Dave

About Dave

I soak up news like a sponge - which is why I've spent years working on the business side of news media here in San Diego. I'm also a big supporter of local businesses - big and small and working to improve the overall quality of life for San Diego when it comes to economic and environmental issues.

How would you describe your ideal San Diego Day?

Rally friends for a morning surf at Black's or Seaside Reef followed by lunch at Board & Brew for their Baja chicken sandwich. Cheer on my daughter at an afternoon soccer game. Load up on goodies from the Solana Beach or Leucadia Farmers Market. Stop by El Nopalito market for some carne asada to throw on the grill for a sunset BBQ at home with family and friends. Finish the evening enjoying live music at the Belly Up where my name just happens to appear on the guest list!

What's your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Surfing - a no-brainer. Black's, Del Mar, Cardiff Reef and Oceanside in the summer. Riding my trusty vintage Schwinn along Coast Hwy 101 is a distant second.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguini and red wine?

Fish tacos with ice cold Mexican beer - I'll take a Pacifico with lime and Brigantine fish taco over just about anything.

Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player?

I love old school hip hop but I've become a Pandora victim. Definitely Outkast Radio when I'm at the gym, something mellow like Carla Bruni when I'm home making dinner.

Follow me on Twitter @26DelMar
Dave

New Year’s Eve Celebrations for Kids in San Diego

LEGOLAND NYE Fireworks

Keeping the kids awake past midnight on New Year’s Eve can sometimes be a recipe for disaster, but luckily, several venues around San Diego offer a range of family friendly events that allow you to toast your tots and still make it back by bedtime. Whether you prefer to go budget-friendly or big-time, here’s a short list of options that will help make it a joyous transition to 2014.

Kids’ New Year’s Eve at LEGOLAND

LEGOLAND NYE Fireworks

Ring in 2014 at LEGOLAND’s family friendly New Year’s Eve Celebration

Kids ring in the New Year as if they’re smack dab in the middle of New York’s Times Square at LEGOLAND’s New Year’s Eve party. The event features a full lineup of live kids music and an early evening countdown that culminates with its traditional LEGO brick dropping and a giant fireworks display.

Where: One LEGOLAND Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008
When: December 31, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM (6:00 PM countdown & fireworks)
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Kids’ New Year’s Eve at LEGOLAND

New Year’s Eve 50’s Themed Sock Hop Bash

New Year's Eve Sock Hop

Step back in time as we move forward another year at a 1950’s style Sock Hop

Put on your poodle skirt and lace up those saddle shoes for this 50’s theme Sock Hop Bash at Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa in coastal North County.

This family focused fete includes a buffet style dinner and dessert bar, a live DJ, and a special Kids Party Zone complete with a “Gamer Room” that includes XBox Kinect, Dance Central, racing games, and Wii. Kids will also enjoy face painting, traditional table games like air hockey and foosball, plus their very own dance floor. The Kids Club Party Room counts down the New Year with a balloon drop at 9:00 PM.

Where: Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa 5480 Grand Pacific Dr, Carlsbad, CA  92008
When: December 31, 2013
Time: 6:30 PM to 12:30 AM (Kids countdown at 9:00 PM)
Cost: $90 Adult (18+); $45 Child (13-17); $30 Child (4-12) Free for Ages 3 and under. Prices increase after December 30, 2013.
> Find out more about New Year’s Eve 50’s Themed Sock Hop Bash

Kids New Year’s Eve at Hotel del Coronado

Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado

Skating by the Sea at The Del!

While the grownups toast champagne in the Hotel Del’s beautiful Crown Room, kids will be having a ball of their own with dinner, beach games, a bonfire and enjoying the resorts Kidtopia, a fun-filled facility catered specially for kids 4-12.

Where:  Hotel del Coronado 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
When:  December 31, 2013
Time:  7:00PM to 12:30 AM
Cost:  $300-$330 Adults; $100 first child 4-12 $60 each additional
> Find out more about New Year’s Eve at the Hotel del Coronado

Pajama Jam: New Year’s Family Night Out

New Children's Museum Pajama Jam

Taking place the Saturday before New Year’s Eve, the New Children’s Museum hosts a zany Pajama Jam where both kids and grownups sport their jammies and bunny slippers while they boogie down to live kids music from Clint Perry & The Boo Hoo Crew, enjoy a delicious dinner from local restaurants, participate in New Year’s themed art-making activities and of course, a balloon drop.

Where: 200 W Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 28, 2013
Time: 5:00 to 8:00 PM
Cost: $35 Adults; $25 Children; Free under 2 yrs. (includes parking & hosted bar)
> Find out more about Pajama Jam: New Year’s Family Night Out

John’s New Year’s Eve Party and Horn Parade

John's Incredible Pizza Company

Let the kids play all night at John’s Incredible Pizza Company

For a more low-key approach, head to John’s Incredible Pizza Co. where kids of all ages will enjoy celebrating the New Year with an evening of pizza, games, rides, and a special Horn Parade for those that can make it to midnight!

Where: 3010 Plaza Bonita Rd, National City, CA 91950
When: December 31, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM to 1:00 AM (Horn Parade at Midnight)
Cost:  $20-$35 Adults (13+); $15-$30 Child (3-12)
> Find out more about John’s New Year’s Eve Party and Horn Parade

Kids New Year’s Eve Party at City of Coronado Public Library

Kids at the Coronado Public Library

Have some early NYE fun at the Coronado Public Library

This hour-long event is free to the public and offers games, crafts and a piñata all leading up to the countdown! If you’re in the Coronado area, be sure to check it out.

Where: Coronado Public Library 640 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
When: December 31, 2013
Time: 1:00 to 2:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Kid’s New Year’s Eve Party at the Coronado Public Library

What are your family plans for this New Year’s Eve?

Dave

Small Events with Big Charm: Holiday Activities for Kids

Garden of Lights San Diego Botanic Garden

San Diego’s big attractions go all-out for the holidays, but not all families that want to the hustle and bustle of large events. Families looking for a more intimate holiday experience can enjoy some equally charming activities happening all around town.

Garden of Lights at San Diego Botanic Garden

Garden of Lights San Diego Botanic Garden

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

Garden of Lights transforms the San Diego Botanic Garden into a dazzling winter wonderland filled with more than 100,000 sparkling lights illuminating the garden for a magical holiday experience that includes snow sledding (bring your own!), live music that includes mariachis and traditional Christmas carolers and get this – even a team of blonde Belgian draft horses ready to take your tykes on a wild wagon ride they won’t soon forget.

The event is a shutterbug’s dream, with Santa Claus posing for pics with young and old in a brightly lit gazebo and a vibrant, festively decorated “Poinsettia Garden” that will certainly make your snapshots sparkle. The social set will appreciate the warm and cozy campfire setup that provides s’mores and marshmallow roasting opportunities; supplies will be available for purchase, including cocoa, hot mulled wine and standard coffee drinks.

There will also be a variety of special holiday crafts that children can take home, a nutcracker exhibit displaying a collection of more 50 nutcrackers and a unique display of gourd figures featuring characters from the original Alice in Wonderland book.

Where:  230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas CA 92024
When:  December 7 – 23, 2013 and December 26 – 30, 2013
Time:  5 – 9 p.m.
Cost:  Adult $14; Child (3-12) $6; Seniors, Military & Students $10; Kids under 3 free
>Find out more about the Garden of Lights

Frosty Farm at Helen Woodward Animal Center

Frosty Farm at Helen Woodward Animal Center San Diego

It doesn’t get much cuter than the Frosty Farm (photo courtesy Helen Woodward Animal Center)

There’s nothing cuter than miniature horses dressed as reindeer, and kids who love animals will agree as they revel in Frosty Farm’s festive four-legged frenzy that takes place at the Helen Woodward Animal Center. The event features hands-on interaction with sheep, bunnies, guinea pigs and reptiles. In addition, kids can frolic in falling snow, navigate a Magical Ice Palace Maze, build a gingerbread house and receive a special gift from Santa.

Where:  Helen Woodward Animal Center 6461 El Apajo Road, Rancho Santa Fe CA 92067
When:  December 7-8 & December 14-15
Time:  10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Cost:  $20 Child; $9 Adult (registration required at animalcenter.org/education)
>Find out more about the Frosty Farm

Christmas in the Park at Old Poway Park

Christmas in the Park at Old Poway Park San Diego

Santa welcomes guests to Old Poway Park.

Families looking for a holiday festival that captures that small town charm will want to head to Old Poway Park in the City of Poway. The festival embraces the historic park’s turn-of-the-century heritage with a community Christmas tree lighting, horse drawn hayrides, a live petting zoo, square dancing, children’s theater and piano player sing-a-longs that the whole family will enjoy.

Even Santa and Mrs. Claus add to the nostalgia of these old-fashion traditions when they make a surprise visit rolling into the festival riding on a 1907 Baldwin steam locomotive. Families will also be able to ride the antique train during the festival.

Where:  Old Poway Park, 14134 Midland Rd, Poway CA 92064
When:  December 14, 2013
Time:  3:30pm – 8:30pm
Cost:  Free
>Find out more about Christmas in the Park

Do you know of any fun holiday activities for kids happening around town? Share it with us in the comments below.

Dave

5 Great Family Dining Options for Kids Free in San Diego This October

Corvette Dinner - Kids Free in San Diego
Corvette Dinner - Kids Free in San Diego

Amazing places like Corvette Diner are offering great deals during Kids Free in San Diego this October

For the entire month of October, Kids Free in San Diego partners including local attractions and museums are offering kids the ability to go and play for free. To make things even better, many local restaurants are offering free children’s meals to make sure your kids have the energy for all the fun they are about to have.

Below are 5 great Kids Free in San Diego dining offers:

Dine With Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego – Mission Bay

If your kids have been eating all their veggies, now’s your chance to reward them with a unique dining experience they’ll never forget. Dine With Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego offers a unique opportunity to sit at a poolside table and enjoy up close, personal interaction with trainers and of course, SeaWorld’s biggest star, Shamu – all while indulging in a delicious, first-rate lunch or dinner. Reservations recommended.

Location: 500 SeaWorld Dr, San Diego, CA 92109
> Print the Kids Go, Eat and Play Free at SeaWorld San Diego Offer

Corvette Diner – Point Loma

Even before I had children, I loved eating at this up-tempo, 1950’s style diner whenever I wanted to feel, well, like a kid. This Americana-inspired eatery decked out in pop culture memorabilia really took it up a notch when it moved to its Liberty Station location and added Gamers Garage – a spacious entertainment arcade featuring everything from Guitar Hero to old school classics like skee ball and air hockey – perfect for digesting that peanut butter banana milk shake. Receive a free $5 Gamers Garage card with any kid’s meal purchase.

Location: 2965 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
> Print the Kids Play Free at Corvette Diner Offer

Hard Rock Cafe – Downtown

It’s been over 40 years since the original opened in London, but Hard Rock Café San Diego, located in the heart of our city’s Gaslamp Quarter, continues to deliver an encore-worthy performance. Spacious booths for families, a kid’s menu longer than a playlist, and décor that will inspire your lil’ Jimi Hendrix, make this joint worthy of a stop on your world tour.

Location: 801 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Print the Kids Eat Free at Hard Rock Café San Diego Offer

Atoll Restaurant at Catamaran Resort Hotel – Mission Bay

While recently attending a friend’s wedding here, I was reminded how awesome this resort is with its lush landscaping, exotic birds and overall tropical vibe. Atoll is the resort’s signature restaurant and features indoor and outdoor seating with magnificent views of the bay. This place is definitely a step above your typical fast casual fare – which is all the more reason you should flock here during Kids Free in San Diego this October. Nearby, the Bahia Belle, a “Turn of the Century” Mississippi-style sternwheeler offers weekend boat cruises on the water of Mission Bay. 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM cruises are designated “Family Hours” and kids ride free through the month of October with each paid adult.

Location: 3999 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109
> Print the Kids Eat Free at the Atoll at the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa

Wave House San Diego – Mission Beach

The Wave House is living proof that San Diego is at the forefront of innovation when it comes to action sports, which is why the focal point of this 40,000 sq. ft. beach lifestyle venue is the FlowRider – an artificial wave machine that produces perfectly groomed swells by a technology that is taking the world by storm. The Wave House Beach Club lets Kids Eat Free and is a perfect venue for families to watch skilled surfers put on a remarkable display riding these killer waves. And after the kids are done eating, take advantage of Belmont Park’s Kids Free in San Diego offer so they can burn off all the calories.

Location: 3125 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego, CA 92109
> Print the Kids Eat Free at Wave House San Diego Offer

> Browse the more than 100 Kids Free in San Diego Offers

Are you taking advantage of the Kids Free in San Diego dining offers? If so, which one(s) has your family enjoyed?

Dave

Top 10 San Diego Budget-Friendly Fall Activities for Kids

Family at Pumpkin Patch - Fall Activities for Kids
Family at Pumpkin Patch - Fall Activities for Kids

Visiting the a pumpkin patch is just one of the many fall activities for kids my family enjoys

San Diego’s warm autumn weather means the whole family can stay out all day and enjoy any one of these amazing budget-friendly fall activities for kids.

1. Take to the Streets

Some of San Diego’s best street festivals take place in the fall – a great way to get introduced to the local flavor when it comes to food, art and entertainment. Bounce houses and other inflatable wonders allow kids to burn off energy while you recharge your batteries. Notables include: Adams Avenue Street Fair, Old Town’s Fall FestivalFall Back: The Children’s Historical Street Faire and Carlsbad Village Faire.

2. Pumpkin patch outing

A Fall Classic of a different sort, a family trip to the pumpkin patch is an absolute must. Bates Nut Farm is still the granddaddy in terms of size and scenery, but outfits like Pumpkin Station offer smaller scale versions scattered throughout the county. Colorful pumpkins, kiddie rides, petting zoos – here’s a chance to finally update your family photo on Facebook.

> Find a Pumpkin Patch near you

3. Visit a local Farmer’s Market

I like taking my kids to a San Diego Farmer’s Market in the fall to remind them there’s life beyond the frozen food section. Kids go ga-ga when they get to sample everything from plump juicy peaches to fresh popped kettle corn. Our favorites include: Hillcrest, Little Italy and Oceanside.

4. Get back to nature

With its serene setting and convenient location, the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve makes getting back out into nature a breeze. Serpentine through the estuary trails that offer amazing photo opportunities and just the right amount of exercise. Pack a lunch and sit up on the rooftop deck to enjoy a million dollar view of the Pacific.

5. Take a family bike ride on a surrey!

Your family will have a blast on these quirky, easy-to-ride four wheelers, whether you roll along the Embarcadero or navigate the trails of Coronado. Wheel Fun Rentals will provide the perfect surrey to fit your size family. They offer a 2nd hour free when you get there before noon and use their online coupon.

6. Unleash your creativity at ArtSplash Chalk Fest (Sep 28-29)

Your pint size Picasso will get a chance to create his or her own asphalt masterpiece on the streets of Carlsbad at ArtSplash, an annual chalk art festival which draws over 30,000 visitors.

7. Experience East Village’s brand-new, 21st Century Library

Officially opening September 30th, the $185M state-of-the-art Central Library downtown is destined for greatness with its 9-stories, panoramic bay views, own café, free wi-fi and an impressive 9,141 square foot children’s section.

8. Take a day trip to Julian for the Apple Harvest

A day trip to this colorful countryside setting for the Julian Apple Harvest (September-Mid-October) will silence anyone who’s ever said San Diego doesn’t have seasons. Plan your excursion around the Apple Days Festival on October 5-6, 2013, when this charming gold mining town turned-apple growing Mecca is the place to be when it comes to pie-eating contests, gold panning, tractor rides and good ole fashion apple picking.

9. Stroll the San Diego Botanic Garden

This Botanic Garden draws some serious plant lovers, but my kids and I continue to flock here to climb the giant tree house and frolic in the unique children’s garden.

10. Explore Living Coast Discovery Center

Your kids don’t have to be future ornithologists to appreciate bird watching or any of the 350 animal and plant species that call this 3.3 acre wildlife refuge home. The educational Discovery Center also gives your little ones the opportunity to get up close and personal with sea turtles, rays and leopard sharks. Pack a lunch.

> Discover even more Fall Activities for Kids in San Diego

What’s your favorite free or budget-friendly San Diego fall activities for kids? Let me and others know in the comments below.