Miramar and Clairemont: Local Neighborhood Gems

Shabu Shabu House in San Diego

Though they are located just 15 minutes north of downtown, the neighborhoods of Miramar and Clairemont might not be top of mind destinations for visitors to San Diego. But locals know there are plenty of terrific things to do, taste and see in this part of of town.

Discover the Arts and Culture of Miramar and Clairemont


Authentic Asian Dining

While there are several places to see local art in these neighborhoods, the most inspiring art in Clairemont often comes in edible form. This area is brimming with Asian eateries and markets, taking visitors on a culinary tour through several countries without ever leaving San Diego.

  • It”s been said that the name “dim sum” means “little jewels that tug at the heart,” and you”ll find out why when you see the beautiful and delicious dishes at China Max.
  • Stroll the aisles at Zion Market and you”ll be astounded by the many Asian delicacies waiting best online casino to be taken home (or eaten right on the spot).
  • There is a fine art to preparing Korean BBQ just right, so don”t be afraid to ask the staff for a few tips during your meal at Jeong Won BBQ.

Authentic Asian cuisine is just one reason to visit the Clairemont neighborhood.

Cultures Come Alive

Clairemont and Miramar are also host to several cultural festivals throughout the year, celebrating the numerous ethnic groups that have made San Diego their home.

  • The San Diego Night Market is a festival featuring all things from Asian culture, but most folks go for all the tasty food.
  • The Filipino Sun Festival takes place every April and features lots of great live entertainment.
  • Each spring, the National Asian American Coalition presents the Asian Cultural Festival of San Diego, with Polynesian, Indian, and Chinese traditional dancers, Korean music and more.

> Explore More of San Diego – Nine Arts Districts, One Vibrant City


Southeastern San Diego: Where Diversity Inspires

somali culture festival

Southeastern San Diego may not be on many travelers’ radar yet, but this hidden gem is one of San Diego’s most culturally diverse regions. Located about 5 miles from downtown, the neighborhoods of Southeastern San Diego are easily accessible by the San Diego Trolley and offer lots of ways to see, hear and taste the many facets of life in America’s 8th largest city.

Discover the Arts and Culture of Southeastern San Diego


Cultural Fairs and Fests

With a variety of African and Asian residents, Southeastern San Diego features numerous festivals throughout the year where visitors can immerse themselves in authentic cultural experiences.

  • The annual FilAmFest is one of the region’s most popular cultural festivals, and features live entertainment and cuisine from the Philippines.
  • Held at Market Creek Plaza, the Somali American Cultural Fest is a colorful celebration filled with signing, dancing, poetry and more.
  • Every April, the Wat Lao Buddharam temple hosts Boun Pimai, a Lao New Year celebration featuring a processional with traditional music.
Somali Cultural Festival - Southeastern San Diego

The Somali American Cultural Fest is just one of many colorful cultural events held each year at Market Creek Plaza.

Colorful Public Art

The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation has helped the Southeastern community turn their neighborhoods into outdoor galleries thanks to lots of public art on view at and near Market Creek Plaza.

  • The amphitheater at Market Creek Plaza features special artistic touches, including bronze sculptures of children at play and the Sempra Childrens’ Art Wall, a bright mosaic of hand-painted tiles decorated by local children.
  • The many smiling faces gazing down at visitors to Market Creek Plaza are part of the Community Faces Project, a series of murals celebrating local leaders.
  • Just down the road from the plaza is Writerz Blok, a park devoted to graffiti art. In addition to offering local artists and youth a place to experiment with contemporary art practices, Writerz Blok is a remarkable sight to take in.

> Explore More of San Diego – Nine Arts Districts, One Vibrant City


Top Things to Do in San Diego: Nov. 27 – Dec. 1, 2013

Surfing Santa Seaport Village San Diego holiday event

The holiday season has definitely arrived in San Diego. This weekend, you’ll find lots of festive events, as well as live jazz and and a tasty chili fest to keep things a little spicy.

Here are the top things to do in San Diego, Nov. 27 – Dec. 1 , 2013:

San Diego Jazz Fest

san diego jazz fest

A New Orleans-style street band is just one of the jazz types you’ll find at San Diego Jazz Fest.

Presented by the America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society, this annual festival features all types of jazz, ranging from traditional to ragtime to rockabilly and everything in between. Held every Thanksgiving weekend, the 34th Jazz Fest will offer big dance halls as well as small listening rooms to draw jazz lovers of every taste and style.

Where: Town & Country Hotel and Convention Center, 500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, CA 92108
When: Nov. 27 – Dec. 1, 2013
Time: 7 – 11 p.m. (Wed. and Thurs.), 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. (Fri.), 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. (Sat.), 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Sun.)
Cost: Varies; single day tickets start at $15 and multi-day tickets start at $95
>Find out more about the San Diego Jazz Fest

Surfin’ Santa’s Arrival at Seaport Village

Surfing Santa Seaport Village San Diego holiday event

Take a picture with surfing Santa!


The magic of the sea comes to life at Seaport Village when Santa arrives by jetpack and soars above the ocean surface to greet kids and adults. This family event will include pictures with Santa surfing a giant wave, ornament making, live music and plenty of holiday cheer at this cobblestoned shopping and dining hub located along the Downtown waterfront.

Where:  Seaport Village, 849 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
When:  November 30, 2013
Time:  1 – 5 p.m. (Santa arrives at 1pm in front of the Pier Café)
Cost:  Free
>Find out more about Surfin’ Santa at Seaport Village

Jingle Bell Jump at Mission Marketplace in Oceanside

santa parachute jump

Where else can you see Santa arrive by parachute?

Kids and families will witness Santa parachuting from the sky to greet those who attend this fun-filled community event in the city of Oceanside. The festivities include photo opportunities with Santa, a complete snow playground, kids’ crafts, live music and much more!

Where:  Mission Marketplace, 471 College Blvd, Oceanside CA 92057
When:  November 30, 2013
Time:  12 – 3 p.m.
Cost:  Free
>Find out more about Jingle Bell Jump

SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off

SoNo Chili Fest San Diego

Enjoy chili, beer, live music and more at the SoNo Fest.

The neighborhoods of South and North Park come together in a friendly chili competition among 29 top local restaurants competing as guests try out their chili in hand-spun ceramic bowls. The event offers two free live music stages, great holiday gifts and crafts from local artisans, five food trucks, a game truck and a kids’ activity zone with free cookie decorating, and craft beer and wine garden featuring 10 local breweries.

Where: 3216 Thorn Street, San Diego, CA 92104
When: Sunday, December 1, 2013
Time: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Festival is free; handmade ceramic bowls with chili tastings: $20
>Find out more about the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off

Luminaria First Light in South Park

buona forchetta south park san diego

Enjoy some pizza from Buona Forchetta or other tasty treats in South Park.

The historic craftsman neighborhood of South Park kicks off the holiday season with a beautiful display of luminarias presented by local businesses and homeowners. After 5 p.m. tree lighting, stroll the scenic streets to shop local boutiques and enjoy live music and tasty treats from neighborhood eateries.

Where: Beech St., between Fern St. and 30th St., San Diego, CA 92102
When: Sunday, December 1, 2013
Time: 5 – 9 p.m.
Cost: Free
>Find out more about the Luminara First Light in South Park

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

Browse the Event Calendar

What will you be doing this week in San Diego? Let us know in the comments.


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

Sarah Weinberg

Free Family Friendly Fall Festivals in San Diego – 2013

Gaslamp Quarter Fall Back Festival

Autumn is upon us, San Diego’s Kids Free October promotion is around the corner, and below are a few Fall Festivals that offer the best bargain around: free for the entire family!


Free Family Fall Festival in Balboa Park’s Organ Pavilion

Spreckels Organ Society Fall Festival

Try something different and Hula Hoop to classic organ music

In addition to the free organ concerts at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park at 2:00 PM each Sunday in October and November, there’s a Family Festival in October, especially for kids. The 2:00 PM organ concert will feature Civic Organist Dr. Carol Williams along with guest young organists. Pre-concert activities start at 1:30 and include the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, hula hoop artist William Huson of SpinYang Hoops, and more. Kids are invited to sit onstage for a portion of the performance. The public is also invited to tour the inside the organ building which include views of the pipes, shutters and installation. Fascinating for “kids of all ages” to see and hear the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ.

Where: Spreckels Organ Pavilion – 1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
When: October 27, 2013
Time: 1:30 to 3:30 PM
> Find out more about the Family Festival at the Spreckels Oragan Pavilion

Free La Mesa Oktoberfest

La Mesa Oktoberfest Dancers

Dance, drink, eat, shop and more at the free La Mesa Oktoberfest

This 3-day fall festival patterned after the world-famous Munich Oktoberfest, offers an assortment of arts and crafts, children activities, entertainment, German brats and cold beer. Admission to the general festival is free and attendees have the option to visit the large Beer Garden at the event and listen to spirited oom-pah-pah bands, watch costumed folk dancers perform traditional waltzes and polkas, and get the whole family out on the dance floor and join in the fun.

Where: Spring Street and La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa, CA 91942
When: October 4-6, 2013
> Find out more about the La Mesa Oktoberfest

> Browse more Oktoberfest Celebrations in San Diego

Free La Jolla Art & Wine Festival

Kids Painting a car at the La Jolla Art and Wine Festival

Family Fun and the La Jolla Art and Wine Festival. Photo: Steve Simpson

The 5th Annual La Jolla Art & Wine Festival takes place in coastal village of downtown La Jolla and features the works of over 150 established artists from San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Baja and beyond. In addition to an eclectic mix of original artwork, the LJAWF offers an expansive wine and beer garden highlighting over 20 premier wineries from around the world including Baja’s flourishing Valle de Guadalupe region. A handful of San Diego’s renowned breweries will be pouring award-winning brews and a gourmet marketplace will offers attendees an eclectic taste featuring local favorites. Children have the opportunity to paint a car, take art or dance classes, participate in games, chalk art, crafts, edible art, cartooning, and even a family scavenger hunt. Other highlights include live music as well as roving entertainment by the San Diego Circus Center.

Where: Girard Avenue and Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
When: October 12-13, 2013
Cost: Free but $5 donations to benefit two local public schools are encouraged
> Find out more about the La Jolla Art & Wine Festival

Free Art Festivals in Old Town

Folklorico Dance in Old Town State Historic Park

Enjoy the traditional Folklorico Dance in Old Town State Historic Park

Enjoy the history and charm of Old Town State Historic Park during two fall festivals: The Old Town San Diego Art Festival features contemporary artists, fine craft, fashion and home décor artisans along with the Flavors of Old Town international foods, a wine-tasting pavilion and continuous live entertainment. The Old Town’s Fall Festival provides fall crafts and children’s activities reflecting San Diego in the 1870s. The festival occurs in the central plaza at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and many merchants surrounding the park will have activities as well.

Where: Old Town State Historic Park – 2415 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110

Old Town San Diego Art Festival
When: October 5-6, 2013
> Find out more about the Old Town San Diego Art Festival

Old Town’s Fall Festival
When: October 26, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
> Find out more about Old Town’s Fall Festival


Free Downtown Children’s Historic Street Faire

Gaslamp Quarter Fall Back Festival

Step back in time in the Gaslamp Quarter at the annual Fall Back Festival

Don’t forget to set your clocks for the Fall Back Festival in the Gaslamp Quarter. The annual children’s street faire shows guests what life was like in the mid- to late- nineteenth century when San Diego was a bustling new town. Admission is free and, while supplies last, kids in attendance can receive a free hot dog at Dick’s Last Resort Hot Dog Stand, free ice cream sundae and chocolate squares at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Saloon and a free pony ride. In addition to pie-eating contests, there are historical recreations and demonstrations with a “nineteenth-century” blacksmith plying his trade, prospectors teaching children how to pan for gold, butter churning and candle dipping demonstrations, and a Wild West shoot-out. Carnival rides are offered for a fee.

Where: Island and Fourth Avenues, San Diego, CA 92101
When: November 3, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
> Find out more about the Fall Back Festival

Free Día de los Muertos – Day of the Dead in Sherman Heights

Sherman Heights Dia de los Muertos

Embrace Mexican culture and experience a traditional Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Sherman Heights Festival

One of San Diego’s most authentic and longest standing Dia de los Muertos Celebration takes place in the heart of Sherman Heights! Embrace Mexican culture and experience a traditional celebration, honoring our departed loved ones with an official blessing of the community altars, followed by live performances, food, shopping, altar tours and Day of the Dead themed workshops!

Where: 2258 Island Avenue, San Diego, CA 92102
When: November 3, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
> Find out more about Dia de los Muertos in Sherman Heights

> Discover more Dia de los Muertos Celebrations in San Diego

> More Fall Festivals and Things to Do this Autumn in San Diego

What are your favorite free fall festivals? Let us and others know in the comments below.

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – April 25-28, 2013

From North County to Old Town to Coronado, San Diego is closing out April with some amazing events. Make sure to check out at least one of these top things to do:

Best of North County Party

San Diego Magazine's Best of North County Party

Enjoy food, wine and good friends at San Diego Magazine’s Best of North County.

Sample, sip and party along with the best that North County has to offer. Special appearances by the region’s top chefs, wine and food tastings from leading dining destinations and unexpected entertainment elements make for an unforgettable evening.

Where: Park Hyatt Aviara – 7100 Aviara Resort Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92011
When: April 26, 2013
Time: 6:30 to 9:30 PM
Cost: $50-$70
> Find out more about the Best of North County Party

Art Alive

Art Alive at the San Diego Museum of Art

Art comes to life at the San Diego Museum of Art’s Art Alive.

One hundred three floral designers will bring the San Diego Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection to life in a unique and beautiful way, including vibrant displays of color, texture and shape.

Where: San Diego Museum of Art
When: April 26-28, 2013
Cost: Included with admission. Art Alive events have separate pricing.
> Find out more about Art Alive 2013

Spring Garden Festival at Cuyamaca College

Spring Garden Festival at Cuyamaca College - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Pick up new plants, enjoy live music and learn about water conservation gardening at the Spring Garden Festival.

Urban farming is the theme of this year’s festival, which marks the event’s 20th anniversary! Visitors will enjoy demonstrations, the college nursery’s biggest plant sale of the year, Petting zoos, face painting and a farmers market.

Where: Cuyamaca Water Conservation Garden – 12122 Cuyamaca College Dr W. El Cajon, CA 92019
When: April 27, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Spring Garden Festival at Cuyamaca College

Southern California Folklórico Competition

Folklorico Dance in Old Town State Historic Park

Enjoy the traditional Folklorico Dance in Old Town State Historic Park.

Folklórico is a traditional Latin American dance that emphasizes local folk culture with ballet characteristics. Folklórico dancers from throughout Southern California will come to Old Town State Historic Park to perform their best dances as they compete for the championship.

Where: Fiesta de Reyes – 2754 Calhoun Street, San Diego, CA 92110
When: April 27-28, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Southern California Folklórico Competition

Adams Avenue Unplugged

John C. Reilly at Adams Avenue Unplugged - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Actor John C. Reilly is scheduled to perform at the 2013 Adams Avenue Unplugged

Over the course of 2 days and along the two-mile stretch of Adams Avenue, more than 180 artists will play live at 25 venues including restaurants, bars, coffeehouses, galleries and four outdoor community stages. A free shuttle will make it from one set to the next before the music starts.

When: April 27-28, 2013
Time: Saturday: 12:00 to 10:00 PM. Sunday: 12:00 to 7:00 PM.
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Adams Avenue Unplugged

Mission Federal ArtWalk

Mission Federal Art Walk Hands on Fun

Art, music and hands-on fun for the whole family at the Mission Federal ArtWalk in Little Italy.

Always the last full weekend of April, ArtWalk features more than 300 visual artists, San Diego’s top music and dance performers and KidsWalk, an interactive art playground for kids of all ages.

> Read our previous blog post about the 2013 Mission Federal ArtWalk

Encinitas Street Fair

Encinitas Street Fair

Food, music, rides, a beer garden and over 450 vendors at the Encinitas Street Fair.

Enjoy two days of unique food, five live music stages, children’s rides, beer garden, and over 450 vendors selling clothes, accessories, plants, household products, environmental products, art, antiques and home decor.

Where: South Coast Hwy 101 between D and J Streets
When: April 27-28, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Encinitas Street Fair

MotorCars on MainStreet


Now in its 23rd year, MotorCars on Main Street is a free classic car show featuring more than 350 pre-1973 hotrods, convertibles, roadsters, trucks and other custom cars.

Where: Along Isabella and Orange Avenues in downtown Coronado
When: April 28, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
> Find out more about MotorCars on Main Street

La Jolla Half Marathon

La Jolla Half Marathon Starting Line

Cheer on these endurance runners at the La Jolla Half Marathon.

Enjoy the coastal views while cheering on these endurance runners as they run 13.1 miles through this La Jolla course. (As someone who has run this half marathon before, any encouragement at the top of Torrey Pines is welcome…that is one heck of a hill!). If you are up for it, there is still time to register for the much shorter 5k.

When: April 28, 2013
> La Jolla Half Marathon Course Map (PDF)

> Browse more top things to do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of some other top things to do this weekend? Let everyone know in the comments below.


Mission Federal ArtWalk 2013 – 17 Blocks of Arts & Culture in Little Italy


Enjoy art? Next weekend, Little Italy is the place you’ll want to be.

White tents and an array of booths are taking over 17 blocks of Little Italy for the 29th annual Mission Federal ArtWalk. More than 350 artists will exhibit and sell their work -and tens of thousands of art lovers will be buying.  Admission is free – but festival goers will spend about $1 million during the event.

Visitors will find a wide range of visual arts – from pottery to jewelry, sculpture to basketry, art glass to digital media, photography to oil paintings. And we’re not talking schlock. A selection committee reviews artists’ works before participation is permitted.

The two-day event has become the city’s largest art festival – with live music and dance performances on six stages, a wide selection of food vendors and lots of artsy hands-on fun. Youngsters will even have the opportunity to create their own art to take home at the Kidswalk in Amici Park.

Where: India, Kettner and Columbia streets between Beech and Grape
When: April 27-28, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 2013 Mission Federal ArtWalk

Getting to the Mission Federal ArtWalk

By Car

Parking in Little Italy and the surrounding area is at a premium and can be full before the event even starts. Aladdin Airport Parking is offering a discount with coupon and will have free shuttle service every ten minutes.

By Public Transportation

Consider saving yourself the hassle and taking public transportation. Just hop on the Green Trolley Line and get off at the County Center/Little Italy stop. Walk east to the festival – which stretches along India, Kettner and Columbia streets between Beech and Grape. There are plenty of free parking options at Green Line trolley stations.

> Discover more arts and culture in San Diego

Robert Arends

3 For Free: Spring Flings in San Diego!

Julian Daffodils

Spring is in full swing in San Diego. With sun shiny days and pleasantly warm temperatures in the 70s, now is a perfect time to head outdoors and explore some great upcoming spring and garden festivals.

Following are three fun spring flings to check out this May:

Sage & Songbirds Festival - Butterflies

Butterfly releases at Sage & Songbirds Festival.

1. Sage & Songbirds Festival

This weekend, May 4-6, the popular annual Sage & Songbirds Festivalflutters into the Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine – celebrating Alpine’s recognition by the National Wildlife Federation as “America’s 1st Community Wildlife Habitat.”  There’s a live butterfly exhibit and daily butterfly releases (Way Cool!), plus a plant and art sale. Admission is free.

Julian Daffodils

Beautiful Julian wildflowers.

2. Julian Wild Flower Show

Head to the historic Gold Rush mountain town of Julian on May 10-13 for the spectacular annual Julian Wild Flower Show. The Julian Woman’s Club gathers colorful wildflowers from in and around Julian, beautifully displaying them in Town Hall from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm each day. Also on view: an exhibit of Native American uses for wildflowers. Admission is free.

Mission Trails Pony Rides

Pony rides at Mission Trails Day.

3. Mission Trails Day

Showcasing the natural wonders of Mission Trails Regional Park (one of the largest urban parks in the U.S.!), Mission Trails Day takes over the park on May 19. Enjoy guided nature walks, pony rides, a special program on coyotes by Ms. Fizzle & The Magic Schoolbus, a climbing wall, bird watching, raptor encounters and a Star Party at night. Admission is free.

Coronado House

Coronado Historic Home Tour.

Bonus.  Coronado Historic Home Tour

Another big annual event that springs 😉 to mind this month…If you’ve ever wanted to take a sneak peek at the gorgeous homes and gardens on charming Coronado Island, now you can at the Coronado Historic Home Tour on May 13. Tour several historic homes of different time periods and architecture, while learning stories of World War II’s effect on Coronado life. Tickets: $30 for Coronado Historical Association members and $35 for nonmembers.


May Festivals that Celebrate San Diego’s Ethnic Diversity

Sicilian Festival - Biscotti

Any time is right for celebrating San Diego’s ethnic diversity. But May presents us with a triptych – a chance to join the city’s Mexican, Italian and Portuguese communities as they celebrate their heritage.

Old Town Mexican Dancers

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in San Diego

Cinco de Mayo

The month kicks off with Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that salutes Mexican culture and commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. For San Diegans, it’s another excuse to celebrate frosty lime-infused margaritas, salted salsa-dipped tortilla chips and strolling mariachis.

Party central is Old Town, where the 29th Annual Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo will kick off at 5:00 pm Friday, May 4, and continue through 5:00 pm on Sunday, May 6. Organizers say the bash will be the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration north of the border, with three stages featuring live entertainment, including interactive family friendly fun. Norteno, Flamenco and traditional mariachi groups have been booked to perform. Between acts, more than 20 Old Town restaurants will be offering sizzling Mexican specialties – including, of course, an array of perfectly chilled margaritas.

Check our San Diego Event Calendar for more Cinco de Mayo events…

Sicilian Festival - Biscotti

Find delectable biscotti and more at the Sicilian Festival in Little Italy

The Sicilian Festival

Eat, drink and be Sicilian for a day when Little Italy celebrates its 19th Annual Sicilian Festival on Sunday, May 20. India Street – from Ash to Grape – will be closed for the 10:00 am – 6:00 pm celebration.

Costumed dancers and musicians will set the mood, parading in the street at 11:30 AM, carrying flags from the different regions of Italy. Food booths will sell Sicilian specialties – including Sicilian wines and premium imported Italian beer. Visitors can even test their skill at grape stomping.

Entertainment, on four stages, will include something for everyone: New York City soprano Cristina Fontanelli will sing Italian opera while the Screamin’ Primas promise to keep the crowd moving. The Roman Holiday Ensemble, perennial favorites, will perform as will Allesandra Belloni who’s best known for her traditional Italian folk dancing.

The bambini can get their faces painted while mom and dad ogle sidewalk chalk art or slick Italian beauties at a car show featuring Ferraris, Maseratis and Lamborghinis. In the Sicilian cultural zone, locals can learn about Italian-Americans’ role in the rich history of San Diego’s tuna industry.

Portuguese Festa - Sopas

Enjoy delicious Sopas at the annual Portuguese Festa

Annual Portuguese Festa

San Diego’s Portuguese-American community will gather in Point Loma May 25-27 for the 102nd Annual Festa do Espirito Santo (Feast of the Holy Spirit). The city’s oldest ethnic festival commemorates the Holy Spirit’s miraculous intercession helping Portugal’s Queen St. Isabel feed the poor during a centuries-ago famine.

Festa headquarters is the Portuguese Hall at 2818 Avenida De Portugal. Festivities start on Friday evening (May 25) , with an outdoor bazaar that includes Portuguese food vendors, games, folkloric dancing and performances by the Portuguese Philharmonic. Paulo da Rosa and Groovology will take the stage in the main hall for a dance beginning at 8:00 pm. (Admission is free; the dress code requires all to wear pants or jeans – no skirts or dresses.)

On Saturday evening, the bazaar reopens at 5:30 pm, followed by DJ dancing at 6:00 pm. After a 7:00 pm ceremony at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church (1140 Evergreen St.), a candlelight procession will head back to Portuguese Hall for open-air music and folkloric dance performances.

Sunday is the big day. It begins with a 10:00 am parade from Portuguese Hall to the church. Participants include youngsters dressed as angels and saints, marching bands and young women dressed in spectacular gowns and bejeweled capes, representing Portuguese royalty. The parade, which includes many 4th and 5th-generation participants, always includes a salute to the Portuguese-American fishermen who built San Diego’s once thriving tuna industry. After a ceremonial high Mass, around noon, the parade proceeds back to the Portuguese Hall.

At the hall, volunteers serve a traditional meal of Portuguese sopas (beef braised in stock, served with potatoes, cabbage, kale, mint and broth-soaked French bread.) Admission is free but donations are appreciated. The bazaar continues through the afternoon.

The formal Queen’s ball begins at 6:30 pm Sunday in the main hall, with The Mighty Untouchables on stage. An evening wear dress code will be enforced. Teens convene in an outside tent, where a DJ will spin discs from 6:00 – 10:00 pm. A traditional highlight of the evening is the announcement of which Portuguese-American family will host next year’s festa.

Benjamin Eastman

San Diego Mardi Gras Celebrations

HIllcrest Mardi Gras

What will you be doing the night of February 21st? While you may not be stumbling along the streets of Bourbon Street chucking strings of beads to wide-eyed revelers, hopefully you will be celebrating Mardi Gras right here in San Diego!

Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp - Photo by Nick Biliotti

Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp

Every year, San Diegans recreate the Bourbon Street experience downtown at the Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp event between E and K Streets. Last year’s event had an attendance of over 35,000 and this year they’re going bigger and better! With 4 stages of entertainment featuring internationally renowned DJs (the headlining DJ is Paul Oakenfold!) and an exciting Masquerade Parade down 5th Avenue, you know revelers will be channeling some of that Laissez le Bon Temp Rouler! The party runs from 6:00 pm – midnight and the parade starts at 9:30 pm.

HIllcrest Mardi Gras

Hillcrest Mardi Gras. Photo credit: Jim Winsor

11th Annual Absolut Hillcrest Mardi Gras Street Fair

Fat Tuesday revelers also head over to Hillcrest for another big Sand Diego Mardi Gras celebration. Taking place on University Ave between First & Fourth Avenues, the festival will feature live entertainment, guest performers and an exclusive VIP area. The event runs 6:00 – 11:00 pm and will feature dancing, food and lots of beads!

Come on people! Fat Tuesday is your last night of indulgence for 40 days (well for some at least…).  Even if you don’t observe Lent, you can still observe the party!