Robert Arends

5 to Try: Sparkling East County Holiday Delights!

Skiers at the Viejas Outdoor Skating Rink
Skiers at the Viejas Outdoor Skating Rink in San Diego's East County

SoCal’s largest outdoor ice skating rink at Viejas!

OK, I know it’s only a few days after Halloween and Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, but the winter holidays will be here before you know it!

So gather up the family, grab your gift list, Santa hat and mittens (yep, there’s a 55 degree chill her in the air at night ‚Äď brrrr! ūüėČ ) and join me on a jolly jaunt to San Diego’s charming East County communities. They really know how to make some merry.

Following are 5 to Try East County Holiday Delights:

1. 66th Annual Mother Goose Parade

Goose Float at the Mother Goose Parade in San Diego's East County

El Cajon’s Mother Goose Parade!

The colorful Mother Goose Parade¬†in El Cajon is San Diego’s traditional holiday kick-off, featuring thousands of spectators, colorful floats, marching bands, equestrians and celebrity appearances – fun for the whole family!

Location: Begin at Magnolia and Main, head down Main St. to N. Second Street, turn North then end at Madison.
Date: November 18, 2012
Time: 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Parade starts at 10:00 AM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 66th Annual Mother Goose Parade

2. Julian’s¬†Country Christmas Celebration & Tree Lighting

Julian Country Christmas & Tree Lighting.

The historic, Norman Rockwell-esque mountain town of Julian kicks off the holidays with a Country Christmas celebration & Tree Lighting, complete with costumed carolers, Santa Claus and, of course, their famous apple pies and piping hot apple cider!

Location:¬†Julian’s Pioneer Park (map)
Date: November 24, 2012
Time: Starts at 4:00 PM. Lighting around 6:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about¬†Julian’s¬†Country¬†Christmas¬†Celebration & Tree Lighting

3. Santa Train North Pole Limited

Santa on the North Pole Limited

Make tracks for the Santa Train North Pole Limited!

All aboard the Santa Train North Pole Limited, a Christmas vintage train ride through our rustic backcountry, departing from the Campo Depot. The adventure features Santa and his elves, cookies and hot cocoa, plus a reading of the famous holiday story, The Polar Express. Reserve seats now for this sell-out holiday favorite!

Location: State Highway 94 & Forrest Gate Road, Campo, CA (map)
Dates: Fridays and Saturdays, November 23 – December 22
Times: Trains at 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM (depending on the date)
Cost: $20-$50, Toddlers under 2 are free
> Find out more about Santa Train North Pole Limited

4. Ice Skating at the Viejas Outlet Center

Ice Skaters at the Viejas Outlet Center in San Diego's East County

There’s plenty of room at the largest outdoor skating rink in Southern California.

The Peanuts Christmas special always comes to mind at the Viejas Outlet Center, home of the largest outdoor ice skating rink in Southern California!

Location: 5005 Willows Rd Suite 229, Alpine, CA 91901 (map)
Dates: November 16 – January 6, 2012
Time: TBD
Cost: TBD
> Find out more about Ice Skating at the Viejas Outlet Center 

5. Alpine Village Christmas Parade of Lights & Snow Festival

Santa Claus at the Alpine Christmas Parade!

The quaint town of Alpine kicks off the season with its Alpine Village Christmas Parade of Lights & Snow Festival, featuring a parade, Santa and his elves, caroling and a big snow mountain for sledding. Snow in San Diego… who knew?!

Location: 1347 Tavern Road, Alpine, CA (map)
Date: December 7, 2012
Time: Starts at 6:30 PM
> Find out more about the Alpine Village Christmas Parade of Lights & Festival

A hearty happy (early) “Ho ho ho” from San Diego! ūüôā Know of any other great East County Holiday events? Let us and other’s know in the comments below.


Winter Style…San Diego’s Version

Brandy Melville

Winter in most locations can be defined as cold and blustery sometimes stifling your dressing style. Cool, crisp mornings leading into warm and sunny afternoons define the typical winter day in San Diego; so our winter-style is usually the “art of layering.”

With average daily highs of 66 degrees and lows of 50, we start off with coverage and by afternoon, jackets are off! When visiting San Diego in the winter months, you might want to pack some t-shirts, tunics, sweaters, leggings, jeans and a jacket. Don’t forget to throw in a few fabulous scarves and sunglasses!

Brandy Melville

Brandy Melville

Most shopping in San Diego will offer you a variety of layering options. One of San Diego’s newest additions, Brandy Melville, offers a variety of loose-fitting tees, soft angora sweaters, jeans and maxi skirts. Women of every age will find something here to add to their wardrobe while not breaking the bank.

Max Studio

Max Studio

Another great place with great layering options is Max Studio in the Fashion Valley Shopping Center. This is a great location to find some versatile sleek-and-chic monochromatic layering pieces like tunics, leggings, sweaters, sunglasses and jackets. They also sell my go-to pant called the Ponti Boot-Cut Pant (great for travel)!

Mog & Rue

Mog & Rue

Make sure you stop by the seaside community of Encinitas to shop at Mog + Rue. This ultra-fab boutique carries both established and independent designers showcasing classic and casual yet fashion forward ensembles. The owner is a widely published fashion and beauty writer who has a keen eye on the definition of the San Diego laid-back-chic look.

With so many layering options to purchase, my top three items to pick up before you leave would be a pair of fabulous sunglasses, jeans (we have an abundance of choices) and an ultra-chic maxi skirt. All three will prepare you perfectly for Spring!


A Season of Savings at Viejas Outlet Center in San Diego’s East County

Viejas Outlet Center

Holiday Fun at the Viejas Casino & Outlet Center

Being in the throes of this holiday season, people are always searching for one-stop-shopping opportunities to not only find the perfect gift but an outing the whole family can enjoy. One of the many festive shopping destinations in San Diego is the award-winning Viejas Outlet Center. Approximately 30 minutes from Downtown near the quaint town of Alpine, this outlet center features some fabulous go-to brands in a picturesque park-like setting creating the perfect place to conquer your holiday shopping list while you relax! During this holiday season, you can save up to 70% on already unbelievable prices on popular brands like Brooks Brothers, Chico’s Jones New York, Coach, Nine West, Tommy Hilfiger, Rue 21, Gap, Guess, Polo Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, Nike, Carter’s Children’s Wear, Vans, and Sunglass Hut, just to name a few!

Southern California's Largest Outdoor Ice Skating Rink

Once you master your holiday shopping list then maybe spend some time enjoying a magical experience of skating outdoors with the entire family on Southern California’s largest outdoor skating rink. This will be sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Once off the ice, stick around to see the enchanting water show called Together, A Holiday Spectacular! You will be dazzled with this 360 degree experience with water fountains, lasers, fire cannons, pyrotechnics, and state-of-the-art special effects, all choreographed to the best known and loved holiday music!

If the lighting, special effects and music does not get you in the holiday spirit, you might need to re-fuel yourself with a specialty coffee at Robin’s Coffee Nest or with a few pieces of chocolate from the Rocky Mt. Chocolate Factory. If you need a little bit more to energize your shopping goals then be sure to partake in the many choices of dining options at the outlet center. Two of my favorites are Nori Sushi Bar & Grill or Adriano’s Pizza.

No matter what your shopping list entails, Viejas Outlet Center will certainly fulfill your holiday shopping goals all while having fun with the whole family!


5 to Try This Weekend: Free Holiday Events

Parade of Lights

  1. The 39th Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights sets sail this Sunday from 5:30‚Äď9 p.m. More than 100 private boats covered¬†with holiday lights and decorations will parade¬†around San Diego Bay, followed by an extravagant firework show over the water. Great views are available on dry land from Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Marina Park and Coronado‚Äôs Ferry Landing.¬†
  2. See Old Town State Historic Park decked out for the holidays during Holiday in the Park.¬† Learn how residents celebrated the holidays in the 1800s, enjoy candlelight tours, holiday singers, live performances and complimentary refreshments; Holiday in the Park takes place this Saturday from 6‚Äď8 p.m.
  3. Visit the Village of La Mesa and see it transform into a Victorian Wonderland for Christmas in the Village. Enjoy street performers, carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, carnival rides, entertainment for the family and more; Christmas in the Village takes place from 5‚Äď10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.¬†¬†
  4. Enjoy the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade¬†this Sunday in downtown San Diego‚Äôs historic Gaslamp Quarter. Owners and their dressed-up pets will march down the decorated streets of the neighborhood and end at a Pet Expo featuring an awards ceremony for best-dressed pups.¬† The parade starts at 3 p.m. and the Pet Expo will be open from 1‚Äď5 p.m.
  5. Celebrate holiday cheer during Christmas in the Park ‚Äď Poway.¬† The event features a tree lighting ceremony, visits from Santa, train rides, live music, theatre performances, food, treats, crafts and more. The fun takes place this Saturday from 3:30‚Äď8:30 p.m.

Watch Some Whale Watching

Not sure if whale watching is for you?

This video gives you a preview of what’s in store before you head out to sea.

Watch more San Diego videos at

A Whale Of A Time On The Bay


Anchors a-whale!

Anchors a-whale!

As you know, around here, we’re big fans of the California Grey whale and we get really excited each year during their annual migration through the waters off our coast.

If you’re like us and love the sea‚Äôs gentle giants or even if you are just into free family fun, mark your calendar for The 2010 Big Bay Whale Fest on Saturday, January 23.

There will be music and entertainment, lots of fun stuff for the kids and fascinating displays on California Grey whale ecology and conservation.  Plus, all day long, kids 12 and under cruise free on Hornblower and San Diego Harbor Excursion whale watching excursions.

Whale Fest takes place 11 a.m. ‚Äď 3 p.m. along the downtown Embarcadero near the corner of Harbor Drive and Broadway. Admission is free.

Whale Fest¬†is part of the¬†Big Bay’s second annual Big Bay Whale Days, a month-long celebration that includes discounted whale watching and bay cruises, admission specials at waterfront museums and money-saving specials at Embarcadero restaurants and shops.


A Little Sunshine To Warm Your Heart

All my family and friends in Washington, Idaho, Montana (brrr!), Texas, New York and even Florida have been battling Old Man Winter this past couple weeks, trying to stay warm. 

A local reporter friend was out last weekend, shooting some footage of San Diego’s beautiful weather.¬† I got permission to post it for all you guys so I could share with you a little bit of our¬†spring and (even) summer temps (it was 81 in North Park this past¬†weekend!).¬†

And, of course, to remind you winter is a great time to come visit!


New Holiday Fun at SeaWorld

the tree of lights will rock 'n' roll this seasonAs if SeaWorld couldn’t get any cooler… check out what they’ve got in store for us this winter:

A new ice skating rink: From Nov. 21 – Jan. 3, lace up some skates and glide beneath SeaWorld‚Äôs Tree of Lights to celebrate the season.¬†In addition to a 5,000 sq. ft. ice rink, there will also be a special toddler rink¬† for kids 3 and under…¬†the kiddies¬†can also get special double-edged ice skates for extra balance.¬† Skate rentals will be¬†an additional cost¬†to park admission; price TBA.

“The Polar Express 4-D Experience”: Take an epic 4-D journey to the North Pole¬†aboard the Polar Express but bundle up, becuase you’ll experience aamazing multi-sensory effects including snow, fog and gusts of wind.¬† The movie will¬†only be available¬†Nov. 21‚ÄďDec. 31 so don’t be late for the train…All aboard!

Tree of Lights with a Twist: Every night at¬†6 p.m. from Nov. 24 – Dec. 25,¬†SeaWorld¬†light up it’s 320-foot (skytower) Tree of Lights and cue it to a musical broadcast courtesy of KyXy 96.5. The skytower tree lights will dance, flash, swirl and glow to holiday music broadcasted throughout San Diego.