California’s Pacific Coast is world-renowned for its beautiful beaches, ocean view cities and little parks to enjoy in the almost perennial sunny weather. At the southern tip, San Diego provides another opportunity to savor all of those things but in a manner unlike its neighboring large city hub of Los Angeles. As the more casual alternative, San Diego is equal parts laid back and highly-strung — you decide which part of that spectrum you’d like to be privy to. Many visitors flock here for a slice of life and return to be permanent residents, so beware of that San Diego charm as you explore the area.
Sightseeing and Attractions
Land up at Balboa Park and you can take your pick from simply lounging around reading a book in the fine outdoors to checking off your list any of the museums all housed within this area. The zoo is a destination all its own — set aside a day as it is pretty large. There is also the safari park, which is a wildlife sanctuary with daily tours. Art galleries, boutiques and restaurants are plentiful, so you will be spoiled with choices. The waterfront area is integral to the allure of the city — everything from farmer’s markets to outdoor performances, annual festivals and pop-ups happen here.
Old Town San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado and other neighborhoods are great destinations to spend your day visiting. Additional stops can include La Jolla Cove, where you can watch seals resting on the shore and the state historic park with its open-air museum. Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts are in for a treat as the unique geography presents many opportunities for long hikes and walks, canyon ways and other paths to explore local flora and fauna. The beaches are central to the coastal way of life allowing you to bike along the shore or indulge in some water sports.
An Insider's Perspective
Award-winning food columnist, author and chef, Carla Crudup was raised in San Diego and recently relocated back to her hometown to be with family. Among her many recommendations for exploring the city is Spacebar in La Mesa, an eclectic cafe and wine bistro that hosts events throughout the week including wine tastings on Wednesday evenings. Blendees, a Black woman-owned company offers healthy smoothies, açaí bowls and organic teas.
She also recommends stopping the rock and blues venue, House of Blues San Diego, for offerings that include southern dishes such as po' boys, chicken and waffles and jambalaya that is accompanied by live music. On select Sundays, enjoy the World Famous House of Blues San Diego Gospel Brunch for an all-you-can-eat buffet with all of your breakfast favorites. World Beat Cafe is an all-vegan eatery where specialties include vegan Louisiana Creole gumbo, collard greens and an organic spring salad with fresh out of the garden organic gotu kola leaves.
The Afro-Science exhibit as well as the San Diego African American Museum of Fine Arts, which has been in existence for many years covering the global history of African Americans, are a must-visit. Another is The African Museum, also known as Casa del Rey Moro/House of the Moorish King, where you learn about 6,000 years of world history. There is an emphasis on African-Mexican, African-Spanish, African-Latin, and African-American heritage in Old Town San Diego.
Early this year, Crudup was part of a special ceremony that unveiled a sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. in the Broadway Heights neighborhood, one of 52 communities that make up San Diego. Weighing 700 pounds, the bust was formed from 68 individual cut plates of stainless steel and welcomes welcome residents and visitors into the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade.
San Diego is quite the foodie destination if you enjoy varied cuisines. Flavors of East Africa presents a few interesting vegetarian and meat curry options while Lizy Gidy African Market and Lagos Restaurant is a great spot for Nigerian delicacies. Farida’s Somalian Cuisine is another gem featuring food from the country and Café Royale is a self-proclaimed Somali-Mediterranean inspired eatery offering mandazi (fried bread), suqqaar (cubed meat) and mishkaki (barbecue meat). For South African dishes such as biltong (dry beef jerky) and drywors (sausage), make a beeline for Perky’s Foods.
You will, of course, find several other dining options here including Spanish at Café Sevilla, classic American fare at Searsucker and southern comfort food at Felix’s BBQ With Soul. For Korean inspired flavors and some mandu (Korean dumplings), head to Bibigo Kitchen, which just opened doors this past May in the area’s famed Fashion Valley Mall.
Other areas to dine out at include Del Mar, Little Italy, and Point Loma. The craft beer scene here is heating up on the daily so the annual beer week in November might be worth having on your radar.
Resorts and hotels in the area cater to every travel preference so finding a stay option will never be an issue here. One of the most recent properties to open its doors is the InterContinental San Diego, with scenic views of the bayfront and central to local sightseeing. Some of the best resorts and spas call San Diego home and golfing fans can choose from several award-winning locations.
Sporting and cultural events all year long give you plenty of reasons to plan your travels, so when are you heading over?