BLOG 2017-12-26T21:07:49+00:00

Check-In San Diego

A lifestyle guide by the Sofia Hotel

Mark Earth Day in Balboa Park With the World’s Biggest Free Environmental Fair

Mark Earth Day in Balboa Park With the World’s Biggest Free Environmental Fair What better way to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd than by attending the San Diego EarthFair in Balboa Park—the biggest free environmental fair on the planet—and enjoying first-rate Downtown San Diego hospitality at the Sofia Hotel while you do? Marking its 29th year in 2018, EarthFair attracts some 60,000 festivalgoers to its eco-oriented soiree, which runs from 10 AM to 5 PM. With accommodations at the Sofia, you’re just a short trolley ride, bus ride, or bicycle ride (Earth Day-style transportation, right?) from Balboa Park, so come join us for the occasion! EarthFair 2018 San Diego EarthFair involves better than 300 exhibitors sharing information on a vast array of “green” topics—organic gardening, wildlife conservation, renewable energy, and much more—and offering everything from natural health and beauty products and tasty organic eats to secondhand treasures. Representatives from government agencies and a wide spectrum of local organizations—from the San Diego Bicycle Coalition and Environmental Center of San Diego to San Diego Canyonlands and the Cuyamaca Rancho State Park Interpretive Association—will be among the participants. (You can see the full list of 2018 San Diego EarthFair exhibitors here.) You’ll also be able to enjoy arts and crafts made from reclaimed or recycled materials as well as artistic depictions of San Diego County’s “Endangered Spaces” at the festival’s eARTh Gallery; admire a fleet of vehicles powered by alternative fuels at the Cleaner Car [...]

April 19th, 2018|Tags: , , , |

Get Out & Enjoy San Diego Bay During Your Stay at the Sofia!

Get Out & Enjoy San Diego Bay During Your Stay at the Sofia! Here in San Diego, we’ve got as our liquid doorstep one of the finest natural harbors—and one of the finest urban saltwater playgrounds—in the entire country. San Diego Bay contributes an incalculable amount to our city’s livelihood and lifestyle: as a naval and shipping hub, as an irreplaceable ecological resource, as world-class recreational waters, and as a gorgeous Pacific backdrop to our cityscape. When you bed down in style and luxury at the Sofia Hotel (one of the very best Downtown San Diego hotels), you’re mere blocks from the San Diego Bay waterfront. Let’s run down some of your options for appreciating this cosmopolitan harbor, on and off the water! Boating the Bay Whatever your level of nautical interest and skill (or lack thereof), it’s a joy to get out on the Bay itself and take in the views of the San Diego skyline, Coronado Island, and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. Join a sightseeing cruise or charter a sailboat, paddle via kayak or stand-up paddleboard, or crank up the speed (and the splash) by renting a jet ski. Given the plethora of boat tours, rentals, and instructional classes available on San Diego Bay, there’s an on-the-water option for everybody. Pedal the Bayshore Bikeway You can nearly circumnavigate San Diego Bay, meanwhile, by riding the lovely Bayshore Bikeway, a 24-mile bike route between Downtown San Diego and Coronado Island. The Bikeway takes in Imperial [...]

Spring Break in San Diego!

Spring Break in San Diego! Ample quantities of Southern Californian sunshine, a swoony Pacific seacoast, oodles of festivals and sporting attractions: Spring break doesn’t get any better than in San Diego! Let us treat you to sumptuous Downtown San Diego hospitality here at the Sofia, and use our centrally situated hotel to soak up the season! Here are a few ideas for vernal fun in and around America’s Finest City… Catch Some Baseball It’s that “take me out to the ballgame” time of year again, and the San Diego Padres are holding court over at Petco Park just a short jaunt south of us here at the Sofia. There’s nothing like live baseball, and the Padres’ stadium is a real winner. The Padres’ April homestands see the team going inning-for-inning against the Colorado Rockies (Monday, April 2nd through Thursday, April 5th); the San Francisco Giants (Thursday, April 12th through Sunday, April 15th); the LA Dodgers (Monday, April 16th through Wednesday, April 18th); and the New York Mets (Friday, April 27th through Sunday, April 29th). Nab your tickets and survey the full Padres schedule right here! Hit Up the Beach Nothing says spring break like some quality time logged at the beach, right? San Diego treats its visitors to a plethora of beautiful Pacific sand-and-surf destinations, including some fine examples just a hop, skip, and a jump from the doorstep of the Sofia Hotel. For instance, consider a daytrip over to Mission Beach or Coronado Beach, or [...]

Enjoy the San Diego Crew Classic’s Annual Regatta on Mission Bay

Enjoy the San Diego Crew Classic’s Annual Regatta on Mission Bay Photo: Steve Burt (Flickr) Some major athletic competition is about to go down on the palm-lined waters of Mission Bay, and you’ll be able to take it all in with note-perfect accommodations at the Sofia Hotel! The sporting contest in question? The 25th Annual San Diego Crew Classic, which sees rowers from more than 100 different universities, high schools, and clubs participate in a high-profile regatta that’s been going on for better than 40 years. Come join us at the Sofia and take in the oar-sculling and oar-sweeping action this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 23rd through the 25th! The San Diego Crew Classic Established back in 1973, the San Diego Crew Classic is a fixture of the spring sporting scene here along our glittering (and glamorous) swath of Southern Californian coastline. From novices to Olympians, from teenagers to 80-year-olds, the regatta involves a wonderful range of rowing talents in a weekend packed with better than 100 races. Slicing across Mission Bay from near the Ingraham Street bridge to Crown Point Shores, those races run on roughly 10-minute intervals from 7:20 AM to 6:30 PM on Saturday and 7:20 AM to 3 PM on Sunday, each day kicking off with a rendition of the National Anthem. Friday afternoon offers an opportunity to watch whole fleets of racing shells practice during the Crew Classic Preview Day (2 to 6 PM), the ideal spectating perch [...]

March 21st, 2018|Tags: , , , |

Enjoy March Madness With the Sofia: Catch “The Big Dance” in San Diego!

Enjoy March Madness With the Sofia: Catch “The Big Dance” in San Diego! Photo: Der-wuppertaler (Wikimedia Commons) It’s one of the pinnacles of the American sporting year: the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, aka March Madness, aka the Big Dance. And it’s coming to San Diego in just a few days! With “Selection Sunday” in the rearview mirror, the bracket for March Madness 2018 is set, and San Diego State isn’t just in the mix (go Aztecs!): Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl—just an easy trolley ride away from the Sofia Hotel—is also serving as one of the venues for the First and Second Rounds. Now’s the time to lock down your tickets for the roundball action this Friday and Sunday—and your accommodations at the Sofia, so conveniently situated to the Aztecs’ home court! March Madness at the Viejas Arena At 10:30 AM on Friday, March 16th, First Round East Regional play gets underway with the Marshall Thundering Herd taking on the Wichita State Shockers. This’ll be followed up by West Virginia v. Murray State in the afternoon. That evening, the Midwest Regional bracket will see the Auburn Tigers against the College of Charleston Cougars at 4:27 PM, and then the Clemson Tigers v. the New Mexico State Aggies. The winners of those four games then face each other on Sunday, March 18th in the Second Round. As a guest of ours at the Sofia Hotel, getting to the Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl [...]

March 12th, 2018|Tags: , , , , |

Take in a Free Sunday Concert at Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion

Take in a Free Sunday Concert at Balboa Park's Spreckels Organ Pavilion Photo: Kris Awesome (Flickr) Did you know that, among its many other superlative features, Balboa Park plays host to the world’s largest outdoor organ? And opportunities for appreciating this grand instrument, the Spreckels Organ, and the glorious sounds it makes abound. On Sunday afternoons, you can head over to the park’s Sprecklels Organ Pavilion and enjoy a free hourlong concert by San Diego’s very own civic organist. In summer, meanwhile, the pavilion additionally holds Monday evening concerts of wide-ranging focus. With downtown accommodations at the Sofia Hotel (one of the most beloved San Diego hotels), you’re just minutes from the wonderland of Balboa Park and those wonderful weekly programs at the Organ Pavilion, so why not take advantage? The Spreckels Organ The organ and the pavilion itself were a gift to the city from brothers John A. and Adolph Spreckels on the occasion of the Panama-California Exposition, which in 1915 transformed Balboa Park into the world-class urban oasis we see today. (President Woodrow Wilson launched the Exposition remotely through the magic of the telegraph, and in 1915 two former White House occupants, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, spoke at the Organ Pavilion.) The Spreckels Organ, manufactured by the venerable Austin Organs, Inc. of Connecticut, sports better than 5,000 pipes—the largest more than 30 feet tall—in 80 ranks. It’s an amazing construction still producing sublime sounds more than a century after its installation [...]

March 6th, 2018|Tags: , , |

Enjoy Street Performances of Every Description at the Spring Busker Festival in Seaport Village

Enjoy Street Performances of Every Description at the Spring Busker Festival in Seaport Village Sword-swallowers, fire-jugglers, chair-stackers, living statues, curbside musicians, contortionists: There’s a centuries-old, globe-spanning tradition of performing for the masses on the street and passing the hat—or merely playing for some applause. Buskers, as these sundry street performers are called—from buscar, Spanish for “to search”—bring art and entertainment directly to the people. And the upcoming annual San Diego’s Spring Busker Festival is the only organized celebration of the noble idiom in Southern California. The gravity-defying and side-splitting fun goes down just blocks from the Sofia Hotel at Seaport Village, so book your guestroom at one of the very best San Diego hotels and admire the skills of some of the finest street performers in the country firsthand! The 2018 Spring Busker Festival This year’s Spring Busker Festival takes place Saturday, March 3rd and Sunday, March 4th from noon to 6 PM, with the popular “Buskers After Dark” event returning on Saturday from 7 to 10 PM. You’re guaranteed spectacle and an all-around good time, given the caliber of performers on the roster. An elite lineup of buskers will be competing for the 2018 People’s Choice Award. They include the stunt-and-stilt-heavy comedy duo Allez Oops!; Sara Kunz with her impressive contortions, hula-hooping, and unicycling; pogo-sticking of the daredevil order courtesy of Wacky Chad; the one-man circus called Dango; and a number of others. Non-competing acts on hand for the Spring Busker Festival this year include [...]

Celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Sofia Hotel

Celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Sofia Hotel Photo: y6y6y6/Flickr The Year of the Dog is unfolding, and San Diego turns out to be a wonderful place to usher it in! Mark the occasion with a happy stay at the Sofia Hotel here in Downtown San Diego, and you’ll have your choice of two fine Lunar New Year cultural parties right at your fingertips… The San Diego Tết Festival Tết—aka Vietnamese New Year—welcomes in spring with great pageantry. The full name of the festival is Tết Nguyên Đán, “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day,” and San Diego’s Vietnamese-American community puts on a fabulous one! This year’s San Diego Tết Festival takes place February 16th through the 18th at Mira Mesa Community Park, about a half-hour north of downtown. The Vietnamese American Youth Alliance puts on the festival, which ranks among the very biggest celebrations of Vietnamese New Year in Southern California. Free and open to one and all, the San Diego Tết Festival marks the holiday with fireworks, live entertainment, feasting, and all-around merrymaking. Highlights include multiple rounds of traditional Lion Dancing, martial-arts exhibitions, cooking demos, Vietnamese folk music, and the long-running Miss Vietnam of San Diego Pageant, which takes place at 6:30 PM on Saturday the 17th. The festival includes other competitions as well: a dance contest at 8 PM on Friday, a pho-eating contest on Saturday at 5:30 PM, and Sunday afternoon’s “Golden Voice” karaoke sessions—not to mention [...]

Explore More Than 40 San Diego Museums for Half-Off This Month!

Explore More Than 40 San Diego Museums for Half-Off This Month! The USS Midway Museum There’s no time like the present to explore San Diego’s genuinely world-class roster of museums. Well, naturally, these fine institutions make high-powered draws all the year long, but this February presents a special deal that’s pretty hard to resist: Macy’s Museum Month, a collaboration between Macy’s and the San Diego Museum Council that translates to half-off admission at more than four dozen standout museums in America’s Greatest City. Many of these lie within a short commute from the Sofia Hotel, so come join us for topnotch Downtown hospitality at one of the very best San Diego hotels and go expand your horizons at one or two or 10 fabulous San Diego museums while you’re at it! Macy’s Museum Month in San Diego To take advantage of this steal of a deal, all you need to do is swing by a San Diego-area Macy’s store—the one at Westfield Horton Plaza is within strolling distance of the Sofia—and pick up your pass, which delivers half-off admission at participating museums for up to four people (and lands you 20% savings at Macy’s, to boot). You can see a full list of the vastly varied institutions taking part in Macy’s Museum Month right here, but let’s spotlight a few of your options! Within shouting distance of our hotel, for instance, the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House tells the story of the Gaslamp [...]

2018 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines

Watch Tigers Woods & Company at the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines It’s time once again for that legendary San Diego-area portion of the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing: the Farmers Insurance Open, held as it has been since 1968 on the hallowed Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla. We’ve still got room here at the Sofia (a showstopper among downtown San Diego hotels) for this week’s fairway action, so enjoy our well-appointed accommodations alongside the competition at Torrey Pines! The 2018 Farmers Insurance Open This year’s edition of the Farmers Insurance Open takes place Thursday, January 25 through Sunday, January 28. As always, an elite field of golfers will be squaring off at Torrey Pines, from Australian star Jason Day to last year’s Farmers Insurance Open winner Jon Rahm of Spain. Plenty of competitors with San Diego-area connections are part of the proceedings, including the legendary Phil Mickelson and four-time PGA Tour winner Charley Hoffman as well as Michael Kim, J.J. Spaun, Xander Schaufell, and others. Naturally, though, all eyes are going to be upon another native Southern Californian and the man who’s triumphed here at the Open more times than any other: a certain Tiger Woods. Woods first won in 1999 when he scored 266 (tying the tournament’s record with George Burns), and he came out on top another six times after that, most recently in 2013. Torrey Pines also marks the site of his last major championship win to date: [...]

Hamilton at the San Diego Civic Theatre: Make It Dinner & a Show with Accommodations at the Sofia!

Hamilton at the San Diego Civic Theatre: Make It Dinner & a Show With Accommodations at the Sofia! One of the most talked-about musicals in modern times is currently dazzling audiences at the San Diego Civic Theatre, a few easy blocks from the Sofia Hotel! We’re talking, of course, about Hamilton, Lin Manuel-Miranda’s much-decorated Broadway telling of American statesman Alexander Hamilton’s life. The Civic Theatre’s production, which runs through January 28th, is (unsurprisingly) sold out. If you’ve got tickets for this history-lesson-as-thrilling-live-entertainment, we invite you to enjoy accommodations at one of the most beautiful San Diego hotels—and combine the onstage spectacle with a sumptuous meal at our on-site partner restaurant, Currant American Brasserie! Hamilton: Meteor of a Musical Manuel-Miranda premiered Hamilton in early 2015 at New York City’s Public Theater, having been inspired to write the musical after reading Ron Chernow’s biography of the Founding Father, the USA’s first Secretary of the Treasury. It debuted on Broadway that summer and the rest is pretty much history: Hamilton quickly became an all-out cultural phenomenon. The infectious rapped and sung score tells the story of Alexander Hamilton’s journey to the American colonies from his West Indian birthplace and his pivotal participation in the American Revolution and the formative days of the United States, as well as his fateful relationship with rival Aaron Burr. Lyrics and melodies alike astound in the vivacious numbers, which include “My Shot,” “Alexander Hamilton,” and “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”—the whole saga [...]

Whales on the Move: Experience an Epic Migration From the San Diego Coast

Whales on the Move: Experience an Epic Migration From the San Diego Coast This time of year, you can mix up the fine dining, theater- and concert- and museum-going, craft-beer tasting, historical sightseeing, and all the other cosmopolitan pleasures of San Diego with absolutely world-class ecotourism. Right now, huge gray whales—gentle giants of blotchy hide, knobby backs, and baleen grins—are cruising southward to calving and wintering grounds in Baja California, right past the San Diego coast. They’re coming from Alaskan waters: their summertime buffet table. This journey is no mere walk in the (watery) park: It’s a 12,000-mile-long (round-trip) odyssey, one of the greatest animal migrations known. And you can experience this natural wonder firsthand as a guest of ours at the Sofia Hotel: one of the most auspiciously situated (and all-out welcoming) downtown SanDiego hotels! Prime Time, Whale-Wise While you can spot gray whales off our local coast anytime between December and April (by late winter/early spring the leviathans are northbound again, but often farther offshore), January is just about prime time. At Cabrillo National Monument on the Point Loma Peninsula—one of the best vantages for whale-watching in the region—you’ve got an excellent chance of spotting a spout or two by staking out at the Whale Overlook or the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. “Field Marks” of the Gray Whale If whales are passing close enough, you can sometimes spot them with the naked eye, but binoculars are a real help; the Visitor Center at Cabrillo lends out a small [...]

Holiday Happenings Around San Diego

 Holiday Happenings Around San Diego Every year here at the Sofia Hotel—one of the best-loved San Diego hotels—we have the pleasure of hosting guests on holiday vacations in America’s Greatest City, which just so happens to be a wonderful (and warm) place to celebrate this time of year. In case you’re able to join us during this Yuletide/New Year’s stretch—and we hope you can!—here are just some of the festivities going on around town that you might consider taking in. Multiple Nutcrackers For many, it’s simply not the Christmas season without attending a performance of Tchaikovsky’s whimsical ballet, and you’ve got multiple productions to choose from during your San Diego holiday getaway: by the California Ballet at the San Diego Civic Theatre (Dec. 21 through 23); the 25th Anniversary Tour of the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker at the Jacobs Music Center (two performances on Dec. 21); by City Ballet of San Diego at the Spreckels Theatre (through Dec. 24); and, after the New Year, Culture Shock San Diego’s outside-the-box version (Jan. 1 through 7). San Diego Symphony: Noel Noel On December 22 and 23, the San Diego Symphony presents a heartwarming slew of classic holiday tunes (including some sing-along caroling) at the Jacobs Music Center. A Christmas Carol at Cygnet Theatre Indulge in another defining holiday tradition by attending Sean Murray’s Cygnet Theatre adaptation of the Charles Dickens story (through Dec. 24), which of course sees old Ebenezer Scrooge reckon with the Christmas spirit through the [...]

December 19th, 2017|Tags: |

Finish Up Your Holiday Shopping in San Diego!

Finish Up Your Holiday Shopping in San Diego! Seaport Village Admit it: You’ve still got some holiday shopping to do. I mean, don’t we all? Well, treat yourself to a December escape at the Sofia Hotel, and you can combine premier hospitality at one of the finest hotels in SanDiego with outstanding access to some of the city’s most decked-out retail hotspots! Fashion Valley Mall Palm-studded Fashion Valley serves as San Diego’s largest outdoor mall, and with better than 200 stores to choose from here you’ll be pretty well covered for most (if not all) items on that holiday-shopping list of yours. Luxury designer brands (Prada, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, etc.), heavyweight department stores (Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s), Nike and Apple and Disney outlets—Fashion Valley has you covered, and it’s quite easy to reach by car or public transport from the Sofia! The Gaslamp Quarter Or how about the shopping paradise right at our doorstep: San Diego’s historic and hopping Gaslamp Quarter? The neighborhood claims more than 80 different stores: Bubbles Boutique, Heavenly Coutoure, Costa Fashions, Urban Outfitters, the San Diego Trading Co., the Wine Bank, Boomshop of Comics, and Skechers, to name a small sample. You can easily strike out on foot from the Sofia for a Gaslamp Quarter shopping safari, and meantime you’ll have no end of cafes, bars, and restaurants at your fingertips for when you need a break. Seaport Village Another super-convenient destination from the Sofia—less than a mile away along the [...]

December 14th, 2017|Tags: |

Celebrate the Holidays With the 46th Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Celebrate the Holidays With the 46th Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights One of San Diego’s most beloved holiday traditions is nearly upon us: the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights! We hope you’ll consider joining us at the Sofia—one of the most beloved hotels in SanDiego—in order to experience, along with more than 100,000 other spectators from near and far, this bedazzling on-the-water display! The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights: A Holiday Spectacle to Cherish This year’s Parade of Lights takes place on two consecutive Sundays: December 10th and December 17th. Those evenings, you can feast on the sight of 80-plus luxuriantly lit and deliciously decorated boats as they are wending a merry course through the bay: from Shelter Island across the America’s Cup Harbor entrance to Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, the Pier at Cesar Chavez Park, and then to the “finish line” at Coronado Ferry Landing. USA Today recently chose the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights—motoring along for its 46th year—among the contenders for the “Best Holiday Parade” in the nation. Each year’s Parade of Lights comes with a theme, and 2017’s should surely delight any and all scalawags: It’s “Arrrgh! A Pirate’s Christmas.” Viewing the Parade Timing-wise, the piratical procession begins at 5 PM and takes roughly an hour to pass any given vantage. You can check out more viewing details at the official website, but as a rough guide the parade will reach Harbor Island at 5:30 PM, [...]

December 4th, 2017|Tags: |

From Us at the Sofia to Your Table: Eat, Drink, and Give Thanks!

From Us at the Sofia to Your Table: Eat, Drink, and Give Thanks! Each and every day of the year, we here at the Sofia Hotel give thanks for our wonderful guests, our invaluable staff, and all of our fantastic partners. In that sense, Thanksgiving is merely an opportunity to express that daily gratitude a little more formally. We truly are so very thankful for our extended Sofia family: from the guests, brand-new and regularly returning, who come to us from all across the country and all across the world to our incredibly hardworking employees who make daily operations at the hotel hum along without a hitch. We genuinely love giving people such an advantageously situated home-away-from-home in downtown San Diego, and in the process honoring the legacy of our historic building, established back in the 1920s as the Pickwick. We love this venerable (and revamped) hotel, we love our neighborhood here at the doorstep of the Gaslamp Quarter, and we love our city of San Diego—and there’s nothing like introducing the charms of all of the above to our guests. We also can’t say enough good things about our on-site restaurant partner Currant American Brasserie, which adds so much to the Sofia with its mouthwatering fare, lovely ambiance, and stellar service. Meanwhile, if you’re seeking San Diego hotels for a last-minute Turkey Day getaway, we certainly invite you to mark the holiday with us at the Sofia: We’d love to have you! Wherever and however you’re spending [...]

November 21st, 2017|Tags: |

Eat Well, Be Well at the 2017 San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

Eat Well, Be Well at the 2017 San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Thanksgiving alone makes November a month to give in to one’s appetites, but in our neck of the woods there’s another exceptional epicurean excuse: the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival! This year’s gustatory gala, the 14th annual, is underway from November 12th through the 19th, when the climax of the whole affair, the Grand Tasting, goes down at Embarcadero Marine Park North. And listen up: Elegant accommodations at one of the most beautiful hotels in downtown SanDiego, the Sofia, put you within earshot of the festival’s figurative dinner bell. Big-name chefs, insightful food discussions, and of course an all-around feast to remember: Don’t miss the 2017 San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, and take advantage of the Sofia Hotel’s proximity and fabulous hospitality while you do! Events & Celebrity Chefs The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival always draws quite the lineup of celebrity chefs, restaurateurs, and various other culinary movers-and-shakers, and the 14th go-round certainly lives up to the caliber of past years. You can take a gander at the full roster of the 2017 festival’s “personalities” right here. A sampler platter? How about Katsuya Fukushima, executive chef of and partner in Daikaya, Bantam King, and Haikan, three awesome eateries covering a whole lot of territory in that rarefied realm of Japanese cuisine; Mei Lin, Season 12 winner of the popular TV series Top Chef; Tommy Gomes, fishmonger [...]

November 13th, 2017|Tags: |

Take in Balboa Park’s Charms on a Guided Tour

Take in Balboa Park’s Charms on a Guided Tour One of San Diego’s crown jewels, Balboa Park sits comfortably among America’s great park-scapes: a showstopper for the quality of its specific attractions (the San Diego Zoo, the Museum of Man, the Japanese Friendship Garden, etc.) and its gorgeous overall architectural and botanical scenery. Last year the city celebrated the 100th anniversary of the modern park’s birth during the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition (although the ultimate origin of the greenspace dates to the 1860s). When you call the Sofia Hotel (one of the best-in-class hotels in SanDiego) your home-away-from-home here in Southern California, you’re just a short trip away from Balboa Park. And while of course you can entirely experience its appeal on your own freewheeling exploration, we thought we’d spotlight some of the organized tours you can take that shed some behind-the-scenes insight into one of San Diego’s most beloved public spaces. Ranger-Led Balboa Park Tours At 11 AM every Tuesday and Sunday, park rangers lead interpretive tours of Balboa Park out of the Visitors Center in the House of Hospitality (a lovely reconstruction of the original building built for the Panama-California Exposition). You’ll learn some fascinating nuggets of history on these forays as well as details on the park’s celebrated landscaping. Self-Guided Audio Tours Also at the Balboa Park Visitor’s Center, you can rent an audio tour covering everything from park history to landmarks. The tour lasts roughly an hour and a half, and the last ones [...]

October 31st, 2017|Tags: |

Embrace the Spooky at the Sofia Hotel This Halloween

Embrace the Spooky at the Sofia Hotel This Halloween Well, it’s that superbly spooky, grandly ghoulish, outstandingly otherworldly (we can keep going) time of year again, and here at the Sofia Hotel we’re happily getting into the Halloween “spirit.” With one of the very best San Diego hotels are your All Hallow’s Eve headquarters, you’ve got many, many ways to embrace the eerie—and have a bone-chilling blast doing it. (We’ll try to stop with the alliteration, but no promises…) Here are just a few of those options for Halloween fun within shouting—or perhaps we should say “shrieking”—distance from the Sofia! Spooktacular Halloween Run/Walk (October 22) Soak up the lovely October fresh air of San Diego, get some exercise (useful for combatting pumpkin-pie and Halloween candy overindulgences), and celebrate the haunting season all in one fell swoop at the Spooktacular 15k, 10k/5k Run/Walk at Hospitality Point Park! Open to adults and kids alike, the event features plenty of creatively garbed participants, so it makes sense a costume contest is also part of the proceedings… Monster Bash 2017 (October 28) This hugely popular Halloween soiree goes down from 6 PM to midnight right in our neighborhood of the Gaslamp Quarter. Thousands attend the demonic party, now in its 17th year, to rock out at five themed stages, from the Twisted Dream House to Clown Carnage. Live DJs supply scary-good beats, while the wildest, wackiest Halloween getups in San Diego compete during the Monster Bash Costume Contest on the charmingly [...]

October 21st, 2017|Tags: |

Turbocharged Sailing: Take in the Extreme Sailing Races at Harbor Island This October

Turbocharged Sailing: Take in the Extreme Sailing Races at Harbor Island This October Photo: Land Rover MENA (Flickr) With the year-round weather as lovely as ours, it’s no surprise that San Diego’s such a popular destination for sporting events—a healthy share of them taking place along our sun-swaddled Pacific coastline. […]

Catch Some Waves During the Peak of San Diego’s Surf Season!

Catch Some Waves During the Peak of San Diego's Surf Season! San Diego ranks among the epicenters of the global surfing scene, and it just about goes without saying that Southern California, in general, has helped shape modern surf culture. (Just pay a visit to the California Surf Museum to learn how.) Surfing is a year-round possibility here, but late summer through autumn generally brews up the finest all-around conditions. As a guest of ours at the Sofia Hotel—among the best-loved of San Diego hotels—you’re not only presented with the best that Downtown and the Gaslamp Quarter have to offer: You’re also just a short cruise from some of San Diego County’s most popular surfing hotspots. Prime Time to Hit Those Breaks Prevailing south swells, coupled with the periodic offshore punch of Santa Ana winds, make this time of year perfect for riding some Pacific waves along the San Diego County coast. A Plethora of Nearby Surf Spots From the legendary Trestles point break up north to the waters off Imperial Beach, you’ve got a rich variety of surfing destinations scattered all the way down San Diego County’s long and epically beautiful coastline. The San Diego Tourism Authority has an excellent roundup of countywide surf breaks, but here’s a brief list of some of the notable ones closest to the Sofia: Del Mar—Open to swells from multiple directions, Del Mar offers some of the most varied and reliable year-round surfing in the area. La Jolla—A global hub [...]

Super Boats at Mission Bay: The San Diego Bayfair Hydroplane Races

Super Boats at Mission Bay: The San Diego Bayfair Hydroplane Races A hop, skip, and a jump from the Sofia Hotel, the waters of Mission Bay makes one of San Diego’s favorite aquatic playgrounds. Coming up this month is one of the flashiest water sports events it hosts all year: the San Diego Bayfair! The centerpiece of this waterfront festival is as dramatic a competition as you can clap eyes on: an H1 Unlimited hydroplane race. The high-speed action gets underway September 15 through the 17th, so join us at the Sofia—your first choice among downtown San Diego hotels—and mark the end of summer with a world-class spectacle at Mission Bay Park! The San Diego Bayfair World Series of Powerboat Racing The San Diego Bayfair has been delighting crowds for better than four decades. The first hydroplane race went down here at Mission Bay in 1964—the vision of a legendary H1 Unlimited racer, Bill Muncey. The 2.5-mile race course he established—and which now bears his name in tribute—is both the longest and the fastest one on the H1 Unlimited circuit. Introducing the Hydroplane So…what exactly is a hydroplane? Well, it’s only the swiftest racing powerboat around: a sleek and high-riding vessel capable of reaching speeds beyond 200 miles per hour. The hydroplane’s astounding zippiness comes from immensely powerful turbine engines (adopted from helicopters) and an aerodynamic (and hydrodynamic) “three-point” design: At speed, only three parts of the boat—parts of the two sponsons (specialized extensions of the hull) [...]

September 8th, 2017|Tags: , , , |

Daytripping From the Sofia: Exploring San Diego County’s Coast

Daytripping From the Sofia: Exploring San Diego County's Coast The beach at Torrey Pines Downtown, the Gaslamp Quarter, Old Town, Balboa Park, Coronado Island—a whole feast of nearby San Diego delights beckon to you from the doorstep of the historic Sofia Hotel. And you can happily spend your entire stay with us wining, dining, shopping, and sightseeing entirely in our greater neighborhood, which encompasses some of the best-known attractions in America’s Greatest City. But for those keen on venturing just a little farther afield, it’s all the more amazing what fabulous scenery and destinations await you on a daytrip from the Sofia, one of the premier hotels in SanDiego. Here are a few easy-to-reach highlights of our gorgeous backyard of the Southern California coast! Cabrillo National Monument Here on the Point Loma Peninsula, a European—Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, to be exact—first stepped foot on West Coast soil. Cabrillo National Monument dazzles not only because of that history (and vintage landmarks such as the Old Point Loma Lighthouse), but also on account of breathtaking Pacific vistas, some of the region’s best seasonal land-based whale-watching, and the enchanting microuniverse of the Point Loma tidepools. La Jolla This fabled seashore comes steeped in Southern Californian ambience and splendor. Doze on the beach, go surfing or standup paddleboarding, snorkel with snazzy leopard sharks, or admire La Jolla’s famous sunbathing seals and sea lions. And don’t forget a sidetrip up to the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial, which affords one of the finest [...]

Stand on a San Diego Icon: The Hike to Potato Chip Rock

Stand on a San Diego Icon: The Hike to Potato Chip Rock From desert walkabouts to seaside moseys, a fabulous wealth of hiking opportunities lies within our diverse hinterland here at the Sofia Hotel. Easily one of the most popular hikes of all is that up to the aptly named Potato Chip Rock. It’s only about 30 miles or so to the best-known Potato Chip Rock trailhead from the Sofia, one of very best San Diego hotels, so consider making the day trip: You will soak up some lovely Southern California scenery and try out one of our region’s primo photo ops firsthand! The Hike Potato Chip Rock is a wafer-like prong of granodiorite near the summit of 2,881-foot Mount Woodson, a boulder-strewn peak that looms east of Lake Poway. That body of water harbors the western trailhead for climbing the mountain along an 8-mile round-trip route. (There’s an $8 fee for parking at Lake Poway, by the way.) It is a steep hike, and much of it has little in the way of shade, so be sure to bring along sun protection and plenty of water (this time of year especially). We recommend an early start as well to avoid the afternoon heat. Nonetheless, it’s all worth it as you pass in wonderment through the natural chaparral rock gardens of Mount Woodson. Exposed at the surface, granodiorite weathers in dramatic fashion: You will see lots of interesting joints, pockmarks, and alcoves on the countless boulders and [...]

Bike the Bay: San Diego Cycling at its Best

Bike the Bay: San Diego Cycling at its Best The weather that San Diego’s privileged to experience year-round is meant to be enjoyed from the seat of a bicycle. (Or out on a paddleboard. Or from a kayak. Or a sailboat. Or a top-down convertible…well, you get the gist.) Just about any day is a good day for a bike ride around America’s Greatest City—especially when you have got the Sofia, one of the great hotels in downtown SanDiego, as your home-away-from-home. However, one of the absolute best opportunities to get out and about on two muscle-driven wheels is coming up later this month: Bike the Bay! 2017 Bike the Bay Bike the Bay is a non-competitive 25-mile community bicycle ride tracing the fabulous water-front course of the Bayshore Bikeway, which makes a neat oval around our watery doorstep of San Diego Bay. Proceeds go to the nonprofit group San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, which focuses on generally promoting pedaling and bike safety in the region. Bike the Bay kicks off and ends up at the Embarcadero Marina Park South just a few blocks from the Sofia Hotel. In between, it traverses the Bayshore Bikeway, which we’ve celebrated here at the Check In San Diego blog before. Pedaling through Coronado, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, and National City put a genuinely gorgeous slice of the greater San Diego water-front on a platter for you, all along a level bikeway meant to be covered in as leisurely (remember: non-competitive!) [...]