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

Corey Ross

Touring Golf Equipment Companies in Carlsbad

TaylorMade Factory Line
TaylorMade Factory Line

See how the perfect club is made and take one home with you after a custom fitting during a tour of San Diego’s three leading golf manufacturers

As the home of the headquarters of TaylorMade Golf, Callaway and Cobra, Carlsbad, in San Diego’s North County Coastal region, is akin to the Silicon Valley of the golf equipment industry.

The game-changing birth of the metal wood occurred in Carlsbad and those companies been leading the technology boom that has revolutionized the game ever since.

Carlsbad presents a rare opportunity to visit all three of these influential brands at once. They are all headquartered within a few miles of each other.

TaylorMade, however, is the only one still offering regularly scheduled public tours. They take place every Thursday at 10:00 AM. Cobra books private tours by appointment, while Callaway only books club fittings.

The following is a look at highlights and tips for taking the TaylorMade Tour, followed by information for booking appointments at Callaway and Cobra.

Touring TaylorMade

Please Note: TaylorMade is suspending tours for the rest of 2017 and is unsure as to when tours will restart.

TaylorMade Headquarters

Learn the everything from the manufacturers to the pros on a tour of the TaylorMade Headquarters

As most any golfer knows, TaylorMade is the world’s leading equipment manufacturer. Their campus encompasses two buildings – only one of which you see on the tour – and the driving range, the hallowed Kingdom, a domain for the pros and other elite players.

The TaylorMade tour offers some insight into the company’s latest club technology – the new R15 driver is under glass in the lobby with the club head dissected– as well a peek at the manufacturing process and an overview of golf’s technology revolution.

A rotating team of TaylorMade volunteers hosts the roughly 45-minute tour every Thursday, so your experience may differ depending on their experience. For instance, our host was an engineer named Matt, so we got a more technology-based tour.

Regardless of the host, be prepared to provide your ID and sign an electronic confidentiality agreement while you’re waiting. Note: No photos or phones on the tour.

While you’re waiting for the tour to begin, you can peruse the latest TaylorMade equipment, which is on display in the lobby along with the staff bags as such TaylorMade Tour players as Justin Rose, Jason Day and Sergio Garcia.

The tour begins with a bit of history about not only TaylorMade but its parent company, Adidas, a high-performance sports apparel manufacturer. For golf, the most pertinent history is the story of Gary Adams bringing TaylorMade to Carlsbad to pursue his dream of launching a medal wood to supplant the wooden clubs of the past.

That history is displayed under glass in the next story of the tour – the Wall of History. There, 12 clubs are exhibited that capture the evolution of the metal era. There’s everything from TaylorMade’s first driver, the head of which is about the size of a modern-day rescue club, to the latest, the state-of-the-art R15.

In between, you witness club head sizes growing, metal materials changing and then club adjustability coming into the picture. Even for those who know their club history, there’s likely something to learn and appreciate here.

The next stop is the manufacturing floor, where 10,000 clubs are assembled each day. You see everything in production from putters to drivers and learn what a golf assembly line looks like. The manufacturing floor shares space with the massive warehouse where thousands of equipment orders are being processed and shipped daily.

The tour concludes with a look at one of the most exclusive parts of TaylorMade – The Kingdom. Golfers are usually only granted access here with permission of a club pro and to be professionally fitted.

Otherwise, this is where TaylorMade’s professionals come to get their equipment updated in a state-of-the-art environment and to practice on the driving range.

The Kingdom has a country-club feel all its own, complete with a posh lounge just inside the entrance. Worth perusing: the guestbook at the front desk. Inside, you’ll find photographs and signatures from touring pros and celebrities who’ve visited The Kingdom. It’s a veritable Who’s Who.

Who was Adidas’ first sponsored athlete (hint: think track)? Where does TaylorMade gets its name from? Why did Gary Adams chose to relocate his company to San Diego? What does the R stand for on TaylorMade’s drivers?

If some of those questions pique your interest, the TaylorMade tour has answers for you.

If your visit coincides with one of the professional tour events in San Diego, you might end up keeping company with a tour pro. To register for the Thursday tour at TaylorMade, call 760.918.6000.

Touring Cobra

Cobra Golf Merchandise

Get everything you need to a day out on the course during a visit to Cobra Golf’s headquarters

Cobra Puma, the company represented by the stylish Rickie Fowler, has designated times of the month when tours are available, but they are by appointment only.

Cobra has more modest facilities than TaylorMade, but there are still things to be seen, including the hitting bay and swing simulator the pros use at Cobra. There’s also a warehouse and merchandise area where the colorful array of the Cobra Puma product line is displayed.

The tour can take 30 minutes to an hour depending on what guests want to see. Working in a club fitting can add another hour or two.

To schedule a tour, a fitting, or both, call 760.710.3502.

Getting Fitted At Callaway

Callaway Golf Headquarters

Make you club perfect for you during a custom fitting at Callaway’s Headquarters

Callaway Golf no longer offers public tours, but the headquarters does accommodate club fittings.

> Learn more about scheduling a custom fitting at Callaway

> Tee off at San Diego’s 90+ Golf Courses

Todd Bluechel

San Diego Sport Fishing – The Winter Season

Sport Fishing Catch
Sport Fishing Catch

Feel the rush of excitement when you hook one (or two) during a sport fishing excursion from San Diego

San Diego’s five main sport fishing landings are home to over 70 sport boats and while not all of them operate during the winter months, many run year-round offering exciting day trips or long range trips.

2014 delivered some of the best sport fishing ever and all indicators are showing 2015 offers fisherman another incredible opportunity to hook up. San Diego’s winter season is in full swing, with great weather so far, and boats reporting good catches.

Sport Fishing Day Trips

Day trips are available Monday through Friday, generally 8:00AM to 3:00 PM, with two a day trips offered on the weekends – generally 6:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 1:00 PM to 6:30 PM. Day boats fish along San Diego’s coast and kelp beds catching Rock Fish, Sculpin, Bonito, Kelp Bass and Yellowtail.

Multi-Day Sport Fishing Trips

Long range trips are running anywhere from an easy 2 day trip to 23 days for the hard core enthusiast. The shorter trips generally fish along the Baja Coast or Coronado Islands and with this seasons usually warm water continue great luck with Yellowtail, Yellowfin, and Bluefin.

Trips of 4 to 6 days typically fish along the Baja Coast and visit Guadalupe Island, San Martin, Geronimo, Cedros and San Benitos islands. Boats in this category are reporting excellent weather, calm seas, and great fishing.

Trips of 8 to 12 days offer the most variety in fishing action as fishermen explore the southwestern Baja coastline from San Pablo to Magdalena Bay, often with a run out to Alijos Rocks.  Hundreds of miles out at sea, and in sharp contrast to the surrounding blue sky and cobalt blue waters, lay the dark brown Alejos Rocks majestically projecting out of the surrounding deep ocean waters.

These pinnacles offer a sanctuary for life in an otherwise vast open desert. Migrating schools of yellowfin, bluefin, yellowtail, dorado and wahoo circle these rocks dining on the schools of bait, just waiting to be caught. Other productive locations visited during long range trips may include the Revillagigedo Islands, the Hurricane Bank, Clarion Island and the Clipperton Island to name a few.

Trips of 14 to 23 days offer the ultimate in big game fishing opportunities for the large pelagic’s visiting exotic locations such as the Hurricane Bank, Puerto Vallarta, Cleofus Bank, or even the remote Clipperton atoll. These long range boats not only offer luxurious accommodations and fine dining but because they utilize state of the art fish finding technologies they can locate yellowfin in the 200 to 300 pound range and when everything comes together (including weather, tides, the moon, quality gear, and no banana’s on board) there is a chance you too can become one of the few, the elite fishermen to join the 400 pound yellowfin monster club.

> Find out more about Fishing in San Diego

Todd Lynch

Lobster Season in San Diego – Things That Go Bump in the Night

California Spiny Lobster during Lobster Season
California Spiny Lobster during Lobster Season

Catch a California Spiny Lobster during the annual Lobster Season in San Diego. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Lobster season opens on the Saturday prior to the first Wednesday in October and closes on the first Wednesday after March 15th, and is designed to protect the lobster population from overfishing during their summer reproductive cycle.

The California Spiny Lobster can live 50 years and grow up to 25 pounds. At a market value of 20 dollars a pound, even the typical two or three-pound specimen is a worthy catch. Unlike its East Coast counterpart, the Spiny Lobster doesn’t have claws, but it’s still a tricky business to catch one, especially when you consider that divers are only allowed to use their bare (gloved) hands. Nocturnal hunters, they hide deep in caves and crevices by day, so divers typically do their hunting at night as well, when the lobsters – or “bugs” – venture out into the open. And, on the eve of opening day, it’s traditional among San Diego divers to gather at favorite hunting grounds at midnight, when bug season officially begins. Dive clubs and shops hold organized events on opening weekend, with prizes awarded for the biggest catch.

Try a Night Dive during Lobster Season

Night diving is a surreal experience, focusing all your attention on the small area illuminated by the beam of your underwater flashlight. It’s not hard to spot lobsters, sideling across the bottom, and you’re likely to feel others bumping into you unseen. They’re not fast on their feet, but they can buck like a bronco when captured and jet backwards in a quick flip of the tail. The trick is to freeze them like a deer in the headlights, then quickly grab them from behind and wrangle them into your game bag. Lucky divers return home for a late night lobster feast, while non-diving spectators can enjoy the bounty of fresh lobster offered by local markets and restaurants this time of year.

What to Know about Lobster Season

In addition to knowing the dates of lobster season, there are a few other important rules and regulations to be aware of before trying your luck:

  • Residents and visitors alike (16 years and older) are required to have a valid California Sportfishing License
  • Lobster hunters of all ages must have a current Spiny Lobster Report Card
  • The minimum size limit is three-and-a-quarter inches measured from the eye socket to the rear of the body shell (divers carry a measuring device for this purpose)
  • The maximum bag limit per day is seven lobsters
  • Lobsters can only be caught by hand (not with nets, spears or other tackle)

It goes without saying that diving requires formal training, especially at night. Always go with a buddy, know your limits and dive safe. For more information check with California Fish and Wildlife or a local dive or fishing outfitter.

> Find out more about Sportfishing in San Diego

Corey Ross

See You at Torrey: The PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open Returns to San Diego in February

Farmers Insurance Open - Tiger Woods

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

The PGA Tour’s annual spotlight on San Diego will shine again on February 5-8, 2015, at the Farmers Insurance Open at scenic Torrey Pines.

Held in San Diego and at Torrey since 1952, the PGA’s annual stop is part of the Tour’s West Coast swing. The tournament falls between the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale and the AT &T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in Pebble Beach.

Highlights of the Torrey Tourney

Warm weather, a world-class course and the regular presence of such Tour stars as Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Woods is a seven-time winner of the event besides being the winner of the iconic 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.

Whether it’s to golf star gaze or spy a glimpse of a migrating whale, there are many great reasons to “See You at Torrey,” as the ad slogan says.

The tournament utilizes all of Torrey’s 36 holes. Play the first two days is held on both the North and South courses and moves exclusively to the South for the weekend.

Last year’s champion, Scott Stallings, emerged from a crowded field of Sunday challengers to capture the crown by one shot. Defending champion Woods missed the secondary cut, the precursor of a year he’d miss much of recovering from back surgery. Local favorite Mickelson ended up withdrawing for the weekend from the 2014 tournament with back pain.

Both are scheduled to return healthy for the 2015 event.

Farmers Insurance Open Schedule & Entertainment

Tournament week begins with practice rounds starting February 2 that are free and open to the public.

Wednesday is Preview Day for the tournament. The Zurich pro-am will be taking place.

The tournament begins on Thursday and will introduce two new changes of note for fans:

  • For security reasons, the main entrance has been moved from near the practice putting greens to near the Glider Port.
  • A new post-round concert series begins.

Post-Round Concerts

The post-round concerts will take place inside The Fringe presented by Harrah’s Resort SoCal and will be located behind the 15th green of the South Course.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, entertainment will begin after play has finished on No. 15 (3:00 to 3:30 PM without delays) and continue until sundown (5:15 to 5:30 PM)

The University Day Challenge and University Day

The University Day Challenge and University Day will also return on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, Tour players with the support their alma mater’s mascots by competing in a glass-breaking competition on the North Course. The winner will have $10,000 donated to their alma mater’s golf team.

Competitors and patrons are encouraged to sport the colors of their college on Saturday.

Shortly after the conclusion of the tournament, a long-awaited renovation of the North Course will begin. The course will be closed during its construction phase.

The improvements are a part of Torrey’s preparations to host the U.S. Open again in 2021.

> Farmers Insurance Tickets and Schedule of Events

The Century Club of San Diego Charity

Pros Rickie Fowler and Charley Hoffman are also again scheduled to conduct a free youth that is part of the tournament’s charitable mission.

Since its inception, The Century Club of San Diego has generated more than $28 million for the San Diego community, with $2.8 million raised in 2014 alone.

As the host organization of the Farmers Insurance Open, The Century Club of San Diego is able to provide partnership fundraising programs and experiences for charities, local military families, community organizations and schools.

Alison

Hike the San Diego Stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail - Courtesy Jeff Turner
Pacific Crest Trail - Courtesy Jeff Turner

Are you “Wild” enough to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Photo courtesy of Jeff Turner

Lots of weekend hikers who’ve read Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild, – or have seen the just-out movie starring Reese Witherspoon – have been inspired to hike at least a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail.

San Diego is the place to do it. The 2,650-mile-long PCT runs from Mexico to Canada – and its first 133 miles meander through San Diego’s backyard.

Starting Point

The Pacific Crest Trail begins in Campo, at the U.S./Mexico border fence, about 50 miles east of downtown San Diego. From there it traverses a range of topography and climate zones – from the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (to be avoided in summer) to the mountains of the Cleveland National Forest, where trails can sometimes be snowbound in winter.

Dozens of Day-Hike Trails

There are dozens of sections of the trail accessible to day-hikers. Get great views of the desert floor and 17 surrounding peaks from the Mount Laguna section of the trail near Foster Point. Follow the trail as it wends its way along golden hillsides studded with live oak and chaparral south of Warner Springs. (You’ll see the 100-mile PCT trail marker here.) The trail crosses into Riverside County at mile 133, north of Warner Springs.

> Download Free Pacific Crest Trail Maps

Quick Need to Knows about the Pacific Crest Trail

  • The PCT is open only to hikers, equestrians and dogs on leashes. Leave your dirt bike at home.
  • Be sure to carry lots of water. And keep an eye out for rattlesnakes and poison oak.
  • Parking permits are required in some areas. Get them at San Diego area outdoor stores such as REI.

> Learn more at the Pacific Crest Trail Association

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.

Sarah Weinberg

Del Mar Racetrack Adds New Fall Bing Crosby Season

Bing Crosby - Opening Day
Table at Fall Season courtesy Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Sit in style or hug the rails for great views all around during the new fall racing season at Del Mar.

With the recent closing of Hollywood Park racetrack in Los Angeles, an opportunity for more racing at the historic Del Mar Racetrack opened up on the West Coast circuit. Del Mar has hosted a summer season since 1937 when Bing Crosby stood at the gate and collected the first ticket for admission. It’s been a San Diego summer tradition ever since.

Bing Crosby - Opening Day

Bing Crosby, one of the founders of the Del Mar Racetrack, takes the first ticket on opening day, 1937.

Ironically for my family, thoroughbred racing and Thanksgiving go hand in hand. My relatives would spend Thanksgiving afternoon at Bay Meadows racetrack while my Nana Rose stayed home and cooked the turkey. It was a way to keep us out of her hair while she prepared the big meal. All my relatives had a blast at the rails watching the ponies run. So today, San Diego families have a similar opportunity to enjoy the delicious fall weather near the coast, the excitement of live racing, and even a one mile family fun run on the actual track, followed by a delicious family meal together. It’s a recipe I can recommend.

The added season pays tribute to the glamour and excitement of 1930s when Hollywood icon Bing Crosby founded the track with some of his celebrity pals. The Bing Crosby Season will run a total of 15 racing days – primarily Thursday through Sunday.

What to Expect from the Bing Crosby Season

Vintage Hollywood Fashion Contest - Bing Crosby Season

Dress up movie star style on opening day to participate in the Vintage Hollywood Fashion Contest.

Vintage Hollywood Fashion Contest

The season kicks off on Friday, November 7 with a “Vintage Hollywood Fashion Contest,” including awards for Best Dressed Couple, Best Celebrity Lookalike and Most Glamorous.

Concerts, Food and Beer Festivals, and Giveaways

Del Mar is known for its exciting lineup of concerts, food and beer festivals, and giveaways – and the Bing Crosby Season continues that tradition and adds in Football Sundays, when fans can take in a day of racing and NFL action in Del Mar’s Paddock Football Lounge. Multiple TV screens, bars and food options will keep racing and football fans happy all day.

Race-goers can enjoy Reggae Fest featuring Iration on the 15th and alternative rock band CAKE closing out the season on the 29th. Food trucks are back Saturday, November 22, along with a plush black and gold diamond blanket giveaway. November 29 will feature a craft beer and cider festival, a Movember event and the biggest race of the meet – the Hollywood Derby. Closing Day – Sunday November 30 – is a free day.

Bing Crosby Season Schedule

Racing during the Bing Crosby Season will take place Friday through Sunday during the first week; Thursday through Sunday the other three weeks. Weekday post time will be 12:30 PM, 12 noon on weekends. The one exception will be Thanksgiving Day, November 27, with first post shifted to 11:00 AM. Admission is $6.

> Find out more about the Del Mar Bing Crosby Season

Robert Arends

Mission Valley is Full of Family Fun During October’s Kids Free in San Diego

Kids rule during Kids Free San Diego month!

Kids rule during Kids Free San Diego month!

The Kidvasion has begun! The 3rd annual Kids Free San Diego month kicks off today and continues through Halloween. Kids are sure to get a kick out of being VIPs (or should we say, VIKs – Very Important Kids 😉 ) all month long.

As you and your family are in town exploring the sights or planning a fun-filled fall visit to San Diego, be sure to check out these kids free deals in Mission Valley, conveniently located in the middle of it all just minutes from many major attractions.

Play!

Mission Trails Regional Park

Old Mission Dam - Mission Trails Regional Park

Enjoy the sound of the San Diego river rushing through the Old Mission Dam with a free hike through Mission Trails

Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the nation’s largest urban natural parks, is free for the whole family to explore, bike and hike 42 miles of scenic trails, including paths to the historic Old Mission Dam/San Diego River and to the top of Cowles Mountain, famous for its spectacular 360-degre views. The interactive Visitor Center is cool too, as are free guided nature walks every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 AM.

Mission San Diego de Alcala

Take a trip back in time at Mission San Diego

Take a trip back in time at Mission San Diego

Take a trip back to the time of the Spanish explorers and Franciscan friars who discovered San Diego at Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first mission in California (founded in 1769 and relocated to its present site in 1774). Children under 6 are free to tour the little museum (kids 6 to 12 are only $2). The Mission church and grounds, including a cool excavation site out back, are free for all to explore.

Junipero Serra Museum

Junipero Serra Museum on Presidio Hill

Junipero Serra Museum on Presidio Hill

Kids under 6 are also free at Junipero Serra Museum on Presidio Hill overlooking Mission Valley and Old Town. It was here in 1769 that the Spanish friar Junípero Serra and a group of soldiers built California’s first mission and a fort (called “presidio” in Spanish). The original buildings are gone, but an impressive Spanish-style museum sits on the site today.

Eat!

Lots of restaurants in Mission Valley’s hotels and resorts are rolling out the red carpet for children 12 and under. Kids eat free (with purchase of an adult entrée) at:

Crowne Plaza Hotel in Mission Valley

Kids eat free at the tiki-tastic Crowne Plaza Hotel!

At Doubletree by Hilton-Mission Valley, kids (up to two per room) can choose a free entrée from the children’s menu at the Fountain Café and Windows Lounge. Kids’ breakfasts are free at Ramada Conference Center plus free eats for kids at Sheraton Mission Valley!

Gifts!

Upon check in, Comfort Inn & Suites Hotel Circle is giving out a free welcome gift to each kid who checks in. WAY cool!

> Discover more of San Diego’s Mission Valley

As you can see, there are money-saving deals galore! See you in Mission Valley 🙂

Edna Gutierrez

Draft at Mission Beach: San Diego Beer and Food with a View

Just in case you haven’t heard, there are two things that define San Diego: the beach and beer. Magic happens when these two come together. Such is the case with Draft, the newest restaurant at historic Belmont Park on Mission Beach. Draft recently opened its doors on the boardwalk overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean. So, in the spirit of research, and a much-needed drink, I stopped by with the mission to draft you a picture.

Beer labels dress the tables and rails of Draft

I visited during lunch time and sat inside near the patio to enjoy the beautiful ocean view. The décor can be labeled as exactly that: labels. Beer labels cover the tables and rails, over by the bar you can see the more than 69 beer taps that make this place so special. Next to the bar adjacent to two pool tables, you can’t miss the wall-sized 31.5-ft television screen displaying scenic images of San Diego and local brewing companies. Draft shows major sporting events and has become quite the hot spot to watch sports. On the other side of the bar, tucked away in a glass room, you can see all the kegs being pumped to keep the beer flowing.

The pistachio crusted salmon sandwich was the perfect choice for a nice lunch near the beach

Looking at the menu, it was hard to make a decision. I went for the pistachio crusted salmon sandwich (with meyer lemon aioli, arugula and fennel) and a side of fries, of course. My burger-looking-sandwich is one of the best I’ve had, so many graceful flavors twirling on my taste buds. I could barely taste the pistachio, which was perfect because I was afraid it would be overwhelming. The fries where perfect too, thick and crispy – a must in my book.

Draft offers 69 beers on tap and 50 bottles from local, national and international breweries

Drinks? Obviously by the name, this is beer paradise, offering a true representation of San Diego’s IPAs, Porters, Stouts and beyond. With more than 60 options on tap and 50 bottles that rotate seasonally, it really comes down to picking your poison, or should I say passion? If you are not sure what to order, ask the staff, they will happily guide you to the right choice.

Close the deal with a lemon meringue milkshake or the churro bites

When dessert time came, I couldn’t say no. I’ve heard so much about the lemon meringue milkshake (with toasted meringue and lemon curd) that I had to have it. I also ordered the churro bites (cardamom, lemon and horchata anglaise) since I grew up eating churros and am always curious to try different versions. When the desserts came, the milkshake took the spotlight, even the table next to me asked what it was. The best way I could describe the flavor is: lemony, but not too lemony, sweet, but not too sweet. It was good! I was so full by the time I finished my milkshake that I couldn’t eat much of the churros bites. They were very soft, but not too sweet, with more of a subtle taste.

If you love beer, the beach and great food, give Draft a go. It’s a delicious addition to the Mission Beach scene and to America’s finest and hoppiest city.

Good to know:

  • They have a kids menu.
  • Happy Hour is served Monday – Friday from 4 to 6pm.
  • Brunch is served Saturday – Sunday from 9am to 4pm.
  • Parking is free at Belmont Park, but might be difficult to find during summer and weekends. If you can’t find parking on the three lots adjacent to Belmont Park, you can try the lot across the street from the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster.

 What else to order:

  • Slacker jack popcorn
  • Pork belly corn dogs with truffled mustard
  • Mac n’ cheese with English peas, thyme, mushrooms, chives and smoky cheese

 The details:

  • Draft is located at 3105 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego, CA 92109 
  • Open Monday – Friday from 11am to 2am and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 2am