For those en route to hobnobbing at the Hotel del Coronado, this community under the bridge may seem like a blot on the landscape. Yet the often overlooked neighborhood of Logan Heights, better known in Spanish as Barrio Logan, offers an off-the-beaten-path experience for the family looking to seriously up their cool factor. Centrally located, Barrio Logan provides exciting cultural highlights for kids and parents alike, making for an awesome morning adventure before spending the afternoon in Coronado or downtown San Diego.
What To Do:
Watch coffee beans roast.
Parents, indulge in a cappuccino while the little ones sip Mexican hot chocolate at one of three local coffee roasters: Ryan Bros Coffee, Cafe Virtuoso, and Cafe Moto. Each roaster offers organic and fair trade options, seating for visitors, opportunities for the kids to watch the beans go round and round, as well as yummy teas and other non-coffee beverages. Coffee roasting usually happens Monday through Friday, from morning until early afternoon. At Cafe Virtuoso, the fun begins as early as 6:30 am. At Ryan Bros, the bros are a little more laid back and start around 9:00 am. At Cafe Moto, aim to show up between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm, Monday through Thursday.
Our Pick: Cafe Moto. If you ask nicely, and as long as they’re not too busy, you can go behind the scenes for a quick peek at the roasting equipment.2619 National Ave San Diego, Ca 619-239-6686 Online: cafemoto.com
Stroll through a street-art museum.
Though Chicano Park may not sparkle like the neighborhood parks of planned communities, it’s anything but lackluster. Since 1970, the columns of the Coronado Bay Bridge and Interstate 5 have been a blank canvas for Mexican-American street art. Most of the murals depict themes of immigration, Mexican history, indigenous heritage, Latin American heroes, workers’ rights, and mythology. Parents will appreciate the cultural history of the park, while the kiddos will love the bright, vibrant colors of the murals. Download a map of the murals here.
Enjoy Mexican sweet treats
Tummies are growling (because you’ve been up since before six) but it’s not quite lunch time. Why not try a paleta (popsicle) from Tocumbo’s newest location? These cold treats are made in-house with real fruit chunks and either water or milk. You’ll find familiar flavors like watermelon and strawberry, but if you’re feeling brave, try the mango with chili. The ice cream flavors at this local favorite are also not so run-of-the-mill. Try the fresa con queso (strawberry and cheese) or grosella (gooseberry). For the more adventurous, ask for a Diablito, which is lime sorbet topped with chamoy (a fruity sauce that’s sweet and spicy) and served with a chili candy stick, anything nanche (a small, yellow tropical fruit, resembling a cherry), or tejuino (a fermented-corn drink).
1950 Main Street
San Diego, Ca
Learn about tortilla production.
For locals, it might be a bit clichéd to suggest a visit to Northgate Market, but for visitors to San Diego, it’s a total treat. At the Barrio Logan location, you can watch the tortilla-making process from grinding the corn through packaging. The kiddos will love watching the process of such a popular food being made. After that, explore other parts of the store to discover authentic Mexican specialties. From sweet breads at the panedería to snacks like chicharrones (fried pig skins), you don’t have to cross the border to experience the flavors of Mexico.
What to Eat:
Las Cuatro Milpas
Here you will find quick, hot Mexican (border) food. This place has a line out the door every single day for a reason, but don’t worry, the line moves quickly. The menu is simple and the food is fantastic. They serve an excellent chorizo con huevo for breakfast, or try a classic order of rolled tacos for lunch.
If you’re over burritos and feeling more like cloth napkins, this is your place. The menu is pretty simple, but their daily specials are where things get creative. Try the spicy black bean burger or anything from the day’s menu. Do beware that the specials often run out later in the afternoon, so plan on an earlier lunch.
When to Go:
In Barrio Logan, especially warm days offer extra entertainment for the kiddos; they can splash around in the interactive fountain located in the plaza at Mercado del Barrio.
If you want to catch the Farmers’ Market while you’re in the area, then stop by on Wednesday or Sunday (market hours 9:00 am – 2:00 pm). Otherwise visitors are welcome in the barrio any time of year.1735 National Ave San Diego, Ca 619-233-3901 Online: sandiegopublicmarket.com
If You Dare:
Each year, the supporters of Chicano Park hold Chicano Park Day, usually in late April, to celebrate the park’s history. This party gets crazy. Parking is impossible, so you may want to roll in via public transportation. Expect to see lots of lowriders equipped with hydraulics, ballet folklorico, music, and Aztec dancers.
Have you experienced the excitement and culture of Barrio Logan? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
Copy and Photos by: Amanda Freerksen