5 Unique Gift Markets in San Diego For Everyone On Your List

Liberty Public Market

With the holidays near, complete your shopping list with some of San Diego’s unique one-stop-shop markets. Check out these five local markets featuring unique gifts for that special someone on your list.

Bazaar Del Mundo

Bazaar Del Mundo in Old Town San Diego

Known as one of the most electric and colorful places in San Diego to search for the perfect holiday gift. With the flare of Old Mexico and an array of specialty items from Latin America and around the world, this is an ideal center to find the most unique gifts. From one-of-a-kind collectibles, to women’s fashions, hand-crafted jewelry, folk art, home decor, and unique kitchen utensils and accents, Bazaar del Mundo is one place you won’t want to miss.

Where: 4133 Taylor St., San Diego, CA 92110
> Find out more about Bazaar del Mundo

Liberty Public Market

Liberty Public Market

Photo by Luis Garcia.

This 7-day a week specialty market offers the cuisines and culture of San Diego showcasing the best of what this region has to offer. Liberty Public Market has it all; from prepared foods, a wine shop, beer, cocktails, desserts, an olive oil tasting area, fresh fish, a butcher shop, a cheese and gift shop, freshly brewed gourmet coffee, a fresh flower shop, a dog boutique, a retro candy shop, just to name a few.  In addition to the quick eating options they also feature, the Mess Hall Restaurant, with a market-to-menu concept through the creation of three distinct eateries located within the dining hall: Mess Hall Bar (a seasonally driven menu), Pi Bar (wood fire pizzas, hand pies, and pot pies), and Grape Smuggler Bar (wine and tapas bar). There are also vendors with unique jewelry, sunglasses, watches and more. Be sure to enjoy the many options of unique outdoor seating.

Where: 2820 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Liberty Public Market

Moniker General

Moniker General - Point Loma's Liberty Station

Moniker General is a new concept of retail and community space located in Point Loma’s Liberty Station. Encouraging an environment to not only shop for unique local items but to also have a venue where conversations happen while enjoying craft beer or having a carefully brewed cup of coffee. The space iintroduces shoppers to lifestyle brands featuring home goods, custom furniture, clothing, accessories, bicycles, surf boards, craft beer and coffee all in one unified store. These home-grown companies feature products that are known for their quality, aesthetic design, and functionality. This location is a place to connect while you shop.

Where: 2860 Sims Road, San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Moniker General

Simply Local San Diego

Simply Local - One of San Diego's Locals Only Markets in North Park

Photo courtesy of Simply Local.

Simply Local San Diego, a merchant marketplace located in the urban neighborhood of North Park, was born out of the desire to give local artisans the space to showcase their creations. The space features over 55 locally owned businesses, offering everything from home goods, jewelry, accessories, clothing, skincare, artwork, food & beverage items, and more. This space is a one-stop-shop location.

Where: 3013 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Simply Local San Diego

Make Good

Make Good - Holiday Shopping in San Diego

Photo courtesy of Make Good.

Shop from the works of over 45 local San Diego and Tijuana artisans at Make Good in the quaint area of South Park. Offering all handmade crafts, home goods, furniture, jewelry, accessories, artwork, soaps, and clothing, you will rarely see the same thing twice. Be sure to check out their rack of vintage and retro clothing. This location is a must-shop for individuality.

Where: 2207 Fern Street, San Diego, CA 92014
> Find out more about Make Good

> Discover More San Diego Markets & Shopping Opportunities


4 Places Where You Can Find San Diego Style

San Diego’s style can be defined in many ways; beachy-chic, urban-cool, modern, active, and effortless-elegance. The variation of styles is due to our fabulous weather, the unique regions, beauty, and our active lifestyle. If you want to capture a piece of San Diego style be sure to check out these boutiques.

Graffiti Beach

Graffiti Beach


Located in the hip area of South Park, Graffiti Beach is known for showcasing up-and-coming indie designers and artists. The boutique features clothing for women, men, and children, in addition to jewelry, accessories, home decor and art pieces. Each brand is handpicked by the owner for its unique product and brand mission. Picture beachy-chic meets urban-cool. I love the maxi dresses and chic beach cover-ups for women and the t-shirts and shorts for men!

Where: 2220 Fern St., San Diego, 92104
> Find out more about Graffiti Beach

Mimi & Red

With two great locations in the urban area of North Park and the other in La Jolla, Mimi & Red is known to locals for not breaking the bank. This women’s boutique carries that perfect laid back San Diego style with their selection of rompers, casual jumpsuits, dresses, statement necklaces, fun tops, and purses. Each location carries different items that represents their location.

– North Park – 3041 University Ave., San Diego, CA 92104
– La Jolla – 5680 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92037
> Find out more about Mimi & Red

Capricorn Boutique

Dedicate to carrying unique and special clothing lines for both women and men, Capricorn Boutique will inspire you to go home with a touch of our modern-chic effortless California style. I love the men’s button-up shirts and denim as well as the dresses, tops, rompers, lightweight jackets, and unique jewelry for women. The luxe laid-back looks will only inspire you to be the most stylish version of yourself.

Where: 5628 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92037
> Find out more about Capricorn Boutique

Little Apple

Little Apple - Where to Find San Diego Style

Nestled in the heart of the vibrant neighborhood of Little Italy, Little Apple’s soho-like space features polished ensembles for women, like both dressy and casual dresses, flowy pants, shorts, t-shirts, jewelry, purses, and sunglasses. The sister owners have lived in NYC as well as Southern California and has a style philosophy of blending the sophistication of NYC with the laid back style of the modern California girl. This boutique is a must-shop!

Where: 1980 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Little Apple

> Discover Your San Diego Style with Some Retail Therapy


Men’s Styles & Where To Shop in San Diego

John Varvatos

Today, men are taking more of an interest with their own personal style. Preferring quick decisions, efficiency, and an ease to shopping, this list of men’s stores fits just that.

John Varvatos

John Varvatos

One of Fashion Valley’s newest addition to the luxury shopping center is John Varvatos. This 3,500 square foot edgy, music-inspired atmosphere combined with old world design offers a strong and distinct masculine point of view. The American menswear designer is known for his “perfectly imperfect” cool laidback aesthetic. His designs are very much in tune with San Diego’s Southern California’s lifestyle. This is the one-stop-shop to find tailored, unique, and edgy fashions for clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories, cologne, and rock-n-roll photography artwork.

Where: 7007 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92108
> Find out more about John Varvatos

The Ascot Shop

The Ascot Shop

If a more classic yet modern style is more “you”, then visit The Ascot Shop. Celebrating 65 years in the village of La Jolla, this classic establishment has been dressing the well-to-do men of San Diego for generations. This family owned and operated shop carries brands and designers known for the best in quality, luxury, and value. Not only is this shop known for their dapper-style but they also offer some of the best services in town. With sales associates, stylists, and tailors right on-site, this is a one-stop-shop for the elegant man.

Where: 7750 Girard Ave, La Jolla, CA 92037
> Find out more about The Ascot Shop

Mister B

Mister B Clothing

Since 2005, Mister B has been delivering quality European fashions for the American man. Covering all occasions from formal, business, and casual wear this store fulfills just that. One of their services is made-to-measure suits and shirts. With their highly trained staff taking the base measurements and “you” being able to customize your collar, thread & button color, placket design, etc; this shopping experience allows your true personality to be portrayed.

Where: 2670 Via de la Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014
> Find out more about Mister B

Junc.Life Boutique

Junc.Life Boutique

Junc.Life Boutique is a true gem located in the quaint neighborhood and shopping blocks of South Park. The owner and designer, carries men’s “focus pieces” that portrays an urban laid-back Southern California style. Think cool denim, button-ups, t-shirts, leather bags, and jewelry that are also from his own designs. He is inspired from growing up in Colorado with a mountain-cabin appeal yet offering sleek, organic and modern styles too. This is a great boutique for everyday urban-cool styles.

Where: 2209 Fern St., San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Junc.Life Boutique

Aloha Sunday

Aloha Sunday

In the diverse and urban shopping area of North Park lies a very hip one-stop-shop store for men called, Aloha Sunday. Being a true neighborhood store they also have an international presence with their on-line shop. Featuring up-and-coming local designers and at reasonable prices this men’s clothing store is one not to miss. Aloha Sunday is an in-house clothing line in addition to featuring uncommon brands, many of which are made in the USA. Their goal is to create stylish, well-fitting clothes that are easily accessible.

Where: 3039 University Ave Suite A, San Diego, CA 92104
> Find out more about Aloha Sunday

> Retail Therapy in San Diego


Tis the Season for Holiday Shopping in San Diego

Maison en Provence

Tis the season to shop, shop, shop in San Diego! With the holidays right around the corner, San Diego is the perfect destination to find that tailored-made holiday gift for your loved ones back home and maybe something special for yourself. Even though there is a multitude of options with malls and shopping centers, one way to find that one-of-a-kind gift is to shop at some of San Diego’s unique specialty boutiques.

Bazaar Del Mundo Shops

Bazaar del Mundo

One of the most eclectic and colorful places I like to search for the perfect holiday gift is at Bazaar Del Mundo Shops. With the flare of Old Mexico and an array of specialty items from Latin America and around the world, this is an ideal center to find the most unique gifts. From one-of-a-kind collectibles, to women’s fashions, hand-crafted jewelry, folk art, home decor, and unique kitchen utensils and accents, Bazaar del Mundo is one place you won’t want to miss.

Where: 4133 Taylor St, San Diego, CA 92110
> Find out more about Bazaar del Mundo



One of my go-to boutiques when it comes to the woman who loves jewelry. Based in the heart of Little Italy, Rosamariposa is the place to find endless options of imported jewelry, accessories, and Batik silks from around the world. The pieces from Indonesia, Bali, and India are to-die-for, and so affordable. You won’t be disappointed shopping here.

Where: 611 W. Fir St., San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Rosamariposa

With Love Gift & Paperie

With Love

One of my favorite places to find distinctive holiday gifts. With an ever-changing inventory of cards, jewelry, journals, and one-of-a-kind home accessories, With Love Gift & Paperie is a true gem. I can always find something for that hard-to-shop-for person with the latest artsy coffee table book, luxurious smelling soap, candles, and holiday decorations.

Where: 1620 West Lewis Street, San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about With Love Gift & Paperie

Dolcetti Boutique

Dolcetti Boutique

Dolcetti Boutique, located in the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, is the place to shop for that special guy, gal, or teen in your life. I love the assortment of stocking stuffers too. This is a one-stop-shop specializing in both women and men’s fashions, accessories, gift items, books, and jewelry. Extra bonus – Dolcetti features a full service salon with make-up artists!

Where: 635 5th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Dolcetti Boutique

Maison En Provence

Maison en Provence

The quaint French country-style boutique Maison En Provence is a must-see! Carrying such exquisite authentic items imported from France, such as pottery, linens, kitchen and home items, perfumes, books, scarves, kimonos, totes, children’s toys, soaps, and jewelry, just to name a few. Each item has been hand-selected by the husband and wife owners who are from the Provence region of France. This boutique is a must-shop for unique and special holiday gifts.

Where: 820 Fort Stockton Dr., San Diego, CA 92103
> Find out more about Maison En Provence

> Make San Diego Your Holiday Shopping Vacation Destination

Robert Arends

Fashion Week San Diego Guide to Lovely La Jolla

NApostol Couture at La Valencia Hotel-Photo Credit Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

NApostol Couture at La Valencia Hotel-Photo Credit Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

Cameras ready prepare to flash! The fashionable glitterati are about to descend upon the posh area of La Jolla this weekend for Fashion Week San Diego, happening October 1-4.

If you’re one of the lucky fashionistas that got tickets early to this fab high-profile event, congrats! You’re in for a visual treat, with fashion shows set amidst one of the most beautiful, postcard-perfect backdrops in Southern California.

For those unable to get tix, or finagle a front row seat by the catwalk, fret not. La Jolla is San Diego’s most fashionable address any day of the year, and you’re likely to mix and mingle with models and fashion designers throughout La Jolla Village during the duration of Fashion Week. Where, you ask?

Following are Top 5 spots around La Jolla to rub shoulders with San Diego’s best and brightest fashion stars and fans:

1. La Valencia Hotel

Quynntessential Couture at La Valencia Hotel. Photo Credit: Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

Quynntessential Couture at La Valencia Hotel. Photo Credit: Fashion Week San Diego-ADallo Photography

La Valencia Hotel, the glamorous “Pink Lady of La Jolla,” is a perfect place to strike a pose and gander around the property, as it’s the host hotel for two fashion shows on October 1 and 4. It’s also right on Prospect Street, the “Rodeo Drive of San Diego” where fashion shoppers flock.

2. Wall Street

Wall Street, bisected by trendy Girard Ave. with its chic boutique shops, will be the site of a fabulous outdoor, open-sky runway (only in San Diego, where temps are still summer-like in the high 70s!) featuring two fashion shows by 24 designers on October 2 and 3.

Chic Murals of La Jolla can be found throughout La Jolla, including this one by artist Julian Opie.

The chic Murals of La Jolla can be found throughout La Jolla, including this one by artist Julian Opie.

Quick tip: For an artsy side trip on Wall St., check out the La Jolla Athenaeum Music & Arts Library with its eclectic art exhibitions, classical/jazz concerts, studio art classes and more. On display now is a Retrospective of Phel Steinmetz, regarded as a pioneer of conceptual art in California. Another must-see: The Athenaeum’s Murals of La Jolla, featuring internationally renowned artists.

3. La Plaza La Jolla

La Plaza La Jolla, a new hot spot for shopping in the Village. Photo Credit: Paul Body

La Plaza La Jolla, a new hot spot for shopping in the Village. Photo Credit: Paul Body

The new La Plaza La Jolla captures La Jolla’s luxe lifestyle with an upscale selection of San Diego-based boutique retailers and dining options. The eye-catching Spanish/Moroccan design adds an international flair, sure to attract the “it crowd” here for Fashion Week. Plus it’s perfectly located in the middle of the fashion action, at the corner of Wall St. and Girard Ave.

4. Catania restaurant

People watching is always in style at the hip new Catania restaurant high atop La Plaza La Jolla.

People watching is always in style at the hip new Catania restaurant high atop La Plaza La Jolla.

Grab lunch or dinner at the new Catania restaurant on the top floor of La Plaza La Jolla. You’ll not only enjoy sensational, seasonal Italian coastal cuisine, but also people watching, which is always in style.

5. La Jolla Design & Art District

Fashion-forward folks are sure to enjoy the La Jolla Design & Art District along upper Girard Ave. View popular art galleries like the new Monarch Arredon Contemporary Art, Joseph Bellows Gallery of photographic art and Quint Contemporary Art, featuring works by some of the biggest names in contemporary art.

Bonus: La Jolla Art & Wine Festival

La Jolla Art & Wine Festival is another must-see fall event in La Jolla, Oct. 10-11.

La Jolla Art & Wine Festival is another must-see fall event in La Jolla, Oct. 10-11.

If you’re in San Diego after Fashion Week, be SURE to visit the prestigious La Jolla Art & Wine Festival on October 10-11 along Girard Ave. (between Prospect St. & Torrey Pines Rd.). The works of more than 150 artists from San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Baja and beyond will be on display. Plus there’s live entertainment, a gourmet marketplace, family art center and a wine and beer garden.

Cutting-edge fashion, eye-catching art, fine food and more… La Jolla is the place to see and be seen this fall! 🙂


Cheap & Chic Boutiques Throughout San Diego

Swirl Boutique

Do you find yourself on a budget but still want to look stylish? On a mission to find that perfect maxi dress or unique piece of jewelry to add to your wardrobe that won’t break-the-bank? Look no further than these fabulous local boutiques!

Mimi & Red Birdrock

Mimi and Red Boutique

Mimi & Red Birdrock, located in the charming neighborhood of La Jolla, features every must-have summer essential piece needed! There is a great selection of flowy and maxi dresses, swimsuits, cover-ups, statement necklaces and natural stone jewelry making this a must-shop place to check out! A second location is in North Park at, 3041 University Ave.

Where: 5680 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037
> Find out more about Mimi & Red Birdrock

Swirl Boutique

Swirl Boutique

Swirl Boutique, situated in the quaint surfing community of Encinitas, represents that true California-chic vibe! I love this boutique due to the variety of clothing, jewelry, and accessories! They only carry local jewelry designers that each have a unique style of their own. Maybe a leather fringe purse, or the latest summer romper, kimono, or flowy bohemian pant is on your list? Then this boutique is one not to miss!

Where: 119-D N. El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024
> Find out about Swirl Boutique

Lolo Boutiques

Lolo Boutiques

Lolo Boutique, located downtown at The Headquarters at Seaport Village, is a great place to find that perfect summer colorful blouse or maybe a new dress for the Del Mar Races? I love how this boutique has everything sorted by item and color so shopping here is very easy to find that perfect ensemble. Additional Lolo Boutiques can be found at the Del Mar Highlands in Carmel Valley, the Camino Village Plaza in Encinitas, and on Girard Ave. in La Jolla.

Where: 789 W. Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101
> Find out more about Lolo Boutique

Rare Bloom Boutique

Rare Bloom Boutique

Rare Bloom Boutique, in the coastal community of Point Loma, features unique gifts, home goods, clothing, jewelry and accessories for that true coastal living! If you want that laid-back-beach-look be sure to try on their comfy-chic tops and tunics! Everything from handmade jewelry, delicious smelling soaps, home accessories, scarves, shorts, jeans, and casual dresses be sure to save some shopping time and check out this local favorite!

Where: 2841 Canon St., San Diego, CA 92106
> Find out more about Rare Bloom Boutique

> Browse More Boutiques and Shopping Options in San Diego


Meet San Diego’s Local Fashion Designers

Jennifer Grace - San Diego's Local Designers

San Diego is a city where one can easily get inspired! With desirable weather, cleanliness, pristine beaches, variety of activities, and an active lifestyle, it’s easy to imagine how all these qualities might translate for jewelry and fashion designers. These local fashion designers are just a few of what San Diego has to offer and are a force to be reckoned with.

Jennafer Grace

Jennifer Grace - San Diego's Local Fashion Designers

Jennafer Grace in her design studio. Photo courtesy of MLE Photographs.

Jennafer Grace, a San Diego native and a graduate of Fashion Careers College, is known for her vintage inspired designs with a modern twist. Growing up in Pacific Beach with her glamorous modern grandmother, she was exposed to art and travel. Over time she translated this into her own designs. Jennafer’s designs are print-happy, casual-chic pieces that flow into various silhouettes. She is also known for her one-of-a-kind kimonos and head wraps. Her creative unique designs can be located at Chateau Bel Age Boutique, Le Bel Age Boutique, Bad Madge & Co., Swirl Boutique, among various other boutiques located throughout San Diego. Three words that best describe Jennafer Grace Designs are electric, bewitching, and wily.

> Find out more about Jennafer Grace

Moser Milburn Handbags

Moser Milburn Handbags

Moser Milburn Handbags are designed in San Diego

The fashion designers of Moser Milburn Handbags have been collaborating together for over 20 years. Both Deborah Moser and Kym Milburn are known for their craftsmanship of leather, suede, repurposed fur and exotic hides for both handbags and clothing. With fashion school, retail, pattern-making, and buying experience between the two of them they have learned to appreciate the quality of construction and fine materials. Living in San Diego allows the designers to spend countless time outdoors enjoying healthy activities that carries over into the simplicity of their designs. It was also important to have all handbags made in the USA. These gorgeous handbags and clutches can be found at Gerhard Boutique in addition to custom pieces that can be ordered. Three words that best describe Moser Milburn Handbags are elegant, classic, and luxurious.

> Find out more about Moser Milburn Handbags

Taboo Studio

Taboo Studio

Taboo Studio in San Diego’s Mission Hills

The fashion designers and owners of Taboo Studio, Joanna Rhoades and Jane Groover, were both painting majors in college while studying metalsmithing under world-renowned jewelers, Arline Fisch and Helen Shirk. After completing their design graduate studies at San Diego State University they started their careers as teachers before deciding to open their own gallery showcasing their handmade, precious and semi-precious, crafted jewelry. Influenced by San Diego’s multi-faceted, diverse, and stunning city, their designs replicate just that. In addition to their own wearable art, their gallery exhibits superbly hand-crafted designs from many other San Diego artists, as well as artists throughout the country and well known international jewelers. The stunning pieces, including custom pieces, can be found at Taboo Studio, located at 1615 1/2 W. Lewis St. in Mission Hills. Three words that best describe the pieces at Taboo Studio are extraordinary, precious, and unique.

> Find out more about Taboo Studio

> Discover more local fashion designers while shopping in San Diego

Robert Arends

Jolly Good Times in La Jolla this Holiday Season!

La Jolla for the holidays! Festive entrance to The Lodge at Torrey Pines

La Jolla for the holidays! Festive entrance to The Lodge at Torrey Pines

Happy Holidays from La Jolla, one of San Diego’s most magical winter getaways. Sparkling beaches, warm sun shiny days and a welcoming Village vibe await holiday visitors to this enticing seaside enclave.

Christmas Celebration

Make some merry memories at the La Jolla Christmas Parade!

Make some merry memories at the La Jolla Christmas Parade!

Festivities kick off this Sunday during the popular annual La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival. This year’s theme is “Spirit of Christmas – Peace on Earth.” Parade begins at 1:30 PM along Girard Ave. and Prospect Street. There will be marching bands, vintage cars, equestrians and floats. Arrive early for prime viewing spots.

Afterward, head to the La Jolla Recreation Center (615 Prospect Street) for a fun festival featuring local businesses like Birch Aquarium and Surf Diva, photos with Santa Claus, a live entertainment stage and Christmas tree lighting at 5:00 PM.

Did you know: One of the parade sponsors is Audrey Geisel and the Dr. Seuss Fund. Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was one of La Jolla’s most famous residents!

> Dr. Seuss on the Loose in La Jolla

Where: Girard Avenue & Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
: December 7, 2014
Time: 1:30 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival

Curtain Call

“Fa la la la la!” at the La Jolla Theatre Ensemble’s briskly-moving adaptation of the holiday classic Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Where: La Jolla Community Center – 6811 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla, CA 92037
: December 13 and 15, 2014
Time: 7:30 PM
Cost: $10 suggested donation
> Find out more about Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Shop Till You Drop

La Valencia Hotel's 14 ft. Christmas Tree in La Sala Lounge

La Valencia Hotel’s 14 ft. Christmas Tree in La Sala Lounge

Shop for everyone on your holiday list – and yourself! – at the shops in La Jolla Village, particularly along Prospect St. and Girard Ave. The La Jolla Festival of Lights is sure to bring a twinkle to your eye as storefronts and hotels glow with colorful lights, Christmas trees, menorahs and other eye-catching holiday décor.

This Friday, the Allied Artists Association of San Diego (aaaSD) presents an Art Reception and Holiday Shopping Bazaar at the La Jolla Community Center; a great chance to meet and mingle with local artists and shop for one-of-kind handmade holiday gifts including crafts, glass creations and paintings.

When: December 5, 2014
Time: 5:00 to 7:00 PM
Cost:  Free
> Find out more about the aaaSD Art Reception and Holiday Shopping Bazaar

La Jolla Hotel Holiday Deals

Chef's yummy holiday cookies at La Valencia Hotel!

Chef’s yummy holiday cookies at La Valencia Hotel!

Some wrapped and ready packages to make your La Jolla visit merrier include:

See you in La Jolla for the holidays! 🙂

Robert Arends

5 to Try for Big Fun on San Diego’s Big Bay!

San Diego's Big Bay
San Diego's Big Bay

Pick your adventure on San Diego’s Big Bay

Spring is here and there’s no better time to make a splash on San Diego Bay – also called the “Big Bay” –  with its treasure trove of attractions, tours, events and cool points of interest.

Following are my top 5 to Try:

1. The Port of San Diego’s Annual Day at the Docks

Kids fishing at the docks

Spend a day with the kids fishing.

The Port of San Diego’s Day at the Docks celebration in April is the West Coast’s largest public sportfishing celebration – and the official start of Southern California’s popular spring saltwater fishing season. Festivities at American’s Cup Harbor include over 200 maritime exhibits, live entertainment, a casting competition, captains’ dunk tank, free fishing and kids art areas. It’s fun and free!

2. The San Salvador

Rendering of how the San Salvador ship will look when completed.

Rendering of how the San Salvador ship will look when completed.

Did you know: in 1542 European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed aboard his ship, the San Salvador, and reached “a very good enclosed port” naming it “San Miguel.” Today we call it San Diego Bay and visitors can step back in time to check out the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s building of a full-sized, fully functional, historically accurate replica of Cabrillo’s flagship, the San Salvador. The framing is nearly complete and it’s easy to imagine the ship that she will become. Ahoy!

3. The Living Coast Discovery Center

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

The South Bay city of Chula Vista is home to one of my favorite attractions for up-close animal encounters: the Living Coast Discovery Center. You can see endangered green sea turtles (tip: go during feeding time!), leopard sharks, friendly stingrays (minus the stingers so you can pet them!) and magnificent birds like falcons and burrowing owls. The observation tower and hiking trails afford picturesque views of the surrounding wetlands and bay.

4. Seeing the Big Bay…While on the Big Bay

Flagship Patriot Jet Boat Tour

Speed across San Diego’s Big Bay aboard a jet powered boat like Flagship’s Patriot

Water activities abound on the bay, from the affordable Coronado Ferry ride, to narrated harbor tours (on Flagship and Hornblower), SEAL Tours, whale watching excursions, kayak tours (including San Diego’s only urban kayak adventure), Jetpack America rides (you too can fly like a superhero!) and two new thrilling, turbo-charged boat rides (the Sea Rocket and Flagship Patriot). Let’s make some waves!

5. Headquarters at Seaport District

The Headquarters at Seaport District. on San Diego's Big Bay

The stylish new Headquarters at Seaport District

Foodies and shoppers are in for a treat at the new Headquarters at Seaport District, located in San Diego’s former Spanish-style police headquarters (pose for pix in an actual jail cell). Nosh on gourmet tacos at Puesto or grab a slice at Pizzeria Mozza, Chef Mario Batali’s first foray into San Diego’s dining scene. Shop-portunties include local surf photographer Aaron Chang’s Ocean Art Gallery and Kitson, a celebrity hot spot and go-to fashion boutique dedicated to pop culture.

Pick your own adventure and discover the many wonders of San Diego’s Big Bay this spring! 🙂

Robert Arends

5 to Try: Holiday Happenings in San Diego’s East County

SoCal's largest ice skating rink at Viejas Outlet Center!

SoCal’s largest ice skating rink at Viejas Outlet Center!

“Oh the weather outside is frightful…” everywhere else but here, in sunny San Diego! With temps in the high 60s, winter is a wonderful time of year to check out the city sights, as well as activities in our East County region where ’tis the season to see charming foothill, mountain and desert communities decked in holiday splendor.

Following are 5 Holiday Festivities to Try – sure to have families humming “fa la la la la” all season long:

1. Christmas in the Village

La Mesa Christmas in the Village

It’s a winter wonderland at La Mesa Christmas in the Village

The delightful downtown of La Mesa transforms into an old-fashioned Christmas in the Village. There’s fun for the whole family: horse-drawn carriages, Santa Claus, carolers, carnival rides, live music stages and an outdoor market to shop for one-of-a-kind gifts.

Where: La Mesa Blvd & Spring Street, La Mesa, CA 91941
When: December 13-14, 2013
Time: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about La Mesa’s Christmas in the Village

2. Annual Christmas Caroling Sing Along

Holiday Fun at Mt. Helix Annual Christmas Caroling in San Diego's East County

Join Santa’s Elves for a night of holiday merriment and Christmas caroling

Just up the hill on La Mesa’s majestic Mt. Helix – featuring spectacular 360 degree views of San Diego – the Annual Christmas Caroling Sing Along. Join Santa Claus, a choir of carolers and concert bands in musical merriment. There will also be free baked goods, hot drinks, and a raffle for prizes.

Where: 4901 Mt. Helix Drive, La Mesa, California 91941
When: December 15, 2013
Time: 6:30 to 8:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Mt. Helix’s Annual Christmas Caroling Sing Along

3. Handel’s Messiah

In the historic Gold Rush mountain town of Julian, enjoy a rousing rendition of Handel’s Messiah by the Julian Community Choir in the Town Hall. While you’re there, be sure to sample Julian’s famous apple pies with a cup of hot cocoa. Our local U-T San Diego paper recently touted their top Julian pie shop picks.

Where: Julian Town Hall – 2129 Main Street, Julian, CA 92036
When: December 15, 2013
Time: Starts at 7:00 PM
> Find more events in Julian

4. Ice Skating

Viejas Outlet Center Ice Skating

Viejas Ice Skating Rink

Grab your scarf and mittens and head to Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine to practice figure 8s on the largest outdoor ice skating rink in Southern California!

Where: 5005 Willows Rd Suite 229, Alpine, CA 91901
When: Through January 5, 2014
– Monday-Friday: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
– Saturday-Sunday: 12:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: $12-$14
> Find out more about the Viejas Outlet Center Ice Rink

5. Barona’s North Pole Gingerbread Village

Barona's North Pole Gingerbread Village

Barona’s North Pole Gingerbread Village

Look but don’t eat the incredible Barona’s North Pole Gingerbread Village at Barona Casino in Lakeside. This 50-foot culinary wonder – which took 900 hours to create! – features a snow-covered village complete with Santa’s workshop, an elf tavern and train station made entirely of gingerbread! It’s located at the entrance to the bustling Season’s Fresh Buffet and will be on display through Dec. 30. Yum! 😉

Where: 1932 Wildcat Canyon Rd, Lakeside, CA 92040
When: Through December 30, 2013

> Discover more holiday cheer in San Diego

Ho ho ho from East County!