Inside San Diego from A Local's Perspective
The two of us have been working very hard to bring Part 1 of this blog feature to you! As you probably noticed, we spent a fair amount of time in San Diego recently, planning and plotting out the contents of this blog post, and a few future ones to come. Travel is such a major part of our lives, and while we do share quite a bit of that with you all here, on our site, we wanted to dig a little bit deeper into not just showing you our photos, but creating city guide for our favorite familiar places. Think: Nick and Jenna give the inside scoop! Our goal is to continue sharing our stories and also offer 'bigger and better' tips, tricks, and musts to our coverage here on our website. This is meant to be something unique and on-going, as so many of you come to us for travel advise - we figured we'd start with our hometown, San Diego!
To catch you up in the instance that you're new here, Nick and I are both born and raised San Diegans. If you want to know a bit more about the two of us, our background and how we became a pair, hop over to Our Story and get the full scoop! If you're already in-the-know, let's carry on!
We've spent the majority of our lives living in San Diego so needless to say, we've pretty much done it all. Obviously, times change and somethings disappear to be replaced by other things. Taking all of that into account, we've included some oldies, as well as a few new things too!
Here are our highlights, must-do's and a few of our San Diego spots.
Being near-lifelong residents, we've lived, stayed and hung out in different areas so take us super seriously when we say that this hotel is where you have to stay. Hotel Z in the Gaslamp Quarter of Downtown San Diego is simply per-fect. This hotel is part of Staypineapple's amazing family of pet friendly, boutique hotels - and although we've only been to one other location of theirs, is it too soon to say it's our absolute favorite??! This hotel is gorgeous, colorful and filled with everything we just love about Staypineapple. It's in the heart of Downtown, just a stone's throw from the Convention Center, and a quick shuttle ride from a handful of other San Diego favorites (Little Italy, Seaport Village, etc.) Did I mention they also have pineapple colored bikes you can borrow to cruise around on? How could you not love this hotel?!
We even hopped on one of their adorable yellow electric shuttles to pop over to Little Italy for the weekend Farmer's Market, which was amazing (more on that later)! Everyday around 3pm, you can wander into the lobby and enjoy some pineapple infused water and pineapple cupcakes. I'm not going to lie, we may have had more than one of these insanely delicious treats! If the rad bikes and cupcakes don't sound familiar, read up on our recent trip to Seattle here where we stayed in our first Staypineapple location and first met Dash and The Naked Experience for the first time. We seriously cannot rave enough about the amazingness of Hotel Z!
Where to go: Little Italy
This particular part of San Diego sits just north of Downtown and looks out onto the bay, airport and Coronado Island. It's a beautiful neighborhood with tons of fantastic shops, restaurants and frequent events like the Art Walk and weekly farmers markets. One of our absolute favorite restaurants is in Little Italy - Ironside. If you're an oyster fan, you'll fall in love with this spot! They have the most incredible seafood, and equally as fantastic decor all throughout the building.
A few other amazing spots you'll want to visit in Little Italy are James Coffee, The Crack Shack, Salt & Straw, El Camino and their vintage decor shops. You can find the most amazing one-of-a-kind pieces while wandering through some of the stores at the north end of Little Italy. Fun fact: Nick and I have a special connection with El Camino that you can read about in Our Story. And obviously, if you're into italian food, Little Italy is where it's at.
I'm sure every "guide to San Diego" will mention or recommend going to Balboa Park, and we can't argue that. However, the locals totally don't treat it the way that tourists do.
We frequented Balboa Park when we lived in San Diego, especially since we lived so close to it, but when we would go there, we weren't wandering through the museums, gawking at the taxidermy and reassembled bones of animals. The locals really take in the beauty of the park. You don't have to spend an arm and a leg to get into as many of the museums in a day as possible. All you have to do is walk, wander and sit under the sun. All year round, this is one of the most relaxing and tranquil activities to participate in. The entire park is filled to the brim with hidden (and stunning) views, spots and gardens. On one of the more stressful days we had in San Diego, we drove to Balboa Park to walk around and unwind. There are other locals picnicking and walking their dogs everywhere. We found a shaded spot with a bench and sat there for some time, just people watching. That's where we snapped the photo below.
If you're following anyone on Instagram who lives in San Diego, then you've probably heard of North Park. This area has completely changed over the last 10 years. It used to be very seedy and run-down but is now the hippest, coolest area of San Diego. Here are a few of our favorite spots to checkout in North Park: Dark Horse Coffee (our absolute favorite for a long time), The Friendly (which is a rad pizza spot but we recommend getting the cheeseburger!), Pigment (a retail shop that everyone loves with a giant succulent wall outside their shop... we're personally kinda whatever about it but overall, its a popular store) and though it's not technically in North Park, if you're into amazing thai food that happens to be vegan, pay Plumeria a visit! I was introduced to Plumeria by one of my best friends who is vegan, and knew I had to take Nick there (hi, it's Jenna). Since then, I think I've shown it to most of my other close friends in San Diego, who now love going there too! Last thought: if you go to Dark Horse Coffee, order the Iced Almond Champ. You're welcome. :)
This might seem super touristy at first glance, but trust us - after living in San Diego our whole lives, we stop by Old Town San Diego almost every time we're visiting friends and family. Old Town happens to host our favorite restaurant for family gatherings, which we also paid a visit to on this trip (with family, of course). If you're wanting to try out our go-to mexican spot, it's call Cafe Coyote. This entire area is nothing but small businesses, fantastic food, and unique shopping. It's also built around a very historical part of San Diego that's rich with history, and even hosts a few free museums if history is your thing!
You'll have to excuse our lack of photos for this portion. It was another rare opportunity for us to be alone together and enjoy the sunshine. Our trip was so jam packed with hangouts and family that this was one of the few occasions it was just the two of us. The store I'm standing in front of is actually one of my favorites in Old Town. They offer loose leaf teas of every variety, as well as some fantastic local coffee options. You can select the amount you want to take home, which is exactly what we do, so that you can make your own coffee and tea brews at home. If you enjoy caffeine like we do, give this store a whirl!
Now comes the last portion of what we're covering in this article, but don't worry. There's a ton more San Diego amazingness to be shared in the future! Point Loma is an area Nick and I frequented almost daily when we lived in San Diego. Here's why...
This area has just about everything you might want to do, see, try or eat and a view to go along with it! One of the first collaborative articles I shared here, waaaay back in 2016, was shot in Point Loma. You can find one of those photos featuring Liberty Station here. Liberty Station is a neighborhood of sorts inside Point Loma that used to be military barracks and has since become this gorgeous, waterfront San Diego staple that constantly buzzes with creative energy, catering towards all walks of life and age groups. Here are a list of our top choices inside Point Loma and Liberty Stations: Corvette Diner (a San Diego must must must must and your parents will love it just as much as you do LOL), Liberty Station Public Market (think NYC vibes but with sunny San Diego views), Bali Hai (one of my all-time favorite fancy restaurants that overflows with Tiki Room goodness and probably the best view of Downtown San Diego + Coronado Island you could ever ask for! GO THERE!), The Lot (our favorite movie theatre of all time, that also serves you alcohol, food, dessert etc. in your reclining seat during the movie - pro tip: get the Salt & Vinegar Popcorn!), and Humphrey's (a waterfront venue with one heck of a setup!). We actually were able to squeeze in a dinner at our beloved Bali Hai, followed by a show at Humphrey's (they're literally next to each other) during our last days in San Diego. This wasn't part of the original plan, but we realized my favorite band happened to be playing there while we were in town and jumped at the opportunity to see them live!
That sums it up for this first portion of our "Inside" series! And since we come from San Diego, you can absolutely expect much more from us regarding our hometown and giving you all the inside scoop! We'll be back at Staypineapple's Hotel Z in Downtown the first opportunity we get, and look forward to sharing much more with you all then!
Thanks for reading! We'd love to know what you think of this first installation of our Inside articles so please leave some feedback for us below in the comments or on our socials, as we would love to hear from you!