Current weather

San Diego, CA
Few clouds
51.8 °F

Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Now that everyone has recovered from the holiday shopping feeding frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it’s time for true shopping hounds to go to the only place in town where they can find a vast array of one-of-a-kind gifts in a historic setting while supporting this city’s best cultural attractions.

In other words, it’s time to shop Balboa Park’s gift stores.

Holiday Shopping Balboa Park, Museum of Photographic Arts, Diana Camera PackageWhether you’re looking for toys your pups won’t know are educational or fine jewelry and fashionable accessories from faraway places, the amount you’ll be saving in gas, parking, and ibuprofen (for the usual shopping headaches) alone makes Balboa Park worth the trip.

To highlight a few shopping destinations in the Park, the Museum of Photographic Arts once again hopes to make everyone on your holiday gift list smile with three different vintage-style camera packages: the Diana, the Holga, and the SuperHeadz Wide Angle.

For the hard-to-gift geek, the Reuben H. Fleet’s North Star Science Store is filled with gadgets, gizmos, and thingamajigs. Among the non-chewable varieties are the Medusa Jellyfish Lamp, the magically kinetic Hoberman Sphere, and the Nebula Ball that produces a dazzling plasma light show.

The Museum of Man’s gift store has dug up a number of high-quality artifacts from various world cultures, such as Mata Ortiz pots, Zuni fetishes, handmade Native American jewelry, carved animals from Oaxaca, and whimsical Mexican folk art.

Sticking closer to home, the San Diego History Center Store is nostalgia central with its many books on San Diego history, memorabilia and historic prints, merchandise from local artisans, and gifts inspired by vintage styles.

For those who would appreciate a gift of the Park itself, the Visitors Center has the largest selection of Balboa Park-themed T-shirts and sweat shirts, Park-related coffee table and guide books, a festively gift-wrapped Balboa Park Passport, in addition to nature-themed fashion jewelry and Christmas tree decorations (you know, the kind you put near the top of the tree so certain fury family members can’t turn them into cat toys).

Posted in | add a comment

With many stores opening as early as Thanksgiving evening this year, there’s no longer any point in hitting the malls this Black Friday, as you’ll only be foraging for scraps. That leaves an entire day, and weekend, open to treat your out-of-town packmates to the best of what San Diego’s cultural Mecca has to offer.

Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Chocolate, San Diego Natural History MuseumBehold, America! — The city’s three most prominent art museums, including the Timken and San Diego Museum of Art, formed their own pack for the very first time to showcase the rich holdings in American art—from colonial to contemporary—found in this little corner of the country.

Charles Reiffel: An American Post Impressionist — Forming another unique pack, the San Diego History Center and San Diego Museum of Art dug through a number of private collections to highlight the career of a forgotten painter who was as good as any of his better-known East Coast contemporaries.

Chocolate — If you’re like me and prefer your cultural displays to be a little more edible, then you especially shouldn’t miss this timely exhibition on the history and global impact of one of the most commonly consumed treats this season—or any season.

How Things Fly — Families trying to keep a brood of squirrely pups entertained will want to head over to the Air & Space Museum for this interactive exhibition filled with hands-on displays that will burn off that extra slice of pumpkin pie you ate at 3am the night before.

Flight of the Butterflies — Speaking of late-night snacks, for those still feeling drowsy from excessive amounts of tryptophan in their system, the Reuben H. Fleet IMAX theater may be just the place to passively immerse oneself in the visually spectacular life story of the monarch butterfly.

Posted in | add a comment

Shirley writes: Dear Cosmos, from one holiday hound to another, how can my family make the most of this season in Balboa Park?

Cosmos responds: Though Balboa Park December Nights, on December 7 & 8 this year, is a given for any true holiday-loving hound, that still leaves over a month’s worth of open dates to fill with some form of holiday cheer. Thankfully, a Santa’s-bag full of other yuletide treats awaits those who want to end 2012 with a bang!

Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, The NutcrackerPoinsettia Display: Like a warm puppy on Christmas morning, local residents know they can count on a spectacular display of hundreds of Poinsettia plants in the Botanical Building each and every year.

Lego Train Exhibit: Another popular tradition for pups of all ages, this elaborate cityscape built with colorful plastic bricks at the Model Railroad Museum will put a smile on any Grinch’s face.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Speaking of the Grinch, the one and only comes to life for a 15th-consecutive year at the Old Globe Theater in this musical extravaganza.

The Nutcracker: Dancing toy soldiers and other tutu-toting critters hit the stage once again in the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet’s annual presentation of this classical ballet.

Puppet Theater: Those with a lot of newly weaned pups in their brood will definitely want to keep an eye on the weekly rotation of holiday-themed shows at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater.

As I realize that may only provide you with a week’s worth of activities at best, be sure to bookmark this blogspace for further coverage of the Park’s busy holiday season.

Posted in Ask Cosmos | add a comment

Focus on Balboa Park Photo Contest, 2nd place winner, Joy in Balboa ParkAs much as I love pawing over entries to Balboa Park’s annual Top Dog Photo Contest, I anticipate seeing the submissions to the Focus on Balboa Park Contest even more. Why? Because they teach an old dog new ways of looking at the Park’s attractions, gardens, buildings, and non-human inhabitants.

Take this year’s winners, for example: In the adult category, Danielle Zuest’s “Secretary Bird” (first place) and Evan Weatherford’s “Bee” (third place) zoom in on a couple of colorful creatures, enabling me to focus on details my dog’s-eye view would never catch (as I chase them from behind).

Focus on Balboa Park Photo Contest, 2nd place youth, Shire in Balboa ParkIn the meantime, I can relate wholeheartedly to the concept of “Joy in Balboa Park” as expressed in the second-place-winning photo by Leandro Iannacone. Nothing brings a hot dog greater joy on a toasty summer’s day than frolicking in a fountain like the pups in this picture.

Because I’m usually too busy focusing on the sensations coming through my snout as I explore the Park’s diverse foliage, I rarely see the colors the same way 12-year-old Allison Q. brilliantly captures in her first-place photo “Pink Essence” (youth category). Of course, being partially colorblind doesn’t help.

Also in the kid’s category, “Shire at Balboa Park” by second-place winners Aidan and Zach P. (age 10) and “Good Hair Day” by Abby Z. (age 12) remind us that the Park is home to a vast assortment of creatures great and small—and sometimes imaginary.

Posted in | add a comment

Cosmos Blog, Balboa Park, Spanish Village Art Center courtyardThere’s nothing like an epic storm on the East Coast to remind us why we live in Southern California. The times that it rains cats and dogs here are few and far between, making almost every day a perfect day to take advantage of Balboa Park’s free outdoor amenities.

Though I’ve barked about many of these activities over the years, this seemed like a good time to groom old and new readers on how to enjoy this cultural paradise without breaking their piggybanks.

Free Tours: Even if you’ve lived here all your life, it’s doubtful you know everything there is worth knowing about an historic 1,200-acre park. For starters, each Saturday morning at 10am, a free Offshoot Tour sniffs out fun facts about the trees and landscaping on the Park’s Central Mesa, and Ranger-led Tours on Tuesdays and Sundays at 11am dig further into the Park’s colorful history.

The Botanical Building: I always let my snout do the walking in this monumental wood-lathe structure that bursts with seasonal flower displays, native and exotic plants, and hundreds of orchids. Did I mention it’s always free, except on Thursday when it’s closed?

Spanish Village Art Center: Clustered around a picturesque dog-friendly courtyard, the Spanish Village is home to dozens of artists working in quaint historic cottages. Visitors are treated to live demonstrations and free shows of quality handcrafted artwork, including this week’s annual exhibition of the Art Glass Association and the following weekend’s San Diego Potter’s Guild Semiannual Sale (Nov. 10-11).

Organ Concerts: We truly are lucky dogs to not only have such a beautiful park at our disposal, but one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs where free weekly concerts are performed every Sunday at 2pm by the city’s official civic organist and frequent fundraiser for pet causes, Dr. Carol Williams.

Posted in | add a comment
Syndicate content