Top San Diego Things to Do in May

Sample a variety of dishes at KITCHEN 1540’s Pop-Up.

This month, San Diego brings you culinary pop-ups, celebrations of summer, standout performances and more. See our list of the top 30+ San Diego things to do in May.

Edited by Eva Scattergood.

The Patio at Night Pop-Up at KITCHEN 1540
May 2-5. 
Enjoy dishes created by chef Nathan Lingle using crops picked by regional farmers and locally sourced proteins. Depending on the day, menu highlights include small plates and shareables such as a speckled romaine salad with smoked blue cheese and malt vinaigrette, or burrata cheese with grilled peaches, smoked almonds and arugula. Family style plates will feature cioppino with a tomato fennel broth, a lamb porterhouse or Skuna Bay salmon. Bring your pup along to enjoy bowls from the Baxter’s Bites menu on the patio. Call for reservations. Pop-up will go through September. 5:30-9:30 p.m. KITCHEN 1540 at L’Auberge Del Mar, 1540 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, 858.793.6460.


Disney on Ice presents “Frozen”
May 3-6. Discover Disney’s story of Frozen like never before with ice skating, special effects and unforgettable music that will transport you to Arendelle. Hosted by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, highlights include special appearances by Disney princesses and stars from Toy Story, Finding Dory, The Lion King. See website for showtimes. $15+. Valley View Casino Center, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., San Diego. Tickets  


Julian Wildflower Show
May 4-6. View wildflowers from all around Julian’s mountain valley, which are displayed at the Town Hall arranged by the different geographical areas and plant zones they were picked from. Display cards provide the name of each plant, along with their uses for health and healing by Native Americans. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. Julian Town Hall, 2129 Main St., Julian.


18th Annual Food and Wine Festival
May 5. Enjoy sips and bites from San Diego’s top restaurants and beverage purveyors at this festival put on by the Junior League of San Diego.With a Kentucky Derby theme, guests are encouraged to don their favorite derby hat and dress to impress as they watch a live viewing of the 144th annual Kentucky Derby. Features include Farmer & the Seahorse, We Olive, Truluck’s and Fallbrook Winery to name a few.  Noon-5 p.m. $85 GA, $110 VIP. Ellen Scripps Browning Park at La Jolla Cove, 1100 Coast Blvd., La Jolla.


Cinco de Mayo in Balboa Park
May 5. Experience a family-friendly fiesta filled with Mexican music and dance performances, colorful horseback riders, strolling mariachis, a fashion show of traditional Mexican dress, hands-on activity booths for kids, arts and crafts vendors, food trucks and more. The day-long celebration culminates with a 5 p.m. concert in Spreckels Organ Pavilion, featuring crowd-favorite Jarabe Mexicano, accompanied by the SDSU School of Music Percussion Ensemble. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Free. Balboa Park, 1549 El Prado, San Diego.


Derby Day at Trade
May 5. Gather round to watch the 144th annual Kentucky Derby. Keep tabs on the races while sipping on Bulleit Bourbon juleps, on special all day. While you’re there, grab a bite from Trade’s California-inspired menu. 11 a.m.-midnight. Trade at Hotel Republic, 421 West B St., downtown.


Taste beers from more than 60 breweries at the Rhythm & Brews Craft Beer and Music Festival.

Rhythm & Brews Craft Beer and Music Festival
May 5. Craft beer lovers rejoice at the opportunity to sample beers from more than 60 breweries while listening to musical performances by L.A. Edwards and Trouble In The Wind. New this year is a VIP section featuring an exclusive tented beer garden, food from local establishments and rare beers. VIP entrance noon, event 1-4 p.m. $45 GA, $65 VIP. Historic Vista Village, S. Citrus Ave. and E. Broadway, Vista.


“Summer Splash” Opening Reception 
May 5. Mix and mingle with the artists at the Del Mar Art Gallery’s opening reception of Summer Splash. Discover the new selection of art—ranging in style and medium—created by established and emerging artists from the San Diego area. 5-8 p.m. Free. Del Mar Art Center Gallery, 1555 Camino Del Mar, Suite 314, Del Mar, 858.481.1678.


“Facing-off Across Sunset Boulevard”
May 5-6. 
Join the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus—San Diego’s oldest and largest community orchestra and chorus—for their fifth concert of the season. Guest conductor Sameer Patel will lead the orchestra in Arnold Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra, Olivier Messiaen’s Un Sourire, Hannah Lash’s Eating Flowers and more. See website for showtimes and ticket prices. Mandeville Auditorium at UC San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, 858.534.4637.


Try the Ocean Side gelato at An’s Dry Cleaning’s Pop-Up.

An’s Dry Cleaning Gelato Pop-Up

May 6. Soon-to-open An’s Dry Cleaning gelato shop is holding a pop-up at their neighbor Polite Provisions. An’s gelato maker worked with Polite Provisions bartenders to create three flavors inspired by cocktails: the Ocean Side featuring fresh lime, mint, sea salt and celery bitters; the Kentucky Buck with fresh lemon, strawberry and house-made ginger beer; and more. 1 p.m.-sell out. Polite Provisions, 4696 30th St., North Park.


Boots & Dukes Country Fest
May 6. Head to the rooftop of the Hard Rock Hotel for the Gaslamp District’s newest festival. Expect barbecue, beer, line-dancing and a laidback pool, paired with country music all day long. 21+. Noon-7 p.m. $15+. Hard Rock Hotel, 207 5th Ave., downtown.  


35 Year Anniversary of Coaster Saloon
May 8.
 Coaster Saloon is celebrating 35 years in Mission Beach with a top-to-bottom remodel and a reinvigorated menu. Executive chef Tim Eylens will be giving out free BBQ Saloon Sampler plates to the first 100 guests, featuring baby back ribs, pulled pork, brisket, baked beans, mac and cheese and more. 11 a.m. Coaster Saloon, 744 Ventura Place, Mission Beach.


Tuesday Night Comics
May 8. Join Mark Christopher Lawrence, award-winning Actor of the Year, as he plays host at the North Coast Rep stage. Featured comedians include Brian Aprille, Karen Bankhead and Danny Villalpando. Additionally, enjoy music by John Brooks and the San Diego Jazz Quintet as they play an assortment of jazz standards from around the world. 7:30 p.m. $25. North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Dr., Solana Beach, 858.481.1055.


Spring Cooking Class Dinner at The Marine Room
May 9. 
Meet chefs Bernard Buillas and Ron Oliver for an interactive cooking demonstration followed by a three-course dinner. The spring-themed dinner will feature organic Hokto Farm mushroom cocotte, sea salt crispy skin branzino and farmers market berry tart complete with wine pairings for each course. 6 p.m. $90. The Marine Room, 2000 Spindrift Dr., La Jolla, 855.923.8057.


Veuve Around the Clock
May 9. Celebrate with Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label champagne being served by the glass for $5 at 5 p.m., $6 at 6 p.m., $7 at 7 p.m. and $8 at 8 p.m. Complimentary canapés will be served, as well as music by DJ FishFonics. 5-8 p.m. Upper East Bar at Kimpton Solamar Hotel, 616 J St., downtown.


Gator by the Bay
May 10-13. Come to the largest, most authentic Louisiana-themed music and food festival this side of the bayou. Gator by the Bay features four days of live music with more than 100 musical acts on seven stages; an array of southern cuisine including 10,000 pounds of fresh crawfish trucked in from Louisiana; dancing and family fun. See website for hours and ticket prices. Spanish Landing Park, 4300 N. Harbor Dr., San Diego.  


“Carmina Burana” and “Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp”
May 11-13. Join City Ballet of San Diego as it closes its season with two programs. Carmina Burana takes place at the end of the roaring 20s and the beginning of the financial crisis; choreographed by Geoff Gonzalez there will be a 100-voice choir providing the musical foundation, along with the City Ballet orchestra. Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp was inspired by Mozart’s score, which results in a neo-classical ballet choreographed by Elizabeth Wistrich. See website for showtimes. $25-$85. Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway, downtown, 858.272.8663.


Witness a story of resilience set in Kabul at “A Thousand Splendid Suns.”

“A Thousand Splendid Suns”

Opens May 12. Set in the war-torn neighborhoods of Kabul in the 1990s, A Thousand Splendid Suns is the story of three generations of Afghan women and their resilience. This production has been adapted for the stage by Irish Indian playwright Ursula Rani Sarma and features music from renowned composer David Coulter. See website for showtimes. $30+. The Old Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park, 619.234.5623.


Ballast Point Beer Dinner
May 12. Enjoy a four-course dinner complete with craft beer pairings from local brewery Ballast Point. Menu highlights include hamachi paired with Aloha Sculpin, spring lamb paired with Indra Kunindra, a beet red velvet cake paired with a nitro stout and more. 6 p.m. $75. AVANT at Rancho Bernardo Inn, 17550 Bernardo Oaks Dr., Rancho Bernardo. RSVP to Carmen at 858.675.8551 or


Disco Ball
May 12. Come in your best disco attire for this celebration. Festivities will begin with a cocktail reception and silent auction, followed by a three-course dinner, live auction and entertainment. Funds raised from the event will help support the Children’s Nature Retreat Foundation and its programs. 6-10 p.m. $200. Hilton San Diego, 1775 East Mission Bay Dr., Mission Bay, 619.320.4942.


Festival of the Arts North Park
May 12. View artwork from more than 100 artists at this North Park festival, including paintings, photography, pottery, handmade jewelry and more available for viewing and sale. Additional highlights include a live art block where local street artists will transform everyday items into pieces of art right in front of you; four performance stages with a variety of genres of music; and a craft beer block for guests 21+. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Free. 30th St. and University Ave., North Park.


Head to Liberty Station for a series of outdoor films, beginning with “Coco.”

Liberty Station’s Outdoor Film Series

Starts May 12. On the second Saturday of each month, enjoy a variety of outdoor film screenings at Liberty Station. Disney’s Coco kicks off the series, which highlights films that reflect the diverse arts and culture offerings at the growing Arts District. Additional happenings include surprise pop-up performances and activities, along with shorts preceding the feature film. Movies start after sunset. Free. Liberty Station North Promenade, 2848 Dewey Road, San Diego.


Paella Wine and Beer Festival
May 12. 
Witness 40 local chefs compete to represent San Diego at the World Paella Championship in Spain. Featured chefs include Javier Plascencia, Claudia Sandoval, Mario Medina, Flor Franco and Leo Razo to name a few. Tickets include access to more than 80 different kinds of paella, as well as beer, wine and sangria from Spain, Baja and San Diego. Executive chef Vicente Ortiz will also be on-site setting the record for cooking the largest paella ever made in the U.S. 1-6 p.m. $38+ GA; $89+ VIP; free for children under 12. Embarcadero Marina Park South, 200 Marina Park Way, downtown.


San Diego Botanic Garden’s Chocolate Festival
May 12. Bring mom for a relaxing day in the garden to sample chocolate from a variety of vendors. Participants include Bottega Italiana, Carlsbad Cookie Company, Nibble Chocolate and more. Demonstrations and tips on creating chocolate treats will also be featured. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tasting tickets $1 per ticket. San Diego Botanic Garden, 230 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas.


Enjoy dishes inspired by chefs’ favorite books and literary characters.

Eat. Drink. Read. 

May 17. Indulge in sweet and savory bites from more than 20 of San Diego’s finest chefs at the Air & Space Museum where chefs will create dishes inspired by their favorite books and literary characters to benefit the San Diego Council on Literacy. Local brewers, distillers and winemakers will also bring their libations to the event, which will feature live music and a chef battle –with awards presented by celebrity judges for “Best Dish,” “Best Dessert,” “Best Display” and “People’s Choice.” 6-8:30 p.m. $75 GA, $125 VIP. San Diego Air & Space Museum, 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park.


Backyard BBQ at Quartyard
May 19. Feast on barbecue from local chefs at the newly reopened Quartyard, along with burgers, hot dogs, Philly cheese steaks, wings and more. Listen to old school tunes as you play games like cornhole, dominos, cards and beer pong at this outdoor, dog-friendly event. 21+. VIP entrance noon, event 1-6 p.m. $24 GA, $30 VIP. Quartyard, 1301 Market St., East Village.


Old House Fair
May 19. 
Discover the neighborhood of South Park in a tour of five historic homes. Begin at the Rose Wine Bar for a mimosa and a selection of historic home preservation specialists, followed by a bike tour of both historic and modern homes built by notable architects. Visit the homes in any order you choose, each will feature docent-led education and history. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $30-$48. The Rose Wine Bar, 2219 30th St., South Park. Tickets


Fiesta Del Sol
May 19-20. Listen to a mix of reggae, soul, rock and funk at this all-ages outdoor music festival. Featured artists include Wayward Sons, Hirie, Common Sense, The Pine Mountain Logs and more. Along with the talent, there will be arts and crafts, food, rides and a beer and wine garden. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Free. Fletcher Cove Beach Park, 111 S. Sierra Ave., Solana Beach.


Over the Line Tournament and Craft Beer Festival
May 19-20. Kick off summer at the 2nd annual Over the Line Tournament. Divisions include Men’s Pro, Men’s Open, Men’s Masters (age 45+) and Women’s Open with qualifying matches taking place on Saturday and the winning teams returning on Sunday for the final. New this year is a craft beer festival that will be held during tournament play, along with food trucks to grab a bite to eat. 21+. Sa 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Su 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Team entry $120, Beer Fest GA $35. Mariners Point, Mission Bay Park, 3230 Mariners Way, Mission Bay. Tickets


Savor all different types of poke at the I Love Poke Festival.

I Love Poke Festival

May 22. Enjoy poke, along with other island-inspired food and desserts, from 30 of San Diego’s top chefs and restaurants while celebrating Hawaiian culture and cuisine. This all-ages annual festival will also feature a food competition, dancing and live music. 6-9 p.m. $75. Bali Hai, 2230 Shelter Island Dr., Shelter Island. Tickets  


“The Loneliest Girl in the World”
Opens May 24. Witness Diversionary’s final show in its 32nd season. The Loneliest Girl in the World follows the life and evolution of Anita Bryant and her biggest fan, Tommy, while charting the emergence of the gay rights movement. See website for ticket prices and showtimes. Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd. #101, University Heights, 619.220.0097.


Memorial Day Weekend Fiesta & Pig Roast
May 26. Celebrate Memorial Day Weekend at Hotel Palomar’s rooftop pool deck. Executive chef Brad Kraten of Curadero will be preparing a Mexican-style pig roast, which will be turned into carnitas tacos with all the fixings. Ticket includes all the food you can eat, a welcome drink and a swing at the piñata. 1 p.m. $20. Level Four Pool Deck + Lounge at Hotel Palomar, 1047 5th Ave., downtown. Tickets


Santee Street Fair and Craft Beer Festival
May 26. Join more than 30,000 visitors for the 10th annual Santee Street Fair and Craft Beer Festival. Features include live music and entertainment, over 300 food and craft booths, carnival rides and more. Additionally, the Craft Beer Festival will highlight breweries from all over San Diego County. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Street Fair free, Beer Festival $25 (21+). Town Center Pkwy. and Riverview Pkwy., Santee.


Through June 3. Explore this exhibition that features art addressing the topic of representation. Find works in the form of photography, sound installation, video, and social practice by Alanna Airitam, Morgan DeLuna, Michelada Think Tank, Quyên Nguyen-Le, Jimena Sarno and dana washington. See website for hours and prices. San Diego Art Institute, 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park, 619.236.0011.

I Love Poke Festival photo by Ron Pareja. 


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