This is a great time of the year. Whenever a new year kicks in, we like to indulge our curiosity by shaking things up and exploring new territory. Sometimes we uncover something totally new and off-the-beaten path and other times, we re-discover special places that we forgot about.
That was the case a few weeks ago when we were roaming around Bankers Hill, a quiet charming neighborhood that actually inspired us to start our tour company back in 2003. We love this area because it’s got a great vibe and whenever we’re here, we always meet the most interesting people. Take for example Marshall Arts Glass. This is a cool glassblowing studio run by a friendly guy named Marty Marshall. He’s been blowing glass for 18 years so he’s like a walking encyclopedia filled with all sorts of unusual stories. His studio is a hidden gem because it’s tucked away behind his house so it’s understated. The last time we stopped by, Marty was conducting a glass blowing class so our tour group got an impromptu lesson. It was an unexpected surprise! Although the classes are held only in Bankers Hill, Marty’s art creations can be seen at Studio #24 at the Spanish Art Village in Balboa Park, Coronado’s Art in the Park event held on the first and third Sundays of every month and the Royal Food Mart at 3401 First Avenue. (Side note: Romy owns this deli and is known for creating delicious gourmet sandwiches) One thing to keep in mind – Marty likes to keep the classes small. Four people max which makes for a more intimate experience. For more information, log onto www.marshallartsglass.com
Downtown San Diego is another area we love to wander around and get lost in our thoughts, especially after a long day of running back-to-back Scavenger Hunts. During one of our recent casual strolls, we found ourselves at Level 9, Hotel Indigo’s cool rooftop bar. If you’ve never been here, now is a perfect time to check it out. The rooftop lounge just got a makeover and the upgrades are amazing. For those of you who are familiar with Level 9, they did away with the grassy area and fountain and replaced it with a hip looking bar, swanky furniture, outdoor fire pits (it feels wonderful on a chilly night) and high definition TV flat screens. And oh yeah, don’t forget about that incredible view of Petco Park and Downtown.
Dog lovers will be happy to hear that the hotel’s popular “Canine Cocktails” event will continue through the winter months. This monthly event is a cool way for dog owners to meet and mingle while getting their Happy Hour fix. Special doggy snacks are provided for your four legged guests and several dog friendly vendors are usually on the scene offering everything from diamond studded leashes to outrageous outfits for your pooch. The next Canine Cocktails will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on January 17 and February 7. Raise the woof!
On the other side of Downtown is something we’ve wanted to check out for the longest time but for some reason, could never make happen. Until now that is. The House of Blues Gospel Brunch is a wonderful way to kick off a Sunday. The two-hour live show is uplifting, energetic and highly entertaining. Guests are encouraged to get out of their seats and groove to the music. The all-you-can-eat buffet features Southern specialties like Creole chicken, shrimp jambalaya, grits, homemade macaroni and cheese and prime rib of beef. Make sure you come hungry and don’t forget your dancing shoes. www.houseofblues.com
Here's looking at a bright and prosperous 2013. Happy Travels!
Darlynne Reyes Menkin is a travel & lifestyle writer based in sunny San Diego. When she's not digging for fun story ideas, she can be found leading tours and team building Scavenger Hunts with her husband Marc. The couple run Where You Want To Be Tours, an adventure travel company that specializes in hidden San Diego spots.