Sarah Weinberg

Get into the Groove in San Diego – Music for Families

While there’s a burgeoning scene of hip music for youth in San Diego, there are also many options for those of us who have true youngsters at home, the 12 and under set. Here are some places to bask in the sunshine and experience music the entire family will enjoy.

Balboa Park – Musical Mecca

Balboa Park Spreckels Organ Pavilion

The 100-year-old Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park lights up summer evenings for families with free outdoor concerts.

One of the family traditions I grew up with that I’ve continued with my children is attending the free outdoor concerts in Balboa Park’s historic Organ Pavilion. In 1914, the Spreckels family donated one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs to the city and it’s been housed in the ornate outdoor theater for 100 years. Summer Monday’s at 7:30 PM, the Spreckels Organ Society hosts its festival concerts that feature local artistic director Dr. Carol Williams or a variety of guest organists from around the world. Other music series held in the pavilion occur year-round, but summer offers four additional free concerts a week. These include the Twilight in the Park Summer Concert series on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:15 PM. Through these concerts my kids have been exposed to Klezmer music, big band, and even an Elvis impersonator, all while picnicking in our seats or dancing in the aisles on a warm summer’s eve.

Spreckels Organ Society Fall Festival

At Family Festival Days the kids can swing to classic organ music in Balboa Park.

The organ pavilion also plays host to a Sunday series at 2:00 PM and some Family Festival Days including one in June, and a Halloween-themed fest in October. These special family concerts include activity tables for kids plus concerts by young organists. In year’s past, children in the audience were allowed on stage and “behind the curtain” to peek at the organ’s pipes.

Where: Spreckels Organ Pavilion -1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Cost: Free

West African Drumming Class courtesy World Beat Center

Drum-roll please at the West African Drumming Class for toddlers held at the World Beat Center in Balboa Park.

Another free event in harmonious Balboa Park is the WorldBeat Center‘s Super Sonic Samba Drummers practicing near Pepper Tree Park playground on Sundays at 1:00 PM. The drum circle’s beat will get everyone in the family dancing on the grass around the group. If you want to learn more about the World Beat Center’s music programs, they offer a wide variety of music classes for free and nominal fees, including a very fun toddler West African Drumming Class on Tuesdays at 2:00 PM. I used to take my kids to this class and it’s great because you don’t have to register ahead of time, so no worries if your darling is napping and you miss a class, just show up next week.

Where: World Beat Center – 2100 Park Blvd. San Diego, CA 92101
Cost: Some events are free and some classes are fee based

The Museum of Making Music

Museum of Making Music - San Diego, Carlsbad

Visitors of all ages get hands-on fun at the Museum of Making Music.

For a truly remarkable combination of musical history and education (and hands-on music making), families must visit The Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad. This gorgeous but approachable museum has vintage, rare delicate instruments on display behind glass, but it knows its audience (we all want to strum or pound or tickle the ivories too when inspired), so each exhibit has the opportunity for guest to make some noise on non-vintage, tough instruments, culminating in the Innovation Studio space with a variety of electric guitars, keyboards and drums (and headphones for parents wanting to escape the joyful cacophony).

Where: 5790 Armada Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Cost: General admission: $8, Students, Seniors, Military: $5; Kids 5 and under at free
Dates & Times: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Closed Mondays


Children can play a song by jumping up and down at this musical fountain at LEGOLAND California Resort.

Children can play a song by jumping up and down at this musical fountain at LEGOLAND California Resort.

The Museum of Making Music is located next to LEGOLAND, which features a musical water fountain in the park – another of my children’s favorite experiences. They jump up and down on foam rubber circles and different instruments make their sound and shoot up water! What could be more fun?!

Recreational Music Center

If you are looking for drop-in music classes while visiting San Diego, the arts-centered Liberty Station complex in the Point Loma neighborhood houses Recreational Music Center, a non-profit music school whose mission is to cultivate the joy of making music through relevant, cutting-edge teaching methods, making music available to everyone regardless of financial resources or other barriers. The school offers an extensive list of children’s piano, cello, wind ensemble lessons, as well as hosting birthday parties and summer camps including a Rock Band Camp. September through June RMC also offers monthly Parents Night Out events, so guests can drop their kids (ages 4-11) to learn music from 5:00 to 8:00 PM and parents can enjoy a dinner at one of Liberty Station’s nearby eateries, including Stone Brewery steps away.

Where: 2590 Truxtun Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
Cost: Varies by class, camp or event
Dates & Times: Classes/camp prices vary; Parents Night Out $25 child includes dinner.

Classic Sounds in San Diego

These educational concerts are open to visiting families, adults just must be accompanied by a child.

Classics 4 Kids

Classics 4 Kids is a San Diego nonprofit that has been providing kid-friendly professional orchestra performances for children, teachers and families throughout San Diego County for 20 years. The group performs in the historic Balboa Theater in the Gaslamp Quarter. This Sunday, April 27, 2014, see Beethoven ‘n’ Friends Go Country, a family concert featuring the Classics Philharmonic’s renditions of famous composers, infused with the foot stompin’ fun of real-life cowboy Wylie Gustafson, the singing, yodeling, guitar playing country star, direct from Montana. Next fall the group continues its Kids Concert series with Peter and the Wolf, on November 23, 2014, a Salute to American Jazz Greats on February 22, 2015, and Isabella & Diego, a Mariachi-influenced version of the classic Hansel & Gretel tale on May 3, 2015.

Where: Balboa Theatre – 868 4th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
CostChild: $12 Adult: $15; Red Ribbon (premier seating and a yummy treat) Child: $15 Adult: $20

San Diego Symphony

The San Diego Symphony has an extensive children’s education program as well, featuring a number of Family Festivals and Young People’s Concerts each season. The next show, I Love Mother Nature Family Festival is on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 11, 2014, at 2:00 PM. The Symphony’s Summer Pops outdoor concert series on the Embarcadero South Lawn is a great evening of family music often followed by a fireworks display over San Diego Bay. Some upcoming performances that may interest the younger set during Comic-Con from July 24-26, 2014, include: Video Games Live, Music of Tim Burton, Star Trek, and Disney’s Fantasia on August 10, 2014.

Where: 1245 Seventh Ave., San Diego, CA 92101
Cost: Family Festival $10 for kids and $15-25 for adults, based on seating. Summer Pops starts at $20 for lawn seating and Young People’s Concerts at $5 for everyone.

Free Outdoor Summer Concerts in San Diego’s Parks

The parks of San Diego are alive with the sound of music with an extensive number of free outdoor summer concerts throughout the county. I have to give a shout out to two family favorite local bands. My children attended many festivals, birthday parties and local library performances by Hullabaloo, a fun, folkly smart kids band who perform somewhere in San Diego County almost daily and frequently for free. Check out their schedule for a really fun time. My whole family also like the Creepy Creeps, possibly in homage to their mom’s punk rock roots. The Creeps play mainly adult music venues, but they put on a great show, also playing many family friendly festivals with high energy and costume changes included.

Click here for a list of parks that held free outdoor concerts in 2013.

> Discover more live music in San Diego


9 Fun Stops For Kids Along Highway 101 in San Diego County

Moonlight Beach along the Highway 101
Moonlight Beach along the Highway 101

Moonlight Beach is just one of the places your kids will love along Highway 101

Growing up, my dad always wanted to “take the coast” home. In San Diego local speak, this meant driving along the Highway 101 versus taking the freeway. In fact, when my husband and I moved to Los Angeles for a brief four years, it was this exact stretch of road that had us asking, “Why did we ever move out of San Diego?!” Hence, we moved back. In other words, the coast highway is a gorgeously scenic route that is worth taking a drive. And if you feel like stopping along the way, here are some fun for the whole family stops to check out along Highway 101:

1. Harbor Fish Cafe

Let’s start at the north end of the Highway 101 in the town where I grew up, Carlsbad. Enjoy the very walk-friendly sidewalks along the ocean to work up an appetite and fuel your family at Harbor Fish while you catch the sunset. Go for the fish and chips while enjoying surfers and sunset views.

Where: 3179 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA

2. Moonlight Beach

Just as the hot weather hits, the snow cones start calling! Head to the recently renovated snack shack at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas to pick your favorite ice flavors, then enjoy pushing your kids in the swings or watch a volley ball game or two all the while seeing the waves crash along the shore. Locals Hint: Starting in October/November, the sand hills are usually back and San Diego’s very own version of “sledding” is to grab an actual snow sled or boogie board and watch your child’s delight as they glide down the sandy “mountain.”

Where: Encinitas Blvd, straight to the water.

3. Lumber Yard

No visit to San Diego would be complete without souvenirs! Check out this seaside set of shops, including every local’s favorite kid’s store: Magical Child. Pick up a unique gift that will entertain your child on the trip home, then grab some hot chocolate from Chuao and enjoy it next to the fountain as you toss coins to make their little wishes come true.

Where: 967 S Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA

4. The Self Realization Center

First stop at Java Depot for what my kids call “monkey hot chocolate” since they attach a plastic monkey to the cup or grab smoothies from Swami’s Café. Once finished, walk over to check out the amazing plants, Koi fish and views from The Self Realization Center. With so much to see and easy to navigate, it is often an afternoon favorite for our family to visit. Also, it’s great practice in learning to be quiet as they do ask that you “keep it down.”

Where: 939 2nd St, Encinitas, CA

5. Swami’s Tide Pools

Just a short distance down the highway from The Self Realization Center is one of the top surf spots. Even better for small kids than watching the waves is searching for sea urchins in one of the many tide pools at low tide.

Where: Coast Highway, Encinitas

6. Bull Taco

True, this is an eating spot on a camping ground, but it’s a family favorite for a spectacular sunset dinner. Perched high on a cliff, enjoy 360-degree ocean views, including of La Jolla. Grab an ice cream at the camp store to finish off your delicious tacos and burritos. Local hint: pull onto the campgrounds and let them know you just need temporary parking for dinner. Or park on the coast highway and enjoy a nice walk back to the car with ocean breezes after filling those tummies.

Where: 2050 S Coast Highway 101, Cardiff, CA

7. Fletcher Cove

A gorgeous beach just two blocks in from the 101,  start your day with breakfast at the ocean view restaurant Naked Café, followed by some play time at the Fletcher Cove park play structure, then head down to the beach to collect shells. Just when you start to feel you have sufficiently worn out your wee ones, finish off the day with some lunch at the popular Pizza Port. Oh! And if you have train lovers, be sure to check out the station across the street.

Where: Solana Beach, CA – where Lomas Santa Fe meets the water

8. Torrey Pines

For a great hike in San Diego with kids, check out the easy trails along one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline. Enjoy the wild flowers and the beauty of the Torrey Pine trees. Head to the ocean after to cool off while splashing in the waves.

Where: 12600 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, Ca

9. Birch Aquarium

It’s difficult to match the view from this fun for all ages aquarium atop a bluff overlooking the ocean. Stop by to see the Octopus and “hall of fishes,” then head to the hands on exploration area for kids. And when you are ready to have your breath taken away, step outside and enjoy the tide pool display all the while taking in the magnificent views.

Where: Birch Aquarium at Scripps – 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA

With so much to do and see along one of the world’s most scenic highways, your kids are sure to be requesting “let’s take the coast” and Highway 101 in no time, too.

> Discover more of Historic Highway 101 in San Diego


Top Things to Do in San Diego: Oct. 30 – Nov. 3, 2013

Halloween week means lots of spooky events around San Diego, but there’s more happening this week than just parading ghosts and goblins. The traditions of Mexico at Dia de los Muertos celebrations, zombies walking at a local theater, and  some post-Halloween fun at a local street fair are all part of the top things to do in San Diego, Oct. 30 – Nov. 3:

Carlsbad Fall Village Faire

Carlsbad Village Faire San Diego 2013

Families will find plenty to do at the Carlsbad Village Faire

Checking out street festivals when you travel to a new city provides real insight on the town, the people, and the local culture.  From downtown San Diego, take the family on a scenic Coaster ride headed north to discover why the nation’s largest single day street fair takes place in this beautiful seaside community.

Where: Grand Ave (between Carlsbad Blvd & Jefferson St) Carlsbad, CA 92008
When: Sunday, November 3, 2013
Time: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Cost: Free
>Find our more about the Carlsbad Fall Village Faire

Plancha Baja Med Halloween Pop-Up Dinner

plancha baja med chad white pop up halloween dinner at frauds and swindlers 2013 san diego

Sample Chef Chad White Baja-Med cuisine at a special pop-up dinner

Local chef Chad White from Plancha Baja Med takes over downtown’s Frauds & Swindlers cocktail lounge for an evening of delectable cuisine and libations. The “black & white” themed menu features creative dishes like oyster-coconut cream soup and ash-cured pork belly. The evening also features a costume contest, live music and dancing into the wee hours.

Where: 820 5th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101
When: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Time: 7:00 – 10:00 pm
Cost: $70 per person
>See the complete dinner menu

Spooky Silent Films


Teeny Tiny Orchestra Silent Horror Movies on Halloween UCSD Geisel Library San Diego 2013

Scott Paulson’s Teeny Tiny Orchestra

If modern horror films with all the blood and guts aren’t your thing, check out The Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra’s presentation of Horror on Halloween. The event features scary silent films paired with live music and sounds. Audience participation in creating the creepy film scores is encouraged (have you ever tried to play a Theremin?).

Where: 9500 Gilman Dr. (Seuss Room at the Geisel Library, UCSD), La Jolla, CA 92093
When: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Time: 7:00 pm
Cost: Free
>Find out more about Horror on Halloween

Dia de Los Muertos at Fiesta de Reyes

Dia de los Muertos day of the dead Old Town San Diego 2013

The processional begins at the 2012 Dia de los Muertos celebration in Old Town San Diego

As a part of the Old Town San Diego’s Día de los Muertos celebration, Fiesta de Reyes and Old Town San Diego State Historic Park will celebrate the Day of the Dead with live music, folklorico dancing, face painting, crafts for children and a tour of more than 15 altars on Nov. 1 to 3. Visitors won’t be disappointed by the extensive Day of the Dead display at Fiesta de Reyes and the special-themed menu at Casa de Reyes and Barra Barra Saloon.

Where: 2754 Calhoun St  San Diego, CA 92110
When: Nov. 1 – 3, 2013
Time: 1:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
>Find out more about Dia de los Muertos in Old Town San Diego

Día de los Muertos – Honoring Mexico’s Singers & Composers

san diego symphony day of the dead 2013

Dia de los Muertos in music at the San Diego Symphony

The San Diego Symphony hosts an evening honoring the music of some of Mexico’s most beloved singers and composers during a celebration of Día de los Muertos, Mexico’s colorful and magical tradition. San Diego favorite Mónica  Ábrego, Metropolitan opera veteran  José Luis Duval and one of the most famous mariachi musicians in the world, Rafael Palomar take the stage to perform passionate and exciting music.  With world-class singers and world-class mariachi, don’t miss this classic take on a cross border tradition.

Where: 750 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Friday, November 1, 2013
Time: 8 p.m.
Cost: $20 – $85
>Find out more about Dia de los Muertos at the San Diego Symphony

Technomania Circus: Dia de los Zombies

Zombie show at Technomania Circus San Diego 2013

There’s no telling what crazy antics you’ll encounter at the Technomania Circus

Held in a spooky former church, Technomania Circus presents ‘Dia de los Zombies’ on Friday and Saturday Nov. 1 & 2. Seek shelter from wandering zombies on the Day of the Dead in this spooky ex-church and be amused by circus performers of the live and undead variety while you await your inevitable fate.

Where: 2558 Imperial Ave, San Diego, CA 92102
When: Friday, November 1 & Saturday, November 2, 2013
Time: 9:00 p.m.
Cost: $10
>Find out more about the Dia de los Zombies

Need even more ideas for what to do in San Diego? Browse the San Diego Event Calendar


Free Summer Concerts Throughout San Diego County – 2013

Free Summer Concerts in Pacific Beach
Free Summer Concerts in Pacific Beach

Bring a chair or a blanket to sit on the grass and enjoy free summer concerts under the warm San Diego sunshine

Free summer concerts have become traditions in neighborhoods throughout San Diego County. They’re an opportunity for visitors, locals and their families to socialize, picnic, enjoy music together – and maybe even dance as the sun sets on another perfect San Diego day.

Here’s a sampling of the free summer concerts to expect this summer:

San Diego’s Free Summer Concerts

The Point Loma Summer Concert Series opens July 12 with Jumping Jack Flash (a Rolling Stones tribute band) and continues on consecutive Fridays through August 9. Shows run 5:30 to 8:30 PM. Pack a picnic or buy food at the venue. Bring blankets, lawn chairs and Frisbees to Point Loma Park, 1049 Catalina Blvd.

Pacific Beach Concerts on the Green are set for Sundays July 21 through August 11. Shows run from 4:00 to 6:30 PM at Kate Sessions Park (Lamont Street, just north of Beryl). Bring your own food and drink.

Mission Hills’ Concerts in the Park series opens June 21 at Pioneer Park and continues on consecutive Fridays through August 23. Once exception: No concert on July 5 because of the community’s big Fourth of July celebration, which includes a concert. The series opens with Hullabaloo followed by Zydeco Patrol on June 28 and Dr. Elvis on July 4. Pioneer Park is at 1425 Washington Place.

Balboa Park’s Twilight in the Park concert series kicks off at 6:15 PM June 18 and continues on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through August 29 at the park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The hour-long shows feature everything from classical music to R&B.

Enjoy organ music? The International Summer Organ Festival features organists from around the world. Showtime is 7:30 to 9:30 PM on Mondays, June 24 through Aug. 26, at Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

The Bird Park Concert Series in North Park will open June 15 with jazzman Lenny Rankins. More concerts are scheduled June 29 (indie rock), July 13 (Latin jazz), July 27 (country rock) and August 10 (blues). All shows run 5:30 to 7:30 PM. Bird Park is at 28th and Thorn streets.

Enchanted Music on Coronado

Coronado’s Concerts in the Park series is set for 6:00 PM on Sundays, May 26 through September 8, at Spreckels Park, 7th and Orange. Families (but no dogs) are welcome to picnic during the 90-minute shows. The Coronado Community Concert Band will open the series.

Coronado Ferry Landing Concert Series kicks it off with the Coronado Big Band on May 25 and continues rocking Saturdays and Sundays through July 28. Most performances run from 2:00 to 5:00 PM.

Rocking Out in North County

Del Mar’s Summer Twilight Concerts are set for Powerhouse Park, overlooking the Pacific, at 1600 Coast Blvd. The series begins June 18 with Atomic Groove, followed by Mrs. Robinson on July 9, Back to the Garden on August 13 and Mark Wood and the Parrot Head band on September 8. Show time is 7:00 PM, with pre-show entertainment beginning at 6:00 PM.

Carlsbad’s TGIF Jazz in the Park is staged at three community parks. The 28th season opens at Stagecoach Park (3420 Camino de los Coches), with concerts on June 28, July 5 and 12. The party moves to Poinsettia Park (6600 Hidden Valley Road) for concerts on July 19, 26 and August 2. The season closes at Calavera Hills Park (2997 Glasgow Drive) with concerts on August 9, 16 and 23. Showtime is 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Wear your dancing shoes.

Roaring Good Time in East County

El Cajon’s Dinner and a Concert series is set for 6:00 to 8:00 PM Fridays through Sept. 30 on the Prescott Promenade near East Main Street and Rea Avenue in downtown El Cajon. The family oriented venue is smoke-, alcohol- and dog-free. No need to pack a picnic; about a dozen restaurants edge the promenade, offering on-the-spot dining or picnics to go.

Santee’s Free Summer Concerts are scheduled 6:30 to 8:30 PM on Thursdays, June 20 through August 22 (except July 4), at Town Center Community Park East, 550 Park Center Drive in Santee. The Navy’s Southwest Showband will open the series. Picnics are welcome, but know that food trucks rally nearby.

> Enjoy more live music in San Diego

Know of more free summer concerts I don’t have in this list? Let me and others know in the comments below.


San Diego Beaches – The Perfect Setting for a Stroll

Coronado - Silver Strand Beach
San Diego Beaches - Silver Strand on Coronado

Silver Strand State Beach – a great place for a stroll.

Are you looking for an awe-inspiring stretch of beach for taking a leisurely stroll? San Diego beaches provide the perfect setting with 70 miles of pristine coastline, gentle rolling waves and sparkling blue water as far as the eye can see. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, relaxation or even a little romance, you’ll find it at one of our world-famous beaches. In fact, San Diego has so many amazing beaches for walking, it’s nearly impossible to list them all. But, here are a few good spots to get you started.

Coronado and the Silver Strand

Silver Strand in Coronado is just a short distance from downtown San Diego, but is a world away in terms of relaxation. The waves are soothing and the beach literally sparkles in the sunlight due to the mineral Mica in the sand. If you walk north, you’ll see great views of Point Loma, or if you head south, the Imperial Beach Pier is off in the distance. Coronado beaches are consistently voted America’s finest by the Travel Channel, so whether you go on a romantic stroll for two or a family walk, this is the perfect place to get inspired.

La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Shores is the quintessential San Diego beach. With soft, white sand and gentle rolling waves, strolling on this beach instantly makes you feel carefree and happy. A relaxed vibe also makes this beach popular amongst families, joggers and surfers. Walk north for a nice view of the Scripp’s Institute of Oceanography pier and La Jolla’s picturesque bluffs.

Mission Beach

Fun and energetic is the best way to describe Mission Beach. Probably because Belmont Park, a midway-style amusement park opened in 1925 and home of the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster, is nestled just to the south. A long stretch of ample shoreline makes Mission Beach a good bet for long walks. For a more lively experience, try strolling along its boardwalk filled with a colorful hodgepodge of rollerbladers, bikers, joggers and other locals.

Moonlight Beach

Located in Encinitas, Moonlight Beach has a nice stretch of shoreline perfect for a romantic stroll at sunset. The beach got its name in the early 1900’s when locals had late night picnics here by “moonlight,” and the name stuck. Today, its supple, wide beach is ideal for walking, and surfers love it for the great waves.

Carlsbad State Beach

Carlsbad State Beach is one of North County’s best kept secrets and offers a gorgeous, sandy coastline. So when you’re done playing in the water, sunbathing or building sandcastles, soak in a little extra sunshine walking along the shore. There’s also a paved path to combine your walk with a little people watching.

> Explore more of San Diego’s Beaches

Where’s your favorite stretch of San Diego beach for strolling?


5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

Painting - Kidsfest San Diego

This is a perfect weekend to bring the kids to San Diego for a whole host of family friendly events. Below are your five to try.

1. Kidsfest San Diego

Painting - Kidsfest San Diego

The second annual KidsFest will transform the NTC Promenade in Point Loma, June 9 and 10 into a wonderland of play, with activities designed to stimulate and celebrate the imagination. Signature events include a Creation Station, where kids can paint masterpieces or Dance Avenue – a pure, nonstop musical haven for kids to drum or dance the day away. Save $2 with this coupon for everyone!

2. San Diego County Fair

San Diego County Fair Best Pass Ever

Opening June 8 and running through July 4, the San Diego County Fair invites the universe to its “Out Of This World” celebration! Explore both the serious and not-so-serious sides of space exploration. Don’t forget to try some of the out of this world food offerings including the Porkabello Kabob (bacon-wrapped, Gouda-stuffed portabella mushrooms on a stick) or Deep-Fried Cereal!

3. Julian Gold Rush Days

3 Miners - Julian Gold Rush Days

Drive up to Julian on June 9th or 10th to experience the Julian Gold Rush Days. Activities include historical encampments (with a chance to meet miners, mountain men & cowboys!), gun fighting, reenactments & mock claim jumping, tomahawk throwing demonstrations, and gold panning. The old-fashioned mining camp will offer free admission, vendors, an arts & crafts market, food & drink, gem mining, children’s pioneer games, free parking & plenty of family fun.

4. Carlsbad Beach Fest

Carlsbad Beach Fest, photo Ed Andrews

Carlsbad Beach Fest. Photo Courtesy of Ed Andrews

Head up the coast on June 9 for the fifth annual Carlsbad Beach Fest. Join over The Fest brings together the community for a fun-filled annual celebration on one mile of beach, stretching from Pine Avenue to Tamarack State Beach. The festival features competitive sporting events, live music on multiple stages, food, green product vendors, kite-flying, sand-sculpting, a health and safety expo, opportunity drawings and prizes, a massive beach cleanup and much more.

5. Taste of Gaslamp

Taste of Gaslamp Logo 2012

Taste of Gaslamp

Dine your way around one of San Diego’s most liveliest neighborhoods during the two-day Taste of Gaslamp. The Gaslamp Quarter Association hosts a great food sampling event each year, showcasing its Chefs & World Class Restaurants. This fantastic and delicious event June 9 and 10 provides an opportunity to test out many locations in one afternoon.

> Find More Great Events on the Event Calendar at

What do you have planned for the weekend?


Attraction Action: LEGOLAND Unveils Expanded Star Wars Miniland Area

LEGOLAND California's Star Wars Miniland - Hoth
LEGOLAND California's Star Wars Miniland - Hoth

Order the defense towers to fire ion cannons and turbolasers at will! Photo Courtesy of LEGOLAND California

My nine year-old son is bursting with excitement with the news that LEGOLAND California just unveiled an expanded Star Wars Miniland area. We’ve been to this area so many times I can name all of the scenes, and that’s saying a lot. My personal favorite is the Ewok Village.

Delighted Star Wars fans can expect to see the giant Jawa sandcrawler, featured in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, made up of more than 15,000 LEGO bricks and weighing in at more than 50 pounds. Other new LEGO models being introduced include: the ion cannon in the Rebel base on the planet Hoth; a towering Crystal City building in Christophsis and the giant opee sea killer on Naboo.

LEGOLAND California's Star Wars Miniland - Opee Sea Killer

Opee Sea Killer on the Hunt! Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND California

In the new LEGO® Star Wars™ Gallery, guests will be further immersed into the Star Wars experience as they walk through and encounter large-scale LEGO minifigures from each episode. Each LEGO model is 3-feet-tall, constructed of approximately 10,000 bricks and displayed on a podium for guests to get an up-close look. The 12 characters feature: Wicket, Princess Leia, R2-D2, Clone Captain Rex, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, Yoda and Darth Maul. I think I may have to get my photo with Han Solo!

LEGOLAND California's Star Wars Miniland - Jawa Sandcrawler

Utini! Utini! Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND California

Be sure to print out your $10 off coupon and tell us what your favorite scene in Miniland is!

Tell us in the comments below, who or what is your favorite Star Wars character?

Brent Bernasconi

Trains, Grains and No Automobiles – A Green Beer Tour of San Diego

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Coaster Ride

I love beer (IPAs to be exact) and it helps that I live in San Diego with over 40 amazing breweries to its name. The hard part is getting a chance to sample all of the different local brews.

There is a new way in town to do just that through La Jolla Wine Tours (LJWT) who are now offering a Beer Train Tour. LJWT’s goal is to showcase great San Diego breweries, wineries and restaurants while making sure everyone has a fun and safe time. They offer beer and wine tours on foot, by car, and now, by train that take visitors all over the county. All I heard was beer, food, train, frivolity and sunshine and I was sold.

On a gorgeous Friday afternoon, my little brother (now 21, which is scary), myself, and a few other beer fans met up with beer and wine sommelier, Stephen, and tour guide/tour creator, Patricia, from LJWT to embark on The Beer Train Tour.

Once aboard The Beer Train Tour, our group made three stops along the coast of San Diego starting in the Downtown area and ending in the seaside village of Carlsbad. Here is a sample of what you might expect to experience on this fun and green tour:

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - The Beer Co.

Station 1: Downtown’s The Beer Co.

We all met at our first stop, The Beer Company, in San Diego’s Downtown. After the meet and greet, Stephen got down to business and led us through the complexities and flavors of a few samples from the Beer Co.’s wide selection and styles of in-house beers. As a bonus, we were lucky enough to meet one of the brewers while he poured us a pitcher straight from the tanks! To keep things fun, Patricia threw out a couple trivia questions that resulted in a few prizes for me (I admit it- I am a beer nerd) and the ability to select a growler fill for the train ride.

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Coaster Ride

Once good and giddy, our group took a short walk to the Santa Fe Train Station to hop on the train. As it pulled out of the station, we all relaxed in our comfy chairs while enjoying a growler fill of The Beer Co.’s Trippel (a Belgian style Tripel) as the views of the waterfront chugged by. Next stop, the sleepy surfer town of Encinitas.

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Encinitas and Union Kitchen

Station 2: Encinitas’ Union Kitchen and Tap

Moving away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, we disembarked from the train into the sun-kissed, laid back surfer town of Encinitas. We strolled down the South Coast Highway 101 enjoying the warm ocean breeze and picking up a few fun facts from Stephen as we made the short walk to the Union Kitchen and Tap. Stephen perused the local beers on tap and made sure to order samples based on everyone’s preferences. Magically, both food and beer samples made their way to our table and before we knew it, it was time to ride on to our next destination.

Note to self: Head back to Encinitas and the Union for a quintessential San Diego afternoon of sunshine, surf and great beer.

La Jolla Wine Tour Beer Train Tour Collage - Carlsbad and Coaster

Station 3: Carlsbad’s The Compass

Now even happier and chattier than before, everyone unloaded from the train into the coastal village of Carlsbad. As we walked to our final stop, Stephen gave us a quick history of Carlsbad and its special liquid resource, mineral water. After waving hello to a LJWT wine tour group at the Witch Creek Winery, our lively group of new friends sat down at The Compass for a few more samples, mac and cheese (that my brother loved), and good conversation before heading back south on the train to San Diego and the weekend.

As I reflect back on the fun I had, I especially appreciated how Stephen and Patricia made sure everyone received the chance to both sample a beer style they loved and one they had never tried. As a local, the tour also introduced me to new local restaurants (my brother has decided to return to The Compass for his birthday in May) with a large selection of taps allowing San Diegans and visitors the chance to sample many local beers in one place.

Whether you are in the mood for beer or wine, LJWT has you covered with even more great tours:
– Wine Train Tour
– San Diego County Wine Tours
– Beer and Wine Walking Tours
– Special Holiday Tours

So what are you waiting for? Call LJWT, get on the train and enjoy all that San Diego has to offer.

Tell me in the comments below: Where is your favorite place to grab a drink while in San Diego?

PS. Stop by Bine and Vine in San Diego’s Normal Heights Neighborhood for a great selection of bottled beers and wines. Ask for Stephen and tell him Brent sent you!


Spring Into San Diego Style!

Get Your Spring Wardrobe Ready with Pieces from Mog & Rue, Kyss and Robina Apparel & Accessories Boutiques.

So many people ask me, “What should I pack for my visit to San Diego during the Springtime?” My answer: It is all about the layering factor.

With the average high of 70.5° and low of 54º, layering is key when visiting this year-round sunshine city! I would recommend packing everything from t-shirts, shorts and sundresses to jeans, leggings and tunics. Be sure to add a light jacket or sweater and a lightweight scarf for the cool mornings and evenings. Your “sunnies” (sunglasses) are key for the entire day since this is a destination known for its sunshine!

The fashion, just like San Diego’s ambiance, is known for being everything from stimulating and energetic to laid-back and comfortable. I would plan on adding some San Diego chicness by purchasing a maxi dress with a fitted short jean jacket for women and some surf-chic board shorts with a relaxed soft hoodie for men. We are also a jean-inspired city so you might want to pick up the latest styles in addition to our fabulous lightweight scarves, sunglasses and go-to jewelry!

To help you out on where to find these fashion-relevant pieces here are just a few to mention while exploring our shop-till-you-drop city:

Get Your Spring Wardrobe Ready with Pieces from Mog & Rue, Kyss and Robina Apparel & Accessories Boutiques.

Get Your Spring Wardrobe Ready with Pieces from Mog & Rue, Kyss and Robina Apparel & Accessories Boutiques.

  • La Jolla’s Robina Apparel & Accessories offers an array of what I call generational-dressing. A mother and teenage daughter can easily pick up California-chic maxi dresses or laid-back-luxe t-shirt ensembles that captures the San Diego coolness factor. They are known for carrying unique and hard-to-find jeans, in addition to ultra-chic semi-precious long necklaces and leather cross-body bags!
  • When it comes to men the quaint pop-up boutique called Credible Thread, in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, offers go-to brands for men as well as luxe leather goods. Their own label called, Crfty, is sold exclusively through this boutique. The looks carried here are more simple with attention to detail and quality; think classic menswear with a twist at 20%-70% off of retail prices.
  • Mog & Rue Boutique, nestled in the quaint community of Encinitas, encompasses a multitude of choices for layering pieces and accessories for women. You will always find the latest on-point trends and go-to pieces that can be added to any wardrobe. Their soft flowy cotton tanks and tunics fit anyone’s style, in addition to the colorful flirty dresses, and chic accessories. I always leave with a shopping bag!
  • I love the selection of jeans, scarves and colorful comfy-cotton maxi’s at Carlsbad’s Kyss Boutique. The jewelry selection is heaven for any effortless-chic gal.  With the concept of “Our Store Is Your Closet,” shopping here is a breeze!

Tell us in the comments below, what is your go-to Spring wardrobe in San Diego?


Spring Fun in San Diego

Anza-Boreggo Desert State Park Wildflowers

Springtime in San Diego makes a colorful entrance every year as warm weather sweeps through the County and brilliant flowers bloom. There are also spring celebrations at the region’s major attractions and enough festivals, fairs and events to keep visitors entertained throughout the season. Be sure to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful San Diego Spring weather!

Anza-Boreggo Desert State Park Wildflowers

Wildflowers in the Anza-Boreggo Desert State Park

Floral Celebrations

A spectacular display of color occurs annually between February and April in the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego’s East County as wildflowers bejewel the sun-scorched desert landscape. Guests are advised to call the Park’s 24-hour “Wildflower Hotline” at 760-767-4684 before planning a tour of the desert flora.

At the Flower Fields of Carlsbad California, a vibrant sea of giant ranunculus flowers transforms 50 acres of hills into rows of brilliant color. During March through May, guests can stroll past oceans of flowers and through beautiful gardens, including a miniature rose garden, fragrant sweet pea maze, a garden featuring more than 50 All American Rose Selection winners and a spectacular display of red, white and blue flowers planted in the shape of a giant American flag.

Balboa Park‘s Offshoot Tours provides free, one-hour tours that highlight the park’s lush botanical offerings; the tours begin at 10:00 am on Saturdays in front of the Balboa Park Visitors Center. Must-sees are the beautiful Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden, displaying approximately 2,500 roses of nearly 200 varieties, and the award-winning Alcazar Garden, with a floral design patterned after the gardens of Alcazar Castle in Seville, Spain.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park's Butterfly Jungle

Butteryfly Jungle Photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Springtime Attractions

Guests can celebrate spring with Shamu and friends during Spring into Night at SeaWorld San Diego. During weekends in spring, exact dates TBA, visitors can laugh with sea lions Clyde and Seamore at the Sea Lions Tonite! nighttime show and be amazed at the visually stunning evening performance of Shamu Rocks before looking to the sky for a fantastic fireworks show.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park presents Butterfly Jungle, March 24 – April 15. During this four-week celebration, guests can walk through the Park’s Hidden Jungle, an African aviary, and surround themselves with thousands of butterflies of every shape, size and color.

Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival

Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival. Photo courtesy of Boardwalk Betty

Festivals, Fairs and Events

Seaport Village comes alive with a celebration of street performers during the Spring Busker Festival, March 24 – 25. In a battle of entertainment, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind performers including jugglers, sword swallowers, comedic stuntmen and Didgeridoo players take to Seaport Village’s cobblestone streets for a weekend of outdoor family amusement.

The La Jolla Concours d’Elegance, sponsored by the La Jolla Historical Society, takes place April 1 in Scripps Park near La Jolla Cove and draws droves of classic car enthusiasts.

The city of Fallbrook in San Diego’s North County celebrates its designation as “the avocado capital of the world” during the Annual Fallbrook Avocado Festival on April 15. Highlights include arts and crafts, games and creative foods featuring the delicious, green fruit.

Tell us in the comments, what are you looking most forward to this spring in San Diego?