WANDER LIST: SAN DIEGO
They say life isn’t fair, and I’m positive this statement is 100% true. You know how I’m so sure of it? San Diego, that’s how.
First time visitors to California’s most southern seaside city are often amazed by how literally perfect the weather feels. After a few visits and a few more experiences with this “perfect” weather, one can’t help but think, “Well, this is just SO not fair!” At least that’s what I always think every time I go.
Even back as a child when my family and I would take road trips to San Diego, I remember feeling real pangs of what could only be called jealousy. Mind you, I am from Las Vegas where summer temps can easily soar upwards of 115° F or more!
On this most recent trip, my husband and I decided to venture out beyond the beach and actually explore some of the pockets of cool neighborhoods throughout San Diego.
Below are some new spots I really enjoyed along with some old childhood favorites. But at the end of the day, it’s important to really appreciate the best part about San Diego – that amazing, envy-inducing weather! Enjoy!
[See & Do]
Coronado Island - This idyllic and affluent community is just a short two-mile drive over the bridge but feels like worlds away from some of the more touristy beaches of San Diego. Two stops I always make are the historic (and some say haunted) Hotel del Coronado and the Coronado Ferry Landing to catch an amazing skyline view of downtown.
The Gaslamp District - This historic district in downtown San Diego is chock full of fun things to do – from great restaurants, to shopping to art galleries. It’s also home to Petco Park for all my fellow baseball fans.
Little Italy - This cute downtown neighborhood offers plenty of great Italian restaurants, shops and great condos.
Mission Beach - A true San Diego classic, this family-friendly beach is for way more than just sunbathing! There’s Belmont Park nearby if you want to ride a seaside rollercoaster, you can rent beach cruisers and go for a sunset ride, or just grab a hot dog and a beer while people watching along the boardwalk.
Pacific Beach - If you’re looking for nightlife by the beach, look no further than good ol’ PB! There are lots of fun bars and cool seaside hotels to choose from.
Balboa Park - With so much great architecture, art and lush gardens, this San Diego must-see is a great way to spend an afternoon. Check out the Photographic Arts Museum and the Botanical Building.
La Jolla Cove - I could spend an entire day just taking in the gorgeous seaside cliffs and the sea lions basking in the California sun--- although there was crazy fog that enveloped most of the La Jolla coast during our last trip, which was SO cool to witness!
Old Town San Diego - Dating back to the 18th century, this historic neighborhood gives a glimpse of the first Spanish settlements in California. Just try to look past all the kitschy Mexican restaurants and souvenir vendors, and you can almost imagine yourself walking back in time.
Windansea Beach - This scenic La Jolla beach is probably my favorite. It’s a great spot to spend a leisurely day while watching surfers and sea gulls go by.
San Diego Zoo - This is technically located within Balboa Park, but deserves its own mention because of its beautiful natural habitat settings. It’s also one of the handfuls of zoos in the world that houses the majestic Giant Panda.
North Park - Considered to be San Diego’s “hipster” neighborhood (if that word even means anything anymore), North Park is home to lots of great restaurants, coffee shops, microbreweries and cool boutiques. All things "hipsters" allegedly can't get enough of....
Pigment - This dreamy one-stop shop for great gifts, home goods, flora and accessories features a great selection of local artisans and makers as well as more well-known brands like Baggu, Rifle Paper Co. & more.
3801 30th St.
Aloha Sunday - Blending relaxed and effortless Hawaiian style with a tailored sensibility is what this purveyor of quality menswear does best. Their tightly curated assortment of contemporary designers along with their own brand of clothing & accessories gives guys (and girls!) the best of both worlds.
3039 University Ave.
Gym Standard - A purveyor of really cool footwear and everyday design goods.
2903 El Cajon Blvd.
[Eat & Sip]
Hodad’s – When you see people lined up around the block at Hodad’s, do not, I repeat, do not let that dissuade you! Their pastrami burgers are as good as they come – not to mention gigantic! This is a place you should expect (and prepare) to pig out.
3 locations: Downtown, Ocean Beach & Petco Park
Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream - Serving up amazing flavors of Hawaii’s Tropical Dream ice cream, this shop is one that always keeps me coming back. Definitely try the ice cream flights to get a sampling of a few flavors in one glorious sitting.
3077 University Ave.
Dark Horse Coffee - This local roaster serves some of the best cold brew I’ve had anywhere.
3260 Adams Ave.
3794 30th St.
Coffee & Tea Collective - San Diego locals love this shop for a good reason. Their commitment to the craft of coffee is evident with every cup. Speaking of cups, their beautiful coffee cups are a great addition to any coffee lovers' collection!
2911 El Cajon Blvd.
631 9th Ave.
Fairweather - Overlooking left outfield of Petco Park, my official new favorite bar in San Diego sits on the second floor above Rare Form. It's my new favorite for two reasons: the the Hawaiian-inspired-meets-sorta-nautical decor and the reaaaally good cocktails. This bar is a real home run! ( I apologize for the cheap joke. Kinda.)
Juice Saves - The only thing I probably love more than their fresh cold-pressed juices are the clever flavor names like "Aloe Vera Wang", "Drop a Beet" and my personal favorite, "Grow a Pear". The interiors are also really cool--which, as you know, always earns points with me!
631 9th Ave.
Soda & Swine - This place does two things really well: meatballs and a great selection of hard-to-find sodas.
2943 Adams Ave.
Las Quatro Milpas- This is the kind of hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint that delivers on all the hype. They're known for really good authentic burritos and rolled tacos. Definitely worth the lines.
1857 Logan Ave.
Heartwork Coffee Bar - This family-owned shop proudly serves quality coffee and beans from local San Diego roasters. Their commitment to community and friendly customer service is really what makes this place so special.
La Marque Coffee - Offering a nice variety of top brands such as Intelligentsia and Bird Rock, this cute little shop focuses on broadening people’s coffee horizons -- something I can always get behind.
3590 5th Ave.
James Coffee Co. - Ok, so obviously we consumed A LOT of coffee in San Diego. This place did not disappoint after I'd heard a lot of buzz about it on Instagram. Located inside a converted mechanic's garage, the whole place has a really cool, minimalist vibe without being pretentious. The White Owl blend was easily my favorite.
2355 India St.
Young Hickory - I love the fun neighborhood feel of this canteen-style eatery. They serve a great selection of beer and grub, making it a great spot to hang out and catch up with friends or just to get some me time with your laptop.
4096 30th St.
Underbelly - If you're craving great ramen, as I so often do, this North Park restaurant will not disappoint. The outdoor seating is perfect for enjoying that gorgeous San Diego weather.
3000 Upas St.
Lucha Libre Taco Shop - This place may be kitschy with its wrestling theme and all, but even if you're not into that sort of thing, their carne asada tacos are legit. And they're open late to cater to all those post-imbibing cravings! Seriously though, is there anything better than a delcious taco (or three) to end a night out?