Robert Arends

Coronado Kayaking: Make Waves on a Tour to the Coronado Bridge!

Our good friends at the Coronado Visitor Center and Coronado Museum of History and Art recently blogged about a kayaking adventure from Glorietta Bay to the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, and I just had to share it!

The following was written by Coronado Visitor Center intern Chelsey Schmid:

Chelsey Schmid and her mom on a Coronado kayaking adventure!

Chelsey Schmid and her mom on a Coronado kayaking adventure.

Mom and I were looking for something fun – we wanted to make a new memory together, so we decided to try kayaking in Coronado.

Seaforth Boat Rentals boasts one of the largest arrays of rental crafts on the island, with everything from fishing boats to Jet Skis to kayaks. They incidentally also have the perfect location for their line of work. The rental center is not merely on the shore but literally on the water, with a metal gangway leading to the building. Boats, boards, and kayaks are launched directly from their platform into the glorious Glorietta Bay; which is located across Orange Avenue, one block south of the Hotel del Coronado.

The staff generously provided the instructions we needed. Paddlers can make their way around the sheltered waters of the bay or, for the more adventurous, the sweeping expanses of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge which beckoned us in the distance.  They did warn us about the midday; when the winds pick up, that’s not the best time for beginners.

coronado bay bridge kayaking san diego

Kayaking under the immense Coronado Bay Bridge gives you a whole new perspective. (Photo: Brett Shoaf, Artistic Visuals)

My mom and I enjoyed our journey out to the San Diego-Coronado Bridge; it was relaxing and fun, and we made excellent time. After arriving, we floated near the shore for a while, enjoying the warm California sun and the gentle lap of the waves against our kayak. The view was amazing!

We glided triumphantly back into the marina and docked, excited about our accomplishment of trying something new. We felt wonderfully happy and eager to come back again for more. Our round trip took about 2 hours.

The excellent crew at Seaforth really made the pieces fall into place. It’s a ‘must do’ for those who enjoy the water! Seaforth has single, double and triple kayaks. For a 2 hour rental, expect to pay from $18-$45.

Thank you to Chelsey for sharing her story!

Make your own memories by visiting Coronado during the winter holiday season. The city offers plenty of fun festivities coming up, like ice skating by the sea, caroling gondoliers, a holiday parade and much more.

Do you have a San Diego memory you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments below.


Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – June 5-9, 2013

Start planning for a beautiful weekend enjoying all that San Diego has to offer including these fun and family-friendly top things to do:

San Diego County Fair


The longer days means more time to enjoy all the delights of the San Diego County Fair, including plenty of food (try the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe), rides, concerts, a bacon festival, a beer festival and more. This year, the fair will spotlight classic and nostalgic games and show how these have evolved over the years.

> Save with these San Diego County Fair Deals and Discounts

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014
When: June 8 – July 4, 2013 (Closed on Mondays except July 1)
Cost: $8-$14
> Find out more about the San Diego County Fair

San Diego Greek Festival

San Diego Greek Festival - Top Things to Do

Opa! Learn how to dance like a Greek at the San Diego Greek Festival

Escape to the Greek Isles without ever leaving San Diego. The St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church community invites you to share in their heritage, culture, music, traditions, customs and culinary skills.

Where: St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church – 3655 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92103
When: June 7-9, 2013
Cost: Free. $3 donation after 1:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday.
> Find out more about the San Diego Greek Festival

Inter-Tribal Pow-Wow at Mission San Luis Rey

San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Mission Indians Annual Inter-Tribal Powwow

Learn about the culture and dance of the San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Mission Indians

Join the San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Mission Indians for the 17th annual Inter-Tribal Powwow with arts and craft booths, food, dancers, drums, an opportunity drawing and dancing contest.

Sunset Artwalk at the Winery

Sunset Artwalk at the Winery - Bernardo Winery - Top Things to Do

You had me at sunsets and a winery! Starting this Friday, the Bernardo Winery will host a sunset artwalk with local artists on display, live music and plenty of food and wine.

Where: Bernardo Winery – 13330 Paseo del Verano, San Diego, CA 92128
When: Every Friday, June 7 – October 4, 2013
Time: 4:00 to 8:00 PM
> Find out more about Sunset Artwalk at the Winery

Outdoor Movie Nights

Summer Outdoor Movies

Savor the warm summer evenings with the family, popcorn and a good movie.

Who needs sticky floors and long ticket lines when the grass can be your seat and the stars your theater lighting? On Wednesday, June 5, grab a rug for The Big Lebowski during Stone Late Movies at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido. This Saturday, June 8, Summer Movies in the Park will be showing Hotel Transylvania, Madagascar, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and The Sandlot at various parks throughout the county.

Want to see some current releases? Hop in the car and drive over to one of San Diego’s classic drive-in movie theaters.

> Browse more top things to do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of some other top things to do this weekend? Let everyone know in the comments below.


Mission Federal ArtWalk 2013 – 17 Blocks of Arts & Culture in Little Italy


Enjoy art? Next weekend, Little Italy is the place you’ll want to be.

White tents and an array of booths are taking over 17 blocks of Little Italy for the 29th annual Mission Federal ArtWalk. More than 350 artists will exhibit and sell their work -and tens of thousands of art lovers will be buying.  Admission is free – but festival goers will spend about $1 million during the event.

Visitors will find a wide range of visual arts – from pottery to jewelry, sculpture to basketry, art glass to digital media, photography to oil paintings. And we’re not talking schlock. A selection committee reviews artists’ works before participation is permitted.

The two-day event has become the city’s largest art festival – with live music and dance performances on six stages, a wide selection of food vendors and lots of artsy hands-on fun. Youngsters will even have the opportunity to create their own art to take home at the Kidswalk in Amici Park.

Where: India, Kettner and Columbia streets between Beech and Grape
When: April 27-28, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 2013 Mission Federal ArtWalk

Getting to the Mission Federal ArtWalk

By Car

Parking in Little Italy and the surrounding area is at a premium and can be full before the event even starts. Aladdin Airport Parking is offering a discount with coupon and will have free shuttle service every ten minutes.

By Public Transportation

Consider saving yourself the hassle and taking public transportation. Just hop on the Green Trolley Line and get off at the County Center/Little Italy stop. Walk east to the festival – which stretches along India, Kettner and Columbia streets between Beech and Grape. There are plenty of free parking options at Green Line trolley stations.

> Discover more arts and culture in San Diego


25 Free Things to Do With Kids This Fall in San Diego

Enjoy A Bonfire with the Kids

Fall is a great time for the kids to explore many of San Diego’s free outdoor activities including the beach, hiking sports, sightseeing and more.

Below are just 25 of the free things kids can do this fall in San Diego:

  1. Head to one of San Diego’s 33 beaches, all open to the public, and perfect for body surfing, boogie boarding, building sandcastles, collecting seashells and basking in the sun.
  2. Catch a magnificent Pacific sunset and watch sea lions play along the shoreline at La Jolla Cove, one of the most spectacular natural settings in the world.
  3. Take free fly-fishing lessons from the San Diego Fly Fishers club on Sunday mornings from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Lake Murray, located in La Mesa. If you don’t have your own gear, arrive early for a free equipment loan.
  4. Sample some of the more than 200 varieties of fresh produce grown in San Diego at one of the region’s many Farmer’s Markets, held daily at locations throughout the county.
  5. Bike, walk or play along Mission Bay Park’s many trails. Bikers, walkers and joggers share more than 20 miles of scenic paths winding through sunlit and shade near the shoreline.
  6. Rollerblade, skateboard, or bicycle along the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach Boardwalk, a scenic three-mile boardwalk running along the coastline of these lively neighborhoods.
  7. Take a scenic drive to Mt. Laguna to hike, bike or picnic while enjoying the fresh mountain air whispering through the pines.
  8. Hike the trails of Torrey Pines State Reserve and see the rare and elegant Torrey pine trees, a number of animal species and miles of unspoiled beaches below.
  9. Visit Mission Trails Regional Park featuring a state-of-the-art Visitors Center where guests explore and learn about the wonders of nature and the native people who once lived on the land. The park also offers over 40 miles of natural and developed hiking and biking trails.
  10. Go scuba diving or snorkeling off San Diego’s shores to see spectacular creatures of the sea. La Jolla Shores and Cove offer some of the clearest waters on the California Coast, as well as miles of protected underwater preserve to explore.
  11. Walk along the downtown Embarcadero and view impressive public art sculptures, tributes, and memorials set along San Diego Bay. The artworks celebrate San Diego’s international ties, cultural diversity, military significance and unique oceanfront environment.
  12. Watch tail-waggin’, Frisbee-catchin’ and stick-fetchin’ dogs splash in the surf. Man’s best friend is permitted to roam leash-free at all hours of the day on designated dog beaches in Ocean Beach, Coronado and Del Mar.
  13. Talk a walk through Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the United States, and discover its beautiful Spanish Colonial-Revival architecture and glorious gardens. Also, visitors can take advantage of the Park’s variety of other free offerings, including ranger-led walking tours at 11:00 AM on Tuesdays and Sundays.
  14. Gather friends, family and firewood for a cozy beach bonfire at one of San Diego County’s bonfire-friendly beaches, located in Coronado, Ocean Beach, Oceanside, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.
  15. Go on a self-guided walking tour of The Stuart Collection, a display of contemporary sculptures scattered throughout the University of California, San Diego campus in La Jolla. Tour maps are available at the Gilman Drive campus entrance.
  16. Spend an afternoon at Tidelands Park in Coronado. The park’s 22 bayfront acres feature four baseball fields, a playground, skatepark, picnic tables, small beach with an exercise course, boat access, fishing pier and bike and pedestrian paths.
  17. Explore the clear shallow tide pools of La Jolla Cove and Point Loma when the tide is low and the pools are teeming with aquatic life.
  18. Visit Julian in San Diego’s East County and enjoy this quaint, historic mining town that grew into San Diego County’s second largest urban center during the Southern California gold rush of 1869.
  19. Take a drive to the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, home of the Mt. Soledad Veterans War Memorial, for breathtaking, 360-degree views of San Diego. Spectacular views also await at the top of Mt. Helix in La Mesa, offering visitors a birds-eye glimpse of San Diego’s East County communities.
  20. Witness the living legacy of California’s birthplace in Old Town State Historic Park, San Diego’s first “downtown.” The six-block park features 12 acres of Mexican lore and historical sites presented in shops, restaurants, museums and several carefully preserved or restored adobe and wooden buildings.
  21. Visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center, the nation’s first warm-weather, year-round Olympic training facility, located in Chula Vista. Free guided tours of the 150-acre lakefront facility are offered at 11:00 AM on Saturday; tours begin at the Copley Visitor Center. Self-guided tours are also available 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Mondays – Saturdays.
  22. Visit downtown San Diego’s Seaport Village for hours of free entertainment, leisurely strolling and window shopping. Enjoy a laid-back day of hanging out in the grass and watching the many passing yachts and ships on picturesque San Diego Bay.
  23. Fly a kite along the grassy field in the Tecolote Shores of Mission Bay Park, a 4,600-acre aquatic park.
  24. Hang 10 at the California Surf Museum, which houses a permanent collection of historic boards, photographs and videos on Highway 101 in Oceanside. During free admission day on Tuesdays, visitors can explore its colorful and educational display on the sport of surfing and the legends who braved the waters over generations.
  25. Head over to La Mesa for the annual Oktoberfest. Traditional German celebration in San Diego’s East County featuring dancing, Bavarian bands, arts and crafts and more.

Even More Kids Free Fun this October

Visiting with the kids during October? After they have checked everything off the list above, save on other attractions, food and more with over a hundred kids free offers.

> Browse Over 100 Kids Free San Diego Offers for this October

Know of any other great free fall activities for kids? Tell us in the comments below.


Free Sundown Summer Concerts Rock San Diego

> Check out the 2013 list of free summer concerts

Pacific Beach Summer Concerts on the Green

Pacific Beach Summer Concerts on the Green. Photo courtesy of Paul Grimes

Free twilight concerts have become summertime traditions in neighborhoods throughout San Diego County. They’re an opportunity for visitors, locals and their families to socialize, picnic, enjoy music together – and maybe even dance as the sun sets on another perfect San Diego summer day.

Here’s a sampling of what’s being staged this summer:

San Diego

  • The Bird Park Concert Series in North Park will open June 16 with Bluesman Nathan James. More concerts are scheduled June 30, July 14, July 28 and Aug. 11. All shows run 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Bird Park is at 28th and Thorn streets.
  • Balboa Park’s Twilight in the Park concert series kicks off at 6:15 pm June 19 and continues on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays through Aug. 30 at the park’s Organ Pavilion. The hour-long shows feature everything from classical music to R&B.
  • Enjoy organ music? Then check out the free Monday evening concerts, beginning at 7:30 pm on June 25 at Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Top organists from around the country will perform. The 2012 season concludes on Aug. 27.
  • The Point Loma Summer Concert Series opens July 13 with Atomic Groove and continue on consecutive Fridays through Aug. 10. Shows run 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Bring blankets and lawn chairs, picnics and Frisbees to Point Loma Park, 1049 Catalina Blvd. Too tired to pack a picnic? A different neighborhood eatery, ranging from Barons Marketplace to Gabardine, will sell food at each concert.
  • Mission Hills’ Concerts in the Park series opens July 4 at Pioneer Park, 1425 Washington Place. Eleven more concerts are planned through August.
  • Pacific Beach Concerts on the Green are set for Sundays July 22 through August 12. Shows run from 4:00 – 6:30 pm at Kate Sessions Park (Lamont Street, just north of Beryl). The Palominos open the season and the Navy’s Big Band closes it.


  • Coronado’s Promenade Concert Series opens May 27 at Spreckels Park, 7th and Orange in Coronado. The 90-minute shows start at 6:00 pm Sundays through September 9. Groups on stage range from the Navy Southwest Show Band to Rockola.
  • Coronado Ferry Landing Concert Series features live music with views of the Bay and San Diego Skyline. Performances are on Saturdays and Sundays from 2:00 – 5:00 pm starting on May 26 and ending on September 30.

North County

  • Del Mar’s Summer Twilight Concerts are set for Powerhouse Park, overlooking the Pacific, at 1600 Coast Blvd. Shows begin at 7:00 pm on the third Tuesday of June, July and August. There’s a 5:00 pm concert on Sunday Sept. 9. The Mar Dels open the season.
  • Carlsbad’s TGIF Jazz in the Park is staged at three community parks. The season opens at Stagecoach Park (3420 Camino de los Coches), with concerts on June 29, July 6 and 13. The party moves to Poinsettia Park (6600 Hidden Valley Road) for concerts on July 20, 27 and August 3. The season closes at Calavera Hills Park (2997 Glasgow Drive) with concerts on Aug. 10, 17 and 24. Showtime is 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

East County

  • El Cajon Concerts on the Promenade was the first to open its 2012 season (on May 4). Concerts will be staged from 6:00 – 8:00 pm on Fridays through September 30, at Prescott Promenade near East Main Street and Rea Avenue in downtown El Cajon. The family oriented venue is smoke-, alcohol- and dog-free.
  • Santee’s Free Summer Concerts are scheduled 6:30 – 8:30 pm on Thursdays, June 14 through Aug. 16 (except July 5), at Town Center Community Park East (550 Park Center Drive) in Santee. Picnics are welcome, but know that food trucks rally nearby.

> Find More Great Concerts on

Did we miss a free concert series in San Diego? Let us know in the comments below.


Video Tour: Outdoor Adventure in San Diego

With weather this perfect, it’s hard to stay indoors in San Diego. From hiking and biking to rockclimbing and horseback riding, there tons of outdoor adventures to be had. Join me on a video tour of some of my favorite ways to explore San Diego’s great outdoors.


San Diego Spas Get Top Honors by Travel + Leisure

Between the year-round mild weather, gorgeous scenery and the easygoing attitude of the locals, it’s hard not to feel relaxed in San Diego. But if you’re looking for the ultimate rejuvenating escape, San Diego County is home to some of the best destination spas in the world. Just ask Travel + Leisure magazine: they recently recognized four San Diego area spas with their 2011 “Worlds Best” award for top destination spas!

Here’s a peak at what makes these spas four of the best in the world:

Cal-a-Vie Health Spa's scenic setting

Nestled on 200 private acres in the rustic community of Vista, located approximately 40 miles northeast of downtown San Diego, Cal-a-Vie health spa and resort offers an unparalleled level of personalized attention with a 4-to-1 staff-to-guest ratio.  The resort combines luxurious European spa philosophies with the California concepts of fitness, health and nutrition.  Three-, four- and seven-night packages include gourmet spa cuisine, fitness classes, golfing, hiking, beauty and spa treatments.  Guests stay in private, luxuriously appointed Mediterranean-style villas featuring breathtaking views from private balconies.

The Golden Door's serene accommodations

The Golden Door, located on a winding country road five miles north of Escondido in San Diego’s North County, greets guests with a  jewel-encrusted entrance gate flanked by camellias and fuchsia. The facilities include three guest lounges, a dining room, kitchen, indoor/outdoor exercise studios, the Dragon Tree Gym, two swimming pools, two tennis courts and a private hillside for hiking. The bathhouse contains a steam room, sauna, showers, fan-shaped therapy pool and sequestered rooms for body scrubs and herbal wraps.  With a clientele that includes the very famous and ultra-rich, the Golden Door has earned a reputation for exclusivity, luxury and unparalleled relaxation and rejuvenation.

A relaxing Shirodara treatment at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing

Located in the beautiful La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, the Chopra Center for Wellbeing was founded by the internationally renowned Dr. Deepak Chopra.  The Chopra Center explores new frontiers in the expansion of human consciousness through programs, products and services that integrate the mind, body and spirit.  Here, spa guests can relax with an exotic mix of body massages, treatments and facials.

Rancho La Puerta's world-class views

The #1 pick in Travel + Leisure‘s poll, Rancho la Puerta, located just an hour’s drive southeast of San Diego in Tecate, Baja, Mexico, is a fitness-spa showplace featuring 84 handsome casitas set amongst 3,000 beautiful acres.  Active endeavors include hiking, Pilates, yoga and tennis, while the more indulgent pursuits include massages, hydrotherapy, herbal facials and body wrap treatments.  The riches of the earth are also celebrated at the six-acre organic farm that serves the Rancho La Puerta kitchen.  The farm is a vibrant tapestry of orchards, raised vegetable beds and herbs where the flavors of freshly picked produce are available year-round, as are the homemade honey and extra virgin olive oil.

Out of the four listed, which one would you pick for a relaxing getaway?

Robert Arends

5 to Try: Hot Highway 94 Finds

The Big Apple recently took a bite out of San Diego’s East County in an in-depth New York Post travel article, “Good times in San Diego.” Though they didn’t get to sample Julian’s famous apple pies (Big Apple & apple pies – how almost apropos), the travel editor DID get a taste of some lesser-known, but unequivocally cool finds along Historic Highway 94. In his own words, “EAST IS IT” – and I couldn’t agree more!

Following are “5 to Try” along Historic Highway 94 – New York-certified and sure to put visitors in a Mountain Empire state-of-mind:

Gloriosa Vineyards - good to the last drop!

  1. Gloriosa Vineyards, “California’s southernmost winery,” also in Campo – just a stone’s throw from the international border. Personal wine tastings by appointment only.  The Post enjoyed “their crisp, dry Zinfandel and pleasantly plummy Cab.”
  2. Vroom! - Motor Transport Museum

  3. Get your motor running at the Motor Transport Museum in Campo.  As the Post puts it, the perfect place for “transportation nuts” with its “decommissioned bits of automotive history.”  From milk trucks to Mack trucks, this place is a hoot and a half!
  4. Pacific Southwest Railway Museum's trestle bridge over Highway 94.

  5. Choo choo down to Campo’s Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, bringing “a slice of the past to life with hour-long train rides down to the border.” While you’re there, trek off the tracks and walk over to Tecate – what the Post calls, “one of the friendliest towns on the US/Mexico border.” Also, the highway goes right under their giant trestle bridge! Continue reading

5 to Try: Larger Than Yours

San Diego may not be home to the largest tire, the largest artichoke or the largest floating loon, but San Diego is home to some really neat “off-the-beaten path” attractions that just so happen to be largest too! (Ha, I’m such a good rapper)

Spreckels Organ Pavilion

Spreckels Organ Pavilion: the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ
Located in Balboa Park, the organ graced the opening of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and became the first outdoor organ of its kind. Free organ concerts are offered every Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. and an International Summer Organ Festival is offered on select evenings throughout the summer at 7:30 p.m.

Mission Bay

Mission Bay: the largest aquatic park in the world
This 4,200-acre aquatic playground is the largest facility of its kind and offers designated areas for sailing, power boating, fishing, swimming and water skiing. Surrounding the bay is 27 miles of paths for running, walking, biking and skating.

Hamilton Children's Garden

San Diego Botanic Garden: the largest interactive children’s garden on the West Coast
The one-acre Hamilton Children’s Garden opened in June 2009 with 14 interactive areas for exploring, climbing, creating and educating children about nature. San Diego Botanic Garden is also home to the largest bamboo collection in the nation.

Chicano Park

Chicano Park: the largest collection of outdoor murals in the country
Beneath the base of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan is the colorful Chicano Park. The murals painted here commemorate the history of the Chicano people who fought against the city in the 60s and 70s to reclaim their heritage and keep the park a sacred place for families. Their strife, struggles and success are represented throughout the park’s 20 plus murals.

Anza Borrego

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: the largest state park in California
Spanning 600,000 acres in San Diego’s rustic East County, Anza Borrego offers camp sites, nature trails, horseback riding, hiking trails, 12 wilderness areas and so much more. Amid the acres of untouched wilderness, rare species of wildflowers blossom every spring and animals like roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes and mule deer can be spotted.