Whales, Ahoy! San Diego's Sea-Sweet Shindig

The whale parties are on the way, and the Big Bay is one of the first fests.

IT'S A WINTER THING: While other states may have their cherry and plum festivals come summer, and other places go with leaf-and-pumpkin parties when autumn rolls into town, winter and whale-focused whoopdidoos are pure California. And not just one part of the Golden State, either. The blowhole-y bashery goes down, or up, if you prefer, from San Diego to Dana Point to Monterey to Mendocino County, with all of the celebrations happening within a fairly tight window of time. A month or so? Just over? That's about right, and there are other ocean-loving gatherings beyond those four places, too. It just happens to be the whale-iest time of year off our shores, or thereabouts, thanks to all of those grays and their migratory ways (though fin and orca and blue absolutely make cameos, in addition to other less-common-'round-these-parts whales).

PARTY TIME: So it is natural and right that we Californians want to welcome our whale friends with activities, songs, and, yep, giant, inflatable whales. (Question: If a whale in the ocean saw a large inflatable whale, would he recognize his own likeness? Something inside us wants to believe he might.) If you're ready for all of this whale goodness, you can start in San Diego, at Port Pavilion on the Broadway Pier, on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the free Big Bay Festival.

WHERE... live tunes reign, yep, but kidly happenings, too. And discounted whale-watching cruises. It's a sweet gathering, and a fine jumpstart to the whale fest season, but hold tight: Dana Point's mondo whale happening is up in early March. Truly, whale buffs could hop from town to town, all mid-winter, and soak up another sea-nice party nearly every weekend. And, nope, we don't get to go party with the whales, but they've got old migratory patterns to follow. We'll just stay out of their eternal, ancient ways and admire them from shore.

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