As a native New Yorker, I definitely feel like a tourist in my new home base of San Diego, which, side note, I recently learned is nicknamed “America’s Finest City.” I'm always looking for fun activities and new places to wine and dine. It's in my nature: when you come from a bigger city (New York), you're used to there always being something to do and not having to look very far to find it. While San Diego is certainly known for its desirable year-round temperatures, there is more than just the weather that the SoCal metropolis has to offer. And, PSA, a lot of it has to do with the outdoors. Go figure, right?
So if you live here or plan on visiting this sunny place, here are 10 things to check out!
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve: If you consider sitting on the beach, cruising on a boat or going on a brisk (easy) hike, consider me an “outdoorsy” person. If you don’t, whatever, I’m a city girl. Despite not being that adventurous, this hike is one of my favorites and go-to's for when I have guests in town. The picturesque panorama views are downright stunning and the hike is easy, but still a good workout. You don’t have to worry about finding your way through an unmarked path or trying to spot little-colored flags, instead, this hike offers a man-made sand trail which makes it nice and easy for visitors. And, let me tell you, this spot is no hidden secret. You’ll understand once you see the views for yourself. That’s why it’s opened 365 days from sunrise to sunset.
Beaches: I mean, duh. If you don’t check out a beach while you’re in SoCal, why are you even here? Luckily, San Diego has 13 to choose from (Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Dog Beach, Delmar, La Jolla Cove, Carlsbad, the list goes on). While all contain sand and a huge body of salt water, they each have a different vibe, crowd and are part of its own little unique neighborhood.
La Jolla Cove: This upscale seaside village has a variety of shops, workout studios, and high-end restaurants and, oh, it is home to the iconic “seals.” Walk along the cove to check out the views and wildlife and then head to an oceanfront restaurant to really immerse yourself in the sea of beauty. I love Brockton Villa for brunch and the well-known George’s at the Cove is great for lunch!
Coronado: The cute city of Coronado is an island stronghold of hotels, resorts, family-friendly hangouts and beachfront restaurants. While nowhere near, it kind of reminds me of Nantucket. It’s a short two-mile journey over one of San Diego’s most recognizable structures, Coronado Bridge, or you can take the ferry to get there. Some of my recommended must see/must do include: visiting the Hotel Del and eating at MooTime Creamery and STAKE.
Food: I'm from New York, therefore, food is not only a necessity but an experience, event, and essential to your happiness and social life. If you're like me, you expect, recognize and don't settle for anything less than a great plate and service. *Some* of my favorite spots to dine at in SD are Barbusa (pizza/pasta), The Crack Shack (fried chicken), Herb & Wood (little of everything), Mendocino Farms (salad), Lionfish (seafood), Puesto (Mexican), and Juice Wave (acai bowls). There's more I can add to this list but I'll be saving that for another post. :)
Balboa Park: Balboa Park is the cultural heart of San Diego or, what I like to call it, the central park of San Diego. It’s filled with 30 museums, restaurants, and a beautiful, lush 1,200-acre urban oasis A.K.A greenery. There are more than a dozen attractions in the park, each with its own events and special exhibitions.
Sunset Cliffs: This is postcard worthy and if you couldn’t guess why, please read the cliff’s name again. Sunset Cliff’s is the most popular spot at dusk because of it’s picture-perfect - really, get your iPhones and cameras ready - views of the sunset. This part of the cliff overlaps with Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, a 68-acre reserve known for its sea caves, rock arch formations, and extremely steep bluffs. It’s beautiful, breathtaking and totally priceless (literally and figuratively).
Cedros Avenue Design District: Head to sunny Solana Beach to take a stroll down the palm tree-lined Cedros Avenue Design District and shop at eclectic local independent boutiques, galleries, and home goods stores. With more than 85 shops jam-packed into two-and-a-half blocks, this condensed area can be easily traversed within a morning or afternoon. Fun fact: there’s a farmers market on Sundays.
San Diego Zoo: The world-renowned San Diego Zoo spans 100 acres and houses more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals. If you plan on coming here, allocate at least half a day to get the full experience, which also includes shows and animal presentations. During the summer months, the Nighttime Zoo event series allows visitors to stay later into the evening.
Cinema Under the Stars: San Diego even has movie theatres that are outside. So purchase a ticket and pull up a seat. The Cinema Under the Stars shows a mix of new and classic films on it’s heated, outdoor patio.
So next time you're in the area, head in and make your debut to see what you discover!