5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

1. Balboa Park December Nights: This annual celebration on December 2nd and 3rd is the largest free community festival in San Diego, featuring foods and crafts from around the world, music and events at Balboa Park’s divers museums.

2. La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival: On December 4, marching bands, floats, equestrians, vintage automobiles and more parade down the streets of La Jolla. The parade ends with a holiday festival featuring craft booths, carnival rides, food, entertainment and a tree lighting ceremony.

3. 36th Annual Coronado Christmas Open House & Parade: Get in the holiday spirit on December 2nd as Santa Claus will be arriving by ferry across the San Diego Bay and a Snow Mountain play area will be at the Coronado Ferry Landing. Afterwards, a colorful holiday parade and Merchants Open House takes place along Orange Avenue, followed by the traditional tree lighting of a 50-foot Christams tree and free community concert in Rotary Park.

4. Canine Cocktails: Head to the Hotel Indigo with your four-legged best friend for Canine Cocktails. Canine Cocktails happens monthly, on their Level 9 Rooftop Bar and offer Happy Hour drink specials and complimentary treats for your dog!

5. Amtrak 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train: On December 2nd and 3rd, come and experience Amtrak’s new exhibit train, which is traveling throughout the USA. The special train depicts Amtrak’s 40 year history, celebrating the past, present and future of Amtrak. Bring the kids to visit the special “Chugginton’s Depot” play area for story reading, coloring, hands on play with toy train sets and Chugginton episodes on continuous loop for viewing.


It’s National Dessert Day – Celebrate with Sprinkles Cupcakes and The US Grant

Today is National Dessert Day (not that I need a day to celebrate it!) and coincidently, the iconic US Grant and the world’s most famed cupcake bakery, Sprinkles Cupcakes are teaming up to provide a “Sweet Indulgence” package. This limited time package is in honor of the US Grant’s 101st birthday in October. This is the first time the cupcakery has partnered with a hotel and what better time than for something as impressive as turning the big 1-0-1!

Offered now through October 31, 2011, the US Grant’s Sprinkles “Sweet Indulgence” package includes:

  • Luxurious room accommodations at the US Grant
  • Two freshly baked Sprinkles Cupcakes in your room during your stay
  • A Sprinkles Cupcake Mix Kit to take home to relive your festive memories

Reserve your experience online up to three days prior to arrival, by phone at 866-716-8136 or through your preferred travel professional. Please mention rate plan 101BDAY. From $199.


Staying Green at Port of San Diego Hotels

The Port of San Diego recently launched its first ever Green Business Challenge. The program, launched through the Green Port Program, aims to increase the energy efficiency of businesses around the Bay and reduce environmental impacts. The ultimate goal of the Green Port Program is to achieve long-term environmental, societal and economic benefits through resource conservation, waste reduction and pollution prevention.

So far, nearly 60 businesses are participating including the USS Midway Museum, San Diego International Airport and General Dynamics NASSCO. Additionally, the hotels on the Port’s property are already making great strides in their efforts to reduce waste.

Highlights of their accomplishments include:

San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina
San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina: recently installed energy-efficient lighting in its front drive, lobby, pool area, guest rooms, and meeting space. In all, the project has saved the hotel 130,000 kWh per year.

Hilton San Diego Airport

Hilton San Diego Aiport:Retrofitted all exit signs to LED lights and vending misers for vending machines. Recycled paper is used for toilet paper as well as copy paper.

Hilton San Diego Bayfront

Hilton San Diego Bayfront: They recycle both commingled commodities recycling and food waste in conjunction with the City of San Diego with an overall diversion goal of 75%.

Manchester Grand Hyatt

Manchester Grand Hyatt:The Hyatt installed low flow faucets as well as utilizes solar heat for their pools and are in the process of purchasing a composting unit to compost on their property.

Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina

Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina:The hotel utilizes fuel cell energy and composts food waste on the property. Additionally, the Sheraton recently finished a lighting audit and completed a retro-commissioning of the HVAC system.

Be sure to check out the Port’s Green Business Challenge website for more information on all businesses participating.


I Scream, You Scream…It’s Ice Cream Month!

I personally celebrate ice cream year round, however someone somewhere decided July should be National Ice Cream month. Therefore, in honor of that yummy dairy confection we give you our top three choices to celebrate Ice Cream.

MooTime Creamery

1. Mootime Creamery: With two locations in Coronado, this is a must stop for ice cream lovers when visiting the Island. All of their ice cream is handcrafted from scratch and feature flavors such as Double Dark Chocolate, Silly Vanilly, and Cappuccino.

Se San Diego

2. Se San Diego: In honor of Ice Cream Month, Se San Diego launched a new Ice Cream Mixology program at Siren, the hotel’s rooftop pool bar and lounge. Se’s own Ice Cream Mixologist will create an assortment of flavors each week, or visitors can create their own. These “adults only” concoctions currently include Root “Beer” Float, Bourbon Maple Bacon, Rum Raisin and Bananas Foster.

Lighthouse Ice Cream & Yogurt

3. Lighthouse Ice Cream & Yogurt: located in Ocean Beach, this is your classic beach ice cream shop. They feature the most amazing Hot Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich. First, you choose your flavor of ice cream and then, they sandwich it between two Belgium waffles and put it in an iron at 380 degrees for 17 seconds. These are seriously habit forming!

Where is your favorite spot to get ice cream in San Diego?

Robert Arends

Neighborhood Spotlight: Coronado

Discover San Diego’s Neighborhoods with our Summer Sweepstakes. Join us every week as we showcase the best in what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in some of San Diego’s unique neighborhoods. Be sure to check back for exciting insider tips, giveaways, and more! This week’s spotlight is on Coronado.

photo credit:

Coronado is a gorgeous island getaway where worries seem to melt away once guests cross over the iconic blue span of the San Diego Coronado Bridge. Situated between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, the “Crown City” is a paradise of relaxation and recreation that boasts a unique combination of small-town charm and sophisticated luxury. Let’s explore this enchanted isle! Continue reading


Escape to San Diego Sweepstakes: Perfect 5 Day Itinerary Part 4

Have you entered our Escape to San Diego Sweepstakes? Hurry and enter by Friday, May 13th, and you could win a five night stay at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel and roundtrip airfare for two! How would you like to spend those five beautiful days in San Diego? Let me count the ways…

1. La Jolla: While La Jolla’s majestic coastline is more than enough reason to visit, it also boasts a vibrant arts community, centered on the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. The building’s exterior installation of suspended rowboats is just the beginning inside you’ll find an internationally recognized collection and superb rotation of exhibitions. Afterwards, a stroll through La Jolla’s downtown offers up many smaller galleries and art dealers well worth the stop.

2. Downtown: San Diego’s downtown area is full of theaters dedicated to performing arts, from local bands at the neighborhood pub to the grand, 2,967 capacity San Diego Civic Theatre. One worth checking out is Lyceum Theatre. Its smaller stage offers a more intimate setting for progressive and thought provoking work by the San Diego Reparatory Theatre while the larger theater showcases many modern and compelling pieces by the San Diego Ballet.

3. Old town: Get in touch with San Diego’s past in Old Town State Historic Park. Enjoy the views from the Presidio, and then make your way down through the many different original and reconstructed buildings, including the newly restored Cosmopolitan Hotel, haunted Whaley House, Little Adobe Chapel, and a row of San Diego’s most notable Victorian homes in Heritage Park.

Balboa Park

4. Balboa Park: Pack a picnic and enjoy the gardens of Balboa Park. The Botanical Building and its adjacent Lily Pond is one of the most photographed scenes in the park, and at first glance you’ll know why. The intricate, Victorian lath structure is the largest in the world and filled to the brim with beautiful botanicals. Stay and bask on the lawn, or check out the other gardens in the park, including a Japanese Friendship Garden, Palm Canyon, Rose Garden, Desert Garden and Marston House Garden.

5. USS Midway Museum: That goliath aircraft carrier you see in the harbor? That’s the USS Midway, and you are welcome to come aboard! Explore this floating “city at sea” with its 60 exhibits and 25 restored aircraft as well as 50 years of history on the longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Haven’t had enough? Then continue along to the Maritime Museum, where the world’s oldest active sailing ship, Star of India, docks.


Escape to San Diego Sweepstakes: Perfect 5 Day Itinerary Part 3

In our Escape to San Diego Sweepstakes, we are giving away round trip airfare for two and a five night stay at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel. You can enter here! How would you spend it if you brought the kids? Well, I must say, this might be the easiest blog I’ve ever written. Of course I have help, my two kids ages 8 and 10. They are the true ambassadors to San Diego and are experts on all things San Diego kid friendly. In fact, all five of these were handpicked by them. The hardest part was limiting them to five!

SeaWorld's Journey to Atlantis

1. One of the first things our out-of-town friends say when they come to visit is, “we want to go to SeaWorld.” And who wouldn’t? With live shows, animal encounters and fun rides, it’s a day well spent. Our favorite, Journey to Atlantis.

Crusin' Coronado Island

2. While staying at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel, take one of the water ferries over to Coronado Island and rent bikes. The island is almost entirely flat and it’s a great way to see the island. We love riding around and then stopping at one of the great restaurants along Orange Avenue.

Corvette Diner (and yes those are straws in my hair!)

3. Looking for somewhere to take the kids for dinner? Head over to Corvette Diner located in the historic Liberty Station. Hands down, their favorite spot to eat. With a 50’s theme, yummy shakes and a huge game room, everyone will leave happy.

Another cool thing at Legoland that my son can stick his head into

4. My son’s favorite place is Legoland. We’ve been there so many times, I’ve lost count. If you have kids under 12, I highly recommend it. Insider Tip: Bring along a Lego minifigurine and if you see any Legoland worker wearing one on their badge, ask to trade them. It’s a fun way to interact with the staff and get some fun and funky new figurines.

Plane at the USS Midway Museum

5. The USS Midway Museum is one of my favorite places to bring my kids and any visitors. From grandparents down to 5 year olds, I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t had a great time there. Touring the retired aircraft carrier is so fascinating and I learn something new every time. Be prepared to walk up and down a lot of very narrow stairs and take time to visit “The Island.”

Remember to enter our Escape to San Diego Sweepstakes!

What San Diego family activity do you think is missing?


Escape to San Diego Sweepstakes: Perfect 5 Day Itinerary Part 2

Our Escape to San Diego Sweepstakes is in full swing. We are giving away a 5 night stay at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel and round-trip airfare for two! Contest ends May 13, 2011, so be sure to enter today. How would you spend your five days in San Diego? Last week I highlighted our amazing beaches and outdoors. Sure we have an average year-round temperature of 70 degrees and over 70 miles of beaches, but there is so much more to explore. Today I’m highlighting the perfect Urban Escape.

The Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel is the perfect setting for your Urban Escape. Located downtown, with a new pedestrian bridge connecting you to the Gaslamp Quarter, the hotel is an urban oasis with a spectacular waterfront setting.

Little Italy

1. One of my favorite areas of downtown is Little Italy. Once home to San Diego’s flourishing tuna fishing industry and generations of Italian families who made their living on the sea, Little Italy is a quaint and lively neighborhood filled with patio cafes, restaurants, pubs, art galleries, shops, hotels, and the beautiful Amici Park.

Urban Solace

2. One evening, head to the neighborhood of North Park for a night of bar-hopping. North Park’s nightlife comes alive at the intersection of University and 30th Street. My go to spot in North Park is usually Urban Solace. The menu features a unique combination of American dishes, both classic and cutting edge, and an intriguing wine and crafted beer and cocktail list.

Gaslamp Quarter

3. Learn how the now trendy Gaslamp Quarter once flourished as a red-light district on the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation’s walking tour. You can either do a self-guided walking tour or join one of the guides as they take you back to the 1800’s and discover the haunts of famous former resident, Wyatt Earp.


4. If you love live music, then Anthology should be on your hit list. Located in Little Italy, Anthology embraces the spirit of classic supper clubs from the 1940’s with a decidedly modern spin. Anthology draws renowned local and international musicians of jazz, classic rock, blues, Latin and more.

GoCars Tour

5. One of the most unique ways of seeing downtown is with GoCars. These cool yellow GPS guided scooters deliver an informative tour, pointing out places of interest along the way. I recently tried the downtown tour that takes you through Gaslamp Quarter and Balboa Park. We learned a lot and are blast to drive!

Enter here to win!


Escape To San Diego Sweepstakes: Perfect 5 Day Itinerary

Do you love visiting San Diego? Really love it? Then enter to win our sweepstakes and you could win a 5 night stay at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel and airfare for two! And as the big winner, you’ll have five whole days to enjoy all that San Diego has to offer. Never been to San Diego or interested in trying something new? Here’s how I would spend my five days highlighting the outdoors and our amazing beaches.

Waking up each morning at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel will provide inspiration as you plan your day. The hotel, located on the waterfront, features sun and sea inspired design and a casually sophisticated design.

Torrey Pines State Reserve

Day 1: Explore trails while overlooking the ocean
Hike Torrey Pines State Reserve or take a guided tour. Among the eight miles of trails, guests can encounter native chaparral plants, wildflowers, birds, reptiles and butterflies. My favorite trail is the beach trail. During low tide, you can take the stairs down to the ocean and walk between the ocean and cliffs.

Sail on the Bay

Day 2: Set sail on the San Diego Bay
Strap on your sea legs and rent a sailboat in Coronado from Seaforth Rentals. Choose from over 200 rental boats, including boats for sailing, cruising, skiing and fishing, jetskis, speedboats, fishing charters, sunset sails.

Mission Beach

Day 3: Cruise the boardwalk in Pacific and Mission Beach
The favorite hangouts of active young sun-worshipers, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are connected by a three-mile boardwalk crowded with inline skaters, skateboarders, runners and bikers – and beachgoers just wanting “to be seen.” End your stroll by walking to the end of the Crystal Pier for a beautiful coastline view.

Sunset Kayak Cruise

Day 4: Take a sunset kayaking trip and witness the sun dip into the Pacific
Try Hike Bike Kayak’s popular Sunset Paddle Tour, where you’ll kayak along the La Jolla sea caves and ecological reserve during a beautiful sunset on the Pacific Ocean. Expert naturalist guides provide insights and fun facts about the amazing environment.

Ocean Beach

Day 5: Hang out in Ocean Beach – doggies included!
Ocean Beach is one of San Diego’s prime surf spots. The neighborhood is also popular for its kid-friendly tide pools, long wooden pier that is perfect for fishing and Dog Beach, where even the tail-wagging members of the family can play Frisbee and romp in the surf.

Enter to Win a 5-night hotel stay and two round trip airfare tickets here!


Spring Hotel Deals in San Diego

With the arrival of spring, San Diego hotels are offering money-saving packages to celebrate this colorful season. From picturesque Mission Bay to dynamic downtown to charming Coronado, travelers can find incredible deals for family friendly spring breaks or adults-only getaways.

Fun for the Whole Family

The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina is offering a Spring Break Package including spacious waterfront accommodations, a $25 spa credit, tasty s’mores kit and 20 percent off four tickets to the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park, SeaWorld San Diego or LEGOLAND California. The Spring Break Package is available through April 30, 2011, and some blackout dates may apply. Rates start at $269 per night. For reservations, call 619-224-1234 or visit

The landmark Hotel del Coronado in charming Coronado is offering the School’s Out Package that includes accommodations with the option of receiving 50 percent off a second room, if needed, and one daytime activity for each night booked. The School’s Out Package is available April 15 – June 30, 2011, and some blackout dates may apply. Rates start at $279 per night. For reservations, call 800-HOTEL-DEL or visit

The waterfront Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island is offering a Come Take a Break Package that includes accommodations with a private balcony and San Diego Bay marina or downtown views; a choice of four San Diego Trolley Tour passes or four tickets to the San Diego Zoo; a free in-room movie nightly; two-hour bicycle rentals for two adults and two children (helmets included) and free meals for kids ages 12 and under with the purchase of adult meals. The Come Take a Break Package is available now through December 31, 2011 depending on availability, and some blackout dates may apply. Rates start at $199 per night. For reservations, call 877-734-2726 and ask for the Come Take a Break Package or visit

Adults at Play

In honor of the hotel’s 100th anniversary, THE US GRANT – A Luxury Collection Hotel in downtown San Diego is offering a Cheek-to-Cheek Package that includes accommodations in a Legacy Suite, a one-hour private dance lesson with Mary Murphy (“So You Think You Can Dance”) at her Champion Ballroom Academy and transportation to and from the dance studio. The Cheek-to-Cheek Package is available now through April 30, 2011, Thursday through Sunday, and some blackout dates may apply. Rates start at $355 per night. For reservations, call 866-716-8136 and mention CHEEKPKG or visit

Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego’s picturesque inland region is offering a Hidden Vineyard Package that includes one night of accommodations, wine tasting at three local wineries, limousine transportation for the wine tasting and a picnic basket lunch. The Hidden Vineyard Package is available now through June 1, 2011, excluding Mondays, and some blackout dates may apply. Rates start at $289 per night. For reservations, call 877-517-9340 or visit

The luxurious Grand Del Mar Resort in Del Mar is offering the Grand Life Package that includes opulent accommodations and a $100 resort credit to use at The Spa, The Grand Golf Club, resort shops or on-property dining venues, including Addison, San Diego’s only five-star restaurant. The Grand Life Package is available now through December 30, 2011, and some blackout dates may apply. Rates start at $333 per night, and a three-night minimum stay is required. For reservation call 888-314-2030 or visit