Events: Carlsbad Street Fair

The Carlsbad Street Fair is one of our favorite FREE annual events in San Diego. In fact, we attended this event on a weekend getaway to Carlsbad at Ocean Palms Beach Resort and it’s one of the things that made us want to move to San Diego!

There are so many great things to do in Carlsbad and this event never disappoints, so make sure to mark your calendars for Sunday, May 7, 2017 from 8 am – 5 pm.  The Carlsbad Village Fair stretches 14 blocks and features more than 850 unique vendors with a little of everything: arts & crafts, antiques, unique clothing, items from around the world, and more. Children’s rides, an international food center, and an old-fashioned pancake breakfast. And, it’s dog friendly! Need we say more? There’s something for everyone at the Carlsbad Street Fair, so pack up the whole fam and head to downtown Carlsbad!

Here are a few of our favorite booths and purchases from previous years…

Our backyard is decked out in tikis (most of them from street fairs and a few from our travels), so this booth was a hit with us – we’re always game to add some more Hawaiian-style vibes to our yard!

We bought the third one in on the top row – so many fun options to choose from.

We love all the local artisans at the Carlsbad Street Fair. These hand-blown glass jellyfish caught our eye and we have one decorating the mantle on our fireplace now. And, with Mother’s Day just around the corner, the street fair is the perfect place to pick up unique, handmade gifts for Mom and support local San Diego business at the same time.

There’s a lot of walking involved at the Carlsbad Street Fair, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring your appetite. H-O-L-Y Guaca-moly, there are so many good things to eat.

And don’t forget to hydrate. It’s been very hot and sunny at the street fair in years past, but we hear rain is on the way this year. We loved refueling at the Naked Juice truck. Free green juice? Yes, please! They were also giving out free, custom-designed t-shirts.

Even if you don’t plan to buy anything at the Carlsbad Street Fair, it’s a great opportunity to get out and explore all that Carlsbad has to offer. Plus, you’ll see all kinds of interesting things. Last year we even saw a pet pig on a leash. 🙂 The Carlsbad Street Fair is now in its 43rd year and it attracts people (and animals!) from all over Southern California and even other states.

“The Carlsbad Village Faire is a celebration of Southern California culture and our community,” said Ted Owen, president and CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce. “Carlsbad recently took the top spot in Men’s Journal list of Best Places to Live in 2016. We are privileged to host this amazing community event that showcases over 100 local businesses and gives fairgoers a day to enjoy quality time with loved ones, relax, enjoy live music and create cherished memories.”

Food, music, art, family, friends, and lots of laughter – we can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday in San Diego! Hope to see you there!

Tips for attending the Carlsbad Street Fair:

  • Go early before the crowds (the event gets very crowded mid-day!)
  • Take advantage of the free shuttle
    Parking for the Carlsbad Street Fair is very limited. The first time we attended the fair, we were staying at Ocean Palms Beach Resort in Carlsbad, and it was the PERFECT location. Walking distance to everything downtown, including the fair. If you’re not staying at a hotel in Carlsbad that has parking, don’t even try to drive downtown and get a parking spot. Also, Grand Avenue from Carlsbad Boulevard to Jefferson Street, and all of the cross streets in between, are closed for the event. There is limited amount of handicap parking throughout the event.
  • Complimentary shuttles run to and from the faire every 15 minutes. The shuttle pick-up locations are at the northwest corner of Sears at Shoppes at Carlsbad Plaza Camino Real (Highway 78 and Jefferson) as well as at the Poinsettia Coaster Station (Poinsettia exit off of I-5).

Have you been to the Carlsbad Street Fair before? If so, tell us your favorite booths so we can check them out. If not, we hope to see you there! 🙂

Looking for someplace to stay in Carlsbad? Check out our weekend getaway at Ocean Palms Beach Resort – Pet Friendly Hotel Carlsbad CA.

Hiking San Diego: Lake Calavera Carlsbad

Spring is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors and go hiking in San Diego. The weather is beautiful, there are tons of trails to choose from and, best of all, it’s usually FREE. Lake Calavera Carlsbad is one of our favorite hikes in San Diego – it’s the largest of 13 city-owned, dedicated and managed nature preserves in Carlsbad. It’s easy to get to (just off the 78 freeway), there’s plenty of free street parking, and it’s rich with wildlife and beautiful foliage (this year especially, thanks to all the rain we’ve had!). And, it’s dog friendly. We brought our pups, Tiki and Kaia, along for the adventure.

What’s unique about this nature preserve? You can explore a volcano here (it’s now extinct, of course). Mount Calavera is actually a 22-million-year-old volcanic plug – and one of only three volcanic plugs in Southern California. We hear there’s an awesome view of the ocean from the top of the trail on a clear day, but we didn’t make it that far.

There are over four miles of trails at Lake Calavera and six trails to choose from – it’s one of the more extensive trail networks in Carlsbad and connects to other trails – and our chihuahuas’ little legs can only carry them so far. Our walks usually end up like the photo above – with me carrying both of them. I’m not sure who’s really walking who here. 🙂

If you bring your pups to Lake Calavera, make sure they’re leashed and be sure to watch out for rattlesnakes. It’s very common to see them on the trails in spring and summer – in fact, there was one on the trail last time we were there (and we had a snake in our backyard just a few weeks ago, which our dogs were very eager to inspect), so make sure to keep an eye out for local wildlife crossing the trail.

Speaking of wildlife, Lake Calavera is home to twelve animal species – including everything from rattlesnakes to egrets, herons, ducks and more. We even saw a turtle swimming around in the lake. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday, if you ask us. This guy decided he wanted to pose for some photos…

Lake Calavera also has more than four plant species and 17 native vegetation communities on site, including Diegan coastal sage scrub, southern mixed chaparrel, freshwater marsh and more. It’s really amazing what we have in our backyard just a few miles off the freeway. There’s lots of nature to see, and the hills were alive with green when were there. Almost made us feel like we were on vacation, even though this nature preserve is right in San Diego’s backyard.

Lake Calavera Preserve was established as part of Carlsbad’s Habitat Management Program to protect the rich diversity of plants and wildlife in San Diego County. Not only is Lake Calavera a beautiful place to go for a hike, but you can also volunteer for trail clean-ups and special events, or participate in the Adopt-a-Trail program and help construct new trails, foot bridges and more. Kaia is ready to volunteer for pup clean-up.

If you’re looking for something unique, there’s also a super Solar System walk that’s great for families – the walk consists of 10 interpretive signs along a 1-mile trail that represent each plant, the Sun and Pluto. The project was created by a local Eagle Scout to demonstrate the relative distance between the Sun and all the planets in our solar system. Great option for families who want to get outdoors and do something fun and educational.

Lake Calavera is a good option for a variety of activity levels. The six different trails make for a fun “choose your own adventure” – this is a place we love consistently coming back to because there’s so much to explore. You can go the “easy” route on the 1.9 mile loop that goes around the lake (our favorite with the dogs), or you can go on a more “difficult” route and take the trail uphill to Mount Calavera (it’s a 513-foot-high summit for those looking for something a little more adventurous) – one day, we’ll make it up to the top to see that ocean view. 🙂 You’ll find everyone from families pushing strollers to joggers, mountain bikers, couples doing workouts, and more at Lake Calavera – there’s really something for everyone. The area is expansive enough (110 acres) that it never really feels crowded.

This has definitely become one of our favorite places to hike (aka walk) in San Diego. Here are a few tips if you want to check it out!

Tips for Hiking in San Diego – Lake Calavera Carlsbad:

  • Parking
    Lake Calavera is located off Tamarack Avenue in Carlsbad. There are a couple entrances to Lake Calavera, and we recommend the entrance off Tamarack. The easiest way to find parking at Lake Calavera is to head East on Tamarack Rd. You’ll see the lake right away when you arrive,  and free street parking is typically readily available. The Tamarack entrance has a restroom, drinking fountain, maps, and pet waste bags/receptacle. This is also the best, most accessible entrance if you want to take a leisurely stroll around the lake.

The other entrance (off of College Blvd./Sky Haven Ln.) has a super cool “bamboo forest,” and sculpture garden, which are definitely worth checking out – we love the variety of this hiking spot! The Sky Haven Ln. entrance is usually your best option if you want to to take the more active trails.

  • Hike in the mornings
    The trails can get pretty hot in the afternoons during the spring and summer, so we recommend going before 10 am if you can to avoid the heat.
  • Carry a map
    The trail system at Lake Calavera can be a little confusing – make sure you grab one of the maps at the Tamarack entrance so you can see all your options before you head out on the trail. Or, you can just bookmark this blog post and get the map here.Trails available include:
    Lake Loop Trail – 1.9 miles (our favorite)
    Oak Riparian Loop Trail – 1.4 miles
    East Loop Trail – .9 mile
    Monkey Flower Trail – .9 mile
    Serpentine Trail – .7 mile
    Solar Trail
  • Bring plenty of water
    Make sure to stay hydrated – and if you’re bringing your pups, make sure to bring enough to share! We love to bring collapsible dog bowls on hikes – they’re easy to store in a backpack and get out when your dog is thirsty. This pack comes with a set of four sizes and is BPA free and dishwasher safe. We found this chihuahua cup at Big Lots and couldn’t resist getting it (don’t worry, the tea was for humans only)! 🙂

What are your favorite spots to hike in San Diego?

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Dog Friendly Restaurants San Diego: Pieology Pizza Carlsbad

We love cheap date nights, and Pieology Pizza in Carlsbad Bressi Ranch Village Center has become one of our favorite spots for an inexpensive night on the town. We’re big on saving money, so we try not to break the bank when we go out for dinner. At Pieology, we can have a fun date for less than $20 out the door  – it’s fun and causal (we just love the inspirational quote wall below – don’t you?) with great food + drinks. And, it also happens to be another one of our favorite dog friendly restaurants in San Diego. Todd loves the local beers Pieology has on tap – and I love that there’s a Peet’s Coffee next door for a post-dinner treat. It’s a win win for everyone, including our pups. 🙂

In case you haven’t been there yet, Pieology is kind of the “Subway” of pizzas. You can choose from one of their “favorite” personal artisan style pizzas like “Mad to Meat You,” and “Smokin’ Buffalo Chicken,” or you can create your own, which we prefer. Half the fun of going there is choosing your own toppings and experimenting with all the fun combinations you can come up with. Their pizzas are only available in one size (11.5 inches). We typically split one pizza (we find it’s more than enough for two people), but we had a coupon for a free pizza this time, so we went for two. You can create your own pizza with as many toppings as you want for under $10. Say WHAT?!

You read that right. AS MANY TOPPINGS AS YOU WANT. You can also choose the type of house-made crust you want (we went for wheat). They also have gluten-free for those with Celiac Disease. For toppings, we chose mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, olives, Canadian bacon, artichokes, spinach, and Italian sausage. We decided to keep it pretty classic for this pizza and it definitely hit the spot.

Todd didn’t mind the beer from Coronado Brewing Company, either (anyone else tried the Orange Wit??). I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I tried a few sips of the Orange Wit and really like the fresh citrus zing. Cheers to that.

The outdoor patio at Pieology Carlsbad offers a relaxing atmosphere to kick back and enjoy your pizza. We always prefer to eat outside (why not when the San Diego weather is always so gorgeous?) and, since we bring out pups out to eat with us often, we love restaurants that have dog-friendly  outdoor patios. It’s always been pretty quiet when we’ve been to Pieology Carlsbad and our pup, Mishka, was perfectly happy cozied up on the patio here. Doesn’t this look relaxing?

Peet’s Coffee is located kitty-corner to Pieology, so we headed there after our meal for a Vanilla Latte to cap off our date night. Under $20 spent total. Perfect San Diego date night, if you ask me. 😉

Where are your favorite cheap date night spots in San Diego?

Looking for other dog friendly restaurants in San Diego?

Here are a few more of our favorite San Diego dog friendly restaurants:

Dog Friendly Restaurants San Diego: Tamarack Beach Resort – Dini’s By the Sea

As “parents” to three chihuahuas, we’re always on the hunt for dog friendly restaurants. We’re lucky that San Diego is very pup friendly, but it can be challenging to find a restaurant that checks all our boxes – dog friendly (of course), has a nice view and wicked good food. Dini’s By The Sea at Tamarack Beach Resort meets all those criteria and is one of our go-to faves.

Dini’s is adjacted to Tamarack Beach Resort in Carlsbad, right across the street from Tamarack Beach. There are only a few restaurants in Carlsbad that have an ocean view and Dini’s is one of those with prime real estate.

We love the atmosphere here – maybe it’s the fact that it’s attached to a hotel, but it always makes us feel like we’re on vacation – casual, beachy vibes + an awesome view of the ocean. Dogs are welcome on the outdoor patio – there’s street and foot traffic that passes by the patio, but it makes it a fun and lively place to kick back and enjoy a meal.

We usually like to visit Dini’s at sunset (talk about views!) or for a mid-week lunch. The restaurant and bar can get pretty crowded on the weekends, but we’ve been there on weekdays for lunch when we’ve had an almost-private dining experience.  They also have a great Happy Hour if you’re looking to enjoy a beachside meal without having to break the bank, or just want to enjoy sunset drinks.

We kicked off our lunch with some calamari…always one of our favorite appetizers. At $14, it was a little pricey for the amount served, but it sure was delish…and our pup Tiki approved.

For lunch, I ordered the Stuffed Avocado with Chicken – always one of my top dishes .

a) because I’m obsessed with avocado and will eat it with everything and…

b) because I feel semi-healthy ordering this

We’ll just forget about the calamari we ordered as the appetizer, okay? 😉

Todd ordered the Lobster Burger, which is his must-have dish at Dini’s. It’s one of the most popular items on the menu and is always a hit with friends and family we bring to the restaurant. We were pleasantly surprised the first time we ordered this and it was delivered with a decent amount of lobster on top. Doesn’t this look good???

I may or may not have stolen half of Todd’s burger. Actually, he offered me half and then asked for it back – haha. Can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing though because it is SO good. I think I’ll have to order the Lobster Burger next time and throw my healthy eating to the seagulls because this dish is just too good to pass up.

We love that Dini’s is right across the street from the beach – after our meal, we took Tiki for a walk on the beach path – the Carlsbad Seawall path is actually 4 miles long, but Tiki’s little legs can only carry him so far, so we usually just do a quick walk.

Dini’s continues to be one of our favorite restaurants in Carlsbad and we’re already dreaming about our next Lobster Burger. 😉 It would even be fun to do a staycation at the Tamarack Beach Resort sometime – and it’s also a great place for friends/family to stay who are visiting San Diego from out of the area. Check out the nightly room rates here if you’re curious.

For more dog-friendly destinations in San Diego, check out:

Dog Friendly Restaurants San Diego: Hotel Del Coronado Sun Deck Bar & Grill

Ocean Palms Beach Resort – Pet Friendly Hotel Carlsbad, CA

Which would you order? The Lobster Burger or the Stuffed Avocado???

Tell us in the comments below! 🙂



Dog Friendly Restaurants San Diego: Hotel Del Coronado Sun Deck Bar & Grill

As “parents” to three mischievous, yet too-cute-resist  chihuahuas, we’re always on the hunt for dog friendly restaurants in San Diego. With gorgeous spring weather on the horizon, we headed to Hotel Del Coronado for a Friday afternoon lunch. Hotel Del Coronado is a dog friendly resort, so your pup can dine,  stay and play at this classic California hotel by the beach. Pet walking, pet sitting and veterinary services are even available for your pup.  Talk about 5-star treatment. It’s easy to see why this hotel is often considered one of the best places to visit in San Diego.

Built in 1988, Hotel Del Coronado is a National Historic Landmark that has served esteemed guests from Marilyn Monroe to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and modern-day celebs like Oprah Winfrey and Steve Spielberg. With gorgeous views like these, no wonder celebs would want to call this their home away from home. The Del, as it’s affectionately known, has also been rumored to be home to a ghost or two….but we’ll save the ghost stories for another time when we get to stay overnight. We always love a good ghost hunt.

Hotel Del Coronado’s Sun Deck Bar & Grill is a great spot to enjoy ocean views and soak up some California sunshine. We were able to snag a secluded table in a corner complete with a firepit, cushioned lounge chairs, and an incredible view of the ocean. It was just what we needed – it was so cozy, we were tempted to take a nap – and these two did.

The menu at Sun Deck Bar & Grill offers an array of tropical drinks and Mexican fare, along with the classic American burger. We decided to split a burger and tacos, and Todd also ordered a Coronado Orange Avenue Wit by the Coronado Island Brewing Company. This So-Cal take on a traditional witbier honors Coronado’s main street, which is home to the Coronado Island Brewing Company and was once lined with orange trees. The citrus zing was the perfect complement to a sun-toasted afternoon.

The burger was tasty – you can’t go wrong with classic American fare at a classic California coastal hotel. The tacos were decent, but we probably wouldn’t order them again. As you’ll see by the menu, the prices at Sun Deck Bar & Grill are a little steep. In terms of the view, however, this restaurant wins big among pet friendly restaurants. You’re paying for the atmosphere and incredible views when you dine here.


If you’re looking for places to take your dog in San Diego and don’t want to commit to a full meal, we suggest checking out the Sun Deck Bar & Grill’s “Yappy Hour” held every Sunday from 4-5pm. Dogs can lap up complimentary Evian and “yappatizers” (organic gourmet dog treats), while their parents sip on pet-inspired drinks such as a Hair of the Dog, tangy Greyhound or Salty Dog.

After lunch, we went for iced coffee at The Del’s cafe and then moseyed onto the beach, where we discovered this masterpiece by The Sand Castle Man. A former construction industry pro who was hit hard by the recession, Bill Pavlacka (aka The Sand Castle Man) turned to building sandcastles. You can even commission him to create a custom sculpture for your engagement, wedding, or just because. Amazing work of art!

There are many reasons to love San Diego, and The Hotel Del Coronado is one of them. Blue skies, swaying palm trees, toes in the sand…we can’t think of a better way to kick off the weekend.

There are so many great pet friendly restaurants in San Diego and we can’t wait to share them with you. More San Diego hotspots coming soon and, until then, you can find us napping on the beach. 😉

And if you’re already dreaming of a stay at Hotel Del Coronado….go ahead and check the room rates.

Ocean Palms Beach Resort – Pet Friendly Hotel Carlsbad CA

We loved staying at  Ocean Palms Beach Resort – a pet friendly hotel Carlsbad CA. There are so many great hotels in Carlsbad to choose from, and this is one of our favorites. Not only is it pet friendly, it’s also steps away from the beaches in Carlsbad. Our weekend getaway to this hotel is actually what sparked our idea to move to San Diego. We were impressed with all the things to do in Carlsbad and how dog friendly the entire community was – from restaurants to coffee shops and street-side cafes, Carlsbad is an easily walk-able city for families (of the human or furry variety). See why we loved it – and why our little four-legged baby, Mishka, did too…

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