I love Southern California. I love the openess of the people, the weather, the food, the vibe. I wish I could move there, it feels like life is much better over there. And maybe it is. Chilling at one if the many beautiful beaches, grabbing some fish tacos or fresh juice, strolling through outlets (sorry not sorry) or hip neighborhoods: San Diego has it all, from nature to shopping, food to drinks. The difference to L.A.? It’s smaller, therefore it’s easier getting around, it’s cleaner, feels safer and there are less tourists – And it’s cheaper. And if Fomo catches you: L.A. is a wto hour drive away (we, I went with my sister) spent some days in L.A. – can’t skip the Getty, rigth?). So if you are doing a trip through California or thinking about booking a flight to San Diego: Do it for the more balanced, chilled Cali experience!
- When wandering: Always La Jolla
When a friend ask me what I liked best in SD, I said La Jolla. Right be the ocean, it feels like the village of my dreams. The hilly coastline feels special, is not crowded (because it is quite long) and perfect for a picknick break or even a whole day. The town – or neighborhood, it belongs to SD – is full of pretty little restaurants, shops and healthy juice spots (I liked Fruittitude). Back in the 60s it has been a surfer spot – today it’s more polished, but there’s still this carefree vibe.
- Doing it for the ‘gram: Holy Matcha
Welcome to hipster heaven. I know that maybe in ten years we will laugh about this aesthetic like we do today about pink Juicey Couture tracksuits (well, some people don’t so, so) – Anyway. This matcha place is all pink millenial, all matcha and all fun to hang out. It’s located in North Park, San Diego’s hippest (in all good and bad ways) area.
3118 University Avenue
- Spotting souvenirs: Sage Sisters
It seems not only to be the best florist in SD, but a also a great gift shop with pretty candles, cards and home deco. It’s such a charming spot and I love that they donate day old flowers to non profit organisations.
3060 University Avenue
- Seeing it clear now: San Diego Streetart
Take a walk around University Avenue, it’s the main street of North Park leading to Hillcrest (see Nr. 5) and check out the smaller sidestreets. It’s a little more rough, but also more interesting and less touristy than the gaslamp district (which is nice for an hour or so and in every tourist guide). There are plenty of small, nice shops (like the mens wear and accessoire store Aloha Beach or mexican style gift shop Artelexia) but also picture-prefect street art walls.
- Say Hi to Hillcrest
Next time when coming to SD I would love to stay in Hillcrest (any Airbnb recommendations?). It might be the most “diverse” neighborhood (still gentrified I guess), but it’s also the perfect area for casual dining and strolling around. Mid century architecture always melts my heart I love to walk around just looking at these houses. But there are also some nice thrift stores and cafés. (Check out Oscar’s Mexican Seafood for octupus tacos, 646 University Avenue)
- An afternoon well spent: Balboa Park
This was park was build in the beginning of the 20th century as a “Fantasy Town” (very american, I know) – and it really is. Lush gardens, palmstrees, fish ponds, fountains, colonial-style buildings and some museums (I didn’t go inside) make this park so dreamy. It’s especially beautiful in the warm afternoon sun.
- Up in the air: San Diego Zoo
The highlight (literally) has been the Sky Safari. The tiny gondolas take you above the treetops and you get a fantastic view not only over the zoo, but also Balboa Park and San Diego. But I have to add: I am not a big fan of zoos. I don’t like imprisoned animals. But SD Zoo is especially popular, it feels like a big park and I can’t deny that those Pandas are rather cute.
2920 Zoo Drive
- Meet Minnie: A day in Disney World
My sister might be one of the biggest Disney fans alive. Needless to say, I had to promise her we gonna go there. I’m not a Disney fan at all. Or better: I wasn’t. This day has been so much fun! And I can partly understand the fascination now. Eating Micky shaped pretzels, getting excited about rollercoaster rides and simply enojoying the great entertainment here is so worth going even for adults. Yes, I would return! It’s about two hours drive from San Diego. One extra tip: No matter how excited you are, try to remember where you parked your car. There a letters. And symbols. We forgot to do that so it was quite a long day…
1313 Disneyland Drive, Anaheim
- Do something for the economy: Bargain shopping
What would be a USA trip without shopping? It’s the homeland of consumption, right? There are plenty of malls – but there are two places especially great for bargains: Nordstorm Rack Mission Valley and Outlets At The Border. You can score great brands and designers (Opening Ceremony, Jason Wu, Wang etc.) here for like half of the original price. Prices so tempting I even bought a velevt puffer jacket here even though it was a super hot sunny day and my luggage was already filled.
I guess it doesn’t need much more explanation.
Outlets At The Border: 4463 Camino De La Plaza
- If you could turn back time: The coolest retro hotels
Like I wrote before, I am fascinated by californian mid century architecture – and San Diego is perfect for exploring a bit of it. Check out Kings Inn for that original retro flair (and maybe some waffles?) or the pretty Pearl Hotel. The Town & Country hotel came to my attention because of their fun scoreboards, which is typical for South California – It’s kinda cool, but always with a fun twist.
Kings Inn: 1333 Hotel Circle South
Pearl: 1410 Rosecrans Street
Town & Country: 500 Hotel Circle North
- Wait, what about the classic tourist stuff? Well you know Ten Things is not about that, but if you want my opinion on some stuff… Gaslight Quarter: It’s kinda pretty, yes. But it’s also the place were plenty of tourists get drunk. So you get the vibe, right? It’s fine for walking the mainstreet up and down, which takes about 30 Minutes.
- …and the beaches? Sure, there is more than La Jolla. I like Pacific Beach: It’s a “cool” kind of beach, it’s where many surfers go. Not much more info needed, right? Here’s also the Crystal Pier Hotel which feels like the most perfect accommondation ever: They have super pretty cottages on the pier with private patios.