Robert Arends

San Diego’s Maritime History Comes Alive this Weekend at the Cabrillo Festival

Cabrillo National Monument - the Plymouth Rock of the West

Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma – the Plymouth Rock of the West

In 1542, Cabrillo sailed the ocean blue and not only discovered San Diego Bay for Spain, but California and the U.S. West Coast as well. Yep, that’s right…San Diego is the Plymouth Rock of the West!

Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into the harbor on September 28 – almost exactly 472 years ago! – aboard the San Salvador, a magnificent Spanish galleon ship. He landed on Point Loma, home of Cabrillo National Monument (San Diego’s only national park, BTW).

Cabrillo Festival

Historic reenactment of Cabrillo landing on the shores of San Diego Bay

Historic reenactment of Cabrillo’s landing on Point Loma, San Diego Bay

This Sunday, September 28, 2014, the big 51st annual Cabrillo Festival at Ballast Point on Naval Base Point Loma (located on the south end of Rosecrans Street) celebrates Europe’s first steps onto our shores. Admission is Free! There will be music, dancing, children’s activities and authentic foods of Native Americans, Mexico, Portugal and Spain (yum!). There will also be Native American Kumeyaay basket making, knot tying and a 16th century Spanish soldiers living history encampment.

Folkloric dancers at the Cabrillo Festival

Folkloric dancers bring history alive

The photo-worthy festival highlight is the re-enactment of Cabrillo’s landing on the shores of San Diego Bay. The captain, his soldiers and a priest will sail into the bay on The Californian (a stand-in for the San Salvador) and once again claim the land for Spain (don’t worry, Spain will quickly give San Diego back to us 😉

The re-enactment begins at 1:00 PM, but arrive a little early to get the best views.

Cabrillo National Monument

Impressive statue of Cabrillo at Cabrillo National Monument

Impressive statue of Cabrillo at Cabrillo National Monument

Just up the street, stop by Cabrillo National Monument to check out a commanding statue of Cabrillo on the cliffs of Point Loma overlooking San Diego, a cool video dramatization about his discovery and birds eye views of the bustling harbor, downtown skyline and the U.S. Navy in action on Coronado Island.

San Salvador Village

Replica of Cabrillo's flagship, the San Salvador

Replica of the San Salvador. Photo courtesy of Jerry Soto

I also recommend visiting the build site of a full-size, historically accurate replica of Cabrillo’s flagship San Salvador at San Salvador Village at Spanish Landing (near Harbor Island). The ship is incredibly cool, like how I imagined the Mayflower looked! It’ll be completed in the next few months – with her maiden voyage scheduled for January 2015 – and will become part of the permanent fleet of the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

San Salvador Village is open daily, featuring costumed docents, shipbuilding demonstrations, sail making and Native American Kumeyaay demos such as tulle boats, baskets and pottery making. This is as historically real as it gets! 😉

See you on the “Big Bay”!

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.

Robert Arends

Big Bay Boom – Star-Spangled 4th of July Fun on San Diego Bay!

San Diego's Big Bay Boom 4th of July Celebration
San Diego's Big Bay Boom 4th of July Celebration

Celebrate the birth of our nation with fireworks in San Diego including the Big Bay Boom 4th of July Extravaganza.

When it comes to 4th of July celebrations, three words that say it all: “Big Bay Boom” the biggest most spectacular fireworks show in San Diego!

This star-spangled extravaganza, impeccably choreographed to music (105.7 FM), takes place on San Diego Bay – “The Big Bay” – launching from barges strategically placed off Shelter Island, Harbor Island and the Embarcadero North and South.

Where to Watch Big Bay Boom

More than 850,000(!) people are expected to ring the bay throughout the day to claim a prime viewing spot. The best viewing is at the north Embarcadero (scope out the beautiful new Waterfront Park), Seaport Village, Embarcadero Marina Park North and South, Coronado Ferry Landing, Shelter Island and Harbor Island.

Waterfront Park - prime new spot to watch the Big Bay Boom (photo credit: County of San Diego)

Waterfront Park – prime new spot to watch the Big Bay Boom (photo credit: County of San Diego)

The Port of San Diego is offering a FREE shuttle service to/from Shelter and Harbor Islands starting at 6 PM, going until 11 PM. Shuttles depart from the Port’s Administration Building parking lot (3165 Pacific Highway) and near the West Marine parking lot (3717 Rosecrans St.).

What to Do on the Bay Before the Fireworks

Big Bay Boom begins at 9:00 PM and lasts about 17 minutes. Since you’ve got all day to play beforehand, check out the plethora of attractions and activities on the bay, including:

Make a Splash

Take a ride on an authentic U.S. Navy Swift Boat!

Take a ride on an authentic U.S. Navy Swift Boat!

Ahoy! Maritime Merriment

Fun for all ages on the USS Midway!

Fun for all ages on the USS Midway!

  • Cabrillo National Monument, the Plymouth Rock of the West where explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay in 1542; kids will love the tidepools!
  • Spanish Landing Village where you can view a life-size replica of Cabrillo’s flagship San Salvador taking shape (it’ll be set to sail this September)
  • Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship (Arrr! 😉 )
  • USS Midway aircraft carrier, where San Diego’s rich Navy history comes to life on the world’s most visited ship museum!

Animal Attractions

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

Fine Dines and Shop-Portunities

Have fun on San Diego Bay and see you at the Big Bay Boom! 🙂

> Browse the Comprehensive list of 4th of July Fireworks and Celebrations in San Diego

P.S. Just for fun, check out 2012’s Big Bay Boom which went off accidentally in one big 15-second boom seen around the world.

Robert Arends

5 to Try for Big Fun on San Diego’s Big Bay!

San Diego's Big Bay
San Diego's Big Bay

Pick your adventure on San Diego’s Big Bay

Spring is here and there’s no better time to make a splash on San Diego Bay – also called the “Big Bay” –  with its treasure trove of attractions, tours, events and cool points of interest.

Following are my top 5 to Try:

1. The Port of San Diego’s Annual Day at the Docks

Kids fishing at the docks

Spend a day with the kids fishing.

The Port of San Diego’s Day at the Docks celebration in April is the West Coast’s largest public sportfishing celebration – and the official start of Southern California’s popular spring saltwater fishing season. Festivities at American’s Cup Harbor include over 200 maritime exhibits, live entertainment, a casting competition, captains’ dunk tank, free fishing and kids art areas. It’s fun and free!

2. The San Salvador

Rendering of how the San Salvador ship will look when completed.

Rendering of how the San Salvador ship will look when completed.

Did you know: in 1542 European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed aboard his ship, the San Salvador, and reached “a very good enclosed port” naming it “San Miguel.” Today we call it San Diego Bay and visitors can step back in time to check out the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s building of a full-sized, fully functional, historically accurate replica of Cabrillo’s flagship, the San Salvador. The framing is nearly complete and it’s easy to imagine the ship that she will become. Ahoy!

3. The Living Coast Discovery Center

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

The South Bay city of Chula Vista is home to one of my favorite attractions for up-close animal encounters: the Living Coast Discovery Center. You can see endangered green sea turtles (tip: go during feeding time!), leopard sharks, friendly stingrays (minus the stingers so you can pet them!) and magnificent birds like falcons and burrowing owls. The observation tower and hiking trails afford picturesque views of the surrounding wetlands and bay.

4. Seeing the Big Bay…While on the Big Bay

Flagship Patriot Jet Boat Tour

Speed across San Diego’s Big Bay aboard a jet powered boat like Flagship’s Patriot

Water activities abound on the bay, from the affordable Coronado Ferry ride, to narrated harbor tours (on Flagship and Hornblower), SEAL Tours, whale watching excursions, kayak tours (including San Diego’s only urban kayak adventure), Jetpack America rides (you too can fly like a superhero!) and two new thrilling, turbo-charged boat rides (the Sea Rocket and Flagship Patriot). Let’s make some waves!

5. Headquarters at Seaport District

The Headquarters at Seaport District. on San Diego's Big Bay

The stylish new Headquarters at Seaport District

Foodies and shoppers are in for a treat at the new Headquarters at Seaport District, located in San Diego’s former Spanish-style police headquarters (pose for pix in an actual jail cell). Nosh on gourmet tacos at Puesto or grab a slice at Pizzeria Mozza, Chef Mario Batali’s first foray into San Diego’s dining scene. Shop-portunties include local surf photographer Aaron Chang’s Ocean Art Gallery and Kitson, a celebrity hot spot and go-to fashion boutique dedicated to pop culture.

Pick your own adventure and discover the many wonders of San Diego’s Big Bay this spring! 🙂

Candice

San Diego Museum Month: Half-Off at 40+ Museums

san diego museum month 2014

san diego museum month 2014

Exploring San Diego’s museums, both big and small, is a great way to learn about the life, culture, history and art that makes up the city. But if you plan on visiting more than one or two, admission prices can really add up.

Fear not, budget-savvy museum lovers. San Diego Museum Month 2014 is right around the corner. From February 1-28, 2014, visitors can pick up a special Museum Month pass that provides half-off admission to 44 participating museums around San Diego.

With so many participating museums, it can be hard to choose which ones to visit. Fortunately, San Diego’s wealth of museums means that visitors from all walks of life are sure to find something one (or more) to love.

History and Heritage

maritime museum of san diego

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

The San Diego History Center showcases San Diego’s history with artifacts, costumes, art and one of the largest photograph collections in the western United States.

Famed architect Irving Gill designed the historic Craftsman period mansion, The Marston House, with an elegant English garden.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego in downtown San Diego along San Diego Bay offers one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, including the famous Star of India – the world’s oldest active tall ship.

Artsy and Cool

lux art institute

The Lux Art Institute sits hillside in San Diego’s North County

The Museum of Photographic Arts presents photography from leaders like Ansel Adams, as well as cutting edge new artists. An intimate and elegant, state-of-the-art movie theater screens film classics and cult classics alike.

Set on a secluded hillside in a bright, modern structure that resembles a tiny Getty Center, the LUX Art Institute in Encinitas maintains an artist-in-residence program offering up-close opportunities to view international artists at work.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego displays modern masterpieces, including multi-media exhibits from world-renowned contemporary artists, in two locations, downtown San Diego and La Jolla.

Only in San Diego

USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway is an aircraft carrier turned museum.

The USS Midway Museum is a decommissioned aircraft carrier museum in downtown San Diego along San Diego Bay featuring aircraft displays and interactive exhibits honoring the U.S. military.

Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad features more than 450 musical instrument displays and interactive areas to listen to music, ranging from ragtime to rock ‘n’ roll.

California Surf Museum in Oceanside preserves the legacy of pioneering legends of the surfing world.

Museum Month passes are free and can be picked up at any San Diego area Macy’s store location (plus locations in Temecula and the Imperial Valley). Be sure to grab one early to make the most of your time in San Diego!

> Click here for a full list of San Diego Museum Month Participants

In the comments below, tell us which museum is your favorite and why…

Brent Bernasconi

Spend Labor Day Weekend on the Embarcadero

Star of India

Cannon battles, monumental sand sculptures, music (some with cannons) and more along the Embarcadero will easily provide enough entertainment for everyone during the 3 day Labor Day weekend. Find out below the great events you don’t want to miss.

Tip: Parking will be difficult along and near the Embarcadero over the weekend. Please consider parking elsewhere, e.g. Old Town or Convention Center, (or just leave the car behind) and taking Public Transportation (Seaport Village and American Plaza Trolley Stops) or the Big Bay Shuttle.

Festival of Sail

Star of India

Already highlighted as one of our top things to do this weekend, the Festival of Sail is the largest tall ship festival on the west coast and should not be missed. Over the course of the weekend, there will be a tall ship cannon battles, children’s petting zoo, treasure-seeking Pirate bay cruises, over 100 arts and craft vendors, food and more.

Dates: Friday-Monday, 8/31 – 9/3, 2012
Cost: $10-$20
> Find Out More About the Festival of Sail

US Sand Sculpting Challenge & 3-D Art Expo

dragon sand castle

Master sand sculptures will find the statue  hidden in a mound sand at the B Street Cruise Ship Terminal Pier  just south of the Festival of Sail. In addition to the sandy works of art, the pier will be full of fun with musicians, singers, dancers, storytellers, circus performers, magicians, the best of the buskers and a kids zone with a huge sandbox, sand sculpture classes and more!

Take public transportation and show your transit pass when buying tickets to save up to $5 on admission.

Dates: Friday-Monday, 8/31 – 9/3, 2012
Cost: $5-$14
> Find Out More About the US Sand Sculpting Challenge & 3-D Art Expo

Summersplash – Reggae on the Bay

On Sunday, spend the evening at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier relaxing and dancing while listening to the rhythmic sounds of the ocean and world-class reggae from top artists including Barrington Levy, the Wailers, Midnite, Triston Palma, Pablo Moses, Shoreline Rootz, Piracy, Arise Roots and more.

Date: Sunday, 9/2, 2012
Cost: $55
> Find Out More About Summersplash – Reggae on the Bay

Symphony Pops 1812 Tchaikovsky Spectacular

The San Diego Symphony plans to end summer with a bang during their Summer Pops season-finale 1812 Tchaikovsky Spectacular. The concert will feature bright young cellist, Julian Schwarz, performing Tchaikovsky’s beautiful Rococo Variations and the evening will end with the 1812 Overture featuring the United States Navy Band, cannons and FIREWORKS! This is a great way to end the summer!

Dates: Friday-Sunday, 8/31 – 9/2, 2012
Cost: $18-$76
> Find Out More About the Symphony Pops 1812 Tchaikovsky Spectacular

Looking for more great events in San Diego, check out the Event Calendar.

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

San Diego Padres at PETCO Park

Spring is here and it’s forecasted to be 70 degrees this weekend in San Diego. What a great time to get outside and enjoy the city! Here are 5 to Try this weekend.

Tell us in the comments below, what will you be doing this weekend?

Seaport Village

Enjoy the Sun at Seaport Village

1. Seaport Village

Every Sunday through June 24, enjoy free musical performances as part of Seaport’s Sunday Concert Series from 1:00 – 4:00 pm in the East Gazebo. This Sunday, April 8th, enjoy the Bayou Brothers, a fantastic mix of bluesy, rockin’ and Zydeco. The Easter Bunny will also be visiting April 4-7. Photos will be available in the West Plaza near the food court from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.

San Diego Padres at PETCO Park

Catch the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park. Photo courtesy of Mark Whitt.

2. Padres Opening Weekend

Catch the San Diego Padres take on the Los Angeles Dodgers, Thursday, April 5th through Sunday, April 8. Thursday’s game includes an opening day T-shirt, schedule cling and San Diego decal. Opening Day starts at 4:05 pm.

San Diego Maritime Museum

San Diego Maritime Museum

3. A Chocolate Affair at the San Diego Maritime Museum

Did you know that chocolate first made its way to America via seafaring vessels? Find out how and more at the Maritime Museum’s chocolate festival Sunday, April 8, 2012. With over 25 vendors showcasing and sampling various types of chocolate, there is something for every palette. Explore the exhibit on how chocolate came here with a scavenger hunt and see if you can get all the questions correct. Essay contests for kids, craft activities and more to delight chocolate lovers of all ages. Free with museum admission.

Grunion Run with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Catch the Grunion Run with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps

4. Birch Aquarium Grunion Run

Get ready for a true Southern California experience! Observe hundreds of small silver fish, called grunion ride, the waves onto La Jolla beaches to spawn. Before hitting the beach, see grunion hatch before your eyes during a special presentation about this mysterious fish. Prepare for cool, wet conditions and bring a flashlight. The fun starts April 8 from 10:45 pm – 12:45 am. RSVP required. $10 for members, $12 non-members.

Delphiniums in Balboa Park's Alcazar Garden

Delphiniums in Balboa Park's Alcazar Garden

5. Balboa Park

Interested in seeing the beautiful flowers throughout Balboa Park? Balboa Park’s Offshoot Tours provides free, one-hour tours that highlight the park’s lush botanical offerings. Tours begin at 10:00 am on Saturdays. Must-sees are the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden, displaying approximately 2,500 roses of nearly 200 varieties, and the award-winning Alcazar Garden, with a floral design patterned after the gardens of Alcazar Castle in Seville, Spain.

Aki

Ishmael’s Got Nothin’ on Us: Whale Watching on Yacht America

On a brisk 64-degree Sunday morning in February, we climbed aboard the historic sailing yacht, America, for a 4-hour whale watching excursion with Next Level Sailing. Filled with anticipation and excitement, dressed in plenty of layers and loaded up with Dramamine, we were ready to set sail for an adventure day on the high seas.

Upon arrival in front of the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the staff at Next Level instructed the group (about 40 of us) on safety protocols, what we can expect to see, and where the whales have been. This year has been the best season on record for whale watching, they told us, with the largest whale sightings to date.

Whale watching season in San Diego begins around mid-December, where majestic gray whales make their yearly migration from the coast of Alaska down to Baja California, to feed and breed, then make their way up the coast again by April. In the weeks leading up to our excursion, I kept track of Next Level’s trip statistics, and was certain we were guaranteed sightings of whales, but also dolphins and sea lions. If only Ishmael and Captain Ahab had the folks at Next Level on their side, the hunt for Moby Dick may not have been so treacherous.

Once we set sail, the very capable and courteous Captain and crew of America made us feel right at home. As we made our way out of San Diego Bay, we enjoyed breathtaking views of the downtown skyline behind us and Point Cabrillo ahead.

As we hit the open water, we were greeted by hundreds of dolphins who frolicked around us, popping up and showing off their speed as they kept up with the ship.

There She Blows! The first of many whale sightings on our voyage.

About two hours in, we saw and heard the first blow of a finback whale, the second longest of the whale species and the sixth largest living animal on the planet. During our 2 hours or so out in the open water, we saw a dozen or so fins, but no grays.

Our time was up and we had to head back to shore before seeing any gray whales. The winds were strong so the crew hoisted the front sails, turned off the engine and we enjoyed a peaceful trip back towards the bay.

Just as we started to see land again, the Captain heard of a gray whale sighting over the radio,  just south of where we were. The crew steered the ship to meet the coordinates as we peeled our eyes towards the southern horizon. After a few minutes, we saw a spray in the distance. Approaching closer, we caught another spray and a glimpse of the gray’s tail and fin. Our voyage was complete.

Whale watching may be coming to a close, but there are plenty of sailing excursions you can enjoy throughout the year in San Diego. Tell us about your San Diego sailing experience below.

Suzzanne

5 to Try this Weekend

Maritime Museum

1. Festival of Sail: The 2011 Festival of Sail, hosted by the Maritime Museum of San Diego, will transform the North Embarcadero into a nautical theme park. More than twenty tall ships and other fascinating vessels from around the world will visit San Diego, September 2-5. The festival kicks off with a majestic parade of tall ships on San Diego Bay, Thursday, September 1. Parade begins at 11:00 am and can be seen from the Embarcadero, Harbor Island, Shelter Island and Coronado.

2. ART SAN DIEGO Contemporary Art Fair: More than 60 leading galleries from the US, Canada, Europe, Latin America and Asia will be taking part in showing works by more than 500 artists. In addition t the gallery booths, special features include contemporary furniture design, solo-artist exhibitions, viedo-based works, performances, art in public spaces, and a lounge inspired by noted Architect Jennifer Luce. Fair runs from September 1-5 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel.

3. Julian Grape Stomp Festa: On September 3rd, Menghini Winery in Julian will celebrate the harvest of its grapes with a real, Old World-style grape stomp and festa. Three tons of grapes will be distributed between two giant barrels, one for adults and one for kids. There will also be live music, food vendors and beer and wine samples.

4. San Diego Zoo’s Nighttime Zoo: Here’s your last chance to catch the animals during the Zoo’s extended hours. The extended hours give guests more time to visit the more than 4,500 rare and endangered animals at the Zoo. Nighttime Zoo is open from 9:00 am until 9:00 pm through September 5.

Tempest, Old Globe Theatre 5. The Old Globe Theatre’s Summer Shakespeare Festival: Go back in time and see the dynamic Shakespeare productions performed nightly in the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre. Playing this weekend are Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest and Amadeus.

Robert Arends

Family Fun in San Diego! Beaches, Boardwalks, Insider Tips

San Diego continues to put itself on the map as the place to play this Memorial Day – and all summer long! According to AAA, our sun-kissed city ranks second among its top 5 destinations for Southern California travelers. With 70 miles of coastline and a perpetually warm sunny climate, it’s easy to see why we’re such an enticing summer getaway.

Surf's up at Coronado Beach!

Speaking of sun, surf and sand, the June issue of Parents Magazine just hit newsstands with a feature story: 10 Best Family Beaches in America.” Coronado Beach nabbed the #4 spot! The mag said it ”has everything families could want: perfect weather…spotless white sand (the town even invented an environmentally friendly rake to clean up the kelp), and warm, gentle water.”

Sand dunes of Coronado Beach.

FamilyVacationCritic.com also rated Coronado Beach as its #5 pick for 10 Best Beaches for Families.” They called the sparkling stretch of sand “memorable” for its “long sandbar and fantastic waves to stoke any one of your little surfers.” They set their sights on San Diego’s bustling boardwalks too, calling Pacific and Mission Beach – home of Belmont Park and the famous Giant Dipper roller coaster – the #8 best boardwalk in their 11 Best Beach Boardwalks for Families.”

Walk this way... to the Mission Beach boardwalk!

NBC Los Angeles even touted San Diego’s “beach bliss” (Thanks for the shout out, Alysia – you’re “rad!”).

For families planning a summer trip to San Diego, following are some insider tips, courtesy of Eileen Ogintz, author of Taking the Kids To Sunny Southern California.” Her San Diego chapter is full of fun facts and recommended activities, from animal encounters (“San Diego may be the best place in the country to meet and greet all kinds of animals”) and ship tours (“You can visit an aircraft carrier to see what it’s like to live and work on a floating city…At the Maritime Museum, climb aboard the century-old windjammer the Star of India… “) to Balboa Park’s bounty of cultural delights (“It’s got everything from the zoo to a merry-go-round, a miniature train and model train museum, a puppet theater—even an outdoor pipe organ” offering free Sunday concerts.).

Eileen also shows parents how to travel “smarter and saner with kids this summer,” including money-saving and theme park tips.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! Wishing you safe travels…