San Diego boasts year-round perfect weather, beautiful beaches, unique neighborhoods, and great food. When I first moved here nearly three-and-a-half years ago, I wasn’t really sure what was worth exploring. San Diego sometimes seems so vast that it’s overwhelming, but I’ve come up with a list of ten things that you have to do before you leave America’s Finest City.
- Explore Balboa Park.
Balboa Park is one of San Diego’s most important cultural destinations! A 1,200-acre urban park in the middle of downtown, it’s home to over 16 museums, multiple performance centers, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and many gardens.
- Grab a bite on Convoy Street.
Craving Asian food? Head to “Convoy,” a stretch of road in Kearny Mesa that has everything from pho to Korean barbecue to ramen, meaning that there’s something for everyone! If you want something sweet, try one of the many boba and Asian dessert spots in the area.
- Try out North Park’s coffee scene.
Are you a caffeine fiend? Check out the local coffee culture in North Park, an artsy neighborhood just east of downtown. My favorite shops include Young Hickory, Communal Coffee, Holsem Coffee, and Cafe Calabria.
- Catch a beach sunset.
Nothing screams San Diego more watching the sunset over the Pacific. There are multiple options here: Pack a picnic and head to La Jolla Shores or Windansea Beach, or, if you want a higher vantage point, grab a spot at the La Jolla Ecological Reserve or Sunset Cliffs.
- Find your favorite taco spot.
Take advantage of the many Mexican eateries, and go to as many as you can! Popular taco destinations include Tacos El Gordo, The Taco Stand, Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, and El Patron. Many of these places have deals for Taco Tuesdays, which present a perfect opportunity to try many tacos without having your wallet suffer too much.
- Watch a show at the La Jolla Playhouse.
Right on our own campus is the acclaimed La Jolla Playhouse, a professional theater renowned for being the starting place for many successful Broadway productions. Even if you’re not a theatre person, it’s worth checking out a show here; they sometimes have a discount for students at a fraction of the actual ticket price.
- Kayak in La Jolla Cove.
Some of the best nature spots San Diego has to offer is located in our very own backyard. Get a new perspective by kayaking in the Cove: paddle through the sea caves, spot the diverse marine life and enjoy the beauty of the California coast.
- Check out Cabrillo National Monument.
In 1542, Juan Cabrillo was the first European to set foot on the West Coast, in what later became San Diego’s Point Loma. The park was later dedicated to him and has an old lighthouse, hiking trails, and tidepools. (Note: while celebrating our history is a good thing, it’s also important to recognize that San Diego was built on Kumeyaay land.)
- Spend a night out in Hillcrest.
For the 21+ crowd, San Diego’s Hillcrest district has some of the best nightlife options. Flicks, a gay bar, is infamous for its “Welfare Wednesdays” deal, where drinks are only $3 on Wednesday nights.
- Find a Secret Swing.
There are numerous secret swings hidden around La Jolla, and looking for them makes for a fun afternoon adventure! I won’t give away their exact locations, but there are a number of guides online that tell you how to get to some of them. Just make sure you leave them as you found them so other people can enjoy them too!