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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Balboa Park e-newsletter July 2013Like any blogger, I have a nose for news (as well as for a few other things). In addition to sniffing around on a regular basis and dog-earing the Balboa Park Beat blog in my browser, I subscribe to Balboa Park’s monthly e-newsletter. Yes (full disclosure), it does feature my monthly Ask Cosmos column, but it also highlights a number of other activities and events that even I myself may have overlooked in my dogged pursuit of pup-friendly activities in Balboa Park.

Receiving monthly park updates electronically is especially important during the summer months when museums roll out a number of major exhibitions and related programming, and the various performing arts venues in Balboa Park, including the Old Globe, San Diego Junior Theater, Spreckels Organ Pavilion, and the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, run a full schedule of summer shows.

The e-newsletter also features contest announcements (last month one lucky dog won an iPad!), things to do during an upcoming holiday weekend, updates on park enhancement projects from the Balboa Park Conservancy, and energy-saving tips from e-newsletter sponsor SDG&E.

One of my favorite features, however, is the monthly International Cottages update that tells me at a glance what’s on the menu for the next four Sundays. I’m already licking my chops for the authentic dishes the House of Hungary will be serving during this Sunday’s Lawn Program.

And it’s so easy to sign up to receive the monthly Balboa Park e-newsletter that even the runt of the litter could handle it. Simply visit and click the Sign Up link in the lower right-hand corner and fill out a few boxes. I can verify personally that Balboa Park Central, which produces the e-newsletter, never shares your information.

Posted in Visitor Information | add a comment

Balboa Park, California Tower view from Alcazar GardenIf you love Balboa Park as much as I do, then let your bark be heard and place your vote for the 8th Wonder of the World. From now until September 30, anyone regardless of species who has access to an Internet browser can vote in Virtual Tourist’s search for the 8th Wonder of the World.

But Cosmos, I’d rather not have to register my information on a travel website I’ve never heard of just to vote.

I feel the same way, buddy. Fortunately, no registration of personal information is required to vote. Just visit the voting page on, dig down a few rows until you find the Balboa Park listing, click the voting button, and you’re in business. And be sure to bookmark the link so you can return each day to vote again and again.

To further alleviate any concerns, Virtual Tourist is the top dog travel website when it comes to offering user-generated travel tips, reviews, and advice from its 1.2 million registered members around the world. In other words, they won’t bury you with hotel and travel package ads each time you visit the site.

Be aware that Balboa Park is up against some pretty stiff competition—over 300 natural and manmade marvels around the world to be exact.

And what makes Balboa Park worthy of your vote?

  • Covering over 1,200 acres, it’s the largest urban cultural park in the country.
  • It features over two dozen first-class museums, theaters, and cultural attractions housed in historic buildings.
  • It’s home to the World Famous San Diego Zoo and numerous award-winning gardens.
  • It presents free weekly concerts on one of the largest outdoor pipe organs in the world.
  • And it features not just one, not just two, but three dog parks!

So please tear yourself away from Facebook for just a few moments each day to vote for your favorite local (and international) attraction.

Posted in Contests | add a comment

I’m happy to report the Kid’s-Eye View of the Park Photo Contest is back! Though opening up last year’s contest to adults as well yielded some exceptional results, it’s just that much more exciting to see professional-looking photographs of Balboa Park’s gorgeous scenery from someone who isn’t, well, a professional.

So put down your video game controllers, kids, and start sniffing out your winning shot! Entries must be submitted by August 26. Any view taken within Balboa Park’s 1,200 acres of historic buildings and lush landscaping, and even inside the San Diego Zoo, is fair game. Just make sure there aren’t any identifiable humans in your picture (some folks don’t like having their mug plastered all over the Internet without compensation for some reason).

The picks of the litter in two different age categories (6-11 and 12-17) will be awarded some doggone good prizes, including a week-long Summer Camp at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) (first place, 6-11), an annual family membership to MOPA (first place, 12-17), a Family 4-Pack admission to the Zoo’s Safari Park (second place, both age categories), and tickets to other major park attractions and assorted treats (third place, both age categories).

Only one entry per pup is permitted, and all photos will be judged on their creativity (50%) and quality (50%). A short description of your photo (50 words or less) should be included to help judges understand your unique vision.

Those are just the bare bones when it comes to contest rules, so be sure to click or tap over to for a complete list of lawyer-approved dos and don’ts.

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Eddie writes: Dear Cosmos, you’ve recently discussed a number of evening concerts in the Organ Pavilion this summer. But my family and I are quite the night owls and would like to hear of any other special activities going on after hours.

Cosmos: Night owls, my paw. I’m on to you and your pack of werewolves. But if it will keep you all from tearing up the furniture and the rest of the neighborhood, it can’t hurt to give you the full scoop on this summer’s other after-sundown activities in Balboa Park. Please note, however, outside of the Twilight in the Park Concert Series and the International Summer Organ Festival, most of these activities are for bi-pedal creatures of the night only.

Old Globe Theater, Summer Shakespeare Festival, Midsummer Night's DreamNighttime Zoo — Seeing as your packmates probably enjoy a good howl at the moon, they should feel right at home during the San Diego Zoo’s special extended summer evening hours. This year’s theme is Koalafornia Dreamin’, featuring a variety of performances and activities straight from the Outback to keep nocturnal critters entertained until the 9pm closing time.

Summer Shakespeare Festival — If howling laughter, coupled with thunderous applause, is more their style, then the annual outdoor summer Shakespeare Festival at the Old Globe will have them rolling over in the aisles. The three featured plays this season are A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Films in the Garden — Though The San Diego Museum of Art has moved its annual summer outdoor film fest into the cozier confines of its sculpture garden this year and changed the night of the week to Mondays, one thing remains the same: classic films under the moonlight, including Rear Window, on Monday, July 29.

After-hours Museum Visits — If the night air proves too balmy, your packmates might want to cool their heels inside an air-conditioned museum interior. During the summer months, the Museum of Photographic Arts stays open until 9pm on Thursdays, the Reuben H. Fleet normally screens its final IMAX film of the day at 6pm, the San Diego History Center hosts monthly History Happy Hours, and the aforementioned San Diego Museum of Art keeps its doors open until 9pm on select Thursdays in conjunction with its free Thursday Night Jazz series.

Hot Dog!

Posted in Ask Cosmos | add a comment

As many of you are aware, I was named after a flower, the cosmos — not after the entirety of the known universe or a famous Seinfeld character. The cosmos is an annual flower that resembles the daisy and usually comes in shades of pink, orange, red, and white hues. And I’m usually pretty good about not digging up this particular flower in the garden.

So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I am tickled pink over this weekend’s free Art in Bloom event at the Spanish Village Art Center (July 20-21, 10am–6pm).

The San Diego Museum of Art is of course quite famous for their long-running Art Alive fundraiser, where floral designers create original interpretations of works of art in the museum’s galleries. Unfortunately, not being a service pooch, I’ve never been able to witness such a spectacular display first hand.

Thankfully, the Spanish Village’s Art in Bloom event takes place in their open dog-friendly courtyard. There, numerous tents will be set up to present floral interpretations of artworks created by the artists who inhabit the Spanish Village studios.

Acoustical music will be performed throughout the weekend to set the tone, and there will also be floral and art demonstrations, silent auctions of the art on display, and … wait for it … REFRESHMENTS!

In addition to being able to meet (or sniff) the actual artists who created the artworks, visitors can also speak with members of various local garden club groups about their activities and plants of choice. I’ll of course be on the lookout for the Dogwood Tree Society (unfortunately, there isn’t a club for the cosmos; I already checked).

Posted in Festivals | add a comment
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