Baseball fans relax in the grass at the Park at the Park, now known as Gallagher Square. Photo by Chris Stone

Play ball! The beginning of a new season is the perfect time for cock-eyed optimists everywhere – the team is shiny and spring has sprung.

But 2021 is even better. Fans can go see baseball again, even at limited capacity! And um, folks, your San Diego Padres are fixin’ to be good. How’s that for brighter days?

The Padres continue their first series of the year, with three more games against the Arizona Diamondbacks this weekend. They’ll finish the home stand with the San Francisco Giants. And there are tickets! Though the Padres describe the supply as “extremely limited,” give it a go.

The Easter Bunny makes the rounds at many local sites this weekend, greeting kids and pups alike. Photo by Chris Stone

Another hopeful sign? With the region’s move to the pandemic red tier, more venues open in Balboa Park on Friday. They include:

  • Centro Cultural de la Raza, open Fridays through Sundays, with a photography exhibit to mark the 47th anniversary of Danza Mexi’cayotl to begin April 10. Admission – suggested donation of $5.
  • The San Diego Natural History Museum opens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Wednesdays and Thursdays). There will be one point of entry through the north entrance and advance tickets are not required. Admission – $20.
  • The San Diego Model Railroad Museum resumes operations at 11 a.m. Friday with a grand reopening. The hoopla, fittingly, coincides with the museum’s 40th anniversary. It will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Admission – $12.50.
  • The San Diego Automotive Museum opens at 11 a.m. Friday, and will welcome visitors daily except for Mondays. The building, newly remodeled since closing last year, features new cars and exhibits. Admission – $14.

Easter festivities abound throughout the weekend, as they should:

  • The Children’s Nature Retreat in Alpine, home to more than 140 domesticated livestock and exotic animals, hosts $10 Easter egg hunts Friday through Sunday, with more than 3,000 eggs (!!!) up for grabs. Admission is required to participate, at $38 for adults and $20 for children. Reservations also must be made to attend.
  • Hit Westfield shopping centers for photos with our pal the Easter Bunny through Saturday. Westfield North County and Westfield Plaza Bonita host socially distanced photo ops, with packages starting at $35. Reservations are recommended and can be made here for North County and here for Plaza Bonita. 
  • There’s an extra wrinkle at Westfield UTC, the Golden Egg Hunt, also through Saturday. Find that golden egg somewhere in the center and be one of the first 25 shoppers to post a picture on your Instagram Story with the tag @WestfieldUTC, then head to the concierge to see if you’ve won a prize.
  • Liberty Station has a variety of eats and options related to Easter. The Rock Church hosts an outdoor service at 10 a.m. Sunday at Ingram Plaza, while eateries Fig Tree Cafe and Breakfast Republic offer holiday brunch. For sweet treats, try Le Parfait Paris in the Public Market and Con Pane’s chocolate-filled bunny pastries.

Prefer music to baseball, exhibits and eggs? The Danny Green Trio, led by jazz pianist Green, performs a free live-streamed concert from the SpragueLand studio in Encinitas. Watch on Green’s YouTube channel at 7 p.m. Saturday.