A Midnight Stroll through San Diego’s Old Town

I am in Old Town at midnight. I am not surprised. While it is a place, without question, built for tourists, I balk at the suggestion that ‘locals don’t go there’ and such ‘traps’ should be avoided by those looking for an ‘authentic’ experience.

For me, there is nothing more authentic and alluring than the post-structuralist pastiche of real and pretend. Old Town is a piece of living theater staged on the actual blood, sweat and bones of San Diego’s history. The lines between reality and mythology blur amongst historical landmarks and themed restaurants, dusty graveyards and costumed guides.

Cosmopolitan Hotel & Restaurant

I come for Café Coyote tortillas, Fiesta de Reyes mariachi and the trinkets of Bazaar del Mundo as much as I do for a drink and a some history at the Cosmopolitan Saloon Bar or a private tour of the Whaley House.

The Whaley House

The latter is my mission tonight. The Whaley House is arguably the most famous building in Old Town. Lovingly restored to its 1860’s heyday, Whaley’s mansion once stood as an impressive monolith of mortar and brick- a statement of Eastern structure and civility ready to tame and develop San Diego’s wild Western ways.  But let’s be honest, it’s famous for the ghosts. According to the Travel Channel’s America’s Most Haunted, the house is the number one most haunted house in the United States. The hanged criminal. The suicidal daughter. Fantastical realities which produce countless legends and leave us all wondering where history ends and histrionics begin. This is the essence of Old Town. And this is why I love it.

After the tour, most everything is closed except for the Old Town Saloon, lively with industry workers who finished the late shift in a little, old town vaneered with tourism. Feeling more meditative, I stroll through the dusty and deserted ‘town’ and find myself taken by the nightscape. Huge cacti, soft lamplight. It all makes for a haunting and happy midnight stroll.


“San Diego is Calling” Video Contest…What’s your Answer?

Get out your cameras! Get creative! And you could win a trip for 4 to San Diego or an iPad 3! Between April 18 and May 18, 2012, we want you to submit videos about your San Diego happiness. Show us what you love!


You do love San Diego, right? Of course you do! (Why else would you be reading this?) Here at we definitely *heart* our city, but we also know our fans are some of the most passionate, awesome people out there. So we think it is time we got to know you. We need YOU to show US what it is about San Diego that produces the biggest smiles and happiest memories. About time, right?

So whatever you are doing this weekend, grab your video camera and keep San Diego on your mind…you might be surprised by how many smiles you capture. 🙂

Grand Prize:

First Prize:

  • iPad 3: 16GB Wi-Fi White

Happiness is calling…what’s your answer?

Brent Bernasconi

San Diego Celebrates Margarita Day

Margaritas in San Diego's Old Town

What do you get when you mix tequila, orange liqueur and lime/lemon juice? Why a classic margarita of course. February 22 is National Margarita Day (NMD) and what better excuse to celebrate then by enjoying a Cadillac Margarita under the San Diego sun!

I know finding just one place to enjoy a great margarita in San Diego can be challenging. To help you out, here are a few places you can satisfy your craving throughout the county:

Margaritas in San Diego's Old Town

Margaritas in San Diego's Old Town. Photo Courtesy of Prayitno.

Cafe Coyote

Cafe Coyote, located in the heart of San Diego’s Old Town, offers the perfect place to celebrate this classic beverage. For NMD 2012, you can enjoy one of 20 different flavors of margaritas for only $5 all day long. Don’t worry if you can’t make it today, they still offer a great selection of margaritas all year round, just not for $5.

El Vitral

If James Bond wanted a Margarita he would jetpack over to El Vitral in San Diego’s East Village for the delectable and $300 “El Chilango Margarita.” Made with Clase Azul Ultra, Grand Marnier 150, Del Maguey Tobola Mezcal, Palo Cortado Viejo Sherry, Lime Juice, El Chilango is a drink to sip and savor. El Vitral also has a slate of other more reasonably priced margaritas and over 250 tequilas to choose from.

Las Olas

For those in the North County, Las Olasoffers margaritas made with flavor infused in-house tequilas. Looking for something sweet? Order the fresh mango or strawberry margaritas. Feeling sweet yet desiring something spicy? Try the Pineapple and Chile Margarita for the perfect blend of spicy and sweet. With locations in Cardiff by the Sea and Carlsbad, you’ll have your pick for the most convenient place to sip and enjoy.

Casa de Pico

Casa de Pico's famous "Bird Bath margarita"

Casa de Pico

San Diego’s East County is all about “Go Big or Go Home” with its wide open spaces, mountains and lifted F-350s. Casa de Pico definitely follows this mantra with its enormous Giant Bird Bath Margarita. You might want to bring a friend (or two) with you or order one of their smaller options like the Casa de Pico Margarita, made with the same unique recipe since 1971.

There are plenty of other options for a great margarita in San Diego. Let us know your pick by leaving a comment below.