Frank

Your Guide to the 2014 San Diego Pride Weekend

Rainbow Flag at the San Diego Pride Parade

Rainbow Flag at the San Diego Pride Parade

San Diego LGBT Pride celebrates its 40th anniversary this summer with a jam-packed schedule of activities and entertainment geared for all ages. The three-day weekend attracts nearly 300,000 participants that include visitors from all over the world, as the spirit of celebration descends upon the areas of Hillcrest and Balboa Park. Among its many sponsors, Alaska Airlines is offering 10 percent discounts on flights to San Diego between July 16 and 22 from most major cities.

The Spirit of Stonewall Rally

San Diego Pride weekend kicks off with an energizing, outdoor rally that pays homage to the flash point of the modern-day LGBT movement, when patrons of New York City’s Stonewall Inn protested against police harassment on June 28, 1969. This year’s San Diego Pride rally sets the stage for a host of political speakers and LGBT activists that include transgender actress Laverne Cox of the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black. She will be joined by California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria and veteran activist Nicole Murray-Ramirez. The free event also spotlights San Diego Pride’s annual award recipients, honored for their contributions to the community.

Where: Pride Flag at University Avenue and Normal Street in Hillcrest
When: July 18, 2014
Time: 6:00 to 7:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about The Spirit of Stonewall Rally

Pride of Hillcrest Block Party

Food, drinks, dancing and celebrity performances by Taryn Manning and acclaimed DJs are on tap for Pride’s third annual block party, an event for those 21 years of age and over. The festivities don’t exclude go-go dancers and VIP private cabanas.

Where: University Avenue and Normal Street in Hillcrest
When: July 18, 2014
Time: 5:00 to 11:00 PM
Cost: $25-$1500
> Find out more about the Pride of Hillcrest Block Party

The Parade

The mile-long parade is San Diego’s largest civic event, attracting thousands of cheering sideliners and upwards of 150 colorful floats and contingents that will include members of the Armed Forces, politicians, civic organizations and an array of gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses unique to San Diego. The wildly colorful procession heads west on University Avenue and then turns south on Sixth Avenue, ending near the entrance of Pride’s two-day festival in Balboa Park. Seize your perch early because the crowds start gathering around 9:30 AM.

If you’re staying in centrally located hotels such as the Inn at the ParkAnn Callahan’s Hillcrest House Bed & Breakfast, the Sommerset Suites Hotel or Balboa Park Inn, the parade site is in easy walking distance. If driving, free parking lots and shuttle service to the area are available at the Old Naval Hospital (Park Boulevard and President’s Way) and San Diego City College (1313 Park Blvd.)

Starting Point: University Ave. and Normal Street, San Diego, CA 92103
When: July 19, 2014
Starting Time: 11:00 AM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Pride Parade

The Festival

San Diego Pride’s two-day festival spans across grassy areas shaded by eucalyptus trees in Balboa Park’s Marston Point area. The idyllic venue will make way for hundreds of exhibits, including a “Destination Station” by NASA, as well as food vendors, beer gardens and 10 performance stages. Fueling the main stage this year are headline performers such as Canadian R&B singer-songwriter Deborah Cox; house music producer Robbie Rivera; and Australian songwriter tyDi.

Other festival highlights include: “My Big Gay Wedding Expo” presented by leading wedding-industry experts; a youth zone; a children’s garden; a “bear country” saloon; a wine grotto and more.

Where: 6th Ave & Laurel St, San Diego, CA 92103
When: July 19-20, 2014
Cost: Both Days – $20. Children 15 and Under – Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Pride Festival

Tips and info regarding San Diego Pride weekend

  • Bring sunscreen because the parade and festival rarely occur under cloudy skies.
  • A majority of bars and restaurants along University and Sixth Avenues open early the day of the parade.
  • The Spirit of Stonewall Rally and mile-long parade are free events.
  • Depending from where you view the parade, walking to the festival takes between 5 and 30 minutes.
  • Backpacks are subject to searches when entering the festival; alcohol, firearms and glass containers are not permitted.
  • Service animals are permitted inside the festival grounds; pets are not.
  • ATMs are available near the festival entrance.
  • Parking is extremely limited throughout Hillcrest during parade and festival. It’s best to use the free parking lots and shuttles at the Old Naval Hospital and San Diego City College, as mentioned above.
Robert Arends

Quick Guide to the 2013 San Diego Pride!

Walking under Hillcrest SignLet your rainbow colors fly! San Diego Pride is coming up this weekend, July 12-14. The glittery glamorous spotlight shines on Hillcrest, San Diego’s hip uptown neighborhood, during one of our city’s biggest summer events. Following is a quick guide to the big annual LGBT celebration.

Three Must-See San Diego Pride Events…

Dancers at Pride of Hillcrest Block Party!

Dancers at Pride of Hillcrest Block Party!

First, here’s the 411 on the big three must-see San Diego Pride events:

  • 2nd annual Pride of Hillcrest Block Party on July 12, 6-11pm, on Normal St.; starring former Pussycat Doll Jessica Sutta.
  • 39th Annual Pride Parade on July 13, 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, down University Ave. Grand Marshalls are George Takei (of Star Trek fame!), his partner Brad and La Toya Jackson (really!)
  • Pride Festival, July 13-14, in beautiful Balboa Park, featuring eight dance/entertainment stages, including Ms. Jackson in concert.

Sip…

Good times on tap at Urban Mo's!

Good times on tap at Urban Mo’s!

So many bars, so little time! Let’s narrow down the list a bit to these Top 10 tried and true hotspots:

  1. Baby Cakes – cocktails and cupcakes, sweet! Fab for people watching from the patio.
  2. Bourbon Street – a classy touch of N’Orleans in neighboring University Heights
  3. Brass Rail – the official Pride Parade After Party, and no cover!
  4. Flicks – Hillcrest’s #1 video bar.
  5. Gossip Grill – caters to the ladies (gents welcome too)
  6. Hillcrest Brewing Company – toast San Diego’s hop-pening craft beer scene and the world’s 1st LGBT brewery!
  7. Martinis Above Fourth – swanky digs and best martinis in town!
  8. Number One Fifth Avenue – friendly neighborhood bar with patio out back to mix & mingle
  9. Pecs – Bears, oh my! Good times on tap all weekend.
  10. Urban Mos – dance floor, 3 bars, packed patio and great food…yes please!

Sup…

There are dozens of great restaurants in and around Hillcrest. Standouts include the new Great Maple, Project Pie (best pizzas!), D Bar and Snooze. Other favs: Baja Betty’s (muy bueno Mexican food), The Tractor Room, Yakitori Izakaya Tec Chan (for yummy late-night Japanese apps), Cucina Urbana and Café on Park (popular brunch spot!).

Sleep…

The coolest, closest gay-friendly hotel is Inn at the Park, just two blocks from Hillcrest and the Pride Festival. Their rooftop happy hour on Friday is off the charts!

PAR-TAY!

Go wild at the San Diego Zoo Party!

Go wild at the San Diego Zoo Party!

Groovestars unite at Rich’s nightclub for high NRG music and dancing till 2am. For you circuit boys and gals, four Pride Parties are sure to perk you up (get tickets here or at the door):

  • Pride Ball – July 12, 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM at Spin Night Club
  • Circuit Daze – July 13, 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park
  • The famous [for some, infamous ;-)] Zoo Party – July 14, 4:00 to 11:00 PM at the San Diego Zoo
  • Fete Accompli – July 14, 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM at the House of Blues downtown

P.S. While you’re here, work on that coppertone tan at Coronado Beach, one of “America’s Manliest Beaches,” according to The Travel Channel.

Robert Arends

Hillcrest Neighborhood Spotlight – Home of San Diego’s LGBT community

Walking under Hillcrest Sign
Walking under Hillcrest Sign

Happening Hillcrest!

San Diego’s uptown neighborhood of Hillcrest, home of San Diego’s LGBT community, celebrates diversity year-round with a vibrant rainbow mix of accommodations, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, chic boutiques, vintage clothing stores, kitschy novelty shops and so much more.

With San Diego Pride coming up next month (July 12-14), now is the perfect time to spotlight a few of my favorite places worth checking out:

Where to Stay

The historic Inn at the Park, located right across the street from Balboa Park, is home to the best happy hour in Hillcrest: Top of the Park, a Friday night tradition where hundreds gather on the rooftop to soak up the sunset and kick-off the weekend over cocktails.

Stay at Ann Callahan’s Hillcrest House Bed & Breakfast for a relaxing escape in the heart of Hillcrest and still just a short walk away all the shops, restaurants and bars on University Avenue.

Bar Hop

Bar hopping in Hillcrest

Bar hopping in Hillcrest

Urban Mo’s is fun and boisterous with strong margaritas and booming dance music on a packed outdoor patio and indoor dance floor. Hillcrest Brewing Company, claiming to be the World’s First “Out and Proud LGBT Brewery”(wow!), has 9 tasty in-house craft brews on tap to quench your thirst. If crafty cocktails are more your thing, Martinis Above Fourth is a swanky go-to spot.

Gotta Dance

If you’ve got to get your groove on, Rich’s with its two dance floors and sexy go-go boys can’t be beat!

Java Joint

Filter Coffee House is the place to see and be seen while sipping espresso and “studying” the crowd for cuties, day or night.

Dinner & a Show

D Bar restaurant is my new fav with its sleek moderne design and delish dishes like Southern fried Belgian – a sweet waffle with fried chicken (yep!). Their macarons are also off the charts! Afterward, head to Diversionary Theatre for cutting edge theater at its finest.

Brunch ‘n Lunch

Colorful Café on Park with its deliciously imaginative breakfast dishes like egg scrambles, Captain Crunch pancakes (yep!) and crab cake benny, is sure to satisfy!

Shop till you drop

Shopping in Hillcrest

Shop-portuunities galore in Hillcrest

Stroll along Fifth Ave. and University Ave. for funky, one-of-a-kind finds. Park Blvd. is great for retro, mid-Century modern treasures.

> Discover more of San Diego’s Hillcrest

Robert Arends

Quick Guide to San Diego Pride!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…San Diego Pride, that is, coming up this weekend July 20-22! Pride is one of our city’s biggest summer events, especially for Hillcrest, the hip LGBT uptown neighborhood.

With SO much to see and do, I thought I’d narrow it down for our out-of-town guests with some favorite local hotspots to mix & mingle, unwind and boogie down.

Eat,

Hillcrest offers a wide range of dining options (hey, a girl’s got to eat! 😉 ), especially along University Ave. and 5th Ave. Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Cafe on 5th is THE place for great Mexican food (you’ll love the carnitas), and it’s right across the street from Inn at the Park (see DRINK below). Asian Bistro on University (right down the street from Urban Mo’s – see DRINK below) is perfect for a late-night nosh after getting your groove on (the duck soup is delish!). Café on Park is my fav for brunch where you can nurse a hangover with Captain Crunch pancakes – yum!

Drink…

Good times on tap at Urban Mo’s!

Start your Pride pub crawl at Top of the Park, the fab Friday night happy hour on the rooftop of Inn at the Park. Enjoy phenomenal views of downtown, Balboa Park and San Diego Bay while sipping cocktails and socializing. Then head to Hillcrest’s most popular “family” of bars: Urban Mo’s (the patio is jumping!), Gossip Grill (for the girls!), Baja Betty’s (ole!) and Hillcrest Brewing Co. – the FIRST gay brewery in the world! Also be sure to check out Bourbon Street, our little slice of New Orleans on Park Blvd.

& Be Merry!

Picture-perfect Hillcrest!

Kick things off on Friday at the first-ever Pride of Hillcrest Block Party with DJs, dancing, food, drink and “Hillcrest Pride Flag Viewing” Ferris wheel (!) at the intersection of Normal St. and University Ave.

San Diego Pride Parade down University Ave.

On Saturday, the colorful Pride Parade takes to the streets (University Ave. and 6th Ave.) from 11am-1pm, with Grand Marshal Sandra Bernhard and actor Alex Newell from the hit TV Show “Glee.” This year’s theme is “America’s Pride” (translation: active duty men and women in uniform!).

The Pride Festival takes place Saturday (12 noon-10pm) and Sunday (11am-8pm) at Marston Point in Balboa Park (along 6th Ave.). Music headliner is Wynter Gordon, known for her smash hit single, “Dirty Talk.” One-day ticket is $20; two-day tix are $30.

For all you grooovestars, dance the night away at spacious Rich’s nightclub (with two outdoor patios) and the chic new discothèque Eden just across the street.

Let your rainbow colors fly proudly in San Diego!

Suzzanne

This Weekend in San Diego

What to do in San Diego this weekend!

> Find Even More Great Events in San Diego

1. 59th Annual Over-the-Line Tournament – 2nd Weekend

The finals of the Over the Line (OTL) tournament are taking place this weekend, July 21st and 22nd. If you have never seen OTL before, go check it out on Fiesta Island in Mission Bay. You will not regret it. Remember, observe the five B’s rule: No Babies, No Bottles, No Bowsers, No Bikes, No Boas. Enjoy!

2. Del Mar Racing

Where the Turf Meets the Surf!

The racing season runs from July 18 – September 5th. This weekend, one of my favorite events is Donut Day. On July 21st from 8:00 – 10:00 am, visitors will get free donuts as well as a behind-the-scenes tour of the racetrack and Q & A with trainers and jockeys.

3. Annual LGBT Pride Parade & Festival

San Diego LGBT Pride Parade and Festival

The annual San Diego LGBT Pride Parade on July 21st is the 4th largest in the United States attracting over 197,000 cheering spectators and significant media participation. Parade kicks off at 11:00 am and begins at University Ave. and Normal Street, then proceeds west on University Avenue to 6th Avenue, turns south on 6th Avenue, ending at Balboa Drive and Upas Street.

4. Leopard Sharks at the Birch Aquarium

Leopard Sharks at the Birch Aquarium

The Birch Aquarium is dedicating the month of July to on of their local favorites – the Leopard Shark. Thousands of these amazing sharks congregate every year near La Jolla Shores. Events include Leopard-Shark Focused Dive Shows, Talk with a Shark Scientist and SEA Days: Sharks around the Globe.

5. 9th Annual San Diego International Children’s Film Festival

San Diego International Film Festival

Visit the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park to see short films from around the world for children and teens. Over 100 short films from some 20 countries will be screened during the festival. And best of all, the screenings are free!

> Find Even More Great Events in San Diego