Brent Bernasconi

Top Gun Filming Sites in San Diego You Can Visit

Top Gun at Kansas City BBQ

Feel the need for speed at these San Diego Top Gun filming locations according to IMDB. whether it’s Top Gun Day, May 13, or just any other “slow” day. Continue reading

San Diego Magazine

Exploring San Diego’s Hottest ‘Hoods: Julian

Just an hour away from the hustle and bustle of the city of San Diego is Julian, a sleepy little town nestled in the scenic Cuyamaca Mountains. A trip to this rustic hamlet feels like a voyage back in time, and rightfully so: It’s a California Historical Landmark dating back to the gold rush. Check out its many historic buildings and book a ride down storefront-lined Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage. And don’t pass up the chance to get a taste of what Julian has come to be known for – apples.

An easy day trip from San Diego, be sure to check out these offerings you can only find in Julian. And, if you time it right you might even see some winter snow. Continue reading

Brent Bernasconi

Hops on the Harbor – Craft Beer, Food and Amazing Views

San Diego Skyline & Coronado Bridge - Hops on the Harbor

San Diego Craft Beer – Check! Delicious Food – Check! Beautiful Views of San Diego from the Water – Check! These are just a few of the highlights of Flagship Cruises & Events‘ Hops on the Harbor.

The Craft Beer

Stone Brewing Co. - Hops on the Harbor - Flagship Cruises & Events

It’s called Hops on the Harbor for a reason!

Each month, Flagship features a local brewery’s line up pouring everything from famous San Diego style IPAs to pale ales to dark and delicious Stouts. During my cruise, we sipped on new (Ruination IIPA 2.0) and classic offerings from Stone Brewing Co. while also having the chance to talk craft beer shop with one of the brewers.

Ballast Point will be on tap in July and I believe it is required by law for you to try the Sculpin IPA before leaving San Diego! In August, Pizza Port will come aboard and hopefully be pouring the delicous Chronic Ale (trust me on this one).

For those indulging their craft beer friend/loved one(s), there is a full bar onboard that will happily mix up a cocktail or pour a glass of wine.

The Food

Just like its grape-derived sibling, the nuances of craft beer are best experienced when paired with delectable dishes. Flagship’s chefs know this and have prepared monthly menus that reflect the tastes and personalities of each brewery.

On the Stone cruise, I devoured amazing pulled pork sandwiches with an Imperial Mutt Brown Ale and rich chocolaty desserts chased by Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout.

For the Ballast Point cruises in July, expect lighter fair and fresh fish pairings like pan seared halibut with citrus buerre blanc and grapefruit marmalade paired with a Grapefruit Sculpin IPA or grilled chicken with charred peach barbeque sauce paired with a BP Pale Ale.

Make sure you check Flagship’s website spielautomaten and view the menu before you hop aboard.

The Cruise

San Diego Skyline & Coronado Bridge - Hops on the Harbor

The whole Hops on the Harbor experience is made complete with amazing views of San Diego from the water.

Once aboard, grab beer and climb the stairs to the upper deck. Take a seat and wave goodbye to the USS Midway as the California Spirit sets sail toward the Big Bay. From there, you are treated to striking views of Point Loma, picturesque Coronado, the Coronado Bay Bridge, the San Diego skyline, and a beautiful sunset!

Make sure your camera’s battery is charged because you will be snapping a lot of photos!

If you get a little chilly and want to warm up, head back inside to dance the night away with live music…and maybe another beer! Or if you’re like me and have little to no rhthym, find one of the comfortable over-stuffed chairs and relax as the California Spirit returns to San Diego’s Embarcadero.

Hops on the Harbor Information

Where: 990 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Fridays
Time: 7:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Adult – $69.50
> Find out more about Hops on the Harbor

Benjamin Eastman

Club Crawl San Diego – The VIP Gaslamp Quarter Experience

Club Crawl San Diego

Want to join Club Crawl San Diego on a nighttime journey to some of San Diego’s hottest nightclubs? Leave a comment on this blog post by 11:59 PM on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 for the chance to win two Club Crawl San Diego tickets.


Recently, my girlfriend and I decided we needed a night out on the town, but wanted to avoid as many lines and cover charges as possible. Most of our nightlife-loving friends were out-of-town for the weekend and we were indecisive about where we wanted to go. Gaslamp Quarter definitely, but where in the Gaslamp?

Enter Club Crawl San Diego

For just $25, you are included in a crawl that hits 4 nightclubs/lounges/rooftops in one night. You’re not paying cover at any of the stops, and Club Crawl San Diego has access to get you in through the VIP lines. The only waits you experience are at the first stop to check-in and when showing your ID at the door at each of the venues!

Stop 1: Analog

A little about our night: All Crawls begin at 10:00 PM at Analog (801 5th Avenue) where you check in with the Club Crawl San Diego staff, get your wristband and enjoy discounted drink specials. Make sure to get your photo taken (hey, there’s gotta be a “before” photo, right?!) and then get right out onto the dance floor!

After an hour or so at Analog, the Crawl hosts pull the group together and you walk to the next stop. The beauty of the Gaslamp Quarter is that everything is really close. Everyone get’s a little break on the short walk before skipping the line into the next club.

Stop 2 – Fluxx

FLUXX Nightclub

For us Stop 2 was FLUXX, my girlfriend’s favorite stop of the night. The constantly theme-changing, laser light blasting, pulse pounding nightclub continues to win award after award for the outstanding nightlife product they produce. We grabbed a couple of drinks and danced our hearts out amidst the lasers, cold fog and sparkler carrying VIP girls.

Stop 3 – Rooftop600

After a little over an hour it was on to the next stop: Andaz San Diego’s Rooftop600. While I enjoy a great dark, nightclub scene, there is just something about San Diego rooftop lounges that holds a special place in my heart. In this gorgeous city, with our fantastic weather, it just seems natural to enjoy your nightlife outdoors as well. And Andaz does it well – great music, fun vibe, awesome views of the city – this was a perfect addition to the crawl.

Stop 4 – Side Bar

Side Bar

Stop 4 was our last and it was on to the intimate lounge, Side Bar. A great spot to end the night with. Although it is a smaller venue, don’t mistake that for being slower or quieter. This lounge packs quite the punch and was a great way to end a night of crawling.

Looking back at the experience I can see that the Club Crawl San Diego is good for visitors and locals alike. What a great way to experience multiple venues on a busy Friday or Saturday night and not have to worry about finding out how to get on each of their VIP lists, getting there before a certain time, waiting in line, etc. And the beauty of the Crawl is that if at any point during the night you find your groove and just can’t see yourself leaving – you don’t have to. The Crawl is about having a fun evening of nightlife – so if you’re loving Stop 2 or 3 and don’t want to leave, there is nothing that says that there has to be a Stop 4.

San Diego Club Crawl Details

crawl1
Club Crawl San Diego happens every Friday & Saturday night (and occasional Sundays during holiday weekends) and they mix up which clubs they go to each night. So make sure to check out their website to see what stops they’ll be making on the night you’re interested in going.

They’ve got a big 4th of July Crawl happening on Saturday the 4th where Crawlers are encouraged to wear red, white & blue and will receive some fun holiday swag at check-in!

> Find out more about Club Crawl San Diego

And remember kids…party responsibly! If you’re going to party your faces off and don’t have a designated driver, call up your friendly neighborhood Uber driver and get home safely – so that you can party again another day!

Win Two Club Crawl San Diego Tickets

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Robert Arends

Holiday Cheer and Lights on San Diego’s Big Bay!

San Diego Big Bay Holiday of Lights
San Diego Big Bay Holiday of Lights

From boats decorated with lights to a Big Balloon Parade, there plenty of Holiday Fun on San Diego’s Big Bay. Photo courtesy of Cook & Schmidt

For those of you making holiday plans to visit San Diego, following are a few fun and festive ways to make some merry on San Diego’s sparkling Big Bay.

43rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

What’s better than a cool holiday boat parade? Two holiday boat parades! Yep, the 43rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights takes place on two Sundays next month. More than 80 boats lavishly decorated from bow to keel with colorful twinkling lights and decorations will glide the waters of San Diego Bay.

It’s quite a spectacle and best part, it’s free! This year’s theme is “Children’s Stories” which is sure to be a hit with the kids. Check out the route map here. The procession starts at 5:30 PM, but head to the Bay early for prime viewing spots including the Embarcadero and Embarcadero Park (North & South), Seaport Village, Coronado Ferry Landing, Harbor Island and Shelter Island.

When: December 14 & 21, 2014
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade

San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Giant inflatable characters at Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Check out the Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade, “America’s Largest Balloon Parade” floating down Harbor Drive along the Embarcadero. And who knows, you might be on TV! The parade is televised nationally and on local Channel 4. You’ll see world-class marching bands, colorful floats, drill teams and of course, a procession of enormous balloons of familiar cartoon and pop culture characters. Over 100,000 spectators are expected!

The parade is part of our big annual National University Holiday Bowl festivities when the eyes of the nation are on San Diego for exciting gridiron action between two Pac-10 and Big 12 Conference teams.

Where: San Diego Embarcadero – W Cedar Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 26, 2014
Time: Parade starts at 3:00 PM
Cost: Free. Grandstand Seats – $20
> Find out more about the Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade

Whale Watching

California gray whale breaching off the San Diego coast

California gray whale breaching off the San Diego coast

December is the launch of San Diego’s exciting whale watching season, when hundreds of majestic California gray whales are spotted of the coast making their annual migration from the Arctic to the warm lagoons of Baja California. These “peaceful giants of the sea” can be seen swimming our local waters through April. Hop aboard the HornblowerFlagship Cruises or one of the many other whale watching cruises departing daily from the Embarcadero on San Diego. The whales can also be seen from high atop Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma – bring your binoculars, though! 🙂

> Find out more about Whale Watching in San Diego

> Discover More Holiday Happenings in San Diego

Make some waves on San Diego Bay this holiday 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 🙂

Robert Arends

Dr. Seuss on the Loose in La Jolla

The_Art_of_Dr_SeussThere’s a tale of a Cat, so cool in a Hat, that…did you hear…was created right here! 🙂

Yep Dr. Seuss, that master smith of rhyming words for kids, lived atop a hill called Mt. Soledad in La Jolla (north of downtown San Diego) where his fantastical world of Cat in the Hat and other memorable characters came to life for readers of all ages.

I’ve always been a big fan of Dr. Seuss whose real name BTW is Theodore (Ted) Seuss Geisel. His widow Audrey still lives in lovely seaside La Jolla.

On the heels of Dr. Seuss’ recently released new book, Horton and the Kwuggerbug and more Lost Stories, me thinks with my thinker that a fun way to tinker would be an incredibly fun linker to a few Seussian sights and events in La Jolla:

Wish Dr. Suess at Happy Birthday at UCSD

Dr. Seuss birthday celebration at Geisel Library, UCSD in La Jolla

Dr. Seuss birthday celebration at Geisel Library, UCSD in La Jolla

Every year in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2, the aptly named Geisel Library at University of California at San Diego (UCSD) in La Jolla exhibits selections from their Dr. Seuss Collection of over 10,000 items(!), including his drawings, rough drafts, notebooks and other cool memorabilia. It’s the world’s largest repository of original works by Seuss. Last year Mrs. Geisel substantially added to the collection, donating an additional 1,500 items from his personal archive!

Look for an announcement of next year’s big b-day bash on Geisel Library’s news page after New Year’s.

7 ½ foot Cat in the Hat

Dr. Seuss and Cat in the Hat sculpture at Geisel Library, UCSD in La Jolla

Dr. Seuss and Cat in the Hat sculpture at Geisel Library, UCSD in La Jolla

In the meantime, next time you’re in La Jolla, check out the life-size bronze sculpture of Dr. Seuss and a towering 7 ½ foot Cat in the Hat in front at the library. Seuss selfies are encouraged!

Secret Art of Dr. Seuss

Secret Art of Dr. Seuss at Legends Gallery, La Jolla includes Unorthodox Taxidermy

The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss includes Unorthodox Taxidermy

In the charming Village of La Jolla, the Legends Gallery displays some wonderful imaginings in its “Secret Art of Dr. Seuss” exhibit. Visitors can view the sophisticated, technically accomplished and unrestrained side of Seuss’ talent, including lesser-known paintings, illustrations and sculptures from his Unorthodox Taxidermy collection (a fun fav!).

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at the Old Globe

"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" at the Old Globe in Balboa Park

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” at the Old Globe in Balboa Park

And though it’s not in La Jolla, I should mention the whimsical annual Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! musical that takes place each holiday season at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. It’s a magical must see for the whole family!

See you in San Diego, Dr. Seuss fans!

Edna Gutierrez

Old Town Trolley’s La Jolla and Mission Beach Tour

Old Town Trolley Tour Guide Rick

The very knowledgeable Old Town Trolley Tour guide Rick made sure everyone aboard enjoyed the tour.

From relaxed surfer towns like Ocean Beach to the family friendly beaches of Mission Bay and the luxurious shores of La Jolla, San Diego has the perfect seaside destination for everyone. Each of San Diego’s beach towns has a different personality that reflects the city’s diversity. When friends and family visit from out-of-town and ask me what beaches I recommend, it is always hard to pick just one since I think they should explore all of them to really get a feel for the city. When I heard that Old Town Trolley Tours offers a San Diego beach tour where visitors could explore San Diego’s most beautiful beaches in one day, I knew I had to try it. This would give me an opportunity to be a tourist in my own city and experience it so I could recommend it to friends and family.

I headed to Old Town, the headquarters of The Old Town Trolley’s La Jolla-Mission Beach tour. The first tour departs at 10:15 AM and then every hour after that. The tour is 24 miles, 90-110 minutes long and allows guests to hop off and on at four different stops:

San Diego’s Old Town

Old Town Whaley House -Courtesy SanDiego.org

The historic Whaley House was San Diego’s first commercial theater and one of only two Certified Haunted Houses in the State of California.

The birthplace of California and where the tour departs. Also, a great place to explore, eat Mexican food and visit historic buildings like the Whaley House Museum, the number one most haunted house in the United States according to Travel Channel’s America’s Most Haunted.

[Tweet “See some of San Diego’s most popular beach spots in one day with @sandiegotour!”]

Mt. Soledad

Mt. Soledad

Mount Soledad overlooks La Jolla and offers magnificent 360 degree view of San Diego.

The Mount Soledad Veteran’s Memorial offers a breathtaking 360 degree view of San Diego. I have never visited this spot before and was blown away by the views of La Jolla, downtown San Diego and even Tijuana. Make sure to bring your camera!

La Jolla

DSC05276

The La Jolla Coves is a great spot for sightseeing, kayaking, snorkeling and seal watching.

The tour drops you off right by the boutiques and shops and at walking distance from the La Jolla Shores, the Children’s Pool Beach and the beautiful coves where you can get a glimpse of seals sunbathing and of people kayaking and snorkeling.

Mission Beach

The Giant Dipper at Belmont Park

The Giant Dipper at Belmont Park in Mission Beach was built-in 1925 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The tour stops just by Belmont Park, where you can ride the Giant Dipper, one of the first wooden roller coasters, or if you are a scaredy cat like me, instead you can stop by the Sweet Shoppe & Beach Treats for a monster cone; a huge cone with an option of up to three ice cream scoops (make sure to order extra napkins).

> Discover even more Sightseeing Opportunities in San Diego

Besides the opportunity to visit all these great spots, Rick, our very knowledgeable Old Town Trolley Tour guide, provided lots of interesting facts about all these locations and played some cool beach songs. I loved the fact that I learned a little bit more about my city, visited four different places in one day and I didn’t have to worry about parking or traffic. I think this is a great option for all those visitors who love the ocean and would like to explore San Diego’s beaches. I will definitely recommend it to my friends and family.

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! 🙂