Robert Arends

Merry Mission Bay for the Holidays!

Mission Bay Parade of Lights!

Mission Bay Parade of Lights!

The holidays are just around the corner and there’s no better place to be than San Diego’s sparkling Mission Bay where distinctly California festivities await!

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay lights up December 13 during the Parade of Lights

Everybody loves a holiday parade. But in San Diego, they don’t just happen in the streets. A unique maritime way to make some merry this holiday season is the popular Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights on December 13, featuring dozens of boats festooned with holiday lights and décor sailing around Mission Bay.

All are welcome to this free aquatic pageant which attracts tens of thousands of spectators to the shoreline.

The boat parade begins at 7:00 PM from the Quivira Basin. The best viewing spots are from Crown Point, Santa Clara Point Park (by Sail Bay), the east side of Vacation Island and west side of Fiesta Island. Check out this map of Mission Bay to scope out the area beforehand.

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

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

Twinkling Holiday Skytower at SeaWorld

Twinkling Holiday Skytower at SeaWorld

Also on Mission Bay, SeaWorld San Diego makes a big splash with its annual Christmas Celebration, beginning this Saturday. Festivities include Christmas-themed animal shows, holiday décor throughout the park, Santa’s Cottage for the kids, the 320-ft. Skytower Christmas Tree of Lights and SnowWorld, a winter wonderland with hills of snow for kids to sled down and practice making snowballs. Yep, it snows in San Diego! (we just have to make it 😉

SnoWorld at SeaWorld!

SnowWorld at SeaWorld San Diego!

When: November 15, 2014 – January 4, 2015
Cost: Included with Admission
> Find out more about SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration

Mission Bay Hotel Holiday Deals

After a jolly day on the bay, rest your head at one of these top 5 tropical waterfront resorts that dot the shoreline:

See you this holiday season in Mission Bay! 🙂

Robert Arends

Make Waves on Mission Bay During Kids Free Month!

Have you heard? It’s Kids Free month in San Diego! Nope, that doesn’t mean San Diego is free from kids. But rather, just about everything for a kid’s visit (with their family) to San Diego is Free – as in free admission to all the major attractions, museums and so much more.

Kids Free month deals abound in Mission Bay!

Kids Free month deals abound in Mission Bay!

One area that was made for play is Mission Bay, a 4,600-acre aquatic wonderland of beaches, walking/bicycling trails, family-friendly resorts, water activities and famous attractions like SeaWorld.

Following are some of the coolest free offerings I scoped out around Mission Bay:

Play!

SeaWorld San Diego

Dolphin Encounter - SeaWorld San Diego in Mission Bay

Kids can enjoy the Dolphin Interaction Program at SeaWorld for free!

SeaWorld San Diego offers kids 3-9 years old free admission (1 child per paid adult), free Dine With Shamu (1 child per paid adult) and free Dolphin and Beluga Interaction Programs (1 child 10-13 years old per paid adult).

Belmont Park

Free kids rides on the Giant Dipper roller coaster by Mission Bay!

Free kids rides on the Giant Dipper roller coaster by Mission Bay!

At nearby Belmont Park, home of the thrilling Giant Dipper roller coaster, kids can enjoy unlimited free rides and laser tag (1 child per paid adult). They also ride for free (1 child per 2 paid riders) on FlowRider or FlowBarrel.

Paradise Point Resort

The tropical Paradise Point Resort offers kids free bike rentals to cruise the bayside plus free kayak and standup paddleboard rentals.

Bahia Belle Sternwheeler

Bahia Belle on Mission Bay

Kids ride free on the Bahia Belle sternwheeler!

Ahoy! Kids ride for free (1 child per paid adult) on the Bahia Belle sternwheeler cruise at the Bahia Resort Hotel.

Eat!

Kids eat free (with each adult purchase) at the Bahia Resort, Catamaran Resort (The Atoll restaurant) and The Dana on Mission Bay (Blue Pearl restaurant). They also get free breakfast at Hyatt Regency Mission Bay.

At Belmont Park, get your grub on with free kids’ meals (1 kids meal per paid adult meal) at Wavehouse Beach Club, South Mission Draft and North Shore Café.

Gifts!

Upon check in, Hilton San Diego Resort is giving out a free welcome gift to kids who check in. At the hip Tower 23 Hotel, each kids receives free milk and cookies plus a movie rental!

Free Animal Encounters in Mission Bay

Meet a parrot named Cornell at Catamaran Resort!

Meet a parrot named Cornell at Catamaran Resort!

You’ll also want to check out these awesome free animal encounters on Mission Bay!

> Browse even more Kids Free Offers in San Diego

Who knew there was so much to see and do for free?! 🙂

Robert Arends

Escape to the Tropics of San Diego’s Mission Bay

Mission Bay Aquatic Park, a tropical escape!

Tropical Mission Bay Aquatic Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Paradise Point Resort, a tropical oasis on Mission Bay!

Paradise Point Resort, a tropical oasis on Mission Bay!

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

> Find out more about the Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa

Fun summer luau at Catamaran Resort, Mission Bay

Fun summer luau at Catamaran Resort, Mission Bay

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

> Find out more about the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa

Bahia Resort Hotel

Bahia Resort Hotel

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

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

> Find out more about the Bahia Resort Hotel

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

Poolside at the tropical Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

Poolside at the tropical Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

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

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

The Dana on Mission Bay

Cool tiki at The Dana on Mission Bay!

Cool tiki at The Dana on Mission Bay!

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

> Find out more about The Dana on Mission Bay

> Discover even more Tropical Fun in Mission Bay

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

Robert Arends

Aloha – 5 Fun Tiki Finds Throughout San Diego!

Mr. Bali Hai tiki at Bali Hai Restaurant, Shelter Island

Aloha from San Diego! 😉

Yep, some really cool Hawaiian and South Seas influences, architecture and tikis (my favorite!) can be found throughout San Diego, particularly Shelter Island on San Diego Bay, Point Loma, Mission Valley and Mission Bay.

Why, you ask?

Well, after WWII, American soldiers and sailors returned home from the South Pacific with stories, souvenirs, music and more from these tropical islands, to the delight of the American public who romanticized exotic island cultures. A bit later (in 1959) Hawaii became a state, further fueling the popularity of all things Polynesian.

Being a big Navy town on the Pacific, San Diego was a prime spot to celebrate and recreate tiki culture. Sadly, by the 1980s, Polynesian influences around town began to disappear as contemporary tastes and design took hold. But, lucky for us, fun tiki finds remain if you know where to look.

Following are my top 5:

1. Bali Hai Restaurant

Mr. Bali Hai tiki at Bali Hai Restaurant, Shelter Island

Mr. Bali Hai tiki at Bali Hai Restaurant, Shelter Island

Bali Hai Restaurant, opened in 1954 on Shelter Island, is a local “tiki temple” of sorts with hand-carved tiki sculptures – including Mr. Bali Hai, shown here, and the “Goof on the Roof” – and genuine Polynesian artifacts filling every nook and cranny. You can even take home your very own souvenir tiki mug!

Where: 2230 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about the Bali Hai Restaurant

2. Crowne Plaza Hotel

Tiki Oasis art at Crown Plaza Hotel, Mission Valley

Tiki Oasis art at Crown Plaza Hotel, Mission Valley

Also opened in 1954, the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Mission Valley (formerly Hanalei Hotel) is a slice of paradise on the San Diego River. It has retained much of its Hawaiian-themed luster from yesteryear; tikis and Polynesian art can be found in the lobby, restaurant and around the tropical pool area. It’s also the site of the big annual Tiki Oasis convention, the “biggest Tiki Weekender on the planet.” I’ll be there!

Where: 2270 Hotel Circle N, San Diego, CA 92108
> Find out more about the Crowne Plaza Hotel

3. Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn & Suites

A little bit of Hawaii at Humphrey's Half Moon Inn, Shelter Island

A little bit of Hawaii at Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn, Shelter Island

Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn & Suites (built-in 1959) on Shelter Island is a landmark Tiki Modern resort with a soaring lobby roof that extends out like a giant Polynesian fishing canoe complete with a lantern used to attract fish. This is as real as it gets!

Where: 2303 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn & Suites

4.  Trader Mort’s Liquor Store

Playful tiki at Trader Mort's Liquor Store, Point Loma

Playful tiki at Trader Mort’s Liquor Store, Point Loma

Nearby Trader Mort’s Liquor Store in Point Loma (originally named the Hooch Hut – love it!) is famous for its tiki hut design and tongue-wagging tiki god out front.

Where: 2904 Shelter Island Dr, San DiegoCA 92106
> Find out more about Trader Mort’s Liquor Store

5. The Dana Hotel on Mission Bay

Tiki at The Dana hotel on Mission Bay

Tiki at The Dana hotel on Mission Bay

Amongst the lush gardens at The Dana Hotel on Mission Bay there’s a mighty tiki warrior sculpture greeting guests; one of my fav tiki finds!

Where: 1710 W Mission Bay Dr, San Diego, CA 92109
> Find out more about The Dana Hotel on Mission Bay

Get into the Tiki Spirit with a Guided Tour

You can also get into the “spirit of aloha” in San Diego by taking a two-hour Surf and Tiki Tour of 20 local tiki statues and other hidden spots you won’t find in guidebooks.

Your tiki-inspired escape to paradise awaits… in San Diego! 🙂