Robert Arends

Escape to the Tropics of San Diego’s Mission Bay

Mission Bay Aquatic Park, a tropical escape!

Tropical Mission Bay Aquatic Park

You don’t have to fly hours to the South Pacific to feel warm ocean breezes, see swaying palm trees and wiggle your toes in soft white sand beaches while enjoying spectacular crimson sunsets.

Mission Bay, a 4,600-acre aquatic playground just north of downtown San Diego, features all that and much more: SeaWorld San Diego (celebrating its 50th anniversary), beachside resorts and restaurants, boating and recreational facilities…even luaus!

Mission Bay was first discovered in 1542 by explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who named it “False Bay” because of its shallow lagoons and saltwater marshes. Dredging in the late 1940s through the ’60s created what we see today: the largest man-made aquatic park in the United States!

An early historian envisioned Mission Bay would become the Venice of America. Well, it didn’t quite become a gondolier’s dream, but rather a tropical retreat better suited to its sparkling location on the Pacific.

[Tweet “Experience a little slice of vacation paradise in #SanDiego at these scenic spots on #MissionBay:”]

To experience a little slice of vacation paradise, look no further than these scenic spots on Mission Bay:

Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Paradise Point Resort, a tropical oasis on Mission Bay!

Paradise Point Resort, a tropical oasis on Mission Bay!

The name says it all! For over half a century this oasis on a private peninsula has lured travelers looking for a dreamy island escape.

> Find out more about the Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa

Fun summer luau at Catamaran Resort, Mission Bay

Fun summer luau at Catamaran Resort, Mission Bay

The Catamaran Resort is as Hawaiian as it gets, with lava-like fountains, tropical landscaping, live parrots and entertaining summer luaus!

> Find out more about the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa

Bahia Resort Hotel

Bahia Resort Hotel

Live like your own your own island at the Bahia Resort Hotel

The Brazilian-themed Bahia Resort, located on a secluded 14-acre peninsula, surrounds guests with island-inspired beauty from exotic palms and a rainbow of colorful flowers to splashing streams.

> Find out more about the Bahia Resort Hotel

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

Poolside at the tropical Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

Poolside at the tropical Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

The luxe and lovely Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa is a romantic paradise of lush, tropical surroundings.

> Find out more about the Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

The Dana on Mission Bay

Cool tiki at The Dana on Mission Bay!

Cool tiki at The Dana on Mission Bay!

The Dana on Mission Bay is also pretty as a postcard with its 10 tropically landscaped acres – tikis and all! (for tiki fans, check out my list of fun San Diego tiki finds)

> Find out more about The Dana on Mission Bay

> Discover even more Tropical Fun in Mission Bay

Bring your leis and grass skirts and ease into the island vibe you’ll find on Mission Bay! 🙂

Robert Arends

5 Things I Love about Coronado

Coronado Beach - OrangeandPark.com

Beautiful Coronado Sunset. Photo courtesy of OrangeandPark.com

Oh Coronado, the “Enchanted Isle,” how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

OK, that’s a little sappy, but I can’t help it. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and love is in the air. What better time to talk about five things I really love about the Emerald City.

1. The Restaurants

Fabulous views of San Diego Bay from Mistral

Fabulous views of San Diego Bay from Mistral

I love that Coronado was made for romantic dining, with fabu restaurants from the Pacific to San Diego Bay beckoning couples to gaze into each other’s eyes over a delectable candlelit dinner. Two of my personal favs: Chez Loma, an intimate, authentic French bistro, and Mistral at Loews Coronado Bay Resort with views as phenomenal as the cuisine.

2. The Journey Around Coronado Island

Tweet! Aviary at Coronado Island Marriott Resort

Tweet! Aviary at Coronado Island Marriott Resort

I love the joy in the journey to and around the island. The views by car from the graceful blue arch of the iconic San Diego-Coronado Bridge are second to none! You can see as far as Mexico and the ‘lil Islas Coronadas (crowned islands) off the coast. Better yet, take a fun ferry ride over from downtown San Diego! Then explore the island by beach cruiser (there are bike rental shops throughout the island), Segway of Coronado or Pedego electric bike.

3. Playing in the Water

Kayak Under the Coronado Bridge

Coronado Kayak Tour adventure!

I love all the ways to play in the ocean and bay. There’s stand-up paddleboarding with SUP Coronado, surfing with Coronado Surfing Academy, the new Coronado Kayak Tour, The Gondola Company’s authentic Venetian gondola rides and San Diego Seaplanes, launching from the bay by the Coronado Ferry Landing!

4. The Island’s Secrets

The "Baby Del" (144 Isabella Ave.)

The “Baby Del” (144 Isabella Ave.)

I love the “secret” sights around the island, from sand dunes on the beach that spell C-O-R-O-N-A-D-O and the flock of flamingos and aviary at Coronado Island Marriot Resort, to Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum’s cottage on Star Park Circle, the ghost of Kate Morgan’s room at the Hotel del Coronado and the “Baby Del” on Isabella Ave.

5. The Sunsets

sunset2

I love the stunning sunsets. I took the photo above just last weekend. No matter how many times I see the sun set in glorious hues of yellow, orange and red over the beach, it’s never ceases to leave me in awe.

Coronado, what’s not to love! 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

Brent Bernasconi

Exploring the Fun at Loews Coronado Resort

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Since Loews Coronado Bay Resort is giving away 20 room nights as part of their 20th anniversary, our Coronado expert Robert gave us his ideas of what he would do if he won the sweepstakes. He also had a chance to drive over the iconic Coronado Bridge to the Crown City and take a peek at some of the great activities including stand-up paddle boarding, beach and kayak tours along the Silver Strand State Beach and gondola cruises that take off from the Loews Marina.

Make sure to enter the “20 Days, Your Way” sweepstakes for a chance to win 20 room nights at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort and you too can enjoy all of these exciting and relaxing activities! Enter now…

Brent Bernasconi

A Restaurant With A View Even An Apollo Astronaut Loves

Just beyond this door is good food with a view...

A friend recently asked me for a recommendation of a great place to dine in San Diego to impress a VIP coming into town. The VIP happened to be Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden, who was in town to sign his autobiography, Falling to Earth, at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. Since I helped edit the book (shameless plug), I was invited to join them.

View of downtown from our table. This picture does not do the view justice.

I knew Al was used to great views (you know, seeing the moon up close and the earth from  about 238,857 miles away) so I suggested C-Level Lounge which has a spectacular view of downtown from Harbor Island. The picture above does not do it any justice but Al loved the skyline along with watching the sailing yachts glide by.

A delicious Buffalo Chicken Salad

C-Level offers a more casual and relaxed dining experience but still has the same high-end quality of food as the attached fine-dining and dinner-only Island Prime Metro Steaks & Seafood. I personally enjoyed a wonderful salad with buffalo chicken (I am a sucker for things claiming to be spicy) and a cold draft beer.

Fish aficionados will enjoy the comprehensive menu of fresh catches of the day including cedar plank roasted salmon with black linguini, cucumber salsa, dill moleta and guallijo-anchovy cream or the fresh caught macadamia crusted grouper with pineapple salsa, lemon-sea salt sea beans and lime-ginger beurre blanc.

Land lubbers can enjoy free range chicken with fingerling potatoes, braised wild greens, lavender butter and banyuls-demi reduction or a mouth-watering 8 or 12 oz cut of filet mignon (which I spoiled myself with last time at C-Level).

Astronaut Al Worden enjoying the view...

So whether you are in the mood for some casual relaxed dining or out on a date, the food and the view of C-Level will always make it a great dining experience.

What is your favorite restaurant in San Diego with a view?

Guest Blogger

Over the Line – A True San Diego Sport

Sand, Sun and OTL...a perfect San Diego Combination

“We Never Have Any Fun” is a phrase often linked with OMBAC (Old Mission Beach Athletic Club). However, if you have ever attended the Over the Line tournament, you would know different. The annual Over the Line tournament, held every year on San Diego’s Fiesta Island in Mission Bay, takes place over two weekends following the 4th of July holiday. Unlike other sporting events that take place across the nation, Over the Line (OTL) is a strictly San Diego creation. Compared to other team related sports, OTL radiates the beach atmosphere and attitude by only requiring two three-person teams and a small playing field. It’s the perfect game for a lazy Saturday afternoon on the beach with friends. Based on the game of baseball, the goal is to hit the ball “over the line” to score a hit. The game is quick, only three or four innings long.

Heidi Trent Burnett, Chrisy Schultz, Sara Trent- Charlie Sheen's Sister Wives

I had the opportunity to play on a team this year during the first Saturday of the tournament on July 9th. To be eliminated a team must lose two games. Needless to say, my team lost both of our assigned games but that did not stop us from enjoying the rest of the tournament. Unlike any other sporting event that I have participated in, OTL is one of comradely and good sportsmanship. There is an element of good will and fun that permeates the whole weekend. This may be due to less than serious team names that are encouraged if not required. My team name was “Charlie Sheen’s Sister Wives.” Other names are less than appropriate for this blog. The team names are by far one of the most entertaining aspects of OTL. Every year my friends and I listen and write down the best of the team names to reminisce about later. They range from clever to hilariously inappropriate. Amazingly, the announcer says every name over the loud-speaker without laughing or skipping a beat.

Swinging for the Fences...or just the line!

If you have never experienced OTL, it is a San Diego must. This San Diego institution has taken place since 1953 and has grown every year. Even the beach booze ban was not able to stop it. OTL is one of the few events in San Diego where drinking is allowed on the beach. Unlike other events where alcohol and crowds are often a bad combination, OMBAC maintains a low tolerance for violence. They work closely with the San Diego Police Department to ensure nothing gets out of hand. In the four years that I have attended OTL, I have never seen any violent behavior. The true attitude of San Diego beach communities is represented in the OTL tournament – fun, sun and beer.

The finals of the OTL tournament are taking place this weekend, July 16th and 17th. I encourage anyone who has never experienced it before to come check it out. You will not regret it. Remember, observe the five B’s rule: No Babies, No Bottles, No Bowsers, No Bikes, No Boas. Enjoy!

For additional information, visit OMBAC homepage www.ombac.org

Heidi Trent Burnett is a San Diego native and just completed a Master of Arts in History from the University of San Diego. Her master’s thesis is titled “San Diego’s Wilderness: The Changing Landscape of Cleveland National Forest.” Currently, Heidi is working for Bridgepoint Education when she is not practicing for next year’s OTL Tournament.