Balboa Park and downtown San Diego
A view of Balboa Park looking south toward downtown San Diego. Photo credit:

If you’re a local sports fan, the next couple days just could not be better. The Aztecs in the Final Four and the Padres opening the season at Petco Park? Yep – no April Fool’s! – it’s all happening this San Diego weekend.

San Diego State plays at 3 p.m. Saturday in its first Final Four ever, for a chance at competing for the national college basketball title on Monday. Since you probably didn’t make your way to Houston for March Madness, you might care to watch the game with other fans (or jump on the bandwagon to support your favorite Aztec devotee). Where? Here’s some options:

  • Viejas Arena – watch on the big screen at the Aztecs’ home court on SDSU’s campus. Gates open at 2 p.m. and admission is free.
  • Gaslamp Quarter – Make a day of it in a festival atmosphere on Fifth and Island avenues. The day begins at 9 a.m. with basketball-themed games, a beverage garden and local vendors. Big screen will be up for viewing later in the day.
  • Alesmith Brewing Co. – The Miramar brewery – which offers “State Ale” in honor of SDSU – hosts a watch party beginning at 2 p.m. There will be giveaways and food trucks to provide the eats. RSVP online.

Yet the Aztecs aren’t the only game in town. The Padres, who braved the rain to host Opening Day, are back, with three more games this weekend against the Colorado Rockies.

Tickets are very limited, but even without one, there’s a free East Village fest to celebrate baseball’s return. The 11th Annual Opening Weekend Block Party starts at 10 a.m. Saturday on J Street between 7th and 10th avenues, right in front of Petco Park. Enjoy music and a host of local vendors who will step out to wish the Pads the best on the season.

Art Alive at the San Diego Museum of Art continues as the Balboa Park venue displays floral arrangements that interpret works of art from the museum’s collection. Friday’s Bloom Bash, at 6:30 p.m., features live performances and the chance to see the floral exhibit, which continues through Sunday. General museum admission costs $20.

The North Park Festival of Beers begins at 1 p.m. Saturday on El Cajon Boulevard in front of the Lafayette Hotel. More than 50 breweries, including Burgeon Brewing in Carlsbad and Little Miss Brewing, with 10 locations in San Diego County, will offer tastings with live music, food and craft vendors too. Admission starts at $40.

What a weekend for downtown fests. Hit the Padres party, head west to watch the Aztecs, then celebrate (or drown your sorrows) at 626 Night Market Mini. The event, on Third Avenue between A and Ash streets – inspired by the open-air nighttime bazaars in Asia – returns at 1 p.m. Saturday. Continuing Sunday, it includes local food and craft vendors, live music and a full bar. The markets continue every other weekend through May. Admission is free – VIP is available for a fee – but register online.

Wrap up the weekend at the San Marcos Spring Fling, along Via Vera Cruz between Grand and San Marcos Boulevard, starting at 9 a.m. Sunday. There will be vendors galore at the free fest – more than 200 – along with a carnival zone and two stages for live entertainment.