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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Though I’m a mixed breed by birth, I’m a Scottish terrier at heart when it comes to Tartan Day, which will be celebrated in grand fashion this weekend, April 34, in Balboa Park at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.


cosmos-blog_tartan-day-festival-balboa-park-2010More than just a flimsy pretext to chow down on meat pie and toffee pudding, National Tartan Day (April 6) officially recognizes the contributions of Scottish-Americans as decreed by the U.S. Congress in 2005. In fact, many of this country’s founders were of Scottish descent, and the Declaration of Independence was modeled on Scotland’s own declaration, issued on April 6, 1320.


While the biggest Tartan Day celebrations take place in New York and Washington DC, a coalition of San Diego's major Scottish organizations have been staging Tartan Day celebrations here for the past five years.


This year’s festival, held at the International Cottages on Saturday, April 3, from noon to 4:00pm, will feature San Diego’s best Scottish bands and dancers. The Scottish Clan and Tartan Information Center will also be on hand to help visitors find their own tartans (and, yes, you do have one). Admission is free and open to the public and, best of all, plenty of traditional Scottish edibles will be available for purchase.


If you’re still looking for that wee bit of Scot in you, on Sunday, April 4, the House of Scotland will continue to commemorate Tartan Day with an open house from noon to 4:00pm.

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Doggone it if San Diego hasn’t broken into’s top 10 list of spring break destinations for 2010! Joining such traditional hot spots as Las Vegas, Cancun, and Miami Beach, San Diego has the ideal spring break profile: plenty of sunny beaches, a downtown nightlife, and of course the largest urban park in North America, Balboa Park.


While I don’t suspect many college students will be flocking to Balboa Park’s many world-class museums to research upcoming term papers, there are still plenty of reasons for them and vacationing families to visit.


cosmos-blog_spring-break-destination-2010_rose-gardenWhere else are you going to see such a variety of picturesque gardens at the height of seasonal bloom? You could spend a whole day exploring the award-winning Inez Parker Grant Memorial Rose Garden, the Desert Garden, the Zoro Garden, Palm Canyon, and the Alcazar Garden, just to name a few, without spending a single penny of beer money.


For the more active set, the resort-like park offers miles of scenic hiking trails, a championship golf course, lighted tennis courts, a swimming pool, and even a disc golf course and archery ranges.


In addition, for well less than you might spend at a trendy Gaslamp nightclub, the Passport to Balboa Park will give you admission to 14 different museums, while the Zoo/Passport combo includes a trip to the World Famous San Diego Zoo—where the real party animals hang out.

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cosmos-blog_science-family-day-2010While I will make no bones about the fact that the word science ranks right down there with broccoli and timeout for most young pups, this weekend’s Science Family Day in Balboa Park promises to put a smile on the face of everyone in your pack.


On Saturday, March 20, from 11am to 3pm, over 20 different Balboa Park cultural institutions will present a variety of fun hands-on activities, encompassing cars, nature, airplanes, art, astronomy, and archeology, and forensics. In addition, youngsters age 17 and under will get in free with a paid adult admission at most museums, while some, like the San Diego Museum of Art, Hall of Champions, and Timken, will be free to everyone all day.


So what do I mean by fun? For starters, how about:


  • Making your own jellyfish at the Mingei
  • Participating in a mock archeological dig at the San Diego History Center
  • Examining human bones in the Museum of Man’s forensics workshop
  • Making alien and space-themed paper airplanes at the Air & Space Museum
  • Walking into an oversized 7 x 9 foot camera at the Museum of Photographic Arts


And for dessert, I can’t wait to get my paws into some potting soil mousse with gummy worms and lemon rain water at SDMA’s Sculpture Court Café by Giuseppe (free with paid adult meal, which I’ll gladly devour too!).


If you still can’t get enough, the Balboa Park Science Family is the kickoff event to this year’s weeklong San Diego Science Festival, which culminates in the free Science Expo at PETCO Park on March 27.

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cosmos-blog_logan_roxyLogan and Roxy write: Dear Cosmos, we know you’re privy to insider knowledge about Balboa Park’s gardens. So tell us what this spring’s hot spots are?


Dear Logan and Roxy: Since every garden in the Park would pretty much qualify as a “hot spot” during the spring, I’ll try to limit my response to floral features that may not get as much attention for their springtime beauty.


cosmos-blog_coral-treeFirst I’ll point out that Balboa Park is fortunate to have several varieties of coral (Erythrina) trees, which are native to the tropics, thanks to our mild climate. There’s of course the Naked Coral Tree near the Desert Garden kiosk mentioned in a recent blog post; another variety in the same area by Village Place; one by the House of Italy; and a spectacular Coastal Coral Tree near the Lawn Bowling Green. These colorful trees will bloom through May and their nectar attracts a diverse range of birds, my sources tell me.


Speaking of the Lawn Bowling Green, my sources also inform me that the ornamental peach trees south of the green will be blooming through April. In addition, ten Hong Kong Orchid Trees are being planted west of the Bowling Green and several Crape Myrtles to the east, promising even more blooms for seasons to come.


Lastly, thanks to all the recent rains, Florida Canyon will be lush and green this year with native coastal sage scrub and California Poppies blooming throughout. As you hike the canyon’s trails, be sure to enhance your coat’s natural scent by brushing up against the sweet-smelling sage.

Posted in Ask Cosmos, Fun Botanical Stuff | add a comment

Debuting last spring, the Balboa Park Stay-for-the-Day Pass was such an enormous success, it’s giving visitors one more reason to “stay” by adding one more museum visit to the package. Bipeds are now entitled to 5 different museum visits in a single day for one low price of $35.


cosmos-blog_natural-history-museum_theaterIdeal for families, out-of-towners, students, and stay-cationers, the pass allows its bearer to mix and match 5 of their favorite museums, from a diverse selection of 14, for one full day of cultural enrichment. Whether you enjoy nature, science, the arts, history, anthropology, cars, or trains, or all of the above, the pass has you covered.


And while certain separately priced exhibitions may not be included, the pass will generally grant reduced admission to blockbuster shows like the new Science of … Aliens exhibition at the Air & Space Museum. The Stay-for-the-Day Pass is even good for one free admission to an IMAX film at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and films in the Natural History Museum’s 3-D theater.


And once you’re in you’re in. That is, the Stay-for-the-Day Pass generally entitles you to everything that is included with that museum’s general admission price, including the free activities many museums are offering during the upcoming Science Family Day on March 20.


So what are you waiting for? Buy your passes ahead of time online, or purchase them on site at any participating museum or the Balboa Park Visitors Center. It sure is nice to know the word “stay” is good for at least one species.

Posted in Museums, Stuff to Do | add a comment
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