5 ways to play in San Diego

A path along the beach on Coronado Island is one of the many places to play in San Diego.

For those who live in San Diego, there is always a reason to get out and play, but for those who are only allowed short visits, how do you pack all of paradise into a single weekend? Below are five ideas on how to get the most out of a weekend of play in San Diego.

1. Take a tour with Another Side of San Diego

If Another Side of San Diego doesn’t have a tour to fit your interest, time frame, and preferred mode of transportation, it doesn’t exist! Whether you’re in the mood for history, art, nature, food, or even beer, they’ve got a tour for it. Not only that, but you can pursue your interests by Segway, on foot, in a hot air balloon, on horseback, on a bike, or even in a boat! As long-time resident of La Jolla, Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) said, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

To explore their tour options, visit their website. To book a tour, you can use their website or call them at 1-619-239-2111.

Another Side of San Diego tours has tours by land or sea. In La Jolla you can walk, Segway, or kayak to learn about this jewel of a town where seals and sea lions call home.
A tour of Balboa Park will introduce you to the natural wonders of Southern California, but you may also catch a concert at one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs!

2. San Diego Botanic Gardens

To get outside and get away from it all, head up to Encinitas and visit the peaceful San Diego Botanic Gardens. There you can walk to the music of nature: birds chirping, lizards rustling in the brush, lacy bamboo swooshing in the breeze. Find a bench alongside the waterfall in the Tropical Rainforest, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of water carry all your troubles away.

San Diego Botanic Gardens brim with life in all shapes and forms. Some shapes have more form than others, like this incredible statue made up of succulents.

On Saturdays at 10:30am, the gardens provide docent-led tours of the splendid variety of plants living in each section. Also, check their calendar for classes and other events, such as making your own succulent art work or cooking with an opera singing chef.

3. Take in a play at the La Jolla Playhouse

If you’re in San Diego to explore the beauty of their outdoor paradise, but you wouldn’t mind taking in a play while you’re there, you can combine the two by attending a Without Walls play through the award-winning La Jolla Playhouse. Over the last year, their Without Walls program has literally led audiences out of the theater and through garden paths or into the intimate surroundings of cars and martini bars.

“The Car Plays: San Diego” was a part of the Without Walls program and one of many brilliant plays hosted by the La Jolla Playhouse.

If there isn’t a Without Walls program running when you visit, it is still worthwhile to see one of their plays with traditional-style seating. It should be stated, however, that none of their plays can be considered “traditional”. Better words might be provocative, cutting-edge, soulful, and unforgettable.

4. Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

With two locations to choose from and plenty of docent-led tours available, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego you can discover just how much you have in common with contemporary art. Take, for example, the current exhibit downtown by local artist Margaret Noble entitled “44th and Landis”. If you’re used to art being oil paintings hung on walls, you may wonder what you can get out of her paper dolls hanging from the ceiling and the wild noises crashing from her handmade speakers. But stop and look at the paper dolls. Listen to the sounds. Suddenly, you see familiar things, like the logo of a Peeps Marshmallow box or the chase of Ms. Pacman through a maze. You hear familiar sounds that take you back to 1982, when you lived for Space Invaders and chased the ice cream truck on your bike until it stopped.

If you didn’t grow up in the 80s, you may still connect with the artists that use light and space to evoke a feeling. Whole rooms are devoted to the sensations and emotions light can have on us. And, if that doesn’t do it for you, then perhaps you will marvel at the wall that breathes or connect with the massive iron heart that looks like a prison.

This Light and Space piece by Doug Wheeler is one you participate in simply by showing up and experiencing what shifts within you as a result of this space and its lighting.

5. FOOD!

San Diego is not only charmed with sunny weather and stunning ocean views, it is home to more than its share of talented chefs, fresh produce, and inspired craft beer brewmasters.

If you only have time and budget for one special restaurant, go without delay to Georges at the Cove in La Jolla. Chef Trey Foshee has won tons of awards for his California Modern cuisine, including the San Diego Chefs Hall of Fame and the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate”. There’s a reason for all these accolades. His food is consistently knock-your-flip-flops-off delicious; the kind of delicious that you remember and dream about weeks and months later. Even vegetarians can get in on the making of great food memories because they offer an entirely vegetarian menu and many of the dishes can be made vegan.

Reservations are recommended and can be made online or by calling 858-454-4244.

Georges on the Cove is definitely high-end food, but you gotta love a place that rolls up its sleeves with The People by serving donuts and coffee for desert.

If you go to Encinitas to visit the San Diego Botanic Gardens for an afternoon of peaceful retreat, spend your evening having dinner at Union Kitchen and Tap just down the road. They offer a variety of high-end tavern food (including vegetarian and vegan options) and they offer about 20 craft beers on tap, many of which are locally crafted.

Depending on what time you go, reservations may not be necessary, but if time is of the essence, it may be worthwhile to secure a table by giving them a call at 760.230.2337(BEER).

Where to stay

Hotel Parisi in La Jolla offers elegant and convenient accommodations for almost any sized group and any length of stay. The main sights, restaurants, and shopping opportunities are located just beyond the doorstep of this hotel.

Hotel Parisi also offers Parisi Apart, corporate apartments decked out with full-sized refrigerators, microwaves, silverware and dishes for travelers needing extended stays or those wishing to eat meals in the comfort of their own apartment.

The convenience of this hotel does come at a price, however. Prices start around $300 a night for a basic room and go up to over $400 a night for the extended stay apartments. Parking is an additional $15 per night and other fees may apply.


These are just a few ideas. The possibilities are endless.

How do you like to spend time in San Diego? Comment below or email me at srdryja@jetplanesandcoffee.com with your ideas! With your help, we can put together a comprehensive list that will help others plan their weekend at play in San Diego!

“The Car Plays” drives theater to the heart of personal experience

It’s not like me to gush. I might like something. I might even really, really enjoy it, but since having seen The Car Plays last Saturday, I cannot stop talking about it to everyone I know with the enthusiasm of an infatuated 13-year-old girl talking about Justin Bieber.

Sign for "The Car Plays" at La Jolla Playhouse. (Photo by M Dryja.)

The Car Plays is a grouping of 10-minute plays. Each play takes place in a different car. The audience members go two-by-two into the backseat or front seat of a real vehicle to watch the plays. And each program consists of five different ones so, by the end of an hour, they have seen five different plays.

What makes The Car Plays so different is that everything takes place in a car and during any given play there are only two audience members. This creates an intimacy and familiarity which makes the experience immediate and very personal. For example, in “Dad”, the play about a father who pulled over on the side of the road to discipline his fighting children, the actor was in the front seat speaking to us in the backseat, as if we were his kids. It was a story about someone we never met and, yet, it could not have been more familiar. I don’t know about you, but I can remember a number of times as a kid being threatened with “Don’t make me pull over this car!” As the play went on, layers were peeled back to reveal the deeper story about the dad. It was a touching, sometimes funny, story that almost anyone can relate to.

Checking in at The Car Plays we got our rules of the road and met two producers in the process, Kim Glann and Steve Lozier.

That’s the way all the plays were, too. They started out with a surface-level glimpse at the characters and, with every minute that went by, another layer was removed to reveal something even more familiar and, at times, more funny, or more painful than I could have imagined when stepping into the seat of that car.

Magically, it would seem, when the ten minutes were up and I got out of one car to go to another, the feeling I was left with was that I had spent time with friends who had told me something important, personal, and perhaps secret, about their lives. There was a leftover feeling of trust that their stories and secrets were somehow real and that their lives would go on. It’s like when you finish reading a good book and you miss the characters. Even though, intellectually I knew the characters were fictitious, my heart wanted to stick around and find out how things shaped up afterwards. I rooted for Batman and Robin in “The Duo” to win the contest they had entered, and cried in “Before We Go Home” with Rich and Sue because their loss is a loss I know all too well myself. Adam and Mike had me in stitches and squirming like a worm in hot ashes in “The Audience”. Their car, in particular, was one that I got out of wishing it could have been real so we could go have dinner together and talk about The Car Plays.

We lined up two-by-two in three lines behind the road sign with our play series name on it.

Finally, another part of what made The Car Plays so personal was that, when the plays were over and we got out of our final car, we not only clapped for the actors, producers, and director, but we had the opportunity to actually interact with them. I wanted to go hug David Youse and Ron Morehouse for their parts in “The Audience”. I did go up to them, but at the last minute I got nervous and just told them how much they had made me laugh. I was thankful to get to tell Peter James Smith from “The Duo” how much I enjoyed seeing him play Batman. And it was a thrill to talk with Michael Shutt from “Before We Go Home” and learn about his experience of having to cry five times an hour. (You would never know, either, that he has to do that over and over again. His performance was as fresh when I saw it as if his character was experiencing that loss for the first time.)

Our Car Plays tour guide, Cashae Monya, gave us an unforgettable and entertaining introduction as she led us to the cars.

I hope you do get to experience The Car Plays. I hope I get to see The Car Plays again, too, quite frankly. It was playing as part of the Without Walls program at the La Jolla Playhouse in La Jolla, California, and it is still open this coming weekend. Once it is done there, though, I’m not sure where Moving Arts, the production company who brought it to La Jolla, will drive it to next. I’m rooting for Phoenix.

The playbill and our tickets for Car Plays. (That little car is an old Avon aftershave bottle in the shape of a VW Beetle. It was my grandfather's and still has aftershave in it.)

Next week: “Car Plays” in La Jolla

"Car Plays", a Moving Arts production presented by La Jolla Playhouse.

Modernism Week in Palm Springs is not even close to wrapping up, but thanks to updates on Facebook and Twitter, I can already start imagining next weekend when I go to La Jolla, California to see “Car Plays”, a Moving Arts play as presented by the La Jolla Playhouse. Being that the theater is actually 15 separate cars with 15 separate stories being told, I know this is going to be a ride I won’t soon forget.

For more information about the plays, take a look at the article written by James Herbert for U-T San Diego. For tickets, go directly to the La Jolla Playhouse website.

The plays run from February 23 through March 4, 2012. Tickets are $25 a piece and run time for the show is 60 minutes. This is part of La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls series.

Stay tuned for an update of the play coming at the end of next week.