San Diego Magazine

San Diego’s Hottest Neighborhoods: Barrio Logan

Chicano Park - Barrio Logan

Nestled between East Village and National City, Barrio Logan has transformed from a scruffy warehouse district to a hotbed of art, cuisine, and Chicano culture. It would be impossible to truly know San Diego without taking in the murals of the area’s cultural crown jewel, Chicano Park. And there’s plenty of other well-worthwhile things to eat, drink, and see while you’re there. Continue reading

San Diego Magazine

Exploring San Diego’s Hottest ‘Hoods: East Village

You and Yours Distillery - East Village San Diego

Downtown’s East Village neighborhood is home to 130 blocks of restaurants, bars, boutiques, hotels, the city’s main library, a baseball stadium, and countless other notable sights. With so much packed into one of the most urban parts of town, it can be tough to choose. Let us help you find a few things to do, see, eat, and drink to get started.

Continue reading
Brent Bernasconi

Chicano Park Designated National Historic Landmark by National Park Service

Chicano Park in Barrio Logan

Chicano Park in Barrio Logan

In January 2017, the National Park Service named Barrio Logan’s Chicano Park a National Historic Landmark to recognize it’s cultural and historic significance to San Diego and it’s community.

Chicano Park’s Designation Announcement

As the National Park Service enters its second century of service and strives to tell a more inclusive and diverse story of America’s history, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced the designation of 24 new National Historic Landmarks.

The National Historic Landmarks Program recognizes historic properties of exceptional value to the nation and promotes the preservation efforts of federal, state, and local agencies and Native American tribes, as well as those of private organizations and individuals. The program is one of more than a dozen administered by the National Park Service that provide states and local communities technical assistance, recognition and funding to help preserve our nation’s shared history and create close-to-home recreation opportunities.

On April 20, 1970, community residents occupied Chicano Park in San Diego, California, in an ultimately successful effort to prevent the construction of a California Highway Patrol substation on land where the City of San Diego had promised the neighborhood a community park. Representative of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, Chicano Park has become a cultural and recreational gathering place for the Chicano community and is the location of the Chicano Park Monumental Murals, an exceptional assemblage of master mural artwork painted on the freeway bridge supports.

> Interior Department Announces 24 New National Historic Landmarks

Barrio Logan: Arte y la Cultura Auténtica

One of San Diego’s most vibrant and exciting historic neighborhoods, Barrio Logan is home to young artists and designers as well as families who have resided in this industrial, seaport area for generations. Long a hub for Chicano art, culture and activism, Barrio Logan is now a destination spot for its gallery scene and authentic dining.

 > Learn more about Barrio Logan

Ann Wycoff

Local Favorites in San Diego’s East Village


Downtown San Diego keeps evolving and expanding as different parts of city find their identities and offer exceptional experiences. In recent years, the East Village has truly transformed into a dynamic part of town with a mélange of new restaurants, coffee houses, cafes and bars fueling the scene. From fast casual

to fancy, here’s a guide to local favorites in the East Village.

A Day of Dining in East Village

Copa Vida

Start the day with a single origin espresso or exotic tea, along with an order of chorizo egg hash with jalapeno cilantro sauce. Lunch means turkey melts, Mediterranean couscous salads, and Croquet Monsieurs. The airy bright modern space also offers barista classes in coffee brewing, latte art and tea education.

Where: 905 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Copa Vida

Lucky Lunch Counter

For breakfast all-day or a low-fi lunch, retro diner Lucky Lunch Counter is home to a seriously good pastrami sandwich, ballpark hot dogs (nodding to the baseball-themed interior) and build-your-own salads.

Where: 338 7th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Lucky Lunch Counter

Rare Form & Fairweather

The Petco Park-adjacent deli and bar, Rare Form, serves up grilled cheese on rustic sourdough, seasonal sausages, and Cuban sandwiches, along with innovative craft cocktails like their herbaceous Basil G&T. After dining, trot upstairs to their gorgeous tropical bar overlooking Petco Park, Fairweather, for a rum grog or planter’s punch.

Where: 793 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Rare Form & Fairweather

Padres Game Day Eats

Bub’s at the Ballpark

A bustling hub for Padres’ fans that serves food late! Bub’s boasts the best chicken wings in the city – recommended with their Carolina Gold (barbecue with honey) or mango habanero sauces. There’s also corn dogs, sliders, tater tots, indoor basketball hoops, beer galore, game day specials and flat screens at every turn.

Where: 715 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Bub’s at the Ballpark


Before heading over to Petco, stop by Quartyard,an Urban Park constructed from repurposed shipping containers, for pre-game eats from food trucks and Sausage & Meat, craft beer, cocktails, and backyard games.

Where: 1102 Market St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Quartyard

The Blind Burro

The Blind Burro, another high energy, bar-centric spot, spins out Baja-style coastal cuisine, cervezas and fine tequila. Try the salsa flights, rib-eye carne asada tacos, Mexican white shrimp and scallop ceviche, and their sweet potato-chorizo taquitos, paired with a Burro margarita with muddled jalapeno.

Where: 639 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about The Blind Burro


For traditional Mexican, Salazar’s has been a family owned institution in the East Village since 1972. Think cheap beers, pollo asada burritos and shredded beef tacos.

Where: 1502 Market St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Salazar’s

Hive Sushi Lounge

College kids flock to the Hive Sushi Lounge (1409 C St.), a cheap and cheerful haunt open nightly.

Where: 1409 C St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Hive Sushi Lounge


Another East Village anchor, Basic, is a lively lounge-y warehouse packed with locals enjoying thin-crusted pizzas, craft brews, cocktails, billiards and good music into the wee hours of night.

Where: 410 10th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Basic

On the Edge of East Village

Monkey Paw Brewing Company

On the outer edge of the East Village, Monkey Paw is a casual brew pub with gold medal beers spilling from the taps and is known for their Philly cheesesteaks, waffle fries and old-school jukebox.

Where: 805 16th St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Monkey Paw Brewing Company

Stella Public House & Halcyon

An artisanal farm-to-pizza concept coupled with 20+ craft beers and an open-air chill vibe makes Stella Public House another East

Village favorite. Not to mention it shares the space with Halcyon, a hipster coffee spot and bar that serves up breakfast, paninis, and coffee-based cocktails. Stella sports communal tables, wood-fired pizzas, and small plates like lamb meatballs, beet towers and speck-wrapped asparagus. Both spots overlook the greenery and public art of Fault Line Park.

Where: 1429 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Stella Public House
> Find out more about Halcyon

A Bit More Upscale Dining

Water Grill

A mecca for seafood with a rockin’ raw bar, succulent shellfish platters, fresh line-caught fish and sophisticated wines.

Where: 615 J St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Water Grill

Bottega Americano

Bottega Americano also charms as a vibrant urban food hall with a whirlwind of visuals-chefs throw pizza dough and pull pies from the wood-fired ovens, ribbons of rainbow colored pasta hang on display, oysters beckon from the raw bar, salumi hangs from above, picture perfect pastries tantalize from the bakery, gourmets goods fill the market place, diners share plates at communal tables and mixologists sling scintillating sippers behind the bar. Floor-to-ceiling, black-and-white images fill the walls with 1950s glam shots from Italy. It’s a scene with gorgeous décor and truly reflects the best of the best in the East Village.

Where: 1195 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Bottega Americano


Destination San Diego Episode 4: Barrio Logan, Old Town and Mexican Culture

On this edition of Destination San Diego, we’ll show you one of San Diego’s best kept secrets – the vibrant Barrio Logan neighborhood. An epicenter of the city’s Mexican-American culture, this neighborhood is quickly becoming a hotspot for cutting-edge art and authentic local culture. The neighborhood is also home to Chicano Park, the largest collection of Chicano murals in the world. We’ll also tour the history of the iconic El Cortez and takes a look back at when Old Town was still considered new. Plus, celebrity chef Marcela Valladolid dishes on San Diego’s flavorful foodie scene and where to find the most delicious Mexican dishes.

What’s In This Episode of Destination San Diego

> Watch all the Destination San Diego Episodes

Bruce Glassman

Walk This Way: 8 Great Downtown San Diego Tap Lists

8 Best Taphouses in Downtown San Diego

8 Best Taphouses in Downtown San Diego

Photo by Bruce Glassman

Yes, San Diego is home to more than 100 awesome breweries, and each has its own tasting room (some have two or three!). But, San Diego is a big county and, though many breweries are somewhat “grouped” in geographical areas, the majority of them are a 20-40 minute drive from downtown. So, how do you sample some of America’s finest beer from America’s Finest City if you’re only going to be downtown? It’s simple: There are a slew of great bars to choose from, if you know what to look for. And they’re all within a 20-block radius of one another, which means, you can easily sample a few different places while you stroll around.

You can find San Diego beer on almost every menu in the city at this point, which is great, but the majority of downtown restaurants and bars are still pushing the mass-produced stuff harder than the craft stuff. The eight places on the list below are notable for the depth and breadth of their craft beer taps and bottle lists, most of which often include at least 50% San Diego beers (though these things rotate and change on a sometimes daily basis).

Just for fun, I’ve also noted the places that do some interesting craft beer cocktails. These offerings come in especially handy when craft beer lovers are out and about with craft-beer newbies…they offer a “kinder gentler” way to start appreciating the wonderful array of flavors available in great craft beer.

Here’s the list of my recommendations, starting on Beech Street (in Little Italy) and working south and east toward Island:

1. Craft & Commerce

Spacious and welcoming, with seating options both indoors and out, this craft-and-cocktail-centric restaurant is easy to settle into. In addition to its full menu of tasty and creative comfort food, Craft & Commerce has about two dozen taps of well-chosen craft beers. They also offer about five different craft beer cocktails, including a delicious IPA cocktail (IPA, grapefruit-infused asperol, orgeat, and lemon) and the Pony Boy (Ballast Point’s Wahoo Wheat with cynar, lemon, and honey).

Where: 675 W. Beech St. San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Craft & Commerce

2. Downtown Johnny Brown’s

Feel like going on a little treasure hunt? You can’t see DTJB’s from the street (it’s tucked inside the courtyard that houses the Civic Center) but this classic San Diego beer bar is worth seeking out. The ambience is no-frills and the food is basic pub fare, but the tap list (about 30 handles) and selection have made it a downtown beer mecca. Also to its credit: DTJB’s was one of the first bars downtown to actively embrace, promote, and support the San Diego craft beer movement – so, big props to them.

Where: 1220 3rd Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Downtown Johnny Brown’s

3. The Beer Co.

Here’s a place where you can taste a small lineup of beers brewed on premises in addition to a nice array of other craft handles. A large bar dominates the somewhat dark but nicely done space, which also has tables and booth seating. The 20+ tap handles offer good variety and tend to focus on easy drinking selections that pair well with the food on the full bar menu.

Where: 602 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101

4. Quad Alehouse

One of the newer (and nicer) beer bars downtown, this spacious and tastefully designed space offers big windows, more light, and a much nicer view than most of its Fifth Avenue neighbors. Being up high, on the third floor, is a nice option, and it’s fun to have more than 28 taps to choose from while you look out at the bustling Gaslamp below.

Where: 868 Fifth Avenue, 3rd Floor, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Quad Alehouse

5. The Tipsy Crow

Head south on Fifth Avenue from Quad Ale House and, within a minute, you’ll be standing in front of The Tipsy Crow. This well-established bar has been offering patrons the “classic” pub experience for many years: the ground floor offers low light, dark wood booths, and small darkened spaces, while the second floor offers a more comfortable lounge-inspired setting. The tap list is a bit lean, but the bottle list, with about 80 selections, makes up for it.

Where: 770 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about The Tipsy Crow

6. The Hopping Pig

One more block south on Fifth brings you to The Hopping Pig, which has more in common with the Tipsy Crow than Quad Ale House. Those who crave the ambience of their favorite dive bar will find this space comforting, and their tap list, which comprises more than 30 handles, will provide more than enough choice to make your visit a tasty one.

Where: 748 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about The Hopping Pig

7. Neighborhood

This smallish corner bar beckons those who appreciate the eclectic approach to watering holes. Filled with all sorts of curious objects and images, including mounted stuffed animals, rubber dolls, and religious iconography, Neighborhood also provides an eclectic mix of beverages. Their excellent lineup of 28 taps provides good breadth and depth, but the full bar also offers a deep list of bourbons and whiskeys, including their own homemade fireball hooch, which is well worth a try.

Where: 777 G St, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Neighborhood

8. Stella Public House

Seekers of the light will de-light in the space that makes up Stella Public House. Much of the pub/bar opens to the outside and overlooks the Coronado Bridge and a large span of town that backs up to Petco and the new library. 30 taps, including two hi-tech nitro taps, provide an excellent selection of well-chosen beers, about half of which on average are local. Stella also had one of the more developed menus of craft beer cocktails, which includes a MAI IPA (Mai Tai mix with IPA and lemon), a Fizzy Gin (Belgian beer with Tanquerey, lemon, and agave), and a Breakfast Beer (Stoli Raz, Coffee, and Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Stout).

Where: 1429 Island Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Stella Public House

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – April 28 – May 3, 2015

San Diego is the place to be this weekend! Check out this amazing list of top things to do with events from Mexico to Carlsbad and everything in between!

Filmatic Festival

The 2nd Annual Filmatic Festival takes adventurous digital media lovers on a 4 day journey of exploration through digital films, sonic and 3D events, gaming exhibitions, interactive performances, workshops, and so much more! Curated by respected digital media experts and thought leaders, the Filmatic Festival redefines and transforms traditional passive film-going attendance into fun, active, immersive and inspiring experiences.

Where: UC San Diego – 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, CA 92093
When: April 30 – May 2, 2015
Cost: $12-$125
> Find out more about the Filmatic Festival

Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo

Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo 2015

Don’t miss the 32nd annual Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo 2015, a San Diego tradition since 1983. This celebration in Old Town is the largest event of its kind in Southern California. Three days of music, food and fun including 3 live music stages, a cantina garden, LowRider car show, historical demonstrations, equestrian performances, and more.

Where: Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
When: May 2-3, 2015
> Find out more about Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo

SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival

SeaWorld's Seven Seas Food Festival

Explore and celebrate a world of flavor at SeaWorld San Diego’s Seven Seas Food Festival. Local craft beer and California wine are perfectly paired with fresh and bold culinary creations, which will feature local, sustainable ingredients and unique signature flavors from around the world. Nearly a dozen culinary stations will focus on seven different destinations from around the world: California, France, Latin America, Asian Street Food, Mediterranean, India and the Caribbean.

Where: SeaWorld San Diego – 500 SeaWorld Dr, San Diego, CA 92109
When: Weekends – May 2-24, 2015
Cost: Included with Admission. Tastings available for purchase
> Find out more about SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival

Beach Soccer Jam

Beach Soccer Jam - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Beach Soccer Jam is a Faster, Hotter Version of the World’s most Popular Sport filled with Entertainment. Come enjoy the excitement including Beach Soccer, Brazilian Samba and Capoeira dancers, Cinco de Mayo Celebration, some of San Diego’s best Entertainment DJs and a Beer Garden.

Where: Fiesta Island – 1550 Fiesta Island Road, San Diego, CA 92109
When: May 2-3, 2015
Time: 8:00 AM to 7:30 PM
Cost: General Admission – Free. Team Registration – $550
> Find out more about Beach Soccer Jam

In Bloom Market

San Diego Made In Bloom Market

This exciting shopping and culture event will feature handmade goods by more than 40 local artists and craftsman, food trucks, spring-inspired craft cocktails and large-scale floral installations. Patrons can mingle in the enchanted garden lounge decorated with vintage furniture donated by Pow Wow, and hang out inside an interactive Teepee by Lester Corral of Fornature Designs. Live music performances by Adam Townsend, Rachel Aldous and the Road Home Band, Ruby Cloud, David Alan, Stage4Entertainment, and more. The first 75 people who arrive each day will receive a free grab bag with items donated by San Diego Made vendors.

Where: UNION – Barrio Logan – 2191 Market Street, San Diego, CA 92113
When: May 2-3, 2015
Cost: Free
> Find out more about In Bloom Market

Tacos and Tequila Festival

Tacos and Tequila Festival

Tacos and Tequila festival in a fun interactive event celebrating the best margaritas and tacos in San Diego. Ten of the best mixologists in town will be serving complimentary samples of their signature margaritas, guest vote for their favorites. Ten of the best restaurants will be serving complimentary signature tacos. Guests get two voting cards to pick their top choices. Winning restaurant will get the golden taco award.

Where: SILO in Makers Quarter – 753 15th Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: May 2, 2015
Time: 2:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $35-$45
> Find out more about Tacos and Tequila Festival

Flagship’s 100th Anniversary Party

Flagship's 100th Anniversary Party

In celebration of a century on San Diego Bay, Flagship Cruises & Events will host a 100th anniversary party. Guests will enjoy food, drinks and fun aboard Flagship’s fleet of luxury yachts, docked along the recently remodeled Embarcadero. Highlights include live music, complimentary appetizers, local craft beer and wine for sample and purchase, local olive oil tastings, kids entertainment, and free rides on the Patriot Jet Boat!

Where: 990 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: May 2, 2015
Time: 2:00 to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Flagship’s 100th Anniversary Party

Uncorked Wine Walk and Concert

Uncorked Wine Walk and Concert

Enjoy a self-guided wine walk to 4 wine gardens throughout Westfield UTC. Savor some of Temecula Valley’s finest vintages while tasting bites from Westfield UTC’s finest restaurants. Enjoy live acoustic performances from top local Plaza Unplugged artists.

Where: Westfield UTC – 4545 La Jolla Village Dr, San Diego, CA 92122
When: May 2, 2015
Time: 4:00 to 7:00 PM
Cost: $20-$30
> Find out more about Uncorked Wine Walk and Concert

Carlsbad Spring Village Faire

Carlsbad Village Faire San Diego 2013

Families will find plenty to do at the Carlsbad Village Faire

Just like at past fairs, over 900 vendors will sell everything fathomable, including clothes, accessories, plants, household products, art, antiques and home decor. The international food court will once again feature more than 50 booths serving everything from Thai to Hawaiian cuisine. The children’s area will entertain youngsters with games, a super slide, a bounce house, a rock climbing wall, face painting and arts and crafts. The Rotary Club of Carlsbad’s beer and wine garden will entertain fairgoers with a large screen TV and live bands.

Where: Carlsbad Blvd & Grand Ave, Carlsbad, CA 92008
When: May 3, 2015
Time: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Carlsbad Spring Village Faire

Chef Celebration San Diego

Chef Celebration San Diego

Join Stone Brewing Liberty Station in their gardens for a delicious celebration of great food and beer! You’ll enjoy 14 small-bite courses created by each of the 14 local chefs from outstanding eateries, and each course will be paired with a craft beer hand-picked by “Dr.” Bill Sysak! And the best part is that in addition to enjoying a sumptuous repast, you’ll be helping to raise money for a special scholarship fund. Cuisine for a cause!

Where: Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens – Liberty Station – 2816 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego, CA 92106
When: May 3, 2015
Time: 12:00 to 3:00 PM
Cost: $49
> Find out more about Chef Celebration San Diego

More Top Things to Do

> Find more Top Things to Do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Top Things to Do Weekend Forecast


A Few of the Best Dive Bars to Visit in San Diego

San Diego Dive Bars

San Diego Dive Bars

How many of these San Diego dive bars have you visited?

San Diego may be known for its near perfect weather year round, but what many do not know is that the nightlife in this 75 degree city stretches from the Mexico border to the North County and there is something to do almost every night of the week.

But San Diego’s nightlife isn’t just about clubs! If large-scale clubs aren’t your thing, there are plenty of dive bars and lounges sprinkled throughout the county.

Here are the some of best dive bars you want to visit while in San Diego.

Dive Bars in Encinitas

Starting in the North County, you can find not one but two bars side by side. The Saloon and Shelter in Encinitas that are popular among residents of the North. Both located on South Coast Highway 101, each offers a variety of events including live music and DJ’s playing both top 40, dance music and classics. The Saloon also has a jukebox for your listening pleasure. Shelter launched a casual dining menu in late 2014 so if you’re hungry after one too many shots, hop on over there.

Classy Dive Bars in La Jolla

Moving towards the south we find ourselves heading farther west towards the coast and into the area of La Jolla. This neighborhood is known for its high-end cars, stars and bars. In other words, it’s fancy! You can take a nice stroll down Prospect St. and have some cocktails at La Valencia Hotel before heading to Prospect Bar & Grill. On Sundays you’ll get a great view from the rooftop and during the summer they have guest DJ’s so you can sip a martini and dance to house/dance music as you watch that gorgeous sunset in those fancy pants.

Dive Bars by the Beach

Just south are the more casual beach communities of Pacific Beach, Mission Beach and Ocean Beach. Each neighborhood has its own very unique character so whether you’re interested in watching buskers in OB, surfers and college students party in PB or families ride the rollercoaster in MB, you’ll be able to find a sweet watering hole somewhere. In PB, there are plenty of clubs for the college age demographic, but a favorite spot for those straying from Rhianna remixes is the Silver Fox Lounge on Garnet Ave. A classic dive bar with pool tables, darts and all.

A Bit More Urban Dive Bars

The center of the county soon becomes dense with many eclectic and vibrant neighborhoods including Hillcrest, Bankers Hill, Golden Hill, Normal Heights, North Park and South Park among many others. Being a native of Golden Hill and North Park myself, I have an affinity for these and surrounding neighborhoods. One of the older dive bars located in North Park is Livewire on El Cajon Blvd. This is where you’ll often find bartenders on their nights off, listening to great music in the near dark. They even have guest DJ’s come in that tend bar, or are regulars there. In South Park, Whistle Stop Bar is a cash only staple of the neighborhood that has been around since the late 70s. You can hang at the bar or on certain nights you can listen to anything from 80s vs 90s, to New Wave or live music and dance. Warning, it gets warm in there.

For those searching for some craft cocktails made by gentlemen in bowties and beards or ladies that know whiskey like the back of their hand, head over to Polite Provisions on Adams Ave. in Normal Heights. You may feel like you’re in the bar of the Titanic, but that is one of the reasons this spot is so awesome. The details of the décor compliment the details put into each cocktail. Both are exquisite. This is a great place to try drinks you’ve never heard of. You can walk across the street afterwards to dance at AC Lounge, a lounge/club that won’t overwhelm your senses. They even have a small VIP room with the only LED dance floor in San Diego. If you preferred camping over disco in the 70s, head over to Sycamore Den, more great craft cocktails and you’ll feel like you’re in a cabin with the fireplace, 70s rock playing and orange & brown tones of the décor. Very campy indeed!

Dive into these Bars in Hillcrest and Banker’s Hill

Heading closer to downtown we enter Hillcrest and Banker’s Hill. Hillcrest is known worldwide for being a neighborhood that supports the LGBT community and there is always a party around. There are several places to grab drinks here but some favorites are The Alibi, Urban Mo’s and Uptown Tavern. All are within walking distance on University Avenue. Banker’s Hill is in a curious space in between Hillcrest and downtown San Diego and there are some gems to be found here. Nunu’s is a bar straight out of the 70s as well (think Three’s Company), Cherry Bomb is another bartender/service industry favorite dive with some of the stiffest pours around and The Balboa Bar & Grill has some great local bands.

Finally – Dive Bars in Downtown San Diego

After naming so many bars…you’re probably already buzzed just thinking about them. But Wait! There’s More! We have arrived to Downtown San Diego, the heart of the city and where crowds flock every single weekend (and some weeknights) to drink and dance. I understand, you’re not into the Vegas style clubs and that’s ok. You want a smaller, quainter place to order one of 3,875 craft beers on tap or maybe just an Old Fashioned. I get it and I like it! First stop is El Dorado, located on the edge of downtown. Ryan Kuntz is usually behind the bar and will be sure to offer you some great suggestions for cocktails.  There is a great selection of oldies and rock and roll on the jukebox and if you feel like killin’ some game they have a sweet Buck Hunter video game console there. Another hidden gem, literally, is Noble Experiment, found behind a fake wall inside Neighborhood on 8th and G St. They house award-winning bartenders, Trevor Easterman (GM) and Adele Stratton and have been named one of the best craft cocktail bars in America by several publications including Esquire and Playboy Magazine. It’s a very small place so be sure to make a reservation or plan on waiting.

Speaking of small bars, how about visiting the smallest bar in San Diego? Pop’s Liquor Cabinet is named appropriately as it only has 4 seats in the 157sq foot space. JJ Licari, a owning partner of the preciously petite place, helped opened this spot on F St. in between large clubs so if you blink you may miss it! I recommend popping in for a drink before you wander around the Gaslamp Quarter. There will be more bottles of booze than people fit in there so the ratio is ideal. If you happen to enjoy cash only spots where the only things served are well drinks and beer then you will love Star Bar located on E St. between 4th and 5th Avenues. You are not allowed to say you live in San Diego until you have a Star Bar story. If jet lag has you wide awake at 6:00 AM you’re in luck…because that’s when they open! If you’re there that late (or early?) then you will definitely have a story to take home.

San Diego’s Oldest Tavern

The last bar I will stumble upon is none other than Waterfront Bar on Kettner Blvd. in Little Italy. Proudly known as San Diego’s oldest tavern, Waterfront also opens up at 6:00 AM and has a menu for those late night or early morning hunger pains. This is truly a classic place to visit in San Diego as it has outdoor seating to people watch, solid food and it gets packed on weekends and weeknights often.  I have a video of my buddies and I there one morning and after one too many mimosas and beers we turned the jukebox on and decided we should all sing at the top of our lungs. I have it on video if anyone is interested in seeing the worst version of Bohemian Rhapsody ever filmed.


Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – April 14-19, 2015

From the largest West Coast kick off of the sportfishing season to a festival all about avocados, you want to be in San Diego this weekend to enjoy these top things to do!

5th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase

Welcome to the 5th Annual Spring Showcase, a presentation of 16 dynamic films from 9 countries from Asia and beyond. A key feature of this year’s Spring Showcase is, Cinema Little Saigon, a traveling five film retrospective commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon. Curated by Pacific Arts Movement, the compelling retrospective will highlight films spanning from the 1990s to today.

When: April 16-25, 2015
Cost: $9-$100
> Find out more about the 5th Annual San Diego Asian Film Festival Spring Showcase

70th Annual Del Mar National Horse Show

Hunter Jumper Week - Del Mar National Horse Show

The Annual Del Mar National Horse Show is comprised of a week each of Western, Dressage and Hunter/Jumper competitions

One of the oldest and most prestigious equestrian competitions in the Western US, the show is comprised of a week each of Western, Dressage and Hunter/Jumper competition. Over 3,000 horses take part, representing many breeds. Spectators will see reining, spins, sliding stops, elegant dressage moves choreographed to music, daredevil show jumping, trick riders, comedy acts, thrills and spills, and more.

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014
When: April 16 – May 3, 2015
Cost: Daytime Shows: Free. Night Shows: $10-$19
> Find out more about the 70th Annual Del Mar National Horse Show

Annual Lakeside Rodeo

Lakeside Rodeo in San Diego's East County

Putt on your boots for three days of traditional rodeo competitions at the Lakeside Rodeo

Bareback bronco rides, calf roping and other traditional rodeo competitions, along with food and crafts, bring the Wild West to life in the San Diego East County town of Lakeside.

Where: Lakeside Rodeo Grounds – 12584 Mapleview St., Lakeside, CA 92040
When: April 17-19, 2015
Cost: $5-$20
> Find out more about the Annual Lakeside Rodeo

San Diego Opera’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert

San Diego Opera's 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert - Top Things to Do

Celebrate the San Diego Opera’s 50th Anniversary with an amazing concert filled with favorite arias, duets, ensembles and choruses from Aida, Candide, Nabucco, The Marriage of Figaro, Turandot and Tosca by composers Saint–Saëns, Puccini, Donizetti, Verdi, Mozart and many more. Please come and enjoy a tribute to their 50-year history and celebrate their new beginning.

Where: Copley Symphony Hall – 1245 Seventh Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: April 18-19, 2014
Cost: $35-$200
> Find out more about San Diego Opera’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert

Annual Coronado Flower Show

Coronado Flower Show

Stop and smell the roses at the colorful Coronado Flower Show.

The Coronado Flower Show is the largest tented flower show in the nation. Exhibits are placed inside tents surrounding a central gazebo, which becomes the stage for continuous entertainment, announcements and trophy presentations. A Wine and Beer Garden is now a permanent feature. Take a break from the show, relax and listen to the entertainment from the nearby bandstand.

Where: Spreckels Park – Orange Ave & 6th St, Coronado, CA 92118
When: April 18-19, 2015
Cost: $5
> Find out more about the Annual Coronado Flower Show

Citybeat Festival of Beers

Citybeat Festival of Beers 2015

The CityBeat Festival of Beers is the perfect marriage of two of San Diego’s best known exports – music and craft beer. San Diego has emerged as one of the most dynamic beer cities in the United States, arguably the world, with a diversity of style and technique that is unmatched.

Where: Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows – 2223 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104
When: April 18, 2015
Time: 2:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: $45-$60
> Find out more about the Citybeat Festival of Beers

Port of San Diego’s Day at the Docks

Port of San Diego's Day at the Docks

Signaling the official start of Southern California’s spring saltwater fishing season, the West Coast’s largest public celebration of sportfishing features boat rides on San Diego Bay, displays by marine artists and fishing tackle experts, great food, entertainment, fishing seminars, open house aboard sportfishing boats, kid’s fishing, contests, prizes and more!

Where: San Diego Sportfishing Landing – Scott Street and Garrison Street, San Diego , CA 92109
When: April 19, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Port of San Diego’s Day at the Docks

Fallbrook Avocado Festival

Fallbrook Avocado Festival 2015

Come prepared to visit the many craft and food booths – you can never go hungry at the Avocado Festival. Colorful booths line Main and Alvarado Street featuring unique clothing, hats, arts, crafts, jewelry, and farm-fresh produce for purchase. A variety of bands and other live entertainment are offered for the pleasure of festival-goers. Beer gardens and numerous food vendors cater to every whim.

Where: E Alvarado St & S Main Ave, Fallbrook, CA 92028
When: April 19, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Fallbrook Avocado Festival

San Diego EarthFair

San Diego EarthFair 2015

The annual EarthFair in Balboa Park is the largest free annual environmental fair in the world. Produced by 400 volunteers, EarthFair 2015 will feature more than 300 exhibitors, special theme areas, a Food Pavilion, a special Children’s Activity Area, five entertainment venues, the Children’s Earth Parade, the eARTh Gallery art show, and the Cleaner Car Concourse.

Where: Balboa Park
When: April 19, 2015
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego EarthFair

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Find more Top Things to Do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Top Things to Do Weekend Forecast

Sarah Weinberg

All Aboard! San Diego on Track with Train Travel

Pacific Surfliner - Amtrak California

Take a step back in time and explore San Diego aboard everything from steam locomotives to exquisite model train exhibits to coastal views to die for.

Coaster Train – Ride with a View

View from the second story seating on North County’s Coaster from Oceanside to San Diego.

View from the second story seating on North County’s Coaster from Oceanside to San Diego.

Visitors to San Diego County can ride the rails on double-decker Coaster and Amtrak California trains along the coast with not-to-be-missed views of the ocean. The trains also travel through seaside surf towns like Encinitas and intersect the Pacific Ocean and Del Mar Race Track and fairgrounds (“where the turf meets the surf”) on each side of the train, making taking San Diego’s “commuter” trains vacation-worthy excursions.

> Find out more about San Diego’s Trains & Trolleys

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

San Diego Model Railroad Museum

Is this a real town or a model?! Step back in time to the old San Diego at the Model Railroad Museum

Once in the city, visit the San Diego Model Railroad Museum (SDMRM) in Balboa Park. The world’s largest operating model railroad museum, this unique venue contains four enormous scale and model layouts that will delight young and old with their accurate and playful re-creation of famous railways throughout the southwest. In addition, the museum features a Toy Train Gallery with an interactive Lionel layout for children, and seasonal visiting exhibits, such as the John D. Spreckels: Building San Diego’s Crown Jewel exhibit currently on display.

Centennial Railway Garden

San Diego Model Railroad Museum Centennial Railway Garden

A portion of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum’s new Centennial Railway Garden Exhibit to debut April 25, 2015

Balboa Park is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year and the SDMRM is creating a 2015 Centennial Railroad Garden to be unveiled in late April. This open-air model railroad features a miniature recreation of Balboa Park as it existed in 1915 and showcases new technology that enables visitors to interact with the layout directly by using a smart phone or tablet.

Vintage San Diego Silver Line

San Diego Silver Line Car

I did a double take the first time I saw this vintage car on the tracks of our trolley line downtown. Photo by By Nehrams2020 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to actually ride in vintage trains, opportunities abound. Even our city trolley system has a restored green 1946 vintage car on the tracks running limited service on a downtown loop among the modern red trolley cars.

> Find out more about the San Diego Vintage Trolley Project

Poway Midland Railroad

My daughter rides the rails at a train-themed birthday party at Old Poway Park.

My daughter rides the rails at a train-themed birthday party at Old Poway Park.

Family fun can be had at Old Poway Park where the Poway Midland Railroad offers weekend rides on various vintage trains, including an original steam locomotive, a speeder and a trolley depending on the weekend and season. The park plays host to many community events and festivals year round and is a great place to bring a picnic.

Where: 14134 Midland Road, Poway, CA 92064
> Find out more about the Poway-Midland Railroad

Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

Golden State Train - Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

All aboard the PSRM’s Golden State Limited Train!

A trip to Campo in San Diego’s southeastern regions lets visitors experience the Old West at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum. The 40-acre interpretive museum at Campo and a small satellite museum in downtown La Mesa educate visitors about the rich history of rail travel in the U.S. At the Campo venue, PSRM operates real, old-time trains on 14 miles of the mountainous San Diego & Arizona Eastern Railway, a historic rail line built by John D. Spreckels in the early decades of the 20th century. Passengers can take weekend, select Tuesday, and seasonal rides aboard the Golden State Limited locomotive during a one hour round trip train ride on the historic railway. The PSRM offers special event excursions for private groups, school field trips and seasonal rides such as “The Bunny Train” and “The Polar Express” during the winter holidays, offering rides to The North Pole to visit Santa.

Where: 750 Depot Street, Campo, CA 91906
> Find out more about the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum

A Few More “Train” Stops in San Diego

And finally, if you are interested in buying vintage model trains, San Diego’s Frank the Train Man retail store opened in 1943 and is still going strong in its current North Park location. Or if you’d like to sip one of San Diego’s famous craft beers while sitting in an old trolley stop, check out Station Tavern for a burger and a family friendly play area that includes a model trolley car for the kids to play on. The site was originally a trolley station for San Diego’s No. 2 line from 1929-1948. Make your last stop The Whistle Stop Bar, a hangout for locals that dubs itself “the little bar that could” and is only a few steps away from Station Tavern.