Arlene

A Few of the Best Dive Bars to Visit in San Diego

San Diego Dive Bars
San Diego Dive Bars

How many of these San Diego dive bars have you visited?

San Diego may be known for its near perfect weather year round, but what many do not know is that the nightlife in this 75 degree city stretches from the Mexico border to the North County and there is something to do almost every night of the week.

But San Diego’s nightlife isn’t just about clubs! If large-scale clubs aren’t your thing, there are plenty of dive bars and lounges sprinkled throughout the county.

Here are the some of best dive bars you want to visit while in San Diego.

Dive Bars in Encinitas

Starting in the North County, you can find not one but two bars side by side. The Saloon and Shelter in Encinitas that are popular among residents of the North. Both located on South Coast Highway 101, each offers a variety of events including live music and DJ’s playing both top 40, dance music and classics. The Saloon also has a jukebox for your listening pleasure. Shelter launched a casual dining menu in late 2014 so if you’re hungry after one too many shots, hop on over there.

Classy Dive Bars in La Jolla

Moving towards the south we find ourselves heading farther west towards the coast and into the area of La Jolla. This neighborhood is known for its high-end cars, stars and bars. In other words, it’s fancy! You can take a nice stroll down Prospect St. and have some cocktails at La Valencia Hotel before heading to Prospect Bar & Grill. On Sundays you’ll get a great view from the rooftop and during the summer they have guest DJ’s so you can sip a martini and dance to house/dance music as you watch that gorgeous sunset in those fancy pants.

Dive Bars by the Beach

Just south are the more casual beach communities of Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach. Each neighborhood has its own very unique character so whether you’re interested in watching buskers in OB, surfers and college students party in PB or families ride the rollercoaster in MB, you’ll be able to find a sweet watering hole somewhere. In PB, there are plenty of clubs for the college age demographic, but a favorite spot for those straying from Rhianna remixes is the Silver Fox Lounge on Garnet Ave. A classic dive bar with pool tables, darts and all.

A Bit More Urban Dive Bars

The center of the county soon becomes dense with many eclectic and vibrant neighborhoods including Hillcrest, Bankers Hill, Golden Hill, Normal Heights, North Park and South Park among many others. Being a native of Golden Hill and North Park myself, I have an affinity for these and surrounding neighborhoods. One of the older dive bars located in North Park is Livewire on El Cajon Blvd. This is where you’ll often find bartenders on their nights off, listening to great music in the near dark. They even have guest DJ’s come in that tend bar, or are regulars there. In South Park, Whistle Stop Bar is a cash only staple of the neighborhood that has been around since the late 70s. You can hang at the bar or on certain nights you can listen to anything from 80s vs 90s, to New Wave or live music and dance. Warning, it gets warm in there.

For those searching for some craft cocktails made by gentlemen in bowties and beards or ladies that know whiskey like the back of their hand, head over to Polite Provisions on Adams Ave. in Normal Heights. You may feel like you’re in the bar of the Titanic, but that is one of the reasons this spot is so awesome. The details of the décor compliment the details put into each cocktail. Both are exquisite. This is a great place to try drinks you’ve never heard of. You can walk across the street afterwards to dance at AC Lounge, a lounge/club that won’t overwhelm your senses. They even have a small VIP room with the only LED dance floor in San Diego. If you preferred camping over disco in the 70s, head over to Sycamore Den, more great craft cocktails and you’ll feel like you’re in a cabin with the fireplace, 70s rock playing and orange & brown tones of the décor. Very campy indeed!

Dive into these Bars in Hillcrest and Banker’s Hill

Heading closer to downtown we enter Hillcrest and Banker’s Hill. Hillcrest is known worldwide for being a neighborhood that supports the LGBT community and there is always a party around. There are several places to grab drinks here but some favorites are The Alibi, Urban Mo’s and Uptown Tavern. All are within walking distance on University Avenue. Banker’s Hill is in a curious space in between Hillcrest and downtown San Diego and there are some gems to be found here. Nunu’s is a bar straight out of the 70s as well (think Three’s Company), Cherry Bomb is another bartender/service industry favorite dive with some of the stiffest pours around and The Balboa Bar & Grill has some great local bands.

Finally – Dive Bars in Downtown San Diego

After naming so many bars…you’re probably already buzzed just thinking about them. But Wait! There’s More! We have arrived to Downtown San Diego, the heart of the city and where crowds flock every single weekend (and some weeknights) to drink and dance. I understand, you’re not into the Vegas style clubs and that’s ok. You want a smaller, quainter place to order one of 3,875 craft beers on tap or maybe just an Old Fashioned. I get it and I like it! First stop is El Dorado, located on the edge of downtown. Ryan Kuntz is usually behind the bar and will be sure to offer you some great suggestions for cocktails.  There is a great selection of oldies and rock and roll on the jukebox and if you feel like killin’ some game they have a sweet Buck Hunter video game console there. Another hidden gem, literally, is Noble Experiment, found behind a fake wall inside Neighborhood on 8th and G St. They house award-winning bartenders, Trevor Easterman (GM) and Adele Stratton and have been named one of the best craft cocktail bars in America by several publications including Esquire and Playboy Magazine. It’s a very small place so be sure to make a reservation or plan on waiting.

Speaking of small bars, how about visiting the smallest bar in San Diego? Pop’s Liquor Cabinet is named appropriately as it only has 4 seats in the 157sq foot space. JJ Licari, a owning partner of the preciously petite place, helped opened this spot on F St. in between large clubs so if you blink you may miss it! I recommend popping in for a drink before you wander around the Gaslamp Quarter. There will be more bottles of booze than people fit in there so the ratio is ideal. If you happen to enjoy cash only spots where the only things served are well drinks and beer then you will love Star Bar located on E St. between 4th and 5th Avenues. You are not allowed to say you live in San Diego until you have a Star Bar story. If jet lag has you wide awake at 6:00 AM you’re in luck…because that’s when they open! If you’re there that late (or early?) then you will definitely have a story to take home.

San Diego’s Oldest Tavern

The last bar I will stumble upon is none other than Waterfront Bar on Kettner Blvd. in Little Italy. Proudly known as San Diego’s oldest tavern, Waterfront also opens up at 6:00 AM and has a menu for those late night or early morning hunger pains. This is truly a classic place to visit in San Diego as it has outdoor seating to people watch, solid food and it gets packed on weekends and weeknights often.  I have a video of my buddies and I there one morning and after one too many mimosas and beers we turned the jukebox on and decided we should all sing at the top of our lungs. I have it on video if anyone is interested in seeing the worst version of Bohemian Rhapsody ever filmed.

Cheers!

Edna Gutierrez

Let Your Taste Buds Play at Oceana Coastal Kitchen – A New Restaurant to Try in San Diego

Located amidst the tropical setting of the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa on Mission Bay, Oceana Coastal Kitchen opened its doors to the public on February, 2015. Formerly the Atoll, Oceana features a modern California flare under the culinary direction of Executive Chef Steven Riemer (The Lodge at Torrey Pines, The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel). The 8,200-square-foot venue showcases an ocean-inspired design that includes an 800-gallon aquarium and sweeping panoramic waterfront view of Mission Bay.

Oceana patio - courtesy Oceana Coastal Kitchen

I highly recommend sitting at the patio, the view is lovely and if you get cold easily like me, don’t worry, they have heaters.

Now, let’s get down to the good stuff: the food and drinks. The restaurant offers breakfast, brunch and dinner, with menus that reflect a relaxed California flair assembled with local sustainable ingredients. I visited during dinner with my boyfriend and the weather was just perfect to sit outside (the best place to sit).

First on the Agenda – Cocktails

First thing on the agenda were cocktails. I am a bourbon kind of gal, so when I spotted the revolver on the menu: Bulleit Rye, Kahlua and orange bitters; I had to order it. What a great choice! The subtle coffee aftertaste of the Kahlua dresses the bourbon perfectly. My boyfriend had the aristocrat Manhattan prepared with Bulleit Rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and maraschino liqueur, a great choice for whiskey lovers.

Next Up – A Few Staters

For starters, the waiter highly recommended the yellowtail crudo, prepared with aguachile, avocado and pickled radish. A simple, fresh and tasty dish.

Picture1

To the left: The revolver, who would have thought Kahlua and bourbon are best friends? To the right: The yellow tail crudo is a perfect way to start the meal.

To accompany the freshness of the yellowtail we also ordered the oysters on the half shell – a selection of three different fresh oysters that varies daily accompanied with a flavorful chipotle cocktail sauce. For the last starter, I couldn’t not order their Oceana house roll with a perfect combination of eel, tempura shrimp, crab, nori and unagi sauce.

ocenana combo

To the left: The oysters were light and fresh. To the right: The eel on the Oceana house roll was delish.

Now To the Main Dishes

After three starters I wanted something on the lighter side so I ordered the cold-smoked niman ranch pork chops that came on top of goat cheese grits, spiced apple and almond slaw with spinach. After the first bite I had to stop and take a moment to give thanks for the existence of goat cheese, what a perfect mix of flavors and textures. The boyfriend ordered the seared arctic char with buckwheat soba, shiitake mushrooms, ginger dashi, scallions and braised daikon; a perfectly balanced dish to accompany the ocean scene.

Oceana group 3

To the left: The pork chops can be described in two words:goat cheese! To the right: The seared arctic char was soft and flavorful.

Don’t Forget Dessert

After such a feast I didn’t think I had space for dessert, but I just had to try the warm chocolate-cream filled doughnuts with vanilla dipping sauce. The waiter warned us it was delicious and he was right. My boyfriend ordered the orange blossom cheesecake with balsamic strawberries which I highly recommend. The combination of the orange with balsamic sauce was flawless.

ocenana combo 4

To the left: The doughnuts were filled with the right amount of chocolate cream (warning, objects are bigger than they appear). To the right: The orange blossom cheesecake was my favorite.

Between the food, great service, and scenery, we really enjoyed our evening. I am planning on going back for another revolver (the cocktail), to try their flatbread and the apple empanadas with buttermilk ice cream, yum! Oceana is definitely a great addition to San Diego’s dining scene, one which keeps getting better and better with restaurants like this.

Oceana Coastal Kitchen Details

Where: 3999 Mission Boulevard San Diego, CA 92109
Hours:
– Sunday-Thursday: 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM
– Friday-Saturday: 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM
Reservations: 858.539.8635
> Find out more about Oceana Coastal Kitchen

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – March 24-29, 2015

You know what you should do? Spend the last weekend in March relaxing and enjoying all San Diego has to offer including these amazing top things to do.

2015 LPGA Kia Classic

2015 LPGA Kia Classic - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Entering its sixth year, the 2015 Kia Classic will be held at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, California. The Kia Classic features 144 of the best women golfers playing for the $1.7 million purse. The field features 2014 Kia Classic Champion Anna Nordqvist and crowd favorites Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson.

Where: Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club – 7447 Batiquitos Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92011
When: March 24 -29, 2015
Cost: $10-$80
> Find out more about the 2015 LPGA KIA Classic

Great American Foodie Fest

Great American Foodie Fest

The Great American Foodie Fest is a compilation of some of the best specialty food vendors, restaurants & gourmet food trucks from all around the country that have been featured on the Food Network, Cooking Channel and Travel Channel. Attendees can also enjoy our VIP Experience Tent, Beer Garden, Tequila Party Tent, Carnival Rides, Live Entertainment, Eating Competitions and other fun & festive activities for the whole family.

Where: Qualcomm Stadium – 9449 Friars Road, San Diego, CA 92108
When: March 27-29, 2015
Cost: $8-$15
> Find out more about the Great American Foodie Fest

San Diego Crew Classic

Mens Competition - San Diego Crew Classic

Catch the excitement of one of the premier regattas, the San Diego Crew Classic on Mission Bay

Regarded as the first major regatta of the year, the San Diego Crew Classic brings together thousands of athletes from more than 100 universities, clubs and high school programs from across the United States to participate in this premier rowing event in San Diego.

Where: Corona Oriente Road, San Diego, CA 92109
When: March 28-29, 2015
Cost: $12-$15
> Find out more about the San Diego Crew Classic

San Diego Zoo Play Days

San Diego Zoo Play Days - Top Things in San Diego

Mark your calendar with Play Days at the San Diego Zoo

Come to the San Diego Zoo’s Play Days, and hear about our world-famous animals and plants from the people who take care of them!

Where: 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 28 – April 15, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about San Diego Zoo Play Days

Bikes & Beer San Diego, CA

Explore San Diego by bike with 1,500 new friends on an approximately 22 mile group bike ride. After the ride, relax and celebrate your accomplishment with a cold San Diego beer, music, speakers, food and vendors during the post-ride festival at the new Quartyard in Downtown San Diego.

Start and Finish: 1102 Market Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 28, 2015
Time: 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM
Cost: $45
> Find out more about Bikes & Beers San Diego, CA

SuperWild: Discovering Animal Super-Powers

SuperWild: Discovering Animal Super-Powers

Get up and close and personal with creatures that walk on walls, possess super strength, are invisible to the naked eye, and can even regenerate limbs – all natural adaptations that help them survive in the wild. Some of these animals include the Mexican axolotl, pygmy leaf chameleon, bird poop frog, flying draco lizard, fishing ribbon snake, green basilisk, giant millipede, horseshoe crab, pink-toed tarantula, toco toucan and more.

Where: Living Coast Discovery Center – 1000 Gunpowder Point Dr, Chula Vista, CA 91910
When: March 28 – September 7, 2015
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about SuperWild: Discovering Animal Super-Powers

Weekend Escape: Inspiration for Living a Good Life

Weekend Escape: Inspiration for Living a Good Lif

A two-day discovery that celebrates San Diego’s vibrant outdoor lifestyle and aims to inspire the community to rejuvenate its health and fitness regimen, perk up it’s surroundings at home and rediscover the local landscape. Focusing on four elements: Outdoor Living, Health & Fitness, Staycation and Home Style, find events for the whole family throughout the center and in Palm Plaza.

Where: Westfield UTC – 4545 La Jolla Village Dr, San Diego, CA 92122
When: March 28-29, 2015
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Weekend Escape: Inspiration for Living a Good Life

London Symphony Orchestra

London Symphony Orchestra

Hear the World-Famous London Symphony Orchestra here in San Diego

La Jolla Music Society ends it’s Celebrity Orchestra Series with the world-renowned London Symphony Orchestra. Program will feature conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2010 by President Obama. He’ll be joined by twenty-six year old pianist and widely recognized as one of the most important artists of her generation, Yuja Wang performing the jazz-inspired Gershwin Piano Concerto.

Where: 750 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 29, 2015
Time: 8:00 PM
Cost: $27-$97
> Find out more about the London Symphony Orchestra

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Find more Top Things to Do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Top Things to Do Weekend Forecast

Brent Bernasconi

San Diego Crew Classic Returns to Mission Bay – March 28-29, 2015

Mens Competition - San Diego Crew Classic
Mens Competition - San Diego Crew Classic

Catch the excitement of one of the premier regattas, the San Diego Crew Classic on Mission Bay

Regarded as the first major regatta of the year, the San Diego Crew Classic brings together thousands of athletes from more than 100 universities, clubs and high school programs from across the United States to participate in this premier rowing event in San Diego’s Mission Bay.

What to Expect at the Crew Classic

The Races

There will be plenty of racing to see whether you’re an early bird or a late riser. Racing starts at 7:30 AM and ends each day at 6:30 PM.

Amenities

You can get up close to the action by watching the races on the Jumbotron located near the Sierra Nevada Beer Garden. There will also be a food court, merchandise tens and a trade show.

Sierra Nevada Beer Garden

Located right on the shore, the beer garden is one of the best spots to watch the races. Bartenders will be pouring Sierra Nevada’s brews from 2:00 to 8:00 PM on Friday, 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Saturday, and 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Sunday. You must be 21 to enter the beer garden.

Classic Brunch by the Bay

Located in the Champions Pavilion, Brunch by the Bay will feature a delicious brunch by Peartree’s catering and the chance for brunchers to see the boats cross the finish line, participate in raffles, and auctions to raise funds for the continued support of the regatta! Brunch by the Bay will take place on Sunday, March 29th and tickets are $195 each.

> Purchase Brunch by the Bay Tickets

Getting to the San Diego Crew Classic

Free parking and a free shuttle are available at Ski Beach Park, Vacation Rd, San Diego, CA 92109. The shuttle will start running around 5:30 AM and finish about 45 minutes after the last race.

> Directions to the Race Site

San Diego Crew Classic Information

Where: Corona Oriente Road, San Diego, CA 92109
When: March 28-29, 2015
Cost: $12-$15
> Find out more about the San Diego Crew Classic

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – March 3-8, 2015

Warm up by spending the first weekend of March in San Diego and revel in the beautiful weather and these top things to do.

> Click Here to Enter the Spring to San Diego Sweepstakes

19th Annual San Diego Bird Festival

19th Annual San Diego Bird Festival

The San Diego Bird Festival celebrates the birds and habitats of San Diego County, which truly offers some of the best birding in the United States. In a world where social media and smart devices seem to be taking over, birds are a lovely reminder that the world is full of real experiences. All you need to do is Look Up!

Where: Marina Village Conference Center – 1936 Quivira Way, San Diego, CA 92109
When: March 5-8, 2015
> Find out more about the 19th Annual San Diego Bird Festival

TNT: Remixed

TNT: Remixed

Converge on Figi Concourse, the historic colonnade located between MCASD’s downtown location and adjacent train tracks

Join MCASD as they celebrate the opening of Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui at TNT: Remixed! This lively evening which will include two performances by Jimmy LaValle of famed San Diego band The Album Leaf, as well as interactive performances and art-making experiences with artist Keenan Harsten and his sound sculptures, food, drinks and more.

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego – Downtown – 1001 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 5, 2015
Time: 7:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: $8-$10. Members – Free
> Find out more about TNT: Remixed

City Ballet’s Balanchine Spectacular

City Ballet's Balanchine Spectacular

Three full-length masterworks choreographed by George Balanchine

City Ballet of San Diego presents three full-length masterworks choreographed by the 20th century genius, George Balanchine. George Balanchine’s ballets are presented by arrangement with The George Balanchine Trust. City Ballet of San Diego is honored to be recognized by The George Balanchine Trust as having the technical skills and artistic quality to present these George Balanchine ballets.

Where: Spreckels Theatre – 121 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 6-8, 2015
Cost: $29-$79
> Find out more about City Ballet’s Balanchine Spectacular

SeaWorld Wild Days

SeaWorld Wild Days - Jack Hanna

Join Jack Hanna and Julie Scardina the weekend of March 7-8 for exciting animal presentations in the Mission Bay Theater

During SeaWorld Wild Days, get up close with SeaWorld’s zoological team and learning firsthand the ways they can make a difference with their own everyday actions. At the Wild Days Amphitheater, SeaWorld vets and animal care specialists will interact with guests and share information about the way they care for animals. Scientists from Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute will also be on hand, as well as representatives from the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.

Where: SeaWorld San Diego – 500 SeaWorld Drive, San Diego, CA 92109
When: Weekends March 7-29, 2015
Cost: Included with Admission
> Find out more about SeaWorld Wild Days

Spring Busker Festival

Spring Busker Festival - Seaport Village

Step Right Up! See amazing feats of human strength at the Spring Busker Festival

The celebration brings colorful street performers from across the country to perform their bizarre talents like sword swallowers, jugglers on unicycles, escape artists and comedic stuntmen to the cobblestone streets of downtown’s Seaport Village. The extraordinary and bizarre talents will provide outdoor amusement for all unlike any other festival in the region.

Where: Seaport Village – 849 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 7-8, 2015
Time: 12:00 to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Spring Busker Festival

Best Coast Beer Fest

Best Coast Beer Fest

You. Beer. Music. Food trucks. San Diego Bay. Taste beer from nearly 100 of the West Coast’s craft breweries, enjoy the sweet sounds of local bands and possibly enjoy a sensible lunch from our food truck alley. The whole shebang. According to Will Ferrell, there is no physical way in the universe you can enjoy a day better than this. He has done the research. It’s science.

Where: Embarcadero Marina Park South – Marina Park Way, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 7, 2015
Time: 12:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: $20-$125
> Find out more about Best Coast Beer Fest

10th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival

japanese friendship garden cherry blossom

Enjoy the sights and smells of cherry blossoms this weekend

Celebrate spring and the blooming of the Japanese Friendship Garden’s 150 Cherry Tree Grove with cultural performances, traditional food, unique local vendors, children’s corner and a beer tasting! Guests may partake in Hanami, the traditional custom of picnicking under the cherry trees.

Where: Japanese Friendship Garden – 2215 Pan American Way, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 8, 2015
Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: $5-$6
> Find out more about the 10th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival

2015 Women’s Film Festival

2015 Women's Film Festival - Women's Museum of California - Top Things to Do

Join the Women’s Museum of California as they screen films that will educate and inspire future generations about the experiences and contributions of women through the art of film.

Where: Women’s Museum of California – 2730 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, CA 92106
When: March 4-22, 2015
Cost: $8-$40
> Find out more about the 2015 Women’s Film Festival

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Find more Top Things to Do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Book Your Stay in San Diego - Discover Unpublished Rates

Top Things to Do Weekend Forecast

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – February 10-17, 2015

This weekend in San Diego will be full of Valentine’s Day love, Mardi Gras bon temps and more while you are out enjoying these top things to do.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day in San Diego

Fall or Fall Back in Love during a romantic Valentine’s Day weekend in San Diego

Romance is in the air and San Diego is the perfect backdrop for a romantic rendezvous. From the finest cuisine and unparalleled views of the Pacific to a hip singles cruise to find your true love, there’s something for everyone on the sweetest holiday of the year.

> Browse Valentine’s Day Offers, Packages and Events in San Diego

Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebrations

Samba Dancer at Mardi Gras -Courtesy Enne Bi Communications

Let Loose at a Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration in San Diego

The rhythm of Brazil comes to San Diego during Mardi Gras. Let loose, dance and indulge at carnival celebrations ranging from massive block parties bumping with music from the best DJs to more traditional festivities with feather-adorned dancers in samba shows, performances of the Brazilian martial-arts dance form capoeira, caipirinhas, and more.

> Browse Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration in San Diego

[Tweet “From romance to indulgence, #SanDiego has you covered with these top things to do this weekend.”]

Lunar New Year at SeaWorld

Chair Stacking - SeaWorld Lunar New Year Celenration

Marvel at amazing acrobatics during SeaWorld San Diego’s Lunar New Year celebration

During Lunar New Year at SeaWorld, the park’s Lunar New Year Festival area will feature Asian-inspired culinary offerings and a stage featuring cultural performances celebrating Asia, such as taiko drummers, lion dancers and fan dancers. Also, the Chinese Acrobats of Hebei will perform 25-minute acrobatic shows at Mission Bay Theater.

When: February 13 – March 1, 2015 (Select Dates)
> Find out more about Lunar New Year at SeaWorld

California Open Wildlife Art Festival

California Open Wildlife Art Festival

See top carvers, wildlife artists and art lovers from all over the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan

Pacific Southwest Wildlife Arts, is proud to present the “California Open Wildlife Art Festival.” The exhibition and competition attracts top carvers, wildlife artists and art lovers from all over the United States, Canada, Russia and Japan.

When: February 12-15, 2015
> Find out more about California Open Wildlife Art Festival

KuumbaFest

KuumbaFest - Top Things to Do in San Diego

KuumbaFest is San Diego’s longest running and premier celebration of African-American expression, culture, and heritage

The three day festival will include traditional African art and pageantry, drama, educational workshops, community leadership awards, an African marketplace, a health fair, Hip Hop Showcase, tribute to the famed Apollo Theatre “Live at the Lyceum,” a Gospel Concert, and powerful guest speakers and artists.

When: February 13-15, 2015
> Find out more about KuumbaFest

Lunar New Year Festival

Lunar New Year Festival at Qualcomm Stadium

2015 marks the Year of the Goat, an animal that represents elegant, charming, artistic, gifted and creative characteristics. Goats encourage us to engage and entertain our own sense of curiosity by sampling a little bit of everything in order to know more deeply the world around us – a perfect match for this year’s theme: Taste, See, Hear, Touch, Smell and Feel the Asian Experience.

When: February 13-15, 2015
> Find out more about the Lunar New Year Festival

Tribute to the Reggae Legends

Tribute to the Reggae Legends - Exodus: Movement of Jah People

For the 34th Annual Black History Month Celebration, The Worldbeat Cultural Center is proud to present Tribute to the Reggae Legends – Exodus: Movement of Jah People. This two day music festival will feature more than 25 of the best reggae bands in Balboa Park’s new cultural plaza.

When: February 14-15, 2015
> Find out more about Tribute to the Reggae Legends

Brewbies 6th Annual Beer Festival

Brewbies Beer Festival

Support Women’s health while enjoying the best of San Diego’s craft beer at Brewbies

This year will be better than last year, featuring breweries from all over the country sharing some rare and delicious beers all in the name of boobies. There will be a VIP session that will feature some beers and breweries not available in the general session.

When: February 14, 2015
> Find out more about Brewbies 6th Annual Beer Festival

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Find more Top Things to Do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Top Things to Do Weekend Forecast

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – February 3-8, 2015

Explore 45 museums for half price, see the world’s best pro golfers compete at Torrey Pines, become an Avenger and more at any one of this weekend’s top things to do in San Diego.

San Diego Museum Month

San Diego Museum Month - Top Things to Do

Leap into 45 museums in San Diego this February. Presented by Macy’s, this popular event allows participants to enjoy half-off entry fees at 45 San Diego Museum Council membership museums. The savings encourages locals and visitors to explore a variety of arts, culture and science-oriented destinations. From Oceanside Museum of Art down to the Tijuana Estuary, there are ample opportunities for edutainment, creating memories and fun for the whole family.

When: Through February 28, 2015
> Find out more about San Diego Museum Month

Farmers Insurance Open 2015

Tiger says "See You At Torrey!" Photo courtesy of Stan Badz/PGA TOUR.

Tiger says “See You At Torrey!” Photo courtesy of Stan Badz/PGA TOUR.

Mark your calendars now, because one of golf’s biggest events of the year, the Farmers Insurance Open, returns to San Diego in 2015. San Diego’s leg of the annual PGA TOUR will take place at the iconic Torrey Pines Golf Course.

Where: 11480 Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037
When: February 5-8, 2015
Cost: $30-$200
> See You at Torrey: The PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open

San Diego Jewish Film Festival

San Diego Jewish Film Festival

The San Diego Jewish Film Festival showcases 96 films of the best contemporary Jewish themed films from around the world celebrating life, human rights, and freedom of expression. The program aims to educate and illuminate through evocative, independent fiction and documentary films that portray the Jewish experience from current to historic global perspectives.

Where: 4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037
When: February 5-15, 2015
Cost: Starting at $13.75
> Find out more about the San Diego Jewish Film Festival

Culture & Cocktails: Havana Nights

San Diego Museum of Art - Culture & Cocktails

The art jumps off the walls during the San Diego Museum of Art’s Culture & Cocktails

Imagine: open-air bazaars, ocean-front walkways, bright colors, crumbling colonial architecture, and salsa music booming through the streets… Enjoy Cuban sandwiches, coffee, chocolate cigars, desserts, a Signature Cocktail infused with Cuban spirits, a Latin DJ, and live musical performance during this Havana Nights-themed party. Come dressed in ruffles, fedoras, and your island-best during this C&C inspired by The Welcome Galleries’ Cuban Contemporary Art installation.

Where: San Diego Museum of Art – 1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
When: February 5, 2015
Time: 6:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: $20-$25. Members – Free
> Find out more about Culture & Cocktails: Havana Nights

The Marvel Experience

The Marvel Experience

Join forces with Marvel’s mightiest Heroes on a mission to save the planet. The Marvel Experience is a first-of-its-kind attraction that covers over two acres and encompasses seven colossal Domes. As S.H.I.E.L.D.’s newest recruit, you’ll swing with Spider-Man, smash with Hulk, and fly with Iron Man in next generation hyper-reality as you prepare to face the forces of Hydra.

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds – 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar, CA 92014
When: February 7-22, 2015
Cost: Tickets start at $27.50
> Find out more about The Marvel Experience

Changing of the Barrels 26th Anniversary Celebration

Karl Strauss' Changing of the Barrels 26th Anniversary Celebration

Celebrate Karl Strauss’ 26th year in beer with the annual “Changing of the Barrels” event. To honor the occasion, they invite friends down to the brewery for the debut of their 26th Anniversary Bourbon Barrel-Aged Belgian Dark Strong Ale and a chance to taste their 27th Anniversary brew before it spends a year in barrels.

Where: Karl Strauss Brewery – 5985 Santa Fe Street, San Diego, CA 92109
When: February 7, 2015
Time: 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: $40. Designated Drive – $20.
> Find out more about the Changing of the Barrels 26th Anniversary Celebration

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

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Top Things to Do Weekend Forecast

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – December 16-21, 2014

Santa's Christmas Village - SeaWorld San Diego

Make sure you’re in San Diego this weekend for holiday fun, meeting Santa, sledding on snow, enjoying plenty of lights and these top things to do.

> We’re Counting Down the 12 Days of Christmas With A Sweepstakes

Holiday Fun at San Diego Attractions

Santa's Christmas Village - SeaWorld San Diego

Meet Santa, sled on snow and more this weekend at San Diego attractions

Get into the holiday spirit with lights, festive music, hot chocolate and more at these San Diego Attractions:

Holiday Blog Round Up

Holiday Pops: A Celtic Celebration

San Diego Symphony Holiday Pops - Top Things to Do

The San Diego Symphony Celebrates the Holidays with an Celtic Christmas

With the Luck-o’-the-Irish this holiday season, we set sail for the Emerald Isle. Grammy Award-winning and nine-time, all-Ireland fiddle champion Eileen Ivers joins the San Diego Symphony for an evening of festive Irish holiday songs including “The Holly Tree,” “Don Oiche Ud im Beithil (One Night in Bethlehem),” “Hark, The Herald Angels Sing” – in traditional jig time, and “The Wexford Carol” dating back to the 12th century along with so many traditional favorites.

Where: 1245 Seventh Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 19-21, 2014
Cost: $30-$72
> Find out more about Holiday Pops: A Celtic Celebration

Poinsettia Bowl Gaslamp March

Battle of the Bands - Poinsettia Bowl Gaslamp March

Two bands march down 5th, only one will leave champion of the Gaslamp March

Marching bands and spirit squads from the participating Poinsettia Bowl universities will parade from each end of 5th Avenue performing holiday classics, and meeting up at Market Street for a heart-pounding Battle of the Bands! After the dust has settled at Market Street, bands will continue on with their parade of holiday favorites.

Where: 5th and Market Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 21, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 8:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Poinsettia Bowl Gaslamp March

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights - Top Things to Do in San Diego

80 boats will be decorated for the holiday season on San Diego’s Big Bay

Join us for the second weekend of the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, an annual time-honored holiday tradition brought to San Diego by the boating community. The parade takes place on San Diego Bay with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated to a new theme each year.

When: December 21, 2014
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

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Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – December 9-14, 2014

Jungle Bells - San Diego Zoo

Give yourself the gift of a trip to San Diego this weekend and enjoy all of these top things to do including Christmas light displays on the water!

> Holiday Happenings in San Diego

La Mesa”s Christmas in the Village

La Mesa Christmas in the Village

It”s a winter wonderland at La Mesa Christmas in the Village

Don”t miss the strolling minstrels, carolers and street entertainers, food and commercial vendors. Live Music is featured in a number of stage areas and Bonfires fill the Boulevard. The kids will love Santa, the Carnival Rides, Ponies and the Puppet Shows. All Specialty Shops, Boutiques and Restaurants open late during event. Thousands of unique gifts all season long!

Where: La Mesa Blvd & Spring St, La Mesa, CA 91941
When: December 12-13, 2014
Time: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about La Mesa”s Christmas in the Village

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Jungle Bells, Zoo, Attractions, Holidays

The San Diego Zoo stays open late for fun holiday activities, shows and light displays during Jungle Bells.

Jungle Bells are ringing – it”s holiday time! The San Diego Zoo is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Guests can enjoy displays of lighted animal sculptures throughout the Zoo aboard the Twinkle Light Trolley, live animal presentations, Dr. Zoolittle”s lively version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas, special music and entertainment, delicious holiday treats, encounters with animal ambassadors, visits with Santa, and much more.

Where: San Diego Zoo – 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 13, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Poway”s Christmas in the Park

Christmas in the Park at Old Poway Park San Diego

Santa welcomes guests to Old Poway Park.

Are you looking for a great way to get into the holiday spirit and create family memories that will last a lifetime? Witness Christmas traditions come to life including Christmas tree lighting followed by the arrival of Santa & Mrs. Claus; horse-drawn hay and pony rides, petting zoo, and face painting; steam locomotive, model trains, and live entertainment; and holiday sweets and warm dinner foods.

Where: Old Poway Park – 14134 Midland Rd, Poway, CA 92064
When: December 13, 2014
Time: 3:30 to 8:30 PM
Cost: Free. Nominal fee for some activities
> Find out more about Poway”s Christmas in the Park

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Lights Up during the holiday season.

This free, distinctly California celebration features boats decorated for the annual holiday season that will sail around Mission Bay. A highly anticipated event in the San Diego community, dozens of vessels take to the water for the parade.

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

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Boats of all sizes get decked out with holiday lights and circle Oceanside Harbor

Fishing boats, sailboats, yachts, kayaks and dingys dressed up in holiday swag and circle the Oceanside Harbor to enchant onlookers at the harbor, casino restaurants and beach. Many of the boats feature people dressed up like Santa waving to the crowd.

Where: Oceanside Harbor, Oceanside, CA 92054
When: December 13, 2014
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

2011 Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Everyone with 2 to 4 Legs will have fun at the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade!

San Diego”s furriest festive parade returns to Downtown as the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade. All pet owners and their furry, feathered and scaled companions are invited to don their favorite costumes and put their best paw, wing and fin forward for this jolly promenade and pet expo.

Where: Gaslamp Hilton Park – 401 K Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 13, 2014
Time: 1:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free to view. $15-$20 to participate in the parade
> Find out more about the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

Join us for the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, an annual time-honored holiday tradition brought to San Diego by the boating community.The parade takes place on San Diego Bay with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated to a new theme each year. Held on two consecutive Sundays in December, the parade proceeds from Shelter Island past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, and the Ferry Landing in Coronado. Whether you”re a participant or spectator, the Parade of Lights is a festive and delightful experience for all!

When: December 14 & 21, 2014
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

The Nutcracker

When the Toy Soldiers arrive, that means The Nutcracker and the Holidays are here!

When the Toy Soldiers arrive, that means The Nutcracker and the Holidays are here!

It’s not a holiday season unless you can escape to the land of sugar-plum fairies with a live version of The Nutcracker! Here are

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

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Brent Bernasconi

Where to See Christmas Lights in San Diego this Holiday Season

Warm up the car, fill a thermos to the brim with hot chocolate and grab some cookies so the whole family can enjoy an evening of twinkling Christmas lights in San Diego.

> Check out the 2015 Edition

Please note, some light displays and events are weather dependent.

Here are just a few of San Diego’s Christmas Lights highlights:

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

More than 80 lavishly decorated boats will sail over the calm waters of the Big Bay during the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. The parade starts at Shelter Island and makes it way down to the Ferry Landing on Coronado. Make sure to arrive early at one of the viewing spots that include: Harbor Island, Shelter Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village and along the pathway on Coronado.

Dates: Sundays, December 14 and 21, 2014
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Lights Up during the holiday season.

Dozens of vessels will take to the waters of Mission Bay with decorations and lights aboard. Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot on Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island.

Date: December 8, 2012
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Boats of all sizes get decked out with holiday lights and circle Oceanside Harbor

Fishing boats, sailboats, yachts, kayaks and dingys dressed up in holiday swag and circle the Oceanside Harbor to enchant onlookers at the harbor, restaurants and beach. Many of the boats feature people dressed up like Santa waving to the crowd. One of the best viewing spots is along the side of the Oceanside Harbor near the fishing dock and police station. From this vantage point, you can see the parade twice!

Where: Oceanside Harbor, Oceanside, CA 92054
When: December 13, 2014
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Oceanside Parade of Lights

Garden of Lights

Garden of Lights San Diego Botanic Garden - Christmas Lights

Lights, flowers and s’mores – what more could you ask for? (photo by by John Bryant)

At night, the San Diego Botanic Garden is transformed into a winter wonderland with over 100,000 lights, live music, horse drawn wagon rides, warm beverages and snow (on certain days, make sure to check in advance). Just make sure to bring a sled (no metal runners please).

Location: 230 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024
Dates: December 6-24, 2014 (Closed December 24-25)
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
> Find out more about Garden of Lights

Christmas Lights at San Diego Attractions

Belardo Lights in Tierrasanta

A labor of love by two parents for their two sons with autism, the Schimka family has been lighting up Belardo Drive for the past seven years while raising money for the National Foundation for Autism Research. The display, which is synchronized to the music on 106.1 FM, has grown tremendously over the years and this year will include a new animated snowman and an improved spiral mega tree!

Location: 5306 Belardo Drive, San Diego, CA 92124
Dates: Through December 27, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free, please consider making a donation
> Find out more about Belardo Lights in Tierrasanta

Curtis Muller’s Bright Christmas

Curtis Muller puts on an incredible “symphony of light” as he likes to call it. The 15 minute shows feature lights, lasers, and fog machines synchronized to classic holiday music.

Location: 3757 South Mission Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028
Dates: December 19-23 & 25, 2014
Showtimes: 6:30 PM, 7:15 PM, 8:00 PM, 8:45 PM.
Cost: TBD
> Find out more about Curtis Muller’s Bright Christmas

Popular San Diego Neighborhoods with Christmas Lights

There are plenty of San Diego neighborhoods who collectively get into the holiday spirit with entire blocks lit up with Christmas lights. San Diego Family Magazine has collected all the locations on one printout you can download via the link below.

> Download the San Diego Family Magazine Map of Christmas Lights (PDF)

> Discover Even More Holiday Excitement in San Diego

Know of any other great Christmas lights in San Diego or have any updates to the ones listed above? Let us and others know in the comments below.