Sarah Weinberg

Spring into Action with the Kids in San Diego

Surf Diva Surf Lessons for Kids
Surf Diva Surf Lessons for Kids

According to Surf Diva, “The best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun!” Photo courtesy Surf Diva

Spring is in the air and last Sunday the kids and I hit Ponto Beach in Encinitas for some boogie boarding since it felt more like summer 82 degrees. The ocean was definitely swimable without a wetsuit.

So with summer-like weather in mind, let’s start early: it’s time, don’t put it off, go surfing or learn how to surf as a family at either Surf Diva or Menehune Surf School. Both are located on La Jolla Shores, one of the most family friendly beaches in the county.

> Find out more about surfing in San Diego

In addition to our wonderful beaches, here are a few other fun things to do with the kiddos in San Diego now that Spring is here.

Family Discovery Days at San Elijo Lagoon

Bird watching, Lagoon, trail, nature

Father and son building a free bird house at San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center’s Family Discovery Day. Photo courtesy

For a day of free fun only steps from the beach, check out San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Preserve any time. For extra excitement, attend on one of the special event “Family Discovery Days,” also free, at the Nature Center on site.

The Lagoon’s Nature Center offers family days during spring that include free activities for kids that keep them active and educated about the birds and animals around them. We went to “Wings Over the Wetlands” and built free birdhouses, bird seed feeders, saw a presentation with live birds of prey, including beautiful owls, and walked the half-mile loop trail through the estuary. At our event, volunteers provided the children with a stamp book for the kids to stop at various stations along the trail and identify with binoculars the birds in the lagoon. They also have the birds and animals on display with taxidermy at the Nature Center, in case you are not lucky enough to spot the real thing on your visit. Warning: the free “prize” for identifying all the birds in the stamp book was a bird whistle.

Where: San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center – 2710 Manchester Avenue, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
When: First Sundays. Next Family Discovery Day, Spring Egg-Ucation is March 29-30
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center Family Days

Weekend “Art Shops” for All Ages at the Spanish Village Art Center

Weekly activities, art classes and art fairs make visiting the Spanish Village Art Center a fun time year round. Photo courtesy

Weekly activities, art classes and art fairs make visiting the Spanish Village Art Center a fun time year round. Photo courtesy

Discover a hidden talent, tap into your creativity, learn something new! Visit the quaint cottages housing cool art at the Spanish Village Art Center located between the San Diego Zoo and Natural History Museum in Balboa Park. Take the family before or after visiting one of Balboa Park’s 16 museums, so they can truly appreciate the process of being an artist. Build kaleidoscope cane out of polymer clay, creating an art pendant you can wear. Learn basic hand-building techniques for ceramics while crafting an animal, mask or candle lantern. Explore Chinese brush painting and more. All classes are open to adults and some classes are available for 6 year olds and up; others start at ages 8, 9 or 10 and up depending on the difficulty and materials used.

Where: Spanish Village Art Center – Balboa Park, 1770 Village Place, San Diego, 92101
When: April 5-6, 2014 (class times vary)
Cost: $35 per student
> Find out more about the Spanish Village Art Center classes

Westgate Hotel Easter Bunny Teas

Westgate Hotel Afternoon Tea

Tea for two and Easter Bunny too at the Westgate Hotel, downtown. Photo courtesy The Westgate Hotel.

The Westgate Hotel downtown has an old world elegance found in grand European properties. Switch out the flip-flops and tank top for some patent leather Mary Janes and a frilly dress with a visit to The Westgate for tea time. Easter Bunny Teas will feature kid-friendly petit fours and mini pastries paired with a traditional European afternoon tea. Families can partake in an Easter egg hunt located in the Riviera Terrace, watch a demonstration by a magician and meet the Easter Bunny.

Where: The Westgate Hotel – 1055 2nd Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
When: April 18-19
Time: 2:30 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Adults: $45; children 12 and under: $30, plus tax and gratuity
> Find out more about the Easter Bunny Teas

> Discover more to do in San Diego this spring

Robert Arends

Coronado: Essential Summer Guide, Part 2

Summer sun, surf and sand in Coronado! (photo credit: Brett Shoaf)

It’s almost the weekend and sun-kissed Coronado is calling! In between boogie boarding and wiggling your toes in the sand on America’s #1 Beach (thank you, Dr. Beach!) following are a few fun – and free – lesser-known “secret” sights and activities around the island to check out.

Del-ightful!…The Diminutive Del

Coronado Boathouse 1887 – The “diminutive Del”

So we all know about the famous Hotel del Coronado. But did you know that just down the block is a building referred to as the “diminutive Del:” The Coronado Boathouse 1887 restaurant on Glorietta Bay. Pretty as a postcard!

The Baby Del

The “Baby Del” (144 Isabella Ave.)

There’s also the eye-catching “Baby Del,” a beautiful private home at 144 Isabella Ave. that will be the site of the 21st Annual Coronado MainStreet Garden Party on September 8 (buy your tickets now!).

Art & Sol…

“My Bike” trekking across the San Diego-Coronado Bridge!

In Coronado’s Tidelands Park is one of the coolest public art pieces on the island, “My Bike,” which seemingly flies through the air as it catches the bay breezes, shining in the sun. Stand back a bit, though, and view it with the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in the background and you’ll notice it’s actually riding across the bridge – a really cool visual effect! Check out the video.

Afternoon Delight…

Catching some rays in Coronado Island Marriott’s double hammocks.

There’s nothing like a lazy afternoon nap after a long day of play in the sun. Just around the corner from Tidelands Park at Coronado Island Marriott Resort, head out back behind the resort’s pool to find two big double hammocks just waiting for couples to catch 40 winks. The views are spectacular…this is the life!

Have a great weekend – see you in Coronado!


12 Reasons to Visit San Diego in 2012

San Diego Skyline

San Diego Skyline

As we celebrate the start of 2012, I’ve put together my list of 12 reasons you should visit San Diego in 2012. In no particular order…

1. The Best: In Travel + Leisure’s recent America’s Favorite Cities Reader Poll, San Diego was voted the #1 Destination for Best Weather and Best Spring Break. We also scored #2 for Best Summer Vacation, Family Vacation, 4th of July Destination and Most Attractive People.

2. Fabulous Food: A slew of restaurants are slated to open or have recently opened to offer visitors amazing culinary choices. Hot on the radar is UnderBelly which recently opened in Little Italy, Saltbox inside the Palomar San Diego hotel, and Brian Malarkey’s latest venture, Gingham.

3. A Whale of a Time: Majestic California gray whales make their annual migration from the Arctic waters to the warm lagoons in the Gulf of California for breeding. These “peaceful giants of the sea” come within miles of San Diego’s coastline.

4. Worth the Money: Budget Travel Magazine came out with it’s Top 10 Budget Travel Destinations for 2012, and named San Diego among them. Be sure to check out our 25 free things to do in San Diego. One of my favorites…Mission Bay Park.

5. Attraction Action: This year, SeaWorld will debut their latest new coaster with sting ray interactive touch pool and observation windows called Manta. Swooping over sea and sky, Manta will not only inspire riders with amazing underwater animal habitats, but then take them on an exhilarating ride on a launch coaster shaped like a giant manta ray!

6. Craft Brew: San Diego is home to the nation’s best brew pubs including Pizza Port which just recently won Small Brewpub of the Year at the 2011 Great American Beer Festival.

7. The Beach…enough said: With over 70 miles of beaches, it’s no wonder that in June 2011, The Travel Channel’s famed “Dr. Beach” announced his annual picks for the Best Beaches in America and Coronado Beach was named No. 2.

8. San Diego Nightlife: San Diego’s nightlife scene has never been hotter. San Diego was among the top 10 hottest New Year’s Eve destinations according to a survey. Visitors can celebrate all year long in the Gaslamp Quarter with over 100 restaurants and clubs, it is the place to be any time of year.

9. Get Your Culture On: Be sure to visit Balboa Park and its 85 cultural and recreational organizations. My favorites are the San Diego Model Railroad Museum and The San Diego Museum of Art. Not to be missed this year is the new exhibit at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Black Holes: Space Warps & Time Twists.

10. Surf Culture: San Diego is widely known for its laid back vibe with some of the best surfing spots in Southern California. To top it off, we are also home to the world’s first Center for Surf Research at San Diego State University (not a bad way to spend your college years!)

11. Walking with Art: Spend the days outside under the sun browsing local art at numerous sidewalk art shows including San Diego Artwalk, Artwalk on the Bay and the monthly Ray at Night and Kettner Nights.

12. The Great Outdoors: San Diego’s temperate weather allows for outdoor activities all year round. Go hiking along the water in Torrey Pines State Reserve or mountain biking through the natural landscapes of Mission Trails Regional Park. Here are a few more ideas to get outdoors. There is no reason you should stay inside while in San Diego!

What do you have planned for San Diego in 2012?


5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

San Diego Padres Party at the Park

1. Friday Parties at the Park: For three Fridays this month (June 3, 10, 24), PETCO Park will host themed pre-game parties before every Friday night Padres home game. This Friday’s party includes a Taste of Downtown. June 10 will be Margarita Park and June 24 is College Night. Festivities begin at 5:00 pm.

Surf Dog Competition

2. 6th Annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition: Watch dozens of dogs take to the waves at this “pupular” tail-wagging event on June 4 at Imperial Beach. The competition includes dogs hanging 10 in the small, large and tandem (dog and owner on the same board) categories.

San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon

3. Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon: It’s a 26.2-mile race and block party all in one! The marathon begins in Balboa Park and finishes at SeaWorld San Diego. Live music and cheer squads line the route, while a killer post-race party celebrates everyone’s victory.
4. Art Around Adams: Stroll along Adams Avenue, Normal Heights and Kensington and see more than 100 storefronts transformed into art galleries or performance venues. Local bands will perform from 3:00 pm to 10:00 pm Saturday, June 4. A free shuttle will help you get around (with stand-up comedians on board!)

Fiesta del Sol

5. Fiesta del Sol: Head up north to Solana Beach and see this seaside music festival. This two day event includes free live entertainment as well as an arts-and-crafts fair, a kid’s area and food and drink vendors. Begins at 9:00 am Saturday and Sunday.


Wordless Wednesday

Photo Terry Rodgers

Have you seen this statue? What about all dressed up? Officially it’s called “Magic Carpet Ride”, however to locals it is commonly known as the “Cardiff Kook.” Good natured pranksters have dressed him up in a bikini top and pink skirt with a Lucha Libre mask or more recently as Cupid for Valentine’s Day. The most memorable one for me is when the statue was enveloped by a papier-mache shark this past July. Next time you’re in San Diego, be sure to drive by… you never know what he might be wearing!

Photo Jonathon Horn

Photo Tom Mallory

U-T File Photo


The World Oceans Day Fun Continues

The Cat in the Hat and The Surf Divas

Recap of the weekend:

Celebrating World Oceans Day was quite a treat,
Sea Life had an underwater reading, which surely was neat.
Polar bears judged snow sculptures at the Zoo,
And Hornblower Cruises offered free face-painting too.
But of course Cat in the Hat made quite a commotion,
When he paddled out with Surf Diva for a book reading in the ocean.
Missed out on all the fun you say? Well that’s ok,
Cuz World Oceans Day fun continues til Tuesday!

(Insert applause)

It’s official, I’ve got Seuss fever from all the World Oceans Day fun I had over the weekend.  But just in case you missed out, there’s still more fun to be had tomorrow, June 8, the official World Oceans Day.

Attractions and Museums

  • San Diego Botanic Garden will present a reading of “One Fish, Two Fish,” ocean-themed activities and arts & craft projects geared toward pre-school age children .
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps will host Seuss-themed activities, including a scavenger hunt of “zany named” fish and a special World Oceans Day dive show in its two-story kelp forest tank .
  • The New Children’s Museum will celebrate World Oceans Day with a reading of “One Fish, Two Fish” at 10:30 a.m. and the creation of a massive ocean mural.
  • SeaWorld San Diego will have a World Oceans Day booth, which will include live animal visits and educational games to remind visitors how to keep the oceans safe.


  • Corvette Diner & Gamers Garage wil host a reading of “One Fish, Two Fish” at 3 p.m. with a local TV news personality and offer a “Wear Blue, Tell Two” promotion throughout the day.

Around Town


Get Seuss This Weekend & Celebrate World Oceans Day

Underwater reading at SEA LIFE Aquarium

San Diego is proud to join hundreds of conservation organizations and thousands of individuals from countries around the world to celebrate World Oceans Day (June 8th) and help raise awareness about the important ways we can protect our oceans.

This year, World Oceans Day is themed around the 50th anniversary of the Dr. Seuss classic, “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” and since Dr. Seuss was a local San Diegan, we’re excited to celebrate his legacy.

We’re so excited in fact, that we’re starting the party a little early with a number of fun events taking place this weekend:

Attractions and Museums

  • The San Diego Zoo will host a World Oceans Day snow sculpture building contest with polar bear “judges” and a reading of the book, with help from sea lions, on at 11 a.m. on June 5.
  • SEA LIFE Aquarium will celebrate in Seussian-style with an underwater reading of the book at 11 a.m., Seuss-themed arts & crafts, games and caricature portraits from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 5.

On the Water

  • Surf Diva will host a paddle out and reading of the book in the Pacific Ocean at 11:30 a.m. on June 5.
  • Hornblower Harbor Cruises will offer Seuss-themed face painting free for children aboard all six of their green-themed, narrated Harbor Cruises on beautiful San Diego Bay on June 5.
  • The Bahia Belle will provide special children’s cruises around Mission Bay with songs, games and activities from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. on June 4-6.


  • Omni San Diego Hotel offers an “Oceans of Life” hotel package during June 1 – December 30.
  • The Grand Del Mar will host a World Oceans Day Coloring Contest, a reading of the book and other activities from 12 to 1:30 p.m. on June 5.

Around Town