Ann Wycoff

Bliss on a Budget – 5 Affordable Spas in San Diego

Karma - Affordable Spas in San Diego
Karma - Affordable Spas in San Diego

Rejuvenate and relax while not breaking the bank at one of these affordable spas in San Diego. Photo courtesy of Karma Spa and Ed Alfaro

A spa experience is no longer considered just an indulgent day of pampering, as taking the time to de-stress and calm the body and mind has myriad health and wellness benefits. While not everyone can afford the high prices at many luxurious destination spas and hotels, San Diego has some reasonably priced gems tucked throughout town, where a little relaxation and rejuvenation doesn’t have to break the bank.

Happy Buddha

Off Convoy Street in Kearney Mesa, Happy Buddha specializes in Chinese reflexology. Eight comfy maroon recliners welcome guests to sit back and relax. After soaking your feet in hot water infused with Chinese herbs and enjoying a head, neck and back massage for 20 minutes, each foot receives 20 heavenly minutes of reflexology, believed stimulate elimination, improve circulation and support the immune system. All for $29.99. Afterward, drift next door to the famous Dumpling Inn for authentic northern Chinese fare.

Where: 4619 Convoy St., Suite E, San Diego, CA 92111
> Find out more about Happy Buddha

Massage Thai Way

At Massage Thai Way in Linda Vista and Mission Valley, an authentic 60-minute Thai massage only costs $45. White curtains separate long firm mattresses where expert Thai therapists perform deep massage and stretching techniques to elongate the body, improve posture, open up energy blockage and improve circulation.

Where:
Linda Vista – 2354 Ulric St Ste A, San Diego, CA 92111
Mission Valley – 6690 Mission Gorge Rd, Suite P, San Diego CA, 92120
> Find out more about Massage Thai Way

Karma Spa

Karma Spa has two locations, one in Hillcrest, the other in Carlsbad.  These pretty spas, which incorporate colorful lighting and soothing water features, offer an excellent menu of deluxe treatments such as hot stone and couples massage, French facials, infrared sauna therapy and ionic detoxing footbaths. Brow waxing runs only $10 and their Foot and Body Fusion Massage is a mere $36. The friendly therapists are well-trained and the prices are more than fair, making it possible for many people to reap the benefits of a spa day.

Where:
Hillcrest – 3969 1st Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Carlsbad – 
2614 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, CA. 92008
> Find out more about Karma Spa

The Hidden Spa

In Ocean Beach, The Hidden Spa is another affordable sanctuary with some of the best deals on skin care in the city. Their European Facial, performed by skillful estheticians, involves a deep cleanse, exfoliation, gentle extractions, massage, aromatherapy, and mask, which costs only $60. Their mini-facial, a 30-minute skin refresher and hydration treatment is $40.

Where: 4969 Santa Monica Ave, San Diego CA 92107
> Find out more about the Hidden Spa

Massage Envy

While Massage Envy are membership spas, they can be found all over the country, so it’s worth joining if you can commit to a monthly massage. These no-frills franchises are clean, home to good therapists and make it possible to get a solid one-hour massage for $59 and under.

> Find out more about Massage Envy

> Rejuvenate the Body and Soul at San Diego Spas

Please note: Spa prices are as of May 2015.

Frank

Top San Diego Dining Destinations for LGBT Visitors

Indigo Grill Bar

A booming culinary scene awaits visitors to San Diego, with many of its restaurants headed by chefs and entrepreneurs from within the LGBT community. Add to the equation a host of other dining hotspots that regularly support LGBT events and fundraisers, and the result is a tapestry of endless options that capture everything from the latest and greatest farm-sourced meals to hearty casual chow and innovative haute cuisine.

Indigo Grill

Indigo Grill Bar

The new makeover at Indigo Grill. Courtesy of Indigo Grill

Veteran chef-restaurateur Deborah Scott wows with dishes inspired by native-American and Latin cooking techniques. Since its sleek remodel recently, Scott has extended the menu’s global reach while maintaining her popular standbys such as Indian corn pudding and achiote flat-iron steak with chimichurri.

Where: 1536 India St. San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Indigo Grill

The Red Door/Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge

Red Door in Mission Hills

The quaint and inviting Red Door in Mission Hills

Amid a mini restaurant row that has emerged in the quiet neighborhood of Mission Hills, visitors will find some of the coziest farm-to-table meals at The Red Door. Sharing the same kitchen is the adjacent Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge, which brings classic beef Wellington back into vogue.

Where: 741 and 729 W. Washington St., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about The Red Door
> Find out more about Wellington

The Patio on Goldfinch

Cheese at The Patio on Goldfinch

Artisan curds wink from the “cheese cave” at The Patio on Goldfinch

Also in Mission Hills, along a quaint block of Goldfinch Street, is the new Patio on Goldfinch, a former TV repair shop that underwent a dazzling, eco-conscious redo complete with living walls and an eye-popping “cheese cave.” The menu focuses on sharable plates that are both savory and detailed. The restaurant and its front patio fill up quickly on most days, so reservations are recommended.

Where: 4020 Goldfinch St., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about The Patio on Goldfinch

Hillcrest Brewing Company

HIllcrest Brewing Company

Steve’s Garden pizza at Hillcrest Brewing Company. Courtesy of Mo’s Universe

Considered the nation’s only LGBT-owned brewing company, this casual hangout greets with provocatively named beers and pizzas. With nearly a dozen signature brews in the offing such as “Pearl Necklace” and “Banana Hammock” and a menu extending also to salads and wings, the atmosphere is consistently as festive as the brewery’s nearby sister restaurants, which include Baja Betty’s, The Gossip Grill and Urban Mo’s Bar & Grill.

Where: 1458 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about Hillcrest Brewing Company

La Bonne Table

La Bonne Table

Seasonal fruit tart at the cozy La Bonne Table. Courtesy of La Bonne Table

LGBT couples seeking a romantic dinner experience in Hillcrest should look no further than this elegant, cozy French newcomer to the restaurant scene, which knocks out some of the best bouillabaisse and duck confit in the gayborhood. With limited seating in both the dining room and outdoor patio, a feeling of exclusivity pervades.

Where: 3696 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about La Bonne Table

D Bar

D Bar Cake and Shake

The wildly popular “cake and shake” at D Bar. Courtesy of D Bar

Headed by pastry maestro and Food Network personality Keegan Gerhard, patrons witness fabulous desserts in the making when perched at the roomy dining bar. On the opposite wall is a fully stocked liquor bar with table seating available throughout the center of the bright, airy interior. The menu includes well-crafted savory dishes, but it’s the sour cream chocolate cake and “faux foster banana imposter” that keep some of us coming back regularly.

Where: 3930 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about D Bar

Lips

Lips

High glitz awaits at Lips Restaurant. Courtesy of Lips

Glitter and glam set the stage at Lips, a drag supper club located in San Diego’s “other Hillcrest” – in the neighborhood of North Park. The outstanding performers double as servers as they deliver a full slate of grilled specialties to your table with rousing doses of song and humor. Special late-night “taboo” shows are added to the schedule on Saturdays.

Where: 3036 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Lips

The Smoking Goat

The Smoking Goat Duck Fat Fries

Truffle fries cooked in duck fat at The Smoking Goat

Also in North Park is the sure-footed Smoking Goat, where duck-fat truffle fries and slow-cooked pork belly are all the rage. The menu highlights well-executed meat and seafood entrees, some which are stamped with French flair. Situated in a double storefront, the restaurant flaunts a stylish, earthy interior and features a sizable front patio.

Where: 3408 30th St., San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about The Smoking Goat

Lei Lounge

Lei Lounge

Colorful high-tech mood lighting adds a soothing touch to Lei Lounge. Courtesy of Lei Lounge

In the village center of University Heights, where the popular Bourbon Street Bar & Grill resides, visitors can enter into Lei Lounge’s light-splashed canopied patio for island-inspired small plates and titillating cocktails such as aloe vera Collins and basil-pineapple martinis.

Where: 4266 Park Blvd. San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Lei Lounge

The Marine Room

The Marine Room in La Jolla

Every table comes with an ocean view at The Marine Room

Among the highly reputable fine-dining restaurants in San Diego is The Marine Room, established in 1941 and located on the sands of La Jolla Shores. The food is exquisite and the view captures a good deal of drama during high tides and winter storms as ocean waves lap against the restaurant’s large, reinforced windows.

Where: 2000 Spindrift Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037
> Find out more about The Marine Room

Bertrand at Mister A’s

Bertrand's at Mister A's Patio

Bertrand at Mister A’s ranks as San Diego’s best penthouse restaurant. Courtesy of Bertrand at Mister A’s

Formality rules the day in this penthouse perch near Balboa Park, affording diners exquisite views of the bay and San Diego skyline. It’s one of the few restaurants in town that maintains a dress code, so leave your cargo shorts and sandals behind when arriving for such delights as Maine lobster strudel and rack of lamb.

Where: 2550 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about Bertrand at Mister A’s

Buona Forchetta

Buona Forchetta Anchovy Salad

The white anchovy salad at Buona Forchetta is a must-try starter

One of the most common dining questions visitors ask is, “What’s the best Italian restaurant in San Diego?” My answer: “There are many.” Reigning among the hottest lately is Buona Forchetta, which operates in a mostly residential section of South Park. The kitchen cranks out classic Neapolitan pizzas from a high-inferno oven as well as other authentic Italian fare that transcends spaghetti and meatballs.

Where: 3001 Beech St., San Diego, CA 92102
> Find out more about Buona 

Fish Public and Bleu Boheme

Bleu Boheme

Going French in Kensington

If venturing into the Uptown neighborhood of Kensington, perhaps before catching an independent film at Landmark’s Ken Cinema, the rustic ambiance of Bleu Boheme is your ticket to Paris’ Left Bank with its classic and outstanding French cuisine. Although if you favor oysters and whole-roasted fish over beef bourguignon, Fish Public dishes up an array of oceanic gems with panache.

Where: 4090 Adams Ave. and 4055 Adams Ave., respectively, San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Bleu Boheme
> Find out more about Fish Public

Café 21

Cafe 21 Grilled Pear Salad

Grilled pear salad at Café 21. Courtesy of Café 21

With locations in Normal Heights and the Gaslamp Quarter, both kitchens serve extraordinary meals inspired partly by the owners’ Azerbaijani roots. The seasonally driven menus change frequently, although dishes such as kebab platters, apricot-braised lamb shanks and hand-made crepes filled with savory ingredients are among the dependably delicious standbys.

Where:
– 2736 Adams Ave., San Diego, CA 92116
– 802 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Café 21

> Discover More with San Diego’s LGBT Travelers Guide

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – November 6-9, 2014

From Beer Week to Bing Crosby, (and not to mention the forecast of mid to high 70s all weekend!) there are plenty of reasons to visit San Diego this weekend and enjoy these top things to do:

San Diego Asian Film Festival

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M80zNEw2v-U]

The San Diego Asian Film Festival is one of the largest exhibitions of Asian international and Asian American cinema in North America. Along with narrative features, the nine-day Festival also showcases documentaries, short films, and animation.

> Top 5 Picks for the 2014 San Diego Asian Film Festival

When: November 6-15, 2014
> Find out more about the San Diego Asian Film Festival

Art San Diego Contemporary Art Show

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX8q6poQowo]

Art San Diego 2014 returns with more than 50 leading galleries from the USA, Canada, Europe, Latin America, and Asia will be taking part. In addition to the gallery booths, special features include gallery-curated exhibitions, contemporary furniture design, artistic interventions in public spaces “Art Labs”, San Diego focused exhibitions “Made in San Diego”, and the introduction of emerging artists and curators “Launchpad”.

Where: Balboa Park Activity Center – 2145 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
When: November 6-9, 2014
Time: 12:00 to 8:00 PM
Cost: $20
> Find out more about the Art San Diego Contemporary Art Show

Tower After Hours: India

Museum of Man's Tower After Hours India

Taste delicious cuisine from Royal India, drink Indian beer and IPAs, watch performances of Bollywood-style dancing, and receive beautiful henna body art. It will be an amazing night at the Museum of Man!

Where: San Diego Museum of Man – 1350 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
When: November 6, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 8:00 PM
Cost: $15-$30
> Find out more about Tower After Hours: India

Del Mar Bing Crosby Season

Vintage Hollywood Fashion Contest - Del Mar Bing Crosby Season

Dress in your best Vintage for the Del Mar Racetrack’s Bing Crosby Season Opening Day

After a thrilling summer of fast racing and huge events, the legendary seaside track will open again for its inaugural Bing Crosby Season with a Vintage Hollywood Fashion Contest. Old Hollywood style meets classic Southern California cool this November at Del Mar with four weeks of elite Thoroughbred racing, fresh events and musical performances to keep the good times rolling.

> Del Mar Racetrack Adds New Fall Bing Crosby Season

Where: Del Mar Racetrack – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014
When: November 7-30, 2014
First Post: 12:00 PM. Weekdays: 12:30 PM
Cost: $6
> Find out more about the Del Mar Bing Crosby Season

San Diego Beer Week

San Diego Beer Week - Top Things to Do in San Diego

From amazing craft beer to local dishes, San Diego Beer Week showcases why San Diego is the Capital of Craft!

San Diego Beer Week is a ten-day celebration inviting people to drink local, craft beer and promoting San Diego’s thriving brewing culture with multiple events happening across the county. Join us and discover why San Diego is the Capital of Craft.

> 5+ San Diego Beer Week Events You Don’t Want to Miss

When: November 7-16, 2014
> Find out more about San Diego Beer Week

Union Bank Fallback Festival presented by G.Q.H.F.

Gaslamp Quarter Fall Back Festival

Step back in time in the Gaslamp Quarter at the annual Fall Back Festival

Between old-fashioned festivities like pony rides and ice cream- and pie-eating contests, there are historical recreations and demonstrations with a “nineteenth-century” blacksmith plying his trade, prospectors teaching children how to pan for gold, butter churning and candle dipping demonstrations, and a Wild West shoot-out, to name a few.

Where: Island and Fourth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
When: November 9, 2014
Time: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Union Bank Fallback Festival presented by G.Q.H.F.

CicloSDias Hillcrest and Bankers Hill

CicloSDias Family

Bring the whole family to the waterfront communities of Hillcrest and Bankers Hill for some safe fun in the streets at CicloSDias

CicloSDias San Diego welcomes everyone to walk, ride, stroll and enjoy. Come experience this free open street event where there will be activities along the route, shops and restaurants open for business and neighbors and friends from all over coming together to make our streets come alive.

Where: University & Sixth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103
When: November 9, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about CicloSDias Hillcrest and Bankers Hill

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Find more Top Things to Do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Brent Bernasconi

5+ San Diego Beer Week Events You Don’t Want to Miss

Beer Garden - San Diego Beer Week

San Diego Beer Week combines some of the best SD has to offer: sunshine, local food and amazing craft beer!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I am not talking about December (though I do like that as well). I am talking about the ten amazing days that make up San Diego Beer Week (SDBW). From rare beer tap takeovers at your favorite restaurant to a massive bottle share along 30th, there is something for every beer lover during SDBW.

Here are a few picks from the long list of San Diego Beer Week events:

Brewers Guild Festival

Now split over two days, the Brewers Guild Festival is the official kickoff event for San Diego Beer Week. The VIP Brewer Takeover on Friday night will showcase San Diego’s finest, rare and specialty beers, including beers brewed just for the event. Saturday Festival is the big event with more than 55 breweries pouring unlimited samples into your commemorative tasting glass while live music plays in the background and the smell of delicious smells emanate from local food trucks.

Where: The Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier – 1000 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego CA 92101
When: November 7-8, 2014
Cost: $25-$100
> Find out more about the Brewers Guild Festival

Bikes, Brews and Brats

Now this is my kind of event! Green Flash Brewing Company has teamed up with Regal Beagle & Cal Coast Bicycles, and the San Diego Mountain Biking Association for an epic ride through Balboa Park and Florida Canyon. Beers and brats will be served at the after-ride-party.

Starting Point: Cal Coast Bicycles – 3020 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
When: November 8, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Cost: $50
> Find out out more about Bikes, Brews and Brats

The World’s Biggest Bottle Share on 30th Street

The World’s Biggest Bottle Share on 30th Street will give you and your friends the chance to make history and enjoy sharing great craft beer in the process. From Polite Provisions in Normal Heights to Hamiltons in South Park, join in an awesome chain of craft beer lovers and help San Diego earn the Guinness Book Record for the World’s Biggest Bottle Share.

Where: 30th Street between Adams and Beech, San Diego, CA
When: November 9, 2014
Time: 12:00 to 6:00 PM
Cost: $20
> Find out more about the World’s Biggest Bottle Share on 30th Street

Fishing with the Brewers II

Have Monday off? Join some of San Diego’s best brewers for a day of fishing off the Shelter Island Pier. Don’t have a fishing pole? Don’t worry! Everything will be provided including a 6ft fishing pole you get to keep, hooks and weights, breakfast burrito bar, lunch, tshirt, and plenty of beer!

Where: Fathom Bistro Bait & Tackle – 1776 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego CA 92106
When: November 10, 2014
Time: 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Cost: $70
> Find out more about Fishing with the Brewers II

Beer Garden

Wrap up San Diego Beer Week at the Beer Garden on the beautiful Arroyo Terrace overlooking Torrey Pines Golf Course and the Pacific Ocean. Beer Garden brings together the best of San Diego’s breweries and chefs to celebrate the thriving craft beer movement in America’s Finest City.

Where: The Lodge at Torrey Pines – 11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037
When: November 16, 2014
Time: 12:00 to 3:00 PM
Cost: $75
> Find out more about the Beer Garden

More San Diego Beer Week Picks

>Browse the Entire List of San Diego Beer Week Events

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – June 5-8, 2014

San Diego Bay Beer Cans Race Series

From classic airplanes soaring overhead in East County to sail boats racing across the Big Bay, there is a ton of top things to do this weekend in San Diego.

Samuel Adams Brew & View

Samuel Adams Brew & View San Diego

Nothing like a night under the stars with a tasty craft beer and a great movie.

Join us for Samuel Adams Brew & View, an epic summer party with cold Sam Adams beer, lawn games, food trucks, and live music! When the sun goes down, Wedding Crashers will start-up on an HD screen for a hilarious movie night under the stars. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets and friends, and plan to stay awhile!

Where: NTC Park – 2455 Cushing Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
When: June 5, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free. RSVP required
> Find out more about the Samuel Adams Brew & View

Air Show San Diego

P-51 Lady Alice - Air Show San Diego

See beauties like Lady Alice (a P-51) soar high above at Air Show San Diego

Formerly known as Wings Over Gillespie, Air Show San Diego in San Diego’s East County features a representative collection of historic aircraft, amazing aerobatics, military re-enactors, paratroopers, and exciting mock battles. In addition to everything happening in the air and on Gillespie Field’s runway, Air Show San Diego also boasts a fun kids zone, amusement rides, education displays, a variety of foods and beverages, and a beer garden.

Where: Gillespie Field – 1960 Joe Crosson Dr, El Cajon, CA 92020
When: June 7-8, 2014
Time: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: $10-$50
> Find out more about Air Show San Diego

San Diego County Fair

San Diego County Fair Ride

Get ready for rides, music and deep-fried-goodness at the San Diego County fair

San Diego’s annual county fair is the largest fair in California, offering a variety of food, entertainment, exhibits, rides & games throughout the beautiful and historical Del Mar Fairgrounds in the oceanfront village of Del Mar.

This year’s Ultimate Indulgence is the Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger with Bacon.

Krispy Kreme Tripple Cheeseburger at the San Diego County Fair

Make sure you go for a 20 mile run before you indulge on the Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger at the San Diego County Fair

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014
When: June 7 – July 6, 2014
> Find out more about the San Diego County Fair

3rd Annual VC Music Festival

3rd Annual VC Music Festival

The 3rd annual VC Music Festival features the Kansas City Barbecue Cook-off in addition to the beer and wine garden, 12 bands on 3 stages, door prizes, silent auction and more. Invite your friends, bring your beach chairs and blankets, come enjoy some live music and good food on the farm!

Where: Bates Nut Farm – 16954 Woods Valley Rd, Valley Center, CA 92082
When: June 7, 2014
Time: 12:00 to 9:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 3rd Annual VC Music Festival

Art Around Adams 2014

Electric Giraffe at Art Around Adams

You never know what you are going to see at Art Around Adams

A free and family friendly event, Art Around Adams will showcasing nine performance areas (including the “Kensington Kids Zone,” now in its sophomore year) featuring music, performance art, community murals, circus performers, dance, theatre, projection art, intergalactic superhero wrestling, and comedians on the events very own “Comedy Trolley.”

Where: Adams Avenue from Oregon Street to Vista Street, San Diego, CA 92116
When: June 7, 2014
Time: 2:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Art Around Adams 2014

Cabrillo National Monument Park and Open Spaces Day

Cabrillo National Monument Lighthouse with Flowers

Explore the lighthouse and historic WWII bunkers at the Cabrillo National Monuements

Experience your America! Elevate Your View at Cabrillo National Monument with vehicles from the pre-1915 era, exhibitor booths, a Raven animal ambassador from Project Wildlife and ranger programs.

Where: Cabrillo National Monument – 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
When: June 7, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
Cost: $5 per vehicle. $3 per cyclist and walk-in
> Find out more about the Cabrillo National Monument Park and Open Spaces Day

San Marcos Rock, Blues & BBQ Festival

San Marcos Rock, Blues & BBQ Festival - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Rock out in San Marcos with eight amazing bands and plenty of mouth-watering BBQ.

San Marcos will be rocking this weekend with eight phenomenal bands, local craft beer and mouth-water BBQ. On Friday, Phil’s BBQ will be running the grills followed by a BBQ Competition on Sunday with smoked pork ribs, smoked tri-tip, smoked chickens, pulled pork sandwiches, grilled burgers and bratwurst.

Where: Walnut Creek Park – 1950 Sycamore Drive, San Marcos, CA 92069
When: June 6-7, 2014
Cost: $5-$20

Find out more about the San Marcos Rock, Blues & BBQ Festival

2014 San Diego Bay Beer Can Series

San Diego Bay Beer Cans Race Series

Catch the excitement of the San Diego Bay Beer Cans Race Series from Harbor Island. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Sinclair.

Befitting San Diego’s role as the home of the best and most competitive sailing in the world, the annual Beer Cans Summer Series is one of the largest annual sailing events in Southern California, with more than a hundred sailboats of different sizes and handicaps taking to San Diego Bay each Wednesday throughout the summer.

Best Viewing Spot: Harbor Island Park – 1875 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Wednesdays through August 6, 2014
Time: Races start at 6:00 PM
Cost: Free to View
> Find out more about the 2014 San Diego Bay Beer Can Series

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Browse the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of some other top things to do this weekend in San Diego? Let us know in the comments below or onTwitterFacebook and Google+.

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – April 15-20, 2014

Belmont Park Easter Eggstravaganza

Spend a beautiful spring weekend in San Diego enjoying these top things to do including baseball, horses, sailors, culture, beer and egg hunts on the beach:

San Diego Padres

Padres at Petco Park

Catch the Padres play at the beautiful Petco Park in the heart of San Diego

The San Diego Padres are in town all week taking on the Rockies and the Giants. Make sure to pick up a few bags of cracker jacks or a delicious local delicacy from one of these new in-park eateries.

Where: Petco Park – 100 Park Avenue, San Diego CA 92101
When: Through April 17, 2014
> Find out more about the San Diego Padres vs. the Colorado Rockies

When: April 18-20, 2014
> Find out more about the San Diego Padres vs. San Francisco Giants

Sailor Days

maritime museum of san diego

Learn how to be a true seaman during the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s Sailor Days

Come aboard and join the fun! There are lots of things to do aboard the Maritime Museum’s ships including scavenger hunts with prizes, making of brass rubbings, ferryboat steam engine demos, raising of the sail, rope making, knot tying, rowing and more.

Where: Maritime Museum of San Diego – 1492 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Through April 20, 2014
Time: 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Cost: Included with admission. 2 kids 12 and under free with paid adult
> Find out more about Sailor Days

Del Mar National Horse Show

Hunter Jumper Week - Del Mar National Horse Show

The Annual Del Mar National Horse Show is composed of a week each of Western, Dressage and Hunter/Jumper competitions

One of the oldest and most prestigious equestrian competitions in the Western US, the Annual Del Mar National Horse Show is composed of a week each of Western, Dressage and Hunter/Jumper competition. Over 3,000 horses take part, representing many breeds, at the equestrian complex at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in coastal Del Mar. Spectators will see reining, spins, sliding stops, elegant dressage moves choreographed to music, daredevil show jumping, trick riders, comedy acts, thrills and spills, and more.

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014
When: April 17 – May 4, 2014
Cost: Varies based on event
> Find out more about the Del Mar National Horse Show

Fee Free Weekend at Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument Lighthouse with Flowers

Explore the lighthouse and historic WWII bunkers at the Cabrillo National Monument

A visit to San Diego’s “only” National Park offers tremendous views of San Diego and excellent opportunities to explore the natural, historical and cultural history of the area including the old lighthouse and World War II bunkers. This weekend, the National Park Service is kicking off National Park Week with a fee free weekend that includes Cabrillo!

Where: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
When: April 19-20, 2014
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Cabrillo National Monument

Chicano Park Day Celebration

Chicano Park Day Celebration - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Celebrate the recognition of these beautiful murals with traditional music, dance and food at the Chicano Park Day Celebration

The theme for the 2014 celebration is “La Tierra Es De Quien La Trabaja: The Land Belongs To Those Who Work It.”  Visitors to Chicano Park Day will experience traditional music and dance, including one of the most beautiful performances of Aztec Indigenous dance, ballet folklorico, live music, classic lowrider cars, kids (all ages) art workshop, food, arts and crafts vendors.

Where: Chicano Park – Logan Av & Cesar E Chavez Parkway, San Diego, CA 92113
When: April 19, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Chicano Park Day Celebration

CityBeat Festival of Beers

CityBeat Festival of Beers

Samples beers from more than 50 local and national breweries

The CityBeat Festival of Beers is the perfect marriage of two of San Diego’s best known exports – music and craft beer. Over 50 brewers will be on hand to pour samples of their best beers while live local music plays in the background.

Where: 2223 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92104
When: April 19, 2014
Time: 1:00 to 5:30 PM
Cost: $40
> Find out more about the CityBeat Festival of Beers

Easter

Belmont Park Easter Eggstravaganza

Celebrate Easter the San Diego Way…by the water!

Easter is this Sunday and there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy waterfront brunches and Easter egg hunts on the beach:

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Browse the San Diego Event Calendar

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

Sarah Weinberg

The Show Goes on Year-Round in San Diego Theaters

Theater choices in San Diego can range from Tony® Award-winning, Broadway-bound classic and contemporary plays to esoteric puppetry in the Pacific Ocean. Here are some of the goings-on in the dramatic world of San Diego theater.

The Old Globe

Time and the Conways at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park

Time and the Conways at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park

Old Globe is a Tony® Award winning theater complex located in Balboa Park featuring Shakespearean classics, contemporary plays and popular musicals. Upcoming shows include:

Time and the Conways by J.B. Priestley

This story opens in a gorgeous English country home in 1919 and later flash forwards to 1937 in the same house: the grown children have gathered to settle family accounts in a world not so bright as it was.

Run Dates: Now through May 4, 2014
> Find out more about Time and the Conways

Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes.

Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. This exciting new play from the playwright behind the Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights follows Elliot Ortiz back in the States after serving in Iraq, reconnecting with family and starting a new life. At the same time, four strangers in an internet chat room seek support to face demons of their own, and soon the real world and the virtual one start to intersect in unexpected ways.

Run Dates: April 12 – May 11, 2014
> Find out more about Water by the Spoonful

Other upcoming shows include What You Will, Thinking Shakespeare Live, Vanya and Sonia and Masha an Spike, Dog and Pony, Othello, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Into the Woods, and Quartet.

La Jolla Playhouse

El Henry - San Diego Theater

Shakespeare goes vato in the La Jolla Playhouse’s WithOut Walls adaptation of Henry IV, Part 1 playing at the Makers Quarter in downtown’s East Village

La Jolla Playhouse, another of San Diego’s Tony® Award-winning theatre complexes, presents bold and innovative productions on the University of California, San Diego campus in La Jolla. Upcoming shows include:

Chasing the Song, book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro.

The creators of the Tony Award-winning musical Memphis follow the evolving American music scene into the early 1960s in this rock ‘n’ roll-inspired new musical in which the female  lead, Ginny,  strives to earn her place in the male-dominated world of songwriting and American rock ‘n’ roll finds itself under siege from the incoming British Invasion.

Show Dates: May 13 – June 15, 2014
> Find out more about Chasing the Song

El Henry

Without Walls adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, part 1 by Herbert Siguenza. El Henry is performed in San Diego’s East Village performance space called Maker’s Quarter and set in the year 2045 in a huge, run-down metropolis called Aztlan City (formerly San Diego), where political apathy and corruption run the city while violent barrio families run the streets. Written in a unique poetic cadence called Calo, which mixes urban Spanish and English slang, this world- premiere adaptation of Shakespeare explores the universal themes of this classic through the lens of Mexican-American machismo.

Show Dates: June 14 – 29, 2014
> Find out more about El Henry

Other upcoming shows include The Orphan of Zao and Ether Dome.

Lamb’s Players Theatre

Lamb’s Players Theatre produces timeless classics and lesser-known theatre gems year-round on their resident stage in Coronado and in their downtown San Diego space at the Horton Grand Theatre. Upcoming shows include:

Quilters

Funny, moving, and gorgeous to look at, this musical celebrates the extraordinary, everyday women who settled the American West.

Show Dates: Now through April 27, 2014
> Find out more about Quilters

Twelfth Night

We celebrate our 20th Year in Coronado with the Bard’s effervescent comedy of love, longing, impersonation and mistaken identity by setting it at the Hotel Del in the 1940s.

Show Dates: May 23 – June 29, 2014
> Find out more about Twelfth Night

The Foreigner

A wild production of Larry Shue’s comic romp has been extended now through May 18th. Please note: this production is at the Horton Grand Theatre in Downtown San Diego.

Show Dates: Now through May 18, 2014
> Find out more about The Foreigner

http://www.lambsplayers.org/show.php?id=334

Other upcoming shows include Les Miserable.

The National Comedy Theatre

The National Comedy Theatre is San Diego’s nationally acclaimed improv comedy show.  Now in its 15th season, NCT is San Diego’s longest running show and is appropriate for all audiences and runs Thursdays through Sundays in downtown San Diego.

San Diego Repertory Theatre

San Diego Repertory Theatre presents six contemporary productions and four annual festivals in the Lyceum Theatre, located at Horton Plaza in downtown San Diego. Upcoming shows include:

Red by John Logan

The story is set in 1958 at a critical point in the career of the superstar abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko.

Show Dates: Now through April 27, 2014
> Find out more about Red

Old Jews Telling Jokes created by Peter Gethers and Daniel Okrent.

Watch an evening of one-liners, double-entendres and hysterical routines that pay tribute to and reinvents classic jokes of the past and present.

Show Dates: April 23 – May 25, 2014
> Find out more about Old Jews Telling Jokes

North Coast Repertory Theatre

North Coast Repertory Theatre features seven top-notch productions year-round in an intimate setting in Solana Beach. Upcoming shows include:

Mandate Memories by Lionel Goldstein

In this taut and witty drama filled with revelations of love affairs, dreams and the founding of Israel, layers are peeled away to reveal the deep hearts of two caring and compassionate human beings.

Show Dates: April 9 – May 4, 2014
> Find out more about Mandate Memories

Faded Glory by Timothy Burns

Meet Daniel Sickles, a 19th-century congressman, friend to presidents, Civil War general, lover of Queen Isabella of Spain, notorious philanderer, embezzler, murderer, and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Based on this real figure from American history, Faded Glory promises to be a rollicking comedic romp through this amazing life.

Show Dates: May 28 – June 22, 2014
> Find out more about Faded Glory

Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company

Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company partners with the San Diego Asian Film Festival for the San Diego Premiere of 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors, a comedy with an Asian American flair.  The Warriors comic duo of Michael Chih Ming Hornbuckle and Greg Watanabe (and special guest stars Jully Lee and Albert Park) probe the Pacific Rim for the funniest topics.

 Show Dates: April 18-20, 2014
> Find out more about 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors

San Diego Civic Theater

The Civic Theater and historic Balboa Theater downtown play host to traveling Broadway shows and one-of-a-kind performances throughout the year. Upcoming shows include Mike Epps – After Dark Tour on June 21 and Sleeping Beauty at The Balboa Theatre May 17 – 18, 2014.

San Diego Junior Theater

San Diego Junior Theater has trained thousands of San Diego thespians over the years and entertained locals and visitors alike with their high-quality, family friendly shows at the Casa del Prado theater in Balboa Park. Upcoming shows include Shrek April 25-May 11, Snoopy, June 27- July 13.

More exciting San Diego Theater:

  • Cygnet Theatre, San Diego’s fastest growing theater company, produces critically acclaimed shows in their new resident stage in Old Town San Diego.
  • Diversionary Theatre, one of the oldest LGBT theaters in the country, produces edgy dramatic productions and playful musicals in University Heights.
  • Ion Theatre in Hillcrest produces bold and diverse new works from emerging artists.
  • Moxie Theatre expands the idea of what is feminine by using the intimate art of theatre to create more honest and diverse female images for our culture.
  • SDSU School of Theatre, Television & Film feature performances in the Don Powell Theater and are currently showing The Jungle Book, April 25 – May 4, 2014.
Robert Arends

Valentine’s Day, LGBT-style, in San Diego

Walking under Hillcrest Sign
Walking under Hillcrest Sign

Feel the love in Hillcrest this Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air and for LGBT couples looking for something romantic to do this Valentine’s Day, San Diego is THE place to cuddle close and feel the warmth – especially in Hillcrest, our fabulous uptown “gayborhood” located just a couple of miles from downtown.

Following are a few unforgettable places to wine and dine your significant other or special V-day date.

Start the Night with Dinner in Hillcrest

Temperatures rising at Kitchen Bar & Kitchen this Valentine's Day

Temperatures rising at Kitchen Bar & Kitchen this Valentine’s Day

In Hillcrest, begin your heart-filled evening at the comfortably modern Heat Bar & Kitchen on Park Blvd. Amber lighting radiates to create a cozy ambiance to enjoy a menu of California fusion cuisine. The steamed local Carlsbad mussels are delish, as is the duck breast and braised lamb shank!

Another tried and true Hillcrest dining option is the chic retro-modern D Bar on 5th Ave. where comfort food based on childhood favorites will have you both smiling from ear to ear – and reaching over to sample each other’s entrees! Highly recommended is the Southern Fried Belgian butter milk fried chicken with sweet potato fries. OMG 😉

After Dinner Drinks in Hillcrest

wine

After dinner, head to The Wine Lover with its intimate little patio to toast your love as you gaze into each other’s eyes. For something extra special, ask for a dessert wine flight (which isn’t on the menu) to sweeten the mood.

Mix it up at Martinis Above Fourth

Mix it up at Martinis Above Fourth

If decadent martinis or craft beer are more your style, grab a nightcap at Martinis Above Fourth or the Hillcrest Brewing Company, the “World’s First Out and Proud LGBT Brewery.”

Fall in Love on Coronado…or is it Italy?

Enchanting Coronado, a bridge away from downtown and Hillcrest, is gay friendly and welcoming with a renowned romantic French bistro called Chez Loma. Couples are drawn to its private candle-lit rooms and delectable French classics like Boeuf Bourguignon.

The Gondola Company's romantic cruises through the Coronado Cays

The Gondola Company’s romantic cruises through the Coronado Cays

Before dinner, take a relaxing sunset gondola cruise – complete with a gondolier serenading you in Italian! – through the Coronado Cays. The Gondola Company provides chocolate-covered strawberries, and you’re welcome to bring your own wine or champagne!

Make a French Connection in Downtown San Diego

In downtown San Diego, Café Chloe holds a special place in my heart as the closest thing to a night out in Paris. The café is small and charming, and they usually do something extraordinarily quaint for Valentine’s Day couples, like little poetry verses you can recite to each other. Ahhh… 🙂

> Find more Valentine’s Day ideas and offers on SanDiego.org

Book your dinner reservations now, as Valentine’s Day tables fill up quickly.

Kathleen

San Diego Burgers Teens (and Adults) Will Love

hodads san diego burgers

If there’s one thing San Diego knows how to do, it’s make a great burger – just ask the readers of Travel + Leisure. If your burger tastes run toward the exotic, then Trioli’s Crazee Burger is for you where burger ingredients include venison, buffalo and kangaroo.  But for my family (which includes a teenage boy), the classics done really well are what we crave. Here’s a short list of some of our favorites.

Five Guys

five guys burgers san diego

Five Guys has several locations around San Diego.

If you don’t have a Five Guys Burgers & Fries near you or haven’t tried one yet, then make this a stop on your San Diego vacation. There are four San Diego locations including HillcrestPoint LomaCoronado and Barrio Logan. Made to order just the way you like it and very reasonably priced, Five Guys serves up a great burger. Plus, they don’t charge extra for any of the dozen toppings offered.

Burger Lounge

burger lounge san diego

Turkey burgers are a popular option at Burger Lounge (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of  Serious Eats. Read the complete Burger Lounge review at Serious Eats.)

With several locations in LA and seven (soon to be eight) in San Diego, Burger Lounge is a Southern California favorite that started in San Diego. Touted as 100% fresh, single source American grass-fed beef and cooked on a high temperature flat top grill, this is just a terrific bite. Burgers are served with fresh toppings and their own fresh baked buns.

Smashburger

smashburger-san-diego burgers

Smashburger wins the teen vote (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of Serious Eats. Check out Erin’s complete review of Smashburger.)

Hands down my teenage son’s favorite burger, Smashburger is another chain exploding across the U.S. and San Diego is lucky enough to have 11 locations including three near downtown, two in Mid-City, three along the North County coast and two in East County. What makes Smashburger so fantastic is the fresh, not frozen, Angus beef, which is very tasty and juicy. The burgers are served with fresh produce, lots of toppings and your pick of an artisan bun. They also have awesome milkshakes made with Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

Hodad’s

hodads san diego burgers

Hodad’s loads up their burgers (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of Serious Eats. Read the full review of Hodad’s on Serious Eats.)

Only found in San Diego, Hodad’s has been recognized by CNN as one of the top 5 burger joints in the country, and for good reason. With sizes from a mini to a double double, these extra-large, extra tasty burgers come conveniently served with large cut homemade fries in a combo.  There are three locations in San Diego, boasting a classic surf grunge atmosphere, including the original in Ocean Beach and two in downtown on Broadway Ave. and in Petco Park.

The Waterfront

waterfront san diego restaurant tavern burger

The Waterfront serves up a classic burger (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of Serious Eats. See the Serious Eats full review of the Waterfront’s burger. )

Located in Little Italy, the Waterfront is San Diego oldest tavern.  Opened in 1933, the Waterfront remains true to its origin: a neighborhood hangout serving cold drinks and delicious noshables.  The tavern is 21 and over only and has a revolving calendar of bands and events.  But the real draw is the burgers.  Big, tasty and loaded with grilled onions – yum.

Do you have a favorite teenager-approved San Diego burger? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Special thanks to Erin Jackson, burger blogger for Serious Eats, for the photos. Check out her reviews for more San Diego burgers at SeriousEats.com

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – October 11-13, 2013

Ocean Beach Oktoberfest - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Escape to Germany, Italy and the western frontier while never being more than a few miles from the beach! Here are your top things to do in San Diego this weekend:

Little Italy FESTA!

Gondoliers at the Little Italy Festa!

Gondoliers ready to serenade at the Little Italy Festa!

Little Italy FESTA! is the largest Italian American festival on the West Coast. Hip and historic Little Italy welcomes visitors with the tantalizing sights, sounds and aromas of Italian culture. A full palette of Italian cuisine is complemented by traditional and modern Italian music, arts and crafts as well as a tribute to San Diego’s rich Italian American heritage.

Where: 2210 Columbia St, San Diego, CA 92101
When: October 13, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Little Italy FESTA!

Hillcrest Hoedown

Hillcrest Hoedown - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Come celebrate this fall season with a family friendly, cowboy and cowgirl inspired street festival in Hillcrest featuring plenty of live music, line dancing lessons, Furry Foster Humane Petting Zoo, costume contest and a Street Side Saloon.

Where: Normal Street and University Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
When: October 12, 2013
Time: 12:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Hillcrest Hoedown

Ocean Beach Oktoberfest

Ocean Beach Oktoberfest - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Ocean Beach Oktoberfest – the perfect combination of a German Festival and San Diego Sunshine

German Festival – San Diego Style! The festival will include Mrs. & Mr. Oktoberfest Contest, the Sausage Toss, the Brat Trot Beach Run, the Beer Garden Band Slam on Friday night and all of the great live music, great food, beachside vendors and of course, Oopma Bands!

Where: Newport Avenue and Abbott Street, San Diego, CA 92107
When: October 11-12, 2013
Cost: Festival – Free. Beer Garden Donation – $3. Brat Trot Beach Run – $15-$30
> Find out more about the Ocean Beach Oktoberfest

> Prost to more Oktoberfests in San Diego

La Jolla Art & Wine Festival 2013

Kids Painting a car at the La Jolla Art and Wine Festival

Family Fun and the La Jolla Art and Wine Festival. Photo: Steve Simpson

Featuring the works of over 150 established artists from San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Baja and beyond, the festival features something for everyone including a silent auction, roving entertainment, a gourmet marketplace, the Geppetto’s/Witt Lincoln Family Art Center and a wine and beer garden which will include premier wineries from around the world in addition to San Diego’s top breweries.

Where: Girard Avenue and Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
When: October 12-13, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free. Suggested donation of $5 to benefit local schools
> Find out more about the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival 2013

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Browse the San Diego Event Calendar

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