We had the good fortune of chatting with Caitlin, a mom of two who has settled down in San Diego. She loves the area and had a long, long list of favorites to share with the Dwellsy team. Of course she had a very family-friendly perspective on the best San Diego has to offer. Let’s jump in!
1. Little Italy
For Caitlin, the first go-to when talking about things to love about San Diego was Little Italy. This historic waterfront district, with a rich history dating back to the 1920s, sounds amazing. The local population of Italian immigrants built a neighborhood, businesses and–perhaps most importantly–a community.
Unusually for this type of downtown enclave, many longstanding businesses are still located there and over the years they have transformed a residential and industrial community into a thriving neighborhood of amazing restaurants, shops and offices. For locals like Caitlin, it makes an amazing place to spend a day or an evening, enjoying some shopping, a wonderful restaurant, and perhaps starting a day of exploring from there. For example, right next door is a…
2. Wonderful waterfront
From Little Italy, it’s just a few steps to San Diego’s amazing waterfront, which, for Caitlin and her kids, starts with the Cruise Terminal. Is she going on a cruise, I hear you asking? Well maybe someday, but most days, she’s enjoying the Terminal’s amenities itself – a beautiful lawn for picnicking, playgrounds and wading pools for the kids.
3. Amazing museums
Close by the waterfront, and all within walking distance, Caitlin and her family can choose from an incredible selection of museums and experiences – the U.S.S. Midway Museum (located on one of the U.S.’s first aircraft carriers!), the Maritime Museum, the Air & Space Museum, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the New Children’s Museum, The San Diego Museum of Art. Whew, the list goes on and on…it’s impressive!
4. Beaches, beaches and more beaches!
Need a break from museums? Well, it’s hard to think about San Diego without thinking about its amazing beaches. Top of mind for Caitlin was the Coronado Beach at the famous Del Coronado on Coronado Island (which, you guessed it, is also walking distance from Little Italy!). Great for kids and with the hotel right there, you have great food and incredible scenery all in one place.
Pacific Beach and Mission Beach bring the quintessential California beach boardwalk experience, with bars and restaurants facing the water and surfers doing their thing just off shore. Further up the coast in the North County, Moonlight Beach in Encinitas is another great family beach, and Swami’s Beach is a great surf spot too.
5. Wildlife and Zoos
San Diego is justifiably famous for its incredible zoo. Renowned as the world’s best zoo, it has an incredible range of animals. The San Diego Zoo is noted for its role in bringing back endangered species populations. For example, there are more than 3,500 different species to see including leopards and cobras.
Not big enough for you? Head a little outside of town for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is home to over 2,600 animals on 1,800 acres of land. The Safari Park can be explored by safari jeep – or by zip line! And, for the truly adventurous, Caitlin recommends the “Roar and Snore,” an overnight campout in the Park, surrounded by all the amazing wildlife you can imagine.
6. North Park
Talking more broadly about places to spend time, Caitlin mentioned North Park and got us really interested. Near Balboa Park, North Park has a large population of young professional who love the amazing restaurants and breweries. Great for an evening out – or a wonderful place to live!
7. Weekends Away – Ski, Surf and Nature
Above all, there are so many weekend destinations from San Diego, it was hard for Caitlin to pick just a few, but the top of her list are: Julian for apple picking and apple pie (check out the Julian Pie Company), Orange County for other great beach choices (Doheny was featured in Beach Boys songs) and Big Bear for amazing skiing.
Yes, it’s true – on the same day, you can choose between picking apples, heading to snow ski or go to the ocean for surfing.
Why aren’t we all living in San Diego?!?
Not sure if San Diego is the place for you? Check out our other local guides here. The right home for you is out there, and we’ll help you find it.