the calm waters of the Big Bay during the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. The parade starts at Shelter Island and makes it way down to the Ferry Landing on Coronado. Make sure to arrive early at one of the viewing spots that include: Harbor Island, Shelter Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village and along the pathway on Coronado.

Dates: Sundays, December 13 and 20, 2015
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Lights Up during the holiday season.

Dozens of vessels will take to the waters of Mission Bay with decorations and lights aboard. Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot on Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island.

Date: December 12, 2015
Time: 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Boats of all sizes get decked out with holiday lights and circle Oceanside Harbor

Fishing boats, sailboats, yachts, kayaks and dingys dressed up in holiday swag and circle the Oceanside Harbor to enchant onlookers at the harbor, restaurants and beach. Many of the boats feature people dressed up like Santa waving to the crowd. One of the best viewing spots is along the side of the Oceanside Harbor near the fishing dock and police station. From this vantage point, you can see the parade twice!

Where: Oceanside Harbor, Oceanside, CA 92054
When: December 12, 2015
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Oceanside Parade of Lights

Garden of Lights

San Diego Botanic Gardens' Garden of Lights

Lights, Santa, hot chocolate, snow and more at the San Diego Botanic Gardens’ Garden of Lights

After the sun goes down in December, the Garden is transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with over 100,000 sparkling lights illuminating the Garden for a magical holiday experience! Join in the fun that includes horse-drawn wagon rides, holiday crafts, marshmallow roasting, visits with Santa, live music, refreshments and hot mulled wine and snow (on select nights).

Location: 230 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024
Dates: December 5-30, 2015 (Closed December 24-25)
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Garden of Lights

Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Christmas Lights at Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Photo by Andy Hayt

Holiday Wonderland is back at Petco Park! Get in the holiday spirit than to walk through magical lighting displays themed around some of the holiday’s most iconic scenes, ride the polar express, take a picture with Santa or gather around a 40′ tree.

Where: 100 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
When: Friday-Sunday – December 4-23, 2015
Time: 4:30 to 9:30 PM
Cost: $10-$15
> Find out more about Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

DELights in the Patio

DELights in the Garden Patio

The Hotel del Coronado’s patio will be transformed into a winter wonderland of holiday sights, smells and sounds with a shimmering array of icy colors, dazzling snowflakes, whimsical polar bears and a stunning video mapping light show projected onto a 40’ multi-faceted tree.

Where: 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
When: November 26, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Time: 4:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: $25. Free for resort guests
> Find out more about DELights in the Patio

Christmas Lights at San Diego Attractions

Local Christmas Lights Highlights

Belardo Lights in Tierrasanta

A labor of love by two parents for their two sons with autism, the Schimka family has been lighting up Belardo Drive for the past seven years while raising money for the National Foundation for Autism Research. The display, which is synchronized to the music on 106.1 FM, has grown tremendously over the years!

Location: 5306 Belardo Drive, San Diego, CA 92124
Dates: November 28 – December 27, 2015
Time: 6:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free, please consider making a donation
> Find out more about Belardo Lights in Tierrasanta

DB Lights

Presented in a loving memory of a father who loved Christmas, DB Lights is an amazing display of more than 25,000 lights synchronized to music.

Where: 9773 Roe Dr, Santee, CA 92071
When: December 1, 2015 – January 1, 2015
> Find out more about DB Lights

Christmas on Knob Hill

Christmas on Knob Hill began in 1988 and is now one of the largest Christmas light displays in San Diego county! Over 30 years, the display has grown to over 85,000 lights with a special visit from Santa every year.

Where: 1639 Knob Hill Rd., San Marcos, CA 92069
When: November 26 – December 30, 2015
> Find out more about Christmas on Knob Hill

Popular San Diego Neighborhoods with Christmas Lights

There are plenty of San Diego neighborhoods who collectively get into the holiday spirit with entire blocks lit up with Christmas lights. San Diego Family Magazine has collected all the locations on one printout you can download via the link below.

> Check out San Diego Family Magazine’s Map of Christmas Lights 2015

> Discover Even More Holiday Excitement in San Diego

Know of any other great Christmas lights in San Diego or have any updates to the ones listed above? Let us and others know in the comments below.

Candice

Destination San Diego Episode 7: City Heights, History and Culture

In this episode of Destination San Diego, we’ll introduce you to City Heights – an urban neighborhood that is a true melting pot of different ethnic groups. Home to authentic ethnic restaurants and markets, hidden artworks and live music venues, City Heights is an undiscovered destination in San Diego. We’ll also check in at the beautifully restored Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town, and explore another historic building restoration that “electrified” the downtown skyline. World-renowned conductor of the San Diego Symphony, Jahja Ling, shares his most inspirational sites and favorite art and cultural experiences around town. And, we have your tickets to watch the many evolutions of Balboa Park’s Old Globe Theatre.

What’s In This Episode of Destination San Diego

> Watch all the Destination San Diego Episodes

Candice

Destination San Diego Episode 6 – Behind San Diego’s Icons

San Diego is known for a lot of things, from Top Gun to Shamu! On this edition of Destination San Diego, you’ll get a peek behind the scenes at some of the region’s most well known icons, like the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and the annual Comic-Con International convention. SeaWorld’s Stranded Animal Coordinator, Jody Westberg, shares a behind-the-scenes tour of the Animal Care Center along with her favorite spots outside the park to catch a glimpse of San Diego’s wildlife. Plus, you’ll also discover a few lesser-known secrets, like the best places to get delicious, authentic Asian food in San Diego’s north side, the history of the University of San Diego, and San Diego’s apple country in the mountain town of Julian.

What’s In This Episode of Destination San Diego

> Watch all the Destination San Diego Episodes

Robert Arends

Top 5 San Diego Spots to Explore the Birthplace of California

The new San Salvador, the Mayflower of the West! Photo credit: Jerry Soto

The new San Salvador, the Mayflower of the West! Photo credit: Jerry Soto

Did you know, San Diego was discovered by Europeans 473 years ago? Yep, only 50 years after Columbus and more than 200 years before the Spanish missions were started.

Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailed his galleon ship, the San Salvador into San Diego Bay on Sept. 28, 1542 – going down in history as San Diego’s “first tourist.” He didn’t stay long, though, as there was no San Diego Zoo or LEGOLAND for the crew to explore. 😉

Today, tourists by the millions are drawn to our attractive sun-kissed shores in search of sun and fun, as well as the fascinating living history of San Diego.

Following are Top 5 places to step back in time and trace Cabrillo’s momentous discovery, and the founding of San Diego:

1. Maritime Museum of San Diego

San Salvador docked at the Maritime Museum. Photo credit: Jerry Soto

San Salvador docked at the Maritime Museum. Photo credit: Jerry Soto

Last month the Maritime Museum of San Diego launched a full-size, functioning replica of the San Salvador – the Mayflower of the West – much to the delight of landlubbers like me! The $6.2 million vessel took 5 years to construct (check out this cool time-lapse video of the ship’s construction) and can be seen docked at the museum’s pier on Harbor Drive. Plan is to have it open to the public (as in actually go onboard) later this year, hopefully by the holidays {fingers crossed}.

2. Cabrillo National Monument

Impressive statue of Cabrillo at Cabrillo National Monument

Impressive statue of Cabrillo at Cabrillo National Monument

Wonder what Cabrillo looked like or what he saw as he sailed into San Diego’s impressive natural harbor? Head to Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego’s only national park. There’s a 14-foot high statue of Cabrillo (originally envisioned as a 150-foot tall sculpture!) and incredible 360-degree, birds-eye views of the city. Also fun to explore are the Old Point Loma Lighthouse (one of eight original lighthouses on the West Coast), tide pools and bunkers from WWII.

3. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Folklorico dancers at Old Town State Historic Park

Folklorico dancers at Old Town State Historic Park

The Junipero Serra Museum on a hill overlooking Old Town, marks the spot where Spanish friars and soldiers established a presidio and the first Mission San Diego in 1769 (the original structures are no longer visible; the ruins are buried). Downhill, Old Town State Historic Park with its adobe buildings, old timey plaza and other sites, shows what life was like at San Diego’s first “downtown” in the 1800s. This is where the Wild West meets mariachis and our Hispanic heritage.

4. Mission San Diego de Alcala

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala

California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcala in Mission Valley

In the aptly named Mission Valley near Old Town, is the second Mission San Diego de Alcala – which was moved here in 1774 to be closer to the San Diego River (makes sense). You can stroll through the mission and its beautiful gardens, chapel, church, a museum with original artifacts and an excavation site out back, believed to be the monastery.

5. Mission Trails Regional Park

Old Mission Dam in Mission Trails Regional Park. Photo credit: Ce Helton

Old Mission Dam in Mission Trails Regional Park. Photo credit: Ce Helton

Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S., is just up the road from Mission San Diego. Highlights include the original Old Mission Dam, a state-of-the-art Visitor and Interpretive Center featuring exhibits dedicated to the Kumeyaay Indians who lived here 1,000 years ago and 60 miles of hiking trails including an awesome trek to the top of Cowles Mountain, the city of San Diego’s highest peak (1,593 feet).

See you in San Diego, and make your own history! 🙂

Brent Bernasconi

Hauntingly Fun Halloween Activities for the Little Ones

LEGLOANDLAND Brick-or-Treat Party NIghts

Halloween is more than a single day celebration…it’s an entire month! Combine all these frighteningly fun things to do with 100+ Kids Free in San Diego offers and October is the perfect month to visit San Diego with the whole family.

> Pumpkin Patches throughout San Diego – 2015

Halloween Haunts at San Diego Attractions

SeaWorld San Diego’s Halloween Spooktacular

SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular

Even the animals get in on the Spooktacular Halloween fun at SeaWorld

Shamu and the gang will get into the “spirit” of Halloween with a not-too-scary celebration featuring festive family fun on Saturdays and Sundays from late September through October. Guests at SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular will enjoy animal meet and greets, special Halloween shows and colorful costumed characters, plus “Who Said Boo?” at Sesame Street’s Bay of Play musical stage. Kids are encouraged to come in costume and use their Spooktacular maps to trick or treat at sea-themed stations.

When: Saturdays & Sundays through November 1, 2015
> Find out more about SeaWorld San Diego’s Halloween Spooktacular

LEGOLAND California Brick-or-Treat Party Nights

LEGLOANDLAND Brick-or-Treat Party NIghts

LEGOLAND invites the whole family for a “block” party full of ghoulish fun

Calling all monsters, mermaids, witches, robots and pirates to LEGOLAND California Brick-or-Treat Party Nights. Every Saturday evening in October, the family theme park is transformed into a not-too-spooky Halloween haven featuring costume contests, nighttime trick-or-treating on the Brick-or-Treat Trail, live music and entertainment.

When: Saturdays through October 30, 2015 (Special Night on Friday, October 30)
> Find out more about LEGOLAND California Brick-or-Treat Party Nights

Belmont Park’s Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt

Boomont Park Fall Festival & Haunt

It’s a Halloween celebration by the beach! Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt offers family fun including the kid-friendly haunted house Boomont Manor, a pumpkin patch, zombie laser tag, a spooky Giant Dipper roller coaster and free trick-or-treating.

When: Friday-Sunday through October 31, 2015
> Find out more about Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt

RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns

RISE of the Jack O'Lantern

Lighting up the night this October at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido is the family friendly fall event, RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns! Come see more than 5,000 hand-carved illuminated jack o’lanterns created by professional artists and sculptors arranged in creative ways along a 1/3-mile scenic walking trail all set to an original music score produced exclusively for The RISE!

When: Through October 25, 2015
> Find out more about RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns

Mayhem at the Museums

Balboa Park Halloween Family Day

Balboa Park Halloween Family Day

Costumed fun in San Diego’s Historic Balboa Park

Families can start their Halloween Day celebrations at with a spine-tingling array of free hands-on activities and free museum admission for kids 12 and under (with paid adult) at the annual Balboa Park Halloween Family Day. Over two dozen participating museums and cultural attractions throughout the Park will present arts and crafts projects for kids, costume parades and contests, spooky gallery tours and treasure hunts, and other fun surprises until 4:00 PM.

When: October 31, 2015
> Find out more about the Balboa Park Halloween Family Day

Haunted Aquarium: Shipwrecked

Pirate Ship - Haunted Birch Aquarium - Shipwrecked

Haunted Pirate Ships and More at the Birch Aquarium

Ghouls and kids of all ages can gather for the spooky, sea-faring Haunted Aquarium: Shipwrecked! at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Each evening, the famous marine life facility comes alive with creeps from the deep, wacky mad scientist experiments, tricky-treats, slimy encounters, spooky activities and monstrous live music. Families are encouraged to come dressed to impress to be entered for a raffle prize.

When: October 23-24, 2015
> Find out more about Haunted Aquarium: Shipwrecked!

Haunted Tales of our Seafaring Past

Haunted Star of India - Maritime Museum of San Diego

Gather round for haunted seafaring tales and lantern tours at the Maritime Museum of San Diego

Climb aboard the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s Star of India for Haunted Tales of our Seafaring Past featuring ghostly lantern-led tours of the historic ship and hear eerie legends from the ship’s past. During the tours, costumed docents will share tales of creepy events that occurred aboard the historic vessel.

When: Saturdays October 24 & 31, 2015
> Find out more about Haunted Tales of our Seafaring Past

Pumpkin Express Halloween Celebration

Pumpkin Express

Join the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association in their annual Pumpkin Express Halloween Celebration. Come ride our decorated vintage railcars through the San Diego county mountains as fall descends upon Campo, CA. Walk through their themed Display Building complete with two haunted trains, a pumpkin patch, and our creepy cast of ghosts and ghouls.

When: Saturdays & Sundays, October 10-31, 2015
> Find out more about Pumpkin Express Halloween Celebration

Halloween Parades & Festivals

HauntFest on Main

HauntFest on Main

The annual HauntFest on Main is an exciting family friendly event in Downtown El Cajon featuring live music on 2 stages, costume contests, carnival rides and games, a Terror Truck, candy trails, a Kidz Zone with outdoor movies, craft and game booths, pumpkin patch and more!

When: October 23, 2015
> Find out more about HauntFest on Main

Boulevard Boo Parade!

The Boulevard BOO! Parade - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Get into the spirit at San Diego’s only Halloween Parade!

Dress up your little ghouls and goblins for San Diego’s only spooktacular Halloween parade, The Boulevard Boo! Parade.

When: October 24, 2015
> Find out more about The Boulevard Boo! Parade

Scary Trails for Tweens & Teens

For those who believe they are old enough for some true scares, here are two great “haunted” options for teens and tweens:

> More Halloween Happenings in San Diego

Brent Bernasconi

Join the Kidvasion – Kids Play Free at Local Attractions All October

It’s October and that means the Kidvasion of San Diego has begun! 100+ attractions, restaurants, hotels and more are offering amazing deals just for kids. Below are the spectacular offers from San Diego attractions your kids don’t want to miss!

Kids Go Free to San Diego Zoo & Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Play Days - Top Things in San Diego

Lions and tigers and kids free admission, oh my! Kids 11 and under can go wild and get up close to amazing animals all October at both the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

> Kids Go Free to the San Diego Zoo
> Kids Go Free to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Kids Go, Eat & Play Free at SeaWorld San Diego

Dolphin Encounter - SeaWorld San Diego in Mission Bay

It’s all about the kids at SeaWorld San Diego this October with offers including kids free admission to SeaWorld San Diego, Dolphin & Beluga Interaction Programs, and Breakfast & Dine With Shamu.

> Kids Go, Eat and Play Free at SeaWorld San Diego

Kids Go Free to LEGOLAND California

LEGOLAND's Brick Or Treat Cruise

Come play at LEGOLAND California Resort. It’s a hands-on experience with more than 60 rides, shows and attractions. Take your imagination on an amazing journey and enter the all-new LEGO® Legends of CHIMA™ Water Park. It features an awe-inspiring Lion Temple Wave Pool, crocodile swamp and the interactive Build-a-Boat.

> Kids Go Free to LEGOLAND California

Kids Go Free to 40+ Museums

San Diego Museum Council's Kids Free in October

Explore the hidden treasurers of the ocean or the far reaches of outer space. Delve into local history, visual arts, botanic gardens, scientific wonders – and more – all here in San Diego! Children ages 12 and under receive free admission with a paid adult (limit 2) at more than 40 museums.

> San Diego Museum Council’s Kids Free in October

Kids Play & Ride Free at Belmont Park

belmonth-park-kids-coaster-1200x627

Bring the kids to Belmont Park for a day full of fun with the following offers: unlimited ride wristband, unlimited laser tag wristband, cotton candy, child rental at Mission Bay Rentals, and more.

> Kids Play & Ride Free at Belmont Park

> Browse the 100+ Kids Free in San Diego Offers

Brent Bernasconi

Pumpkin Patches Throughout San Diego – Fall 2015

Fall in San Diego means warm days, cool nights, Halloween fun and, of course, pumpkin patches! Browse the list below to find the perfect pumpkin patch near you.

Bates Nut Farm

Bates Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch

Acres of pumpkins await at Bates Nut Farm

Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center has been a Pumpkin Patch staple in San Diego for decades (the Bates family has owned the farm since 1921). Bates has plenty of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes, tractor hayrides, a straw maze, pony rides and a petting zoo. Weekends at Bates include live entertainment from 12:00 to 3:00 PM, BBQ, kettle corn, food trucks, rock climb, bounce, slide and other family friendly events.

Where: 15954 Woods Valley Road, Valley Center, CA 92082
When: September 24 – October 31, 2015
Hours: Monday-Friday: 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Saturday-Sunday: 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free Admission. Pumpkin and activity prices vary. $5 Parking on October Weekends
> Find out more about Bate’s Nut Farm Pumpkin Patch

Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt

Boomont Park Fall Festival & Haunt

Pick an amazing pumpkin by the beach at Belmont Park’s Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt. While you’re there, bravely walk through the Boomont Manor (a kid-friendly haunted house and maze), play zombie laser tag, ride the spooky Giant Dipper and enter the costume contest on Saturdays. Don’t forget to bring the pumpkin pail for free trick-or-treating.

Where: 3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
When: October 3-31, 2015 (Fridays-Sundays)
Hours: Friday: 5:00 to 10:00 PM. Saturday-Sunday: 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Cost: Free admission. Rides and Some Activities – Varies.
> Find out more about the Boomont Park Fall Festival and Haunt

Pumpkin Express

Pumpkin Express

Join the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association in our Eleventh Annual Pupmkin Express Halloween Celebration. Ride their decorated vintage railcars through the San Diego county mountains as fall descends upon Campo, CA. Walk through their themed Display Building complete with two haunted trains, a pumpkin patch, and our creepy cast of ghosts and ghouls.

Where: The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum – 750 Depot Street, Campo, CA 91906
When: October 11-26, 2014 (Saturday-Sunday)
Hours: Departures at 10:00 AM, 12:15 PM and 2:30 PM
Cost: $5-$15
> Find out more about the Pumpkin Express

Farm Stand West’s Pumpkin Patch

Farm Stand West's Pumpkin Patch

Pick the perfect pumpkin straight from the field at Farm Stand West’s Pumpkin Patch

Get a true pumpkin picking experience by picking the perfect future jack-o-lantern straight from Farm Stand West’s pumpkin fields. Stop by over the weekend of October 24-25 between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM for the Annual Farm Stand Fall Harvest Festival & Boutique. Have fun on a hayride, pick up some delicious homemade jams and farm fresh produce, and shop from local artisans.

Where:
Farm Stand West – 2115 Miller Ave., Escondido, CA 92025
Fran’s Original Farm Stand – 1980 Summit Dr, Escondido, CA 92027
When: October 1-31, 2015 (Closed on Mondays)
Hours: Weekdays: 12:00 to 6:00 PM. Weekends: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Cost: Free admission, pumpkins vary
> Find out more about Farm Stand West’s Pumpkin Patch

Lavender Hill Pumpkins

Lavender Hill Pumpkin Patch

Browse through a variety of pumpkins at the Lavender Hill Pumpkin Patch

Looking for a no-nonsense pumpkin picking outing? Then head to Lavendar Hill Pumpkins for a vast selection of pumpkins perfect for either carving or cooking. Mike, one of the owners, suggests you show up early in the month for the best selection!

Where: 1509 East Mission Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028
When: October 3-31, 2015
Hours: Wednesday-Friday: 2:00 to 5:00 PM, Weekends: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Varies
> Find out more about Lavender Hill Pumpkins

Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch

Kids with their Pumpkins at Mountain Valley Ranch

Pumpkins for everyone at Mountain Valley Ranch

Up near the small mountain town of Ramona is the Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch. Take some time to find the perfect carving or cooking pumpkin, get lost in the gigantic corn maze, launch an ear of corn out of a cannon, pet a few farm animals and add a few pictures of the kids on antique farm equipment to the scrapbook.

Where: 842 Hwy 78, Ramona, CA 92065
When: September 26 – October 31, 2015
Hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Varies (Cash Only)
> Find out more about Mountain Valley Ranch Pumpkin Patch

ABC Tree Farms Pick of the Patch Pumpkins

Tiger inflatable slide and pumpkins at ABC Tree Farms Pick of the Patch Pumpkins

A whole day of fun at ABC Tree Farms Pick of the Patch Pumpkins

Offering inflatable amusements including bounce houses, giant slides and obstacle courses, Super Slide as well as different types of Pumpkins, Gourds, Pumpkin Accessories, Snacks, Beverages and more.

Where: 2205 Vista Way, Oceanside, CA 92054
When: September 25 – October 31, 2015
Time: Sunday-Thursday: 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Friday-Saturday: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM
Cost: Varies. Ride Wristbands: $10-$15
> Find out more about ABC Tree Farms Pick of the Patch Pumpkins

16th Annual Oma’s Pumpkin Patch

Oma's Pumpkin Patch

Over in Lakeside, Oma’s Pumpkin Patch is offering fun for the whole family. The child admission includes a Jack Patch pumpkin, a bottle of water, covered hay rides, a hay bale maze, petting corral, kid-powered games, sand pile with toy trucks & tractors, and a large play area with the climbable Cottonseed Mountain.

Where: 14950 El Monte Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040
When: September 29 – October 31, 2015 (Tuesday-Saturday)
Hours: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Cost: Ages 1-13 – $10 per child. Ages 14 and Up – $5.
> Find out more about the 16th Annual Oma’s Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Station

Pumpkin Station Pumpkin Patches

All aboard…one of the six convenient Pumpkin Station locations (including the two actual farms) throughout San Diego County. At the Pumpkin Stations, kids can peruse for the perfect pumpkin while enjoying the kiddie rides, slides, inflatable play centers and petting zoo. At their two farms in Rancho Bernardo and Bonita, little pumpkin carvers will find a living pumpkin patch, corn maze, farm animals and a tractor-pulled haywagon ride.

When: Vary by location
Hours: Vary by location
Cost: Free admission. Ride tickets start at $3.50. Farm tickets are $1 (discounted ticket packages available)
> Find out more about the Pumpkin Station

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum Fall Family Festival

San Diego Children's Discovery Museum Fall Family Festival

Stop by the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum for hands-on education (don’t tell the kids), pumpkins and fun. The Fall Family Festival will feature live music by Hullabaloo, a petting zoo, pumpkin carving & decorating, food, Halloween costume exchange, and other fun fall activities!

Where: 320 North Broadway, Escondido, CA 92025
When: October 25, 2015
Hours: 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Cost: Members – $5, Nonmembers – $10, Kids 12 and Under – Free
> Find out more about the SDCDM Fall Family Festival

Summer Past Farms Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch sign and pumpkins at Summer Farms

An picturesque pumpkin patch at Summer Farms

Head on over to Summer Past Farms Pumpkin Patch picking weekends for family fun including a jumpee, popcorn, corn-dogs and smoothies.

Where: 15602 Olde Hwy 80, Flinn Springs, CA 92021
When: October 3-31, 2015 (Closed Monday & Tuesday)
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Sunday: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Varies
> Find out more about Summer Past Farms Pumpkin Patch

Suzie’s Farm Pumpkin Palooza

Suzies Farm Pumpkin Palooza

Make a day of it in San Diego’s South Bay with pumpkin picking at Suzie’s Farm. Bring a wheelbarrow to carry home plenty of pumpkins for carving and cooking picked right from the fields, fresh produce, jams and more. During Pumpkin Palooza, enjoy live music and plenty of delicious food. Don’t forget the camera!

Where: 2570 Sunset Avenue, San Diego, CA 92154
When: October 17, 2015
Hours: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Cost: Free Admission, Pumpkins Vary
> Find out more about Suzie’s Farm Pumpkin Palooza

Waynes Pumpkin Patch

Where: 3615 Manchester Ave, Encinitas, CA 92024

 

> Discover more to do in San Diego this Fall

Have a great time at the pumpkin patch? Notice one is missing? Could I have possibly made a mistake on the info? Let me and others know in the comments below.