Meet Zeus in San Diego
We all love San Diego for its warm weather and pristine beaches, but this vibrant city has much more to offer. While San Diego is pretty big (California’s second-largest city), it has a warm, tight-knit community feel. And it’s no surprise that each neighborhood has its own story to tell. Meet us there to explore communities rich with culture, diversity, and nature.
Enjoy water views at the Marina District
If you love luxe and glamour, Marina District in downtown San Diego, one of the most upscale neighborhoods in the city, is a must-visit. Enjoy a day of nature at one of the neighborhood parks, pop inside a few stores for some afternoon shopping, and end the evening with fine dining. Here are a few of our favorite neighborhood spots:
Hang out at South Embarcadero Esplanade. This park is the heartbeat of the Marina District. Not only is it always buzzing with energy, but it also features one of the largest collections of public art installations, including two dozen sculptures along the waterfront. In addition to taking in the artwork, locals come to the area to jog, cycle, enjoy weekend picnics, and even fish on the pier.
Visit Seaport Village. Head to this not-so-hidden gem for gift shopping, good eats, and fun activities like riding the carousel with family or friends. If you want to get creative, stop inside Seaport Studio for free access to the podcast studio—narrate your own show or bring in a guest for a one-on-one interview.
Enjoy a meal at The Fish Market. This restaurant is for seafood lovers. With its relaxed atmosphere and attentive service, The Fish Market is praised by San Diego locals. Enjoy your choice of fresh seafood (try the sea bass!) and bayside dining at any time of day. But try to get there a little before the evening—you can’t miss those sunset views.
Let your hair down in Hillcrest
San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood is rooted in inclusivity, culture, and diversity. It’s where you’ll want to go to hang out late, shop for vintage clothes, enjoy fine wine and cocktails, and eat until your heart’s content. Here are our picks for things to get into while you’re there.
Explore University Avenue. If you spot the neon “Hillcrest” sign, you’re in Hillcrest’s village—home to the popular University Avenue. This area is full of vintage boutiques, bookstores, and restaurants. Looking for a good read? Visit Bluestocking Books, a nostalgic bookstore full of classics, new titles, and hidden gems. Vintage lovers go to Flashbacks for fashion finds from the 1950s to 1990s and visit the Hood Mod Shop for locally sourced antique furniture and vintage art.
Stop inside XMarket. If you’re in need of vegan options (or willing to try something new), you need to make your way to XMarket—a one-stop shop for all things vegan. As soon as you walk in, you’ll find a vegan cafe that serves cappuccinos, oat milk lattes, a variety of teas, and pastries from local bakeries like Yvonne’s Vegan Kitchen. But this spot is way more than a cafe. Think of it as a huge (it’s 4,500 square feet!), modern vegan convenience store. Seriously, buy anything from food and groceries to natural products to pet care items.
Have a night on the town. Hillcrest is the center of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ scene, and from its bars to its nightclubs, there’s always a fun spot open to everyone. If you’re looking for a night on the town, you’ll want to try insideOUT. It’s described as a casually elegant restaurant and lounge. There’s a bar and main dining room that opens to an outdoor atrium with comfortable seating nooks, a small lagoon, and waterfall features. The cocktails are definitely something to write home about and the California- and Mediterranean-inspired menu is worth trying. If you’re looking to dance the night away, visit Rich’s—a vibrant gay nightclub with two full bars, multiple dance floors, and an outdoor lounge. It’s a popular spot, so expect long lines on weekends.
Take in water views in La Jolla
Simply put, La Jolla is the jewel of San Diego. This is the neighborhood you’ll want to visit for a relaxing beach day (the area is full of world-renown beaches), comfort food, and a burst of culture. Here’s our take on what to do.
Start with brunch at Snooze La Jolla for great eats and retro vibes. It’s everyone’s favorite brunch spot (boozy or otherwise) and home to a creative menu of breakfast and lunch fare. Try the pancake flight or order the breakfast burrito if you’re looking for something savory. Heads up: the restaurant closes at 2:30 pm on weekdays and 4 pm on Sundays.
Make it a beach day. You cannot visit La Jolla without stopping by one of the neighborhood beaches. If you’re planning for a relaxing day, we suggest La Jolla Shores Beach. The water is great for swimming (you can even snorkel with leopard sharks), surfing is allowed on the north side of the beach, and there’s plenty of room to find the perfect spot under the sun. La Jolla Shores Beach is located right in front of Kellogg Park, which has two picnic areas, but if you’d rather have lunch or dinner indoors, there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance to choose from.
Explore the neighborhood’s art scene. La Jolla is home to noteworthy museums like the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego-La Jolla and several locally-owned galleries (visit La Jolla Village Art Walk). But what we highly recommend are the 16 outdoor murals that were created for The Murals of La Jolla—a project founded by the Athenaeum Foundation to enhance the character of the neighborhood with large-scale artworks created by local and international artists. Since 2010, 24 murals have been commissioned. Some murals are in plain sight and others are tucked away (try to find them as you explore the neighborhood).
San Diego is a beautiful city—it’s full of life and its energy is contagious. And while these are only a few of our favorite neighborhoods, we hope you take the time to explore and check out the city for yourself.