San Diego

Weekend roundup

September 3-7


Drive-In Movies at Westfield North County

Sept. 4. It’s outdoor movie night done right at the Westfield North County, which has partnered with the California Center for the Arts, Escondido (CCAE) to present weekly, family-friendly, drive-in movies through November. Screening this week: Disney/Pixar’s Cars—centered on Lightning McQueen, an ambitious rookie race car that takes an unexpected detour to the Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. Purchase tickets and snacks online in advance, with a portion of proceeds benefiting CCAE. 8 p.m. $50 per car. 272 E. Via Rancho Pkwy. (Nordstrom parking lot), Escondido, 800.988.4253.

Lions, Tigers & Bears Sanctuary Tours

Reopened. Say hello to rescued big cats, bears and more at this 93-acre East County animal sanctuary, which has reopened for socially distant public and member visits. From its “Feed with a Keeper” experiences to exclusive behind-the-scenes tours, guests have a chance to learn the personal stories of its 65-plus animals. Maverick (pictured), formerly owned by rap musician Tyga, was rescued and relocated to the sanctuary due to illegal ownership and insufficient care. Visits must be booked in advance. Call for hours and pricing. 24402 Martin Way, Alpine, 619.659.8078.

Hornblower Sunset Cruises

Ongoing. Summer in San Diego is best enjoyed out on the water. Hornblower Cruises and Events offers several experiences and excursions along San Diego Bay, but our favorites are the sunset cruises. The 90-minute Sights & Sips cruise, which sets sail every Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m., includes bubbly, appetizers and dessert. Or try the full dinner cruise—complete with a romantic table for two, a three-course meal, wine and craft libations—offered seven days a week. Cruises depart from Piers 1 and 2, Hornblower Landing, N. Harbor Drive, downtown, 855.253.7943.

Labor Day Fun

Tajima Beer Garden

Sept. 5-7. Who (besides people who don’t love beer) doesn’t love a beer garden? Welcome to the Tajima Beer Garden—there’s one at each of Tajima’s six locations—open for the holiday weekend and celebrating with lots of fun deals. Enjoy ample outdoor seating, plenty of cold brews to choose from, $2 Sapporos, $5 karaage (deep-fried chicken bites) and other discounted food items. Guests can also order from the regular food menu; try the spicy sesame ramen and add fried tofu. 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. each day. See website for locations and addresses.

Views & Booze at the InterContinental

Sept. 5-7. You needn’t be a hotel guest at InterContinental San Diego to enjoy the waterfront property. Dine on the bay-view patio at Garibaldi (serving a special Labor Day weekend brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.); then head over the Layover (open through Monday)—the hotel’s poolside bar and rooftop lounge—for boozy slushies and sunbathing, while taking in bay and airport views. (We recommend a Resort Pass, which grants you all-day access to the pool area.) 901 Bayfront Court, downtown, 619.501.9400. |

San Diego Botanic Garden 

Sept. 7. In addition to its regular hours Wednesday through Sunday, the property will be open on Labor Day. Explore 37 acres of gardens, trails, serene vistas, flowering trees and towering palms. It’s home to the largest bamboo collection in the U.S., the biggest interactive children’s garden on the West Coast, a tropical rainforest, desert gardens, native California plants (including rare and endangered plants), a subtropical fruit garden, a handful of international gardens, and even an herb garden. Advance reservations required. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, 760.436.3036.

Playtime at Fairmont Grand Del Mar

Reopened. This luxury resort has opened its doors again and invites you to dive into Labor Day weekend with plenty of fun enticements—including outdoor activities and spa services, alfresco dining, golf, movies under the stars and a new poolside terrace. We suggest taking a dip at one of the resort’s four pools; trying out The Grand Putting Challenge at the lighted putting green; and dining outside at Amaya overlooking tranquil gardens. (Or, treat yourself to five-star dining at Addison.) See website for packages and pricing. 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, Del Mar, 858.314.2000.

Flagship Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride

Ongoing. This 30-minute, wet ‘n’ wild experience is an unforgettable thriller. The Patriot—Flagship Cruises & Events’ unmistakable jet boat decked out in stars and stripes—is operating at reduced capacity (for safety) but with just as much panache. Cruise San Diego Bay along the downtown embarcadero and under the Coronado Bridge at speeds topping 50 mph—complete with quick stops and 360-degree spins (read: lots of big splashes). Prepare to scream and get soaked! Daily (see website for schedule). $27-32. 990 N. Harbor Drive, downtown, 619.234.4111.

Food + Drink

Weekend Brunch at Barleymash

Extended to Sept. 7. Spiked French toast, anyone? We’ve been daydreaming about Barleymash’s beloved brunch dish—rum-soaked raisin bread pudding, maple syrup, strawberry cream cheese and applewood-smoked bacon. With its weekend brunch extended for the holiday, this dream can come true on Monday as well. We also love the savory “barleyhash” (pictured)—a loaded potato hash mixed with a three-cheese blend and fried eggs—available in a handful of varieties (try the Kickin’ Chicken hash.) Food coma risk: HIGH. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. 600 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter, 619.255.7373.

Pho Ca Dao Vietnamese Kitchen

Now Open. The fantastic pho here is just the beginning. From its spacious dining patio to authentic cuisine, this neighborhood-style eatery promises a fun Vietnamese culinary experience. Menu musts: the surf ‘n’ turf spring rolls with shrimp and lemongrass beef; Saigon steamed pork buns; soft-shell crab omelet soup; the signature Waterfall Crispy Chicken; and the oxtail pho with braised oxtail, rare steak and Vietnamese meatballs. Added bonus: a full bar with drinks such as the Saigon Bloody Mary (pictured). M-Su 11 a.m.-10 p.m. 2647 Fenton Pkwy., Mission Valley, 619.684.5129.

Puesto Cerveceria

Now Open. Trendy taqueria Puesto delves into the world of craft beer—taking over the former Gordon Biersch Brewery and spending a cool $8 million to transform it. Puesto Cerveceria offers the best of both worlds—delicious Mexico City-style tacos, enchiladas and seafood; plus house-made Mexican lagers created by local brewer Doug Hasker; along with tequilas, mezcals and specialty libations. And the airy, 10,000-square-foot, 450-seat, urban brewery space—boasting an expansive patio—is a stunner. (Designer Paul Basile strikes again!) L, D daily. 5010 Mission Center Road, Mission Valley, 619.333.2167.

Sunday Brunch at Cafe Sevilla

Relaunched. All hail the return of Sunday brunch at Sevilla! “From the Other South” is back and better than ever at this longtime Gaslamp staple—featuring such favorites as the chorizo breakfast burrito, Spanish eggs Benedict, the waffle breakfast sandwich and bottomless mimosas. Carnivores will love the breakfast meat paella loaded with pork tenderloin, grilled sausage, chicken and flatiron steak. Just save room for the freshly made churros served with hot chocolate and fresh berries. Reservations recommended. 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. 353 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter, 619.233.5979.

Arts + Culture

Virtual First Friday with S.D. Dance Theater

Sept. 4. Enjoy a Friday night dance performance from the comfort of your laptop. Performing a piece from its previously scheduled Live Arts Fest, boundary-pushing local outfit San Diego Dance Theater presents a riveting two-part show. Company member Mario Jaimes and guest performer Hannah Cook dance to “He, She”—spotlighting issues of gender identity, with choreography by Mitchum Todd. Company dancer Minaqua McPherson (pictured) also gives a solo performance. Afterward, be among the first to learn about upcoming virtual and live performances. 5:30-6 p.m. Watch

Balcony Concert at The Westgate Hotel

Sept. 5. There’s still time to book a stay at one of the city’s more romantic hotels, which is offering an equally romantic Summer Balcony Concert package. Enjoy a VIP viewing experience of Julio De La Huerta & Friends—a local acoustic Latin music ensemble—from the comfort and safety of your own hotel room balcony, overlooking the concert stage on the hotel’s Fountain Terrace. Packages begin at $349 and include plush overnight accommodations, welcome appetizers and more. 7-9:30 p.m. 1055 Second Ave., downtown, 619.238.1818.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

Reopened. One of our favorite Balboa Park gems is back in action after being temporarily closed due to the pandemic. The family-friendly venue is a wonderland for kids of all ages—showcasing spacecraft, jets, historical aircraft, science exhibits and more inside the domed former Ford Building. To ensure guest safety, the museum has implemented such protocols as capacity limits, required masks for visitors and staff, social distancing, hand sanitizer stations and more. Open daily 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. $10-20. 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park, 619.234.8291.

Photo credits: Westfield North County by Karli Cadel Photography. Maverick the tiger by Kathleen Reeder. Puesto by Anne Watson. San Diego Dance Theater by Doug McMinimy. San Diego Botanic Garden by Rachel Cobb. All other photos are courtesy of the businesses and venues featured.

Let's Stay In Touch

with weekly roundups

Sign up for FREE to receive our exclusive Weekend Roundup!

Get the best things to do in our favorite SoCal spots delivered to your inbox every week

Los Angeles

Orange County

San Diego