Robert Arends

Filipino Dining Delights in National City

National City has a vibrant Filipino community known for its delicious cuisine

National City has a vibrant Filipino community known for its delicious cuisine

Mabuhay! That’s Tagalog for “cheers” or “welcome.” When you visit National City, south of downtown San Diego, you’ll indeed feel welcome to this tight-knit community that celebrates its rich Filipino heritage.

There’s no better way to experience San Diego’s Filipino culture than through its mouthwatering food. Following are a few of my favorite, tried and true restaurants to try, plus a couple bakeries to satisfy those sweet cravings.

National City’s main thoroughfare for Filipino restaurants is Plaza Blvd., located just off Interstate 5 or 805 South.

A Few Filipino Restaurant Options

Pancit malabon - a yummy specialty at Manila Sunset!

Pancit malabon – a yummy specialty at Manila Sunset!

First stop, for delicious made-to-order breakfast or lunch fare, is Manila Sunset (925 E. Plaza Blvd.) which resembles a charming Filipino village inside. My fav dish is Lansilog, consisting of longganisa (Fillipino-style chorizo grilled to perfection), egg and rice drizzled with a vinegar/cucumber dip. The fresh lumpia and pancit malabon with thick rice noodles, shrimp, egg, veggies and chicharon are also delish!

Vast array of Filipino food at Manila Sunset

Vast array of Filipino food at Manila Sunset

Another great sit-down restaurant for Lansilog and other traditional Filipino breakfast combinations is Point-Point Joint (916 E. 8th St)

Tita’s Kitchenette (2720 E. Plaza Blvd.) is all about the two-item combos. For just $7 you can pick from a vast array of Filipino staples like chicken adobo, sisig (seasoned chopped pork with onions, green peppers and special seasoning), kare kare (traditional Filipino stew of ox tail, tripe and pork with a savory peanut sauce) and finger-licking good BBQ chicken skewers –¬†the best in town!

Tasty chicken skewers at Tita's Kitchenette!

Tasty chicken skewers at Tita’s Kitchenette!

Nearby Karihan Filipino Food (2220 E. Plaza Blvd., Suite B) is also a great go-to for BBQ chicken and pork, whole(!) fried fish and piping hot sinigang (tangy tamarind soup with veggies).

Sweet! Red Ribbon mango cake

Sweet! Red Ribbon mango cake

Don’t forget dessert! Goldilocks and Red Ribbon, two bakeshops from the Phillipines, have shelves of sweet fresh-baked yumminess to choose from. Must-trys are the mango cake, ube (sweet purple yam) cake, and mamon special, a fluffy French sponge cake brushed with butter and sprinkled with cheese (yep) and sugar. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you! ūüėČ

Sarah Weinberg

The Kids Are Alright – Family Friendly Dining Options in San Diego

Monkey Paw Beer at Stone Liberty Station

San Diego restaurants offer a surprising number of exciting family friendly dining experiences from beaches to breweries.

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens

Monkey Paw Beer at Stone Liberty Station

Outdoor recreation and an adventurous menu mix well at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Liberty Station.

Wait a minute, beer and kids? Yes! Both locations of Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens offer a dining destination, with an outstanding and challenging menu for adults featuring local meats and produce, and of course, local beers. They also have a kids menu that offers fresh veggies and their own house made soda (free of high-fructose corn syrup). You”ll find no frozen chicken fingers here. Kids can choose between chicken stir fry with noodles, carrots peas and broccoli; a cheese sandwich on freshly baked ciabatta bread and garlic mashed potatoes; chicken and cheese burrito with rice and beans on the side; or pasta in a cream sauce. Our family enjoys dining here because adults can enjoy a pint watching the kids play bocce ball at Liberty Station while we wait for the food to be served. Both locations offer outdoor gardens and paths and grassy lawns so older kids can wander and younger kids have somewhere to toddle (with escort) beyond the confines of a dining room.

Where: 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, CA 92029
> Find out more about Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens Escondido

Where: 2816 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station

Corvette Diner

Corvette Dinner

Pinky Tuscadero and friends welcome your kids to The Corvette Diner.

For pure kid-pleasing pleasure, Corvette Diner has it wired. This place is all about celebrating fun, and they have a huge menu with options for everyone, so even the pickiest eater can be accommodated. Those looking beyond the “diner” experience can find options like the “Popeye” spinach salad. Portions are huge (although there”s an extensive kids menu here too) and the food is fresh and tasty. The wait staff wear 1950s-era diner outfits and toss straws and bubble gum on to the table when they come to take your order. The space is large with many car and music themed rooms and best of all, an arcade! Kids can play pinball, video games and the like and win tickets for small prizes they select. No wonder it”s a birthday party favorite in San Diego.

Where: 2965 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Corvette Diner

Waypoint Public

Waypoint Public - Family Friendly Dining

Waypoint is a neighborhood joint that offers family friendly dining and a hip after 8:00 PM crowd in search of local and rare beers.

You know kids are welcome when a restaurant builds out an area just for the little guys to play. At Waypoint Public located on 30th¬†Street, a thoroughfare with a reputation for craft beer and culinary excellence in the neighborhood of North Park, families can reserve a table next to a kids “corral” to watch their tykes while dining. This kids” zone offers toys, bookshelves, blocks and bean bags in a little area toward the back of the restaurant carpeted with artificial grass and surrounded by a white picket fence.

While the kids menu includes favorites like cheeseburger and fries, mac “n” cheese, grilled cheese and little chicken dinner, the restaurant”s philosophy of fresh, local ingredients result in healthier options all around. The regular menu offers charred Spanish nbso online casino reviews octopus and duck cassoulet as well as an amazing burger. The 30 beers on tap and close to 100 bottles to choose from mean mommy and daddy will be happy too.

Where: 3794 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Waypoint Public

Station Tavern

Dining, family, burger, craft beer

Casual and fun, with a play area for the kids, Station Tavern in South Park is a must visit dining stop for families looking for great local experience.

Station Tavern,¬†in the South Park neighborhood, is one of the most comfortable places for families to dine. It reminds me of a German beer garden with its indoor-outdoor picnic tables and quality beer and cocktail selection. The menu is simple with burgers, fries and tots, salads and a few other rotating items. “Station” as the locals call it, offers a place just for the kids as they crowd inside, and on top of, a mini trolley sitting within a fenced-off area in the outside dining space. A chalkboard and other sand toys offer youngsters distraction in this play zone. The restaurant sits on what was once a trolley track running through the neighborhood, thus the name.

Where: 2204 Fern Street, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Station Tavern

The Wave House at Belmont Park

Surfer - Wave House San Diego

Dine simulator-side at The Wave House at Belmont Park for a thrilling meal.

For a true escape from everyday dining, head to Mission Beach and get a table at Belmont Park”s Wave House. This entire area sits outside on the famed Mission Beach Boardwalk steps from the Pacific Ocean. The Wave House offers tropical palms, tiki style bars, a college crowd and also a sand pit for the kids to play in (including bean bag toss and giant chess board), all next to two giant wave rider simulators. My kids were fascinated watching beginning and expert surfers alike paddle in to the Wave House”s Flowbarrel and FlowRider wave simulators. No boredom at this restaurant! The menu is varied and extensive, featuring popular favorites from many cultures – taking into account the large tourist population that visits the area. While the kids dined on quesadillas and chicken satay, my husband and I enjoyed fresh sushi made to order and the real ocean views. The Wave House offers fun, action, great people watching and a dip in the ocean for dessert.

Where: 3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
> Find out more about Wave House San Diego

> Enjoy more family friendly dining in San Diego

Where do you like to take your kids to dine in San Diego?

Benjamin Eastman

Taking a BITE out of the San Diego food tours scene!

Bite San Diego food tour coronado

San Diego is known for some incredibly delicious food, so what better way to enjoy as much of it as possible than on a San Diego food tour? I recently had the pleasure of going on one of BITE San Diego‘s neighborhood food tours. BITE has organized, small group (no more than 15 people) food tours of San Diego neighborhoods including Little Italy, Coronado, Old Town, Julian and North Park that operate pretty much every weekend throughout the year.


A sampling of some of the food we enjoyed on the La Jolla food tour!

These tours are not only a great way to sample food at a bunch of great neighborhood spots, but they also provide you a chance to explore an area that you might normally just drive through without really stopping to look around and experience. My La Jolla tour introduced me to a hole-in-the-wall Hawaiian cafe, a cute little coffee shop with some tasty scones and a gem of an oil/wine tasting shop with a hidden back patio with AMAZING views of the ocean!

The amazing view from the back patio at We Olive!

The amazing view from the back patio at We Olive!

As a food lover, I would definitely recommend exploring the city bite by bite through one of the region’s food tours, and I can’t wait to get out on BITE’s Julian tour this winter (can you say apple pie and hard apple cider? Yum!)

Other great local food tours include:¬† So Diego Tours’ Brothels, Bite & Booze tour and Tacos, Tequila and Tombstones tour – and don’t forget the great Beer and Wine Tours that are available!

What San Diego food tour is your mouth watering for? Tell us in the comments below.

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – August 1-4, 2013

Ford Supergirl Pro - Top Things to Do

From North County to South Bay – eat, play, relax and enjoy the upcoming weekend in San Diego with these top things to do:

From Farm to Bay Food & Wine Classic

From Farm to Bay Food and Wine Classic at the Living Coast Discovery Center

Indulge in a wide array of tempting treats. Enjoy sweeping sunset views of the wildlife refuge and San Diego Bay. Wander through beautiful indoor and outdoor exhibits showcasing endangered sea turtles, sharks, snakes, reptiles, rays, owls, hawks and shorebirds. Get up-close and personal as some of the center’s amazing animal ambassadors come around to greet you and pose for photos. There’s no better way to enjoy a warm summer evening in San Diego.

Where: Living Coast Discovery Center –¬†1000 Gunpowder Point Dr,¬†Chula Vista, CA 91910
When: August 3, 2013
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: $40-$50
> Find out more about the Farm to Bay Food & Wine Classic

Summer Break 2013: Double Portraits

Summer Break 2013: Double Portraits

Soak up¬†contemporary art, culture, and performances during,¬†Summer Break, the San Diego Museum of Art’s new contemporary art festival. The festival features 10 continuous days of art, music, lectures, films, readings, workshops, and performances inspired by¬†Arnold Newman: Masterclass.

Where: 1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
When: August 1-10, 2013
Cost: Varies
> Find out more about Summer Break 2013: Double Portraits

Ford Supergirl Pro

Ford Supergirl Pro - Top Things to Do

Watch the world’s top female surfers carve it up at the Ford Supergirl Pro. Photo courtesy of Peter Naganis.

More than 90 of the world’s top female pros will compete in the largest field of any female surfing event in the world.

Where: Oceanside Pier, Oceanside, CA 92054
When: August 2-4, 2013
Time: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Ford Supergirl Pro

Gourmet Food Truck Festival

Del Mar Gourmet Food Truck Festival

Enjoy a variety of some of the hottest eats in Southern California at more than 50 food trucks, all in one location, with real gourmet chefs their eclectic bests at super prices (most items $4-$8). There will also be more than 60 craft beers to pair with your food items.

Where: Del Mare Racetrack –¬†2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd,¬†Del Mar, CA 92014
When: August 3, 2013
Time: 10:00 to 6:00 PM
Cost: Entry free with racetrack admission
> Find out more about the Gourmet Food Truck Festival

Midnight Madness Fun Bicycle Ride

San Diego Midnight Madness Fun Bicycle Ride - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Light up the streets of San Diego during the San Diego Midnight Madness Fun Bicycle Ride

Get your bike, your funky pajamas, your headlights and let’s ride the 17 mile course along some of San Diego’s most beautiful waterfront and historic areas. The festival before the ride will include costumes,¬†decorated bicycles, contests, food and plenty of entertainment.

Where: Liberty Station –¬†Cushing Drive,¬†San Diego, CA 92106
When: August 3, 2013
Time: Festival at 9:00 PM. Ride at Midnight.
Cost: $20-$40
> Find out more about the Midnight Madness Fun Bicycle Ride

National City Automobile Heritage Day Car Show

National City Automobile Heritage Day Car Show

Marvel at Corvettes and more classics at the National City Automobile Heritage Day Car Show

The 22nd Annual National City Automobile Heritage Day will feature the Corvette with a dazzling display of cars from the very early models to the latest Super Cars now being produced. The days activities also include great food from some of National Cities popular eateries and a wide variety of live music performers.

Where: 901 National City Blvd, National City, CA 91950
When: August 4, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about National City Automobile Heritage Day Car Show

Farm to Yoga Dinner

Farm to Yoga Dinner at Suzie's Farm

Get in touch with yourself and the food you eat at Farm to Yoga Dinner at Suzie’s Farm

Spend a relaxing day at Suzie’s Farm, indulging in the best of San Diego’s year-long harvest season. Tour the farm with Suzie’s farmers, stretch out in Suzie’s shaded event space with a yoga class led by the truly gifted yoga teachers. Following yoga, nourish your body with a farm to fork meal grown in Suzie’s field and prepared by the holistic Chef Gage and the Green Truck team.

Where: 2570 Sunset Avenue, San Diego, CA 92154
When: August 4, 2013
Time: 12:30 to 6:00 PM
Cost: $40-$90
> Find out more about Farm to Yoga Dinner

> 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.


Grab a Bite to Eat Around Petco Park

Padres at PETCO Park
Padres at PETCO Park

Grab a bite to eat before or after the Padres win at Petco Park!

The Padres’ season is upon us, and as fans flock into one of the country’s best ballpark (just ask TripAdvisor), visitors to San Diego’s Petco Park better come armed with a good appetite. Locals know that the great food offerings within Petco set it apart from other ballparks – Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, Anthony’s Seafood, and Ballast Point Brewing Co. are just a few of the San Diego food and beverage favorites you can find within Petco’s walls.

But why limit your options when you’re within walking distance of more than 200 restaurants? Before and/or after the game, head into the streets of Downtown to explore a wealth of dining options, from global flavors to classic American burgers.

Dining Around the World

The Kebab Shop

The Kebab Shop brings the flavors of Turkey to the East Village with savory doner kebabs, schawarma and shish kebab plates, all at budget-friendly prices.

Gaijin Noodle + Sake House

Gaijin Noodle + Sake House in the Gaslamp Quarter offers a menu focused on traditional ramen noodles and yakitori grill, along with other authentic Asian cuisine. Libation offerings include the tradition of Japanese kakigŇćri, boldly colored shaved ice creations made from sakes and sojus, and a selection of Japanese beers.

The Dragon’s Den

Also in the East Village, the Asian fusion menu at The Dragon’s Den features a creative juxtaposition of traditional Chinese items like egg drop soup next to Asian-influenced contemporary small plates like hoisin-flavored beef brisket sliders, plus a full-service sushi bar and Asian-inspired cocktails with unexpected ingredients like a splash of Sriracha in the “Dragon‚Äôs Breath,” a blend of Casa Noble Blanco tequila, St. Germaine, fresh lime juice and soda.

Proud to be an American


Visit the downtown outpost of Hodad’s, a famous surf-themed burger joint that’s been serving truly amazing hamburgers for 40 years. Their original Ocean Beach location even garnered attention from celebrity chef Guy Fieri, who featured the restaurant on his “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” TV show.


Maryjane’s in the Hard Rock Hotel offers a variety of diner-style food options from chicken wings to chili cheese fries. Added bonus: Maryjane‚Äôs serves food until 3:00 AM, so you can make this joint the last stop on a truly epic food crawl.

Pre-game meals

The Mission

The Mission is a health-conscious café that specializes in fresh, quality food with fanciful flavors and artful presentations.  The Mission’s diverse breakfast and lunch menus include everything from small plates, to Chino-Latino inspired dishes, to freshly baked goods.

Café 222

A local breakfast favorite, the funky Café 222 serves up a menu of stuffed omelets, various benedicts and their signature peanut butter waffles.

Got a favorite place to grab a bite to eat before heading to Petco Park? Let us know in the comments below.

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – March 20-24, 2013

San Diego Zoo Play Days - Top Things in San Diego

Escape to San Diego for the first weekend of Spring and bask in the warm sunshine while enjoying these fun top things to do:

San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering Expo Day

San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering Expo Day

Hands on edutainment and experiments at the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering Expo Day

Join the largest single-day science and engineering event in Southern California at Expo Day at Petco Park. Future scientists can engage in hands-on activities, meet real scientists and engineers and learn how their discoveries and research affect our daily lives, the Festival is a unique opportunity to reach students of all ages and backgrounds, inspiring the next generation of innovators.

Where: Petco Park –¬†100 Park Boulevard,¬†San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 23, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering Expo Day

San Diego Zoo Play Days

San Diego Zoo Play Days - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Mark your calendar with Play Days at the San Diego Zoo

Starting this Saturday, the San Diego Zoo becomes one big playground – for visitors and animals alike! San Diego Zoo Play Days offers up-close encounters with our animal ambassadors, special activities and presentations at animal exhibits all around the Zoo, keeper talks, opportunities to see animals enjoying enrichment and munching on their favorite food treats, the Camp Critters live animal show, a digital Easter egg hunt around the Zoo using your smartphone, and even visits with the Easter Bunny himself.

Where: 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 23 – April 7, 2013
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about San Diego Zoo Play Days

Spring Busker Festival

Spring Busker Festival - Seaport Village

Step Right Up! See amazing feats of human strength at the Spring Busker Festival

The Spring Busker Celebration brings colorful street performers from across the country to perform their bizarre talents like sword swallowers, jugglers on unicycles, escape artists and comedic stuntmen to the cobblestone streets of downtown’s Seaport Village. The extraordinary and bizarre talents will provide outdoor amusement unlike any other festival in the region.

Where: Seaport Village –¬†849 W Harbor Drive,¬†San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 23-24, 2013
Time: 12:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Spring Busker Festival

Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Fest

Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Fest

Enjoy live music while sample beer from 30 local breweries and food from 20 local chefs

Come for the beer, stay for the food or come for the food, stay for the beer! The Mission Valley Craft Beer & Food Fest believes beer and food are natural partners and offers a wide variety of both with 30 breweries and 20 chefs. Add to that 3 fantastic bands and a partnership with Wounded Warrior Homes and you have a spectacular day of food, beer and fun for a great cause.

Where: Handlery Hotel San Diego –¬†950 Hotel Circle North,¬†San Diego, CA 92108
When: March 24, 2013
Time: 1:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $25-$50
> Find out more about the Mission Valley Beer & Food Fest

The Second City’s Laughing Matter Tour

The Second City's Laughing Matter Tour

Legendary sketch comedy theatre, The Second City, returns with their¬†Laughing Matters Tour, featuring some of the best sketches, songs and improvisations from the company’s 53-year history.¬†Whether it’s ripped from the morning headlines or a classic gem from their archives, The Second City is always a laugh out loud hit.

Where: La Jolla Playhouse –¬†2910 La Jolla Village Drive,¬†La Jolla, CA 92037
When: March 20-23, 2013
Cost: Starts at $30
> Find out more about The Second City’s Laughing Matter Tour

Menopause the Musical

Menopause the Musical - Historic Balboa Theatre

This hilarious musical parody staged to classic tunes from the 60s, 70s and 80s will have you cheering and dancing in the aisles. Set in a department store, four women with seemingly nothing in common but a black lace bra on sale, come to find they have more to share than ever imagined. The all-female cast makes fun of their woeful hot flashes, forgetfulness, mood swings, wrinkles, night sweats and chocolate binges.

Where:¬†Historic Balboa Theatre –¬†868 Fourth Avenue,¬†San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 22-23, 2013
Cost: $52.50-$67.50
> Find out more about Menopause the Musical

1st Annual Authentic Street Food Market

San Diego Market Presents the First Annual Authentic Street Food Market

The San Diego Public Market’s 1st Annual Authentic Street Food Market will celebrate the diversity of San Diego and its food scene with authentic and¬†innovative¬†takes on¬†traditional¬†street foods from many cultures,¬†utilizing¬†fram fresh, local ingredients and the imaginations of mare than 40 incredible chefs.

Where: 1735 National Avenue, San Diego, CA 92113
When: March 24, 2013
Time: 6:00 to 8:00 PM
Cost: $65-$85
> Find out more about the 1st Annual Authentic Street Food Market

> 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

Top Things to Do in San Diego: January 22-27, 2013

100 Wines Hillcrest San Diego Restaurant Week

Our picks for things to do this weekend are top-notch with delicious food, world-class golfers, a festival for the whales and wonderful pieces of art that chronicle the story of America. This is your weekend:

San Diego Restaurant Week – Week 2

Things to Do - 100 Wines Hillcrest San Diego Restaurant Week

Try 100 Wines Hillcrest during San Diego Restaurant Week

By popular demand, San Diego Restaurant Week has been extended for another week! Enjoy a prix fixe lunch or dinner at over 120 restaurants throughout the county. Hurry up, because the deliciousness ends on Friday!

Dates: Through Friday, January 25, 2013
Cost: $10-$40
> Find out more about San Diego Restaurant Week

Farmers Insurance Open

Farmers Insurance Open - Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler in Round Three at the 2012 Farmers Insurance Open. Photo courtesy of Stan Badz.

Spend this weekend enjoying beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean while also watching the world’s greatest golfers play at the south and north courses of Torrey Pines Golf Course during the Farmers Insurance Open. Single day tickets are still available.

Location: 11480 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037 (map)
Dates: January 21-27, 2013
Cost: Free Р$1200
> Find out more about the Farmers Insurance Open

Big Bay Whale Festival


The Big Bay Whale Festival is a free, one-day family festival with a wide variety of interactive and hands-on displays to learn about California gray whale ecology and conservation. Children will enjoy the walk-through gray whale, train rides, giant inflatable obstacle course, free face painting and art mural coloring project.

Location: Broadway Pavilion, Broadway and North Harbor Drive (map)
Dates: January 26, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Big Bay Whale Festival

Behold, America!

Eastman Johnson, The Cranberry Harvest, Island of Nantucket

Eastman Johnson, The Cranberry Harvest, Island of Nantucket. Oil on canvas, 1880. Putnam Collection, Timken Museum of Art

As part of a collaboration between the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Timken Museum of Art, Behold, America! tells a cohesive story of the history of art in the United States. The works on display range from the colonial period to the present.

Location: 1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)
Dates: Through February 10, 2013
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Behold, America! at the San Diego Museum of Art

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


Balboa Park’s December Nights – Two Nights of Holiday Magic – December 7-8, 2012

Organ Carolers - Balboa Park's December Nights
Organ Carolers - Balboa Park's December Nights

Music, food, drinks, rides and more! Find some Holiday Cheer at Balboa Park’s December Nights

Balboa Park’s December Nights – the city’s annual holiday gift to the community – promises to be bigger and better than ever this year.¬†The 35th annual two-day celebration¬†is the city‚Äôs largest free festival, expected to draw at least 300,000 this year.

December Nights is as close as San Diego gets to becoming a winter wonderland. Balboa Park is decked in twinkling lights and silvery garlands. Fanciful Christmas trees abound and the aromas of multi-cultural holiday treats waft through the air.

Free Entry into the Museums

For the occasion, park museums open their doors to the public, free of charge, from 5:00 until 9:00 PM both evenings. Many present special holiday programs. Kids will be awed by the elaborate gingerbread constructions at the Mingei International Museum and can join in holiday-inspired craft projects at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. All ages will be enthralled by the amazing bell ringers who perform at the San Diego History Center.

Things to Do During December Nights

Santa Lucia Procession - Balboa Park's December Nights

Enjoy a traditional Santa Lucia Procession in the California Quadrangle in front of the Museum of Man

Festivities are family friendly, multi-cultural and staged throughout the park. The San Diego Civic Youth Ballet will perform excerpts from “The Nutcracker” on the Casa del Prado Stage. Steps away, on the California Quadrangle near the San Diego Museum of Man, revelers can see the Santa Lucia Procession and children‚Äôs choir performances. Dozens of singers, dancer and musicians will take to the stage at the Organ Pavilion.

Youngsters will have the opportunity to visit with roving Santas and can pose for a photo in The Old Globe courtyard with Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!¬†At the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, they can see puppets come to life in an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol¬†and they can join with San Diego Junior Theatre students singing holiday songs. A series of children‚Äôs holiday movies will run nonstop both evenings in the theater at the San Diego Hall of Champions. There also are plenty of carnival rides to keep the younger set entertained.

December Nights are prime time for holiday shopping. Find great gifts at museum stores, from Spanish Village Art Center artisans and at a wide range of arts and crafts booths.

December Nights Food Options

House of China Food Prep - Balboa Park's December Nights

Sample delicious delicacies from around the world including traditional dishes from the House of China.

Hungry? December Nights is known for its mouth-watering range of food and drink offerings. The International Cottages of the House of Pacific Relations offer traditional holiday foods from a smorgasbord of nations: Think empanadas, eggrolls, aebleskiver, samosas, fried plantains, pierogi, bourekas, baklava, paella, even mashed potato stew.  Many museums offer tasty treats: Find roasted chestnuts at the San Diego Art Institute, yakisoba at the Japanese Friendship Garden, hot toddies at the Hall of Champions. In addition, numerous food vendors sell an array of yummy holiday delights Рfrom melted Swiss raclette to fresh-baked gingerbread cookies. The 21+ set can sip a locally crafted brew at one of several beer gardens.

Getting to December Nights


With so many attending December Nights, parking can be tougher than fitting down a chimney. Shuttles are provided from PETCO Park (where parking will cost $5), the County Administration Building and several City College Parking lots offering free parking. Carpooling with all your friends is a must!

> Balboa Park’s December Nights Parking Map

Public Transportation

Since parking can be a little rough, consider saving yourself the hassle and taking public transportation. Ride the Orange or Blue Trolleys to the City College stop on 11th Avenue and then either hop on the Number 7 bus or enjoy a brisk walk up park. From Hillcrest, Uptown, Mid-City, Normal Heights, City Heights, and North Park communities take any bus to University Avenue and Park Blvd and transfer to a special Route 7 shuttle heading to Park Blvd.

Alternative Transportation

Want to relax without worrying about which stop to get off at or if you can get to the parking spot before it’s gone? Consider taking a taxi or using the posh Uber private driver service.

If you are close enough, try getting some fresh air and cycling into Balboa Park. There are plenty of bike racks throughout the park. The biggest bike racks can be found by the entrance of the San Diego Zoo. Please remember to be safe and to wear a helmet and reflective vest, and to use front and rear blinking lights.

Balboa Park’s December Nights General Information

Location: Balboa Park
Dates: December 7-8, 2012
– Friday, December 7: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
– Saturday, December 8: 12:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free

And be sure to bundle up. While San Diego may better known for sandmen than snowmen, it can get downright chilly here on December nights!


Wine and Dine During the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting

November should be renamed Food and Drink month here in San Diego. In addition to the¬†ubiquitous¬†stuffing of¬†turkeys happening at restaurants all over town, November is also¬†host to 10 days of highlighting San Diego’s craft beer during San Diego Beer Week, which¬†conveniently rolls right into 5 days of local food and wine pairings during the¬†San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival.

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting

Photo: Ken Loyst

The annual celebration of all things culinary comprises nearly 30 separate events. Here are just a few that are sure to tempt your palate:

SWISH: Serious Sips & Urban Eats – November 14, 2012

Start off the festival with a mid-week kick off party including plenty of drinks from up to 25 edgiest wineries and¬†breweries¬†along with food from some of San Diego’s hottest new food trucks.

Location: 57 Degrees
Date: November 14, 2012
Time: 7:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: $45 (includes $7 voucher for use at any of the participating food trucks)

The Vault: Reserve Wine Experience & Silent Auction

A can’t-miss event for the true wine enthusiast, large, collectable and rare wines will be up for auction at this exclusive event. In addition to the bidding wars, guests can take part in the fun by¬†sampling offerings from¬†160 wineries and spirits producers.

Location: San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina, Marriott Ballroom
Date: Friday, November 16, 2012
Time: 5:30 to 8:30 PM
Cost: $125

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival 2012

Photo: Ken Loyst

Grand Tasting Event

Soak up beautiful San Diego Bay views from Embarcadero Marina Park as you sip¬†and savor offerings¬†from more than¬†170 wine and spirit makers, 70 chefs, and 30 culinary companies. Plus, find out which chef will take home the coveted¬†“Chef of the Fest” award in an action-packed culinary competition.

Location: Embarcadero Marina Park North
Date: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Time: 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Cost: $125 in advance/$150 at the door

Re-Mixed Official Festival After Party

New this year, the Re-Mixed after party turns the focus from wine to cocktails as bartenders from San Diego’s hottest cocktail joints including Grant Grill, Searsucker, Prohibition, Noble Experiment, Vin de Syrah, Craft & Commerce, Tower 23 and more mix it up for guests.¬†¬†Be sure to stop by the champagne, oyster and bacon station.

Location: U.S. Grant, Celestial Ballroom
Date: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Time: 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Cost: $50

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival 2012

Photo: Joey Hernandez

Which San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival event are you most looking forward to this year?


Fresh Food Daily at San Diego Farmers Markets

San Diego Farmers Markets

San Diego may be a laid-back town, but we take our food very seriously. With a diverse landscape and mild temperatures, San Diego¬†County boasts ideal conditions for farming, so it’s no surprise that the county is home to more than 6,000 small and family owned farms. These farmers provide chefs¬†from local restaurants with¬†access to the freshest possible ingredients, but you don’t have to pull up a seat at a restaurant to enjoy some of San Diego’s local bounty.

San Diego Farmers Markets

Whether you are packing supplies for a picnic in Balboa Park, picking up fresh fruit to snack on in your hotel room, or even enjoying an impromptu lunch streetside, there are a number of California Certified Farmers Markets that take place every day in San Diego all over the county.  These colorful and festive farmers markets offer fresh picked fruits, crisp heirloom vegetables, regional cheeses, locally baked breads and desserts and a unique window on life in this sun-kissed Southern California paradise.

Uni served at Little Italy Farmers Market in San Diego

How about some uni served fresh from the sea at the Little Italy Mercato?

On Sunday mornings, an offbeat crowd of neighborhood musicians, artists and residents gather at the Hillcrest Farmers Market, where they enjoy fresh finds from around the county along with a unique collection of handcrafted art and housewares.

On Wednesday afternoons, visitors step back into the 1960s at the Ocean Beach Farmers Market; in this eclectic beachfront setting, fresh produce mixes with a laid-back surfer vibe and dash of the bizarre‚ÄĒllama rides are optional.

On Saturday mornings, the Little Italy Mercato brings the streets of this colorful downtown neighborhood to life as farm fresh produce rubs elbows with prepared foods from some of the region’s best kitchens.

Fresh meats available at San Diego Farmers Markets

It’s not just for fruits and veggies: you’ll find locally raised meats at many San Diego Farmers Markets.

Markets are held across San Diego County 7 days a week, so no matter where your travels take you, your sure to find something fresh nearby. Check out the San Diego County Farm Bureau for a complete list of markets.

Which Farmers Market in San Diego is your favorite?