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Category: Downtown (page 1 of 2)

Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park Brightens San Diego

With the baseball season over with, the Padres are bringing festive cheer to Downtown San Diego by transforming a baseball stadium into the Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park.

Update – The Padres Have Made Changes

Thankfully the Padres are listening to the early criticisms of the Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park and are making some changes.

To deal with the crowds, the Padres have expanded into the Park at the Park area with a “Frozen” fun zone,  Snow Queen and Snow Princess photo op, snow globe photo op (moved from the field), a Polar Plunge (no idea what that is) and face painters.

On the field, they have added a Merry Maze and a Carousel.

Sadly, the photo with Santa and the train still cost $25 and $5 respectively.

Walking Through a Winter Wonderland

Walking Through a Winter Wonderland - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Take a walk through at Winter Wonderland at Petco Park

The sound of Christmas music, “snow,” lighted trees and bunnies (yes bunnies) welcome you as you enter the Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park. Continue up the stairs for Santa’s Workshop and more.

Santa’s Workshop & Candyland

Candyland - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Make sure to stop and smell the candy canes…no seriously, take a sniff as you walk through Candyland

Make your way up to the main concourse level for more lights at Santa’s Workshop. Next up is Candyland stuffed with oversized candies, ginormous candy canes, and the smell of bubble gum wafting through the air.

Photo Op at the Christmas Morning House

Christmas Morning House - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Just walk right up to the front door and let yourself in for a Christmas Morning photo op

Finally, you will end up at the Christmas Morning House complete with decorated exterior and in the perfect holiday interior including a roaring “fire,” a Christmas Tree, wrapped presents and comfy seating (provided by Jeromes). This is a great spot to stop and take a family holiday photo.

After you spend a few minutes trying to coax a smile instead of a silly face out of your child(ren), head on down to the field for main attractions.

Fun On the Field

The Field - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Snow, trains and Santa await you on the field of Petco Park

Snow, Santa, the Polar Express, Reindeer and more await just past the expensive baseball seats.

Snow Mountain

Sled Rides Down Snow Mountain - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Make the Snow Mountain your first stop when you reach the field.

Make a beeline straight for the snow mountain since the line can get long as both young and old eagerly await to slide down on an inner tube. After you arrive back at the “foothills” of the mountain, make sure to craft the perfect snowball and “gently” toss it at your best friend…or worst enemy!

The Upsell – Santa and the Polar Express

Polar Express - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

For $5 a person, you can take a ride around the baseball diamond on the Polar Express

The upside to the Santa at Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park is the amazing backdrop. You can easily get a photo with Santa the whole family. While you will walk away with a print, the downside is the high $25 cost. I don’t know what the average rate is for a Santa photo, but I do know you can find photo ops for much less at other places in San Diego.

Right next to Santa are the two “Polar Express” trains that chug around the baseball diamond with a few trees and lights in the middle. If you are willing to pay the $5 per person charge, hop into the train with the actual cabins on the right.

Reindeer, A Snow Globe and A Cocktail Lounge

Santa's Reindeer - Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

A few of Santa’s Reindeer have stopped by Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park for a break

In addition to the snow mountain and trains are a few live reindeer, a photo op snow globe (which is hard to photograph), holiday themed characters and a cocktail lounge for mom and dad meant for parental relaxation as the kids run back into the snow mountain line for the 5th time.

With all that Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park has to offer, visitors can easily have a wonderful night of festive fun. Just be prepared for the upsell costs and know that many of the activities are geared toward kids 4, if not 8, and older (in my opinion). My 1 year old enjoyed the lights and the train but not much else.

So if you are looking for a new Christmas tradition, check out the Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park.

Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park Details

Where: 100 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Friday-Saturday, 5-24 December 2014 (Special Days – December 22-24)
Time: 5:00 to 10:00 PM
Admission – $10-$15
Photo with Santa – $25
Train Ride – $5
> Find out more about Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

Panama 66 – For Families and Craft Beer Connoisseurs

Panama 66, in beautiful Balboa Park, is an amazing blend of culture, local food, cocktails a family friendly atmosphere and craft beer.

Panama 66 invites families and craft beer connoisseurs to order a tasty brew to enjoy along with a delectable meal all while browsing the art on display in the San Diego Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden. While you can sit at the provided tables, I suggest you bring a picnic blanket and relax on the grass under the trees. Don’t worry, they will find you and bring you your order.

Also, if there is an Automatic Brewing Co (the house brewery) beer on tap, snag one of those and you won’t regret it.

In case you are interested, Panama 66 is the sister restaurant to Tiger!Tiger! and Blind Lady Ale House (my favorite craft beer spot in Normal Heights).

Panama 66

Where: 1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Hours: Check website for soft opening hours
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USAvBEL World Cup March to the Match in San Diego

Even with the amazing goal and first touch by Julian Green, Belgium defeated the US 2-1 in overtime. I sulked out of Petco Park and headed back to my office dispirited and very badly sunburnt.

However, the loss cannot take away the amazing experience of walking in the American Outlaws San Diego’s energetic March to the Match and watching the game with thousands of enthusiastic fans all donning red, white and blue.

I am looking forward to Russia in 2018!

Scenes from the March to the Match

#AOSD - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

#AOSD is the San Diego Chapter of the American Outlaws and they brought plenty energy and enthusiasm to the USAvBEL March to the Match during the World Cup

Fans of All Ages - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

Fans of all ages showed up to support the USNMT and show the world how San Diego is a soccer (football) city!

Waving the Red, White and Blue - - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

The crowd marched its way through the Gaslamp Quarter toward Petco Park proudly showing off their support of the USNMT and the Red, White and Blue

Waiting Outside Petco Park - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

The crowd cheered, jumped and kept everyone excited as we all waited outside Petco Park for the gates to open

Sea of Red, White and Blue - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

Petco Park’s Park at the Park filled with a sea of Red White and Blue fans excited to cheer on the USNMT

Cheer Leader - American Outlaws San Diego March to the Match

He kept the crowd pumped up and chanting through the high and low times of the game and until the bitter, bitter end

Photos Copyright Brent Bernasconi 2014

Festival of Sail – Cannon Battles and Tall Ships on San Diego Bay

Exy Johnson on San Diego Bay - Festival of Sail

The cannon fire dissipates away from the Exy Johnson at the Festival of Sail.

Summer may technically come to an end in late September, but most consider Labor Day weekend to be the season’s official closure with most schools starting the next week. Thankfully, San Diego’s Embarcadero goes out with a bang during the warm “last-weekend-of-summer” with not only a sand sculpting competition and an 1812 overture with fireworks, but also cannon battles and tall ship cruises at the Maritime Museum of San Diego’s Festival of Sail.

The Festival

A small fee ($5 in 2013) grants visitors entrance to the Festival of Sail which includes numerous vendor booths, street food, beer gardens, over a dozen tall ships, and all of the Maritime Museum’s ships and exhibits.

The vendor area takes over the street portion of the festival. Walk around for a bit if you want to do a little shopping. If it’s hot, take a seat and enjoy some of the live music. Otherwise, make your way to the main event on the water, the tall ships!

Over a dozen tall ships and their crews are waiting along the water for visitors to come aboard. Take the time to explore each ship and ask questions of those onboard. Kids can have fun collecting all the stamps from each one of the ships.

Make sure to tour the museum’s collection including the Star of IndiaHMS Surprise, B-39 Submarine, USS Dolphin Submarine, and the Steam Berkeley Ferry. Start off with the submarines since only a few people can enter at a time and lines will quickly form.

Tip: Take a break from the sun and the crowds on the second level of the Steam Ferry Berkeley. Order a drink (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) from the bar, grab a seat next to one of the windows and watch the people and the ships go by.

Cannon Battles

At least twice a day, two of the tall ships take to the waters of San Diego Bay engage in a spectacular and loud cannon battle. While you can see the battles from the shoreline or the deck of many of the ships, the best view is from the cannon battle cruises offered by the Maritime Museum.

Even if you are not around for the schedule cannon battles, the ships out on the water sail by at regular intervals and “fire” at the docks. Head to the dock behind the Steam Ferry Berkeley and get up close with a few cannons that museum staff and volunteers will fire.

The dock’s cannon crew will also fire two Napoleonic cannons a few times throughout the day. Just make sure to cover your ears for those two!

Getting to the Festival of Sail

You can drive if you want to, but parking near the Festival of Sail is almost impossible. I highly recommend using alternative modes of transportation. Park at one of the trolley stations (Old Town is usually a good option) and take the Green Line to the County Center/Little Italy Station. Once off the trolley, walk a few blocks west to the festival.

Not quite ready for San Diego’s public transportation? Then consider using the car services offered by UberLyft or Sidecar. They will drop you off right at the festival and when you are done, use their services to get you home.

Festival of Sail Information

When: Labor Day Weekend
Where: 1492 North Harbor Drive San Diego, CA 92101

Photos of Festival of Sail