Robert Arends

Jolly Good Times in La Jolla this Holiday Season!

La Jolla for the holidays! Festive entrance to The Lodge at Torrey Pines

La Jolla for the holidays! Festive entrance to The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Happy Holidays from La Jolla, one of San Diego’s most magical winter getaways. Sparkling beaches, warm sun shiny days and a welcoming Village vibe await holiday visitors to this enticing seaside enclave.

Christmas Celebration

Make some merry memories at the La Jolla Christmas Parade!

Make some merry memories at the La Jolla Christmas Parade!

Festivities kick off this Sunday during the popular annual La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival. This year’s theme is “Spirit of Christmas – Peace on Earth.” Parade begins at 1:30 PM along Girard Ave. and Prospect Street. There will be marching bands, vintage cars, equestrians and floats. Arrive early for prime viewing spots.

Afterward, head to the La Jolla Recreation Center (615 Prospect Street) for a fun festival featuring local businesses like Birch Aquarium and Surf Diva, photos with Santa Claus, a live entertainment stage and Christmas tree lighting at 5:00 PM.

Did you know: One of the parade sponsors is Audrey Geisel and the Dr. Seuss Fund. Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was one of La Jolla’s most famous residents!

> Dr. Seuss on the Loose in La Jolla

Where: Girard Avenue & Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
: December 7, 2014
Time: 1:30 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival

Curtain Call

“Fa la la la la!” at the La Jolla Theatre Ensemble’s briskly-moving adaptation of the holiday classic Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Where: La Jolla Community Center – 6811 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92037
: December 13 and 15, 2014
Time: 7:30 PM
Cost: $10 suggested donation
> Find out more about Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Shop Till You Drop

La Valencia Hotel's 14 ft. Christmas Tree in La Sala Lounge

La Valencia Hotel’s 14 ft. Christmas Tree in La Sala Lounge

Shop for everyone on your holiday list – and yourself! – at the shops in La Jolla Village, particularly along Prospect St. and Girard Ave. The La Jolla Festival of Lights is sure to bring a twinkle to your eye as storefronts and hotels glow with colorful lights, Christmas trees, menorahs and other eye-catching holiday décor.

This Friday, the Allied Artists Association of San Diego (aaaSD) presents an Art Reception and Holiday Shopping Bazaar at the La Jolla Community Center; a great chance to meet and mingle with local artists and shop for one-of-kind handmade holiday gifts including crafts, glass creations and paintings.

When: December 5, 2014
Time: 5:00 to 7:00 PM
Cost:  Free
> Find out more about the aaaSD Art Reception and Holiday Shopping Bazaar

La Jolla Hotel Holiday Deals

Chef's yummy holiday cookies at La Valencia Hotel!

Chef’s yummy holiday cookies at La Valencia Hotel!

Some wrapped and ready packages to make your La Jolla visit merrier include:

See you in La Jolla for the holidays! 🙂

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.


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.


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!


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 🙂

Guest Blogger

Premium Outlets and Fashion Valley Offer Luxurious Shopping in San Diego

Las Americas Premium Outlets

Spoil yourself with a day of shopping in San Diego. The warm fall weather beckons visitors to enjoy an outing at some of the best centers and premium outlets for luxurious shopping and dining throughout San Diego county!

Premium Outlets – Luxury Items at Affordable Prices

Las Americas Premium Outlets

Discover amazing deals from brand names at the Premium Outlets in South Bay and Carlsbad

If you’re looking to discover not only the best of San Diego, but also score a great bargain while in town, then check out the Premium Outlets. The Carlsbad Premium Outlets in North County Coastal San Diego and the Las Americas Premium Outlets in the South Bay offer upscale shopping from the finest designer and brand names at incredible prices.

In between stores, take a break in lovely outdoor settings, complete with elegant architecture and beautiful courtyards. While you relax, sip on a warm pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks or nibble on a famous fish taco from Rubio’s. There are plenty of dining options sure to please every taste.

Whether you’re enjoying a day at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad or checking out the bustling border near Mexico, everyday savings of 25% to 65% are yours for the taking at the Premium Outlets.

Carlsbad Premium Outlets
5620 Paseo del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008
> Find out more about Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Las Americas Premium Outlets
4211 Camino de La Plaza, San Ysidro, CA 92173
> Find out more about Las Amercias Premium Outlets

Upscale Shopping at Fashion Valley

Fashion Valley Mall

Spend the whole day shopping, dining and relaxing at Fashion Valley

Fashion Valley boasts world-class shopping, offering top brands from Prada to Zara and Hermes to Urban Outfitters at more than 200 shops and eateries in a beautiful outdoor setting.

After picking out that “to-die-for” purse from Luis Vuitton, take a break from retail therapy with a pampering massage at Carlton Hair Salon and Day Spa, cool off while enjoying a movie at the center’s 18-screen AMC Theatres, or simply soak up some sunshine on comfortable outdoor seating while checking in on Facebook using complimentary WiFi.

If you’re looking for healthy dining options to go along with that bathing suit you packed, check out True Food Kitchen, serving up delicious and nutritious farm-to-table selections in a hip setting. Or perhaps you’re a tech-lover who craves made-to-order selections? If so, check out Technology Innovator of the Year award-winning restaurant STACKED, where all orders are placed using your very own tableside tablet.

With so many dining, retail and entertainment options, no wonder Fashion Valley was designated as one of 25 premier Simon Malls’ top visitor destinations in the country!

> Discover more shopping options in San Diego

Where’s your favorite place to go shopping and find the best deals in San Diego?

Guest post written by Francine Miley, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Fashion Valley.


San Diego County Fair Deals and Discounts – 2013


It’s “Game On” at the San Diego County Fair! This year, the Fair will spotlight classic and nostalgic games and show how these have evolved over the years; from board games and pinball, to television, videos and computers, technology has enhanced the gaming culture beyond our dreams.

Are you ready to hit start? Play at the Fair and save plenty of gold coins (a.k.a cash) with these deals and discounts:

Admission to the Fair

Adult admission to the San Diego County Fair costs $14 – but deals abound:

  • For super fans, the “Best Pass Ever” can’t be beat. It includes daily admission – all 24 days of the fair – for just $24. You’ll need a school or government-issued photo ID to use the pass.
  • Tuesdays are the magic day for kids 6-12 years old. They get in free. (Kids 5 and younger get in free everyday.) Youngsters 12 and younger can get in free any day if they read 10 books and have it verified by their teacher or librarian. The certificate you’ll need to get signed can be downloaded in English or Spanish.
  • Adults can get $4 admission on Tuesday, June 11 or June 18. You’ll need a ticket available with any $10 purchase at Albertsons/SavOn stores. (Tickets must be purchased in advance; none will be available at the fair.)
  • Been laid off in the past year? Present an unemployment check stub and a photo ID at the will-call window on June 18 or 25 to get free admission for yourself and a guest.
  • County auto dealers are in on the action this year, starting June 1. Visit a Toyota dealership to get a coupon valid for two adult admissions for the price of one. Visit a Ford dealership to get a 4-tickets-for-$32 coupon.

Once Inside the Fair


Once you’re inside, there are tons of free things to enjoy – including concerts by big name artists. Headliners offering free unreserved seats this year include the Beach Boys,  REO Speedwagon, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Switchfoot, Chubby Checker, Colbie Caillat and La Arrolladora Banda El Limón.


Love the rides? On “Pepsi Pay-One-Price” days, spend $35 for a wristband that allows unlimited access to Fun Zone and Kiddieland rides from noon until 8:00 PM.  The deal is valid June 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 26 and 27. On valid Wednesdays or Thursdays, wristbands are for sale at the fair; on other valid days, they must be purchased online (You’ll buy and print out your Pay-One-Price voucher online; there’s an additional $2.50 fee for online purchases.)


Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe - San Diego County Fair

This year, try the new Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe at the San Diego County Fair!

Food? On Tuesdays, from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, more than 100 food vendors offer smaller portions for $2. Or bring your own picnic; there are six designated picnic areas. (No alcohol, glass containers or metal utensils are allowed on the fairgrounds.)

Getting to the San Diego County Fair


Avoid the fair’s $10 parking fee by opting for free parking at Horsepark, about 2 miles east of the fairgrounds, at 14550 El Camino Real; a free shuttle will get you to the front gate. On weekends and July 4 there’s additional free parking (with shuttle service) at Torrey Pines High and Mira Costa College’s San Elijo campus.

Public Transportation

Taking public transportation to the fair is a super deal. For $15, travel roundtrip on the Coaster and get free fair admission. The “Fair Tripper” is valid for any age, but those 62 and older save more by buying fair admission and Coaster tickets separately. Kids 5 and younger ride the Coaster free and get free fair admission.

> Find More Exciting Things to Do this Summer in San Diego

Know of any other great San Diego County Fair deals or savings? Let us and others know in the comments below. Even if you don’t know of any, tell us what deep-fried treat you are most looking forward to trying.


San Diego Restaurant Week 2013 Preview

Was your New Year’s resolution to start feeding that piggy bank? If you’re like me, you want to save money without feeling like you’re missing out on the good things in life, like fine dining. January is always a great time of year for money-saving travel to San Diego, when hotel rates and airfares have dropped from their peak holiday prices. And thanks to San Diego Restaurant Week, you really can live the good life in San Diego without breaking the bank.

From January 13 – 18, 2013, diners can enjoy a six-day exploration of the region’s exciting dining scene for a fraction of the normal expense.  More than 180 participation restaurants will offer special three-course, prix fixe dinner menus for just $20, $30 or $40 per person (beverages, tax and gratuity not included) and two-course, prix-fixe lunch menus for just $10, $15 or $20 per person. Here’s a sneak peek at some notable menus:

100 Wines Hillcrest

100 Wines Hillcrest San Diego Restaurant Week

100 Wines Hillcrest

100 Wines Hillcrest will be serving up their signature crispy cauliflower with pancetta, parmesan cheese and a balsamic port reduction. Follow that up with a proscuitto pizza creatively topped with house made mozzarella and green grapes.

Gaijin Noodle + Sake House

Gaijin Noodle and Sake House San Diego Restaurant Week

Ramen at Gaijin Noodle + Sake House

Gaijin Noodle + Sake House in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter offers one of the tastiest deals with a starter, two yakitori skewers, half bowl of ramen and dessert (like their bacon s’more) all for only $20.

Terra American Bistro

Terra American Bistro San Diego Restaurant Week

Pumpkin soup and lamb at Terra American Bistro (Photo by Paul Body as it appears in “From Terra’s Table,” Chefs Press, 2010)

For diners who want maximum menu options, Terra American Bistro in La Mesa has you covered with more than 10 appetizer options and seven entrée options, including their Karl Strauss Amber Lager braised pot roast and sinful lobster mac ‘n cheese.

California Restaurant Month

San Diego Restaurant Week is part of California Restaurant Month, occurring January 2013, when 30 destinations across California are hosting restaurant week events.  Details are available online at

What restaurants are you excited to try out during Restaurant Week?


Kids Eat Free in San Diego this October

The Manchester Grand Hyatt is just one of more than 40 hotels offerings Kids Eat Free dining deals.

Let’s face it: family vacations can be costly. By the time you get to where you’re going, you still have to pay for hotel rooms, tickets to all the fun theme parks and attractions. Add on three meals a day for you and your kids, and you’ve totalled up quite a bill.

Fortunately, thanks to Kids Free San Diego in October, more than 40 San Diego area hotels are offering free dining for kids at their properties. Along with the hotel dining options, kids can enjoy a free meal at these local restaurants too, ensuring that you can enjoy your vacation and still have money left for Christmas.

Here are just a few dining specials happening all October long:

Be sure to visit for the complete details on Kids Free offers from participating hotels and restaurants.

Brent Bernasconi

Calling All Kids – Let the Kidvasion of San Diego Begin!

Get ready for the ultimate family vacation! During the entire month of October, kids eat, stay and play for free throughout San Diego. Take advantage of great deals at over 100 participating partners including Amtrak, world-class attractions, museums, hotels, restaurants, surf companies, tour companies and more.

> Find Over a Hundred Kids Free Offers in San Diego This October


Video Tour: San Diego Museum Month

San Diego Museum Month - 29 Days - 40 Museums - 50% Off

If you’re an art lover, museum buff or simply appreciate the value of a good deal, then February is the best time for you to visit San Diego. All month long, stop by any San Diego County Macy’s location to pick up a San Diego Museum Month pass and you’ll get half-off admission for you and up to three guests at 40 museums throughout the county.

From sports memorabilia to classic cars, mummies and hands-on science experiments, Balboa Park is a one-stop shop for Museum Month fun. Some of my favorites of Balboa Park’s 16 museums are those of the artistic bent, like the San Diego Museum of Art, Museum of Photographic Arts and Mingei International Museum. Join me on a video tour of what you can expect to see at these three spectacular venues:

For a complete list of all the museums participating in Museum Month, visit the San Diego Museum Council’s website, and pick up your half-off pass before it’s too late!


Valentine’s Day Getaway Deals in San Diego

This February, love is in the air with special Valentine’s Day offerings and packages from hotels and resorts throughout San Diego County. It’s not too late to plan a romance-filled getaway to San Diego to enjoy the spectacular scenery, sun-drenched beaches, world-class restaurants and luxury resorts with the one you love.

S'mores on the Beach

From downtown to La Jolla to Coronado, here are a few of the most romantic deals to be found:

El Cordova Hotel – Marriage Has Its Benefits

Coronado’s charming Spanish-style El Cordova Hotel offers the Marriage Has Its Benefits package. For every year of marriage, the hotel will match that number in percent off its nightly rate. For example, guests married for 20 years will receive 20 percent off any one-bedroom, two-bedroom or Casa Grande Suite. Couples who present their wedding photo at check-in will also receive a chocolate gift upon arrival. Suite rates start at $160 per night, plus tax, and must be booked by Feb. 29, 2012 for stays through May 25, 2012.

Andaz Hotel – Your Crush for a Night

Fan the flames of love with the Your Crush for a Night package at the ultra-modern Andaz Hotel in the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. Each designer guest room features a risqué glass shower and plush bedding. This sultry getaway includes a bottle of sparkling wine, chocolate covered strawberries, freshly prepared breakfast for two, a special intimacy kit and VIP access to Ivy, the hotel’s multi-level nightclub. Rates start at $189 per night, plus tax, and are valid through Mar. 31, 2012.

White Oak Ranch

Guests can bring out their wild sides with a stay at White Oak Ranch in Alpine, a property of the Lions Tigers and Bears Big Cat Rescue, which serves as a sanctuary facility and life-long haven for many exotic cats such as lions, tigers, leopards and bobcats. The inn offers a one-night stay in a safari-themed room with champagne and continental breakfast, and for every stay, a donation is made in the guest’s name to Lions Tigers and Bears. Rates start at $425 per night, plus tax, and are valid through Feb. 29, 2012, subject to availability.

Hotel del Coronado – That’s S’moré

Always a classic experience for romance, guests at the Hotel del Coronado can add on the Del’s That’s S’moré package featuring a side-by-side 50-minute Swedish massage in the couples spa suite, followed by a private bonfire on the beach. Sparks are sure to ignite as couples feed each other complimentary s’mores while sipping champagne. The package is available to hotel guests only, valid through Dec. 31, 2012 with rates starting at $445, plus gratuity.

Paradise Point Resort & Spa – Romance in Paradise

Feel like splurging and spoiling your Valentine? Lovebirds can fly to the height of luxury with offerings from the Paradise Point Resort & Spa. The Romance in Paradise package begins with a welcome glass of champagne as guests settle in to a 1,600-square-foot presidential suite located just steps from the sand and bay. The package includes a private “Chemistry in the Kitchen” four-course dinner, a sunset sail on a 22-foot Catalina sailboat with champagne and a bonfire on the beach complete with s’mores and brandy delivered by a personal butler. For even more indulgence, the package also includes rose petal turndown service, side-by-side Balinese massages on the suite’s secluded open-air patio and exclusive use of an executive golf cart for explorations of the 44-acre Vacation Island. Rates start at $4,199, plus tax, and are valid through Dec. 31, 2012, based upon availability.

Looking for more Valentine’s getaways? Check out our complete list of Valentine’s Deals.


San Diego Restaurant Week 2012 Extended!

Wine Vault & Bistro

Because you can never have too much of a good thing, San Diego Restaurant Week has been extended for an extra 6 days. If you missed it this week, you can still get great values on meals at more than 130 restaurants around the county from January 22 – 27, 2012.

With the great savings offered during Restaurant Week, now is the perfect time to get out and try something new. These cozy neighborhood joints will have you rubbing elbows with the locals while you savor a three-course dinner for $30 or less:

Wine Vault & Bistro

Wine Vault & Bistro

Wine Vault & Bistro

Dinner – $20
This charming spot in Mission Hills may be unassuming on the outside, but their menu is full of bold flavors. During Restaurant Week, you can start with beer-battered oysters, follow-up with a slow-roasted tri-tip steak and finish the evening with decadent dessert of milk chocolate ganache with brown butter ice cream. Of course, the meal wouldn’t be complete without wine pairings, which can be added to complement the menu for an additional cost.




Lunch – $15
Dinner – $30
A meal at this warm and cozy South Park favorite is like a trip around the world. Try Southern-inspired lemon-garlic shrimp and grits for an appetizer, a classic French coq au vin for the main course, and an unexpected twist on Filipino food with Vagabond’s banana lumpia for dessert.

Barrio Star

Barrio Star

Barrio Star

Dinner – $20
Fun and funky describe this Banker’s Hill restaurant. The hot pink color scheme will instantly put you in a good mood, and so will their delicious tacos. Whether you prefer the classics like carnitas with cotija cheese, onion and cilantro or the vegan-friendly soy chorizo option, Barrio Star’s Restaurant Week menu offers the comfort of Mexican cuisine served with a fresh perspective.