ESL's San Diego tips - Don't miss out on what the city has to offer!
Breweries & Wineries
Not too long ago, San Diegans looked around at the glorious sunshine and long beaches and came to the same conclusion: this town needs beer! Local craft breweries have become big news in the city and there are now dozens to choose from. Some local favourites include Stone, Green Flash and Ballast Point, but you are really spoilt for choice. Pick a name you like (there are some great ones) and settle down for a refreshing, local brew.
If you prefer grapes to hops, the wineries of the Temecula Valley offer a taste of the good life. Just under 100km from the city centre, you can enjoy excellent food and a huge variety of SoCal wines in sunny surroundings.
La Jolla (pronounced in the Spanish way, surprisingly) is a beautiful neighbourhood in the north of San Diego. La Jolla Cove offers some of the clearest waters on the California coast, as well as miles of protected underwater preserves to explore. During the summer months, you can swim with the leopard sharks that live there from July until September. Whether you want to scuba dive or simply strap on a snorkel, the water is beautifully clear and the marine life is vibrant.
You can spot the local seal population at The Children’s Pool, which was originally designed for young swimmers but has become known as Seal Beach because the harbour seals love it. Inland, you can drive to the top of Mt. Soledad for a breathtaking, 360-degree view of the city. The mountain is a prime location from which to enjoy spectacular Pacific sunsets.
The 16½-block historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego is home to boutiques, art galleries, specialty shops and more. In the warm evenings, you can enjoy a cool drink and delicious dinner in one of the many bars and restaurants that spill out onto the streets. Head to a rooftop bar to enjoy spectacular views of downtown, San Diego Bay and the Coronado Bridge.
The area is very lively in the evenings but is just as nice during the daytime, when the shops are open and you can stop on the terrace of a café.
Go gliding (or just watch the gliders) at Torrey Pines Gliderport
Torrey Pines Gliderport (sandiegofreeflight.com) is the place to go for hang gliding and paragliding. You don’t have to be an experienced flier to have a go: take a tandem paraglide with an instructor who does all the work and you can enjoy the pleasure without dread. Even if you don’t want to fly, you can sit in the sunshine and watch as people glide towards the ocean. It’s very photogenic!
To watch, read, listen
Watch Some Like it Hot (1959) Director: Billy Wilder Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) Director: Adam McKay Top Gun (1986) Director: Tony Scott
San Diego cinemas
In a city that is famous for great weather, it should not be a surprise that open-air cinema is popular, and the top destination is Cinema Under the Stars (4040 Goldfinch Street). It’s a cosy venue and the cinema’s program director introduces each film personally. A couple of big AMC cinemas in La Jolla (8657 Villa La Jolla Drive) and Mission Valley (7037 Friars Road or 1640 Camino del Rio North) are options for the blockbusters, or you could check out Reading Cinemas Gaslamp #1 (701 Fifth Avenue) for a wide variety of films, screened in beautiful surroundings. Landmark Theatres Ken Cinema (4061 Adams Avenue) is a single-screen cinema dating back to 1912, and a hidden gem.
Read The Anna Strong Chronicles by Jeanne C. Stein The Grift by Debra Ginsberg Lines and Shadows by Joseph Wambaugh
Listen Enema of the State by Blink 182 Live at Java Joe's by Jason Mraz Surfing USA by the Beach Boys (the song mentions various local beaches)
The area around Hillcrest and North Park is popular for San Diego’s party people. Hillcrest is the home of the city’s gay community and among the popular venues are The Brass Rail, Rich's and Alibi. Elsewhere, Pacific Beach and the Gaslamp Quarter get very lively in the evenings and there is a huge range of bars and clubs to choose from. Our tip is to leave the hustle and bustle below and head to a rooftop bar. Stingaree, Altitude, Fluxx, Hard Rock and Float are some of the finest. Or go underground: Prohibition (prohibitionsd.com) is a speakeasy that serves excellent cocktails and insists that its patrons dress up. For live music, La Jolla Symphony, House of Blues, Spreakles Theater and The Casbah are among the prime destinations.