Candice

Discover the Hidden Gems of Mission Valley

Mission Basilica de Alcala

Mission Valley is frequented by San Diego locals, but even most locals have yet to discover the hidden cultural gems of this neighborhood. Check out a few of these spots, and impress a native San Diegan with your knowledge of a neighborhood best known for shopping!

Discover the Arts and Culture of Mission Valley

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Get Up Close to San Diego History

For history buffs, Mission Valley is a treasure trove waiting to be explored.

  • The area is called Mission Valley for a reason: this is where you’ll find Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, the first Franciscan mission in California.
  • Step back in time at Old Town San Diego. The State Historic Park was the site of California’s first permanent settlement showcases what daily life was like for the earliest settlers.
  • To return to San Diego’s truly native history, visit Mission Trails Regional Park, where artifacts from the Kumeyaay Indians can be found in the Visitors Center as well as on their hiking trails.
Mission Basilica de Alcala

Explore the rich cultural and natural history of Mission Valley by starting at the Mission Basilica de Alcalá.

Entertainment in the Valley

Visitors to Mission Valley some unique options when it comes to entertainment on stage and screen.

  • Located in Old Town, the Cygnet Theater offers an eclectic array of theatrical performances throughout the year.
  • Every March, the San Diego Latino Film Festival takes over the UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas at Hazard Center to showcase the best in films from Latino artists.
  • Even Mission Trails offers its own take on live entertainment, with concerts held throughout the year at the park’s outdoor amphitheater.

> Explore More of San Diego – Nine Arts Districts, One Vibrant City

Candice

Explore Art, History and Family Fun in Point Loma

Many consider Point Loma to be San Diego’s Plymouth Rock. It was here that explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first set foot on the West Coast in 1542. Today, history echoes throughout Point Loma, while contemporary visual and performing arts, great restaurants, shopping and more make it a terrific destination for a family adventure.

Discover the Art and Culture of Point Loma

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Get Up Close to History

From European explorers to San Diego’s military history, there’s plenty of secrets from the past waiting to be uncovered around Point Loma.

  • The Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, but what really makes this site worth a visit is the spectacular view of San  Diego Bay and beyond.
  • Dating back to 1855, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse was one of the first lighthouses on the West Coast. Visitors can view the quarters where the lighthouse keeper used to live.
  • NTC at Liberty Station was once a functioning U.S. Navy base, and the Point Loma Legacy Exhibit allows visitors to peak into what life was like as a Naval training recruit.

Priceless Performances

san diego dance theater

Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater is just one of several performing arts groups based in Point Loma

Music and dance lovers should keep an eye out for live performances around the neighborhood all year round:

  • Malashock Dance presents creative, contemporary dance performances around town and at their studio at NTC at Liberty Station.
  • Also at NTC at Liberty Station, Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater stages performances at Whitebox, a modern and minimalistic theater space.
  • Every summer, locals gather for the Point Loma Summer Concert Series, featuring everything from rock to jazz, under blue skies in Point Loma Park.

> Explore More of San Diego – Nine Arts Districts, One Vibrant City

Candice

How to Spend 3 Days Exploring San Diego History and Heritage

Many travelers think of the East Coast as the home of U.S. history, but there’s plenty for history buffs to discover in San Diego, too! If you’re traveling with an eye to the past, try this three-day itinerary for stepping back in time to explore San Diego’s vibrant heritage.

Day 1: California’s Birthplace

Did you know that the first European explorer to discover California touched down in San Diego? The Cabrillo National Monument marks the site where explorer Juan Rodrguez Cabrillo first set foot in the state. A visit to the site is rewarded with panoramic views of the city, ocean and mountains.

A trip to the Cabrillo National Monument is worth it for the views alone.

A trip to the Cabrillo National Monument is worth it for the views alone.

From California’s birthplace, head to the first permanent settlement on the West Coast, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This historic site is often referred to as San Diego’s first “downtown.” The park’s past comes alive every Wednesday and Saturday with Living History activities, including blacksmith demonstrations, quilting, soap making and other period-specific crafts.

Other Can’t-Miss Old Town experiences:

Day 2: The History of Downtown San Diego

Explore San Diego’s early days by heading to the historic Gaslamp Quarter, featuring 16 blocks of Victorian-era buildings. Make a stop at the William Heath Davis Historic House Museum, the Gaslamp Quarter’s oldest surviving structure. Built in 1850, the house is now home to the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation, where you can learn all about the district’s past.

gaslamp museum at the william heath davis house san diego

The William Heath Davis House welcomes guests, both normal and paranormal (legend says it’s haunted!).

If the seedier parts of downtown’s past intrigue you, sign up for the Brothels, Bites & Booze walking tour, or pop into a speakeasy like Prohibition or Noble Experiment that pays homage to San Diego’s “stingaree” days.

Day 3: San Diego’s Maritime Heritage

Being a city on the bay, the military and maritime industries have played a big role in San Diego’s history. Begin your exploration of maritime life at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, including the famous Star of India – the world’s oldest active tall ship.

maritime museum of san diego

The Star of India is one of the ships featured at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

After seeing the tall ships, head next door and step aboard the USS Midway, the longest-serving aircraft carrier in U.S. Navy history, is now home to a floating museum. See how hundreds of men lived below the decks, jump in a flight simulator or get up close to military aircraft aboard the ship’s flight deck.

USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway is an aircraft carrier turned museum.

Close out your day of maritime exploration with a trip to NTC at Liberty Station, a former Naval Training Center that is now a flagship civic, arts, and culture district. The “The Life of a Naval Training Center Recruit” and Point Loma Legacy exhibits offer one last learning opportunity before you relax with a beer at the nearby Stone Brewing Co. World Bistro & Gardens.

With so much history to explore in San Diego, you may need more than 3 days! But no matter what you choose to see while in town, there’s something for everyone to love in San Diego.

Candice

Deliciously Educational: Chocolate at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Chocolate exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum
Chocolate exhibition at the San Diego Natural History Museum

This life-sized box of chocolates and vintage wrapper collection are all part of “Chocolate” at the San Diego Natural History Museum.

Whether you’re still recovering from the Halloween sugar coma or just can’t get enough of the sweet stuff, Chocolate at the San Diego Natural History Museum tempts visitors to its galleries with delicious exhibition that explores the history, science and culture around one of the world’s most popular treats.

The Journey of Chocolate at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Cocoa beans on display at San Diego Museum of Natural History

Would you like to be paid in Chocolate?

Tracing chocolate’s journey through history, the exhibition begins at chocolate’s birthplace, the tropical rainforests where the cacao tree grows. From there, museum visitors follow chocolate through the ages, from Aztec civilization where beans were used as currency to the Spanish conquistadors who introduced chocolate to Europe and through the Industrial Revolution that led to widespread manufacturing and the emergence of chocolate in most American pantries.

Chocolate at the San Diego Natural History Museum Information

Dates: October 29, 2012 – March 13, 2013
Time: 10:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Chocolate at the San Diego Natural History Museum 

After the Exhibition, Get a Taste of Delicious Chocolate in San Diego

Truffles from Eclipse Chocolat in San Diego

Truffles from Eclipse Chocolat in San Diego

If all the chocolate treats on display at the San Diego Natural History Museum have you craving some samples, fear not: San Diego is home to some terrific chocolatiers creating museum-worthy confections. Not far from Balboa Park, you’ll find Eclipse Chocolat, where exotic truffles and decadent drinking chocolates are accented with flavors like sage, peppercorn and goat cheese. Drive up the coast to North County to one of Chuao Chocolatiers’ three locations and sample their creative flavor combinations, including a potato chip-laced chocolate bar or the “Spicy Maya” made with chipotle and homemade popping candy.

Robert Arends

Julian Ripe and Ready for Apple Days!

Visitors and locals alike are gearing up for a San Diego tradition as “American as apple pie:” Julian Apple Days, happening this weekend October 6-7!

Every year the historic Gold Rush mountain town of Julian rolls out the red (apple) carpet, celebrating its big annual harvest with apple picking and mouthwatering apple pies and ciders. The Apple Days fest takes place on the grounds of Menghini Winery (10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday & Sunday), featuring music and dancing, children’s games, gold panning, a wine and beer garden, food, vendors, apple-related contests, the coronation of Mr. and Mrs. Apple Days and, of course, Julian’s famous apple pies.

While in Julian be sure to sample the apple pies!

It’s A LOT of fun for the whole family! Admission is only $5; free for children ages 12 and under. The first 250 guests receive a free souvenir pie server!

While you’re in town, following are my Top 5 to Try Julian activities that’ll have you smiling ear to ear this weekend:

1. Pick a Bushel of Apples at Raven Hill Orchard

Sculpture with a Raven at Raven Hill Orchard

Wild Raven Hill sculptures!

Next door to the Julian Apple Days fest is Raven Hill Orchard where you can pick your own apples among a vast orchard of 8,000 trees! Also check out the fantastical metal sculptures dotting the grounds – great photo opps!

2. Pan for Gold at the Julian Mining Company

Family Panning for Gold - Julian Mining Company

Gold panning in Julian!

New in town is the Julian Mining Company, featuring gold panning, pumpkin picking and even an Early American Farm-Life Tour where you can work a real apple cider press!

3. Take a Llama Trek from Wikiup B&B

Couple with two Llamas from the Wikiup Bed and Breakfast

Lovin’ the Wikiup llama treks!

Gidddyup on one of Wikiup B&B‘s exciting Llama Treks through Julian’s backcountry to the Menghini Winery and famous Eagle Gold Mine, where you can take a tour of one of Julian’s original gold mines!

4. Fresh Apple Pies

Julian Apple Pies

Mmmm…Apple pies!

Sure there’s delectable Dudley’s Famous Bakery, Mom’s Pies and Julian Pie Co… But for the most gourmet apple pie in town, nothing beats the Candied Apple Pastry Company‘s sour creamapple pie. It’s off the charts!

5. Spooky Tour of the Julian Cemetery

Yours truly at spooky Julian Cemetery!

Kids will get a kick out of Julian Historical Society’s classic 1888 one-room school house (2133 Fourth St.), open weekends throughout October. For an insider’s scoop on prospectors and pioneers who settled here, join local resident/historian David Lewis on fun guided walking tours that include the spooky Julian Haven of Rest Cemetery!

Quick sidebar: Our local newspaper, U-T San Diego, did a great story on Julian Apple Days weekend!

See you in Julian!

Robert Arends

Coronado’s Hidden Art – In Video Form!

Coronado has always inspired artists – from painters and photographers to world-renowned authors. With its magical setting of beautiful beaches, swaying palm trees and charming Norman Rockwell-esque village, it’s easy to see why.

The “Crown City” has many artistic jewels in its crown: eye-catching public artworks, chic art galleries, the top-notch professional Lamb’s Players Theatre and Coronado Museum of Art & History where you can time warp back to the Victorian Age, the beginnings of the Hotel del Coronado and the launch of U.S. naval aviation.

Join me on a video tour of my favorite art finds in Coronado, including some surprising secrets that will take you down the “Yellow Brick Road!”

P.S. Be sure to mark your calendars for the big annual Coronado Art Walk on Sept. 15-16 at the Coronado Ferry Landing!

Candice

Old Hollywood Glamour at La Jolla’s Historic Hotels

Stroll through one San Diego’s seaside towns and villages, and you may feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Along the North County’s Coast Highway, the vintage surf culture of Encinitas might have you expecting to see the original Beach Boys stepping out of a taco shop. At Mission Beach, the red and white-painted slats of Belmont Park’s wooden rollercoaster call to mind a bygone era when the beach boardwalk was king. But if you’re looking for vintage glamour, head straight to La Jolla, where a collection of historic hotels will fill you with the romance of Old Hollywood.

 

La Valencia

Often referred to as La Jolla’s “Pink Lady,” the elegant and charming La Valencia hotel sits atop Prospect Street, offering breathtaking views out to La Jolla Cove. The only thing more sparkly than the Pacific Ocean outside the hotel’s enormous picture windows is the cast of previous occupants – before heading into the Whaling Bar for a perfectly poured martini, stop to admire the photos of Old Hollywood stars that frequented to the hotel in the first half of the 20th century, including Clark Gable, Mary Pickford, Groucho Marx and Greta Garbo.

Grande Colonial Hotel

Opened in 1913, the Grande Colonial Hotel is La Jolla’s oldest original hotel property. Bright blue and white awnings jutting out from a sunny colonial-style building beckon visitors to see why celebrities like Charlton Heston would stay at the hotel when in town to perform at the world-renowned La Jolla Playhouse. Once inside, the lobby is every bit as glamorous as when it first opened, thanks to a recent renovation and fresh design update.

La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club

Few things are more glamorous than staying in a resort right on the beach, and that’s what you’ll get at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, where guest rooms literally open onto the sands of La Jolla Shores. Don’t miss the resort’s signature restaurant, the Marine Room. As you enter through the discreet wooden front doors and descend the sweeping staircase into the dining room, you’ll know why the Marine Room as been a favorite for celebrities and world leaders alike for more than 70 years.

Tell us in the comments below, where is the most glamourous place in San Diego?

Robert Arends

Museum Month: Enchantment Awaits on Coronado Island

Coronado Museum of History and Art
Coronado Museum of History and Art

Coronado Museum of History and Art

As the days count down for San Diego Museum Month (1/2 price admission to 40 participating museums), across the bridge on Coronado Island, the charming Coronado Museum of History and Art, chock full of history and visionary tales told with a plethora of enchanting educational activities and exhibits, awaits visitors.

The following are 5 of my must-see/must-try picks at the Coronado Museum:

  1. Learn about Coronado’s role in World War II at the museum’s newest exhibit Coronado on the Frontline:  1942-1945.
  2. On a related note, don’t miss the popular Coronado Historic Homes Tour on May 13th where you can tour the island’s most beautiful homes and learn about World War II’s impact on the community.

    Coronado is considered the birthplace of U.S. Naval Aviation!

  3. The museum also houses a number of artifacts, uniforms and photographs documenting the U.S. Navy’s prominent presence on the island with permanent exhibits in the first and third gallery.

    Coronado historic walking tour.

  4. Take a walk back in time with the Museum’s docents, as well as discover the beautiful architecture and gardens around the island, on one of two private Walking Toursof the landmark Hotel del Coronado or of Historic Coronado.

    "Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz" was written in Coronado!

  5. L. Frank Baum, author of the beloved Wizard of Oz series, vacationed in Coronado where he wrote at least three of his famous books. In the museum’s first gallery, at the “Celebrities” wall,  visitors can view three rare first edition books by Baum: Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, The Emerald City of Oz and The Road to Oz!

Follow the yellow brick road (or the San Diego-Coronado Bridge 😉 ) to Coronado and discover another fascinating side of the “Crown City” at the Coronado Museum of History and Art!

Alison

Kids Celebrate October in San Diego with Freebies

Free Kid Fun During October

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

Find out which museums are participating…

Robert Arends

20 Perfect Days to Play in Coronado!

Have you entered Loews Coronado Bay Resort’s 20 Days, Your Way” giveaway yet? If not, time is ticking… Last day for submissions is next Tuesday, October 25. Grand prize: 20 free room nights! It’s all to celebrate the resort’s big 20th Anniversary. Good luck!

So I was thinking, if I was eligible to enter and I WON, what would I do, not only at Loews’ resort, but around the picturesque island of Coronado? Fortunately, there’s a plethora of delightful and exciting activities to enjoy: arts & culture, fine dining, spas, outdoor recreation and much more.

Read on to see Robert’s 20 picks for 20 days on Coronado…