Check-In San Diego

A lifestyle guide by the Sofia Hotel

The Gaslamp Quarter’s 150th Anniversary: Celebrate at the Sofia Hotel!

The Gaslamp Quarter's 150th Anniversary: Celebrate at the Sofia Hotel! San Diego has been marking plenty of notable anniversaries lately. Last year, for instance, saw the centennial of the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park (at least in its modern form). Well, 2017’s got its own milestones, and among them is the sesquicentennial of the historic neighborhood we sit alongside here at the Sofia Hotel! We’re talking here about the Gaslamp Quarter, established 150 years ago when developer Alonzo Horton purchased some waterfront acreage along San Diego Bay. While staying at the Sofia—the standout among San Diego Hotels near Gaslamp attractions—you’ve got this gorgeous and vital district at your beck and call! 150 Years of the Gaslamp Horton’s holding became known as “New Town” to distinguish it from the original Spanish-founded core of San Diego, which came to be called (you guessed it!) Old Town. It was the addition of elegant gas lamps to New Town that led to the moniker we use today. Speaking of monikers, this 16.5-block quarter had a nickname before New Town: Rabbitville, a tongue-in-cheek reference to the preponderance of big-eared residents in the area back in the day. As part of the 150th celebrations, the Gaslamp Quarter Association has installed 15 fiberglass rabbit statues throughout the neighborhood, each to be painted by a different artist. New Town grew rapidly, but not always in directions the city fathers approved of. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Gaslamp Quarter included the gambling and [...]

San Diego Summer: Take in the Show at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay

We’re going to go ahead and make the bold argument that there’s no better place to be on a summer evening than the shores of San Diego Bay. There, we said it! Moreover, staying at one of the great Hotels in downtown San Diego—the Sofia, of course—you’re just blocks from one of America’s most stunning natural harbors. A stroll or sit down along the waterfront’s lovely all on its own, but you can upgrade your experience with some fabulous outdoor music over on Shelter Island, site of the hugely popular Humphreys Concerts by the Bay series. This long-running summer music festival always draws big names, and the 2017 lineup is definitely no exception. Already the venue has welcomed such living legends as Steely Dan, David Crosby, Willie Nelson, and Melissa Etheridge. However, fear not: There are some mighty enticing shows still coming down the tap at Humphreys, which runs through October. You definitely should peruse the full schedule here, but let’s survey some of the highlights! The Finest in the Biz, Gracing the Humphreys Stage Two iconic and restlessly creative modern-day bluesmen, Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’, take the stage together on Sunday, June 11, supporting their first-ever full-on collaborative release, the aptly named TajMo. On June 23, Canadian national treasure Gordon Lightfoot, who penned such classics as “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “Early Morning Rain,” will show he has still got it after a half-century in the singer-songwriter business. On July 13, get ready for an unbelievable [...]

Marking Memorial Day In San Diego With Legacy Week at the USS Midway Museum

Memorial Day—when we honor the men and women of the United States Armed Forces who lost their lives in the service of their country—is right around the corner, and a visitor to San Diego has an excellent and unique opportunity to mark the holiday. The core of San Diego’s Memorial Day celebration takes place onboard a genuine landmark—or shall we say “seamark”—of American military history: the USS Midway, which in its modern incarnation as the USS Midway Museum hosts Legacy Week from May 27 through 29 this year. As a guest at one of the standout San Diego Hotels, the Sofia, you’re but a few blocks from the downtown waterfront where the Midway’s permanently moored—and thus within shouting distance of the mighty ship’s Memorial Day happenings! Legacy Week Legacy Week kicks off at 9 AM on Saturday the 27th with its traditional free opener: the Wreath Remembrance Ceremony, which includes a stirring flyover and the tossing of biodegradable wreaths overboard in tribute to veterans. That evening, the alt-rock group Lifehouse takes to the sunset flight deck to headline the charity Freedom Concert, which raises money for a trio of local military non-profits. (You can get tickets right here.) Each day of Legacy Week from 10 AM to 4 PM, the USS Midway Museum will present interactive family-friendly activities themed around the Armed Forces at the Adventure Discovery Zone. On Sunday, May 28 and Memorial Day, meanwhile, you can learn the ins-and-outs of the military aircraft displayed on the U.S.S. Midway [...]

May 17th, 2017|Tags: , , , , |

Got Rhythm? Got Beer? Check Out San Diego Rhythm & Brews!

Greater San Diego’s famous around the country for its craft-beer scene, which can definitely hold its own with any in the world. Staying at the Sofia—a top-caliber San Diego Hotel and Spa*—you’re strategically positioned to enjoy this hoppy and sudsy galaxy, what with all the downtown-area breweries and pubs at your fingertips. If you’re willing to travel just a little farther afield, meanwhile, there’s a fabulous celebration of both regional and national microbrews of the finest kind about to go down up in the charming North County city of Vista Village. It’s San Diego Rhythm & Brews, the San Diego Brewers Guild’s annual springtime beer-full bonanza, underway Saturday, May 6 from 1 to 4 PM. (VIP ticket-holders enjoy special noon entry.) The festival benefits the San Diego Brewers Guild, dedicated to promoting and supporting the beer-makers of San Diego County, plus the Brazilian Institute for Arts & Culture, which (among other things) holds the West Coast’s biggest Brazilian festival. Parade of Outstanding Beer In additional words, you can feel good about participating in the proceedings. Moreover, what exactly are the proceedings? Well, let’s tackle the “Brews” first off. In that department, you’ve got more than 100 varieties of beer hailing from better than 50 of the greatest craft breweries in the United States—all of them Golden State outfits. Among those, naturally, will be loads of highly regarded Southern California craft breweries, among them Stone Brewing, Coronado Brewing, Burning Beard, and Prohibition Brewing (based right there in Vista). Rest assured there’ll [...]

Signs of Spring in San Diego: Art Alive

Just because San Diego has the luxury of mighty pleasant weather year-round doesn’t mean we don’t know how to celebrate springtime. Not long ago we wrote here at Check In San Diego about the super bloom that recently turned the Anza-Borrego desert into a once-in-a-decade kaleidoscope of color: a wild send-up of the season. Well, a different sort of blossomy burst is shortly going to get underway right here in the city itself: Art Alive over at the San Diego Museum of Art in beautiful Balboa Park! Art Alive has been a major fundraising event for the museum for a whopping 36 years, and by now it’s a fixture of the San Diego spring. The 2017 run-through takes place Friday, April 28 through Sunday, April 30. You can buy tickets for the shindig, which is free for members, right here. Staying at the Sofia, among the standout Hotels in downtown San Diego, you’re only a stone’s throw from the Art Alive action! Art Alive: Works of Art Evoked in Flower Form Here’s the unique premise: Designers create floral compositions depicting artwork from the museum’s collection. Then these beautiful, bright accompaniments are displayed alongside the pieces throughout Art Alive; more than 100 such arrangements will be part of this year’s proceedings. The Museum Rotunda Flower-fied Meanwhile, on the John M. and Sally B. Thornton Rotunda on the second floor, you’ll get to enjoy the fourth Art Alive installation by designer Carlos Franco: FloraMorphic: A Sky of Colors. Franco’s elaborate [...]

Sky Spectacles: The Red Bull Air Race Returns to San Diego

San Diego Bay’s a vision of beauty anytime, but it’s about to get downright dramatic overhead. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is returning to San Diego April 15 and 16. This thrilling on-the-wing competition, which pits more than two dozen Master Class pilots against one another, last took over the local skies back in 2009. Staying at the Sofia—one of the finest San Diego Hotels—you’re only a few blocks from prime, bayfront viewing of the high-speed airborne acrobatics, so come take in the Red Bull Air Race action as our guest! The Basics of the Race The San Diego aerial racetrack is one of eight Red Bull Air Races held this year all around the world. (The other races will take place in the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Hungary, Portugal, Russia, Germany, and—for the climactic challenge—the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.) San Diego’s hosted races three times previously. Fourteen Master Class pilots compete in these high-speed matchups. They will earn points based on speed, execution, and avoiding penalties. Two of this year’s competitors are Americans: Michael Goulian and Kirby Chambliss, a World Champion in 2004 and 2006. Also flying is Frenchman Nicolas Ivanoff, who triumphed at the last San Diego Red Bull Air Race in 2009. The course over San Diego Bay consists of two laps and 15 Air Gates, which are inflated pylons standing some 80 feet high. Pilots must maneuver their “raceplanes” through these gates and perform some challenging turns at either end of the course: [...]

April 11th, 2017|Tags: , , , |

San Diego Strings: Catch a Show With the San Diego Symphony Orchestra!

Here in San Diego, we’ve got more than a few world-class cultural institutions to be mighty proud of. One of the best of the best, without question, is the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, going strong for more than 100 years. With a pampered perch at the Sofia Hotel—one of the finest San Diego Hotels Near Gaslamp Quarter—you’re mere blocks from the SDSO’s magnificent home base of Copley Symphony Hall. So why not spice up your stay here with a performance by one of the nation’s leading symphonies? The San Diego Symphony Orchestra: The Lowdown Having put on its first concert way back in December 1910, the SDSO is one of the oldest and most respected symphony orchestras  on the West Coast. For decades, the Copley Symphony Hall—the spectacular French Rococo-style venue opened in 1928 as the Fox Theatre cinema palace—has been its headquarters and primary performance space. The SDSO—helmed since 2004 by Music Director Jahja Ling—stays busy with better than 140 concerts every year. These productions come spread between a variety of annual concert programs, including the Masterworks series of traditional classical fare; the all-ages Family Concerts series; and the Bayside Summer Nights outdoor concerts, which take place at the Embarcadero Marine Park South July through September. In a nod to the Copley Symphony Hall’s Fox Theatre past, you can also catch popular films with live SDSO orchestral accompaniment: symphonic silver-screen goodness, every time! Upcoming Performances A glance at the SDSO’s forthcoming calendar sums up the sheer breadth [...]

San Diego Flower Power: Superbloom at Anza-Borrego!

By now, news of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park’s spectacular “superbloom” has gone thoroughly national. There’s still time to experience the show—right around its peak—and the Sofia makes the ideal San Diego Hotel and Spa for doing so! We’re about a two-hour drive from the state park, which makes a superbloom safari of a daytrip an easy (and unforgettable) proposition! The Superbloom Anza-Borrego, set in the Colorado Desert and its adjoining mountain ranges, always puts on some kind of wildflower show in the late winter and spring. This year’s blossom bonanza, though, is of a magnitude that hasn’t been seen since 1999. A variety of environmental factors conspire to create a superbloom (check out this great primer from RootsRated for more on the science), but the most important is rainfall. Since last July, the Anza-Borrego desert has seen more than seven inches of precipitation—well above average. Most of it falling in calm and steady as opposed to violent and scouring fashion. The Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association (ABDNHA) maintains a webpage with frequent updates on the local wildflower show, well worth eyeballing as you plan your Sofia getaway. The latest dispatch confirms there’s still epic color to be seen throughout the Borrego Valley and the mountain canyons, not least along Henderson Canyon Road—shouldered by gorgeous beds of desert sunflowers, dune evening primroses, verbenas, and other showstoppers. And then there’s the forest of ocotillo along Borrego Springs Road, which ABDNHA reports is nearly at peak. Seeing the tall, wild whips of these [...]

Find Your Pot of Gold in Downtown San Diego

It’s a city that knows how to have a good time—and that lays claim to some of the finest craft beer and most enthusiastic craft-beer fans in the nation. Given that, it’s no surprise San Diego’s a heck of a place to mark St. Patrick’s Day. This past Saturday, Balboa Park hosted its annual Irish Festival—the kickoff to a whole slew of celebrations bringing some epic Emerald Isle spirit to America’s Greatest City. March 17, of course, sees the culmination of all this revelry. Treat yourself to the perfect St. Paddy’s Day home base with one of the finest Hotels in downtown San Diego, the Sofia, and go get your green on! A Little Backstory Turns out ol’ Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, wasn’t actually Irish: He was born (as Maewyn) in Roman-ruled Great Britain (aka Britannia) in the late 4th century C.E. He first arrived on the Emerald Isle as a kidnapped slave when he was a teenager. After six years of bondage, he escaped home, became a priest, and—following the instructions of a dream—returned to Ireland to spread Christianity among the Celtic population. Stories abound concerning Patrick’s proselytizing in Ireland. He’s said to have used the shamrock (the three-leaved clover) to teach the Holy Trinity. And legend has it he rid the island of snakes—although, truth be told, the reptiles were never native to Ireland in the first place. Saint Patrick died on March 17, 461 and was buried in Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. By the [...]

The World Baseball Classic is Coming to Petco Park

Petco Park (which, as you may have heard, has been a little soggy of late) will soon host a mighty thrilling stretch of baseball putting the cream-of-the-crop from all around the globe at center stage. That’s right: We’re talking about the playoffs of the upcoming 2017 World Baseball Classic! Grab your Cracker-Jacks and experience the game up close while staying at the one of the very best San Diego Hotels, the Sofia, this spring. The World’s Finest This international bat-and-ball contest last took place in 2013 (it’s quadrennial), when the Dominican Republic swept Puerto Rico in San Francisco’s AT&T Park. The D.R.’s high-caliber team is back in the mix this year, along with 15 other national teams as contenders. The USA—whose best showing in the WBC, a fourth-place finish, came in 2009—comes into the tournament with a strong roster: We’re talking catcher “Buster” Posey from the Giants, outfielder Andrew “Cutch” McCutchen from the Marlins, and other Major League MVPs. Do they have a chance to go all the way? You’d better believe it. The Nuts & Bolts of the World Baseball Classic OK, ready to get into the weeds a little bit in terms of WBC gameplay? Good! The teams are divided into four pools, kicking off First Round play in just a few days at South Korea’s Gocheok Sky Dome (Pool A), the Tokyo Dome (Pool B), Marlins Park in Miami (Pool C), and Guadalajara, Mexico’s Estadio Charros de Jalisco (Pool D). The USA will be squaring off in [...]

Valentine's Day Inspirations: Romance in San Diego

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is here again: a time to gaze into your special someone’s eyes across dancing candlelight—or, conversely, a time to mutter about commercialization and sing the virtues of singlehood. Well, today at Check In we’re proudly siding with the romantics as we sift out some of the most inspiring locales and activities in San Diego for those going a-courtin’—or marking a passion measured in decades. Date Nights Out on the Town We probably don’t need to tell you that San Diego’s dining and nightlife scenes can more than hold their own with any other city, and that makes Downtown one great big date-night playground. An old-school-style romantic meal at a Little Italy trattoria, a sushi smorgasbord in the Gaslamp Quarter, an only-in-San-Diego California burrito in Mission Valley, a fresh-as-can-be seafood feast in La Jolla: A shared meal stokes the fires of love like nobody’s business, and you’ve got some of the best restaurants in America at your service for the purpose. (And hey, don't forget Currant American Brasserie!) Then there are all the world-class microbreweries, the wine bars spotlighting Southern Californian vineyards among their wide-ranging offerings, the craft distilleries—lots of places to kick off the evening properly with a tasting or two. Live entertainment? Try a show at the Casbah, the Belly Up Tavern, or another of San Diego’s many music clubs, or perhaps a performance at the San Diego Civic Theatre, or maybe some laughs at American Comedy Co. or the [...]

Art Fix: The Sparks Gallery Presents Sculptors of Southern California

San Diego boasts a wonderfully diverse, wonderfully alive artistic community: one of many vibrant cultural strands making up our city’s spirit. Here at the centrally located Sofia Hotel, we’ve got multiple great outlets for that artistic community close at hand—one of them most certainly being the young Sparks Gallery. The Sparks Gallery The Sparks occupies one of the Gaslamp Quarter’s many historic buildings: the Sterling Hardware Building, to be exact, constructed back in 1924. The gallery beautifully renovated the space, an effort for which it was rewarded with the 2015 People in Preservation Award for Adaptive Reuse from the San Diego non-profit Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO). It’s always worth visiting the Sparks Gallery on a San Diego visit, as it focuses on promoting the works of artists from the city and Southern California in general. Currently, for instance, you’ll find the Southern CA Sculpture exhibition putting the prodigious talents of the region’s sculptors on marvelous display. Sublime Sculpture The 23 artists included in the exhibition were selected by the National Sculpture Society, the oldest sculptor organization in the United States (we’re talking founded in 1893, for heck’s sake). In terms of subject matter, style, medium, and aesthetic, Southern CA Sculpture’s featured artworks stake out quite the spectrum: Just take a gander at D.L. Engle’s bronze “Happy Bear”; Richard Becker’s stainless-steel “Flight of the Inflated Shark Baby”; Anne Geiler’s ceramic “Can You See Me Now”; Lynn Christopher’s lifelike resin human figures Sandy, Simon, and Beth; and Adam Matano’s “Zarafa” of [...]

February 6th, 2017|

Hop Aboard the Ark: Joel Sartore's Animal Photos at the San Diego Natural History Museum

If you care about the world’s dazzling biodiversity—and if you’re concerned about the threats it faces at the hands of humankind—you should make haste to the San Diego Natural History Museum this winter and spring. The NAT has the proud distinction of being the first institution outside the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C. to present some of the fruits of wildlife photographer Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark project, which puts the sheer beauty and variety of the planet’s creatures front and center. An Ambitious Undertaking In Photo Ark, Sartore and National Geographic are attempting to catalog every animal species in captivity: some 12,000 worth of them. We’re talking everything from bugs to big cats, many of them endangered or threatened in the wild. “Every year I see more habitat loss, more species consumed for food, medicine or simply decoration,” Sartore says about the initiative. “The Photo Ark was born out of desperation to halt, or at least slow, the loss of global biodiversity.” The traveling Photo Ark exhibit, which the NAT is presenting through April 30, shows off about 30 of Sartore’s striking animal portraits. The photographer, who’s traveled the world for decades capturing images of wildlife and wild landscapes, has already documented roughly 6,000 species so far—in other words, he’s about halfway through his goal. Lock Eyes With Other Species To psych yourself up for a visit to the NAT’s Photo Ark installation, have a gander at some of Sartore’s photos right here: From Andean condors to [...]

January 30th, 2017|

See Tiger Woods Make His PGA Tour Return at Torrey Pines

This year’s Farmers Insurance Open is right around the corner, and as always there’s plenty of anticipation for this much-loved kickoff to the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing. Among the storylines this time around? None bigger than Tiger Woods’ return to the Tour for the first time since 2015. He’ll be taking to the legendary Torrey Pines Golf Course, the Farmers Insurance Open’s home since the 1960s, to see whether or not he can win the tournament for an eighth time—and regain some of his former glory on the green. Quite the Roster—As Usual No other golfer’s as decorated here than Woods, who last triumphed at Torrey Pines in 2013 (and last competed in 2015, when he had to withdraw because of an injured back). His closest contender is San Diego’s own Phil Mickelson, the only other player to have won the Farmers Insurance Open more than twice. Mickelson (who won in 1993, 2000, and 2001) is among a slew of other high-profile golfers competing this year—including the number-one in the world, Jason Day, who himself came out on top at the Open two years ago, and rising star Hideki Matsuyama, who had a truly stellar 2016. The last time Tiger Woods was seen on the PGA Tour was back during the 2015 Wyndham Championship. He’s faced a steep road trying to reassert his dominance over the sport that made him a superstar, particularly since undergoing back surgery in 2015. Torrey Pines Delights If you’re a golf fan, it’s truly [...]

From Whales to Warblers: San Diego's Winter Wildlife-Watching

San Diego’s an amazing city for nature lovers, given the diversity of habitats in our hinterland and the spectacular lineup of public lands arrayed throughout. Wintertime has its own appeal on this count: It’s a great season to be out appreciating the natural world of Southern California—not least because the temperatures are so darn balmy compared to most of the rest of the country! Wintertime Birdwatching Those clement conditions mean a heck of a lot of North American birds decide to spend the winter around greater San Diego (and we can’t say we blame them). One of the best spots for eyeballing feathered critters is the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which encompasses fertile saltmarshes, tidal mudflats, and other brackish habitats in two separate units: Sweetwater Marsh and South San Diego Bay. These are excellent places to look for wintering waterfowl and raptors as well as shorebirds such as long-billed curlews and red knots. The Imperial Beach area’s another primo destination for birders, with the Tijuana Estuary—the biggest coastal wetland complex in Southern California—offering precious refuge for hundreds of species of birds. Along with many shorebirds, you can scout for offshore loons and royal terns and the odd longspur or two; you may even luck out with a glimpse of the light-footed Ridgway’s rail, a saltmarsh phantom found only in this region. In parks and greenspaces throughout the San Diego area, you’ve got a good chance of seeing wintering yellow-rumped and orange-crowned warblers. Great horned owls are [...]

Make It a San Diego New Year's!

San Diego knows how to celebrate New Year’s in style, no question. Would you think any different in such a cosmopolitan and fun-loving city? Party Time We’re talking festive nighttime cruises out on San Diego Bay, special champagne dinners at many of San Diego’s world-class restaurants, and beery salutes at its spectacular craft breweries. There are parties of all description going down all across the city, of course, from bars and nightclubs to casinos and performance venues (including the National Comedy Theatre’s much-loved New Year’s Eve Spectacular). The Sofia Hotel, we must point out, is auspiciously situated for sampling the festivities, given our unbeatable Downtown location. Family Fun If you’re looking for some family-friendly activities to mark the occasion, you’ve got endless options. During the day on New Year’s Eve, for example, consider swinging by the fantastic museums of Balboa Park—from the San Diego Museum of Man to the San Diego Air & Space Museum—to cram a few more bits of learning into 2016, and meantime enjoy one of the loveliest urban greenspaces in America. Or check out, on New Year’s Eve, the last day of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s “Seas ‘n’ Greetings,” which includes the quite delightful tradition of a Scuba Santa. The San Diego Zoo, meanwhile, is open every day of the year, so you can ring in the New Year with its mindboggling menagerie of animals from all around the world. Drop by New Year’s Eve to see how the cheetahs and giant [...]

December Fun in San Diego

The holiday calendar comes jampacked in San Diego, giving you multiple chances—and multiple ways—to celebrate the season! Let’s take a quick look at some of the festive delights fast coming down the pike... Ship Spectacle On Sunday, December 18, the second round of the Port of San Diego Parade of Lights will see some 100-odd colorfully illuminated and decorated vessels flourish their finery on the waters of San Diego Bay between Shelter Island and the Ferry Landing on Coronado. The parade—the theme of which this year, “It Began With a Roar,” pays homage to the San Diego Zoo’s centennial celebration—commences at 5 PM. Good onshore viewing spots include the Embarcadero, Marina Park, and Seaport Village; the shoreline procession takes roughly an hour or hour-and-a-half to fully pass any given vantage. Bowl Action December, of course, also sees two lively NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision bowl games going down at Qualcomm Stadium. This year’s Poinsettia Bowl on December 21 features the BYU Cougars and the Wyoming Cowboys, while the Minnesota Golden Gophers take on another passel of Cougars, Washington State’s to be exact, in the Holiday Bowl on December 27. Pre-Bowl Action Both those football battles have their own equally popular preliminaries. At 6 PM on December 19, the marching bands and spirit squads from BYU and the University of Wyoming do their own squaring off during the Poinsettia Bowl Gaslamp March, a spectacular (and free) Battle of the Bands just a few blocks from the Sofia. And the day [...]

Thanksgiving Wishes From the Sofia Hotel

In this Thanksgiving season, we here at the Sofia Hotel are feeling so very grateful to all of our guests and our staff: the people who make this grand landmark the magical place that it is. Day in and day out, we have the immense delight of introducing new Sofia guests to the many and varied joys of San Diego—and serving, too, as a friendly home-away-from-home for those who’ve regularly stayed with us. It’s our job to show our patrons the richest and warmest hospitality, whether they’re here for work, pleasure, or some combination thereof. We’re deeply indebted to each and every one of them: They make our job such a pleasure. The Sofia Hotel’s woven into the fabric of downtown, launched as it was back in 1926 as the Pickwick. We’re proud of that history, and we honor it in both our everyday service and our long-range vision as a business. Part of nodding to that heritage is a recognition of how grateful we are to the city itself: Perched as we are in the heart of one of San Diego’s most vibrant districts, we feed off our neighborhood’s energy—and we try to add to it in our own special way, too. And of course we’re nothing without our devoted and tireless staff: the folks who keep the Sofia Hotel up and running each and every day. We raise a very hearty Thanksgiving glass to them, and thank them for their incredible efforts. We extend that same level of [...]

A Thanksgiving Tradition: The San Diego Jazz Festival

How about soundtracking your Thanksgiving-time visit to America’s Finest City with a little jazz? That’s the beauty of the San Diego Jazz Festival, bringing for its 37th run musicians from all around the country—including plenty of regional representatives—to town around T-Day! This beloved “crown jewel of jazz festivals” takes place November 23 through 27 at the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, and features, as always, an impressive range of musical styles: traditional jazz, Dixieland, swing, ragtime, gospel, rockabilly, and more. An Eclectic Lineup La Jolla’s High Society Jazz Band and our very own Sue Palmer (“San Diego’s Queen of Boogie Woogie”) and Her Motel Swing Orchestra usher in proceedings on Wednesday evening. Then you’ve got artists such as Tom Rigney and Flambeau, who’ll bring Cajun, zydeco, and other Louisiana stylings to the affair; San Diego’s Heliotrope Ragtime Orchestra and its period-costumed dancers; Chicago’s Lakeshore Syncopators, delivering 1920s-style jazz and dance tunes; and the delightful San Fernando Valley Banjo Band—among scores of other performers. (Check out the full festival lineup right here.) Swing Dance Battling, Jamming It Up Among the special events during the San Diego Jazz Festival are the Swing Dance Extravaganza on Saturday, November 26, which’ll feature a “Battle of the Bands” between Dave Stuckey and His Hot House Gang and Joe Smith and the Spicy Pickles as well as, naturally, a Swing Dance Competition rewarding the winning couple with $500. Friday through Sunday, JazzSea Jams will offer participants the opportunity to participate in open jam sessions [...]

November 23rd, 2016|Tags: , , , |

The San Diego Film Scene: California's American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival

An amazing opportunity to explore the vibrancy and creativity of American Indian and First Nations cultures takes place this week in San Diego: the 4th annual California’s American Indian and Indigenous Film Festival (CAIIFF). This outstanding event, hosted by the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center at California State University San Marcos, proudly features indigenous filmmakers and artists. And the San Diego area—part of the homeland of the Kumeyaay people and marked today by a large and diverse American Indian population—makes a perfect venue for its stimulating showcase. Thought-Provoking New Films Among the new works being shown at CAIIFF is Melinda Janko’s documentary 100 Years: One Woman’s Fight for Justice, chronicling the Blackfoot activist Elouise Cobell and her efforts to combat federal mismanagement of Indian Trust lands. Friday evening sees the Nunavut historical saga Maliglutit Searchers, directed by Zacharias Kunuk. Kunuk—a recipient of the National Arts Award and the National Aboriginal Achievement Award—is best known for his 2001 film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, a cinematic telling of an Inuit myth (and named last year by the Toronto International Film Festival as the best Canadian film of all time). On Saturday afternoon, meanwhile, Alexandra Lazarowich’s documentary Cree Code Talker focuses on Charles “Checker” Tomkins and the use of the Cree language for the secret “code-talking” communications of the U.S. Air Force during World War II. Sit Downs With Legends This year’s CAIIFF also features some special Q&As with directors and actors. These include some true silver-screen legends: Friday’s showing [...]

Get in the Halloween Spirit at the San Diego Monster Bash

Eager for a healthy bit of fright at Halloweentime—and an all-out riproaring after-hours celebration of the ghoulish season? Well, then, you ought to stay with us at the Sofia Hotel the weekend before Halloween: You’ll be perfectly positioned for the Gaslamp Quarter’s descent into spectral, DJ-driven revelry on Saturday, October 29th during the Dos Equis San Diego Monster Bash! Within frighteningly easy reach of the Sofia, the nationally renowned Monster Bash—a post-sunup affair running from 6 PM till midnight—turns eight blocks’ worth of the Gaslamp and the East Village into one enormous (21+) Halloween party, with five themed stages and more than 20 masterful DJs anchoring the entire affair. The Monster Bash Stages There’s the Scary Tales Stage, taking its inspiration from some of the wickedly unsettling Grimm’s children’s stories. Over at the Doll House Stage, you’ve got a whole cadre of creepy ruined dolls to dance beneath, while the Wicked Whitelands Stage has you partying alongside “disturbingly blank creatures” (as the Monster Bash describes them). The Dia de los Muertos Stage astounds with its colorful Day of the Dead sugar skulls (calaveras) and phantoms. And Monster Bash VIPs, meanwhile, have access to the 90s Horror House, which summons some iconic characters from the 1990s in a chilling (and thumping) den of the supernatural. Ghoulish Beats It’s hard to get too scared during the proceedings, given how eagerly you and your fellow attendees will be dancing to the grooves laid down by the Monster Bash DJs (including a [...]

Fascinating, Fun, Free!: Kids Free in October at San Diego Museums

Who doesn’t love the word “free”? Well, if you’ve got children in tow for an autumnal stay with us at the Sofia Hotel, you’re going to love the citywide deal going down right now. In celebration of the broader “Kids Free San Diego” promotion, the San Diego Museum Council’s 40-plus institutions are offering free admission to kids aged 12 and under (with one paid full-price adult ticket) all the month of October. It’s a great time, in other words, for you and your family to survey the full breadth of our city’s remarkable educational and interpretive centers. The Museum Council’s “Kids Free in October” program—now in its sixth consecutive year—puts an incredible wealth of information (not to mention all-out fun) at you and your children’s fingertips. Flying Machines, Rockets, Model Trains Have a youngster entranced by machines of all stripes? Well, ogle the aircraft at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, the spacecraft at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the wheels at the San Diego Automotive Museum, and the elaborate trains-in-miniature at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. A Bit of History Or maybe you’d like to time-travel back to the Victorian era at the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House (the oldest house in the Gaslamp Quarter), or marvel at the Navy heritage (and more airplanes!) on display at the USS Midway Museum, or roll back the clock further yet at the Junipero Serra Museum at Presidio Park. Ocean Odysseys Learn more about that grand Pacific at our [...]

Famous Feathers: Celebrating the San Diego Chicken

Here at the Sofia Hotel, we recently noticed a great writeup on one of the mightiest institutions our fair city of San Diego has produced. And, yes, we’re talking about the guy dressed up as barnyard fowl. For more than four feathery decades, Ted Giannoulas has portrayed the San Diego Chicken—also known as the “Famous Chicken,” particularly when he’s making one of his many, many out-of-town appearances. (The Chicken’s done something like 17,000-plus events, including thousands and thousands of San Diego Padres and other baseball games.) Winding Down? In August, the New York Times published an elegiac profile of the Chicken—an absolute groundbreaker in the world of sports mascots—in his twilight years. Giannoulas, it’s true, has been kicking around the idea of retirement for some time: His routine, which includes all kinds of highly physical (and unscripted) on-the-field and in-the-stands antics, is a workout to say the least, especially when you consider he pulls it off in a hot, stuffy, basically unventilated chicken suit. But, as the Times notes, Giannoulas takes inspiration from folks such as Mick Jagger, still strutting his stuff at the head of the Rolling Stones as a septuagenarian. (And the comparison’s kind of apt: Watch the Chicken in action—fleeing groundskeepers, holding dance-offs against fellow mascots, etc.—and it’s tough to say whether Giannoulas or Jagger sweats more during their respective nightly routines.) A Chicken’s Story Giannoulas, who hails from Ontario, first donned his feathers in 1974 (when he was a student at San Diego State [...]

October 1st, 2016|Tags: , , |