The cool Cruisin’ carhop mural at 101 Cafe!

If you love cool cars and nostalgia you’ll like this mural. It’s painted on the south side of 101 Cafe in Oceanside. The mural depicts a carhop outside wearing roller skates. She’s serving food to customers in a woodie, hot rod and several other classic cars.

101 Cafe dates back to 1928. The original twenty seat diner was built on US Highway 101, the main road back then from Los Angeles to San Diego.

The small restaurant has gone through many changes over the years. At one time it was a drive-in. It’s now a diner specializing in breakfast, and features 1950’s decor–including this great mural!

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A fine evening to eat in the middle of the street!

It’s a fine evening to eat dinner in the middle of the street–Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter, that is!

Certain restaurants have begun to serve diners at tables in the middle of Fifth Avenue, from G Street down to L Street. “Curbside Gaslamp” has introduced this new way of coping with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the need for people to maintain six feet of social distance. Safely spaced tables occupy an “extended patio” right into the street, which is closed to traffic. Servers wear facial protection. And diners get to feast in the open air, surrounded by the dynamism and color of the historic Gaslamp Quarter!

Curbside Gaslamp is activated on Thursday and Friday 3 pm – midnight, and Saturday from noon to midnight. Safety rules are posted on a sign which I photographed. If you’re curious, click the photo below and it will enlarge for easy reading.

I believe as time goes on, more and more eateries will be participating!

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!

A glorious day as Balboa Park reopens!

The day that many in San Diego have anticipated for nearly three months has arrived!

Balboa Park is reopening!

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Central Mesa area of Balboa Park–the beloved center of San Diego’s cultural life–has been closed to the public. But that changes today! While most of the museums aren’t quite ready to open yet, visitors will again be able to amble down El Prado and enjoy the park’s sunshine, gardens and architectural beauty.

And a few places in the park will be open!

The world-famous San Diego Air and Space Museum will be open! So will the Visitor Center, the Prado Restaurant and the Japanese Friendship Garden’s Tea Pavilion! Visitors will notice that modifications have been made to ensure social distancing and generally increase public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can bet I’ll be heading to Balboa Park first thing after work today. And I’ll be there all weekend. I miss it so much.

Here are a few photographs from my rather inactive blog Beautiful Balboa Park. These photos were taken at sunrise on a summer day almost three years ago.

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!

Seaport Village suddenly turns blue!

The Pier Cafe at Seaport Village has been painted dark blue!
The Pier Cafe at Seaport Village is no longer brown. It has been painted dark blue!

Look what I noticed today during my evening walk along the Embarcadero. Seaport Village must have a brand new color scheme. Because many of its buildings along the water have recently been painted dark blue!

To me it all appeared very strange. Probably because I’m accustomed to Seaport Village’s old appearance.

Seaport Deli and Salad Bar has also been painted dark blue!
Seaport Deli and Salad Bar has also been painted dark blue! But it still has the red tile roof.
And so has the Harbor House restaurant! Seaport Village must have a new blue color scheme.
And the Harbor House restaurant has turned from brown to blue! Seaport Village must have a new color scheme.
The Seaport Village lighthouse has always been light blue. For many years you could purchase cookies here. I see a new eatery called Spill the Beans is coming.
The Seaport Village lighthouse has always been light blue. For many years you could purchase cookies here. I see a new coffee shop called Spill the Beans is coming.
And look! Buster's Beach House is now painted dark blue, too!
And look! Buster’s Beach House is now painted dark blue, too! It all appears a bit peculiar to me, but I might change my mind.

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!

A rambling Sunday walk along Morena Boulevard.

Graphic on wall of Coronado Brewing Company San Diego Tasting Room. WISH YOU WERE beer.
Graphic on wall of Coronado Brewing Company San Diego Tasting Room. WISH YOU WERE beer.

Today I took a rambling walk along Morena Boulevard. These photos start around Knoxville Street in Bay Park and proceed south to the area where Morena and West Morena split.

You might notice few people in the photos. It’s Sunday and many businesses are closed. And of course there’s the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, keeping many at home.

If you ever drive through the Morena District, you’ll probably recognize some of these sights. Many of the old shops and small businesses along the street aren’t much to look at, but there are a few that stand out!

(I took this walk in order to photograph two really great murals in particular. I’ll post those pics shortly. I also wanted to check on the status of a mysterious, possibly historical wooden tombstone by a parking lot that I’d seen years ago. The mystery has deepened, as you’ll see in another upcoming blog post!)

Now let’s walk…

Sculpture of lady tending her garden in front of the Armstrong Garden Center.
Sculpture of lady tending her garden in front of the Armstrong Garden Center.
Another look at the gardening sculpture.
Another look at the gardening sculpture.
Beautiful bloom between the Knoxville Street sidewalk and Armstrong Garden Center.
Beautiful bloom between the Knoxville Street sidewalk and Armstrong Garden Center.
The Cordova Bar. This must be the place!
The Cordova Bar. This must be the place!
Mermaid door handles at the entrance to The Cordova Bar.
Mermaid door handles at the entrance to The Cordova Bar.
Sign on fence near U.S. Karate Academy encourages people to Be Your Best!
Sign on fence near U.S. Karate Academy encourages people to Be Your Best!
Banner on lamp post invites people to Shop for Home Decor in the Morena District.
Banner on lamp post invites people to Shop for Home Decor in the Morena District.
Cool motorcycle graphic on wall of Sidecar Bar.
Cool motorcycle graphic on wall of Sidecar Bar.
There's a T. Rex on the roof of Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital! It must've escaped!
There’s a T. Rex on the roof of Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital! It must’ve escaped!
This cool graphic of a van with a surfboard is on the side of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.
This cool graphic of a van with a surfboard is on the side of Bird Rock Coffee Roasters.
Clouds and palm trees reflected on angles of window glass.
Clouds and palm trees reflected on angles of window glass.
Now I'm walking along near the Valero gas station.
Now I’m walking along near the Valero gas station.
A colorful mural near the front door of Nico's Mexican Food.
A colorful mural near the front door of Nico’s Mexican Food.
Super cool surfboards hang out beside the front door of Bird's Surf Shed.
Super cool surfboards hang out beside the front door of Bird’s Surf Shed.
Mural at Bird's Surf Shed was painted by Skye Walker in 2014.
Mural at Bird’s Surf Shed was painted by Skye Walker in 2014. Tubular, dude!
Vintage automobile parked alone in corner of a parking lot.
Vintage automobile parked alone in corner of a parking lot.
Looks like a farm around the entrance to Bull's Smokin' BBQ. Fun sculptures greet passersby on West Morena Boulevard.
Looks like a ranch around the entrance to Bull’s Smokin’ BBQ. Fun animal sculptures greet passersby on West Morena Boulevard.
Two bulls and one pig.
Walking beside two bulls and one pig.

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!

Life slowly returns to the Gaslamp Quarter.

People gather in front of Barleymash as some restaurants reopen in the Gaslamp for dining during the coronavirus pandemic.
People wait in front of Barleymash as some restaurants reopen in the Gaslamp for dining during the coronavirus pandemic.

Life is slowly returning to the Gaslamp Quarter. Some restaurants and bars have just begun to reopen. Dining at restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic is now permitted if establishments and customers abide by strict rules.

Early this evening–the Friday of Memorial Day weekend–I walked up Fifth Avenue and observed small groups of people waiting in line on the sidewalk and seated at outdoor tables. Many Gaslamp eateries are still closed. I was told that for some it remains a wait-and-see situation.

So life downtown is becoming a little more vibrant.

It will be fascinating to watch how long it might take the Gaslamp Quarter to regain its former popularity, given the fact that COVID-19 is still among us.

I suspect there are many who remain cautious.

Much of the historic Gaslamp Quarter was still quiet early Friday evening, on Memorial Day weekend.
Much of the historic Gaslamp Quarter was still quiet early Friday evening, at the beginning of Memorial Day weekend.
A few customers sit in front of The Field Irish Pub.
A few customers sit in front of The Field Irish Pub.
El Chingon in the Gaslamp Quarter is open and ready for diners! If you love Mexican food, it's the place to go!
I learned that El Chingon in the Gaslamp Quarter is open and ready for diners! Mexican food is their specialty!

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!

More signs expressing unity and thankfulness.

We are all in this together.
We are all in this together.

In San Diego we are proceeding with the gradual reopening of society as the coronavirus pandemic seems to slowly subside. Today restaurants were allowed to open for dining. Strict guidelines must be followed such as maintaining super sanitary conditions and safe social distancing.

Some say the reopening of society is proceeding too quickly; others say not quickly enough. But the future is a tricky thing to predict. There are so many variables. So many different risks. All I know is that at some point we’ll look back and see what actions in the final analysis were most wise. And our knowledge will increase.

On another hopeful note, during my walks in the past couple weeks I’ve observed more signs around town celebrating unity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other signs express thankfulness to essential workers. You’ll see that one billboard I photographed about a week ago concerning restaurants now seems dated, but no matter.

That so many people have demonstrated an urge to stay positive during this terrible crisis seems a good sign for the future of humanity in general.

At least, it appears that way to me. I’m an optimist.

San Diego strong.
San Diego strong.
To restaurants still delivering meals, thank you.
To restaurants still delivering meals, thank you.
Thanks transit driver heroes.
Thanks (transit driver) heroes.

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!

A green-eyed octopus and underwater world.

Check out these two cool murals in Pacific Beach! Both can be found on the east side of Mission Boulevard, just north of Emerald Street.

The first super colorful mural features tikis, a green-eyed octopus and a happy blue bird. This one really grabs your attention! While walking up Mission Boulevard, I noticed it a block away! The imaginative artwork was painted around the entrance of Cheba Hut, by artist @BayneGardner.

The second mural shows an underwater scene teeming with beautiful marine life. The ocean, below palm trees and breaking surf, is the home to fish, coral, a swimming turtle, dolphins, sharks and more! You can find this fantastic street art, created by D. Longenecker, on the north wall of Taco Surf Pacific Beach.

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!

Friday in the Gaslamp during the pandemic.

The Gaslamp Quarter early this evening appeared almost like a ghost town. Partly boarded up. Mostly lifeless. Very unlike Fridays before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic, huge crowds of people would fill the streets on a late Friday or weekend. The restaurants, bars and nightclubs would be packed. But those good times and that party atmosphere have suddenly ended.

I took photos early this evening around 6 pm as I walked up Fifth Avenue through the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter.

The mermaid and those hopeful, thankful messages you see in two upcoming photographs were in front of the Starbucks at the Hard Rock Hotel. They are one of the few places that are open. A nice lady came out, hoping for business. I promised her I’d let my readers know that Starbucks is open. But you must wear a mask.

A few restaurants up and down Fifth Avenue were offering take out, but I saw virtually no business. Almost no people were about, even as California and San Diego slowly lift the pandemic lockdowns and allow businesses to reopen under certain conditions.

I wonder how many of these establishments will survive.

Before the pandemic, many of the businesses in the Gaslamp had a tough enough time of it. Between the many homeless who drive potential customers away, and the sky high rents, I’ve been told it can be difficult to keep doors open. In recent years I’ve seen storefronts constantly change, and FOR LEASE signs on some buildings that never go away.

There have been audacious plans to create an upscale, world-class pedestrian Gaslamp Promenade along Fifth Avenue. But I wonder. A virus seems to have other plans. Economic disruption continues. The future is in doubt.

It seems there’s a chance the Gaslamp Quarter might return to what it was decades ago. An area of downtown in slow decay. Or consider this harsh possibility: might the Gaslamp once again become San Diego’s seedy “Stingaree” red-light district, as it was a century ago?

Large signs up and down the streets contain hopeful messages, such as Stay Strong and Things Will Be Okay.

As a downtown resident, I do hope the Gaslamp comes out of this crisis okay.

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!

A walk to Old Town during the pandemic.

A familiar sign as drivers enter Old Town from Interstate 5. Welcome to Old Town. Birthplace of California.
A familiar sign as drivers enter Old Town from Interstate 5. Welcome to Old Town. Birthplace of California.

I have more photos to post from my long walk yesterday. But first I’m going to share pics that I took during today’s walk from downtown San Diego to Old Town!

I didn’t pull out my camera until I was well past the airport, heading up Hancock Street. I passed very few people. My mind was far away. As you can see, I did capture a few amusing images!

After a brief detour to explore Witherby Street and the semi-decayed old bridges and underpasses leading to an entrance of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, I passed over Interstate 5 and entered Old Town.

I took a look around the quiet streets as I headed up Jefferson Street and Congress Street. Making sure there were no signs posted saying I couldn’t enter, I quickly passed through Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, which was almost deserted. Then I headed back south down San Diego Avenue.

Most of the shops and restaurants in Old Town were closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. A few restaurants were offering take-out, but very few potential customers were anywhere to be seen…

If NOT is not NOT, can one park here?
I’m heading up Hancock Street. If that’s not a NOT, can one legally park here?
This might be the coolest little free library I've come across!
This might be the coolest little free library I’ve come across!
A superhero who resembles Superman flies from what might be San Diego's last phone booth.
A superhero who resembles Superman flies from what might be San Diego’s last phone booth.
These pigeons regarded me as I walked under the Witherby Street train bridge.
These pigeons regarded me as I walked along a gritty walkway under the Witherby Street train bridge.
Now I've entered Old Town. Check out this cool sculpture in someone's front yard!
Now I’ve entered Old Town. Check out this cool sculpture in someone’s front yard!
Flowers through a white fence.
Flowers through a white fence.
The African Latin Museum was closed. It's on my list of things to do.
The African Latin Museum was closed. It’s on my list of things to do.
This was part of the 1890 Ballast Point Light Station on Point Loma!
This was part of the 1890 Ballast Point Light Station on Point Loma!

To learn more about the history of this lighthouse, and why part of it is now sitting on a sidewalk in Old Town, click here!

Mural in front of a couple businesses on Congress Street depicts the early days of San Diego.
Mural in front of some small businesses on Congress Street depicts the early days of San Diego.
Right part of the mural.
Right part of the mural.
Signs by the parking lot of Rockin' Baja point to different distant destinations.
Signs by the parking lot of Rockin’ Baja point to different distant destinations.
On the island beneath the signs I spotted this plaque.
On the small island beneath the signs I spotted this plaque.
In Memory of Joe Flynn. 1902 - 1963. Joe loved Old Town and helped re-create Casa de Lopez. Old Town Chamber of Commerce.
In Memory of Joe Flynn. 1902 – 1963. Joe loved Old Town and helped re-create Casa de Lopez. Old Town Chamber of Commerce.
Mexican themed outdoor decor but no customers at this eatery during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mexican themed outdoor decor, but no customers at this eatery during the coronavirus pandemic.
Voted best pizza in America! I gotta try some one day.
Voted best pizza in America! I gotta try a slice one day.
The plaza in the middle of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is deserted. But the grass is long and green!
The plaza in the middle of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is deserted. But the grass is long and green!
The many Old Town museums and attractions are all closed due to COVID-19.
The many Old Town museums and attractions are all closed due to COVID-19.
On an ordinary Sunday, this photo would be filled with people.
On an ordinary Sunday, this photo would be filled with people.
Now I'm heading down San Diego Avenue. Another popular restaurant is temporarily closed.
Now I’m heading down San Diego Avenue. Another popular restaurant is temporarily closed.
But Cafe Coyote is open for take out! And I got two yummy handmade fresh tortillas!
But Cafe Coyote is open for take out! And I got two yummy handmade fresh tortillas to munch on as I walked!

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!