Robert Arends

Big Bay Boom – Star-Spangled 4th of July Fun on San Diego Bay!

San Diego's Big Bay Boom 4th of July Celebration
San Diego's Big Bay Boom 4th of July Celebration

Celebrate the birth of our nation with fireworks in San Diego including the Big Bay Boom 4th of July Extravaganza.

When it comes to 4th of July celebrations, three words that say it all: “Big Bay Boom” the biggest most spectacular fireworks show in San Diego!

This star-spangled extravaganza, impeccably choreographed to music (105.7 FM), takes place on San Diego Bay – “The Big Bay” – launching from barges strategically placed off Shelter Island, Harbor Island and the Embarcadero North and South.

Where to Watch Big Bay Boom

More than 850,000(!) people are expected to ring the bay throughout the day to claim a prime viewing spot. The best viewing is at the north Embarcadero (scope out the beautiful new Waterfront Park), Seaport Village, Embarcadero Marina Park North and South, Coronado Ferry Landing, Shelter Island and Harbor Island.

Waterfront Park - prime new spot to watch the Big Bay Boom (photo credit: County of San Diego)

Waterfront Park – prime new spot to watch the Big Bay Boom (photo credit: County of San Diego)

The Port of San Diego is offering a FREE shuttle service to/from Shelter and Harbor Islands starting at 6 PM, going until 11 PM. Shuttles depart from the Port’s Administration Building parking lot (3165 Pacific Highway) and near the West Marine parking lot (3717 Rosecrans St.).

What to Do on the Bay Before the Fireworks

Big Bay Boom begins at 9:00 PM and lasts about 17 minutes. Since you’ve got all day to play beforehand, check out the plethora of attractions and activities on the bay, including:

Make a Splash

Take a ride on an authentic U.S. Navy Swift Boat!

Take a ride on an authentic U.S. Navy Swift Boat!

Ahoy! Maritime Merriment

Fun for all ages on the USS Midway!

Fun for all ages on the USS Midway!

  • Cabrillo National Monument, the Plymouth Rock of the West where explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego Bay in 1542; kids will love the tidepools!
  • Spanish Landing Village where you can view a life-size replica of Cabrillo’s flagship San Salvador taking shape (it’ll be set to sail this September)
  • Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship (Arrr! 😉 )
  • USS Midway aircraft carrier, where San Diego’s rich Navy history comes to life on the world’s most visited ship museum!

Animal Attractions

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

See sea turtles up close at Living Coast Discovery Center.

Fine Dines and Shop-Portunities

Have fun on San Diego Bay and see you at the Big Bay Boom! 🙂

> Browse the Comprehensive list of 4th of July Fireworks and Celebrations in San Diego

P.S. Just for fun, check out 2012’s Big Bay Boom which went off accidentally in one big 15-second boom seen around the world.

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.

Brent Bernasconi

Catch Olympic Excitement In San Diego

Today marks the official start of the London 2012 Olympic Games with an opening ceremony full of dazzling sights and sounds (and I hear James Bond and Harry Potter might make an appearance). While most of us can’t make it to London, you can still catch the Olympic excitement in San Diego. Catch a family-friendly viewing of the opening ceremony along the water, or see where 80 Team USA Olympians trained (which amounts to about 1 in 5 of the US Olympic athletes trained in San Diego!) at the Olympic Training Center.

Olympics Opening Ceremony Viewing Party

Tonight, climb aboard the USS Midway for a free viewing of the Olympics Opening Ceremony starting at 6:30 PM. During the festivities, visitors will enjoy the following activities:

  • Scheduled appearance by BMX Olympic team
  • Olympic archery athletes conducting archery demonstrations
  • Paralympic soccer team hosting juggling contests for kids
  • Autograph and photos sessions
  • Interactive displays and activities
  • Two giant screens to watch the opening ceremonies in London
  • Typical British fair and drinks for sale!
  • And much more!

> Find out More about the Olympics Opening Ceremony View Party on the USS Midway

Chula Vista Olympic Training Center

Olympic Training Center Flame

Take a peek inside what it takes to train US Olympians at the Olympic Training Center in South Bay’s Chula Vista. The combination of San Diego’s near perfect year-round weather  and open space made for the perfect spot to build a facility for archery, beach volleyball, BMX, canoe/kayak, cycling, field hockey, rowing, rugby, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, triathlon and cross-training for various winter sports.

During the week, visitors can take a self-guided walk down the mile-long Olympic Path with a printable map or by using a cell phone. Guided tours are offered on Saturdays at 11:00 AM.

> Find out more about the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center

In the comments below, tell us about your favorite Olympic sport…


Sail through San Diego’s History with Free Tickets to the Titanic Exhibit!

Now through September 9, 2012 you can experience one of the most legendary ships of the last 100 years with TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Just comment below for a chance to win!

San Diego has a long and proud seafaring tradition that continues today. Luckily for locals and visitors alike there is always a ship, from the recreation of Cabrillo”s 1542 San Salvador, to the longest-serving aircraft carrier now permanently docked in San Diego”s harbor, the USS Midway, ready to sail you through San Diego”s honorable maritime history.

TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibition

On April 15, 1912, Titanic, the world”s largest ship of its time, sank after colliding with an iceberg, claiming more than 1,500 lives and shaking the world’s confidence in the infallibility of modern technology. One hundred years later, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, which nbso online casino reviews showcases 200 artifacts retrieved from the wreck site of Titanic, arrives at theNAT.


h2>San Salvador Build Site

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is building a full-sized, fully functional and historically accurate replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo”s San Salvador capitana or flagship of the Spanish expedition which first explored what is now the West Coast of the United States. Volunteers are constructing the vessel in full public view allowing visitors the opportunity to watch history come to life before their eyes. After construction, San Salvador will become part of the Museum”s fleet of historic and replica ships and will travel along the California coast as an ambassador for San Diego.

USS Midway Museum

Over 1,000,000 annual visitors to the USS Midway Museum enter a floating city at sea and walk in the footsteps of 225,000 Midway sailors who served our country and upheld the American ideals of strength, freedom and peace. The USS Midway Museum is an unforgettable adventure for the entire family. Guests can spend the day exploring more than 60 exhibits with a collection of 25 restored aircraft. The self-guided audio tour, narrated by Midway sailors, brings the carrier”s history to life. Those who dare can “take to the sky” aboard one of three flight simulators.

Want to sail through history? Comment below for a chance to win 2 tickets to TITANIC: The Artifact Exhibition, at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Two winners will be chosen at random at 10:00 am on Thursday, June 7, 2012. Do you have a favorite ship in San Diego?


“San Diego is Calling” Video Contest…What’s your Answer?

Get out your cameras! Get creative! And you could win a trip for 4 to San Diego or an iPad 3! Between April 18 and May 18, 2012, we want you to submit videos about your San Diego happiness. Show us what you love!


You do love San Diego, right? Of course you do! (Why else would you be reading this?) Here at we definitely *heart* our city, but we also know our fans are some of the most passionate, awesome people out there. So we think it is time we got to know you. We need YOU to show US what it is about San Diego that produces the biggest smiles and happiest memories. About time, right?

So whatever you are doing this weekend, grab your video camera and keep San Diego on your mind…you might be surprised by how many smiles you capture. 🙂

Grand Prize:

First Prize:

  • iPad 3: 16GB Wi-Fi White

Happiness is calling…what’s your answer?

Robert Arends

Family Fun in San Diego! Beaches, Boardwalks, Insider Tips

San Diego continues to put itself on the map as the place to play this Memorial Day – and all summer long! According to AAA, our sun-kissed city ranks second among its top 5 destinations for Southern California travelers. With 70 miles of coastline and a perpetually warm sunny climate, it’s easy to see why we’re such an enticing summer getaway.

Surf's up at Coronado Beach!

Speaking of sun, surf and sand, the June issue of Parents Magazine just hit newsstands with a feature story: 10 Best Family Beaches in America.” Coronado Beach nabbed the #4 spot! The mag said it ”has everything families could want: perfect weather…spotless white sand (the town even invented an environmentally friendly rake to clean up the kelp), and warm, gentle water.”

Sand dunes of Coronado Beach. also rated Coronado Beach as its #5 pick for 10 Best Beaches for Families.” They called the sparkling stretch of sand “memorable” for its “long sandbar and fantastic waves to stoke any one of your little surfers.” They set their sights on San Diego’s bustling boardwalks too, calling Pacific and Mission Beach – home of Belmont Park and the famous Giant Dipper roller coaster – the #8 best boardwalk in their 11 Best Beach Boardwalks for Families.”

Walk this way... to the Mission Beach boardwalk!

NBC Los Angeles even touted San Diego’s “beach bliss” (Thanks for the shout out, Alysia – you’re “rad!”).

For families planning a summer trip to San Diego, following are some insider tips, courtesy of Eileen Ogintz, author of Taking the Kids To Sunny Southern California.” Her San Diego chapter is full of fun facts and recommended activities, from animal encounters (“San Diego may be the best place in the country to meet and greet all kinds of animals”) and ship tours (“You can visit an aircraft carrier to see what it’s like to live and work on a floating city…At the Maritime Museum, climb aboard the century-old windjammer the Star of India… “) to Balboa Park’s bounty of cultural delights (“It’s got everything from the zoo to a merry-go-round, a miniature train and model train museum, a puppet theater—even an outdoor pipe organ” offering free Sunday concerts.).

Eileen also shows parents how to travel “smarter and saner with kids this summer,” including money-saving and theme park tips.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! Wishing you safe travels…


Escape to San Diego Sweepstakes: Perfect 5 Day Itinerary Part 4

Have you entered our Escape to San Diego Sweepstakes? Hurry and enter by Friday, May 13th, and you could win a five night stay at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel and roundtrip airfare for two! How would you like to spend those five beautiful days in San Diego? Let me count the ways…

1. La Jolla: While La Jolla’s majestic coastline is more than enough reason to visit, it also boasts a vibrant arts community, centered on the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. The building’s exterior installation of suspended rowboats is just the beginning inside you’ll find an internationally recognized collection and superb rotation of exhibitions. Afterwards, a stroll through La Jolla’s downtown offers up many smaller galleries and art dealers well worth the stop.

2. Downtown: San Diego’s downtown area is full of theaters dedicated to performing arts, from local bands at the neighborhood pub to the grand, 2,967 capacity San Diego Civic Theatre. One worth checking out is Lyceum Theatre. Its smaller stage offers a more intimate setting for progressive and thought provoking work by the San Diego Reparatory Theatre while the larger theater showcases many modern and compelling pieces by the San Diego Ballet.

3. Old town: Get in touch with San Diego’s past in Old Town State Historic Park. Enjoy the views from the Presidio, and then make your way down through the many different original and reconstructed buildings, including the newly restored Cosmopolitan Hotel, haunted Whaley House, Little Adobe Chapel, and a row of San Diego’s most notable Victorian homes in Heritage Park.

Balboa Park

4. Balboa Park: Pack a picnic and enjoy the gardens of Balboa Park. The Botanical Building and its adjacent Lily Pond is one of the most photographed scenes in the park, and at first glance you’ll know why. The intricate, Victorian lath structure is the largest in the world and filled to the brim with beautiful botanicals. Stay and bask on the lawn, or check out the other gardens in the park, including a Japanese Friendship Garden, Palm Canyon, Rose Garden, Desert Garden and Marston House Garden.

5. USS Midway Museum: That goliath aircraft carrier you see in the harbor? That’s the USS Midway, and you are welcome to come aboard! Explore this floating “city at sea” with its 60 exhibits and 25 restored aircraft as well as 50 years of history on the longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Haven’t had enough? Then continue along to the Maritime Museum, where the world’s oldest active sailing ship, Star of India, docks.


Spring Break in San Diego

Travel & Leisure recently named San Diego as the #3 destination for Best Time to Visit – Spring Break. And why wouldn’t we be? From beaches to attractions to the best weather in the country (we were named #1 for weather!); San Diego has so much to offer.

One great way to see San Diego’s best attractions, museums and general sightseeing is the Go San Diego Card. With the Go San Diego Card, visitors can purchase 3, 5, and 7 day cards that will give you entrance into over 50 San Diego area venues. Popular itineraries include the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Legoland California, Safari Park, USS Midway Museum, and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. But those are just suggestions, with so many options, you can customize your Spring Break into whatever you like. The folks at Go San Diego Card tell us that some popular options for Spring Break include the rides at Belmont Park, Bike and Kayak tours in La Jolla (kayak rentals or beach cruisers) or “ride the wave” at the Wave House Athletic Club. And even better, the Go San Diego Cards are unlimited and work for consecutive days.

Interested in trying the Go San Diego Cards for your Spring Break? Comment on the blog below and one lucky winner will win 4 Go San Diego Cards. Comment by Monday, March 21st at 10:00 a.m.

Guest Blogger

It’s Not All Work and No Play in San Diego

View from Seaport Village of the Bay

As soon as I arrived in San Diego the last week of February, I knew that the sunshine and warm breeze would capture this East Coast girl. From the beginning of our TMS 2011 Annual Meeting & Exhibition, we all felt that the San Diego Convention Center and the entire city would offer a great break from the cold winters of Pittsburgh. On my first night in San Diego, I was able to go out for a fantastic meal at The Palm Restaurant in the Gaslamp Quarter and enjoyed a fantastic filet trio meal. I recommend the Chocolate Bread Pudding, top notch! The general manager was fantastic and gave our group a private room to dine in while there and we enjoyed every minute of it! On the first Sunday I was in town, I was able to go for a morning run behind the convention center and enjoy the beautiful views of the bay and even ventured over to Seaport Village, which was a great way to start one of many long working days in San Diego.

Our host hotel was the San Diego Marriott & Marina Hotel, which was conveniently located next to the San Diego Convention Center. We enjoyed all of the staff at the hotel and especially enjoyed the convenience of the proximity to the center. Later in the week, I was able to have cocktails with one of the sales staff from the San Diego Omni at The Marble Room and loved the old world charm that the location had to offer. Dressed in flapper style, the servers were fun and welcoming with their old-fashioned style drinks. I also had the chance to enjoy breakfast at The Broken Yolk and had a great breakfast burrito with excellent guacamole. To end my stay in San Diego, I made a trip to visit the USS Midway Museum. As someone who enjoys history, this was a great way to end my trip and enjoy one of the neatest historical elements in San Diego.

USS Midway Museum

San Diego was a great city and for someone who came home to snow on the ground, it makes me want to hurry back for another trip!

Colleen Leary recently visited San Diego while here for a convention. Follow her on twitter at @colleenpburgh


5 to Try: Grandparents Edition

Grandparents Day is Sunday, September 12th! In honor of all the grandparents out there, here are our 5 to Try with the grandparents. Our kids and the grandparents have tried all of these activities and I think all would give them two thumbs up!

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center: On Sunday, September 12th, the Science Center is offering free admission for grandparents and their grandkids! The Science Center offers exciting “do touch” science exhibits for visitors age 1 to 101. Our favorite area is the “block buster’s.” Visitors can build fun structures with thousands of KEVA planks – no glue or connectors necessary!

San Diego Botanic Garden: This is a great outdoor activity for both grandparents and kids. The grandparents will love the 36 acres of distinct garden displays and the kids will LOVE the largest demonstration children’s garden on the West Coast, which features a 20-ft climbable tree house. I can tell you first hand, that tree house is super fun!

USS Midway Museum: When my dad came to visit a few months ago, he suggested visiting the USS Midway Museum with him and the kiddies. At first I think I was the only one with some hesitation. But I have to say it is one of my favorite places to bring guests when they are visiting San Diego. It’s really fascinating to learn about the ship, and the kids love to walk up and down the stairs and explore the different areas of the ship. This museum has a lot of stairs and small corridors to walk through therefore I would only recommend it if the kids are big enough to maneuver it on their own and the grandparents are up for a lot of stair climbing.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park: We have taken both sets of grandparents to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Why? Well for starters, it’s only about 15 minutes from our house; but it could be 15,000 miles. Our favorite is of course the Park’s Journey into Africa tour. This open-air vehicle brings visitors to eye level with animals. On one of our last visitors we did the Balloon Safari with the grandparents. It provides a birds-eye view of the Park. It’s really fun!

Old Town San Diego: Old Town, considered the “birthplace” of California is a really fun way to spend the day with the grandparents. We took my mom there recently and she loved the historic Victorian houses. My kids loved the candy shop! They really have the best taffy.

What are your weekend plans?