by Michael Caldwell
It’s no secret that San Diego is practically paradise. Boasting beautiful beaches stretching over 70 miles and a temperate year-round climate that sees the sun shine approximately 146 days a year, there are worse places to be. Over 30 million visitors flock to San Diego each year with attractions like Sea World, Lego Land, the San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park and the annual mega-event Comic Con pulling in large crowds.
But which San Diego spots do the locals savor? Check out these five area attractions that promise a glimpse into what could be your everyday life when you live in America’s Finest City.
1. Yoga One (of course!)
This award-winning studio offers a variety of top-quality yoga classes located in the heart of downtown. You can chill in a beginner-friendly Gentle or Restorative class held on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Get your mantra motoring in one of the Flow or Vinyasa classes held daily. Want to see the sun as you perform your sun salutations? Take the Rooftop Yoga Class, held Sundays at 9am at the Hotel Solamar. Stay and use the pool afterwards and enjoy a beverage from the bar. Yin and Yang, baby! Yoga One has been helping San Diego residents and visitors live healthier and happier lives since 2002. Their bi-annual Yoga One Teacher Training draws students from all over the world, including Spain, Ireland and Japan! Watch out Comic Con!
2. Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument
There are so many choices when it comes to beaches in San Diego, you might not know where to start: La Jolla Shores, Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and of course, the iconic Coronado Beach boasting the Hotel Del Coronado, just to name a few! But venture out to Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma and you’re in for a real treat. At the top of the bluff, you’ll witness a stunning view of San Diego and North Island and you can tour the historic lighthouse. Venture down to the water (you can hike or bike or drive) and you’ll encounter beautiful cliffside rock formations and tide pools filled with marine life. During the winter season, you might even catch a glimpse of migrating grey whales!
3. Julian and Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
A short 60 mile drive northeast of San Diego and the entire landscape changes. First time visitors could be forgiven for not realizing they are still in San Diego County. With a population of less than 2,000 and trees, mountains and apple pies a-plenty, prepare to be befuddled and bewildered. This charming, one-time gold mining town also has a colorful history featuring African American founders such as Albert and Margaret Robinson who built and operated one of the town’s first hotels. Hike, bike, eat apple pies and baked goods. What’s not to like?
4. San Diego Craft Breweries and Beer
There are over 100 breweries from which to booze, err… um… choose and more on the way. San Diego has become an international hot spot for craft beer. International people! Take that Belgium! Check out the SDSU based documentary “Kings of the Craft” featuring some San Diego based hoppy-weights (hee-hee, get it?) Stone, Ballast Pointe, Modern Times and Karl Strauss, etc.
If you love craft beer, (and don’t say you don’t while in San Diego city limits) then please don’t go alone into some of the more well-stocked liquor stores. Many carry over 1,000 beer options. You could very well get lost, likely stunned and possibly frozen by the possibilities. Use the buddy system. Set a time to leave. Leave a trail of bread crumbs to find your way out. Every year hundreds of visitors to San Diego never leave because they are lost in a craft beer o-plenty liquor store (it might happen). You’ve been warned.
P.S. San Diego is becoming a distilling upstart as well, oh and we have wine! Can you say Temecula?
5. Balboa Park
On any given day, you will find San Diego locals and visitors outside and just enjoying the fresh air, blue skies and plenitude of recreational activities in Balboa Park. The Balboa Park Fact Sheet says it’s “the nation’s largest urban cultural park in the nation.” A gorgeous green space set aside downtown, Balboa Park offers a wide variety of activities to pursue including hiking, gardens, fountains, sports, play grounds, velodrome, frisbee golf, drum circles, people watching, bocce ball, volleyball, etc. That doesn’t even do it justice. There are 15 museums for Pete’s sake and much more, in fact, too much to list so visit the fact sheet, playa and have yourself a ball.
Yoga teacher and Co-Founder of Yoga One, Michael has been practicing yoga and incorporating its philosophy into his life since 1997. His kind and gentle manner is well suited to leading students of all levels. Michael has published numerous articles on a variety of subjects including yoga, meditation and rock n roll.