San Diego Summer Sizzles and Swizzles at Altitude Sky Lounge

Altitude Sky Lounge
Altitude Sky Lounge

Altitude Sky Lounge atop the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter

Celebrate summer’s late sunsets (8:00 pm today!) with the spectacular views from Altitude Sky Lounge, open 5:00 pm to 1:00 am daily. Perched on the 22 story of the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter, a particularly beautiful sunset can be captured here, setting low over San Diego Bay, framed by Point Loma peninsula and the Coronado bridge with the occasional Dole cargo ship passing though. You’ll also enjoy the mountains in the east and Mexico in the south with a bird’s eye view of all the action at Petco park in the forground.

Want to stay past closing? You can! Comment below for a chance to win a 1 night stay for 2 people at the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter. Winner will be chosen on Friday, June 22, 2012 at 10:00 am. Summer has never been so sweet! What would you do if you won?

Brent Bernasconi

The Ultimate First Day of Summer in San Diego!

First Day of Summer in San Diego

First Day of Summer in San Diego

Even though it feels like Summer all year round in San Diego, the 2012 season officially begins on Wednesday, June 20.

To prepare for the coming of days at the beach, twilight golfing, concerts by the water, cold craft beer and sunshine; Maren and I are headed out along the coast of San Diego to experience and share with you the ultimate first day of summer.

Throughout the day, the two of us will be posting pictures, trivia and giveaways on our social media channels. Make sure to follow @visitsandiego and the hashtag #sd1stday on Twitter. Like us on Facebook and check our San Diego page during the day to see what we have been up to!

Celebrate Summer With 60 Extra Minutes of Happy Hour

Altitude Sky Lounge

Altitude Sky Lounge atop the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter

To cap off the ultimate summer day in San Diego, join us from 4:00 – 7:00 pm (the normal Happy Hour starts at 5:00 pm) at Altitude Sky Lounge atop the San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter for beautiful views, good friends and great Happy Hour Specials.

Peruse the delicious Happy Hour drink list below:

  • Mojito – Rum, muddled fresh mint & limes, topped with soda water
  • Margarita – Tequila, Triple Sec, lime juice & sweet and sour
  • Razztini – raspberry vodka, chambord, garnish with fresh raspberries
  • Watermelon Martini – citrus vodka, watermelon pucker, triple sec, splash OJ & 7up
  • Orange Splash – citurs vodka, citronage/triple sec, splash lime juice, fill OJ on the rocks
Make sure to join us on Twitter and Facebook and we will see you in San Diego. Happiness is Calling.

Dining Spotlight: La Jolla

Discover San Diego’s Neighborhoods with our Summer Sweepstakes. Join us every week as we showcase the best in what to do, where to eat, and where to stay in some of San Diego’s most unique neighborhoods. This week’s spotlight is on beautiful La Jolla.

Combine world-class chefs with spectacular views, and you’ve got a recipe for culinary excellence. La Jolla offers everything from exquisite fine dining, to the best in brunch and organic desserts. Here are some of my top picks for dining in La Jolla.

Rooftop dining at George's at the Cove

The Icons

Award-winning restaurants like George’s at the Cove (an oceanfront icon) and The Marine Room (a San Diego tradition since 1941) are as well-known for their exceptional cuisine as for their spectacular panoramic views.

Brocton Villa's famous Coast Toast

Brunch on the Beach

Brockton Villa has been serving award-winning breakfast, lunch and seasonal dinner service for 20 years. Not to be missed are the Crab Ipanema (eggs benedict with crab cakes served with a spicy tomato coconut sauce), and the world-famous Coast Toast.

Cups' Chris Jones chocolate-vanilla swirl cupcake with mocha frosting

Sweet Treats

Organic cupcakes, cupcake-infused ice cream and shakes, and all-natural strawberry milk on tap. Where is this heaven on Earth you ask? Cups in La Jolla, that’s where. Not only is its menu to die-for, but Cups is also recognized as the first 3-Star Green Certified Bakery in San Diego so when you eat there, you’re also doing something good for the environment (if not your waistline).

Roppongi's BLT Sushi Roll

Happy Hour and Tapas

Roppongi Restaurant & Sushi Bar features an award-winning Happy Hour. Get half-off the full Tapas and Sushi menu daily from 3:00 – 6:00 pm on the patio. While there, don’t miss Roppongi’s take on the BLT; the Sushi Style BLT comes with crab, bacon, avocado, arugula, and tomato with a tarragon aioli.  Delicious!

We want you to experience Roppongi’s bold and imaginative New Asian cuisine. Comment below by Monday, June 13, 2011 at 10 a.m. and get entered to win a $50 gift certificate to Roppongi. Tell us, what is your favorite restaurant in La Jolla?


Happy Hour + Warm Weather + Great Food= Arterra

Arterra's Outdoor Lounge

With the weather warming up, I’m always looking for a new spot to enjoy the warm breezes and authentic San Diego ambiance. I found just that when I recently visited the Arterra Restaurant, Bar and Outdoor Lounge at the Marriott Del Mar. The hotel, just a mile from the beautiful waves of Del Mar, recently unveiled a new look, taste and vibe for its restaurant.

Arterra specializes in contemporary, seasonal cuisine reflecting the best of Southern California. Its menu is varied and always created from fresh, local and organic ingredients. After a long day at the beach, we stopped in for Happy Hour. Their Happy Hour runs every day from 4:00 – 7:00 pm. The first item I tried was the Lobster Mac n’ Cheese. I have to say I consider myself to be a mac n’ cheese aficiando and this one lived up to my high expectations. From Loaded Fries to Flatbread pizzas, their happy hour menu is varied and delicious. All drinks are $6 for premium drafts, $7 glasses of wine and specialty cocktails go for $8. Their outdoor lounge has quaint seating options to enjoy the food and drinks and be happy you are in San Diego.


Spend your Tax Dollars Wisely

Spring Cocktails

Spring has sprung at Grant Grill restaurant at the US GRANT and Mixologist Jeff Josenhans has revealed his new spring handcrafted cocktail menu infused with and inspired by spring flowers.

The upcoming drink menu will launch on April 15 (Tax Day) and will include house-infused floral flavors from Lilac,  Dandelion, Hibiscus and other seasonal blooming flowers.

The best part? In honor of Tax Day, drinks will be specialty priced at only $4.15 each. Cheers to Uncle Sam!

Seasonal Flower Cocktail
Nolet silver gin, Rothman’s apricot liqueur, saffron syrup, organic Gewurztraminer grape juice

Libation Lilac
Lilac infused Tanqueray sterling vodka, parfait amour, fresh pressed lime, lavender bitters, fresh egg whites

Wildflower Whiskey
Cornflower infused white oat whiskey, muddled cornflowers, dandelion and burdock bitters, fresh pressed meyer lemon

Super Seasonal Skinny
10 cane rum, hibiscus flower stevia, fresh ginger, fresh pressed lime


Happy Hours Happen at San Diego Hotels

San Diego Marriott Del Mar

Everybody delights in a great Happy Hour – especially those that include yummy bargain eats along with their drink specials. An increasing number of budget-conscious travelers (and locals, too) are turning Happy Hours into dinner dates. So, when considering San Diego lodging options, it makes savvy sense to investigate your hotel’s HH scene. Here’s a sampling of what’s available:


Andaz San Diego, in the heart of Gaslamp Quarter, calls its HH “Happier Hour.” Ranch & Coast recently named it San Diego’s very best HH – for good reason. Enjoy the party from 5 until 8 PM Mondays through Fridays in three hotel venues: Quarter Kitchen, Ivy Rooftop, and the Ivy Wine Lounge. Specialty cocktails, usually priced at $15, go for $5. In the Wine Bar, taste five select wines for $5. Food offerings, half-off regular prices, include fresh burrata in a jar, with mint walnut pesto, heirloom tomatoes and grilled country bread – for $7. Chow down on a short rib and roasted tomato pizza for $7 – or a blackened salmon sandwich for $8. Sushi-grade ahi/Alaskan king crab tartare runs $7.

At Odysea, the stylin’ dim-sum lounge at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, get half off well drinks, draft beer and food offerings during twice daily HHours from 4-6 PM and 10-Midnight. Snack on steamed shrimp shumai or beef picadillo dumplings for $3. Or opt for an oven-roasted turkey panini, layered with Gruyere, avocado, bacon, tomato, lettuce and served with fries – all for $6. The “Vela Tasting Board,” for $8, includes artisanal cheeses, air-dried meats, olives, hummus and rustic bread. Late night HH offerings include the tasting board, a club sandwich with chips for $5.50 and either a grilled chicken/feta wrap or a chicken Caesar salad for $6.

Humphry's Backstage

On Shelter Island, Humphreys Half Moon Inn & Suites stages a fab HH from 5 until 7 PM daily in its Backstage Lounge. Get full portions of offerings on the bar menu – at half price: Choose lemon pepper calamari with sweet chili dipping sauces for $4.75; jumbo shrimp skewers or a toothsome BLTA with fries for $5; a half-pound burger layered with horseradish-havarti and grilled onions, with fries or coleslaw for $5.50, or a warm shrimp and scallop salad made with spinach, avocado, mango and pickled ginger – for $7.50. (There’s no HH on Concerts by the Bay nights.)

At the new Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant, smack in the heart of Old Town State Historic Park, HH is offered from 3 until 6 PM seven days a week. Visitors can sip draft beers or house wines for $3.50 each; cocktails for $4.50. The “Drunken Pescador” includes a fish taco and margarita for $6.95; for two bucks more, get a “Steer & Beer” – a draft with a half-pound Angus burger.

In North County, Arterra at the Del Mar Marriott stages HH every day from 4 until 7 PM. Along with $6 premium drafts, $7 glasses of wine and specialty cocktails for $8, enjoy extra-crispy roasted garlic parmesan fries for $5, pizza-like tomato/mozzarella flatbread or a “cold pizza” (smoked salmon, grapefruit sections, slices of avocado, watercress and crème fraiche on flatbread) for $9 each. HH calorie counters can sip 50-calorie Cosmos or “No-jitos,” for $8 – and add a big bowl of lightly sauteed and seasoned edamame for $3. After 5:30 PM, there’s a selection of bargain-priced fresh sushi ($4-$11). There’s indoor and outdoor seating.


Happy Hour Takes You Higher

Ahh, Friday in July.  The weather is gorgeous.  Are you looking forward to the weekend?  

With sunshine like this, there’s no way you should consider kicking it off indoors.

Just Se "Hello, weekend!" at Siren

Just Se "Hello, weekend!" at Siren

Naturally, there are lots of outdoor cocktails to be had in San Diego but, I’d suggest reaching for the sky and heading for the roof. 

Yes, you should beat a path to the newest downtown rooftop lounge…Siren at the Se San Diego. 

I’ve heard that every weekday from 5-7 p.m. they serve up half-price specialty cocktails like the St. Germaine, prosecco and aloe juice Silver Leaf or the Studio Sutra with VeeV, blueberry and cucumber – regularly about $11, yours for $5-6  – and free tray passed appetizers like mini Kurobuta corn dogs and Hamachi fish tacos.

A few other rooftop happy hours where you can kiss the week goodbye in style:

  • Tuesday-Friday from 5-8 p.m. Stingaree has half-price signature cocktails and wines by the glass, $5 wells, $3 beers.
  • Next door at Lounge Six, from 5-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, they’ve got $3 drafts, $4 bottles and half-off wells.
  • Even higher, 22 stories high actually, Altitude has $5 premium wells, $4 domestic drafts and half-off artisan flatbreads from 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday.
  • Over in PB, Firehouse has $3 drafts, $4 wells, $3 house wines and half-off appetizers from 4-7 p.m. Monday-Friday – and ocean views all day, every day.

Happy Hour is Tiki Time

I’m having a Calgon moment and a bubble bath won’t cut it.  I need something stronger.

What’s a girl to do when only a technicolor cocktail with an umbrella will suffice?

Follow the lead of generations of Californians and embrace Tiki culture, of course.  That way, I can take an exotic getaway – just for a happy hour (or two) – and I don’t even have to leave the Gaslamp Quarter much less blow 1000 bucks on airfare to Tahiti.

So, I’m heading to Mister Tiki’s Mai Tai Lounge for their $5 on Fifth happy hour specials. 

This is not the $5 drink.  What are you crazy?

This is not the $5 drink. What are you crazy?

Just five smackers will buy me my choice of fun island-inspired drinks like the Haole Mai Tai, Lilikoi Mojito or Coconut Kiss Martini.  And, my guy – he’s not a big umbrella fan- can enjoy a large Sapporo for the same price. 

Of course, the South Seas – like happy hour – are not just about the drinks. to say and fun to eat!

PuPus are fun to say and even more fun to eat!

Mister Tiki’s deals cross over to the sushi bar where for five bucks you can choose from California, spicy tuna, spicy yellowtail, shrimp tempura or vegetarian rolls.  And, $5 PuPu specials offer modern takes on Tiki fare with crispy shitake & goat cheese wontons, spiced chicken potstickers, chicken lettuce wraps, tempura baby shrimp and calamari fries.

It’s a proven fact, PuPus are far superior to appetizers in elevating one’s mood.  And, tropical cocktails will make your happy hour happier than most other drinks.

Mister Tiki $5 on Fifth specials, Monday-Friday from 5-7 p.m. 

Mai Tai, take me away!