Robert Arends

Make tracks for San Diego’s East County Museums

The Western art of Olaf Wieghorst

San Diego Museum Month is in full swing (1/2 price admission to 40 participating museums!) and there’s no better time to explore some lesser-known museum jewels in the San Diego’s East County communities. They may not be the biggest cultural institutions on the map, but they’re certainly some of the most charming and a great way to discover the Wild West heritage of our rustic backcountry.

Following are my Top 5 Favorite East County museums: Continue reading


Tour The World This Fall In San Diego

This awesome little guy at the Barona Pow Wow is repping the one culture that is actually from here.

So, you think you can dance? Wait til you see this awesome little guy at the Barona Pow Wow.

Warm ocean temperatures, coastal highs in the mid-70’s and crowds back in school make fall one of the best times to visit San Diego’s beaches and world-famous family attractions.   But, in my opinion, an even more exciting reason to visit in fall are all the cool events celebrating the cultures and people who make up San Diego. 

It’s common to hear San Diegans say “everyone here is from somewhere else.”  Well, here’s a chance to dig below the surface and find out where we come from – you might be surprised!

Fall cultural heritage events include:

  • The Pow-Wow Trail of California, celebrating the culture and history of the indigenous people of the state, winds through San Diego in September.  The Barona Band of the Mission Indians holds their annual Barona Pow-Wow Sept. 4-6 at the Barona Reservation in Lakeside.   The following weekend, Sept. 11-13, The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation holds their Pow-Wow at the Sycuan Reservation in El Cajon.  Both events include traditional singing, dancing, games, arts and crafts, costumes, food and much more.   
  • On Sept. 26-27, the Pacific Islander Festival brings the spirit of the islands to Mission Bay’s Ski Beach with a celebration of the traditional cultures of the indigenous people of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia – an area that includes more than 2,000 unique Pacific islands.  This fall marks the 15th anniversary of the event which brings to San Diego the traditional food, dance, music, art and friendly hospitality of the people of Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti and many more vibrant island cultures. 
  • More than 200,000 people gather in La Mesa during Oct. 2-4 for the largest three-day Oktoberfest west of the Mississippi.  Lovers of German food, music, culture and beer flock to the festivities and celebrate German culture with traditional foods like bratwurst and sauerkraut, frosty brews flowing in three huge beer gardens, hundreds of craft vendors, costumed folk dancers and a children’s carnival.   
  • On Oct. 11, San Diego’s Little Italy Association presents the 15th Little Italy Festa – the largest one-day Italian American festival west of the Mississippi.  A grand celebration of Italian culture, more than 120,000 people gather annually for this traditional street festival that serves up traditional music, authentic foods, specialty crafts and Gesso Italiano, an Italian street chalk painting exhibition.   Sporty types also enjoy the street stickball exhibition games – San Diego is home to 10 stickball teams and visiting teams come from around the region – and can register early to enter the bocce ball tournament on Oct. 12.
  • The San Diego Asian Film Festivalreturns Oct. 12-29 to Mission Valley with programming that has earned an international reputation as one of North America’s top Asian-American film festivals. Last year, it drew a record crowd of nearly 18,000 film buffs and attracted high profile filmmakers and celebrities, including Academy Award-winning director Jessica Yu (short film, Breathing Lessons), Aaron Yoo (Disturbia, Nick and Nora), John Cho (Harold and Kumar), Leonardo Nam (Sisterhood of Traveling Pants), and YouTube sensation Christine Gambito of HappySlip.
  • On Nov. 1, the city of Oceanside brings its Annual Dia del los Muertos celebration to the historic Mission San Luis Rey. The mission grounds are transformed into a Mexican plaza with thousands of marigolds used in the creation of “ofrendas,” or altars, which are memorials to loved ones who have passed. Guests can enjoy music, dancing, food booths, a retail mercado and the Chalk Cemetery, an interactive area where guests use flowers, candles and chalk to create their own ofrendas.