Just an hour away from the hustle and bustle of the city of San Diego is Julian, a sleepy little town nestled in the scenic Cuyamaca Mountains. A trip to this rustic hamlet feels like a voyage back in time, and rightfully so: It’s a California Historical Landmark dating back to the gold rush. Check out its many historic buildings and book a ride down storefront-lined Main Street in a horse-drawn carriage. And don’t pass up the chance to get a taste of what Julian has come to be known for – apples.
An easy day trip from San Diego, be sure to check out these offerings you can only find in Julian. And, if you time it right you might even see some winter snow. Continue reading →
Downtown may be the best known area of San Diego, but there are plenty of places to explore beyond downtown’s borders! In this edition of Destination San Diego, we’ll explore some of the neighborhoods in Southeastern San Diego. We’ll also take a look at the story of the spectacular span between San Diego and Coronado, then venture to a historic street in Chula Vista. And, we’ll show you a spot just northeast of downtown San Diego that’s been called “the best backyard in San Diego.” Plus, local surf and action photographer, Aaron Chang, dishes on San Diego’s art scene, inspiring views and the can’t-miss galleries.
San Diego is known for a lot of things, from Top Gun to Shamu! On this edition of Destination San Diego, you’ll get a peek behind the scenes at some of the region’s most well known icons, like the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and the annual Comic-Con International convention. SeaWorld’s Stranded Animal Coordinator, Jody Westberg, shares a behind-the-scenes tour of the Animal Care Center along with her favorite spots outside the park to catch a glimpse of San Diego’s wildlife. Plus, you’ll also discover a few lesser-known secrets, like the best places to get delicious, authentic Asian food in San Diego’s north side, the history of the University of San Diego, and San Diego’s apple country in the mountain town of Julian.
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.
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.
San Diego Opera’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
With sunshine forecasted for the long-weekend, why not head to San Diego and enjoy everything from outdoor adventures to these top things to do.
Borrego Springs Film Festival
Explore the desert town at 24 frames per second during the Borrego Springs Films Festival
In 1920 the pioneering filmmaker and actress, Nell Shipman, launched a new era for Borrego Springs, California with her film, Something New, and things have never been the same! Borrego Springs and the Anza-Borrego Desert have provided strange, stark and amazing locations for nearly a century of films and filmmakers. Come, be a part of the next 100 years of filmmaking in Borrego Springs.
Explore the tidepools of Cabrillo National Monument at the Whale Watch Weekend and Intertidal Life Festival
Whale Watch Weekend is a chance for Cabrillo National Monument to invites you to the park to learn about the importance of protecting our oceans. The two-day festival will feature whale watching and exhibitors from a variety of organizations that support ocean conservation. The festival will include marine awareness, whale watching and lectures on federal and state agencies that protect our oceans. In addition, this year”s festival will feature tidepool exploration and a presentation on the Marine Protected Areas; Ranger programs on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Kelp Forest Ecology and an interactive storytelling for children about the creation of the tides.
Enjoy our multi-cultural heritage at the San Diego Multi-Cultural Festival
Celebrate the 14th Annual Sheila R. Hardin San Diego Multicultural Festival. The family friendly festival showcases San Diego”s rich cultural and traditional heritage through live entertainment, food stations, vendors, and more.
A float commemorating Rosa Parks” bus ride participates in the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade.
This is one of the largest celebrations of its kind in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States. Our parade is filled with dazzling floats, soulful High School Bands, Drill Teams, Colleges, Fraternities, Churches, Organizations, Peace and Youth groups.
For one week only, Sunday, January 18th through Saturday, January 24th, foodies will be able to eat their hearts out at over 200 participating restaurants that will offer three-course prix-fixe dinner menus and/or two-course prix-fixe lunch menus. Yes, you read that online casino correctly! Saturday is now included with San Diego Restaurant Week and there are new price points for dinner giving you even more variety in your dining options!
It”s a winter wonderland at La Mesa Christmas in the Village
Don”t miss the strolling minstrels, carolers and street entertainers, food and commercial vendors. Live Music is featured in a number of stage areas and Bonfires fill the Boulevard. The kids will love Santa, the Carnival Rides, Ponies and the Puppet Shows. All Specialty Shops, Boutiques and Restaurants open late during event. Thousands of unique gifts all season long!
The San Diego Zoo stays open late for fun holiday activities, shows and light displays during Jungle Bells.
Jungle Bells are ringing – it”s holiday time! The San Diego Zoo is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Guests can enjoy displays of lighted animal sculptures throughout the Zoo aboard the Twinkle Light Trolley, live animal presentations, Dr. Zoolittle”s lively version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas, special music and entertainment, delicious holiday treats, encounters with animal ambassadors, visits with Santa, and much more.
Are you looking for a great way to get into the holiday spirit and create family memories that will last a lifetime? Witness Christmas traditions come to life including Christmas tree lighting followed by the arrival of Santa & Mrs. Claus; horse-drawn hay and pony rides, petting zoo, and face painting; steam locomotive, model trains, and live entertainment; and holiday sweets and warm dinner foods.
This free, distinctly California celebration features boats decorated for the annual holiday season that will sail around Mission Bay. A highly anticipated event in the San Diego community, dozens of vessels take to the water for the parade.
Boats of all sizes get decked out with holiday lights and circle Oceanside Harbor
Fishing boats, sailboats, yachts, kayaks and dingys dressed up in holiday swag and circle the Oceanside Harbor to enchant onlookers at the harbor, casino restaurants and beach. Many of the boats feature people dressed up like Santa waving to the crowd.
Everyone with 2 to 4 Legs will have fun at the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade!
San Diego”s furriest festive parade returns to Downtown as the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade. All pet owners and their furry, feathered and scaled companions are invited to don their favorite costumes and put their best paw, wing and fin forward for this jolly promenade and pet expo.
View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!
Join us for the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, an annual time-honored holiday tradition brought to San Diego by the boating community.The parade takes place on San Diego Bay with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated to a new theme each year. Held on two consecutive Sundays in December, the parade proceeds from Shelter Island past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, and the Ferry Landing in Coronado. Whether you”re a participant or spectator, the Parade of Lights is a festive and delightful experience for all!
Get the chance to choose samples from more than 700 wines at the Grand Finale Events. Photo courtesy of Joey Hernandez.
The weeklong celebration continues with plenty of events featuring more than 200 wineries, breweries and spirit purveyors, 70 of San Diego’s best restaurants, and 10,000 wine and food aficionados from across the nation for the biggest wine and food celebration on the West Coast. Don’t miss out on Saturday’s Grand Finale Tasting Event with more than 700 wines being poured!
Ice skate in the heart of San Diego at Sycuan’s Fantasy on Ice.
If you’ve ever dreamed of spinning on the ice under the glow of big city lights, don’t head to New York’s Rockefeller Center – head to downtown San Diego. Sponsored by Sycuan and benefiting Rady Children’s Hospital, Fantasy on Ice sits right in the heart of downtown by Horton Plaza. Grab a date, head out to dinner at one of the Gaslamp Quarter’s 180+ restaurants, and cap off the night with a romantic spin around the rink.
Where: Horton Plaza, 225 Broadway Circle, San Diego, CA 92101 (map) Dates: November 20, 2014 – January 4, 2015 (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Days) Times: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM (Check website for time changes) Cost: $14-$35 > Find out more about Sycuan’s Fantasy on Ice
San Diego MOvember Bash
If you are in San Diego this November, don’t miss the biggest Movember Moustache Party taking place in downtown East Village between the Convention Center and Petco Park! 2 Causes. 15 Movember Parties. 13 Welcome Shots Included.
Discover the Ingenious World of Dr. Seuss at the San Diego History Center. Hotel del Coronado – TM Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.
The highly popular traveling Dr. Seuss exhibition will be lively and whimsical, using state-of-the-art technology and engaging visitors in exploratory and immersive experiences. The exhibition will feature rare early works, ephemera, illustration, and editorial cartoons, as well as two newly released Geisel illustrations.
The largest parade in San Diego County is also the largest of its type west of the Mississippi. Each year, the Mother Goose Parade attracts thousands of spectators to the streets of El Cajon. More than 100 colorful and exciting parade entries come from around the United States to share in the excitement that is the Mother Goose Parade. The parade entries include spectacular motorized floats, glorious marching bands and drill units, eloquent equestrians, animated clowns, special characters, special guests, performing artists, celebrities, giant helium balloons, specialty vehicles, and of course, Santa Claus.
Food, music, rides, a beer garden and over 450 vendors at the Encinitas Street Fair
With 450+ booths to visit, plus dozens of unique downtown Encinitas retailers, here’s a great opportunity for your holiday shopping. Enjoy music and dance performances at two stages, as well as three new additions: the Kids Zone, Dog Park and Bike Valet.
To kick off the holiday season, Viejas Outlet Center is opening their massive ice skating rink early! Don your best costume for some Halloween fun on Southern California’s Largest Outdoor ice skating rink.
Enjoy a day of shopping, food and entertainment at the Carlsbad Fall Village Faire
Considered the largest single day street faire in the nation, the annual Carlsbad Village Street Faire features more than 900 vendors selling everything from clothes, accessories, plants and household products to art, antiques and home decor. An international food court provides dining choices from over 50 vendors and a children’s entertainment area includes games, a super slide, a bounce house, a rock climbing wall, face painting and arts and crafts.
San Diego County wineries are overshadowed by the reign of amazing craft breweries throughout the county (the region is close to surpassing 100 breweries). But vitoculturist visitors to San Diego can have a wonderful time exploring the more than 70 wineries and tasting rooms from chic urban settings to mountain resort retreats nestled in the vineyards. Many of the wineries offer outdoor entertainment such as Jazz series or special event concerts. While most of these music and wine pairings occur during the summer season, a few wineries take advantage of the spectacular views and gentle autumn weather to provide performances into the fall.
Music at Milagro
Relax on a Sunday afternoon in the country listening to local music and sipping local wine at Milagro Farms Vineyard & Winery in Ramona, in San Diego’s East County.
The 110 acres that compose Milagro Farm Vineyards & Winery abound with myriad plants, trees, wild life, and open spaces. Tucked into the Ramona Valley near the Cleveland National Forest, the property features a naturally rolling landscape dotted with granite boulders and coast live oak trees. With the shorter days and cooler temperatures, the Music at Milagro acoustic series has shifted from Friday to Sunday afternoons beginning in October. Take a Sunday country drive and visit this beautiful destination to hear local musicians and sip local wines. Taste six estate-grown wines and keep the glass for $12; the live music is free. Milagro has partnered with Treasure Limo for guests from San Diego who want to go beyond “tastings” and really enjoy a bottle of wine with the performance, and not have to drive home.
From Lazy Sunday Afternoons to Swinging Saturday Nights
San Pasqual Winery La Mesa Tasting Room courtesy Wayne Swanson
If a Sunday drive to the countryside doesn’t fit your itinerary, San Pasqual Winery has an urban Tasting Room in the town of La Mesa that hosts rock, blues, and folk music on Saturday nights. Seating is on a first come, first-served basis in the intimate back room, and the shows start at 7:00 PM. The music is free and local, and the wine, cheese and crackers and desserts are available for sale. San Pasqual Winery blends California grown grapes including varietals from Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara to produce a wide range of wine offerings.
Their Saturday night music series also offers a wide range of styles. Upcoming shows include:
October 18: Jefferson Washington is a local San Diego blues and folk musician who showcases a blend of American roots style music
October 24: the Sock Monkeys play variety of fun music from the past to the present, in addition to mixing in their own entertaining original music.
November 1: Mercury Street Blues play a variety of music – jazz, blues, folk and rock.
Salerno Winery in San Diego County’s rustic town of Ramona, includes an extensive sculpture garden of internationally acclaimed artists. Photo courtesy Angie Clement.
Salerno Winery, a small family owned boutique winery is a cultural destination located in the hills of Ramona Valley. In addition to established favorites such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petite Sirah, Salerno Winery offers hand crafted wines such as their signature Elegante, a double gold medal and gold sweepstakes winner. The property offers guests a unique experience complete with tasting room, sculptures from more than 20 world-renowned artists and classical opera.
Every Saturday and Sunday from 2:00 to 5:00 PM, visitors can enjoy lilting operatic performances from Jorge D’Soria – a gifted tenor who sings in six languages including Italian, Spanish, Latin and French – and Salvador Padilla, a brilliant baritone who has performed around the world and won numerous awards for his vocal talent.