Robert Arends

Merry Mission Bay for the Holidays!

Mission Bay Parade of Lights!

Mission Bay Parade of Lights!

The holidays are just around the corner and there’s no better place to be than San Diego’s sparkling Mission Bay where distinctly California festivities await!

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay lights up December 13 during the Parade of Lights

Everybody loves a holiday parade. But in San Diego, they don’t just happen in the streets. A unique maritime way to make some merry this holiday season is the popular Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights on December 13, featuring dozens of boats festooned with holiday lights and décor sailing around Mission Bay.

All are welcome to this free aquatic pageant which attracts tens of thousands of spectators to the shoreline.

The boat parade begins at 7:00 PM from the Quivira Basin. The best viewing spots are from Crown Point, Santa Clara Point Park (by Sail Bay), the east side of Vacation Island and west side of Fiesta Island. Check out this map of Mission Bay to scope out the area beforehand.

When: December 13, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

Twinkling Holiday Skytower at SeaWorld

Twinkling Holiday Skytower at SeaWorld

Also on Mission Bay, SeaWorld San Diego makes a big splash with its annual Christmas Celebration, beginning this Saturday. Festivities include Christmas-themed animal shows, holiday décor throughout the park, Santa’s Cottage for the kids, the 320-ft. Skytower Christmas Tree of Lights and SnowWorld, a winter wonderland with hills of snow for kids to sled down and practice making snowballs. Yep, it snows in San Diego! (we just have to make it 😉

SnoWorld at SeaWorld!

SnowWorld at SeaWorld San Diego!

When: November 15, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Cost: Included with Admission
> Find out more about SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration

Mission Bay Hotel Holiday Deals

After a jolly day on the bay, rest your head at one of these top 5 tropical waterfront resorts that dot the shoreline:

See you this holiday season in Mission Bay! 🙂

Robert Arends

Make Waves on Mission Bay During Kids Free Month!

Have you heard? It’s Kids Free month in San Diego! Nope, that doesn’t mean San Diego is free from kids. But rather, just about everything for a kid’s visit (with their family) to San Diego is Free – as in free admission to all the major attractions, museums and so much more.

Kids Free month deals abound in Mission Bay!

Kids Free month deals abound in Mission Bay!

One area that was made for play is Mission Bay, a 4,600-acre aquatic wonderland of beaches, walking/bicycling trails, family-friendly resorts, water activities and famous attractions like SeaWorld.

Following are some of the coolest free offerings I scoped out around Mission Bay:

Play!

SeaWorld San Diego

Dolphin Encounter - SeaWorld San Diego in Mission Bay

Kids can enjoy the Dolphin Interaction Program at SeaWorld for free!

SeaWorld San Diego offers kids 3-9 years old free admission (1 child per paid adult), free Dine With Shamu (1 child per paid adult) and free Dolphin and Beluga Interaction Programs (1 child 10-13 years old per paid adult).

Belmont Park

Free kids rides on the Giant Dipper roller coaster by Mission Bay!

Free kids rides on the Giant Dipper roller coaster by Mission Bay!

At nearby Belmont Park, home of the thrilling Giant Dipper roller coaster, kids can enjoy unlimited free rides and laser tag (1 child per paid adult). They also ride for free (1 child per 2 paid riders) on FlowRider or FlowBarrel.

Paradise Point Resort

The tropical Paradise Point Resort offers kids free bike rentals to cruise the bayside plus free kayak and standup paddleboard rentals.

Bahia Belle Sternwheeler

Bahia Belle on Mission Bay

Kids ride free on the Bahia Belle sternwheeler!

Ahoy! Kids ride for free (1 child per paid adult) on the Bahia Belle sternwheeler cruise at the Bahia Resort Hotel.

Eat!

Kids eat free (with each adult purchase) at the Bahia Resort, Catamaran Resort (The Atoll restaurant) and The Dana on Mission Bay (Blue Pearl restaurant). They also get free breakfast at Hyatt Regency Mission Bay.

At Belmont Park, get your grub on with free kids’ meals (1 kids meal per paid adult meal) at Wavehouse Beach Club, South Mission Draft and North Shore Café.

Gifts!

Upon check in, Hilton San Diego Resort is giving out a free welcome gift to kids who check in. At the hip Tower 23 Hotel, each kids receives free milk and cookies plus a movie rental!

Free Animal Encounters in Mission Bay

Meet a parrot named Cornell at Catamaran Resort!

Meet a parrot named Cornell at Catamaran Resort!

You’ll also want to check out these awesome free animal encounters on Mission Bay!

> Browse even more Kids Free Offers in San Diego

Who knew there was so much to see and do for free?! 🙂

Robert Arends

Mission Valley is Full of Family Fun During October’s Kids Free in San Diego

Kids rule during Kids Free San Diego month!

Kids rule during Kids Free San Diego month!

The Kidvasion has begun! The 3rd annual Kids Free San Diego month kicks off today and continues through Halloween. Kids are sure to get a kick out of being VIPs (or should we say, VIKs – Very Important Kids 😉 ) all month long.

As you and your family are in town exploring the sights or planning a fun-filled fall visit to San Diego, be sure to check out these kids free deals in Mission Valley, conveniently located in the middle of it all just minutes from many major attractions.

Play!

Mission Trails Regional Park

Old Mission Dam - Mission Trails Regional Park

Enjoy the sound of the San Diego river rushing through the Old Mission Dam with a free hike through Mission Trails

Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the nation’s largest urban natural parks, is free for the whole family to explore, bike and hike 42 miles of scenic trails, including paths to the historic Old Mission Dam/San Diego River and to the top of Cowles Mountain, famous for its spectacular 360-degre views. The interactive Visitor Center is cool too, as are free guided nature walks every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 AM.

Mission San Diego de Alcala

Take a trip back in time at Mission San Diego

Take a trip back in time at Mission San Diego

Take a trip back to the time of the Spanish explorers and Franciscan friars who discovered San Diego at Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first mission in California (founded in 1769 and relocated to its present site in 1774). Children under 6 are free to tour the little museum (kids 6 to 12 are only $2). The Mission church and grounds, including a cool excavation site out back, are free for all to explore.

Junipero Serra Museum

Junipero Serra Museum on Presidio Hill

Junipero Serra Museum on Presidio Hill

Kids under 6 are also free at Junipero Serra Museum on Presidio Hill overlooking Mission Valley and Old Town. It was here in 1769 that the Spanish friar Junípero Serra and a group of soldiers built California’s first mission and a fort (called “presidio” in Spanish). The original buildings are gone, but an impressive Spanish-style museum sits on the site today.

Eat!

Lots of restaurants in Mission Valley’s hotels and resorts are rolling out the red carpet for children 12 and under. Kids eat free (with purchase of an adult entrée) at:

Crowne Plaza Hotel in Mission Valley

Kids eat free at the tiki-tastic Crowne Plaza Hotel!

At Doubletree by Hilton-Mission Valley, kids (up to two per room) can choose a free entrée from the children’s menu at the Fountain Café and Windows Lounge. Kids’ breakfasts are free at Ramada Conference Center plus free eats for kids at Sheraton Mission Valley!

Gifts!

Upon check in, Comfort Inn & Suites Hotel Circle is giving out a free welcome gift to each kid who checks in. WAY cool!

> Discover more of San Diego’s Mission Valley

As you can see, there are money-saving deals galore! See you in Mission Valley 🙂

Robert Arends

Affordable Mission Valley – Where to Play and Stay!

View From Cowles Mountain

I’m on a “mission” (pun intended 😉 ) to find the most affordable sights, bites and places to stay in Mission Valley and share them with you for when you visit San Diego.

Find out how to win a stay in San Diego when you finish reading this post!

Mission San Diego de Alcala

Did You Know - Mission San Diego Alcala is one of four missions in San Diego County

Mission San Diego de Alcala in Mission Valley

Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first in a chain of 21 Alta California missions, is our first stop. For only $3 you can visit a small museum brimming with artifacts from the mission’s early years. It’s pretty cool and surreal being able to step back into time to the 1770s – especially with so much modern development in the valley now. Also be sure to check out the quaint chapel, padre’s quarters and stroll through the beautiful gardens, including a cool archeological dig!

Where: 10818 San Diego Mission Rd., San Diego, CA 92108
> Find out more about the Mission San Diego de Alcala

Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission Trails Regional Park

Just down the road is Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the nation’s largest urban natural parks covering over 6,005 acres and featuring 42 miles of scenic trails for hiking, mountain biking, birding and rock climbing. Best of all: it’s Free – everything! – including free guided nature walks every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 AM. Stop by the Visitor Center to get the lay of the land.

View From Cowles Mountain

A fantastic view from the top of Cowles Mountain

My favorite spots are the historic Old Mission Dam on the San Diego River and Cowles Mountain where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular 360 degree views of all of San Diego from its 1,592 foot peak!

The San Diego River

San Diego River flowing through Mission Vallley

San Diego River flowing through Mission Valley

Running through Mission Valley is the picturesque San Diego River. It’s sometimes hard to find through all the condos and shopping centers, but it’s there. Pedestrian/bicycling paths can be found along the Mission Valley Greenway between Texas Street and Hazard Center. There’s also urban kayaking, for the more adventuresome!

Mission Valley Eats

If you’ve worked up an appetite, at Mission Valley Center the popular new Broken Yolk Café is perfect for breakfast or brunch (recommend the eggs benedict and hash browns). Nearby Pho’ Cali serves up some of the tastiest Vietnamese beef noodle soups. And for dinner, local favorite Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza is yummy, as is Oki Ton Japanese Bistro, one of the best sushi bars in town!

Tiki Oasis in the Heart of San Diego

Tiki Oasis art at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Mission Valley

Tiki Oasis art at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Mission Valley

If you’re looking for a place to rest your head at night, look no further than Hotel Circle North and South dotted with numerous affordable motels, hotels and resorts. My personal fav is the tiki oasis known as Crowne Plaza Hotel (formerly the Hanalei).

Back in the day it was much more tiki-fied, but remnants remain and it’s a hoot to spot Polynesian artifacts in the lobby and pool areas. The Crowne Plaza, BTW, is the site of 14th annual Tiki Oasis festival on August 14-17. I’ll be there! 🙂

Getting Around

Tip: To see all of Mission Valley in one fell swoop, catch a ride on the San Diego Trolley’s scenic Green Line which hugs the San Diego River. It only costs $2.50 ($5 for a day pass), with convenient stops at Mission Valley Center and Mission San Diego.

See you in Mission Valley – in the middle of it all!

Mission Possible: Stay and Play in San Diego Sweepstakes

Mission Possible: Stay and Play in San Diego Sweepstakes

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to stay and play in the heart of San Diego.

Enter for the chance to complete this mission with two nights at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, two tickets to a San Diego Padres game, meals at DEN restaurant, and two San Diego Trolley passes.

Just steps from the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley’s central location, the Rio Vista Trolley Station makes it a breeze to visit some of the best of San Diego offerings including Petco Park, Old Town, Gaslamp Quarter and the Embarcadero.

The entry page will self destruct on Monday, 9 June 2014, at 10:00 AM.

> Enter Now

Brent Bernasconi

Calling All Kids – Let the Kidvasion of San Diego Begin!

Get ready for the ultimate family vacation! During the entire month of October, kids eat, stay and play for free throughout San Diego. Take advantage of great deals at over 100 participating partners including Amtrak, world-class attractions, museums, hotels, restaurants, surf companies, tour companies and more.

> Find Over a Hundred Kids Free Offers in San Diego This October

Suzzanne

W San Diego Completes $5 Million Dollar Revamp

W San Diego

The W San Diego hotel, located in Downtown San Diego, has recently completed a $5 million renovation. Changes included updates to its lounges, signature restaurant, rooftop bar and meeting spaces. The hotel’s new restaurant named Kelvin after the temperature metric and serving Latin-influenced items with locally sourced ingredients, is led by Executive Chef Kevin Harry.

Rooftop bars are becoming synonymous with San Diego and the W’s is not to be missed. Its bar with a bonfire theme and now has a “playful sculpture” of stacked beach chairs and five private cabanas. Additionally, the meeting rooms have all been expanded and renovated. The 258-room property located only a few blocks from the Gaslamp opened in 2002 at 421 West B Street and is operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

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?

Suzzanne

An Ultimate San Diego Retreat


Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day! My Random Act of Kindness came a little early when the Kin Spa at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego recently invited me to experience one of their fabulous massages. From the moment I walked through the spa doors I was met with luxurious surroundings and inspiring views of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. After a hectic day, I immediately felt myself unwind, ready take in the bliss I was about to experience.

A new addition to the Manchester Grand Hyatt, Kin Spa offers a full menu of services that include massages, body scrubs, facials, manicures, pedicures, hair care and more. After getting a quick lay of the land, I slipped into a comfy robe and slippers and relaxed in the lounge as I waited for my massage. After enjoying some soothing tea and getting into a tranquil spa spirit, I was brought into one of their eight treatment rooms, each exquisitely designed to provide guests with ultimate in therapeutic relaxation. And relaxed I was! My massage therapist was amazing and worked out every kink I knew I had, and others I didn’t know even know I had. I left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and so grateful for this random act of bliss. Thank you Kin Spa!

Interested in trying out Kin Spa? Comment on our blog and one person will win 60-minute Swedish massage compliments of Kin Spa and the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Remember to bring your bathing suit and arrive early so that you can soak up the sun and take advantage of the complete spa experience, including a lounging pool, steam room, sauna and fitness center.

Winner chosen Tuesday, February 21, 2012 10:00 a.m. pst.

Benjamin Eastman

Beach Nightlife in San Diego

Club Tremors

As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, the beauty of San Diego’s nightlife scene is that there is something for everyone. Whether you’re wearing your best Sean John outfit or would rather party it up in your boardshorts and a t-shirt, San Diego has a place for you to wile the night away. Looking specifically at the more relaxed, beach nightlife of Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach, there are a number of great options.

Pacific Beach

Referred to by locals as PB, Pacific Beach is known as the premier hangout region for the under 25-crowd. PB is full of bars, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, bars….did I mention bars?

Club Tremors

Club Tremors

Probably the most well-known venue in PB is the PB Bar & Grill/Club Tremors. Part bar/restaurant, part nightclub, PB Bar & Grill caters to all aspects of a great nightlife experience – food, drinks and dancing. With an incredibly active weekly lineup, you can go to PBB&G any night of the week for a good time (Monday Karaoke, Taco Tuesday, Thirsty Thursdays, etc.)

JRDN

For those looking for a more upscale option in PB, head over to the Tower 23 Hotel and their JRDN restaurant/bar. Located along the PB boardwalk, JRDN has an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean with a relaxed but upbeat atmosphere.  On a warm, beautiful evening (and let’s be honest, that describes most evenings in San Diego) you’ll find locals and tourists alike lounging on JRDN’s outdoor patio enjoying the restaurant’s upbeat music, fantastic decor (think color changing wall wave-like mosaic) and amazing sunset views.

Mission Beach

More of a residential area, Mission Beach does have a few great spots for those seeking a more relaxed night of entertainment including the notable Belmont Park. The historic wooden roller coaster, easily seen from afar, is Belmont Park’s iconic centerpiece, however the fun carnival-style games and rides are really what make the night a blast (think bumper cars, rides that flip you around/upside down, mirror mazes and big pretzels). Scream your lungs out as you ride the Giant Dipper roller coaster or my personal favorites – the Octotron and Beach Blaster.

Concert at the Wavehouse

After bringing out your inner child at Belmont Park, pop on over to the Wavehouse right next door to find several flowboarding areas – including Bruticus Maximus, which produces 10-foot waves via 100,000 gallons of water being pumped into the ride per minute. Try your hand out at flowboarding or just watch some of the local pros flip, twist and amaze the audience. With an awesome music scene, firepits, hammocks, picnic tables and awesome views of the Mission Beach boardwalk and the Pacific Ocean, Wavehouse has a great casual vibe, especially enjoyable during the summer months.

Ocean Beach

Referred to by locals as OB, Ocean Beach is known for its hippy culture. OB prides itself on not taking itself too seriously and the nightlife definitely maintains a cool, relaxed state at a handful of dive bars, restaurants and hole-in-the-wall music venues.

Winston's OB

Winston's OB

Personal favorites for a night of fun dining are OB Noodle House, Bo-beau Kitchen + Bar (great french fusion cuisine), the fish tacos at South Beach (which is just steps from the beach) and the beer lover’s favorite, Pizza Port. For those craving some tunes, head over to Winston’s – a dive bar/club featuring live music, DJs or comedy just about every night of the week.

Suzzanne

A Little Pampering to Get You Through the Holidays

Kin Spa at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego

I love San Diego during the holidays. There is so much to do! From ice skating by the sea at the Hotel Del to seeing the Parade of Lights on San Diego Bay, it’s not hard to be in the holiday spirit here. But let’s face it…it can also be stressful. From trying to find the perfect holiday gift, the parties and oh yea work, a little pampering along the way can really get you through it. Lucky for us, many of San Diego’s finest spas have thought of this and are offering some amazing holiday spa packages.

Kin Spa at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego: From now until December 31, be sure to stop by for a few of their holiday themed treatments. From a Candy Cane manicure and pedicure to a Cinnamon Spice Complement, spa goers are sure to leave feeling refreshed and ready to brave the crowds. I recently had the pleasure of experiencing the Merry Mint Massage. During this full body massage, the fresh scent of peppermint not only got me in the holiday mood, but was also so relaxing. The spa offers full body massages that refresh and relax, facials using only the highest quality natural ingredients, manicures and pedicures, hair styling, rejuvenation treatments that transform your skin and much more.

Spa Aquazul at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Spa Aquazul at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront: Spa Aquazul is featuring its 12 Days of Bliss from now until December 23rd. Special treatments are $50 with a toy donation for Toys for Tots. From a Gentle Touch Massage to an Organic Passion Facial, spa goers are sure to find something to leave them feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. By emphasizing the healing properties of the sea in all of their spa treatments and products, Spa Aquazul has created the perfect sanctuary to revitalize mind and body.