5 to Try: Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day: the last long weekend of the summer. What comes to mind when you think of Labor Day? I think of the beach, barbequing and having fun with friends and family. Be sure to have some fun before school starts and we all have to start looking into fall and shorter days.

Festival of Sail: This annual event is so fun. The Big Bay is awash with beautiful sail boats from all over the world. The five day event includes live entertainment, petting zoo, cruises on San Diego Bay, cannon battles, pirates, over 150 arts and craft vendors, tons of food options and more!

Labor Day at Del Mar Horse Racing: It’s the last weekend for the Del Mar season and on Saturday, ZZ Top performs. Entrance is free to all of those who are fans on their Facebook page!

San Diego Padres vs. Rockies and Dodgers: The first-place Padres take on the Colorado Rockies through September 5th and then the Dodgers come into town on Labor Day through the 8th. The Dodger game starts at 7:05 p.m. on Monday. Be sure to stay through the end because there will be a great Labor Day firework celebration.

The Beach!: I know this is a five to “try” and let’s face it: who hasn’t tried the beach? But I couldn’t let Labor Day weekend go by without mentioning the beach. It just doesn’t feel right. So in honor of “trying”, how about try a new beach. If you always go to Coronado, why not try Ocean Beach? Or how about Moonlight beach. Let’s face it, there is enough beach for all of us!

Barona Pow Wow: Barona’s 40th Annual Pow Wow kicks off September 3rd and runs through Sunday, September 5th. Be sure to catch Native Americans from across the country as they showcase traditional tribal dances. There will also be music, authentic Native American cuisine, and handcrafted arts and crafts.

How will you be celebrating Labor Day?


This Bay Was Made For Walkin’

Free Historic Walking Tours? Yes, sir!

Starting tomorrow, the Maritime Museum is offering free, guided Historic Walking Tours along San Diego Bay.

The tours will last 45 minutes to an hour and be offered twice a day on weekends at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Sponsored by the Port, they’ll cover about one mile of the waterfront beginning in front of the USS San Diego Memorial at the foot of G Street and Harbor Drive, just south of the USS Midway Museum.

Along the way, tour guides will point out and share the history of gems like Seaport Village, the Midway, our Urban Trees – you know I’m a fan of them – and all the military heritage art at Tuna Harbor Park – which we’ve also shared with you here before.

If you’re out and about you can spot tour guides on Saturday by looking for a blue and white Maritime Museum flag.  Tours are first come, first serve and will be held through the end of June.

Guest Blogger

A Star Is Reborn

I took this picture.  Isn't it gorgeous?

I took this picture. Isn't it gorgeous?

Or at least re-touched. 

Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship, spent three weeks in dry dock this summer for its decennial maintenance and came back looking better than ever in time to celebrate her 146th birthday this Saturday, November 14.  The Maritime Museum of San Diego will give her a proper birthday party that day, complete with cake — and everyone is invited!

Built in 1863, Star of India sailed around the world 21 times before retiring when steam ships began to rule the seas.  After three decades of dilapidation, she was restored to her former glory through the efforts of San Diegans who donated their nickles and dimes as well as shipbuilding skills and man-hours.  Such a history of goodwill makes this landmark all the richer.

This ship is another reason why I love this town.  San Diego has such an impressive pantheon of cultural symbols for a west coast city, as well as a history of saving them from returning to dust.

And now we’re throwing them birthday parties!  Along with birthday cake to celebrate the Star‘s 146th. . .

  • It’s Family Days at the Maritime Museum on both Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15thKids 12 and under will be admitted free.
    Its as loud as it looks.

    Insider Tip: Cover your ears!

  • Making the Star’s birthday celebration even wilder, the Maritime Museum will stage more of its famous cannon battles on Saturday and Sunday.  You’ll get your chance to climb aboard our official state ship the Californian, or the Privateer Lynx and witness realistic cannon fights up close.  (Don’t worry, they forget to load the cannon balls every time!)
  • If you prefer to have a bit more involvement in your ship battles, how about getting into one of the museum’s two decommissioned naval submarines for a life-size game of Battleship?  Would I make that up?  Sink or be sunk as you call your shots using radio communication.  And may the best sub commander win!

Star of India lives out her retirement alongside other historic beauties of the sea such as the steam yacht Medea and the steam ferryboat Berkeley, which houses most of the museum’s exhibits and displays, and you can go aboard and explore every one of them.  For an extra $3 you’ll be able to take a historic harbor tour aboard the 95-year-old Pilot.  What a party!

Be sure to hit up the International Visitor Information Center across the street (corner of Broadway & Harbor) for your discounted museum tickets.  For prices and details on the special programs and charters (which happen all year round) contact the Maritime Museum at (619) 234-9153 or visit


Spooktacular Fun For Little Screamers

A spooky wind has swept into San Diego and strange things are going bump in the night!

But, don’t worry about it being too scary. 

Hip, Hip Hooray for Halloween!
Hip, Hip Hooray for Halloween!


With family-friendly fright fests, Halloween in San Diego is crazy fun for ghouls and boys of all ages.  Here’s a few of the fun offerings for little ones this weekend.

  • Shamu and the gang will get into the “spirit” of Halloween with a new, not-too-scary celebration, SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular, featuring festive family fun tonight, tomorrow and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.  SeaWorld’s walrus, sea lion and otter comedy team will star in a Halloween show called Clyde and Seamore’s Trick or Treat, and Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween musical will entertain the littlest guests. Other festive fun will include cookie decorating and photo opportunities with Halloween-costumed characters. 
  • LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad is calling all monsters, mermaids, witches, robots and pirates to its Brick-or-Treat Party.  Tomorrow from 5-9 p.m., the family theme park will be a not-too-spooky Halloween haven featuring costume contests, nighttime trick-or-treating on the Brick-or-Treat Trail, live music and entertainment. Little ghosts and goblins can also enjoy activities like building glow-in-the-dark treats, a dance-off with special prizes for the best dancer and the Howler of the Hour contest for young guests who really want to scream. Families can also climb aboard a giant jack-o-lantern that is more than 7 feet wide, made of 22,000 DUPLO bricks and weighs 850 pounds.  
  • Tonight at 8 p.m., Fiesta de Reyes in Old Town State Historic Park will kick off a fun, freaky evening with a Beetlejuice movie night under the stars.  Tim Burton’s famous “bio-exorcist” film will be projected on a big outdoor screen, and visitors are invited to bring a warm blanket and enjoy the movie with friends and family.  Admission is free. 
  • Tonight and tomorrow Old Town State Historic Park will host hilarious ghost tours through the park at 6:30 and 7 p.m.  Lead by an unfortunately clueless ghost hunter, the tours will highlight plenty of ghosts, many of them real San Diegans who experienced tragic deaths in Old Town during the 1800s.  Tours meet at the Old Town Visitor Center on Twiggs Street, located at the entrance to the park.  Tickets are available at the Visitor Center for $10 or online for $8 plus a service fee. 
  • Trick-or-treaters are also invited to visit the park from 4-6:30 p.m. on Saturday to collect goodies from the park’s participating shops and museums where resident shopkeepers are always dressed in period costume.  The haunting evening continues at 8 p.m. with a live story telling of Old Town’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow, occurring in the spooky yard behind the Seeley Stables on Old Town’s main plaza.  Both events are free. 
  • From 5-8 p.m. today and Saturday, ghosts, goblins, pirates and princesses will gather at the San Diego Maritime Museum aboard the Star of India for ghostly lantern-led tours of the historic ship and hear eerie legends from the ship’s past. During the tours, costumed docents will share tales of how young John Campbell fell to his death from the rigging, how an Army Captain on the ship slit his throat and more creepy events that occurred aboard the historic vessel.  The museum will also host a carnival 11 a.m.-4 p.m. tomorrow with games, prizes, food and costume contests for parents and kids of all ages.  Lantern-led tours are included with the general museum admission; admission to the carnival is an additional $5 per person.

Tallships Invade The Bay…With A Bang!

Take that ye salty dog!

Take that ye salty dog!

The San Diego Maritime Museum is offering aspiring buccaneers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Throughout September, they’ll be hosting cannon battles on the high seas (of San Diego Bay) as the state’s official tallship, The Californian, defends our harbor from the invading privateer Lynx

The mock battles – with real explosions but, thankfully, no actual danger – will take place over two weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19, Sunday, Sept. 20 and Saturday, Sept. 26. 

Visitors can experience these epic battles in several ways. 


“You and your submarine! Look where it’s got us now!”

That’s what Julie Newmar’s Catwoman said to Burgess Meredith’s Penguin in the uber-kitschy film version of the caped crusader – 1966’s Batman.  And, to paraphrase the sidekick of all sidekicks, “Holy Pen & Ink, Batman. It’s Comic-Con.”

In celebration of this week’s pop culture extravaganza and because I’ve always thought submarines were the craziest super-villain rides around, I’ve got the down-low on getting aboard two really hot Cold War-era subs at the Maritime Museum. 

Thar she blows, The Dolphin.

Thar she blows, The Dolphin.

First off, the newest edition to their collection the USS Dolphin. Just debuted at the museum in May, this sub served from 1968 to 2006 as a US Navy research vessel testing deep sea communications and other things we still can’t talk about because they’re still classified. Sailors on this ship sent the first ever underwater email and she held the record for the deepest dive for decades.

The Russians only gave them numbers, not names.

The Russians only gave them numbers, not names.

The Dolphin’s counterpart at the museum – though not on the high seas (she’s too tough for the Dolphin) – is the B-39 Russian Attack Submarine.  Launched in the early 1970’s, she patrolled the seas looking for…well, us. Throughout the cold war, this exact kind of sub is exactly what kept US sailors, many of them based out of San Diego, on high alert.  The craziest thing about this sub is that she’s totally 70’s with a completely wood paneled interior. Wood panelling. Underwater. Yup.

More photos, including torpedos and the aforementioned wood panelling, after the jump…

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5 to Try This Weekend

  • One of San Diego’s most classic restaurants has moved to a new location and you’re invited to the grand opening
    how many Bumpits do you think she used to get that hair?

    how many Bumpits do you think she used to get that hair?

    party! Corvette Diner, now located in Liberty Station in Point Loma celebrates its grand opening  this Saturday and Sunday with more than 100 Corvettes on display, family-friendly activities and live music from a number of bands, including a Beatles tribute band.  This free event will shake, rattle and roll from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days.

  • This Sunday, at 5:30 p.m. Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park takes you to infinity and beyond with an out of this world symphony under the stars.  Conductor Mat Garbutt and the San Diego Symphony will play a series of outer space music, including popular scores from Star Trek and Star Wars.  This concert event is free; however, spaceship parking is limited.
  • If you love creepies and crawlies, check out the Annual Insect Festival at Quail Botanical Gardens this Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring your hand sanitizer and head on over for bug collecting, insect arts and crafts and even cooked mealworm larva tastings in flavors like mesquite, teriyaki and barbeque… uh… I think I’ll stick to chicken.  Entomologists and other bug experts will be available for questions and answers.  Children 12 and under will be admitted free, everyone else gets in for just $12.
  • Ever dreamed of cozying up to watch a movie with Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones or Michelle Pfeiffer?  Well you can this Saturday because the Maritime Museum presents Movies Before the Mast.  Come aboard the Star of India and watch Sinbad:Legend of the Seven Seas (featuring the animated voices of Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer) projected onto the ships massive sail.  Bring blankets, family and friends and prepared to be entertained.  Boarding begins at 6:30 p.m. and admission is $8 for kids, $13 for adults. 
  • There’s no crying in baseball, but there is drinking in softball!  The 56th Annual World Championship Over-the-Line Tournament takes place this Saturday and Sunday on Mission Bay’s Fiesta Island from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. each day.  This boisterous, fast-paced beach softball event is free to the public and features 1,200 teams competing to be the ultimate Over-the-Line Champions. 

Ahoy, Matey! It’s Sailor Days

Hop aboard the Pilot during Sailor Days!

Hop aboard the Pilot during Sailor Days!

Did you ever want to be a sailor?

Well, beginning July 15, you’ll get your chance because Wednesdays are Sailor Days this summer at the Maritime Museum on San Diego Bay. 

Every Wednesday through August 26, the historic Star of India and all the other ships in the museum’s collection will offer hands-on activities designed to give you a taste of the sailing life.

Adults and kids can make rope for sailing, move cargo around the decks, raise and lower the huge sails, tie sailor’s knots, climb through a steam engine and much more.

Kids are also invited to take part in a scavenger hunt through the ships, searching for fun historic maritime facts and then choosing a prize from the museum’s treasure chest.

The best part?  Sailor Days activities are included with regular museum admission – $14 for adults and $8 for kids. 

Plus, when you book tickets online in advance and choose the Discovery package, you’ll get a free one-hour historic boat cruise on San Diego Bay aboard the Pilot. (You also have the option to purchase tickets at the door and add the boat tour for $3.)


A Night at the Museum…Zoo or SeaWorld

Ben Stiller is hilarious but, I’m not sure I’d be up for spending a night at the museum when he’s on duty.  For families looking to make amazing memories without risking ancient Egyptian curses, San Diego has cool sleepovers in unusual places like:

  • Ahoy, matey!  The San Diego Maritime Museum on San Diego Bay has family sleepovers aboard the world’s oldest active tall ship, the Star of India.  Sailors for the day can help set sail, haul cargo and stand watch at night.
  • Grrrr…get wild with family sleepovers at The San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park and “Roar & Snore” camping at the Zoo’s Wild Animal Park in Escondido.  Both include behind the scenes access and animal encounters.
  • Breakfast with the dolphins?  Over on Mission Bay at SeaWorld, the family sleepovers are just the beginning.  You can spend the whole following day exploring park’s rides, shows and exhibits – admission is included.   

    Good morning Mr. Dolphin!