A 21 and Up Guide to San Diego Summer

Summer is the perfect time to see why Travel + Leisure voted San Diego the #2 Most Attractive City in the United States, when warm beach weather and sunkissed smiles lend an extra-special glow to the twenty-something social scene. So if you’re looking to mingle, make sure to hit up these great events and establishments for a San Diego summer you won’t forget.

Opening Day at the Del Mar Races

It's time to pull out your favorite fascinator and join the pageantry for opening day at the Del Mar Races, July 17, 2013.

It’s time to pull out your favorite fascinator and join the pageantry for opening day at the Del Mar Races, July 17, 2013.

It’s time to dust off your favorite fascinator and head to opening day of the annual Del Mar Thoroughbred Club Racing Season, beginning July 17. Whether you enter the “One and Only Truly Fabulous Hats Contest” or not, you will be delighted by the opening day pageantry, both on and off the track. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive upgrade to your opening day experience, the Coors Light Opening Day Party includes live music, DJ’s, private trackside area, beer garden and specialty food stands.

Where: Del Mar Racetrack – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014
When: July 17 – September 4, 2013
Time: Gates open at 11:30 PM. First race posts at 2:00 PM
Cost: $10-$20
> Find out more about Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack

Tailgating at a Polo Game

Polo Match at the San Diego Polo Club

For a different take on the usual tailgate party, check out one of the Sunday polo matches with the San Diego Polo Club.

Your tailgate party doesn’t have to wait for the fall football season. In San Diego, tailgating is more than welcome at your friendly Sunday match at the San Diego Polo Club. The time-honored tradition is one of the best ways to watch the game. And this is no pre-game event…your car pulls right up to the east side of the field so you can sit field-side and watch the game with your picnic! Things allowed: Pop-up tents, umbrellas (it gets hot!), chairs, blankets, food, alcoholic beverages and bocce ball.

Where: 14555 El Camino Real, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
When: Sundays through September 29, 2013
Cost: $12-$300
> Find out more about the San Diego Polo Club

Become a World Champion at the 60th Annual Over the Line Tournament

Over the Line Tournament - A San Diego Summer Tradition

This Summer, take part in a long-standing San Diego tradition: the 60th annual Over the Line Tournament on Fiesta Island in Mission Bay.

Over the Line, a bat and ball game played with 2 teams of 3 players each, is a San Diego original and Southern Californian tradition whose World Championship title is defended passionately by those entering the 60th Annual World Championship Over the Line Tournament in Mission Bay. For two weekends in July, the sands of Fiesta Island are filled from 7:30 AM until sundown with fired-up teams ready to go for the gold while spectators enjoy the camaraderie and competition under the sun.

Where: Fiesta Island, Mission Bay Park
When: July 14-15 and 21-22, 2013
Time: 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM
> Find out more about the 60th Annual World Championship Over the Line Tournament

Making History Fun with Brothels, Bites, and Booze Tour


Join the “Brothels, Bites and Booze” tour with So Diego Tours and you’ll find out how San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter comes by its reputation as a sophisticated playground of dining, drinking and dancing honestly. “Brothels, Bites and Booze” is one part insightful historical walking tour and one part traveling dinner party that takes you through the Gaslamp’s 19th century beginnings as San Diego’s red-light district while keeping you well fed and watered at some of the Quarter’s best present-day dining establishments.

When: Offered Weekly, Wednesday-Saturday
Time: Tour Hours Vary
Cost: $45
> Find out more about Brothels, Bites and Booze in the Gaslamp Quarter

Choose Your Own Adventure at Stone World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Bocce Ball

Good Food, Great Beer and Bocce Ball! Do you need anything else?

The newly opened Stone World Bistro & Gardens in Liberty Station has come just in time for summer fun. The palatial choose-your-own-adventure style layout is perfect for any type of gathering, including office happy hours, a buddy’s birthday, a first date or a casual night out looking to meet new friends over a game of bocce ball. The beer is as good as always, the food is delicious and nutritious, the outdoor seating areas (3 in total) include a bocce ball courtyard, seated patio, and grass lawn for lounging and the occasional plane take-off from the nearby San Diego airport is reason enough to raise your glass. Cheers!

Where: Liberty Station – 2816 Historic Decatur Rd. #116 San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Stone World Bistro & Gardens Liberty Station

> Spend your Summer in San Diego


Hats, Horses and High Rollers: Opening Day at the Del Mar Races

Opening Day hats on display at the Del Mar Racetrack
Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack

…and they’re off!

Seventy-five years have passed since Bing Crosby and his friends opened up the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, but the glamour and prestige of Opening Day hasn’t faded with age. Every year, locals and visitors alike flock to the seaside racetrack to soak up the first day of racing action, not to mention gawk at all the elaborate hats on display, and this year’s Opening Day was no exception.

Opening Day hats on display at the Del Mar Racetrack

Those looking to visit the Del Mar races this season can embark on the journey car-free; just hop on the North County Transit District’s COASTER commuter train. Ride the train to Solana Beach, then hop on one of the free shuttles that take you directly to the track’s front gate. The best part is the view – it sure beats staring at the cars stuck in traffic!

Ride the Coaster train to the Del Mar Racetrack

No need for a designated driver when you take the Coaster to the racetrack, and the view is outstanding.

While the races are the main event, Opening Day is one heck of a party with plenty of smiling faces under those elaborate hats. It’s best to make a day of it, so dress up, grab a few of your friends and a Del Margarita and settle in for afternoon.

Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack

Even after Opening Day has come and gone, the action at the track is just warming up. All season long, the Del Mar racetrack is home to events that appeal to visitors of all ages, like the Gourmet Food Truck Festival on July 28, where more than 50 trucks come to the track to offer a wide range of delicious, fun and funky dining options. Parents can bring the kids out for Family Fun Day on July 22, and dog lovers can cheer on the fastest runners on four legs…four very short legs! The Wienerschnitzel Wiener Dog Nationals take place at the track on Sept. 3. And of course, Fridays are all about music at the track, with Del Mar’s Summer Concert Series. After the races end, race-goers can enjoy free live music from a lineup of performers including Wavves, Dashboard Confessional, Ben Harper and more. Check out the full lineup for information on performances schedules.

Opening Day at the Del Mar Racetrack

Opening Day 2012 broke attendance records, with more than 47,000 people attending

If you’re planning on attending Opening Day next year, or any of the other days this season that feature concerts or special events, be sure to plan on arriving early and give yourself extra travel time.

Benjamin Eastman

St. Patrick’s Day Nightlife in San Diego

Shamrock in the Gaslamp Quarter

The luck of the Irish has befallen us this year because St. Patrick’s Day is on a Saturday! What exactly does that mean? It means a full day of holiday revelry – and you know how San Diegans like a good holiday!

Shamrock in the Gaslamp Quarter

Shamrock in the Gaslamp Quarter. Photo courtesy of The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation


Probably the largest St. Patty’s Day bash will be the Gaslamp Quarter’s block party Shamrock! In its 17th year of production the Shamrock crew has gone above and beyond this year to make it a day (and a party) to remember! 80,000 square feet of green astroturf, 3 stages of DJs and River Dancers, and plenty of beer and Jameson Irish Whisky are just some of the features to look forward to at this year’s event.

Green ShamRock Sea in the Gaslamp Quarter

Green ShamRock Sea in the Gaslamp Quarter. Photo courtesy of The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation

Predominantly located on 5th & 6th streets between E and G Streets, Shamrock will take place from 2:00 – 12:00 pm. General Admission pre-sale tickets are currently at $40 and on-site tickets will be $45 (with a $25 Club VIP upgrade available for those who really take their St. Patty’s Day partying seriously!).

Hooley Fest

Hooley Fest, in San Diego’s East County, became so popular they had to split it into two locations. Both the Rancho San Diego (original location) and La Mesa locations will feature live music from 5:00 pm to midnight and plenty of Guinness. A safe ride home will be offered to locations within a five mile radius of each party. Tickets are $15 in advance and $25 day-of. Treat yourself like a Conrí with a $30 VIP ticket that includes seating, special restroom access and a private bar.

Shakespeare Pub and Grill

Who put an English pub in here? Well, even the English like a good party and the Shakespeare will start things early with a traditional breakfast starting at 7:00 am and live England versus Ireland 6 Nations Rugby coverage at 10:00 am. For later in the day, bain sult as corned beef specials, commemorative t-shirts, live bagpipers and drummers, and the best part, No Cover!

Other St. Patrick’s Nightime Excitement

For those wanting to celebrate on a smaller scale, you can always visit your friends at Dublin Square, The Field or Stout Public House. Or, if you just can’t stay in one bar for long, check out the San Diego St. Paddy’s Day Pub Crawl which starts at Taste & Thirst but gives you $2 drafts, 2-for-1 mixed drinks and $4 shots at over a dozen participating bars in Downtown. Tickets cost $25 and are available online.


My Goodness, My Guiness

Tell us in the comments, how do you usually celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day?


Get a great deal on Cirque tickets

I took my wife last week to catch the Cirque du Soliel traveling show Kooza, and our socks were totally blown clean off. The good news is that they are still in town and just launched a new promotion.

For a limited time, you can enjoy 40% off Level 1 and 2 tickets and 30% off Level 3 tickets. To get the offer just CLICK HERE.

The show is really cool because they bring in so many elements so seamlessly. As a music fan I caught myself being distracted from the main show a few times because I was watching the band.

So here are a few of our impressions:

Unicycle Duo

Most Thrilling Moment– Hands down it is the wheel of death. These guys are out of their minds and there were points when my wife buried her head and screeched “I can’t watch this!” It is that intense and dangerous, but these amazing performers pull it off night after night.

Head Tilting Moment of the Night –  When the contortionists emerge onto the stage you literally cannot tell where one person’s body ends and the other begins, or how many bodies there are for that matter.

Most Unique Act- This is a tough call with Cirque, but the unicycle duo was something I had never seen. The setup is simple enough, one guy on a unicycle and a female partner whom he performs lots of lifts with. Think figure skating, but on a unicycle.

Guest Blogger

I Love a Parade

There is no shortage of holiday fun to be had here in town, but me — I love  a parade.  Standing along a street crowded with thousands of my fellow townsfolk, a small child on my shoulders, one strapped to my chest (a new take on “strapping, young man”), watching a big, colorful, musical party go by — that’s the reason for the season, you ask me.

Here are three San Diego holiday parades I don’t miss.

First up is the North Park Toyland Parade on Saturday, December 5, beginning at 11:00 A.M. The Toyland Parade has been a holiday tradition here in my neighborhood of North Park (cutting down my street, even!) for decades.  It features some of San Diego’s best local marching bands, dance ensembles, beauty queens, as well as classic cars and lots of fun characters, including the Jolly Man himself: Santa Claus (not pictured below).  All in all, a bona fide neighborhood parade showing off the diversity and spirit of the community.

San Diego character, Loch David Crane (not Santa), rides down my street on his famous "Star Trike"

San Diego character, Loch David Crane (not Santa), rides down my street on his famous "Star Trike"

The Toyland Parade will proceed on University Avenue between Idaho and Iowa Streets.  Following this parade, children will be invited to visit with Santa between 1:00 and 3:00 P.M. in the Mississippi Room at the Lafayette Hotel on El Cajon Boulevard.

Parade of Lights

This one you must see up close.

Then there’s the holiday parade that takes place in the San Diego Bay.  If you like to wander through neighborhoods during the holiday season to check out their festive lights and decorations, how about heading downtown to the waterfront or to the Coronado bayside where you can stay put as the lights and decorations pass you by?

The 38th Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights brings the lights and decorations to you as you sit back and watch a procession of more than 80 decorated boats sail past.  The boats are judged on creativity, popularity and spirit, so it’s always an entertaining spectacle.

San Diegan from way back: the Cat in the Hat

San Diegan from way back: the Cat in the Hat

You will have not one but two chances to see the Parade of Lights — once on Sunday, December 13, and again a week later, on December 20. Both parades begin with a BANG, with fireworks displays at 5:30 P.M.

Last but not least, the Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade is just that — a spectacular parade that makes its way downtown along the bayside and features more giant balloons than any other parade in America.  Beginning at 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday, December 30, the Big Bay Balloon Parade will attract thousands of spectators to the waterfront and treat them to a procession of colorful floats, local celebrities, world-class marching bands and drill teams, and other entertainment.

The Big Bay Balloon Parade heralds the Holiday Bowl game which kicks off that evening at 5:00 P.M.

Did I miss your favorite holiday parade?  Let me know about it; maybe I’ll check it out, too!

Update: More Parades

30th Annual Ocean Beach Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting Saturday, December 5, at 5:05 P.M. — Kids Fun Zone is open from 7:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.  OB Craft Fair starts at 9:00 A.M.  Surfers join the dazzling procession down Newport Avenue.

47th Annual Starlight Parade Saturday, December 5, at 6:00 P.M. — The largest nighttime parade in South County lights up Third Avenue between H and E Streets, and features carolers, floats, marching bands and — as if you had any doubt — the hardest-working man in show business: Santa Claus!  The Children’s Holiday Festival takes place in Memorial Park from 1:00 to 4:40 P.M. followed by the mayor’s tree-lighting ceremony at 5:00 P.M.

52nd Annual La Jolla Christmas Parade Sunday, December 6, at 2:00 P.M. — All-day festivities begin as the Kids Zone opens at 11:00 A.M. and culminate with a Christmas tree lighting at 4:30 P.M. and, of course, a traditional flauta-eating contest at Jose’s on Prospect Street.  Witness the historic Christmas summit meeting as both Santa and the Grinch make appearances!

Attention: Pet Lovers!

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Gaslamp Quarter Holiday Pet Parade Sunday, December 13, at 3:00 P.M. — Dress up in costume with your pet and head downtown to Hilton Park (next to the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter on 4th Avenue & K Street) for the most festive parade on four legs.  Pets and owners, show us your stuff at the Gaslamp Pet Expo taking place in Hilton Park from 1:00 to 5:00 P.M.

Thanks for the heads up, guys.  Enjoy the parades!


The Cirque is coming to town

The Trickster from Kooza

The Trickster from Kooza

Every two years San Diego gets a little more exciting as the creative wizards from Cirque du Soleil set up the Gran Chapiteau (French for Big Top) at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. In 2010 they are bringing the traveling show Kooza from February 25 to March 14.

Click Here to get your tickets before they are available to the general public and you receive $10 off.

Act fast, as the presale ends on November 7.

Kooza gives you a great reason to make it a long weekend and come on down to San Diego to enjoy the show and the city.

Kooza has all the amazing acrobatics and theatrics you would expect from Cirque, but I am really interested in seeing an act called the “Wheel of Death.”


5 to Try This Weekend

Looking for something to do this weekend?  Consider:

  1. Look to the sky this weekend during the MCAS Miramar Air Show at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The event showcases several types of aircraft, including vintage biplanes
    sunset at the air show, but the fun is just beginning...

    sunset at the air show, but the fun is just beginning...

    and stealth fighter jets, as well as simulated combat demonstrations, amazing areal performances and a nighttime show with the Great Wall of Fire and a firework grand finale.  I’ve heard that the wall of fire is AMAZING so I’ll be there to check it out this weekend.

  2. Bratwurst, beer gardens and oompapa bands can only mean one thing—Oktoberfest! This weekend, check out celebrations of this German holiday during Oktoberfest in La Mesa, the largest festival the U.S. West Coast and Octoberfest in El Cajon. As the German’s would say, “Prost!”
  3. Head to Julian this Saturday and Sunday for the 100th Apple Day celebration at the Menghini Winery from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The event includes apple displays, music and dancing, children’s games and activities, gold panning demonstrations, a beer and wine garden, food and merchandise vendors and of course, Julian’s famous apple pie.  The event costs $5 for adults and children ages 12 and under are free.
  4. SeaWorld gets a little spooky this Saturday with the unveiling of the park’s Halloween Spooktacular featuring new shows and festive entertainment. Come see Clyde and Seamore’s Trick or TreatSesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween musical and enjoy special Halloween activities and photo opportunities with characters in costume.
  5. Get your grub on this Saturday during Taste of North Park from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy yummy food samples and refreshing microbrew tastings at restaurants, galleries and boutiques throughout the neighborhood.  Tickets for the event are $30 with advanced purchase or $35 day of.
Guest Blogger

Eye On Comic-Con

I”m back!  In case you were wondering, my fish & chips lunch was delicious.  And my people-watching session proved to be more fruitful than I expected!  Through the magic of common begging — and with the help of a generous Comic-Con attendee — my boys and I were able to enter the Con and take a quick lap around the exhibit hall to see what we could see.  (By the way, you haven”t truly experienced gridlock until you”ve attempted to push a stroller through Comic-Con on Saturday.  My apologies to all the ankles I smashed yesterday.)

"Nobody move! I dropped a contact lens."

"Nobody move! I dropped a contact lens."

So you all know what Bat-, Spider- and Supermen look like.  Here are a couple of my favorite creative best online casino efforts from this year.

HimTube: Live @ Comic-Con 2009

HimTube: Live @ Comic-Con 2009

The dark side: the side with style!

The dark side: the side with style!


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Imagine how excited I was to see this costume. I mean, I finally found Waldo!

Imagine how excited I was to see this! After all these years, I finally found Waldo!

You ask me, this is the real Mardi Gras in San Diego.  (I mean Samedi Gras.)

During my quick visit to the exhibit hall, I was reminded of another of Comic-Con”s attractions — the art!  There are rows upon rows of artists displaying their work and even creating new, original sketches for fans before their very eyes.  This is, after all, what it”s all about.  These are the guys and gals who inspire the madness we see every year downtown in the first place.  I was happy to find at least one artist I recognized, in action (pictured below).  Maybe next year, I”ll go to the Con dressed as him.


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G-Man and Mini Marvels creator Chris Giarrusso sketches the cutest superheroes ever.

G-Man and Mini Marvels creator Chris Giarrusso sketches the cutest superheroes ever.

Hurry! There are precious few hours left in which to get your superpeople-watching on!

“Nuff said.

Guest Blogger

Comic-Con Can’t Be Contained!

Don't even think about sneaking into the Con this year!

Don't even think about sneaking into the sold out Con this year!

If you dislike large, fantastically dressed crowds, or are a supervillain wishing to avoid any run-ins with the superhero community, you would be wise to stay away from downtown San Diego this weekend!  Comic-Con 2009 has long been sold out — not to keep rubbing it in — but, aside from Kate’s great suggestions for the ticketless masses, the Gaslamp Quarter is still the place to be this weekend, if only to get in some of the best people watching of the year.  Sitting out on the patio of any restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter gives you ringside seats to a true San Diego spectacle as our most colorful conventioneers fill the streets.

Comic-Con is a sight worth seeing both in and out of the Convention Center.  So what is this bigger-than-life happening that fills our hotels, takes up our parking spaces, and crowds our buses and trolleys?  Is it bird?  Is it plane?  What started out as 300 comic book geeks in a conference room in 1970 has grown into San Diego’s biggest annual convention, bringing over 125,000 attendees from far and wide to take part in this four-and-a-half day blizzard of popular arts and niche marketing for comic book media companies, artists, animators and Hollywood studios.

Babyman & Dad (with super pacifier ring)

Seen at the Con: Babyman & D.A.D. (with super pacifier ring)

In fact, it’s the Hollywood presence that has pushed attendance over the top in recent years.  Fans crowd into auditoriums to catch glimpses of next year’s science fiction/superhero/fantasy movies, TV shows and video games.  They line up to meet big-name actors, directors and other genre superstars.  Even one-hit-wonders from eras past come to the Con to get a piece of that fanboy adulation.  (Remember Lou Ferrigno, TV’s Incredible Hulk?  That guy shows up every year to sign autographs and pose for pictures; and even he occupies but a tiny booth in a sea of fantastic spectacle, one that spills out into the streets.)

To me, that’s Comic-Con.  Everywhere you look in and around the Convention Center, there is somebody’s childhood fantasy waiting to be reinvigorated; and that, evidently, is money in the bank.  Sure, you can find plenty of vendors on the exhibit hall floor who will sell you back all the funny books your mom threw out when you went off to college — cruel reminders all that those Shazam! comics you held so dear could today have fetched you an early retirement — but it’s as much a playground as it is a marketplace, an enormous game of “Let’s pretend” where people gather to bring their kidlike passions out into the light to be accepted, even praised.  After all, we all have our little eccentricities — some more conspicuous than others — and we’re lucky if we find a place to let our freak flags fly free.  (Say that five times fast.)  For the comic book enthusiast/fanboy, it’s downtown San Diego in July.  Just take a walk down in the Gaslamp Quarter and pull up a chair at your favorite eatery for a good view of the madness.  (Zombie Walk, anyone?)

Me?  I don’t have passes either, but I’ll be front and center at The Tin Fish for some fish & chips and a little people/superhero/monster-watching.  If I get some good shots of the spectacle, I’ll share them with you here.  Until then, true believer, Excelsior!

If you can make any sense of this picture, then welcome home, fanboy.

If you can make any sense of this picture, then welcome home, fanboy.

Still bummed that you missed out on Con passes?  Couldn’t make it to San Diego this year?  You’re down but not out.  You can still keep up with the latest from Comic-Con 2009 through live blogging courtesy of the gaming site UGO.

‘Nuff said.