La Mesa celebrates freedom at inaugural Juneteenth event!

Today was the start of something big in La Mesa. This afternoon the inaugural La Mesa Juneteenth celebration kicked off in MacArthur Park!

I arrived shortly after the free public event opened at noon. Lots of people were already walking about, exploring the many canopies dotting the grass. I saw artists with crafts, vendors, community organizations . . . and lots of smiles!

There were families everywhere enjoying the sunshine. Kids were playing in a fun zone and learning about the history of the very first Juneteenth, June 19, 1865, when enslaved African Americans in Texas finally heard of their freedom.

I missed some of the later entertainment. I’ll try to catch it next year.

Because I have no doubt next year’s La Mesa Juneteenth celebration will be even bigger and better!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Fun events during California State Parks Week!

It’s California State Parks Week!

At Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, some fun, free activities are planned.

Tomorrow, June 14, visitors will be invited to explore the park’s beautiful new outdoor Land of the First People with park interpreters.

On June 16, in Old Town’s grass plaza, families will enjoy engaging in historical pastimes including the Kumeyaay game ‘p’shok,’ as well as lawn games such as ‘hoop and stick,’ egg races, and tug of war from the Californio period.

Up the coast at Cardiff State Beach, on June 15, kids can participate in My Fun Future in the Outdoors, when California State Park employees share their favorite reasons to work in Parks. Kids can speak to heroes and become inspired!

Click the above links to learn more!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

The “berry” sweet Vista Strawberry Festival!

Could the Vista Strawberry Festival be the largest, most popular street festival in all of San Diego County? From what I saw today, it might well be! It is the largest strawberry festival in these parts!

All of downtown Vista–nearly every street it seemed–was closed to traffic and packed with excited families and smiling neighbors, all enjoying a sweet Memorial Day weekend Sunday!

Did you know Vista was once considered the Strawberry Capital of the World?

There was so much going on at the festival, so many happy people dressed as strawberries, or eating strawberries, or buying strawberry art, crafts and concoctions, that I thought I had entered strawberry heaven!

To kids the enormous fun zone, complete with a zip line, must’ve felt like heaven.

Those who raced in the morning 5K, having joined the crowd after the run, appeared to be enjoying themselves, too!

I met lots of great people during my visit and, of course, ate a few strawberries myself. (But I didn’t muster the courage to try the strawberry tamales.)

I was pleased to learn Vista’s Soroptimists (those three smiling faces in one of the photos coming up) have raised lots of money to help young women in difficult circumstances get an education! Visit their website here.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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Flags, flavor and fun at the Santee Street Fair!

The annual Santee Street Fair returned to East County today!

I rode the San Diego Trolley up to Santee Trolley Square to enjoy an event I hadn’t previously experienced.

The festival began with the presentation of colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. In addition to youthful dancing and martial arts demonstrations, a Gold Star family took to the main stage. They were thanked for their sacrifice with a standing ovation.

Lots of neighbors came out to enjoy food, fun and fellowship. The kid zone’s rides were whirling. Smiling artists, vendors and community organizations were plentiful. I’ve never seen so many prize wheels!

After a bit, the sun peeked out from the clouds above. And it felt like a perfect Memorial Day weekend had begun!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Become an advocate for Balboa Park!

Balboa Park contains endless scenes of amazing beauty.

Do you love Balboa Park?

Would you like to support San Diego’s beautiful, amazing crown jewel, PLUS get exclusive Balboa Park insider emails, learn about volunteer opportunities, enjoy picnic meet ups, AND get a free Forever Balboa Park enamel pin?

Then become an official advocate of Balboa Park. It’s free!

Click here to sign up!

Or, if you’d like, you can support Balboa Park financially with a sustaining membership.

Your gift allows Forever Balboa Park to grow our robust volunteer corps, including Garden Stewards, Park Ambassadors, Tree Stewards, Info Desk Volunteers…revitalize, restore and enhance Balboa Park’s historic gardens, landscapes and public spaces towards best in class conditions…enables us to provide a world-class visitor experience through creative placemaking, maps, guides, tours, information, and critical amenities in the House of Hospitality…

I signed up to be an advocate. Will you join me?

Learn all about the program here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Free museums in San Diego during The Big Exchange!

This group wanted to see fine art so they headed into the San Diego Museum of Art.

Free is good, right?

Checking out dozens of museums around San Diego for free? That would be better than good! That would be great!

If you’re presently a member of a museum in San Diego County, there’s a good chance you qualify for The Big Exchange.

What’s that?

During the San Diego Museum Council’s special The Big Exchange event, which is now underway and lasts through May 18, 2022, anyone who is a member of a participating institution qualifies for free reciprocal admission to over 40 museums, historic sites, gardens, and more throughout San Diego County!

Whoa! How cool is that?

I’m already taking advantage of The Big Exchange! You should, too!

Learn all of the details by clicking here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Get a Free Tree in front of your home or building!

Looking back west toward downtown. Many jacaranda trees line San Diego's streets. A man waits at a bus stop.

Would you like to have a beautiful, shady “street tree” planted in front of your home or building in San Diego?

There’s a city program called Free Tree SD that will plant a tree in the public right-of-way between your sidewalk and street, if arborists determine its a good spot with plenty of soil, and you promise to water the new tree for several years.

I just learned about this green program and thought some of you might be interested. Learn all the details on the City of San Diego website by clicking here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Hotel del Coronado’s Ice House Museum.

Last summer a new museum opened at the world-famous Hotel del Coronado.

Located in the hotel’s historic ice house, between the old power plant and laundry building, the Ice House Museum tells the story of the world-famous Victorian beach resort.

Fascinating displays filling several walls pay tribute to those who’ve worked at the Hotel del Coronado over the decades, and the numerous celebrities who’ve visited.

I headed to the museum a couple weekends ago to check it out!

It was an overcast day–not the ideal weather for sunbathing on the nearby beach–so quite a few hotel guests were enjoying this free museum, too!

The grand entrance to the iconic Hotel del Coronado can be viewed north of the Ice House Museum. The late 19th century beach resort is in the Queen Anne architectural style.
The old ice house was built for hotel founders Babcock and Story’s Coronado Ice Company. The enterprise provided ice to the entire island. The ice house now contains a fascinating historical museum.
Prominent display inside the museum shows timeline of the Hotel del Coronado’s history. Elisha Babcock, Jr. and Hampton L. Story, founders of the Coronado Beach Company and developers of Coronado, built the hotel in 1888. The hotel was purchased by San Diego entrepreneur John D. Spreckels about a year later.
One wall features photos of many celebrities who’ve stayed at the famous hotel.
Legendary guests are remembered. Names I saw include American presidents Harrison, Taft, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and Bush. Sports and entertainment celebrities include Frank Sinatra, Walt Disney, Carol Burnett, Cary Grant, Milton Berle, John Wayne, Peter O’Toole, Esther Williams, Babe Ruth, Kirk Douglas, Charlie Chaplin, Mickey Rooney, Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe…
Artifacts recall unique aspects of the hotel’s rich history.
The beach near the hotel once featured an ostrich farm! A year before the Hotel del Coronado opened, fourteen ostriches were on permanent exhibition near Tenth and D Streets. In 1905, the greatly expanded ostrich farm moved to Mission Cliffs.
Six copies of this Orientalist style painting, titled On the March, by Germain artist Adolf Schreyer, were ordered in 1905 to decorate the elegant hotel’s walls.
Commemorative dinnerware. Bone china with a gold-embossed rim made for the Hotel del Coronado’s centennial celebration in 1988.
Some of the faces of dedicated hotel employees over the decades. Heart of the House. People who deliver the Del experience.
Just south of the Ice House Museum is the Hotel del Coronado Laundry building.
One walking path, leading back to the Hotel del Coronado’s main entrance, passes near the old power plant, with its prominent smokestack.

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An amazing San Diego museum few know about!

One of San Diego’s most amazing museums is little known to the public. But if you are interested in our city’s history, it’s a place you absolutely must visit!

The San Diego Electric Railway Association’s historic National City Depot museum is positively jam packed with fascinating exhibits. I last visited the old train depot six years ago, and I posted this blog with lots of photos and interesting information. On a whim I swung by the museum yesterday–and was wowed once again!

Display cases are filled with artifacts and ephemera from a century ago when a growing San Diego was crisscrossed with streetcars. And, of course, there are the many outdoor exhibits, including old trolleys, streetcars and railway equipment.

As I entered the depot, my eyes immediately fixed upon something astonishing. A sign described how three of San Diego’s original streetcars were added to the museum last year! I’ll be blogging about that shortly!

If you have kids and need something to do on a weekend, they’ll love the museum. I bet you will, too! And it’s free!

Take a look at just a tiny bit of the San Diego history you’ll see…

There are important out of print reference books available at the museum, too, including one titled Rails of the Silver Gate that I purchased. Published in 1960, it provides a complete detailed history of entrepreneur John D. Spreckels and his creation of the San Diego Electric Railway. The incredible book includes many photos, plus descriptions of every car that ever operated, and route maps that became increasingly extensive over the years!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Chinese New Year returns to Balboa Park!

Chinese New Year has returned to Balboa Park!

Today I walked through the annual festival, which takes place at Balboa Park’s International Cottages. The celebration is hosted by the House of China.

Last year the House of China held this event online, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, many people on the lawn outside were wearing face masks just to be careful.

I didn’t stay too long, because I was headed over to the Comic-Con Museum for a screening of Black Panther. (A fun perk of being a Comic-Con Museum member. And I got a free high quality Black Panther movie poster, too!)

These are the images of the Chinese New Year festival that I captured. I saw a good crowd of visitors and lots of tempting food and talented musicians on the stage!

The popular free event continues on Sunday!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!