San Diego is lining up a series of all events that cruise passengers may wish to take advantage of. During the shoulder season, visitors can find a variety of annual festivals and fairs, haunting Halloween celebrations and diverse cultural entertainment.
San Diego's culinary community joins forces during Sept. 16-21 for San Diego Restaurant Week. Approximately 180 of the region's top restaurants offer prix-fixe, three-course dinner menus at just $20, $30 or $40 per person and lunch menus at $10, $15 or $20 per person. Visitors can sample the signature cuisine that makes San Diego's dining scene one of the region's attractions.
During Nov. 2-11, hundreds of beer-centric events will take place during San Diego Beer Week, a countywide festival that highlights San Diego's award-winning craft beer, breweries and pubs; event dates, times and locations vary throughout the week.
The San Diego International Film Festival returns Sept. 26-30 to downtown's Gaslamp Quarter and expands to La Jolla with a full slate of films showcasing American and international full-length features, documentaries and shorts. Additional activities include Q&A sessions with the directors, workshops, panel discussions, guest appearances by film and video artists and more.
A number of fall events are also offered in nearby Coronado, including the Coronado Art Walk on September 15-16 at the Coronado Ferry Landing. It is the city's annual celebration of the arts, featuring outdoor exhibits of paintings, photography, ceramics, hand-crafted jewelry and other mediums by over 100 artists from around the country, plus musical entertainment and interactive art activities for guests of all ages. Admission is free, and a complimentary shuttle transports guests along Orange Avenue with a stop at the popular Art-in-the-Park exhibit in Spreckels Park.
During September 22-23, guests can enjoy the 15th Annual Fleet Week Speed Festival at Coronado's Naval Air Station North Island. Held in conjunction with San Diego Fleet Week, the vintage auto "Race at the Base" features more than 200 classic cars racing a 1.6 mile course along North Island's runways. Spectators can also stroll through a Vendor Village and Car Show.
Also held in conjunction with San Diego Fleet Week, guests are invited to the NAS North Island Open House on September 23, the only Navy open house on the West Coast. This glimpse at the birthplace of naval aviation features free U.S. Navy Ship Tours, flyovers, performances by the Navy SEAL Leap Frogs parachute jump team and a multitude of military displays, including Navy jets and helicopters, vintage aircraft, boats and hovercraft.
During the 13th Annual Silver Strand Half Marathon and 5K on November 11, visitors can run, walk, rollerblade or roller-skate from Coronado to Imperial Beach along the Silver Strand. Hand-cyclists and wheel chair participants are also welcome to participate.
East County fall events include the Annual Julian Fall Apple Harvest, September through October, celebrating this mountain town's homemade apple pies and ciders. Visitors can also enjoy acres of colorful fall foliage, apple picking in local orchards,bed and breakfast inns, art shows, antique shops, horse-drawn carriage rides and live entertainment.
The Julian Apple Days Festival on Oct. 6-7 at Menghini Winery features music and dancing, children's games and activities, gold panning demonstrations, a wine and beer garden, food and merchandise vendors, apple-related contests, the coronation of Mr. and Mrs. Apple Days and, of course, Julian's apple pies. The festival runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under. The first 250 guests through the gate each day receive a free souvenir pie server.
Cooler temperatures and the desert landscape welcome visitors to the 47th Annual Borrego Days Desert Festival, Oct. 26-28, in Borrego Springs, East County's desert oasis town. This free celebration features a parade on Oct. 27 with marching bands, floats, classic cars, equestrian groups and Grand Marshal Ricardo Breceda, the local artist who created the menagerie of metallic animal sculptures called Galleta Meadows), located on the outskirts of town. The festival also includes the Miss Borrego pageant, live entertainment, a carnival, food vendors, a beer garden, pony rides, a classic car and motorcycle show and more. Bratwurst, beer gardens and oompah bands can only mean one thing—Oktoberfest! A number of communities throughout San Diego County celebrate this traditional German holiday, but Oktoberfest in La Mesa, Oct. 5-7, and Oktoberfest in El Cajon, Sept. 28-30 and Oct. 5-7, are two of the largest festivals of their kind on the U.S. West Coast. Visitors can enjoy dancing, German food, Bavarian bands and hundreds of crafts and commercial booths along La Mesa Boulevard in La Mesa and Mollison Avenue in El Cajon.