Robert Arends

San Diego’s Maritime History Comes Alive this Weekend at the Cabrillo Festival

Cabrillo National Monument - the Plymouth Rock of the West

Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma – the Plymouth Rock of the West

In 1542, Cabrillo sailed the ocean blue and not only discovered San Diego Bay for Spain, but California and the U.S. West Coast as well. Yep, that’s right…San Diego is the Plymouth Rock of the West!

Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into the harbor on September 28 – almost exactly 472 years ago! – aboard the San Salvador, a magnificent Spanish galleon ship. He landed on Point Loma, home of Cabrillo National Monument (San Diego’s only national park, BTW).

Cabrillo Festival

Historic reenactment of Cabrillo landing on the shores of San Diego Bay

Historic reenactment of Cabrillo’s landing on Point Loma, San Diego Bay

This Sunday, September 28, 2014, the big 51st annual Cabrillo Festival at Ballast Point on Naval Base Point Loma (located on the south end of Rosecrans Street) celebrates Europe’s first steps onto our shores. Admission is Free! There will be music, dancing, children’s activities and authentic foods of Native Americans, Mexico, Portugal and Spain (yum!). There will also be Native American Kumeyaay basket making, knot tying and a 16th century Spanish soldiers living history encampment.

Folkloric dancers at the Cabrillo Festival

Folkloric dancers bring history alive

The photo-worthy festival highlight is the re-enactment of Cabrillo’s landing on the shores of San Diego Bay. The captain, his soldiers and a priest will sail into the bay on The Californian (a stand-in for the San Salvador) and once again claim the land for Spain (don’t worry, Spain will quickly give San Diego back to us 😉

The re-enactment begins at 1:00 PM, but arrive a little early to get the best views.

Cabrillo National Monument

Impressive statue of Cabrillo at Cabrillo National Monument

Impressive statue of Cabrillo at Cabrillo National Monument

Just up the street, stop by Cabrillo National Monument to check out a commanding statue of Cabrillo on the cliffs of Point Loma overlooking San Diego, a cool video dramatization about his discovery and birds eye views of the bustling harbor, downtown skyline and the U.S. Navy in action on Coronado Island.

San Salvador Village

Replica of Cabrillo's flagship, the San Salvador

Replica of the San Salvador. Photo courtesy of Jerry Soto

I also recommend visiting the build site of a full-size, historically accurate replica of Cabrillo’s flagship San Salvador at San Salvador Village at Spanish Landing (near Harbor Island). The ship is incredibly cool, like how I imagined the Mayflower looked! It’ll be completed in the next few months – with her maiden voyage scheduled for January 2015 – and will become part of the permanent fleet of the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

San Salvador Village is open daily, featuring costumed docents, shipbuilding demonstrations, sail making and Native American Kumeyaay demos such as tulle boats, baskets and pottery making. This is as historically real as it gets! 😉

See you on the “Big Bay”!


Top Things to Do in San Diego: September 21-23, 2012

It’s all about food, beer, Pacific Islands, fast cars and the rise of the undead this weekend in San Diego. Here are our top picks for the weekend:

1. San Diego Restaurant Week

San Diego Restaurant Week Logo

Get ready to grub! San Diego Restaurant Week ends September 21 and you do not want to miss out on the delicious meals and fabulous deals being served up by over 180 local restaurants. Sample the signature cuisine and sophisticated style that makes San Diego’s dining scene one of the region’s top attractions.

2. Annual Pacific Islander Festival

Picture courtesy of yelper Kaliloa O.

From September 22-23, head down to Ski Beach in Mission Bay between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM to enjoy this FREE event showcasing the cultures, food, crafts and customs of Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

3. Fleet Week Coronado Speed Festival

From September 22-23, enjoy the thrill of fast-paced auto racing and exhibitions at one of the most distinctive race track locations – Naval Air Station North Island, the birthplace of Naval Aviation.  San Diego Fleet Week’s marquee event will be held from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, or until the last race, and allows the general public a rare glimpse of the daily activities happening at the base as well as racing excitement.

4. Festival of Beer

On September 21, join your beer-loving brethren in downtown San Diego at the 18thannual San Diego Festival of Beer. Seventy-five local and regional brewers will be in attendance, providing samples and tastings of their signature and award-winning beers along with music, vendors, food booths and more.

5. The Haunted Hotel

Let the haunting begin! Starting on September 21, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter welcomes The Haunted Hotel back for another season of terror. Get ready to scream as you weave your way through Hollywood’s favorite horror films.

> Discover More Great Things to Do with San Diego’s Event Calendar

What do you have planned for the weekend?

Brent Bernasconi

First Carrier Classic Basketball Game in San Diego

Carrier Classic Rendering
Carrier Classic Rendering

Quicken Loans Carrier Classic Stadium Rendering

Tomorrow, Friday, November 11, the University of North Carolina Tarheels and the Michigan State Spartans will square off in a very non-traditional basketball stadium. A court, television cameras, announcer booth and over 7,000 spectator seats have been added to the flight deck aboard the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier currently sitting in San Diego’s Big Bay.

Carrier Classic Court Resting for the Evening. Courtesy of Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Dean M. Cates/US Navy

As the two college teams vie to be the first champions of the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, basketball legends Magic Johnson of Michigan and James Worthy of North Carolina will help them out serving as honorary captains for their respective schools. There will be plenty of other celebrities in the crowd along with our service men, women and veterans.

While the Carrier Classic is sold out and for those not in San Diego, you can catch the action on ESPN and online at Watch ESPN (US Only) starting at 4:00 pm PST. Before the tip-off check out the Tarhells and Spartans videos and blog posts as they both prepare for the big game.

Carrier Classic Court

Carrier Classic Court Ready for Game Time. Courtesy of Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans/US Navy

Also just wanted to give a shout out to the Morale Entertainment Foundation, which provides entertainment for troops at home and abroad.



5 Things You May Not Know About San Diego

Whaley House

1. Located in Old Town San Diego, the famous Whaley House, constructed in 1856 on a former gallows site, is one of only two officially-designated haunted houses in California. The Whaley House is often referred to as “the most haunted house in America,” inhabited by no less than seven spirits. The Whaley House is also the first two-story brick building in Southern California and the oldest two-story brick building on the West Coast.

Balboa Park

2. Balboa Park is the second oldest city park in America. This magnificent cultural complex is second only to the Smithsonian in size and is often referred to as the “Smithsonian of the West”; it has the highest concentration of museums west of the Mississippi and the largesturban cultural park in North America.

US Navy Flying over San Diego Bay

3. San Diego is home to the largest military complex in the United States; eleven major Navy and Marine Corpsinstallations are home to approximately 150,000 active duty military personnel.

Chicano Park

4. Chicano Park, located beneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in the downtown neighborhood of Barrio Logan, is home to the largestcollection of outdoor murals in the country.

5. The 4,600-acre Mission Bay, with its 27 miles of beaches and abundance of grassy recreation areas, is the largest aquatic park in the world.

Brent Bernasconi

Happy Top Gun Day!

Top Gun Poster

In 1986, San Diego, Oceanside, NAS Miramar, the former Naval Training Center, Kansas City Barbecue and aviator glasses took off into stardom with the theatrical release of Top Gun!

Even though the movie was released on 16 May, today, 13 May, is Top Gun Day! So leave work a little early today, put on your aviator sunglasses, play some beach volleyball, have some ribs at Kansas City Barbecue (which still has the jukebox), and then head over to the nearest bar to order a Hemlock.

For those of you who remember the famous cottage of Maverick’s love interest, Charlie, here is a short video about its long history in Oceanside. Too bad the motorcycle is no longer parked outside.

After you enjoy the day, you should fly on down to the San Diego Air & Space Museum, USS Midway Museum, or the Flying Leatherneck Museum for some aviation history (because 1986 was a long long time ago!).

Robert Arends

5 to Try – Coronado’s Hidden Gems, Part II

A few months ago I revealed some little known places around the “Crown City” of Coronado that many folks hadn’t heard of. During a recent media tour I discovered a few more secret and not so obvious spots around the island worth checking out.

Following are my five hidden gems:

Glorietta Bay Inn's...

  1. Stare down… The stately Glorietta Bay Inn is a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes areas that guests rarely – or never – see. In addition to a basement and sub-basement (how low can you go?), there’s an inconspicuous door leading to a hidden passageway on the first floor. Within the secret alcove a three-story staircase spirals down from the top-floor Penthouse Suite. If these stairs could talk!
  2. ...secret spiral staircase.

  3. Safe bet… What’s better than a safe to stash your valuables? How about two safes! Last time I spotted Mrs. Spreckels personal safe in her former bedroom at the Glorietta Bay Inn, I thought that was the only one. But there’s another, much grander vault tucked inside a closet near the top of the grand staircase. No telling what’s inside, as nobody knows the combination.
  4. Kate "checks out" (of) The Del.

  5. Room with a boo… Many folks have heard of Kate Morgan, the Hotel del Coronado’s famous ghost who supposedly haunts the resort. But do you know the exact room she stayed in before her untimely demise? Room # 3327 on the third floor, where narrow hallways only add to the spine-tingling feeling you get when exploring the recesses of this Victorian marvel.

    Walk this way to...

  6. Follow the yellow brick road… Actually, follow Star Park Circle to a humble abode hiding in plain sight (see photo below), the home of acclaimed author L. Frank Baum. He wrote two of his famous children’s’ books here, The Road to Oz (1909) and The Emerald City of Oz (1910). It’s easy to see why he was so inspired by the “enchanted island” and The Del nearby.

    Historic home of L. Frank Baum, 1101 Star Park Circle.

  7. Fly boys… Did you know Coronado is an enclave for military retirees and home to some of San Diego’s original Navy heroes? This Sunday (11:00 am – 4:00 pm), in conjunction with the “Centennial of Naval Aviation”, the Coronado Historical Association spotlights six legendary naval aviators’ houses during the Annual Historic Home Tour. Decked out domiciles include Vice Admiral James Stockdale’s – one of the most highly decorated officers. Go Navy!

5 To Try This Weekend

1. The Navy is celebrating 100 years of naval aviation in a big way this weekend. On Saturday, February 12th, the Navy will showcase its “Parade of Flight” with more than 200 planes flying over Coronado and the Bay. It will be the largest naval flyover since WWII! Be sure to check out the Union-Tribune’s special section that gives viewers tips on best spots to view the flyover as well as a viewer’s guide to aircraft.

2. With museum month in full swing, the New Children’s Museum is featuring a fun KidFunk Family Festival on Saturday. The festival runs from 10 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and will feature award-winning musical talent, dance crews, and a unique animal presentation by Wild Wes and the San Diego Zoo. It includes special appearances by Rhythm Child, Egg, and Super Galactic Beat Manipulators, culminating with an interactive Karaoke and DJ session.

3. It’s the year of the Rabbit, and you can celebrate at the 29th Annual San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair Saturday and Sunday. This free, family friendly event will feature lion and dragon dancers, martial artists, acrobats and musicians at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and J Street. No matter what zodiac you were born under, there will be plenty of fun for the whole family as they celebrate the most exciting Chinese holiday of the year.

4. This weekend in Balboa Park, Circus Vargas has set up its Big Top Tent. Arrive early for the free Preview Show, and join Jon Weiss as he invites kids of all ages into center ring to learn juggling, feather-balancing and hula-hooping. Circus Vargas unites skilled performers with clowns that actually make you laugh. They will be in Balboa Park from February 10-21.

5. Start your Valentine’s Day off early and take your sweetheart to see Jane Austen’s Emma A Musical Romantic Comedy currently playing at the Old Globe. Deliciously charming, this new romantic comedy from Tony Award-nominated composer Paul Gordon and directed by Tony Award nominee Jeff Calhoun brings Jane Austen’s classic story to musical life. Playing through February 27th.