Meet Rick Schwartz – San Diego's Guide to Family Fun

Rick Schwartz - San Diego's Guide to family Fun
san diego zoo koala

Rick Schwartz and his koala friend, Burly, are your Guides to the Good Stuff.

If you caught this week”s episode of NPR”s Wait Wait…Don”t Tell Me!, you might already be familiar with <a title=”Rick Schwartz – San Diego”s Guide to Family Fun” href=”” target=”_blank”>Rick Schwartz, Animal Care Supervisor for the San Diego Zoo. As a member of the San Diego Zoo”s team for 13 years, Rick has more than a few good tips to share for exploring the grounds and beyond.

Let Rick Schwartz be your Guide to the Good Stuff in San Diego with his picks for the best animal (and people) watching!


Explore the San Diego Zoo Like an Insider

This animal care ambassador knows the zoo like no one else, so be sure to follow Rick”s suggestions when you visit the San Diego Zoo:

  • Be prepared to spend all day. The San Diego Zoo spans 100 acres and houses more than 3,700 animals.
  • During the summertime, the zoo is open for 12 hours, which allows you to see animals that are more active at night. See your favorite animals active in the morning, go take one of the bus tours, ride the Skyfari, check out a show, and then walk the zoo again in the evening time. You’ll see and hear many unique things you would miss otherwise.
  • Before you go, pick three animals that you absolutely must see. Rick suggests checking out casino the koalas at the zoo”s new Australian Outback.

Beyond the Zoo: Rick Schwartz”s Suggestions for the Rest of San Diego

The zoo is terrific, but there”s plenty more to explore in San Diego beyond the zoo”s grounds:

  • One of Rick”s favorite locations in San Diego is Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park. In addition to the access to Torrey Pines State Beach, there are some beautiful paths that wind through the preserve. You can have some unique coastal wildlife sightings right from the trails.
  • If you’re into people watching, Mission Beach is another of Rick”s favorite spots. You”ll see a lot of great characters, both local and visiting.
  • In the evening, Rick suggests heading downtown to the Gaslamp Quarter for great restaurants and clubs. “You could just get a nice little table on the patio of a restaurant there on one of the main streets and people watch all evening long,” says Rick.
  • Another of Rick”s favorite neighborhoods is Pacific Beach. With lots of bars and a fun beach culture, “that”s the place to go when you are done with the wild animals and want to go hang out with the party animals!” Rick shares.

Check out more of Rick Schwartz”s favorite things about San Diego, including tips for exploring Balboa Park, at <a title=”Rick Schwartz – San Diego”s Guide to the Good Stuff” href=”” target=”_blank”>

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – March 25-30 2014

Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival

The last weekend in March is going out with a bang. Come and enjoy all the amazing activities and attractions San Diego has to offer along with these top things to do.

5th Annual LPGA Kia Classic

5th Annual LPGA Kia Classic - Top Things to Do in San Diego

The Kia Classic features 144 of the best women golfers playing for the $1.7 million purse. The field features 2013 Kia Classic Champion Beatriz Recari and crowd favorites Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson. Sunday is Family Day, full of fun family activities including a scavenger hunt, special autograph sessions and the junior clinic held at 3:00 PM on the driving range featuring LPGA players.

Where: Park Hyatt Aviara Resort – 7100 Aviara Resort Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92011
When: March 24-30, 2014
Cost: $10-$100
> Find out more about the 5th Annual LPGA Kia Classic

Spring Busker Festival

Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival

Seaport Village Spring Busker Festival. Photo courtesy of Boardwalk Betty

The celebration brings colorful street performers from across the country including entertaining sword swallowers, jugglers on unicycles, escape artists and comedic stuntmen performing along the bayfront in downtown’s Seaport Village. The extraordinary and bizarre talents will provide outdoor amusement for all.

Where: Seaport Village – 849 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 29-30, 2014
Time: 12:00 to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the Spring Busker Festival

San Diego Zoo Play Days

San Diego Zoo Play Days - Top Things in San Diego

Mark your calendar with Play Days at the San Diego Zoo

Play Days at the San Diego Zoo is a whirl of animal activities and fun for all ages, as guests enjoy special presentations, keeper talks, and animal encounters. Come visit animals that climb, prowl, and plunge!

Where: San Diego Zoo – 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 29 – April 20, 2014
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about San Diego Zoo Play Days

San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Series

Inside Petco - Courtesy Petco Park

Catch the Padres take on the Dodgers at the beautiful Petco Park

Spring is here! Catch the San Diego Padres take on the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Sunday’s game is sold out, but you can watch the fun unfold at many bars and restaurants downtown and throughout the county. Pick up tickets for Tuesday’s game and get an opening day hat! During Wednesday’s game they will be giving away a schedule cling.

Where: Petco Park – 100 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 30 – April 2, 2014
Cost: Check website for seat pricing
> Find out more about the San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Opening Series

CicloSDias Pacific Beach

CicloSDias Family

Bring the whole family to the waterfront community of Pacific Beach for some safe fun in the streets at CicloSDias

CicloSDias will open 2.5 miles of streets, car-free, in Pacific Beach to hundreds of pedestrians and families on bicycles. This is a fun opportunity for visitors and locals alike to come together and enjoy open, car-free streets in San Diego.

Where: The hubs of the event are the intersections at Garnet and Ingraham, Garnet and Mission Blvd, Turquoise and Cass St, and Turquoise and La Jolla Mesa Dr.
When: March 30, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about CicloSDias Pacific Beach

Shout House’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration


The Shout House in the Gaslamp Quarter has been rocking dueling pianos for 10 years! To thank everyone, they are hosting an anniversary celebration with a hosted bar from 7:00 to 8:00 PM, free appetizers, giveaways and a special 10 Year Anniversary Show. RSVPs are required so don’t wait!

Where: The Shout House – 655 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: March 27, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM to 2:00 AM
Cost: No Cover when you RSVP
Shout House’s 10 Year Anniversary Celebration

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Browse the San Diego Event Calendar

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


Stay Classy: Win an Anchorman-Inspired Getaway in San Diego

anchorman 2 will ferrell seaworld san diego

Rumor has it that San Diego’s favorite newsman, Ron Burgundy, heads to the Big Apple in the upcoming Anchorman 2, but San Diego will always be Ron’s hometown.

Anchorman - Panda Watch

Stay Classy and live like Ron with your own Panda Watch at the San Diego Zoo!

You, too, can tour the city that spawned Ron by entering the #StayClassySanDiego Photo Contest! To enter, simply share a photo of yourself (or a friend) in your best Ron Burgundy impersonation. One winner will be selected at random for the Grand Prize: two nights at the Bahia Resort Hotel on scenic Mission Bay, two tickets to the San Diego Zoo (where you can hold your own Panda Watch), and two tickets to SeaWorld San Diego, one of the filming locations for Anchorman 2.

Ron Burgundy knows how to Stay Classy at SeaWorld San Diego

Visit Ron’s co-stars at SeaWorld San Diego

Stay Classy and Enter

To enter, select your best photo of you as Ron Burgundy and choose one of the following:

  • Upload the photo to here:
  • Share the photo on Twitter, using the hashtag #StayClassySanDiego
  • Share the photo on Instagram, using the hashtag #StayClassySanDiego

So splash on some Sex Panther, grab a bottle of Scotch and show us your best Ron Burgundy! We just might be seeing you in San Diego soon.

Looking for more ways to live like Ron in San Diego? The Los Angeles Times shares their tips on seeing Ron Burgundy’s San Diego.

Sarah Weinberg

Snow! Lights! Action! at San Diego’s Attractions this Holiday Season

Just because the sun shines year-round in San Diego doesn’t mean you won’t find plenty of holiday cheer this December. San Diego’s most famous attractions go big for the holidays, offering visitors special shows, festive lights and the chance to frolic in some rare San Diego snow.

LEGOLAND® California’s Holiday Snow Days

Real snow is one of the few things not made out of LEGOS at LEGOLAND during Holiday Snow Days.

Real snow is one of the few things not made out of LEGOS at LEGOLAND during Holiday Snow Days.

You don’t have to drive to the mountains to enjoy snow in San Diego County this winter; children can now enjoy a snow-tubing experience gliding down 7-foot-tall snow-covered “runs” at LEGOLAND California Resort. The park’s Holiday Snow Days and Winter Nights features more than 50 tons of real snow, festive treats and activities, and holiday entertainment. During Holiday Snow Days and Winter Nights, the Fun Town area transforms into a winter wonderland where families throw snowballs at LEGO themed targets and build snowmen using LEGO® accessories. Park guests can also sing along with holiday entertainment including live music featuring LEGO Friends Live, Jingle Jammers, the Big Test Holiday show and the Holiday Character Dance Party.  The Miniland U.S.A area of the park is decorated for the season with LEGO holiday scenes including Santa arriving on top of the White House in Washington, D.C. Fireworks spark each night Dec. 26-30 at 7 p.m. Holiday Snow Days feature a nightly lighting of the world’s largest LEGO Christmas tree and concludes with a Kids’ New Year’s Eve Party on Dec. 31.

Dates: November 29–-December 31, 2013

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

SeaWorld, Attractions, Holidays, Events

Even killer whales get excited about the holidays at SeaWorld Christmas Celebration.

Keep on your scarves and gloves and experience more snow, lights and holiday performances when you visit SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration. Festivities include Shamu’s Christmas presentation with a live choir and musical soloists, and a new holiday-themed sea lion and otter comedy show along with a new Elmo’s Christmas Wish show. Guests can also enjoy festive décor throughout the park, Madagascar Live! Operation: Christmas Vacation, a live show performed at the Mission Bay Theater, The Pets Rule Christmas show, and a nightly lighting of SeaWorld’s 320-ft. Skytower Christmas Tree of Lights. Also returning in 2013 is SnowWorld, a winter wonderland of snowmen, snowballs and a snowball target area that the kids will flip over.

Dates: Weekends and select dates November 16, 2013 – January 4, 2014.

The San Diego Zoo’s Jungle Bells

Jungle Bells, Zoo, Attractions, Holidays

The San Diego Zoo stays open late for fun holiday activities, shows and light displays during Jungle Bells.

Even if you’re lucky enough to be a member of the San Diego Zoo and get to go fairly regularly, there’s something special about visiting on a winter’s night for Jungle Bells, the zoo’s special holiday-themed evenings in which they stay open until 8 p.m. and offer festive activities and light displays throughout the park. “Light Up the Night” is the new music and light show in the front plaza, and guests can see the lights throughout the park on the Twinkle Light Trolley ($3 for adults, $2 for children), a tractor-pulled trolley decorated for Jungle Bells that gives guests a fun ride around part of the zoo. A holiday-themed animal show will take place at Wegeforth Bowl every night at 6:30., and a tree lighting ceremony occurs each night.

Dates: December 14, 2013 – January 5, 2014 (closed at 5:00 p.m. on Dec. 24).  Most Jungle Bells activities occur between 4-8 p.m.

Will you be visiting one of these fun, festive San Diego holiday attractions? Let us know in the comments below.

Robert Arends

Quick Guide to the 2013 San Diego Pride!

Walking under Hillcrest SignLet your rainbow colors fly! San Diego Pride is coming up this weekend, July 12-14. The glittery glamorous spotlight shines on Hillcrest, San Diego’s hip uptown neighborhood, during one of our city’s biggest summer events. Following is a quick guide to the big annual LGBT celebration.

Three Must-See San Diego Pride Events…

Dancers at Pride of Hillcrest Block Party!

Dancers at Pride of Hillcrest Block Party!

First, here’s the 411 on the big three must-see San Diego Pride events:

  • 2nd annual Pride of Hillcrest Block Party on July 12, 6-11pm, on Normal St.; starring former Pussycat Doll Jessica Sutta.
  • 39th Annual Pride Parade on July 13, 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, down University Ave. Grand Marshalls are George Takei (of Star Trek fame!), his partner Brad and La Toya Jackson (really!)
  • Pride Festival, July 13-14, in beautiful Balboa Park, featuring eight dance/entertainment stages, including Ms. Jackson in concert.


Good times on tap at Urban Mo's!

Good times on tap at Urban Mo’s!

So many bars, so little time! Let’s narrow down the list a bit to these Top 10 tried and true hotspots:

  1. Baby Cakes – cocktails and cupcakes, sweet! Fab for people watching from the patio.
  2. Bourbon Street – a classy touch of N’Orleans in neighboring University Heights
  3. Brass Rail – the official Pride Parade After Party, and no cover!
  4. Flicks – Hillcrest’s #1 video bar.
  5. Gossip Grill – caters to the ladies (gents welcome too)
  6. Hillcrest Brewing Company – toast San Diego’s hop-pening craft beer scene and the world’s 1st LGBT brewery!
  7. Martinis Above Fourth – swanky digs and best martinis in town!
  8. Number One Fifth Avenue – friendly neighborhood bar with patio out back to mix & mingle
  9. Pecs – Bears, oh my! Good times on tap all weekend.
  10. Urban Mos – dance floor, 3 bars, packed patio and great food…yes please!


There are dozens of great restaurants in and around Hillcrest. Standouts include the new Great Maple, Project Pie (best pizzas!), D Bar and Snooze. Other favs: Baja Betty’s (muy bueno Mexican food), The Tractor Room, Yakitori Izakaya Tec Chan (for yummy late-night Japanese apps), Cucina Urbana and Café on Park (popular brunch spot!).


The coolest, closest gay-friendly hotel is Inn at the Park, just two blocks from Hillcrest and the Pride Festival. Their rooftop happy hour on Friday is off the charts!


Go wild at the San Diego Zoo Party!

Go wild at the San Diego Zoo Party!

Groovestars unite at Rich’s nightclub for high NRG music and dancing till 2am. For you circuit boys and gals, four Pride Parties are sure to perk you up (get tickets here or at the door):

  • Pride Ball – July 12, 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM at Spin Night Club
  • Circuit Daze – July 13, 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park
  • The famous [for some, infamous ;-)] Zoo Party – July 14, 4:00 to 11:00 PM at the San Diego Zoo
  • Fete Accompli – July 14, 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM at the House of Blues downtown

P.S. While you’re here, work on that coppertone tan at Coronado Beach, one of “America’s Manliest Beaches,” according to The Travel Channel.

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – May 24-27, 2013

USS Midway Museum

Spend Memorial Day weekend in San Diego enjoying the beaches, plenty of outdoor activities, delicious dining, craft beer and more. When you take a break from all that, live it up with one or all of these top things to do:

Conrad Preby’s Australian Outback – Koalafornia


Discover wonders from the Land Down Under. Wind your way through a eucalyptus grove and uncover fascinating facts about Australian forests and wildlife, see how well you know your marsupials, and get photos of the kids sitting in a koala tree.

Where: San Diego Zoo – 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Opens May 24, 2013
> Find out more about Conrad Prebys Australian Outback

Valley Center Western Days and Stampede Rodeo

Valley Center Western Days and Stampede Rodeo

Cowboys and Cowgirls don’t want to miss the fun of the weekend long Valley Center Western Days and Stampede Rodeo

This weekend, the Valley Center community celebrates its western heritage with events including the Western Days Parade, the Valley Center Stampede Rodeo, an evening musical performance, the election of Valley Center’s “Honorary Mayor,” a carnival and so much more.

Where: 28246 Lilac Road, Valley Center, CA 92082
When: May 24-26, 2013
Cost: Parade – Free. Rodeo – $15-$35
> Find out more about the Valley Center Western Days and Stampede Rodeo

2nd Annual Gaslamp Music & Art Festival

2nd Annual Gaslamp Music & Arts Festival - Top Things to Do in San Diego

From smooth beats to funky scats, the Gaslamp Music & Art Festival will celebrate live music this Memorial Day weekend. Participating locations will offer everything from Latin Jazz to Irish Rock, rockabilly to flamenco, reggae to acoustic music and interactive art demonstrations. Pick up the event program, including the event map and live entertainment line-up, at barleymash (600 Fifth Avenue).

Where: 4th and 5th Avenues between Broadway and L
When: May 25, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 2nd Annual Gaslamp Music & Art Festival

33rd Annual Ethnic Food Fair

33rd Annual Ethnic Food Fair - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Savor the ability to sample delicacies from around with world without having to leave San Diego. The 32 countries represented at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages in Balboa Park will be serving delicious native treats and performing both the music and dance of their respective cultures.

Where: 2191 West Pan American Road, San Diego, CA 92101
When: May 26, 2013
Time: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free entry to event. Nominal fee per dish.
> Find out more about the 33rd Annual Ethnic Food Fair

2013 Vista Strawberry Festival

2013 Vista Strawberry Festival

The Vista Strawberry Festival celebrates all the joys and pleasure of the Strawberry. Vista was once the “Strawberry Capital of the World” and still boasts many strawberry fields. Enjoy the celebration of the ‘berry with over 200 vendors, athletic competition, pie eating, costumes, beauty, carnival rides, music, food and much more.

Where: 127 Main St, Vista, CA 92084
When: May 26, 2013
Time: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Cost: Free to attend festival. Some activities require a fee.
> Find out more about the 2013 Vista Strawberry Festival

Legacy Week 2013

USS Midway Museum

Honor your heroes during Legacy Week aboard the USS Midway Museum

This Memorial Day weekend celebration honors our heroes in uniform. With ceremonies, concerts, and a Discovery Zone for the kids, there is something for the entire family. Plus, there will be a special performance by Creedence Clearwater Revisited.

Where: USS Midway Museum – 910 Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
When: May 24-27, 2013
Cost: Varies
> Find out more about Legacy Week 2013

2013 International Space Development Conference

International Space Development Conference

Join fellow space enthusiasts for a weekend full of engaging discussions on asteroids, business, education, emerging space applications, living in space, lunar travel, mars, space solar power, space settlement roadmap, transhumanism and space exploration, and more.

Added Bonus: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin will be the Saturday lunch speaker!

Where: Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine – 3777 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego, CA 92122
When: May 23-27, 2013
Cost: $35-$435
> Find out more about the 2013 International Space Development Conference

> 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.


Spring Break in San Diego – The Perfect Family Getaway

Family Enjoying La Jolla Shores - Spring Break in San Diego

San Diego is known as the place where summer never ends, so why wait until summer to visit? Pack up the kids and head to San Diego for spring break – and don’t forget your sunscreen because you’ll need it. From our sun-kissed beaches and family friendly attractions, to discovering San Diego’s history and the great outdoors, there are so many fun things to do in San Diego that your only problem will be deciding what to do first.

Hit the Beach this Spring Break

Family Enjoying La Jolla Shores - Spring Break in San Diego

Bring the family to San Diego for a Spring Break beach vacation

Get outdoors and visit San Diego’s 70 miles of awesome beaches where there’s plenty of room for the whole family to splash in the Pacific Ocean this spring break. Whether it’s catching a wave on a boogie board, building a magical sand castle, or playing a rousing game of beach volley ball, this is the place to make special family memories. And, for families on a budget, this is an economical way to spend a day that’s easy on your wallet.

Attraction Action

Checking out the Panda - San Diego Zoo

See many of the new baby animals at San Diego attractions.

Journey to the San Diego Zoo’s Lost Forest zone, and pass the time away hanging around the world’s rarest monkeys, gregarious hippos, and other exotic animals. You can also step into a real-life adventure at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and immerse yourself in an active safari experience where herds of animals roam in a 1,800-acre reserve. Or come celebrate the wonders of the sea at SeaWorld San Diego and experience the amazing Shamu show, and thrilling rides like Journey to Atlantis, Shipwreck Rapids and Wild Arctic. If the kids are more in the mood for a creative, interactive day, let them play at LEGOLAND California where there are more than 60 rides, shows, attractions and lots of Legos!

Live the Adventure of a Lifetime at the U.S.S. Midway Museum

USS Midway Flight Deck

Take off into excitement aboard the USS Midway Museum

Prepare yourself for a lifetime memory aboard the USS Midway Museum, one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers in U.S. history. Experience 60 exhibits, get an up close look at 25 restored aircraft or hop into a simulator and feel what it’s like to be an aviator launching off a flight deck, engaging the enemy and then returning safely. This is an unforgettable adventure for the entire family.

Explore Balboa Park

Balboa Park Fountain

Explore many educational wonders or just relax next to a flowing fountain in Balboa Park

Besides being home to the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park is often referred to as the “Smithsonian of the West” because it offers 15 diverse museums, most of them very kid-friendly. Here are a few to get you started this spring break: the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center brings science to life with hands-on experiments; escape from the ordinary and step into the shockingly odd world of Ripley at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! special exhibition at the San Diego Air & Space Museum; and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum has an extensive, interactive Lionel layout that kids love.

Think, Play Create at The New Children’s Museum

New Children's Museum in Downtown San Diego

Think, Play and Create at the New Children’s Museum in Downtown San Diego

The New Children’s Museum is a dynamic, new museum model for kids with inventive and engaging art experiences. From toddler to teen, there are fun-filled exhibitions, hands-on art making activities, special artistic performances and fun, educational happenings.

Discover the Cabrillo National Monument

Old Point Loma Lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Monument

Explore the Old Point Loma Lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Monument

The Cabrillo National Monument is where Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first landed in San Diego in 1542. Now a U.S. National Park, the area offers dazzling views of San Diego Bay and tons of activities for kids. Families can hike a scenic two-mile trail, explore the Old Point Loma Lighthouse first lit in 1855, check out the tide pools and more. But first things first, be sure to stop at the Visitor Center to learn how your child can become a Junior Park Ranger during your visit.

> Discover more Spring Break Family Fun in San Diego

Tell us where your favorite family friendly place is to hang out during spring break! 


Reptile Walk – Fancy Digs for The San Diego Zoo’s Slithering Residents

San Diego Zoo Reptile Walk Entrance
San Diego Zoo Reptile Walk Entrance

Enter into the world of Reptiles at the San Diego Zoo

The Reptile Walk, San Diego Zoo’s fancy digs for its slithering residents, consists three separate structures housing turtles, amphibians and snakes native to California – including the longest gopher snake you’re likely to have ever seen!

San Diego Gopher Snake - San Diego Zoo Reptile Walk

San Diego Gopher Snake

“That San Diego gopher snake is at least four and a half feet long,” said Zoo herpetologist Ken Morgan, as he watched the wriggling reptile stretching out in its new glass enclosure. “It’s the largest one I’ve ever seen.”

San Diego Zoo herpetologist Ken Morgan

San Diego Zoo herpetologist Ken Morgan

Reptiles live on all continents except Antarctica – and the Zoo’s new exhibit accommodates more than 50 species.

What to See on the Reptile Walk

Visitors can see a pair of critically endangered Chinese alligators meandering around an open-air pool. They’re the smallest of alligator species – only about four feet long. They’re also among the rarest: Only about 100 are left in the wild, Morgan said.

Reptile Walk - Mexican Giant Tree Frog

Mexican Giant Tree Frog

Check out an emerald tree boa from South America, a spiky giant horned lizard from Mexico and a Mexican giant tree frog. Search for mata – mata turtles that masquerade as leaves – and be wowed by others with long snake-like necks.

San Diego has more biodiversity than any other county in North America – so plenty of slithering stars are exhibited in the California Native Species building.

If you like the colorful banded San Diego mountain kingsnake, you’ll love the two-headed California kingsnake. At feeding time, one head gets covered with a hood while the other is fed; it keeps the two heads from fighting and injuring each other.

Visitors won’t find any venomous snakes in the new reptile exhibit. To find rattlers, head to Elephant Odyssey; rattlesnakes are housed there, near the condors.

> Get your tickets now to see the Reptile Walk at the San Diego Zoo

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to do in San Diego: December 13-16, 2012

Jungle Bells Celebration at the San Diego Zoo

It’s never to early to start making your weekend plans. Here are top things to do this weekend in San Diego.

1. Hillcrest Taste n’ Tinis

Hillcrest Taste n' Tinis - Things to Do in San Diego

Start off the weekend with a walking tour through Hillcrest including delightful drinks, scrumptious eats and fabulous holiday shopping. Local chefs will be serving up scrumptious appetizers and sweet treats while boutiques along the tour will warm you up a holiday inspired martini. Event is 21 and up.

Date: December 13, 2012
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: In Advance – $20. Day Of – $25
> Find out more about Hillcrest Taste n’ Tinis

2. Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Jungle Bells Celebration at the San Diego Zoo

Elves celebrating Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Starting this Saturday, the San Diego Zoo is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Enjoy a nightly tree-lighting ceremony, lighted animal displays throughout the park, live animal shows, storytelling, bell ringers and, of course, Santa Claus.

> Find more Holiday fun at San Diego attractions

Location: 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)
Dates: December 15, 2012 – January 6, 2013
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

3. Old Town Holiday in the Park & Las Posadas

Las Posadas - Old Town State Historic Park

Take part in a traditional Las Posadas in Old Town State Historic Park

Celebrate the holidays over the weekend in the Old Town State Historic Park. Enjoy period decorations, carolers, warm beverages, holiday treats, activities, and extended shopping hours. Arrive early on Sunday for festivities at 2:00 PM and a traditional Las Posadas starting at 5:00 PM followed by a piñata party for the kids.

> Discover holiday excitement in San Diego

Location: 4002 Wallace Street, San Diego, CA (map)
Dates: December 15-16, 2012
Times: 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Las Posadas Parade starts at 5:00 PM on Sunday.
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Old Town Holiday in the Park & Las Posadas

4. The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker - Holiday Things to Do in San Diego

Catch a performance of the Nutcracker throughout San Diego.

Starting this weekend, there will be a myriad of Nutcracker princes dancing throughout San Diego County. Below is a list of performances:

California Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Dates: December 15-23, 2012
Cost: $25-$90
Location: San Diego Civic Theater – 1100 Third Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)

City Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Dates: December 14-24, 2012
Cost: $29-$69
Location: Spreckels Theatre – 121 Broadway #600, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)

San Diego Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Dates: December 16-21, 2012
Cost: $20-$50
Location: Mandeville Center, UCSD – 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093 (map)

> More Holiday Theatre in San Diego

5. San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Holiday Float - San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Lights on the water at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

This is the last Sunday to marvel at the spectacular Boat Parade of Lights featuring individually holiday decorated private crafts. The parade starts at the southwest end of Shelter Island, travels past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, the Convention Center, the Coronado Ferry Landing Marketplace and ends at the Navy Carrier turning basin.

> Find more Christmas light displays in San Diego

Dates: Sunday, December 16, 2012
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

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

Know of any other great events going on in San Diego this weekend? Let us and others know in the comments below.


Holiday Happenings at San Diego Attractions!

San Diego’s weather may not call for seasonal snowfall, but thanks to some of our main attractions, everyone can enjoy a white wonderland this holiday season. From the world’s largest LEGO Christmas tree to a zoo filled with almost as many light up animals as it has real ones, a trip to San Diego’s attractions is sure to make your spirits bright.

SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration

Celebrate the sease with SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration returns with a splash! Check out amazing shows, such as “Shamu’s Christmas” show or “Clyde and Seamore Save Christmas”, a holiday-themed sea lion and otter comedy show. Immerse yourself in the wonders of The Polar Express 4-D Experience and don’t miss the pet-extravaganza, “Christmas Tails.” Or visit SnowWorld, a winter wonderland of snowmen, snowballs and a snowball target area.

– Weekends: November 17 – December 16, 2012
– Daily: December 22, 2012 – January 5, 2012

The San Diego Zoo’s Jungle Bells

Elves celebrating Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo will be aglow with bright lights during Jungle Bells. This annual holiday event features large light displays that represent many of the animals at the Zoo including elephants spraying water, monkeys playing in the trees and a condor taking flight. Enjoy the nightly tree-lighting ceremony and special holiday entertainment  featured at shops and eateries around the park.

Dates: December 14, 2012 – January 6, 2012

LEGOLAND® California’s Holiday Snow Days

The largest LEGO Christmas tree in the World at LEGOLAND California Resort

LEGOLAND® California in Carlsbad celebrates the season with Holiday Snow Days. Play in the real snow, build snowmen and throw snowballs at LEGO targets. See the World’s largest LEGO Christmas tree, assembled with thousands of LEGOS and decorated with hundreds of LEGO ornaments. In addition, guests can enjoy the Let it Snow musical and life-size LEGO displays of Santa and his reindeer.

Dates: December 1-31, 2012

> Discover More Holiday Excitement in San Diego