Whether you visit San Diego regularly, or happen to have lived your entire life in the famous southern California city, I bet you’ve barely scratched its surface. A collection of distinctly unique neighborhoods, gorgeous beaches, and the home of Ron Burgundy, San Diego is a destination where time slows down, and where the days meld together into one long endless summer.
Although a metropolitan in its own right, San Diego has uncannily managed to maintain its small town appeal by keeping a slow relaxed pace. Most know it for its miles and miles of beaches and sunny days, but few are aware of its distinct personality. San Diego is a city that has defined the meaning of being chill, embracing an ultra cool relaxed vibe as part of its culture. In fact, as I write this, I’m lounging on the beach, debating if I should put my laptop away and just enjoy the ocean breeze and the hypnotic lapping of the waves. The San Diego swagger is so distinct, that you know when someone’s from SoCal. But with its trademark beaches, and laid back familiarity it’s easy, even for locals, to overlook the beauty and uniqueness that surrounds them; to become lost in the busyness of life, and take for granted what other’s travel far and near to experience.
I’ve lived in San Diego for a number of years, and just recently stopped in after 9 months of traveling North America. I visit San Diego so often to see family that I’ve become a creature of habit, never venturing too far from my own comfort zone. I’m the first to admit that I’ve squandered my visits. And so just this weekend, while entertaining a friend from India, I realized how little I actually knew about the coastal town beyond its own commercialized identity. Normally I would recommend the usual suspects like the Zoo, SeaWorld, Balboa Park, Seaport Village, or even the Gaslamp but this isn’t its authentic pulse. We needed to do how locals do; we needed to experience it, as would a San Diegan, and see the city through new eyes.
This is the true San Diego experience:
Motorcycle ride out to Julian for MOM’s Apple pie
Get out to Fonts Point and Witness Where They Faked the Moon Landing
The Food experience: Extraordinary desserts, Phils BBQ, Carne Asada Fries, Tacos
BBQ and Bonfire at the Beach
Go to a Tanning Salon to Even Out Your Tan
Workout at 24 Hour Fitness
3am Pismo Clam Hunting at Coronado Beach
Grunion Run at Ocean Beach
Complain That 72°F is Too Cold
Gamble $100 at the Casino, Followed by Drowning Your Sorrows at a Buffet
Watch the Sunset at Sunset Cliffs Point Loma
Although we only knocked out a handful of the activities above, it was an incredible weekend. Part of the fun was trying to make it all happen, while the other part was being able to travel off the typical tourist circuit.
It didn’t matter how often I’ve physically been to San Diego, it was only with new eyes that I finally experienced San Diego.
What are your authentic San Diego adventures?
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San Diego is the one place in the USA I need to see, before anywhere else.
It’s always been a dream destination to me, with the climate, the beauty and the amazing real estate to soak up.
Gotta get there soon; my cousin lives not too far away in Maricopa, Arizona.
Thanks for inspiring us Carey!
Tweeting from Bali.
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You absolutely must get down to San Diego. We stop in at least once a year after our trips. If time coordinates, I’ll show you the moon landing spot!
Tanning salon? Not so much. And hasn’t surfing been replaced by stand-up paddleboarding?
Just kidding! I enjoyed your list, and now I will have to track down this fake moon landing hotspot for all my conspiracy theorist pals. ;D
I threw the Tanning Salon in just for good measure, haha. As for surfing, If my skills don’t improve soon, you may see me switch it out for paddleboarding