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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole ChristmasWEATHER ADVISORY: Forecasters are predicting your out-of-town guests will bring cooler temperatures and a chance of showers with them to San Diego over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Though it won’t necessarily be raining cats and dogs, it won’t exactly be beach weather either. This can make outdoor activity planning tricky, as no one wearing a tank top and shorts wants to be left out in the cold when weather patterns suddenly change.

So what’s a holiday host to do?

Answer: Take your friends and family to a beautiful outdoor environment, filled with colorful gardens, walking trails, and historic architecture, that offers ample reasons to duck into equally enjoyable indoor activities when the elements kick up.

Since you are reading this blog, you may not be surprised to learn there’s only one place in town that fits that description: Balboa Park.

But this isn’t just any year to treat your extended packmates to a day, or two, or three, in the largest urban cultural playground in North America. Marking the 100-year anniversary of the landmark Panama California Exposition that drew millions to San Diego in 1915, Balboa Park museums and attractions have ramped up their activities in celebration of the Centennial.

Indoor events range from pup-friendly exhibitions like Da Vinci: The Ultimate Innovator and Imaginate to holiday-themed shows at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre and Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Old Globe. That’s in addition to the many exhibitions and programs at various museums that showcase the rich history and legacy of the 1915 Expo.

Don’t leave Aunt Millie out in the cold. Check out the Balboa Park Calendar to start planning your weather-proof Thanksgiving itinerary.

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Fergus the dogFergus writes: Dear Cosmos, Holiday shopping is easy when I know what everyone in my pack wants. I just go online and find the best deal with free shipping. But how do I shop for folks who haven’t given me their holiday gift wish list? Gift cards are so boring.

Cosmos: Online shopping was an incredible boon for us canines, who have difficulty getting out to the malls thanks to draconian laws that prevent dogs from getting a drivers license. But shopping on a computer has also curtailed those special moments when you turn around in a store and spot the perfect gift for a hard-to-shop-for loved one. I was reminded that these moments are the true joy of holiday shopping (and giving) while sniffing around some gift stores in Balboa Park recently. Here are a few gems I dug up…

Terrarium by Tend Living

For those looking to prevent pets from destroying their house plants, you might consider putting them under glass (the plants, not the pets). The Mingei International Museum’s store has added drought-tolerant terrariums by North Park’s own Tend Living to its diverse collection of hand-crafted jewelry, accessories, and home décor.

Sun Art Enthusiast Gift package, MOPA

If you have a photo hound on your holiday list, then be sure to check out the Museum of Photographic Arts’ wide selection of holiday gift packages, including the one-of-a-kind Sun Art Enthusiast Package. MOPA is offering 35 percent off all Lomography products during December Nights.

Giant Microbe, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center store

Teach your favorite germophobic there’s nothing to be afraid of with these cute “little” GIANTmicrobes, available at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. GIANTmicrobes are stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes — only a million times actual size! They’re humorous, educational, and pup-friendly.

Dr. Seuss themed Gifts at San Diego History Center

Put a smile on any Grinch’s face with something from the San Diego History Center store. In conjunction with the Ingenious Dr. Seuss exhibition, the History Center has a giant selection of Dr. Seuss-themed mugs, games, stuffed toys, holiday ornaments, and of course books, including the recently published What Pet Should I Get? (spoiler alert: get a dog)

Humming Bird Feeders, Balboa Park Visitors Center

Bird watchers will be the envy of their neighborhood with an environmentally friendly hummingbird feeder by Hummingbird Vineyard. Made of upcycled wine bottles, the unique feeder at the Balboa Park Visitors Center features NectorGuard non-drip technology that lets humming birds feed without creating an ant problem.

Balloon Dog Bookends, San Diego Museum of Art store

Book-lovers can never have enough bookends. And no one can ever have enough dog-themed home décor items. Thankfully, your pet- and book-loving friends can have the best of both worlds with a distinctive Big Top Balloon Dog Bookend, available at the San Diego Museum of Art store.

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For those who work like a dog every day, getting a day off in the middle of the work week is cause for celebration in itself. The opportunities seem endless: sleeping in, getting the car’s oil changed, holiday shopping, quality time with the pups, or simply clearing some space on the DVR. But for those sniffing around for an opportunity to actually do something holiday-related on Veterans Day, the choices are few and far between.

The good news is you’ve come to the right place. Your faithful Cosmos is here for you.

It just so happens that several Balboa Park institutions are featuring American-themed displays this week to help you remember those whose service made some of our cultural expressions possible.

Battle for Outpost Harry exhibition, Veterans Museum, Balboa ParkHold at All Costs: The Battle for Outpost Harry

If you’ve never been, or haven’t been lately, there’s probably no better time to visit Balboa Park’s Veterans Museum than on Veterans Day. Its current featured exhibition explores the valiant defense of Outpost Harry at the end of the Korean War. Dog tag-wearing active duty military, VMMC members, and children under 12 are always free!

Made in America: Craft Icons of the 50 States

This new exhibition at the Mingei surveys the contribution each of the US’s 50 states has made to our cultural heritage. Much more than a dog’s breakfast of regional artifacts, this cornucopia of Americana reminds visitors that the diversity of our traditions is what makes America so unique.

Centennial-Themed Exhibitions

To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the 1915 Panama California Exposition, several major exhibitions throughout the Park are presenting a slice of the landmark event that put San Diego on the map before anyone ever heard of craft beer. Among those capturing what America looked like a century ago are San Diego Invites the World: The 1915 Expo and Masterworks of the Exposition Era at the San Diego History Center, Souvenirs & Keepsakes: Memorabilia of the 1915 & 1935 Expositions and Balboa Park Exposition Designers 1915-1935 at the Marston House and Gardens, and the Centennial Railway Garden at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.

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Since the start of 2015, I have personally witnessed an unprecedented number of dog-friendly activities throughout Balboa Park in celebration of the Centennial. Last April, there were even tours and tree plantings centered on Arbor Day. But this takes the cake. On November 3, volunteers began planting the first of the 100 trees donated by the San Diego Foundation to mark 40 years of the Foundation’s support for the Park.

Planting of tree near Sixth Avenue playground in Balboa ParkFrom a canine perspective, adding 100 trees to Balboa Park is the equivalent of building a new museum or performing arts hall. But that’s not to say only four-legged visitors to the Park will benefit. The new trees will be strategically planted in public areas on the park’s west mesa in need of reforestation, including the Sixth Avenue playground area (where planting started), the Trees for Health Garden, the Nutmeg Street restroom area, and near the Campfire USA entrance.

With average local temperatures and sunny days on the rise, families will be able to enjoy the additional shade provided by the new drought-tolerant varieties of pine, including San Diego’s unique Torrey Pine, olive, oak, cedar, cypress, and palm trees.

These water-wise trees donated by the San Diego Foundation were raised in Balboa Park’s own nursery, so they are already well adapted to our climate and growing conditions. A sophisticated new water-saving irrigation system will ensure the trees’ health and longevity without tapping out our region’s limited resources.

Over the next year, all the new trees should be in place, offering ample new sights and sniffs and ideal picnicking spots for pack leaders and their pups along Sixth Avenue.

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Once in a blue moon, the constellation Canis Major and the Dog Star align perfectly with Canis Minor, the result being that the annual Balboa Park Halloween Family Day actually falls on Halloween Day (October 31, just to be clear).

Balboa Park Halloween Family Day, kid wearing solar system costumeWhat this means for San Diego-area pups is they now have the perfect excuse to put on their trick-or-treating costumes the moment they get up on Halloween morning! Not only is a Halloween Family Day simply more fun when dressed up in costume, but there will be prizes for best costume, costume parades, trick-or-treating at the Spanish Village and International Cottages, and plenty of photo ops for pack leaders throughout the day.

From 11am to 4pm, dozens of Balboa Park cultural institutions and community partners will offer free hands-on crafts and creepy demonstrations in the Plaza de Panama and Prado walkway. Highlights include mini-carnival games and costume contests for prizes hosted by San Diego Park and Rec, a “Thriller” flash mob in the Plaza, and live animals from the San Diego Zoo.

In addition to the many free activities, families can save even more bones by taking advantage of free admission for kids 12 and under at participating museums with a paid adult. A dozen museums will be presenting a wide range of Halloween-themed crafts, treasure hunts, and spooky tours of their galleries.

Not to be left out of the day’s festivities, pooches can participate in and watch the annual doggie costume contest in the Spanish Village, get their photo taken in the Fab Trailers photo booth, and enjoy fresh treats at the Tacos la Mezcla and Simply Fresh gourmet food trucks in the Plaza.

To dig up even more details on all the Halloween Family Day activities, visit

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