Julia Weiler

Correspondent

  • San Diego, California, USA

Julia Weiler is a correspondent who covers San Diego for Forbes Travel Guide. Her wanderlust has lead her on far-flung adventures, like housesitting in Fiji, backpacking through Southeast Asia, road-tripping in Mexico and building homes in Papua New Guinea with Habitat for Humanity. Her stories are published in an award-winning series of humorous travel anthologies, including Whose Panties Are These?, What Color Is Your Jockstrap? and More Sand in My Bra (the latter of which she co-edited). Weiler contributes to Ocean Home Magazine and is a correspondent for the website Wine and Dine San Diego. When not wandering or writing, she likes surfing Southern California’s best breaks.

  • On August 1, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best neighborhood restaurants in San Diego?

    San Diego has some amazing little neighborhoods, and Barrio Logan is one that I only recently discovered.  The area, which sits under the shadow of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, is home to Chicano Park, which contains the country’s largest collection of outdoor murals.   The Park’s vibrant artwork pays homage to the predominantly Mexican American and Mexican immigrant community and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in San Diego County.

    With nearly 8-acres of hand-painted murals, unique sculptures, earthworks and architectural features it’s a hidden gem worth discovering.  You’ll want to fuel up for the morning’s art-bound adventure with a proper cup of fair-trade coffee from Café Virtuoso.  When you’re ready for a lunch break later in the day, The Blueprint Café is the perfect spot to get your fill.  Located at 1805 Newton Avenue, the bright and cozy shop serves up tasty comfort food created with fresh, local and sustainably harvested ingredients prepared by Chef/Owner Gayle Covner. 

    For a hearty bite try Gayle’s massive, and much lauded burger featuring a half-pound of grilled Meyer Ranch Angus beef piled high with cheddar, bacon, avocado and tomato with spicy chipotle sauce.  Be sure to save room for a side of sweet potato fries and a pint of Ballast Point Pale Ale.  If lighter fare is what you crave then the signature salad is sure to please.  The tender grilled chicken has just a hint of spice that tastes so nice when mixed with the sweet red onions, tangy cranberries, toasted piñons and crisp romaine tossed in chili lime dressing.

    Lunch is served at The Blueprint Café from 11am to 3pm Mondays through 11am – 3pm.

    *****

    Some of the best breaks can be found in Oceanside, and after a day of surfing I love to refuel at The Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen just a few blocks from the waves.  Run by husband and wife team, Roddy and Aaron Browning, the power couple is no stranger to fine farm-to-fork cuisine.  They've brought the slow food movement to the Pig where their fresh, locally sourced gourmet fare is presented in a truly friendly, not at all pretentious, and totally soulful way that I find refreshing.

    The place has a rustic, quirky art gallery vibe with brightly painted mismatched walls adorned by vintage kitsch and rummage sale funk.  Menus are pasted inside old album covers and none of the dishes or silverware are of the same pattern.  It’s the kind of place that I feel comfortable coming to with salty tresses and jeans paired with flip-flops.  On at least two occasions I have spotted well-known celebrities at the Pig who were dressed much the same.  It’s that kind of relaxed yet hip place, and clearly the word has made it as far north as LA.

    Perhaps what makes the Pig so popular is the friendly service.  Roddy makes a point of getting to know his patrons and often greets them by name.  Then again it could be the amazing cuisine, which – as the name would suggest – has a heavy emphasis on pork.  The bacon mac-n-cheese is just such a dish.  Served in a mini-skillet the top is golden brown and slightly crisp with creamy bacon-loaded goodness beneath it.  I also dig the molasses glazed brussels and bacon, the fresh ground pork burger with tempura onion, molten cheddar, spicy ‘626’ sauce, and (oh, yes) a fried farmers egg.

    Being a pub, the Pig has plenty of San Diego craft drafts on tap to pair with all that pork.  The selections of suds are ever changing and always delightfully diverse.  Those who prefer lighter fare complemented by fine wine will be pleased with the wide of array of creative field-fresh salads and the impressive wine cellar.  Vinos vary day to day and are served by the glass or by the bottle.

    If you plan to visit the Pig be sure to arrive early (pub opens at 4:30 pm, kitchen at 5pm) or call ahead for a reservation.  This fun neighborhood eatery is quite the hot spot and fills up rather quickly.  It's not unusual for there to be up a 45-minute wait for a table, even on a slow Monday night.  If you see Roddy while your there, please tell him I said hello.  Oh, and eat some vinegar fries for me, too.  You'll be glad you did. 

    The Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen
    626 South Tremont St
    Oceanside, CA 92054
    Tel: 760 453 2940
  • On August 1, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best steakhouses in San Diego?

    For great steak in North County look no further than West Steak and Seafood in the coastal town of Carlsbad.  A favorite among locals in the know, the restaurant serves high-end cuts of pedigreed beef and savory seafood in both its hip lounge and its elegant dining room.  Helmed by Executive Chef Eugenio Martignago, the menu features a wide array of steaks and chops enhanced by gourmet sides such as cremini mushroom trifolati.

    Standouts from the dinner menu include the Greg Norman Signature Wagyu New York Steak, available in 6 or 12oz portions.  Prized for its intense marbling and creamy texture, this particular cut is considered a delicacy and Chef Martignago cooks it up right.  The meat is expertly seared over low temps, which locks in the juices to deliver a rich, succulent steak that melts in the mouth.  Other highlights include Duroc pork chops and grass-fed free-range cuts of beef, venison and bison.  

    In the lounge, Seafood reigns supreme.  Come for happy hour (4:30 – 6:30 daily) and snack on seared jumbo sea scallops served over crispy potato cakes with sweet corn or ahi tartare intertwined with pickled ginger, chives and Tobiko caviar.  Pair your frutti de mare with handcrafted cocktails like the blood orange cosmo or the lavender gin Collins muddled with fruits, herbs and spices plucked from Chef Martignago’s very own organic farm.  Be sure to save room for dessert, the white chocolate crème brûlée does not disappoint.
  • On August 1, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    Which San Diego microbreweries have the best tasting rooms?

    San Diegans are spoiled when it comes to sampling craft drafts.  Nearly all the local brewers have tasting rooms and there’s not a bad one in the bunch.  While you really can’t go wrong, there are a few that stand out, and Stone Brewing Co. is among the tops.  One of my favorite places to sip their suds is at Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens - Escondido.  A merry mix of brewery, restaurant and beer gardens, the sprawling property provides a truly sublime Stone experience.

    Begin with a guided tour of the microbrewery then pick a perch in the hip dining room.  Better yet, head to the garden and enjoy the lush landscape dotted by rugged boulders and soothing water features.  In either location you can enjoy tasty micro-brews pulled fresh from the taps.  Pair a pint of Stone Cali-Belgique IPA with the comedic but aptly named stinky cheese plate, or try the crisp romaine and fried caper Stone Caesar Salad with a glass of Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale.   Heartier plates, like grilled rib eye steak with roasted mashed potatoes partners well with the bold flavors of Stone Smoked Porter. 

    Be sure to check out Stone Brewing Co.’s calendar of events.   Between their flagship brick and mortar, four Stone Company Stores ranging from South Park to Oceanside, and their newest Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens - Liberty Station in Point Loma, there’s always something special going on at Stone.
  • On August 1, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    Where can I go for a unique Sunday brunch experience?

    For a taste of Italy without the hassle of international travel, take a quick trip to Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad and enjoy Pranzo, a relaxed Italian-style brunch served at Vivace.  Begin with a peachy Bellini, crisp Negroni or refreshing spritz as you peruse the entree and contorni (side dishes) choices.  The Wagyu flat iron steak with horseradish mostarda is an excellent pick, especially when paired with peewee potatoes enhanced by garlic and rosemary.  The caper and grilled Meyer Lemon-enhanced branzino alongside caramelized cauliflower with anchovy, currants and pine nuts is another standout.  Be sure to select different dishes than your dining partner as they are served family-style for sharing.

    Before the main event enjoy simple edible pleasures from the trio of antipasti bars.  The crudo bar is a treasure trove of tender seafood delicacies.  Try the poached Caledonian prawns with a splash of salsa rosa, or the Skuna Bay salmon with a pinch of sea salt flakes, a squeeze of lemon and a paper-thin slice of jalapeño.  Move on to the artisan salumi bar for fresh cuts of house cured meats such as coppa and soppressata paired with creamy-centered burrata and orbs of mozzarella made fresh at the station.  Be sure to leave room on your plate for delicate baby beets, grilled asparagus, and a salad of fennel and oranges.  Candied pecans, honeycomb and an array of crusty Italian breads accent the spread.

    As you linger over the first course, mains and sides arrive. Share, savor and spend your time lingering over the flavors. The antipasti stations will still be there should you desire more.  Afterwards, enjoy a sweet finale over dolce, the elaborate dessert course.  Visit the self-serve dessert bar and take your choice of classic Italian desserts such as tiramisu, torta al limone, budino al caramello and cannoli. 

    Pranzo is served every Sunday from 11:30am to 3pm in Vivace’s elegant Mediterranean- inspired dining room, or outside on the breezy ocean-view terrace.  Phone 760-448-1234 for reservations.

    *****

    When I’m looking for a healthier alternative to the standard champagne brunch, I head to Veladora at the Forbes Travel Guide Four Star-rated  Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa.  The lavish resort is located in the pastoral Rancho Santa Fe community, and is nestled on 45 lush acres dotted by verdant foliage, blooming shrubs, citrus trees, and olive groves.  The drive out there puts me in a mellow mood, and by the time I arrive I feel as serene as the setting itself.

    The relaxed yet elegant ambiance at Veladora reminds me of a modern hacienda.  Plush banquettes (complete with fluffy throw pillows), soaring open-beamed ceilings, a flickering fireplace, and huge windows overlooking the bucolic landscape perfects the scene.  As for the cuisine, Executive Chef Eric Bauer incorporates much of what I see in the gardens around me into his menu.  He uses locally grown, freshly picked ingredients including herbs, olive oil, and honey sourced directly onsite at Rancho Valencia.

    Inspired by the setting, I'll often begin my meal with sense-based slow juices such as Wellness Journey.  This slightly sweet juice is a refreshing combination of apples, kale, and celery that makes me feel as good as it tastes.  I love to pair this with the Acai Breakfast Bowl, which includes bananas, house-made granola and nutrient-rich bee pollen.  For my main I choose the Mediterranean Spinach & Roasted Chicken Salad intertwined with herbed couscous, kalamata olives, pickled onion, cucumber and marinated feta.

    My husband enjoys heartier meals such as the San Danielle Prosciutto & Egg Breakfast Flat Bread made with truffle chive cream cheese, shaved asparagus, and eggs served sunny side up.  For a sweet finish he selects the pillowy Belgian Beer Waffle complemented by farm-fresh berries, creamy apple butter, and a light dusting of powdered sugar.  He likes to pair this with a Valencia Protein Smoothie that combines chocolate, bananas, and peanut butter with a protein boost for a rich and creamy shake that keeps him fueled up and feeling great for the rest of the day.

    Veladora is located within Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa at:
    5921 Valencia Cir 
    Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
    Ph: (858) 756-1123
  • On August 1, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best places to hear live music in San Diego?

    If you happen to be in San Diego during The Grand Del Mar's Summer Concerts at The Grand be sure to get in the action.  The Forbes Travel Guide Five Star-Rated resort has one of the most intimate concert venues in the county.  Held in the Grand Ballroom, guests are treated to a close-up show in style.

    Every Sunday through September 1st, the series puts the spotlight on an array of musical talent.  Upcoming acts include legendary American blues-rockers The Fabulous Thunderbirds on August 4th, a Jagger-esque performance by The Ultimate Stones cover band on August 11th and the swoon-worthy Italian crooner Patrizio Buanne on September 1st.

    For reservations, please call, toll-free, 1-877-814-8472; or book online at www.TheGrandDelMar.com

    *****

    Get down and groove this summer at the bayside San Diego Symphonies Ashford University Summer Pops concert series.  Each year a stage is constructed at the beautiful Embarcadero Marina Park South where musical performances are enjoyed in an alfresco setting.  Grab a general admission ticket and enjoy a cozy spot on the lawn, or upgrade to a grandstand voucher and perch on fold-down style chairs.  For the ultimate concert experience snag a cabaret table and be seated in style.

    The Summer Pops series kicks off their 10 weeks of concerts in late June and features an exciting lineup of musical acts.  Standouts include a star-spangled 4th of July extravaganza lead by principle Pops conductor, Bill Conti who will lead a musical mélange of American hits from Broadway to Main Street.  The show will also feature a military salute, and front row seats to the Big Bay Boom fireworks spectacular. 

    The season continues with performances from musicians like En Vogue, Amy Grant and Michael Bolton as well as cover tributes to bands such as The Bee Gees of Saturday Night Fever fame.  Summer Pops concerts are held on Friday and Saturday nights with occasional shows on Thursdays and Sundays.  Gates open at 6pm and acts kick off around 7:30 pm unless otherwise noted.  This is an outdoor venue by the Bay so be sure to dress in layers and bring something warm for after the sun goes down.
  • On August 1, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    Which San Diego spas offer treatments for teens?

    This summer at The Spa at Paradise Point, teen girls can indulge in a fun-filled range of treatments including the “Mom and Me” ritual featuring side-by-side, 50-minute Swedish massages followed by ice cream pedicures for mother and daughter.  Other summertime indulgences include the “Girls’ Night In”, a Saturday evening in at the spa with mock-tinis and choice of 20-minute mini-treatments such as scalp massage, nail polish change, or facial.   During the event spa estheticians offer one-on-one skin analysis, share tips and tricks for caring for teen skin and provide take-home SkinCeuticals product samples.

    With more than a mile of private beachfront on calm Mission bay, several sparkling pools and a protected island setting, this teen-friendly resort and spa is ideal for vacationing families. For more information on Paradise Point activities at the spa and beyond visit: www.paradisepoint.com.
  • On August 1, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    Where is the best shopping in San Diego?

    For the latest collections from the hottest designers seize your savviest shopping pals and head to Fashion Valley Mall.  Located in San Diego’s sun-soaked Mission Valley, this upscale shoppers’ mecca spans 1.7 million square feet and offers more than 200 stores to choose from.  Take advantage of valet parking then stroll the breezeways in search of haute couture from famous names like Burberry of London and Hermès of Paris.  Don’t forget to grab a bag from Coach and a haute pair of Jimmy Choo shoes while your there.

    Have the whole family with you?  Gap Kids and Gymboree has your wee ones covered.   Meanwhile hip brands like H&M and Holister keep tweens and teens happy.  When you’re bags are overflowing settle down at California Pizza Kitchen for a respite and some So Cal-style pie.  Afterwards you can head to The Cheesecake Factory for a slice of something sweet.  Fashion Valley Mall is located at 7007 Friars Rd, San Diego, CA 92108.  Hours are Monday to Saturday: 10am - 9pm Sunday: 11am - 7pm.

    *****

    Thanks to a glamorous head-to-toe makeover, the once slightly shabby Westfield UTC in La Jolla is now over-the-top chic.  The breezy, open-air mall is also brimming with cool features like luxurious lounge areas scattered throughout the property.  Some include cozy chairs clustered around fire pits while others feature plush sofas set under shady cabanas.  Perhaps the hippest, however, are the nest-like daybed pods that offer a semi-private place in which to perch.

    Anchored by Macy’s and Nordstrom, the mall boasts a wide array of stores that range from high-end merchants like Rolex, Coach and Tiffany & Co. to fun and affordable retailers such as Charlotte Ruse and Forever 21.  Specialty stores like Sun Diego Boardshops and Brighton Collectibles are also in the mix, as is Williams Sonoma, and Chuao Chocolatiers where you can sample artisan chocolate bars laced with surprising ingredients like maple bacon.

    For luch stop by Tender Greens and savor a gourmet salad made with locally sourced ingredients, or grab a fro yo from Yogen Früz then head to the sunny Palm Plaza for a live music performance (12pm – 2pm Wed – Sun).  Other onsite entertainment and activities options include ArcLite Cinemas, the UTC Ice skating rink and a 24 Hour Fitness Super-Sport Club.  


    Westfield UTC
    4545 La Jolla Village Drive,
    San Diego, CA 92122-1212

    Center Hours:
    Monday – Saturday 10am – 9pm
    Sunday 11am – 7pm

    *****

    For serene shopping in a seaside-setting visit Del Mar Plaza in the village of Del Mar.  The al fresco marketplace has plenty of gems to uncover.  Peruse the inspiring art photography at Michael Seewald Gallery or shop for canvases brushed with ocean-inspired shades of acrylic at the Erik Scholdberg Gallery.

    Discover fine additions for your wardrobe at classic clothiers such as Chico’s and Banana Republic, or search for edgier styles like a leather Muubaa biker jacket, or a trendy jumper by LA designer Eva Franco at Peaches en Regalia.

    Take a break from browsing with a meal at one of the Plaza’s many ocean-view dining venues.   For dim sum and then some choose Del Mar Rendezvous.  Enjoy modern Chinese cuisine such as crispy duck wraps or walnut shrimp complemented by sake or a glass of wine.

    Del Mar Plaza is located at 1555 Camino Del Mar and is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 9pm, and Sundays from 11am until 6pm.

    *****

    For a truly unique shopping experience head just a few miles northwest of downtown San Diego to the Ocean Beach Antique District.  Located on Newport Avenue, the district spans two pedestrian-friendly blocks and was named “best antique shopping” by San Diego Magazine.  The assortment of malls and shops offers an exciting mecca for treasure hunters and collectors alike.  It is also a coveted source of vintage décor and unique furnishing for local high-end interior designers.

    Visit Vignettes and be transported to Paris of yesteryear.  Shop for French sofas and settees clad in faded satin or curvy serpentine dressers awash in peeling pastel paint.  Among the shabby chic finds you’ll discover glitzy gilt mirrors and glamorous chandeliers draped with glittering crystals.  More than 24 dealers of European antiquities contribute to Vignette’s alluring collection.  The inventory is ever changing and is always beautifully staged.

    For classic collectables such as old-timey toys, retro estate jewelry and vintage dishes look no further than the Ocean Beach Antique Mall.  This is the oldest antique mall in Ocean Beach and is home to an almost overwhelming stock of unique nostalgia.  Peruse the assortment and come away with intricate silverware, one-of-a-kind oil paintings, and whimsical hats adorned with rhinestones and feathers.  Plan to spend a good chunk of time here, as there is plenty to see.

    The district has plenty of parking and is open seven days a week.  Plan to spend an entire day exploring this unique bevvy of boutiques, shops and malls.  Nearby cafes and coffee shops will keep you fueled for the adventure.

    *****

    Shoppers in search of high fashion at low prices will be thrilled to discover San Diego’s treasure trove of outlet malls.  Top-end designers and leading brand-name stores can be found conveniently clustered together in San Diego’s South Bay and Coastal North County.  Fashionistas who shop these stylish centers are rewarded with haute couture at discounts between 25 - 65%.

    An excursion to the Carlsbad Premium Outlets in Coastal North County is well worth the drive.  The outlet mall, located in the serene seaside town of Carlsbad, offers a lovely al fresco shopping experience complete with lush landscaping, beautiful storefronts and occasional live music.  Enjoy the ocean air as you stroll the breezeways seeking steals from designers such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Michael Kors and Elie Tahari.

    Las Americas Premium Outlets in San Diego’s South Bay is another gorgeous outdoor outlet mall.  Savor budget-savvy shopping sprees surrounded by elegant architecture, statuesque sculptures and beautiful courtyards dotted by bubbling fountains.  Visitors will delight in the vast array of discounted fashion from top-end brands such as Banana Republic, BCBG Max Azria and Nautica.

    *****

    The seaside resort town of La Jolla is arguably one of the best and most pleasant places to shop in San Diego.  Often compared to Rodeo Drive, the La Jolla Cove neighborhood is an affluent area that is home to several hip shops and high-end boutiques.   Stroll the stylish sidewalks and discover cutting-edge jewelry, one of a kind outfits and lavish labels from designers like Armani and Ralph Lauren.  When you tire of hunting for haute fashion cool your well-heeled feet at one of La Jolla’s open-air cafés.
  • On August 1, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best Mexican restaurants in San Diego?

    It’s no surprise that some of San Diego’s tastiest and most festive Mexican restaurants can be found in Old Town, after all the area was designed to showcase San Diego’s Mexican heritage. 

    For a fiesta-worthy dining experience that pays homage to the area’s namesake visit Old Town Café.  With rustic wooden floors and corrugated tin ceilings supported by open beams painted in scream-out-loud colors, it’s the perfect place to party, especially during daily happy hour featuring food and drink specials.

    El Fandango is another Old Town favorite.  The cool layout features a traditional adobe building flanked by shady armadas covered in blooming bougainvillea. Vibrant hand-painted murals adorn the walls while richly hued terra cotta tiles create a warm dance floor on which to groove to the live musical entertainment featured daily.  The palate-pleasing cuisine is authentic, the portions are large and the margaritas are strong and frosty.

    Nearby Barra Barra Saloon and Casa de Reyes restaurant offers two exciting experiences to choose from right in the heart of Old Town.  Nestled amongst bustling shops in a plaza known as Fiesta de Reyes, the saloon features a wide array of specialty tequilas for adults while kids dine gratis with the purchase of adult entrees.  Meanwhile, the restaurant boasts old-fashioned Mexican cuisine served in a garden-like setting as live entertainment lights up the stage.

    For more information on dining in Old Town visit: http://www.oldtownsandiegoguide.com
  • On August 1, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What’s the best time to visit San Diego?

    Blessed with nearly year-round sunshine, San Diego is an ideal destination no matter the season, but each has its own appeal.

    Summers in San Diego bring longer, warmer days perfect for spending time on the beach.  Water temps rise to the low 70’s while the sun heats the air to the toasty 80’s.  The sand can get hot and the coastline quite crowded but it’s still the best time to soak up So Cal’s sizzling rays.  It’s also the ideal time to enjoy San Diego resorts.  The pools are open with expanded services and amenities and special summertime events are in full swing.

    Autumn on the other hand is known as serenity season.  Kids go back to school, tourist attractions quiet down and the resorts and beaches feel much more private.  While some resorts close their smaller pools and limit poolside services, lower rack rates and greater room availability make it easy to extend your stay.  It’s also an ideal time to spend the day hiking San Diego’s amazing canyons.  Meanwhile, the cooler nights are perfect for roasting s'mores around San Diego’s plentiful beach bonfire rings.

    Winters in San Diego are warm, gentle and highlighted by festive holiday celebrations.  The resorts are beautifully lit with twinkle lights, parties are in full swing and special events abound.  At the Hotel Del Coronado, families can take part in a truly unique experience when the resort transforms its Windsor Lawn into an spectacular ice rink for skating by the sea.  If you plan to be here over Thanksgiving or Christmas be sure to book ahead.

    Spring in San Diego brings a phenomenon known as May gray and June gloom to coastal towns.  While daytime temperatures remain warm, a heavy marine layer often sits over the beaches.  While it usually burns off for a few hours each day it can be tricky to truly enjoy time on the sand.  This is a great time to explore San Diego’s interior.  Inland resorts enjoy clear sunny days and offer popular outdoor pastimes such as swimming, golf and tennis.
  • On August 1, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best water activities in San Diego?

    Jetpacking is perhaps of the wackiest watersports to hit San Diego.  It’s also a whole lot of fun.  Worn on your back, much like a school kid’s backpack, the super-charged unit pumps 1000 gallons of water per minute and propels flyers to heights of up to 30 feet above the water. The unit's light weight and easy maneuverability allows flyers to deftly loop through the air and dive through the water.

    Instructors control the flights of first time flyers, but once newbies get the hang of handling their own controls they're allowed to loop and dive on their own.  Flights typically range from 15 -25 minutes each and the price per ride starts at around $150 per.  Flyers must be at least 16 years old and weigh a minimum of 90 lbs. San Diegans can try the jetpack out for themselves at  Mission Bay Sports Center.  The experience is truly one of a kind.

    *****

    If engaging in adrenaline-fueled water sports is on your San Diego bucket list then be sure to visit Manta Wind and Watersports on Fiesta Island for group or private kiteboarding lessons.  The extreme sport is an exciting fusion of surfing and wakeboarding techniques combined with flying a controllable power kite attached by harness. 

    The kite works with the wind to pull and lift the pilot as they glide across the water and launch off of waves.  While it sounds somewhat intimidating, the sport is relatively easy to learn.  Sign up for Manta’s "Discover Kiteboarding" package for a 4-hour introductory lesson with a certified instructor and learn the basics such as safety, set up, launch, hover and loop.  Once you’ve mastered these techniques on turf you will advance to the surf to practice your skills on the calm waters of Mission Bay.

    *****

    Getting in or on the water is an absolute must and there are plenty of fun ways to take the plunge.  Adventurous types can charge the sets on a their favorite wave weapon along San Diego’s sensational surf breaks.  For a similar but easier option try riding the inside whitewater on a boogie board or mellower yet, hit the lagoons and give stand-up paddle boarding a try. 

    For quests above the waterline charter a sailboat, catch the breezes and cruise San Diego Bay.  Other boating options include whale-watching excursions where you can scout for the spout, commune with dolphins and giggle at barking pinnipeds.  For something more romantic book a ride on a Venetian-style gondola and glide through the serene waterways of the Coronado cays.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    Where can I go to watch sports in San Diego?

    Although today’s houshold TVs are massive is size, have great sound systems, and even come in HD and 3D varieties, there’s nothing quite like getting out with fellow fanatics to take in March Madness, Super Bowl, or the World Series.  Enter an exciting sports bar packed with gigantic screens, a sea of sports-obsessed brethren, and an endless supply of beer and wings and the experience can be just as fun as watching the game live.

    Players Sports Bar in San Diego is just such a place.  It is arguably the best venue in the city to hang with fellow sportos and catch the latest heart-poundind pro team action.  It is also a hot spot for alumni who gather to follow and cheer for their much-loved college teams on 70-plus screens with games piped in by more than 50 satellites.  The sprit of camaraderie is fueled by a mind-boggling bevvy of local, domestic, and international beers paired with wings, nachos, pizza, and all the mandatory game day menu items. 

    Players Sports Club is located at 7061 Clairemont Mesa Blvd in San Diego, CA 92111.  They have a second location in the North County city of San Marcos at 328 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd, San Marcos, CA 92078.  Visit them at www.playerssportsbar.com for all the latest happenings.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best culinary experiences in San Diego?

    The Park Hyatt Masters of Food and Wine program is a global series of chic culinary experiences that observe the changing of the seasons by exploring the best of local foods and beverages.  I have had the pleasure of participating in several of these celebrations with the Park Hyatt Aviara in the North County seaside resort town of Carlsbad.  Each experience is unique, and is always beautifully executed.

    Examples of past events include a visit to prominent San Diego craft draft brewery, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, where guests enjoyed hosted beer tastings paired with delicious gourmet bites prepared and introduced by Park Hyatt Aviara’s brilliant Executive Chef Pierre Albaladejo.  A detailed behind the scenes brewery tour followed then commenced with an authentic Brazilian-style BBQ expertly prepared over the flames by Chef Albaladejo. 

    Another notable Masters of Food and Wine event featured rare and exotic tea tastings led by Certified Tea Master Chaz Kroll.  Park Hyatt Aviara’s talented Executive Pastry Chef Franck Riffaud paired the delicate blends with his handcrafted gourmet chocolates of varying cacao content.  Held in the resort's sophisticated library, the tasting was followed by a traditional English High Tea that included savory selections of finger sandwiches and an assortment of sweet teacakes and pastries prepared by Chef Riffaud.

    Masters of Food and Wine events are held quarterly and are synchronized to take place on the same day at all Park Hyatt locations worldwide.  For more information of Park Hyatt Avaira and other Park Hyatt Masters of Food and Wine celebrations visit:  http://hyatthotels.hyatt.com/corporate/Programs/ParkHyattMFW/en/home.html
  • On June 25, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best festivals in San Diego this season?

    San Diego is flush with exciting summer festivals and choosing which ones to attend can be tricky.  While it would be impossible to hit them all, here are a few worth checking out:

    The 2013 Summer Shakespearean Festival
    The highly acclaimed, Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theatre  returns this summer with an alternating repertoire of much-loved classics performed under the stars at their alfresco theatre.   This year’s lineup combines the quick and witty Tony-winning farce Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard with Shakespeare’s enchanting and undeniably magical fairy tale A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and his memorable saga The Merchant of Venice.  Performances take place Tuesdays through Sundays at 8pm until Labor Day, and on Tuesday Wednesday and Sunday at 7:00 PM, and Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 8:00 PM after Labor Day.   For tickets and more information visit http://www.theoldglobe.org

    ArtWalk San Diego at NTC Liberty Station
    Once know as ArtWalk on the Bay, the newly named ArtWalk San Diego is the county’s biggest art event of the season.  Now in it’s 8th year, the annual event takes place at NTC Liberty station, San Diego’s leading arts and cultural district.  Once a Naval Training Center, the area is now a hip and happening hub of artist studios, performing arts, museums, and galleries.  This year’s fine art festival will be held on Saturday, August 24 and Sunday, August 25 and will feature works by more than a dozen artists, which can be admired and purchased under the shining summer sun.  Musical performances, interactive children’s activities, and gourmet food booths will complement the experience.  For more information visit: http://www.artwalksandiego.org/ntc/index.htm

    Festival of Sail 2013
    Hosted by the Maritime Museum, the Festival of Sail is the largest tall ship celebration on the entire west coast and it's one of San Diego’s most popular events.  This year’s swarthy affair will take place from Friday August 30 through Monday September 2, 2013 over Labor Day weekend from 9am to 7pm daily.  Highlight s of the festival include the opportunity to board and explore the tall ships, a tall ship parade, cannon salutes, and plenty of photo ops with good-natured pirates.   A very special 30-minute cruise aboard the tall ship Pilot is also available.  The four-day nautical event will include food, art and craft booths and will be held at North Embarcadero.  For more information visit: http://www.sdmaritime.org/festival-of-sail/


  • On June 25, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best places to hear live music in San Diego?

    Get down and groove this summer at the bayside San Diego Symphonies Ashford University Summer Pops concert series.  Each year a stage is constructed at the beautiful Embarcadero Marina Park South where musical performances are enjoyed in an alfresco setting.  Grab a general admission ticket and enjoy a cozy spot on the lawn, or upgrade to a grandstand voucher and perch on fold-down style chairs.  For the ultimate concert experience snag a cabaret table and be seated in style.

    The Summer Pops series kicks off their 10 weeks of concerts in late June and features an exciting lineup of musical acts.  Standouts include a star-spangled 4th of July extravaganza lead by principle Pops conductor, Bill Conti who will lead a musical mélange of American hits from Broadway to Main Street.  The show will also feature a military salute, and front row seats to the Big Bay Boom fireworks spectacular. 

    The season continues with performances from musicians like En Vogue, Amy Grant and Michael Bolton as well as cover tributes to bands such as The Bee Gees of Saturday Night Fever fame.  Summer Pops concerts are held on Friday and Saturday nights with occasional shows on Thursdays and Sundays.  Gates open at 6pm and acts kick off around 7:30 pm unless otherwise noted.  This is an outdoor venue by the Bay so be sure to dress in layers and bring something warm for after the sun goes down.
  • On June 25, 2013
    Julia Weiler answered the question: Julia Weiler

    What are the best places for dessert in San Diego?

    One of the tastiest places to treat yourself to something sweet is at Cups of La Jolla.  The boutique cupcake lounge is positively brimming with beautiful cupcakes baked with the best local, sustainable, and organic ingredients.  Their daily batches of fluffy cupcakes come in a wide array of unique flavors like the Better with Bacon, a sweet and savory maple syrup-infused vanilla bean cup frosted with maple buttercream crowned by maple sugar-cured bacon.  Another sumptuous selection is the Wine and Cheese cup, which combines smooth cabernet chocolate cake with creamy brie frosting sprinkled with candied walnut confetti.

    While you can certainly get your cakes to go it’s far more fun to indulge your sweet tooth right at Cups’ old-fashioned soda bar-style lounge.  The cute-as-a-button venue has plenty of charm created with earth-friendly materials like recycled glass countertops and a backlit wall composed of repurposed milk bottles from Straus Family Creamery, California’s first family-owned certified organic dairy.  In line with that theme, Cups serves ice cold Straus milk straight from a tap and into reusable Straus milk bottles.  For a special pleasure consider trying the Strawberry Milk blended with fresh organic strawberries.

    Other delights include house made sodas sweetened with natural juices, cupcake enriched milkshakes and ice cream, organic loose-leaf teas, and grind to order coffee drinks made with beans roasted in North Park by Caffe Calabria.  Enjoy your just desserts while bopping to the tunes of the resident Cups DJ and taking advantage of the lounge’s free wi-fi.  You can even bring your pooch along to hang with you out on the Pups Patio.  Your four-legged friend will enjoy the calming herb garden and you can even treat Fido to special doggie cakes called Cuppies.  There’s a lot going on at Cups, so grab a friend, bring your cupcake cravings, and check it out for yourself.

    Cups is located at:
    7857 Girard Avenue,
    La Jolla, California 92037
    Cups Hours:

    Mon-Thurs 10am – 7pm

    Fri-Sun 10am - 9pm