Robert Arends

Big Bay Boom – Star-Spangled 4th of July Fun on San Diego Bay!

San Diego's Big Bay Boom 4th of July Celebration
San Diego's Big Bay Boom 4th of July Celebration

Celebrate the birth of our nation with fireworks in San Diego including the Big Bay Boom 4th of July Extravaganza.

When it comes to 4th of July celebrations, three words that say it all: “Big Bay Boom” the biggest most spectacular fireworks show in San Diego!

This star-spangled extravaganza, impeccably choreographed to music (105.7 FM), takes place on San Diego Bay – “The Big Bay” – launching from barges strategically placed off Shelter Island, Harbor Island and the Embarcadero North and South.

Where to Watch Big Bay Boom

More than 850,000(!) people are expected to ring the bay throughout the day to claim a prime viewing spot. The best viewing is at the north Embarcadero (scope out the beautiful new Waterfront Park), Seaport Village, Embarcadero Marina Park North and South, Coronado Ferry Landing, Shelter Island and Harbor Island.

Waterfront Park - prime new spot to watch the Big Bay Boom (photo credit: County of San Diego)

Waterfront Park – prime new spot to watch the Big Bay Boom (photo credit: County of San Diego)

The Port of San Diego is offering a FREE shuttle service to/from Shelter and Harbor Islands starting at 6 PM, going until 11 PM. Shuttles depart from the Port’s Administration Building parking lot (3165 Pacific Highway) and near the West Marine parking lot (3717 Rosecrans St.).

What to Do on the Bay Before the Fireworks

Big Bay Boom begins at 9:00 PM and lasts about 17 minutes. Since you’ve got all day to play beforehand, check out the plethora of attractions and activities on the bay, including:

Make a Splash

Take a ride on an authentic U.S. Navy Swift Boat!

Take a ride on an authentic U.S. Navy Swift Boat!

Ahoy! Maritime Merriment

Fun for all ages on the USS Midway!

Fun for all ages on the USS Midway!

  • Cabrillo National Monument, the Plymouth Rock of the West where explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay in 1542; kids will love the tidepools!
  • Spanish Landing Village where you can view a life-size replica of Cabrillo’s flagship San Salvador taking shape (it’ll be set to sail this September)
  • Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship (Arrr! 😉 )
  • USS Midway aircraft carrier, where San Diego’s rich Navy history comes to life on the world’s most visited ship museum!

Animal Attractions

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

Fine Dines and Shop-Portunities

Have fun on San Diego Bay and see you at the Big Bay Boom! 🙂

> Browse the Comprehensive list of 4th of July Fireworks and Celebrations in San Diego

P.S. Just for fun, check out 2012’s Big Bay Boom which went off accidentally in one big 15-second boom seen around the world.

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – 2013 Father’s Day Weekend Edition

Fireworks at Petco Park

This weekend is all about dads and granddads in San Diego. Show him how much you appreciate all he does by treating him to a beer tour of the 70+ breweries in the county, a round of golf at one of the region’s 90 courses, a relaxing day of fishing or one of these top things to do this Father’s Day weekend:

Padres Summer Sky Blast

Fireworks at Petco Park

Marvel at celebratory fireworks over Petco Park. Photo courtesy of the San Diego Padres.

Take dad out to the ball game, take him out to the crowds… Stick around after the San Diego Padres beat the Arizona Diamondbacks for great music and Petco Park’s biggest fireworks show.

Where: Petco Park – 100 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
When: June 15, 2013
First Pitch: 7:10 PM
Cost: $10-$119
> Find out more about the Padres Summer Sky Blast

Big Bite Bacon Fest

Big Bite Bacon Fest on Father's Day


Bacon, need I say more? This Father’s Day, the Del Mar arena will be transformed into a bacon paradise with unlimited samples from the best chefs and restaurants in San Diego. Local breweries will also be pouring beers hand selected to compliment the bacon goodness!

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014
When: June 16, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 8:30 PM
Cost: $55-$80
> Find out more about the Big Bite Bacon Fest

Father’s Day Sail on the Californian

Tall Ship Californian - Maritime Museum of San Diego

Take Dad on a high seas adventure cruise aboard the tall ship Californian this Father’s Day.

Treat dad like the captain he is with a sailing cruise aboard the Californian, the Official Tall Ship of the State of California. Before heading out, dad will enjoy beer and brats while the kids chow down on hot dogs, chips and soda. Once aboard, prepare to help haul a line and man the helm as the historic tall ship sails around the waters of San Diego.

Where: Maritime Museum of San Diego – 1492 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: June 15-16, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Cost: $45-$65
> Find out more about Father’s Day Sail on Californian

Father’s Day Beer & Champagne Brunch Cruise

Father's Day aboard a Hornblower Cruise

Treat dad and grandpa to a two-hour Father’s Day Beer and Champagne Brunch Cruise with a hearty buffet menu, over 50 battle ships, aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines, plus free-flowing beer and champagne all on a comfortable yacht!

Where: Hornblower Cruises & Events – 1800 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
When: June 16, 2013
Time: 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Cost: $42-$70
> Find out more about the Father’s Day Beer & Champagne Brunch Cruise

San Diego Father’s Day Fest and Walk

San Diego Father's Day Fest and Walk

The 3rd Annual San Diego Father’s Day Festival is an interactive experience that honors the relationship between dad, kids and our soldiers at rest. The festival features live music, interactive activities, and special performances.

Where: Nobel Park – 8810 Judicial Drive, San Diego, CA 92122
When: June 15, 2013
Time: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Father’s Day Fest and Walk

San Diego Oysterfest


A music festival, oyster festival and beer festival all rolled into one. This year’s San Diego Oysterfest will have a truly home town feel. Live music, food from some of San Diego’s top restaurants, beer from local breweries, cooking demos from San Diego celebrity chefs, shuck and suck competition, speed shucking competition and lots more.

Where: Embarcadero Marina Park North – 649 W Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
When: June 15, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 7:30 PM
Cost: $25-$100
> Find out more about San Diego Oysterfest

Father’s Day Beer Train Tour

Father's Day Beer Train Tour

Treat dad to an afternoon full of beer, food and fun on a Beer Train Tour.

Give dad the gift that keeps chugging! Dad and your group will be treated to local craft beers, a behind the scenes tour of the brewery, as you “hop” on and off the Beer Train (3-4 stops along the way). There will even be beer tastings on the train.

When: Wednesday-Friday through June 30, 2013
Time: 11:15 AM to 4:45 PM
Cost: $82 (Does not include $12 train ticket)
> Find out more about the Father’s Day Beer Train Tour

> Discover more things to do this Father’s Day Weekend in San Diego

Know of any more great Father’s Day events in San Diego? Let everyone know in the comments below.


New Year’s Eve Celebrations for Kids in San Diego

LEGOLAND California's New Year's Even Celebration for Kids

My kids love celebrating NYE and each year they have every intention of staying up until midnight watching the fireworks or banging pots and pans. But it never works out that way; they get tired and cranky and frankly so do we! Luckily, many of San Diego’s attractions have thought of this and offer day and early evening New Year’s Eve celebrations for kids.

Kids’ New Year’s Eve at LEGOLAND

LEGOLAND California's New Year's Even Celebration for Kids

LEGOLAND Rings in 2013 with a bang.

Like the famous Times Square party, Kids’ New Years Eve features a kid’s concert and countdown to the new year followed by a huge LEGO brick dropping 22 feet into 2013 and a dazzling fireworks display. Brick and fireworks start at 6:00 PM.

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Spend New Years Eve at Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

During the three-week Jungle Bells Celebration, the San Diego Zoo is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Guests can enjoy a nightly tree-lighting ceremony, lighted animal displays throughtout the park, live animal shows, storytelling, and bell ringers. Open until 8:00 PM on New Year’s Eve.

SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration runs through January 5th. Park stays open until 9:00 PM and features SnowWorld, “Shamu’s Christmas” show, The Polar Express 4-D Experience and nightly fireworks.

More New Year’s Eve Celebrations For Kids

New Year’s Bash – Beats, Patterns and Rhythms!

On Friday, December 28th, The New Children’s Museum will party all-day with music and dance performances, hands-on art workshops, live graffiti art and a member’s only celebration. This way you can celebrate the New Year with the kids on Friday and reserve Saturday for the adults!

John’s New Years Eve Party and Horn Parade

Book your spot at John’s Incredible Pizza Co. in San Diego’s South Bay so you can sit back and relax while the kids tire themselves out with an all-you-can-eat buffet all night long, along with drinks, rides and prizes. At midnight, the excitement continues with the IncrediBear Horn Parade and the ball drop on the big screen.

Brent Bernasconi

Marvel at the Summer Sky Blast at Petco Park

Tonight, July 21, 2012, enjoy the warm summer evening with America’s past time as the Padres take on the Colorado Rockies. After the game, sit back, relax and marvel as the night sky is lit up with a brilliant display of color during the Summer Sky Blast, Petco Park’s largest fireworks display!

> Get Your Tickets Now


Summertime in San Diego is Picnic Time

San Diego's Ultimate Picnic

Ask five locals to name their favorite picnic spot and you’ll get five different answers.  Got kids and want a playground? Prefer a romantic oceanfront perch? How about a great spot for watching fireworks? Want music with your bread and cheese? San Diego has so many great spots for picnicking that choosing a site is purely subjective. Given that, here are several suggestions:

  • My favorite spot is on the grassy bluff overlooking the surf at Coast Boulevard Park, just south of the backside of the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. My husband and I picnic there year round; it’s where he proposed all those years ago – and where we opt to renew our contract each year on the anniversary of that date. At low tide, some take their picnics to a wide patch of bluff closer to the surf. From any vantage point, the view is breathtaking.
  • For a more serene Pacific view, consider spreading picnic fixings in the bunker just beyond the lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument. Take beach chairs to enjoy comfy views of the wide Pacific. And don’t forget a jacket; it’s breezy out there. (Admission to the monument costs $5 per car.)
  • Want entertainment with your picnic? Check out parks throughout the county where free concerts will be staged this summer. We blogged about them last month.
  • Prime spots for picnics with fireworks viewing include Rose Marie Starns South Shores Park on Mission Bay. The sandy beach has fire rings – and a perfect sight-line for watching SeaWorld fireworks.
  • For music and fireworks, spread a picnic blanket at the tip of Embarcadero Marina Park North when Summer Pops is on stage at the tip of Embarcadero Marina Park South.
  • Balboa Park is filled with great picnic spots. After visiting a museum or two, generations of local families have picnicked at Pepper Grove, south of The Fleet along Park Boulevard. The big draping pepper trees remain – and there’s a large playground and 15 picnic tables.
  • In East County, Santee Lakes is a 190-acre recreation preserve with seven lakes, a 300-space RV campground, cabins for rent – and plenty of fun for picnickers. Go fishing. Rent a pedal boat, rowboat, canoe or kayak  ($11-$15 per hour). Kiddies can romp at five playgrounds (each geared for specific ages). The “Sprayground” is wet and wild fun for kids up to 13 years old. (Pay $2 at the front gate for a wristband and get soaked all day long.) Technically admission to the park is free, but parking costs $5 on weekends, $3 weekdays.
    Want to extend your picnic? The park has 10 new cabins for rent – including three floating units.  Each has an equipped kitchen and can accommodate up to six – but you’ll have to bring your own linens. Rates start at $100 per night midweek for lakefront units and go to $145 a night for a floating cabin on weekends and holidays. There are two swimming pools and a whirlpool spa exclusively for overnighters – including the many snowbirds who rent RV spaces by the month.

Santee Lake's Sprayground

You have a favorite picnic spot we haven’t included here? Please tell us about it.

Robert Arends

5 to Try: Star-spangled Fun in Coronado!

Coronado 4th of July parade (credit: Coronado Visitor Center)

Let your patriotic colors fly this 4th of July – and all weekend long – in Coronado, just across the bridge from downtown San Diego.

Coronado’s Independence Day bash is the most popular in San Diego County. The prominent Navy presence on the island is a big reason why. There’s NAS North Island, aircraft carriers like the famous USS Carl Vinson which just returned from the Middle East, and Naval Amphibious Base Coronado where the elite Navy SEALs train. (Did you know: Coronado traces its rich military roots back to 1911 when the first navy plane flew from its shores)

A jam-packed day of July 4th fun includes a 5K/15K run/walk, rough-water swim at North Beach and a two-hour parade down Orange Avenue, Coronado’s quintessential “main street USA,” complete with military bands, floats and Navy aircraft. It’s like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life with families of locals and visitors alike lining the route donned in red, white & blue and waving flags. There’s also “Art-in-the-Park” and a music concert in Spreckels Park, and at night, catch the spectacular fireworks display over Glorietta Bay.

Before, during and after the festivities, following are Five Fun Places to Try along Orange Avenue:

The Music Man at Lamb's Players Theatre.

  1. Guaranteed to have audiences humming “76 Trombones” all weekend long, the musical classic “The Music Man” takes center stage at the Lamb’s Players Theatre on July 2-3. Great way to launch into the 4th and set the celebratory mood.
  2. Catch a movie at the all-new Village Theatre, a polished cinematic gem at 820 Orange Ave. The dazzling Art Deco design and 3-D color murals are eye-candy for the kids – adults too! Bargain matinee shows before 6pm are only $8.50. Current flick: Pixar’s “Cars 2.”
  3. Sample handmade candies like “Coronado Crunch” (white or milk chocolate with peanut butter, marshmallows and rice krispies, drizzled in more chocolate!). at Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory at 1126 Orange Ave. Other tempting sweets: caramel, fudge, turtles and several varieties of caramel apples.

    Elvis (and a cow!) greet ice cream fans at Moo Time.

  4. Another sweet place to “chill” is MooTime Creamery at 1025 Orange Ave., famous for their fresh made-to-order ice cream creations and hand rolled waffle cones with totally cool flavors like girl scout mint, apple pie and “silly vanilly.” There’s a Moo Time at the Hotel del Coronado too!

    One of Artist Navarro Montllor's amazing seascapes!

  5. Take home a slice of paradise at the Art & Frames by Wood Gallery at 936 Orange Ave. Their just launched exhibit of fantastic seascape paintings by world-renowned artist Navarro Montllor are so realistic you can almost hear the waves crashing through the frames!

Have a fantastic 4th of July weekend!


San Diego Golf: From Sunrise to Sunset

There are more than 90 golf courses in San Diego County, which provides a wide variety of golfing experiences. Here are three to consider:

Maderas Golf Club

Best course to enjoy the sunrise
I was in a foursome for a winter round at Maderas two years ago in which we were the first group off the tee. The temperature gauge in my car read 18 degrees as I drove into the parking lot. I was wearing shorts, which says something about my state of mind while getting dressed at an early hour. I remember willing the sun to rise over the mountain just east of the course. It sure took it’s time that day, but it did finally peek out. Was I ever glad to see it. The temperature would rise more than 40 degrees before we putted out on the 18th hole. If only my game had warmed to the occasion as well.

Torrey Pines Golf Course

Best course to enjoy the sunset
In January, I watched visitors staying at the Torrey Pines Hilton snap pictures of the sunset from a patio off the lobby. If they had planned ahead they could have arranged a tee time at the Torrey Pines Golf Course and been in an even better position to see. The first tee from both the North and South courses points golfers directly toward the ocean. Afternoon golfers keep one eye on the sundial, watching the sun sink slowly in the west as they sink putts. A perfect finish is walking off the 18th hole just as the sun disappears. Even if you don’t make it to the finish, there’s no better spot to end the day.

Mt. Woodson Golf Club

Best course to enjoy fireworks
Mt. Woodson’s location in Ramona offers some of the best views in the county. It can be almost distracting, which is a concern on a course that demands attention to shot-making to keep from going out of bounds. Here’s the plan: Make an afternoon tee time and be mindful during the round of where a good vantage point is to look west over the rest of the San Diego County. Afterward the round, drive to that spot and enjoy the show(s). If you get the golf cart back a little late, they’ll understand. In fact, maybe you can even work something out ahead of time for them to send up a signal flare for you to make your way back to the cart barn.


4th of July Fireworks

The epic 20-minute Big Bay Boom fireworks display over San Diego Bay is the largest display in the region. At 9 p.m. on July 4th, fireworks are launched simultaneously from four barges placed around the bay and choreographed to music broadcast on 105.7 FM radio. Back for its 10th year, the Big Bay Boom fireworks display can be seen throughout downtown San Diego, neighboring Coronado, Point Loma and many communities throughout the city. Great viewing spots are all along the bay front and aboard popular harbor cruises. 

Coronado will celebrate a patriotic Independence Day with events on Saturday, July 3 including a morning rough water swim, two-hour American flag-waving parade along Orange Avenue, the community’s main thoroughfare, Art-in-the-Park and an afternoon concert in Spreckels Park.  The festivities culminate on July 4 with a spectacular fireworks display over Glorietta Bay that complements the Big Bay Boom fireworks show just across the water.

On July 4 at 9:30 p.m., SeaWorld San Diego will celebrate Independence Day with a special, patriotic Shamu’s Skysplash USA fireworks show over Mission Bay.  One of the most popular fireworks shows for locals, best viewing areas are from the shores of Mission Bay, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.

After a spectacular fireworks show at 9 p.m. on July 4, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts take the stage at 9:30 p.m. at the annual San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.  The concert and fireworks are included with fair admission, and all the exhibits halls and rides stay open until midnight.

Farther up the coast in Carlsbad, LEGOLAND® California will present a star-spangled Red, White and BOOM! Celebration on July 4 with live musical performances by The Jumpitz at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. and festive fireworks at 8:30 p.m.   During the day, family favorite Uncle Sam will also be roaming LEGOLAND on stilts, as guests enjoy old fashioned lawn games including potato sack races  and LEGO Limbo.

Fireworks over San Diego Bay


Oh, Say Can You See?

Independence Weekend is upon us with gorgeous sunny weather, cool Pacific breezes and my personal favorite…fireworks! 

I’ve told you about some of big celebrations but, where’s the best place to watch the show?

  • The Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Boom is the biggest of them all and offers the most viewing spots.  More than 750,000 people are expected to head to San Diego Bay for the event so, arrive early at Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Embarcadero Marina Parks or the Coronado Ferry Landing to scout out your viewing spots.  The rockets red glare kicks off at 9 p.m.
  • At the same time, on the other side of Coronado, fireworks will be lighting up the sky over Glorietta Bay.  Nab a spot along Strand Way, Glorietta Blvd. or by the golf course for the best views.
  • Mission Bay has a whole mess of fireworks.  First, at 9 p.m., the Mission Bay Yacht Club will be lighting up the sky.  Then, at 9:30 Shamu and friends take over with SeaWorld’s  Shamu’s Skysplash.  Great viewing spots are available from land and on water throughout the 4,000 acre Mission Bay Park or in surrounding neighborhoods with higher elevation, like Bay Park and Point Loma.
  • Fireworks in Ocean Beach kick off at 9 p.m. and can be seen from any OB beaches, the pier or anywhere up the hills leading into Point Loma.
  • It was touch and go this year due to the economy but the La Jolla fireworks will be bursting in air at 9 p.m.  Watch from locations around the Cove or out on La Jolla Shores Beach.
  • At the Del Mar Fairgrounds, San Diego County Fair fireworks kick off at 9 p.m. followed by a concert by Smokey Robinson at 9:30 p.m.  Both free with admission.  (Bonus, fair food!) 

Watch a video of the Big Bay Boom after the jump…

Continue reading