North Park and South Park: Hipster ‘Hoods for Art Lovers

North Park and South Park are two of San Diego’s hottest up-and-coming neighborhoods. Both locals and visitors flock to 30th Street, the neighborhoods’ main thoroughfare, for the newest and best restaurants, shops, bars and breweries. But when you’re done eating and shopping, set aside some time to explore the arts, because these neighborhoods are bustling with creative energy.

Discover the Arts and Culture of North Park and South Park


Galleries Galore

North Park and South Park are home to some of San Diego’s most creative and unusual art galleries. Whether you want to take home an original piece of art or just spend your time browsing the unique works, there are many galleries worth a visit.

  • Left Hand Black in South Park doubles as a tattoo parlor, but the local art on display is a great reason to stop in, even if you’re not looking to get inked.
  • Protea Gallery  in North Park not only exhibits art by local and international artists, it also sells the flowers from which the gallery takes its name.
  • The streets or North Park and South Park are full of public and graffiti art, so take a stroll in the great outdoor gallery that is San Diego! Don’t miss the mural by Shepard Fairey at the intersection of 30th St. & Ivy or the multiple murals by local artists on the laundromat at the 30th St. & Redwood.
With art everywhere, North Park's streets are like an outdoor gallery

With art everywhere, North Park’s streets are like an outdoor gallery

Artsy Events

In addition to the galleries, music and theater venues open year-round, North Park and South Park offer seasonal events brimming with arts and culture.

  • The quarterly South Park Walkabout is when the neighborhood’s shops, restaurants and galleries offer extended hours, food and drinks, and the event often includes live musical or dance performances scattered throughout the streets.
  • Ray at Night is all about celebrating the arts. On the second Saturday of every month, North Park’s galleries get wild and crazy with demos, music, performance art, and much more.
  • The annual North Park Festival of the Arts is the biggest of the neighborhood’s celebrations, with thousands of visitors gathering to buy locally made goods, hear live music, and drink craft beer every May.

> Explore More of San Diego – Nine Arts Districts, One Vibrant City


Top Things to Do in San Diego: Nov. 27 – Dec. 1, 2013

Surfing Santa Seaport Village San Diego holiday event

The holiday season has definitely arrived in San Diego. This weekend, you’ll find lots of festive events, as well as live jazz and and a tasty chili fest to keep things a little spicy.

Here are the top things to do in San Diego, Nov. 27 – Dec. 1 , 2013:

San Diego Jazz Fest

san diego jazz fest

A New Orleans-style street band is just one of the jazz types you’ll find at San Diego Jazz Fest.

Presented by the America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society, this annual festival features all types of jazz, ranging from traditional to ragtime to rockabilly and everything in between. Held every Thanksgiving weekend, the 34th Jazz Fest will offer big dance halls as well as small listening rooms to draw jazz lovers of every taste and style.

Where: Town & Country Hotel and Convention Center, 500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, CA 92108
When: Nov. 27 – Dec. 1, 2013
Time: 7 – 11 p.m. (Wed. and Thurs.), 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. (Fri.), 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. (Sat.), 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Sun.)
Cost: Varies; single day tickets start at $15 and multi-day tickets start at $95
>Find out more about the San Diego Jazz Fest

Surfin’ Santa’s Arrival at Seaport Village

Surfing Santa Seaport Village San Diego holiday event

Take a picture with surfing Santa!


The magic of the sea comes to life at Seaport Village when Santa arrives by jetpack and soars above the ocean surface to greet kids and adults. This family event will include pictures with Santa surfing a giant wave, ornament making, live music and plenty of holiday cheer at this cobblestoned shopping and dining hub located along the Downtown waterfront.

Where:  Seaport Village, 849 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
When:  November 30, 2013
Time:  1 – 5 p.m. (Santa arrives at 1pm in front of the Pier Café)
Cost:  Free
>Find out more about Surfin’ Santa at Seaport Village

Jingle Bell Jump at Mission Marketplace in Oceanside

santa parachute jump

Where else can you see Santa arrive by parachute?

Kids and families will witness Santa parachuting from the sky to greet those who attend this fun-filled community event in the city of Oceanside. The festivities include photo opportunities with Santa, a complete snow playground, kids’ crafts, live music and much more!

Where:  Mission Marketplace, 471 College Blvd, Oceanside CA 92057
When:  November 30, 2013
Time:  12 – 3 p.m.
Cost:  Free
>Find out more about Jingle Bell Jump

SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off

SoNo Chili Fest San Diego

Enjoy chili, beer, live music and more at the SoNo Fest.

The neighborhoods of South and North Park come together in a friendly chili competition among 29 top local restaurants competing as guests try out their chili in hand-spun ceramic bowls. The event offers two free live music stages, great holiday gifts and crafts from local artisans, five food trucks, a game truck and a kids’ activity zone with free cookie decorating, and craft beer and wine garden featuring 10 local breweries.

Where: 3216 Thorn Street, San Diego, CA 92104
When: Sunday, December 1, 2013
Time: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Festival is free; handmade ceramic bowls with chili tastings: $20
>Find out more about the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off

Luminaria First Light in South Park

buona forchetta south park san diego

Enjoy some pizza from Buona Forchetta or other tasty treats in South Park.

The historic craftsman neighborhood of South Park kicks off the holiday season with a beautiful display of luminarias presented by local businesses and homeowners. After 5 p.m. tree lighting, stroll the scenic streets to shop local boutiques and enjoy live music and tasty treats from neighborhood eateries.

Where: Beech St., between Fern St. and 30th St., San Diego, CA 92102
When: Sunday, December 1, 2013
Time: 5 – 9 p.m.
Cost: Free
>Find out more about the Luminara First Light in South Park

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

Browse the Event Calendar

What will you be doing this week in San Diego? Let us know in the comments.


Top Things to Do in San Diego: November 29 – December 2, 2012

North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

The holiday season is officially upon us! If you are avoiding the stores (or even better…done with your shopping), get out and enjoy one of these San Diego events and things to do this weekend.

1. NCAA® 2012 Women’s College Cup

NCAA 2012 Women's College Cup

Catch the excitement of the NCAA 2012 Women’s College Cup for its first visit to San Diego

For the first time ever, the University of San Diego will be hosting the NCAA College Cup, the women’s Division I soccer national championship on November 30 & December 2, 2012 at Torero Stadium. Penn State, Florida State, North Carolina and Stanford will make their way to San Diego to play for the national championship.

Location: Torero Stadium, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110 (map)
Dates: November 20 and December 2, 2012
Cost: $40 for all three games. Parking is free
> Find out more about the NCAA 2012 Women’s College Cup

2. LEGO Train City Exhibit

LEGO Train City Exhibit - San Diego Model Railroad Museum

All aboard the train to LEGO City at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum

If you have kids of a certain age, visiting this exhibit at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is a must. The exhibit features LEGO trains, trestles, transportation, skyscrapers, canyons, mountains, an ocean boardwalk and town buildings. Little ones can also enjoy playful learning in a LEGO Brick City zone filled with interactive, creative and educational activities.

Location: 1649 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)
Dates: November 20, 2012 – January 18, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM (Closed on Mondays)
Cost: Included with admission. Adults – $8, Seniors – $6, Children 14 and under – Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Model Railroad Museum’s LEGO Train City Exhibit

3. Holiday Lights at the Del Mar Fairgrounds


Enjoy the largest animated drive-through light show on the U.S. West Coast with more than 400 brilliant holiday light displays. Themed for the holiday season, the Holiday of Lights is a spectacular drive-through light show with crowd-pleasing, family oriented displays organized into themes, which include: Candy Cane Lane, Toyland, San Diego County Fair, Treasures by the Lake, Del Mar Racetrack, the Twelve Days of Christmas and Elves at Play.

> Find more Christmas light displays in San Diego

Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar, CA 92014 (map)
Dates: November 22, 2012 – January 1, 2013
Times: Sunday-Thursday: 5:30 to 10:00 PM. Friday-Saturday: 5:30 to 10:30 PM
Cost: $15 per car, up to 5 people. $20 per vehicle, 6 or more people. $50 per bus. $10 per person for the Holiday Hayride
> Find out more about Holiday Lights at the Del Mar Fairgrounds

4. North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

Get swept up in the holiday spirit during the North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

Celebrating its 49th year, the North Park Toyland Parade and festival includes vintage cars, marching bands, dance groups, beauty queens and city officials. Keep your eye out for Santa Claus and his sleigh, as he jingles all the way down the parade route.

> Discover even more Holiday Things to Do in San Diego

Location: Click here for the parade route
Date: December 1, 2012
Time: Parade starts at 11:00 AM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

5. SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza

SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza Collage

Chili, Shopping, Chili, Beer and Wine, Chili and Family Fun at the SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza. Did we mention there will be chili?

For the past 3 years, the two neighborhoods of South Park and North Park come together for the SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza. This family friendly festival offers a kids zone, shopping from local artisans, music, local craft beer and, of course, chili made by local restaurants and residents. Stop by to taste some chili and vote for your favorite in the “People’s Choice Award.”

Location: 32nd Street and Thorn, San Diego, CA 92104 (map)
Date: December 2, 2012
Time: 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Festival is Free. $20 for a ceramic chili bowl, 5 restaurant tastings and unlimited community tastings
> Find out more about SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza

> Browse more great things to do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of any other great events going on in San Diego this weekend? Let us and others know about them in the comments below.


Top Free Things to Do In San Diego: October 4-7, 2012

This weekend we are highlighting some fun activities you can do…all for free!

1. Annual Pacific Beachfest

Pacific Beachfest Logo

On Saturday, October 6, Pacific Beach will be hosting a one-day event to highlight all that San Diego beaches have to offer. This year the Pacific Beachfest will feature a Pro/Am Surf Competition Final with surfers competing from around the world, an Action Alley where professional skaters will be on hand demonstrating their skills, a beach volleyball tournament, as well as artists, vendors, activities and music.

2. ArtOberfest Walkabout

On Saturday, October 6 from 6:00 to 10:00 PM, visitors can walk around the neighborhood of South Park and enjoy a fun-filled evening festival and be introduced to the shops and cafes of South Park. From Kalmia to Beech Streets, you’ll find shops open late, entertainment, specials and surprises. Browse, explore, shop and celebrate the independent spirit of this legendary neighborhood!

3. Old Town San Diego Art Festival

Old Town San Diego Art Festival Banner

Watch the streets of Historic Old Town San Diego transform into an art extravaganza on Saturday and Sunday, October 6-7. Stroll down San Diego Avenue and see the variety of artists, entertainment, food and wine. And for the first time this year, there will be a Young Artist area that will feature a children’s art competition.

4. Friday Night Liberty & Fall for the Arts Kickoff

October is when arts and culture takes center stage in San Diego. Fall for the Arts is a month-long spotlight on the many vibrant arts and cultural activities throughout the region in conjunction with National Arts and Humanities Month. On Friday, October 5, at the NTC Liberty Station, local arts and culture organizations will present hundreds of free (and almost free!) events to ensure residents and visitors can get more bang for the buck!

> Discover More Great Things to Do with San Diego’s Event Calendar

What do you have planned for the weekend?


Cool Neighborhood Shopping in San Diego

True San Diego fashionista’s know about the urban-chic areas to shop at. For those of you who may not know, I thought I would share some of the areas that have a cool-factor and can accomplish most shopping missions. Three of my fav’s are Hillcrest, North Park and South Park. These neighborhoods offer a unique shopping experience for both women and men with clothing, vintage, accessories and home goods.


Browse Pretty Please, Mint Shoe, Frills and Cathedral in Hillcrest.

Starting with Hillcrest, one of my favorite places to shop for women’s clothing and accessories is Frills Boutique. This boutique offers a variety of blouses, dresses, and jeans. They always seem to have just the right outfit of choice for any casual event that you may be shopping for.

Shopping at Pretty Please Fashion won’t break the bank and will be sure to keep you in style! I love their featured ensembles by color. It is very easy to navigate through and their layering and bandeau choices are endless.

Flashbacks is a vintage/retro shopping haven! I love going here to find for both women and men retro styles that are reflective for today’s fashions.  I can find one-of-a-kind accessories here like clutches, shoe clips and jewelry.

Twirl Boutique is a great place for women to find that perfect going-out-on-the-town ensemble. They are usually spot-on with the current trends with great price points.

Carrying the latest urban-chic styles for both men and women, Mint Shoe Boutique is the place to find that stand-out shoe. They are known for carrying the latest retro-chic tennis shoes for men and super-chic heels and flats for women.

Pure Boutique offers great value for both women and men’s clothing and accessories. I love their selection of shoes and wood jewelry that is perfect for San Diego’s style!

If super-chic candles and home goods are your thing, then be sure to shop at Cathedral. I can always find the perfect one-of-a-kind home gift or addition to my vase collection here.

North Park

Explore Hunt & Gather and Mimi & Red in North Park

One of my must-see boutique’s for women is in North Park at, Mimi & Red. Carrying a wide variety of California-chic styles and at great prices, I never leave empty-handed.  I love the dresses, blouses and accessories here!

Hunt & Gather Boutique, a unique boutique for both women and men, specializes in vintage and new clothing, plus re-worked vintage. This is a modern-spin on the usual vintage boutique. The goal is to offer one-of-a-kind affordable pieces that are on track with today’s fashions.

South Park

Find Junc Life & Style, Bad Madge, Make Good and Mythology in South Park.

Start your South Park shopping adventure at the ever-inspiring vintage boutique, Bad Madge & Company. Bad Madge appeals to shopper’s of vintage furniture, knickknacks, clothing, books and jewelry.

I love Junc Life & Style Boutique for women, men and home goods.  This forward thinking boutique offers everything from up-cycled furniture, original artwork, mixed in with rustic-chic fashions for both men and women. The jewelry is fabulous here!

Make Good features over 120 local San Diego and Tijuana artists for handmade jewelry, art, crafts and re-sale clothing.

The Mythology Eco Boutique carries affordable cool organic tees, clothes and accessories for men, women, and children.

> Browse Even More Great Shopping Options in San Diego

Tell me in the comments below, where are your favorite places to shop in Hillcrest, North Park and/or South Park?


Candice’s Perfect Day in San Diego

The colorful (and delicious) sights of the Little Italy Mercato, including fresh uni.

It’s Saturday morning, and India Street is bustling as usual, with colorful tents and even more colorful produce on display at the Little Italy Mercato, one of the city’s best farmers markets. The Mercato’s highlight is freshly caught sea urchin, which Poppa’s Fresh Fish will happily crack open and hand over with a fork to so you can devour the delicacy immediately. But today, I’m saving my appetite for brunch at PrepKitchen. The chef takes his inspiration and ingredients from what’s available at the market that morning, so there’s a good chance I’ll be feasting on some of the Mercato’s spoils. After brunch, Little Italy’s indie boutiques beg for a little exploration.

Shopping at Little Italy’s Vocabulary boutique; brunch at PrepKitchen

My shopping itch not yet scratched, I head a couple of miles East to the South Park neighborhood, where I could spend hours wandering from boutique to boutique. If you happen to stop by on a Saturday afternoon, don’t be surprised to see a pop-up flea market in one of the grassy lots along Fern Street.

Shopping spills out into the street along Fern Street in South Park

Knitting books? Handmade jewelry from local designers? Craft beer bottles recycled into drinking glasses? A vintage ceramic ashtray in the shape of a Dachshund? Not matter what I’m looking for, I’ll probably find it at one of South Park’s crafty and quirky shops.

Make Good, Junc Life & Style and Graffiti Beach are just a few of the unique shops you’ll find in South Park.

After all that shopping, I’ve worked up a little appetite, so I make my way down to Barrio Logan, an epicenter of San Diego’s Hispanic community. Street tacos at La Fachada are the perfect fuel before stopping to admire Chicano Park, where vibrant murals beneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge overpass portray the struggles of the Mexican-American community.

Tacos at La Fachada; the murals of Chicano Park

Before the sun sets, I make my way to the beach to soak up summer’s welcoming weather. The beaches of La Jolla are some of my favorites – La Jolla Shores’ vast stretch of sand full of surfers and lifeguard towers feels quintessentially Southern Californian, while the rocky tidepools of La Jolla Cove are almost Mediterranean in appearance. But today, I set up camp beneath the towering sandstone cliffs of Torrey Pines.

For dinner, it’s of to 30th Street in the North Park neighborhood, where the Linkery has been serving up farm-to-table food for years before it became a staple of the national foodie vocabulary. And nothing washes down one of their housemade sausage links better than a local craft beer.

Craft beer and the farm-to-table tastes of the Linkery; Bar Pink’s kitschy-cool decor and drinks

Before calling it a day, I cross the street to Bar Pink. Their signature drink, the Sneaky Tiki, seems to sum up San Diego in a glass: beautiful, of course, but with some surprising flavors and just a bit of punch that sneaks up on you when you least expect. Before you know it, you’re drunk on the San Diego’s charms. What a perfect way to end my day.


San Diego Restaurant Week 2012 Extended!

Wine Vault & Bistro

Because you can never have too much of a good thing, San Diego Restaurant Week has been extended for an extra 6 days. If you missed it this week, you can still get great values on meals at more than 130 restaurants around the county from January 22 – 27, 2012.

With the great savings offered during Restaurant Week, now is the perfect time to get out and try something new. These cozy neighborhood joints will have you rubbing elbows with the locals while you savor a three-course dinner for $30 or less:

Wine Vault & Bistro

Wine Vault & Bistro

Wine Vault & Bistro

Dinner – $20
This charming spot in Mission Hills may be unassuming on the outside, but their menu is full of bold flavors. During Restaurant Week, you can start with beer-battered oysters, follow-up with a slow-roasted tri-tip steak and finish the evening with decadent dessert of milk chocolate ganache with brown butter ice cream. Of course, the meal wouldn’t be complete without wine pairings, which can be added to complement the menu for an additional cost.




Lunch – $15
Dinner – $30
A meal at this warm and cozy South Park favorite is like a trip around the world. Try Southern-inspired lemon-garlic shrimp and grits for an appetizer, a classic French coq au vin for the main course, and an unexpected twist on Filipino food with Vagabond’s banana lumpia for dessert.

Barrio Star

Barrio Star

Barrio Star

Dinner – $20
Fun and funky describe this Banker’s Hill restaurant. The hot pink color scheme will instantly put you in a good mood, and so will their delicious tacos. Whether you prefer the classics like carnitas with cotija cheese, onion and cilantro or the vegan-friendly soy chorizo option, Barrio Star’s Restaurant Week menu offers the comfort of Mexican cuisine served with a fresh perspective.


San Diego: Craft Beer Paradise

There’s no doubt about it – San Diego is a beer lovers paradise! With more than 35 local breweries, our city has more craft brewers than any other city in the country. Join me on a video tour of my favorite places to sample the best beer that San Diego has to offer.


Welcome to Margaritaville

It’s possible that Jimmy Bufffet had some other beachside escape in mind when he penned his most famous song but, I’d bet you’ll agree the inescapable summertime anthem is perfectly captured in frosty, refreshing tequila treats on menus at restaurants throughout the city. In fact, with our close connection to Mexico and year-round margarita-ready weather, you might just find your lost shaker of salt in San Diego.

Start the search in Old Town, San Diego’s historic neighborhood that calls to mind bygone days when the region was actually part of Mexico. At Cafe Coyote margarita options number in the dozens with flavors ranging from the classic lime to prickly pear, pomegranate and pineapple chipotle.

Want to learn more about tequila, the spirt that makes margaritas tick? Then drop by on Thursday or Friday evenings when Cafe Coyote’s resident Tequila Ambassador is on hand to answer all your agave questions.

Head up the street to El Agave where you’ll find San Diego’s largest collection of tequilas numbering at more than 2,000 different varieties. This tequila museum includes many fine varieties that are suitable for sipping but they also make a mean margarita. Try one with their house blend tequila for an authentically San Diego ‘rita.

Downtown, check out El Vitral where there are over 250 types of tequila behind the bar. Order a margarita with a modern twist and spicy syrups flavored with chipotle or black pepper. Or, splurge on the $300 El Chilango which features ultra-high end spirits like Clase Azul Ultra, Grand Marnier 150, Del Maguey tobola mezcal and palo cortado viejo sherry blended with fresh lime juice.

Scope out the Little Italy and South Park locations of El Camino Super Cocina where the Day of the Dead-inspired decor and kicky cowboy-boot shaped glasses are reminders that you don’t have to be so serious. After all, it’s a margarita and meant to be fun!