Check-In San Diego

A lifestyle guide by the Sofia Hotel

Balboa Park in Spring: Lots to See & Lots to Do!

Balboa Park in Spring: Lots to See & Lots to Do! The Old Globe Are you still feeling the hangover of the winter doldrums? Is it still in fact basically winter where you are? (We’ve been shuddering looking at some of the forecasts for other parts of the country—yikes!) Well, allow us to unroll one giant and sunshiny welcome mat for you: an invitation to join us here at the Sofia Hotel in Downtown San Diego for a springtime visit to America’s Finest City! It happens to be a fabulous time to mark the vernal season over at one of San Diego’s signature landmarks, Balboa Park, which is just a short trip from our boutique hotel here on West Broadway. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the upcoming happenings in Balboa Park, one of the country’s great urban greenspaces. Art Alive at the San Diego Museum of Art One of the San Diego Art Museum’s signature fundraisers, Art Alive is back for its 38th edition this April 12th through the 14th. Better than 100 floral creations bedeck the Balboa Park museum for this spectacular weekend installation, which draws thousands of visitors every year and never fails to impress. A whole slew of art workshops and other activities help mark the occasion as well. Performances at the Old Globe Theatre Among America’s top regional theaters, the Old Globe has been wowing Balboa Park audiences since the 1930s, and has launched more [...]

Springtime Flowers & Cultural Illuminations: The 14th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival at San Diego’s Japanese Friendship Garden

Springtime Flowers & Cultural Illuminations: The 14th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival at San Diego’s Japanese Friendship Garden We’re just past the March equinox, and spring is unfolding in spectacular fashion here in Southern California. It’s a wonderful time to stay with us here in Downtown San Diego at the Sofia Hotel, where you’ll find yourself nice and close to one of the great annual celebrations of the season: the Cherry Blossom Festival in the Japanese Friendship Garden! A week of floral buildup is culminating in this weekend’s festival, held Friday through Sunday within one of the most resplendent of the many gardens of Balboa Park. The Cherry Blossom Festival in San Diego’s Japanese Friendship Garden This is the 14th edition of the Cherry Blossom Festival in the Japanese Friendship Garden, which honors San Diego’s sister-city status with Yokohama. The Cherry Blossom Festival evokes a century-old fixture of Japanese culture and art: the practice of hanami, the appreciation of flower blooming. These days, it’s most associated with blossoming cherries, though the flowers of plum trees have also been a traditional focus of hanami in Japan. Hanami sees people strolling and picnicking around springtime cherry trees in their pink and white splendor, and taking plenty of pictures. Balboa Park’s Japanese Friendship Garden devotes about an acre of its magnificently landscaped grounds to Pink Cloud cherries, which are nearing peak bloom right now. The garden’s event and marketing coordinator, Jon Osio, told the San Diego Union-Tribune, [...]

From Balboa Park to the Gaslamp Quarter, Mark Saint Patrick’s Day in San Diego With Holiday Headquarters at the Sofia

From Balboa Park to the Gaslamp Quarter, Mark Saint Patrick’s Day in San Diego With Holiday Headquarters at the Sofia Are you ready to paint the town green for Saint Patrick’s Day? San Diego really knows how to celebrate this holiday of Irish and Irish-American heritage, when just about everybody can claim a little spiritual or cultural (if not ancestral) connection to the Emerald Isle. And with a boutique guestroom at the Sofia Hotel on West Broadway, you’re within jigging distance of the two biggest Saint Paddy’s Day soirees in town: the San Diego Saint Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival in Balboa Park and the Gaslamp Quarter’s San Diego shamROCK block party! Saint Patrick’s Day: A (Very) Condensed History Saint Patrick’s Day has traditionally been a feast day honoring the namesake patron saint of Ireland, who wasn’t actually born there but rather in Roman Great Britain, aka Britannia, as Maewyn Succat. He was initially brought to Ireland in slave bondage, then escaped and ended up training as a missionary in France. Saint Patrick then returned to Ireland, the story goes, to spread Christianity: allegedly symbolizing the Holy Trinity with a three-leaf clover (the shamrock) and, apocryphally anyway, ridding the (naturally snake-free) island of snakes. It’s said that Saint Patrick exited this mortal coil on March 17th, 461, which explains the timing of Saint Patrick’s Day each year. While the feast day as a religious commemoration has been observed in Ireland for better than [...]

Enjoy Spectacular Music, Dancing, and Cuisine at the 2019 International Mariachi Festival

Enjoy Spectacular Music, Dancing, and Cuisine at the 2019 International Mariachi Festival Mariachi Estrellas de Chula Vista (Photo: Arash Afshar, Port of San Diego–Flickr) One of the great cultural events in San Diego County is right around the corner, and you’ll be within easy reach of its melodic, visual, and gastronomic pleasures as a guest of the Sofia Hotel! Sunday, March 10th marks the seventh edition of the International Mariachi Festival, which this year will take place in Chula Vista’s Bayside Park. Join us for the finest hospitality in Downtown San Diego at our historic hotel, and take in the live music, dancing, arts-and-crafts, and culinary delights of this fabulous celebration right at the doorstep of San Diego Bay! The International Mariachi Festival Presented by the National City Chamber of Commerce and the Unified Port of San Diego, the International Mariachi Festival celebrates Mexican cultural heritage with world-class performances by mariachi and ballet folklorico dance ensembles. These groups hail from all around the United States and Mexico, and include a host of student outfits that’ll be competing for cash prizes in both high-school and middle-school divisions. (A two-day music conference ahead of the festival will go down at the University of San Diego, where top mariachi instructors will lead workshops and classes for hundreds of students.) Mariachi is a centuries-old style of folk music that originally developed in rural Mexico and came of age during the 20th century as it spread [...]

Valentine’s Day Also Marks the Start of San Diego Theatre Week!

Valentine’s Day Also Marks the Start of San Diego Theatre Week! The Old Globe Theatre, one of the venues for San Diego Theatre Week February 14th, of course, marks Valentine’s Day: the perfect excuse to remind you of the Sofia Hotel’s prodigious appeal as a romantic getaway. Whether for this special sweethearts’ holiday or any other occasion putting love at center stage, our boutique Downtown San Diego hotel gives you a chic and stylish oasis of a guest room or VIP suite and all-around warm, welcoming luxury. (For help scheming up some date ideas around town—from brewery and wine-bar hopping to gondola rides on San Diego Bay—take a look at one of our previous Valentine’s Day posts.) But today isn’t just about valentines: It also happens to be the launch of San Diego Theatre Week, a fabulous celebration of the performing arts here in America’s Finest City. Your West Broadway home base at the Sofia puts you right in the heart of theatergoing geography during the festival, which the San Diego Performing Arts League presents through Sunday, February 24th. Here’s a taste for what’s in store! San Diego Theatre Week 2019 The idea for Theatre Week is akin to the exceedingly popular San Diego Restaurant Week, only with theaters, playhouses, and dramatic companies in the spotlight rather than the city’s world-class eateries. “Just as Restaurant Week is a week for foodies to explore new culinary options while saving money,” D. Candis [...]

Get Laughing at a San Diego Comedy Club—and Get Ready for the San Diego Improv Festival!

Get Laughing at a San Diego Comedy Club—and Get Ready for the San Diego Improv Festival! Whether you regularly attend comedy shows or you’ve simply thought about doing so, you’ve got ample opportunity to yuk it up at some standout venues for standup and improv within easy reach of the Sofia Hotel. And coming up later this week and weekend, you’ll be especially well positioned for live comedy as a Sofia guest: The 6th annual San Diego Improv Festival will be hitting the Tenth Avenue Arts Center just a few blocks away from our historic boutique hotel here in Downtown San Diego! Read on for a quick rundown on the festival as well as an overview of a few noteworthy comedy clubs you might consider swinging by any time you pay us a visit here at the Sofia. The San Diego Improv Festival Finest City Improv hosts the 2019 San Diego Improv Festival at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center from Thursday, February 7th through Sunday, February 10th. The festival, which draws quick-thinking funnypeople from across the country and the world, will be hosting better than 60 shows as well as a slew of workshops wherein ace teachers such as Kristen Schier, Emily Fightmaster, and Andy Perkins will share some tricks of the whole “Yes, and…” trade. Beyond the festival, Finest City Improv offers shows year-round at the Hillcrest Theater each week from Wednesday through Saturday, with the house team taking the stage Friday [...]

Soak Up Some Gorgeous San Diego Sunsets From Beachfront to Bay

Soak Up Some Gorgeous San Diego Sunsets From Beachfront to Bay For any and all of you suffering some midwinter doldrums, keep in mind we’re on the back end of the seasonal solstice. That means the days are slowly but surely lengthening, and that spring’s at least on the far horizon. In celebration of the expanding daylight—and its especially beautiful quality here in America’s Finest City—we thought we’d spotlight a few of the best places (and ways) to take in a Southern Californian sunset during your Sofia Hotel getaway in 2019. We’re partly inspired by the San Diego Tourism Authority’s list of seven great sunset vantages in San Diego County—part of its “Sunny 7’s” campaign, worth checking out for more trip-planning ahead of a stay at our historic Downtown San Diego hotel. Topnotch Sunset Stakeouts in San Diego The Tourism Authority’s list includes two famously fantastic sunset perches in La Jolla. One of them is the celebrated strand of Windansea Beach, popular among surfers for its shore breaks and among sun-worshippers for its all-around beauty. Nothing like seeing the sun slip beneath the wide-open Pacific horizon with some sand between your toes, right? Then there’s Mount Soledad, an 824-foot La Jolla hill serving up one of the very best views to be had anywhere in greater San Diego. Watch the sunset shimmer over the ocean while flaring up the coastline far to the north and the south. (We’ve profiled Mount Soledad, also host [...]

Seeking Out Snow in San Diego

Seeking Out Snow in San Diego As we’ve discussed in the past here at the Sofia blog, San Diego’s climate is a justifiably celebrated one: Indeed, it’s often called the best all-around of any city in the U.S. If you like sunshine and warmth (but not tropic mugginess), San Diego—and the Sofia Hotel, of course—is the place for you. But it’s fun to play in the snow, too, right? Well, you can basically get the best of both worlds on a Sofia getaway to Downtown San Diego. Here in Southern California, after all, good-sized and gorgeous mountains are never far away, and in the high-country hinterland of San Diego County you can usually track down some awesome snowpack within an easy commute of our balmy bayfront. Snow…in San Diego? Before we get to a few likely options for getting your fill of the white stuff on an otherwise short-sleeved visit to the Sofia Hotel, here’s a little trivia for you. Though higher parts of San Diego proper have seen flurries more recently, the last time snowfall actually stuck in America’s Finest City was back on December 13th, 1967. Much of this was just a trace, though some surprisingly low-lying spots in the county, such as Carlsbad up north along the coast, received a couple of inches. (You can see some footage from that once-in-a-blue-moon meteorological event here, and eyeball front-page coverage from the following day’s San Diego Union here.) Our firmly subtropical latitude [...]

A San Diego Holiday Getaway at the Sofia Hotel

A San Diego Holiday Getaway at the Sofia Hotel If you’d enjoy a Christmas or New Year’s with plenty of festive atmosphere, premium hospitality, and—and this could be crucial—a distinct absence of debilitating blizzards, icestorms, and Arctic deep freezes, we humbly submit the idea of a holiday getaway in San Diego here at the Sofia Hotel! We love hosting guests both familiar and new this merry time of year: Give us one more opportunity in 2018 to treat you to superb accommodations in Downtown San Diego at our historic hotel, and you’ll have the warmth, sunshine, and exciting seasonal goings-on of our slice of Southern California to indulge in. The Holidays at the Sofia Hotel From our lobby holiday decorations to the elegant comforts of our guest rooms and VIP suites, we offer our own kind of seasonal wonderland here at the Sofia Hotel: the perfect holiday headquarters in Downtown San Diego. Treat yourself to fine dining at our on-premises restaurant, American Currant Brasserie, a rejuvenating spa or yoga session to end 2018 (or launch 2019) on the right sort of note, and grab one of our complimentary loaner bikes (Urban Cruisers) to explore Downtown’s diverse neighborhoods. Throughout your holiday stay we’ll relish the full dose of Sofia hospitality, which of course is a year-round, everyday guarantee, but which certainly makes a Christmastime or New Year’s vacation feel extra-special! Out & About in San Diego for the Holidays While most of San Diego’s [...]

Catch U.S. Marine Corps Military Working Dogs in Action at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum This Weekend

Catch U.S. Marine Corps Military Working Dogs in Action at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum This Weekend A military working dog (Astor) at MCAS Miramar. If you’ll be joining us here at the Sofia Hotel this weekend—and of course we’d love it if you will be—we’d like to draw your attention to a pretty special way to spend your Saturday morning in San Diego. From 9 to 10 AM on the grounds of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar—only a half-hour or so from the Sofia here in Downtown San Diego—the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum will present a demo of the MCAS Miramar K-9 unit’s military working dogs. It’ll be a fascinating opportunity to see some of the U.S. Marine Corps’ integral four-legged members in action!   The Military Working Dogs Demo & Exhibit at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum Saturday’s demo will feature the MCAS Miramar’s resident “pack” going through their paces with the help of their equally highly trained handlers. You’ll get to ask the handlers questions, and, if you so desire, suit up in an attack sleeve and vest such are used in training exercises with working dogs. The demo day is part of the Military Working Dogs of MSMC exhibit the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum is displaying through June of next year. The exhibit tells the story of the Marine Corps canine contingent, which has served in every deployment and military conflict since World War II. The working [...]

Seeking Out Some of San Diego’s Finest Photo Ops

Seeking Out Some of San Diego’s Finest Photo Ops We’re obviously biased here at the Sofia Hotel, but San Diego is a truly gorgeous city. That applies both to the metro area’s natural layout—from the bluffs and beaches of the Pacific coast to the chaparral- and forest-clad heights of the Lagunas and Cuyamacas—as well as the cityscape itself, rich in Spanish Colonial and other historic architecture. Not long ago, the San Diego Tourism Authority presented a nifty roundup of some of the most photo-op-worthy spots in and around America’s Finest City, written by Julie Kremen of San Diego Photography Tours. We thought we’d highlight some of Kremen’s suggestions so you’ve got a shortlist of selfie- and “us-ie”-ready destinations the next time you’re marinating in our boutique Downtown San Diego hospitality here at the Sofia! Here are some of the best places in San Diego to take pictures, according to Kremen; be sure to check out her article for the full list. Balboa Park Established back in the 1860s as “City Park” and come into its magnificent own during the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition, Balboa Park has long been a crown jewel of the San Diego cityscape. The park famously hosts some of the top attractions in the city—not least the San Diego Zoo, the Museum of Man, the San Diego Art Institute, and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion—but Kremen notes you needn’t even step inside one of these fine institutions to revel in greenspace glory, [...]

Happy Thanksgiving 2018!

Happy Thanksgiving 2018! From all of us here at the Sofia Hotel, here’s wishing you a warm, wonderful Thanksgiving, wherever you’re spending the holiday! We’re feeling deeply thankful for the extended network of guests, staff, and partners who make the Sofia family such a special one. Whether you’re one of our many regular hotel guests or somebody who’s stayed here but once, we’re incredibly grateful for your patronage—and honored we could provide you with a beautiful, centrally situated, and history-rich perch here in Downtown San Diego. It’s our pleasure to serve you with the elegant accommodations, refined amenities, and thoughtful, compassionate service that define the Sofia experience. We also thank our entire Sofia Hotel team for making that experience possible day in and day out. And that of course includes our tremendous culinary partner of Currant American Brasserie, which ensures Sofia guests are treated to some of the best dining in San Diego just steps from their guest rooms and suites. This holiday—and every day, truthfully—we also reflect on how lucky we are to belong to the dynamic and unique fabric of America’s Finest City, and to carry on the legacy of our historic building, opened as the Pickwick back in 1926. Delivering our fine-tuned hospitality services here in the heart of San Diego, we honor the past and thrill to the future of this venerable footprint we maintain on West Broadway. So once again, happy Thanksgiving on behalf of the Sofia Hotel [...]

November 22nd, 2018|

Bring Your Dancing Shoes to the San Diego Jazz Fest & Swing Extravaganza This Week

Bring Your Dancing Shoes to the San Diego Jazz Fest & Swing Extravaganza This Week If you’re a fan of that great and diverse American musical form jazz, you’ll most definitely want to be in San Diego Thanksgiving week—and happily ensconced at the Sofia, of course, where you’ll enjoy the finest in Downtown accommodations at our historic boutique hotel here on Broadway. What’s happening Thanksgiving week, you ask? Only the 39th annual San Diego Jazz Fest & Swing Extravaganza, one of the country’s foremost celebrations of traditional jazz, Dixieland, ragtime, and rockabilly. The leaping brass, sizzling hi-hats, and spinning basses will be getting folks moving from Wednesday, November 21st through Sunday, November 25th, so book your Sofia Hotel stay for sometime during that interval—or hey, why not the entire five-day stretch? The 39th Annual San Diego Jazz Fest & Swing Extravaganza From intimate salons to dancefloor-equipped ballrooms, the San Diego Jazz Fest & Swing Extravaganza takes place at multiple venues within the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center (500 Hotel Circle N), just minutes away from the Sofia Hotel. In fact, you can hop the trolley a few blocks from your Sofia guest room and ride it to Old Town for maximum convenience! As usual, the Jazz Fest—presented by the America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society—will draw fantastic musicians from near and far, and covering a lot of sonic and stylistic territory under its “jazz and swing” umbrella. Performers include some ace [...]

Bring on the Brews: San Diego Beer Week 2018 Begins Today!

Bring on the Brews: San Diego Beer Week 2018 Begins Today! San Diego Beer Week is about to once again turn America’s Finest City and its surrounds into one world-class celebration of independent brewing and exceptional craft beer. San Diego is a global leader in that regard and Beer Week—presented by the San Diego Brewers Guild—is an unparalleled opportunity to take in our exceptional brewery scene, plus explore the creations of some of the finest beermakers beyond our sunny shores. The Sofia Hotel makes a top-grade base camp for the 10th annual San Diego Beer Week: Book your guest room with us today so you’re all set for the superlative suds! Guild Fest Though today sees some preliminary events—we’ll call out some highlights shortly—San Diego Beer Week’s official kick-off is Guild Fest, going down Saturday, November 3rd at Embarcadero Marina Park South (within toasting distance of the Sofia Hotel). Running from 11:30 AM to 5 PM, Guild Fest sees 60-plus craft breweries from San Diego and farther afield—Alta Brewing Co., Green Flash, Stone Brewing, Thunderhawk Alements, Burning Beard Brewing Co., Green Cheek Beer Co., and more—serving up more than 100 beers for your sampling pleasure, alongside suds-worthy grub from local eateries and food trucks. A General Admission ticket gets you into Guild Fest at 2 PM, but VIP pass holders enjoy early entry and the option of an hourlong Harbor Cruise featuring its own onboard beer sampling. The Brew-tiful Highlights of San Diego [...]

Tour Military Ships & Watch the Navy Square Off Against Notre Dame During Fleet Week San Diego 2018

Tour Military Ships & Watch the Navy Square Off Against Notre Dame During Fleet Week San Diego 2018 This year marks the 83rd anniversary of San Diego’s very first Fleet Week, that annual celebration of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard that sees the docking of active-duty ships, military ceremonies, and all manner of other events go down in some of the nation’s big-city ports. Call the Sofia Hotel—the finest boutique hotel in Downtown San Diego—your home away from home during Fleet Week San Diego 2018, and you’ll enjoy quick and easy access to all of the activities along the waterfront nearby. Today we’re going to spotlight two of the upcoming events well worth putting on that calendar of yours—but first, a quick snapshot history of Fleet Week San Diego! Fleet Week San Diego San Diego’s very first Fleet Week took place in June 1935 during the California Pacific International Exposition. Overseen by U.S. Navy Admiral Joseph M. Reeves, 114 warships, 400 military aircraft, 3,000-plus commissioned officers, and some 55,000 enlisted service members were part of the proceedings. Today’s Fleet Week San Diego, meanwhile, arose in 1997 as an opportunity to highlight the support shown by America’s Finest City to Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. Originally an initiative of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, the event expanded rapidly enough to warrant its own registered non-profit, The San Diego Fleet Week Foundation. Fleet Week San Diego 2018 Highlights A [...]

Experience the Finest in Independent Global Cinema at the 2018 San Diego International Film Festival

Experience the Finest in Independent Global Cinema at the 2018 San Diego International Film Festival One of the country’s highest-profile and highest-caliber film festivals is about to kick off for the 17th time here in San Diego, and you’ll enjoy the ideal home base for it at the Sofia Hotel right on the doorstep of the Gaslamp Quarter. The San Diego International Film Festival begins Wednesday, October 10th and runs through Sunday, October 14th: a five-day exposition for some of the greatest global talent in independent filmmaking, and a definite highlight of the arts-and-culture calendar here in America’s Finest City. Secure yourself the most sophisticated, well-appointed, and across-the-board friendliest Downtown San Diego accommodations for the festival with a guest room at the Sofia Hotel, nice and close to the festival venues as well as many of the city’s best-known attractions. The 2018 San Diego International Film Festival More than 200 film screenings make up the heart of the San Diego International Film Festival, the bulk of them shown at Horton Plaza Park and ArchLight Cinemas at the Westfield UTC Mall. Dramas, thrillers, comedies, shorts, documentaries—the variety on tap amid the festival’s many regional, national, and international premieres is (as always) outstanding. This year’s panels—deep dives into the process and the context of independent filmmaking in the 21st century—include the Social Impact, Unstoppable Women, Critics, and Business Side of Business sessions. Another reliable highlight of the festival is the Night of the Stars Tribute, [...]

October 8th, 2018|Tags: , , , |

Beethoven to Bernstein to Jurassic Park: Experience the San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s 2018-19 Season

Beethoven to Bernstein to Jurassic Park: Experience the San Diego Symphony Orchestra’s 2018-19 Season Photo: Ewen Roberts (Flickr) In the next couple of weeks, one of the most respected symphony orchestras in the USA kicks off a brand-new season absolutely stacked with highlights, and a boutique guestroom at the Sofia Hotel sets you up within close reach of all the concerts! America’s Finest City has been home to the San Diego Symphony Orchestra since 1910 (give or take some hiatus years), and its spectacular H.Q., the 1929-built Copley Symphony Hall in the Jacobs Music Center, is a mere half-mile from our Downtown hotel here on Broadway. The 2018-19 season begins with a bang on October 4th, and we thought we’d take the opportunity to preview some of the good stuff coming down the pike. The Season Opener The “bang” we referred to takes the form of Lang Lang Plays Mozart: star pianist Lang Lang joining conductor Edo de Waart and the SDSO for a performance on Thursday, October 4th of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24, bookended by Berlioz’s Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict and Respighi’s Fountains of Rome. Rafael Payare’s Debut The Lang Lang appearance on October 4th is the first of three Special Concerts the Symphony presents this season. Another is the debut of the SDSO’s new music director designate, conductor Rafael Payare, who alongside cellist Alisa Weilerstein will present a program of Mozart and Tchaikovsky on Thursday, [...]

Celebrate Chinese Culture, Family, & the Full Moon at San Diego’s Mid-Autumn Festival

Celebrate Chinese Culture, Family, & the Full Moon at San Diego’s Mid-Autumn Festival On September 24th, that great rocky, pock-marked natural satellite of ours will rise in full pearly glory over America’s Finest City. A couple of days before, the House of China will mark this Harvest Moon in the traditional Chinese manner: with a Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as a Moon Festival, and it’ll be yours to enjoy—the onstage performances, the hands-on crafts, and of course the mooncakes—just a short trip from your guest room here at the Sofia Hotel in Downtown San Diego! The Moon Festival: Millennia of Tradition The moon has been an object of general worship and great symbolism in China for thousands of years. By the 7th century, this reverence had merged with traditional harvest celebrations to formalize the Mid-Autumn or Moon Festival. Because Chinese culture associates the full moon with family, the Moon Festival also became an occasion for relatives to gather; indeed, another name for the event is the Reunion Festival. By the 10th century, the Moon Festival—held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month—had begun featuring what’s become its signature gastronomic element: the mooncake, a delectable round pastry typically filled with lotus-seed or sweet-bean paste. Other hallmarks of the Moon Festival include lanterns and osmanthus, which blooms this time of year; a wine fermented from osmanthus blossoms is a drink of choice at the Mid-Autumn Festival. The tradition of the Moon Festival has [...]

Fleeting Masterpieces: Check Out the Waterfront Art-making of the 2018 U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge

Fleeting Masterpieces: Check Out the Waterfront Art-making of the 2018 U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge That humble yet universally popular rock grain we call beach sand can be molded into forms a heck of a lot more complex than a simple bucket-built castle. (Not that there’s anything wrong with sand castles—don’t misunderstand us.) And coming up Labor Day weekend, you’ll be able to see the full artistic potential of this powdery medium—in no short supply here in Southern California, it goes without saying—just a few blocks from Downtown San Diego’s favorite hotel, the Sofia! From Friday, August 31st through Monday, September 3rd, Broadway Pier—a straight shot west from the historic Sofia—will once again host the U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge & Dimensional Art Exposition, and we can’t think of too many better ways to mark the summer sendoff of Labor Day than taking it all in while enjoying our one-of-a-kind boutique accommodations. The 2018 U.S. Sculpting Challenge & Dimensional Art Exposition As the Sand Sculpting Challenge playfully puts it, its Labor Day competition turns San Diego into “SANDiego” thanks to the talents of a cadre of World Master Sand Sculptors come to America’s Finest City to square off—and meanwhile delight festivalgoers with their beachfront masterworks. To qualify for that opportunity, artists must have nabbed an award at a major international sand-sculpting competition within the past five years. They have some 300 tons of sand hauled in to Broadway Pier at their disposal and four days [...]

Watch Some Board-less Wave Riders Hitting the Breakers at the 42nd Annual World Bodysurfing Championships

Watch Some Board-less Wave Riders Hitting the Breakers at the 42nd Annual World Bodysurfing Championships Photo: Bengt Nyman (Flickr/Wikimedia Commons) The same Pacific breakers that make our stretch of coastline here in San Diego County among the most fabled destinations in the world for traditional surfing also happen to work mighty well for riding the waves sans surfboard—aka bodysurfing. Perhaps you’ve tried it, perhaps not, but either way the pinnacle of the sport will be on display this month within easy day-tripping reach of the Sofia Hotel here in Downtown San Diego at the World Bodysurfing Championships! The 2018 World Bodysurfing Championships in Oceanside, CA The 2018 World Bodysurfing Championships are the 42nd: an impressive run, it goes without saying. As many as 400 bodysurfers from all across this grand liquid planet of ours compete in the event, which this year takes place Saturday, August 18th and Sunday, August 19th at Oceanside Pier—just an hour or so by car or commuter train from San Diego. (We don’t recommend bodysurfing the whole way, in case your enthusiasm’s getting the better of you.) The contests, which kick off bright and early at 6:30 AM both mornings, come broken up by age bracket and take the form of 15-minute heats on Saturday. Those who advance will work their way through quarter finals, semis, and finals for each age group on Sunday in the big buildup to the Men’s and Women’s Grand Championships that afternoon. [...]

Take a Dunk This Summer Off San Diego’s Golden Shores at Our Best Swimming Beaches

Take a Dunk This Summer Off San Diego’s Golden Shores at Our Best Swimming Beaches No question that San Diego ranks among America’s great beach cities, not least for its world-famous surf breaks and Southern California coastal culture. And your beautiful, historic, and centrally situated accommodations at the Sofia Hotel here in Downtown San Diego put this stunning and varied beachfront right at your fingertips—or perhaps we should say right at your barefoot toe tips. That said, more than a few San Diego beaches venerated by surfers are too rough or riptide-roiled to appeal to the average swimmer (though they’re still plenty fine places to kick back, sunbathe, and spectate). Here we’ve put together a sampler-pack roundup of some of the best seashores in the Sofia Hotel’s greater backyard for casual dips in the great blue Pacific perennially caressing our coastline. Silver Strand State Beach Silver Strand State Beach on the eponymous isthmus connecting Coronado to the San Diego mainland is a beachgoer’s paradise, given it encompasses plush sands on both the Pacific and San Diego Bay side of the Silver Strand. The waters along the bayfront are the calmer and more swimmer-friendly ones, and you get to splash around with a fabulous view of our ravishing harbor. Mission Beach Mission Beach is another popular swimming beach within easy reach of you as a Sofia Hotel guest, and among the ones monitored by lifeguards. La Jolla Shores This time of year, the waters [...]

A Summer Evening Among the Beasts: Nighttime Zoo at the San Diego Zoo

A Summer Evening Among the Beasts: Nighttime Zoo at the San Diego Zoo The San Diego Zoo —better than a century old and reigning as one of the highest-profile and most respected zoos in the world—is always worth a visit, which is easily pulled off during a stay at Downtown San Diego’s favorite hotel, the Sofia, given we set you up nice and close to Balboa Park. And this time of year, you’ve got even more reason to mosey on over to that mindbogglingly diverse menagerie. Summer evenings are luxuriously long, of course, and here in San Diego they’re almost intoxicatingly pleasant. To celebrate the season—and profile a brand-new exhibit, Africa Rocks—the San Diego Zoo’s running a special “Nighttime Zoo” through September 3rd: a chance to catch live entertainment and admire glorious creatures from all corners of the planet amid some after-hours festivities. Come check it out during your summer idyll here at the Sofia Hotel! Nighttime Zoo at the San Diego Zoo Nighttime Zoo goes down each and every evening this summer, so it couldn’t be more convenient to weave its beastly charms into your San Diego vacation itinerary headquartered at the Sofia Hotel. What exactly are those beastly charms? Well, first of all, plenty of live music to get the party going, from the Rock & Roar concerts and Summer Songs acoustic sets to the mobile Chameleon brass band. You’ll also get to goggle at some high-flying trampoline acrobatics during New [...]

July 28th, 2018|Tags: , , , , |

The One & Only Comic-Con International Returns to San Diego

The One & Only Comic-Con International Returns to San Diego If it’s July in San Diego, it’s time for the city’s very biggest festival and one of the defining expressions of pop-culture fandom in the world: Comic-Con International! It’s the 49th annual edition of San Diego Comic-Con, and as always the stops have been thoroughly pulled out for the four-day extravaganza. The action goes down primarily at the San Diego Convention Center just a few minutes from the Sofia Hotel as well as the San Diego Central Library and a few other secondary venues. The 49th Annual San Diego Comic-Con As usual, perusing the schedule of events at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2018 may set your head spinning, such is the quantity and quality on offer—and, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool fan of comics, graphic novels, movies, and TV, there’s a chance you’ll start mumbling incoherently in gleeful anticipation. Part of the Comic-Con experience is sifting through the sheer tonnage of screenings, signings, panels, costumery, and other happenings to plan your attack, and we won’t dare try to identify the all-out highlights. But here’s a look at just some of what’s being served up at this year’s convention. Preview Night On Wednesday, July 18th—the eve of the convention’s official launch—Preview Night sees New Line Cinema introducing footage from its upcoming horror flicks during “Scarediego” and some exclusive screenings of the shows Manifest, The 100, and Freedom Fighters: The Ray. Thursday, July 19th Thursday’s offerings [...]

Hanging With the Giants: It’s Blue Whale Season Once Again in San Diego!

Hanging With the Giants: It’s Blue Whale Season Once Again in San Diego! Blue whale off the Channel Islands (Shulman at English Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons) We’re now in prime-time season for seeing the world’s biggest creature cavorting in our very own waters—one of the most astonishing natural spectacles the San Diego coast (which isn’t lacking for them) serves up! Blue whales are once again traveling and feeding a few miles offshore, and a whale-watching cruise gives you a sporting chance of seeing these leviathans-among-leviathans doing their stuff in the ocean blue. Such an outing makes quite the unforgettable summer’s day during your Downtown San Diego getaway at the Sofia Hotel, needless to say… Introducing the Blue Whale The blue whale: It’s a simple name, but given the legendary beast it describes it carries plenty of weight (so to speak). The cetacean in question may grow past 100 feet in length and weigh on the order of 200 tons (think a whole elephant herd’s worth): superlative statistics almost impossible to wrap your head around, and putting even the heftiest dinosaurs to shame. (Another superlative? The blue whale’s heart: at several hundred pounds, the biggest in the animal kingdom.) Blue whales belong to the family of baleen whales known as the rorquals. They’re filter-feeders, their favored menu item being the tiny crustaceans called krill. Given its great size, you might assume the blue whale’s a sluggish animal—but quite the contrary: Like the other rorquals, [...]

July 9th, 2018|Tags: , , |

Make it a 4th of July for the Books With a San Diego Celebration at the Sofia Hotel

Make it a 4th of July for the Books With a San Diego Celebration at the Sofia Hotel The good old USA turns 242nd years old this July 4th, and as always San Diego will be marking the occasion with a whole lot of razzle-dazzle—some of the razzliest and dazzliest in the nation, in fact. Come experience how America’s Finest City celebrates Independence Day—and treat yourself to the best in Downtown San Diego accommodations at the Sofia Hotel for your holiday getaway! Here’s an overview of some of the 4th of July highlights you’ll have at your disposal while soaking up the luxury at our historic West Broadway hotel. The Showstopper: The Big Bay Boom The crown jewel of San Diego’s 4th of July festivities, the Big Bay Boom outdoes any other fireworks show in Southern California. Come 9 PM on Independence Day, you’ll most definitely want to be ensconced along the San Diego waterfront to see the pyrotechnic plumes that launch from four barges strung along the length of the bay. Some of the best viewing can be had from Seaport Village and the North and South Embarcadero: just a short and carefree stroll from the Sofia Hotel! The 4th of July, Island-Style: Coronado's Independence Day Bash The island of Coronado makes the 4th of July an all-day party. The 43rd annual Independence Day 12K run and 5K run/walk kicks off at Tidelands Park at 7 AM, while an hour later Art [...]