Top Free Things to Do In San Diego: October 4-7, 2012

This weekend we are highlighting some fun activities you can do…all for free!

1. Annual Pacific Beachfest

Pacific Beachfest Logo

On Saturday, October 6, Pacific Beach will be hosting a one-day event to highlight all that San Diego beaches have to offer. This year the Pacific Beachfest will feature a Pro/Am Surf Competition Final with surfers competing from around the world, an Action Alley where professional skaters will be on hand demonstrating their skills, a beach volleyball tournament, as well as artists, vendors, activities and music.

2. ArtOberfest Walkabout

On Saturday, October 6 from 6:00 to 10:00 PM, visitors can walk around the neighborhood of South Park and enjoy a fun-filled evening festival and be introduced to the shops and cafes of South Park. From Kalmia to Beech Streets, you’ll find shops open late, entertainment, specials and surprises. Browse, explore, shop and celebrate the independent spirit of this legendary neighborhood!

3. Old Town San Diego Art Festival

Old Town San Diego Art Festival Banner

Watch the streets of Historic Old Town San Diego transform into an art extravaganza on Saturday and Sunday, October 6-7. Stroll down San Diego Avenue and see the variety of artists, entertainment, food and wine. And for the first time this year, there will be a Young Artist area that will feature a children’s art competition.

4. Friday Night Liberty & Fall for the Arts Kickoff

October is when arts and culture takes center stage in San Diego. Fall for the Arts is a month-long spotlight on the many vibrant arts and cultural activities throughout the region in conjunction with National Arts and Humanities Month. On Friday, October 5, at the NTC Liberty Station, local arts and culture organizations will present hundreds of free (and almost free!) events to ensure residents and visitors can get more bang for the buck!

> Discover More Great Things to Do with San Diego’s Event Calendar

What do you have planned for the weekend?

Brent Bernasconi

Where to Grab Some Grub and Beer Before the Chargers Game

Top Things to Do in San Diego

Qualcomm Stadium – Home to the San Diego Chargers!

Fall is almost upon us and it begs the question: are you ready for some football? I know I am ready for Sundays and Mondays (and now Thursdays) full of excitement; cheers and jeers; and good friends accompanied with plenty of food and San Diego craft beer.

Planning on heading to a Chargers or Aztec game at Qualcomm Stadium but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a full meal once inside? Why not grab a bite to eat and a beer outside of the stadium at one of these pubs close to the Q in Mission Valley:

McGregor’s Grill & Ale House

Grab a bite and play some shuffleboard at McGregors before the game.

Just a 10 minute walk away from the Q, McGregor’s has one of the most ideal locations for a pre-game snack and drink. Inside you will find plenty of sports fans enjoying drinks, food, shuffleboard and watching games on the 20 high-def screens scattered throughout the bar.

The menu has something for everyone including plenty of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads. McGregor’s has over 14 beers on tap and more in the bottle. They also have a full bar if you are looking for a “manly” Appletini before heading to the game.

Tip: McGregor’s is like a traditional pub when it comes to ordering your food –  food order and pick-ups happen at the bar. The waitresses are there to make sure your drinks are always full.

Distance to the Q: 0.6 Miles

Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing Company

Mmmm…pizza and beer at Oggi’s.

Pizza and beer go together like football and Sundays. In addition to handcrafted-pizzas, Oggi’s offers a full menu, plenty of high-def televisions to watch the game, and delicious craft beer. Order a Torrey Pines IPA to cool down on a warm day and a Black Magic Stout to warm up  on those cool fall afternoons.

Tip: Take BOB (Board Our Bus) to the game from Oggi’s. Bus fare is $40 (no ticket) to $99-$119 (with ticket) and includes roundtrip transportation and food vouchers for Oggi’s.

Distance to the Q: 0.6 Miles

San Diego Brewing Company

A ton of taps at the San Diego Brewing Company.

Many, many moons ago, I sipped a San Diego Amber and was subsequently sucked into the wonderful world of San Diego craft beer and went home with my first growler. Since then, San Diego Brewing Company (SDBC) has become a go-to place because of its dedicated bar area separate from the more traditional dining area and plenty of high-def televisions. Families can enjoy a comfortable sit down dinner while the guys enjoy the game in the bar.

SDBC’s menu includes appetizers (try the Russian-Roulette Wings Platter, one wing is super hot!), salads, soups, burgers, sandwiches and more. The tap list is even more impressive with over 43 beers including between 8-10 SDBC beers brewed on site.

Tip: It is possible to walk from SDBC to the Q, just give yourself about 30 minutes.

Distance to the Q: 1.4 Miles

Gordon Biersch

The Gordon Biersch patio is waiting for Chargers fans.

Gordon Biersch is a great spot for a more relaxed dining experience away from the crowds. The menu is a bit more upscale with seafood options including Seared Tuna, Cedar Plank Salmon and Shrimp Mac ‘n Cheese. They also offer plenty of mouth-watering appetizers, New York Strip steak, pasta dishes, sweet desserts and a vegetarian menu. Don’t forget to order one of their German inspired lagers to complement your barbecued salmon entree!

Tip: On game day, Gordon Biersch offers a bus to and from Qualcomm for only $10. The ticket also includes 2 beers. The bus leaves 1.5 hours before the game and picks up 30 minutes after the game has ended.

Distance to the Q: 2.3 miles

Got a place you like to go for some grub and drinks before heading to the Q? Let us and others know in the comments below.

Brent Bernasconi

Spend A Day With the Kids on Coronado

Coronado Beach - Brett Shoaf
Coronado Beach - Brett Shoaf

Bring the Kids for a Day on Coronado. Photo courtesy of Brett Shoaf

Looking to spend a day with the kids at the beach in San Diego? With its pristine beaches, near perfect-weather, beachfront dining and plenty of sweet-treat shops, Coronado is a great and easy option.

To make your beach trip even easier, here are just a few of the things you can add to your itinerary throughout the day in Coronado.

Sandcastles at the Beach

Build a Sandcastle at the #1 Beach in America – Coronado Beach

Start off a day with the kids at Coronado Beach, the #1 Beach in America! The kids can easily spend hours splashing in the water and building monumental sandcastles while you lounge on the towel with your favorite book.

Lunch at by the Water at Sheerwater

When lunchtime comes around and the kids are hungry, you don’t want to have to go far and luckily Sheerwater at the Hotel del Coronado is just steps away from the beach. The kids menu has favorites including hamburgers, pizza, grilled cheese, chicken fingers and more. While the kids chow down, you can relax with more “adult” options while enjoying the sunshine and the sound of the ocean waves accompanied with your kids excitement.

Mid-Afternoon Treats

Elvis (and a cow!) greet ice cream fans at Moo Time.

After lunch, head back to the beach for a few more hours and then take a sweet mid-afternoon walk to pick up a yummy treat. If the day is really warm, pop into Mootime Creamery for hand-made ice cream served in fresh waffle cones, all made daily. With two convenient locations in the Hotel del and on Orange Avenue, you never have to go far from the beach.

In the mood for some chocolate or another confectionary delight? Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory is the spot for you and the kids. Chocolate, caramel and more are made daily for your enjoyment. If the kids are on their best behavior, they might even receive a free sample!

If you don’t need the sugar rush, spoil the kids by allowing them to pick out a toy at the Blue Octopus Toy Store in the Hotel Del. This blue store has something fun for everyone including big plush octopi (of course), stickers, games, coloring books and more. The perfect thing to distract the kids for the rest of the evening.

Make It Overnight for More Fun

Why not extend the fun with an overnight on the island. During the month of October (2012), book a stay at the Hotel del Coronado or the Glorietta Bay Inn and they will surprise the kids with a Free Welcome Gift.

With a room booked on the island, head out for dinner with Vigilucci’s Ristorante Coronado, which has a Kids Eat Free offer this October!

The next morning, step back in time with breakfast at Clayton’s Coffee Shop. Take a seat in a retro “leather” booth or cozy on up to a chrome stool around the horseshoe counter and start off the day with delicious pancakes, waffles, omelets or cup of coffee. Don’t worry if you sleep in, breakfast is served all day at Clayton’s!

After breakfast, finish off your stay by learning the history of the Enchanted Island at the Coronado Museum of History and Art. In October, the museum extends a special a Kids Go Free Offer.

> Find even More Kids Free Offers in San Diego for this October

Is there something or someplace else you would take this kids during a visit to Coronado? Let us and others know in the comments below.


Bizarre Foods San Diego: Andrew Zimmern Comes to Town

Fish tacos, craft beer and…barbecued lamb’s head? Yes, those are all delectable specialities you can find in San Diego, and the last is just one of the many tasty treats that Travel Channel host Andrew Zimmern sampled while in San Diego.

Andrew spent time chatting and exploring with some of San Diego’s top chefs, including Anthony Sinsay of Burlap, Trey Foshee of George’s at the Cove and Chad White of Sea Rocket Bistro. If you didn’t catch it on the air, check out the Travel Channel’s website for more about all the sights and tastes of Bizarre Foods: San Diego!


Foodie Friday: San Diego County Fair Food Edition

Deep-fried Trix Cereal - San Diego County Fair
The 2012 San Diego County Fair is Out of this World

This Years Food Options are Out of the World!

It”s an annual culinary tradition like no other. Hungry participants wonder, “What unusual creation will they cook up this time? How will these food daredevils top themselves this year?” No, it”s not an episode of Iron Chef, and it”s definitely not the James Beard awards…it”s the San Diego County Fair.

Before you head to the San Diego County Fair, Discover Out of This World Deals and Savings!

Carnival games and live music are part of the fun, but food is a major draw for many visitors to the annual event, as vendors compete with each other to see who can create the most outlandish concoctions. This year”s fair theme is “Out of This World,” and that just might be how you would describe many of the menu offerings. Here”s a little sampling of what you can expect to feast on.

Put Bacon On It

Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Legs - San Diego County Faironline casino width=”520″ height=”346″ />

Bacon-wrapped jumbo turkey legs go for a spin at the San Diego County Fair

The most talked about offerings usually include just about anything wrapped in bacon or deep-fried, and this year is no exception. In the bacon-wrapped category, you”ll find everything from bacon blanketed hot dogs to “Porky Poppers,” bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeños. But if size is what you”re after, then a bacon-wrapped turkey leg just might be what you”re looking for.


Deep-Fried Trix Cereal - San Diego County Fair

Deep-fried cereal, Trix variety

Last year, fried Kool Aid had the nation all atwitter. This year, the buzz is over deep-fried cereal – you have your choice of Trix or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. You”ll also find “Pie Fries” (deep-fried pie crust strips with strawberry preserves on the side), a “Chili Asteroid” (chili and cheese, deep-fried in a hush-puppy batter), and – continuing with the fried drink mix experiment – deep-fried Tang.

Deep-fried Trix Cereal - San Diego County Fair

Will deep-fried Trix be any good? There's only one way to find out.

Fresh Lobster

Lobster at the San Diego County Fair

The Fresh Lobster is Delicious

Another new offering in the San Diego County Fair”s dining selection is…lobster?! Yes, you read that right! In their fair debut, The Lobster Shack is serving up steamed Maine lobster tails.

With so many options, what will you try at this year”s fair?

Brent Bernasconi

Trains, Grains and No Automobiles – A Green Beer Tour of San Diego

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Coaster Ride

I love beer (IPAs to be exact) and it helps that I live in San Diego with over 40 amazing breweries to its name. The hard part is getting a chance to sample all of the different local brews.

There is a new way in town to do just that through La Jolla Wine Tours (LJWT) who are now offering a Beer Train Tour. LJWT’s goal is to showcase great San Diego breweries, wineries and restaurants while making sure everyone has a fun and safe time. They offer beer and wine tours on foot, by car, and now, by train that take visitors all over the county. All I heard was beer, food, train, frivolity and sunshine and I was sold.

On a gorgeous Friday afternoon, my little brother (now 21, which is scary), myself, and a few other beer fans met up with beer and wine sommelier, Stephen, and tour guide/tour creator, Patricia, from LJWT to embark on The Beer Train Tour.

Once aboard The Beer Train Tour, our group made three stops along the coast of San Diego starting in the Downtown area and ending in the seaside village of Carlsbad. Here is a sample of what you might expect to experience on this fun and green tour:

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - The Beer Co.

Station 1: Downtown’s The Beer Co.

We all met at our first stop, The Beer Company, in San Diego’s Downtown. After the meet and greet, Stephen got down to business and led us through the complexities and flavors of a few samples from the Beer Co.’s wide selection and styles of in-house beers. As a bonus, we were lucky enough to meet one of the brewers while he poured us a pitcher straight from the tanks! To keep things fun, Patricia threw out a couple trivia questions that resulted in a few prizes for me (I admit it- I am a beer nerd) and the ability to select a growler fill for the train ride.

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Coaster Ride

Once good and giddy, our group took a short walk to the Santa Fe Train Station to hop on the train. As it pulled out of the station, we all relaxed in our comfy chairs while enjoying a growler fill of The Beer Co.’s Trippel (a Belgian style Tripel) as the views of the waterfront chugged by. Next stop, the sleepy surfer town of Encinitas.

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Encinitas and Union Kitchen

Station 2: Encinitas’ Union Kitchen and Tap

Moving away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, we disembarked from the train into the sun-kissed, laid back surfer town of Encinitas. We strolled down the South Coast Highway 101 enjoying the warm ocean breeze and picking up a few fun facts from Stephen as we made the short walk to the Union Kitchen and Tap. Stephen perused the local beers on tap and made sure to order samples based on everyone’s preferences. Magically, both food and beer samples made their way to our table and before we knew it, it was time to ride on to our next destination.

Note to self: Head back to Encinitas and the Union for a quintessential San Diego afternoon of sunshine, surf and great beer.

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Carlsbad and Coaster

Station 3: Carlsbad’s The Compass

Now even happier and chattier than before, everyone unloaded from the train into the coastal village of Carlsbad. As we walked to our final stop, Stephen gave us a quick history of Carlsbad and its special liquid resource, mineral water. After waving hello to a LJWT wine tour group at the Witch Creek Winery, our lively group of new friends sat down at The Compass for a few more samples, mac and cheese (that my brother loved), and good conversation before heading back south on the train to San Diego and the weekend.

As I reflect back on the fun I had, I especially appreciated how Stephen and Patricia made sure everyone received the chance to both sample a beer style they loved and one they had never tried. As a local, the tour also introduced me to new local restaurants (my brother has decided to return to The Compass for his birthday in May) with a large selection of taps allowing San Diegans and visitors the chance to sample many local beers in one place.

Whether you are in the mood for beer or wine, LJWT has you covered with even more great tours:
– Wine Train Tour
– San Diego County Wine Tours
– Beer and Wine Walking Tours
– Special Holiday Tours

So what are you waiting for? Call LJWT, get on the train and enjoy all that San Diego has to offer.

Tell me in the comments below: Where is your favorite place to grab a drink while in San Diego?

PS. Stop by Bine and Vine in San Diego’s Normal Heights Neighborhood for a great selection of bottled beers and wines. Ask for Stephen and tell him Brent sent you!


San Diego’s Burger Bonanza

San Diego is crazy for burgers. The booming chain of organic burgers, Burger Lounge, got its start right here in San Diego and Hodad’s has been a local favorite for the beef filled buns for decades. Thanks to the recent openings of Smashburger and the soon-to-open Counter Burger, it’s nearly impossible to have a bad burger anywhere in San Diego. Here are three of San Diego’s newest, hot off the grill destinations:

An All-American Classic at Bunz


Terra American Bistro chef and owner Jeff Rossman just opened up a new burger-centric venture in Mission Valley, bringing a much-needed infusion of farm-to-table freshness to the area’s culinary offerings. Enjoy a classic burger made from hormone and antibiotic free 100% premium Meyer Angus beef or try one of their unusual specialty burgers featuring toppings ranging from pulled pork to pickled jalapenos.

A sky-high burger at Elevation Burger

Elevation Burger

If you’re heading up to Legoland in Carlsbad, add Elevation Burger to your itinerary. The organic burger chain offers tasty creations made from 100% certified organic, grass-fed and free range beef. Plus, you can indulge without the guilt…at least when it comes to the environment. Elevation Burger is committed to environmentally friendly practices, including recycling waste – some of which becomes bio-diesel fuel – and using sustainable materials and energy-efficient equipment in the restaurants (all buildings are even LEED Certified).

BGR in Point Loma

BGR the Burger Joint

This December, the Point Loma neighborhood welcomed BGR the Burger Joint to town. Their prime, dry-aged, grain-fed beef sits between buttery soft brioche buns. If you’re looking for something a little unexpected, try a Cuban Burger with slow roasted pork, ham, sweet pickles, Dijon mustard and swiss cheese and served grill-pressed, or even a seasonal lobster roll. For the truly insatiable, BGR serves up a behemoth called the “9 Pounder,” though it actually weighs in at over 15 pounds. If a single person can eat it in one sitting, it’s free.

With all these options it can be hard to choose. Tell us about your favorite burger joint in the comments below.

Benjamin Eastman

San Diego Restaurant Week – Mission Valley style

La Gran Terraza

I love San Diego Restaurant Week! What better excuse do you need to meet up with friends you haven’t seen in a while and dine on some of the region’s best food at great prices? With over 150 restaurants participating in this year’s Restaurant Week, I thought I’d narrow down the choices and talk about some options in my hood – Mission Valley.

Hunter's Steakhouse

Hunter's Steakhouse

Hunter’s Steakhouse

Hunter’s Steakhouse, a cool spot with a log cabin feel, sits on top of my list. My last meal there was a delicious Caesar salad with prime rib on top – Yum! Looking at their Restaurant Week options, I would definitely lean towards the Prime Rib and Chocolate Oblivion (although I hear the salmon is pretty tasty there as well!)

Pampas Argentinean Grill

Pampas Argentinean Grill

Pampas Argentinean Grill

The other meat lovers spot in Mission Valley is Pampas Argentinean Grill on the east side of Mission Valley\. I haven’t had the chance to visit it in person yet, but it is definitely on my list. The Cream of Pumpkin Soup, Skirt Steak and Peach & Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding definitely catch my eye on their Restaurant Week menu though!

Playa Grill & Margarita Bar

Playa Grill & Margarita Bar

Playa Grill & Margarita Bar

Of course, being a true San Diegan, I love Mexican Food, so I’m seriously considering a visit to Playa Grill & Margarita Bar – especially when I noticed that the first course of their Restaurant Week menu is a margarita! Pair one of those with some enchiladas and a trio of desserts and you have one happy eater!

La Gran Terraza

La Gran Terraza

La Gran Terraza

La Gran Terraza, on the University of San Diego campus, offers Mediterranean themed dining with a million dollar view. I particularly like the Eggnog Creme Brule dessert options, but definitely start drooling at the thought of crab cakes and ribeye steak.

Anyhow, I’m just made myself hungry writing all this, so I’m off to get a bite to eat! Enjoy Restaurant Week, January 15th-20th, and definitely consider Mission Valley as the place to go! Bon Appetite!


San Diego is Home to Nation’s Best Brewpubs

Just a Selection of Beer Taps at Pizza Port OB
Just a Selection of Beer Taps at Pizza Port OB

Just a Selection of Beer Taps at Pizza Port OB

Any idea where you’ll find the best small brewpub in the country?

It’s right here in San Diego – in Ocean Beach (OB), to be more precise.  Pizza Port OB, which opened in May 2010, was tapped Small Brewpub of the Year at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival (PDF), the nation’s largest and most prestigious showcase for brewers and their brews. Head brewer, Yiga Miyashiro, was named Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year.

The OB location is the fourth link in the Pizza Port chain launched in Solana Beach in 1987 by Gina and Vince Marsaglia, a sister/brother team who are not brewers but have the Midas touch for finding top beer-making talent. (At that 2011 national beer fest, Pizza Port Carlsbad won Large Brewpub of the Year – for the third consecutive year.)

Delicious pizza goes great with a local beer

The chain began has a pizza-only restaurant – and chewy-crust designer pizzas are still a hot draw. Make sure to request the signature wholegrain beer crust. Salads are fresh, large and tasty.

Pizza Port Ocean Beach family Style Seating

Pizza Port Ocean Beach family style seating

Customers order at the counter and sit on benches at long picnic-style tables in the large, often packed, dining area. Ambiance is informal, friendly and noisy – a surprisingly strong family vibe (baby strollers are often parked alongside tables). There’s a small indoor bar and a sidewalk patio.

Delicious Pizza Port Beer

Delicious Pizza Port Beer

Choose from a wide selection of affordable high-quality beer on tap, including award-winning house-crafted brews as well as other locally crafted offerings covering a wide range of styles, flavors and punch. Can’t decide? For $4-$8, sample a four-brew tasting.

Pizza Port Ocean Beach is at the corner of Bacon and Santa Monica in OB.  It’s open from 11:00 am – 10:00 pm Sundays through Thursdays, till midnight Fridays and Saturdays.  Pints cost $3-$7; 10” pizzas run $7-$10.


5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

1. San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival: The region’s largest wine and culinary event takes place November 16-20. Held at venues throughout downtown San Diego, the festival includes gourmet food, celebrity chefs, wine tastings, an elegant reserve and new release tasting event and more.

2. America’s Cup World Series: the AC World Series is in full action this weekend. This regatta gives the public an opportunity to watch the world’s top sailors as they compete in the state-of-the-art AC45 wing-sailed catamarans. San Diego Bay’s natural sailing environment allows fans to get close to the action, offering spectator access along numerous points along the picturesque waterfront.

3. Annual Mother Goose Parade: San Diego East County’s annual holiday kick-off celebration features celebrity appearances, whimsical floats, clowns, bands, equestrians and more, Sunday, November 20.

4. Santa vs. the Snowman: Enjoy a holiday treat at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center’s IMAX theatre with the showing of Santa Vs. The Snowman. Starting November 18 and running through the holidays, visitors can catch the first-ever IMAX animated holiday feature film. The film tells the heartwarming story of a lonely Snowman who at first is swept away by the magical wonders of Santa’s village, only to ultimately wage war on Santa because he is jealous of all the attention that Santa gets during Christmas time.

5. FLUXX Nightclub with Sid Vicious & Ricky Rocks: On Saturday, November 19 hit up FLUXX in the Gaslamp. One of the coolest clubs in San Diego, this is a party you just can’t beat! Get ready to dance the night away.