Who says art has to be expensive and elitist? Thanks to our laid-back and welcoming coastal culture, San Diego museums and locales are reaching out with fantastic events to encourage everyone to join in the culture, no matter what your budget.
So gather up the girls or your newest hot date, and have some artistic fun along with live music, delicious food, craft beer and cocktails:
Downtown at Sundown
Join in the festivities every month on the third Thursday. This month, art bursts into the evening with live music from the SDSU Composition Laboratory and the ensemble SWARMIUS. Delight in drink specials from Stone Brewing and The Flight Path Wine Bar & Bistro, food trucks, and free admission to both the museum and the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 1100 & 1001 Kettner Blvd., downtown. mcasd.org/events
To celebrate National Earth Week the Lafayette is displaying an art installation of recycled cardboard through April 22 along with live music from girl band The Joyelles on April 21. The art show features repurposed cardboard turned into quirky interactive art by Normandie Wilson. Free admission, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Concert is 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 21.
The Lafayette Hotel, 2223 El Cajon Blvd., North Park. (619) 296-2101 or lafayettehotelsd.com
Art After Hours
Start your weekend with a dose of visual culture each Friday evening. Enjoy access to both special exhibitions and the permanent collection until 8 p.m. Then indulge in craft beer, cocktails and live music at neighboring Panama 66. Look for their next Culture & Cocktails event on June 23. Free for members, $5 nonmembers.
San Diego Museum of Art, 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park. sdmart.org/programs-events
Bazaar Under the Stars
Shop and interact with a variety of international artists and artisans, while supporting both the museum programs and the artists themselves. Look for jewelry, décor, textiles and a fashion show by Bloomingdale's. Enjoy the magical evening with cocktails from local distillery Malahat and delicious eats from "Master Chef" winner Claudia Sandoval. Hours are 6-8 p.m. May 7.
Mingei International Museum, 1439 El Prado, Balboa Park. mingei.org
"Pay What You Wish" days
Encouraging people in all economic situations to come and enjoy photography, MOPA is hosting this special promotion where patrons can give as little or as much as they would like. How liberating to know you can go look at stunning images without worrying about purse strings. Hats off and applause to MOPA. Through May 29.
Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA), 1649 El Prado, Balboa Park. mopa.org
With 18 years in the restaurant and beverage industry and more than 850 reviews under her belt, Laurie Delk is a one-stop guide to all things craft beer, wine and spirits. You can follow Delk on Twitter @100beers30days or Instagram @sandiegobeer. Send ideas for featured drinks to email@example.com.