Where to Explore When you Move to San Diego

Laid-back, hip, and perpetually sunny, San Diego is a slice of beachy paradise—and a hotbed of wonderful culture, worldly cuisine, shopping, and nightlife. Apart from well-known attractions like the famed San Diego Zoo and the iconic Balboa Park, there are numerous art galleries, quirky-cool museums, and high-end eateries to discover. If you’ve just taken a leap and moved to the area, check out these top places to explore in San Diego!

Arts & Culture

San Diego is a city in which the arts, in all their forms, are widely beloved. From well-established museums to small-scale galleries, these are the top arts & culture experiences to have when you visit San Diego:

Visit world-class art museums.

San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Museum of Art

Though Balboa Park is touristy, the San Diego Museum of Art and the Timken Museum of Art are must-see destinations for serious art lovers. The former attraction houses masterworks by Rembrandt and Jacques-Louis David, and the latter has works by dozens of popular American painters, from Georgia O’Keefe to Stuart Davis. Fight the crowds or go on a weekday; both museums are well worth it. Either way, you’ll avoid San Diego traffic, as Balboa Park is a highly walkable area. Park your car in a convenient lot and leave it for the day!

See Chicano murals.

In the neighborhood of Barrio Logan, you’ll find Chicano Park, which features the biggest collection of Chicano murals in the world (there are over 80 paintings on seven acres), as well as several art galleries and shops. Head here in the daytime to be able to appreciate the true vibrancy and beauty of the murals.

Stroll around an artsy neighborhood.

In North Park, art loving-travelers can experience an abundance of cool street art, in addition to galleries and studios, performance art spaces, and under-the-radar concert venues.

Dining & Drinks

Historically influenced by Mexican cuisine, the food scene in San Diego is thriving and growing all the time. The city is now home to a variety of farm-to-table restaurants, top French and Italian eateries, and some of the best fresh seafood in the country. And the drinking scene is diverse, as well. Take your pick from upscale oceanfront cocktail bars, neighborhood watering holes, and over 150 craft breweries.

Little Italy in San Diego

Little Italy in San Diego
Little Italy in San Diego

The best place to get an all-around feel for the local food & drink scene is the lively, cool Little Italy neighborhood, where you’ll find a plethora of awesome eateries, cool coffee shops, wine bars, craft brew pubs, and more. Stroll through the buzzing Mercato Farmers’ Market on a Saturday to sample fresh-baked bread, locally-made jams, farm-fresh produce, and other artisanal foods from over 175 farmers and vendors. This is the city’s biggest downtown market, and it’s definitely a local fave spot.

Also in Little Italy, James Coffee Co. is the perfect spot to enjoy handcrafted roasted coffee blends, Bottlecraft Beer Shop & Tasting Room has excellent local brews, and Craft & Commerce has tasty small plates (think grilled oysters, charred eggplant dip, and marinated olives) and craft cocktails. Even a drive down the main drag, India Street, is a great way to explore the area.

Here are three other can’t-miss San Diego food & drink experiences:

Check out a hip food market

At Liberty Public Market, a 25,000-square-foot public market in Point Loma’s Liberty Station, visitors can peruse a dazzling array of food and goods from 30 local chefs and artisans—there’s also live music every week, and a dog-friendly market patio every Sunday.

Sample the best tacos in the city. 

Best Tacos in San Diego
Best Tacos in San Diego

Craving tacos? Look no further than El Paisa Mexican Grill, easily one of the most beloved taquerias in the city—they make their own tortillas here, and you can pretty much get any type of taco you want.

Dine at a five-star French hotspot.

And for those who want to splurge on a decadent five-star meal during their trip? Make a reservation for Addison, a critically acclaimed Grand Del Mar resort with incredible dishes like langoustines with caviar and parsley and mussels with green curry, as well as a killer wine list.

The Outdoors

It’s near-impossible to go to San Diego and not spend some time at the beach—not only is the weather here perma-beautiful, but the city boasts over 70 miles of scenic coastline punctuated by pristine beaches, rugged cliffs, and gorgeous blue-green bays. Take a drive out to one of the many beaches. Although you can’t really go wrong with any of the beaches here, there are a few standout spots to check out:

La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove is the place to be if you want to try your hand at snorkeling or scuba diving—this tiny gem of a beach has crystal-clear waters and exciting marine life, like the bright orange Garibaldi fish.

Ocean Beach feels like 70s-era hippie California, with its barefoot surfers, funky beach communities, and collection of novelty and vintage shops. Head here if you’re into bohemian vibes, oceanfront live music, and boho-chic boutiques.

At Mission Beach, you’ll find over two miles of oceanfront boardwalk, tons of surf shops, and an old-school amusement park right on the water. In other words, it’s pretty much impossible to get bored at this bustling, action-packed beach.

Finally, although Coronado Beach is a bit touristy, it’s well worth a visit—with the postcard-perfect Hotel del Coronado, sparkling white sand, and the city skyline in the background, it’s the quintessential San Diego beach.

All in all, San Diego is chock-full of exciting culture, cuisine, and nightlife—and, not to mention, some of the most stunning beaches in the country. Whether you’re looking for the ideal romantic getaway, a great place to spend the weekend with friends, or the perfect family-friendly destination, San Diego has a little something for everyone.

Community Focal Point: San Diego Archaeological Center

San Diego Archaeological Center

16666 San Pasqual Valley Road Ÿ Escondido, CA 92027-7001


Ÿ www.sandiegoarchaeology.org

Hours: Tuesday—Friday 9 AM to 4 PM

Saturday 10 AM to 2 PM

Admission: $2 or $5 for families Members are free!

In 2002, when the San Diego Archaeological Center moved into its new home, an old school building originally owned by the San Pasqual School District, four large portable trailers sat in the front yard, former temporary classrooms.  The abandoned trailers rested on heavily compacted fill dirt, surrounded by non-native grass and other debris.  When hauled away, a voracious crop of weeds took their place.  Many people assume that, except for buildings and roads, the landscape in San Diego County looks similar to what it did hundreds or thousands of years ago.  However, with few exceptions, today’s countryside bears little resemblance to what it was even a mere one hundred and fifty years ago.  Facing an ugly weed-infested lot, the Center decided to transform the area into a demonstration California native plant landscape. The choice was easy.  A native landscape translates to less maintenance and less water while displaying the inherent beauty of the original local environment.


The Center formed a Native Landscape Action Group (NLAG) to implement the restoration project.  After consultation with California native plant professionals and the drafting of a phased restoration plan, NLAG volunteers from the community and the Center took shovel and trowel in hand, and began work.  Weed elimination was the first priority, since without adequate weed control, any restoration program is destined to fail.

Large granite boulders and several fifteen-year-old coast live oaks were moved to the site forming the basic visual framework.  Oaks were selected because they represent an important resource for the area’s indigenous people.

Next, dozens of one-gallon containers of purple needlegrass (Nassella pulchra), the official designated California state grass, were planted.  Additionally, a large swath of basket grass (Muhlenbergia rigens) was installed.  The long straight stalks of this grass have been used by many Native Americans in functional and attractive basketry.  Native grasses like these can easily and inexpensively transform a large, intensive care lawn into an impressive and striking natural, low maintenance environment.  These grasses are extremely long-lived and are excellent for erosion control as well.

The project, now in its second year has seen a variety of other native plants incorporated into the design.   Pathways and resting areas now give visitors the opportunity to study and contemplate the landscape with its animal and avian residents.  Natural surroundings like these dictated many aspects of traditional life for indigenous Californians.  The restoration work continues with new features added monthly.

Nate Harrison 2011 026-1

The San Diego Archaeological Center’s mission is to preserve archaeological collections and promote their educational, scientific and cultural use to benefit a diverse public. We believe in the power of artifacts to affect people. In all of our programs we strive to expand knowledge about the individual, the community and the world.

CRM BBQ 2011 071-1

Our programs include:

– Project Archaeology – An educational program geared primarily for third through seventh graders in formal and informal learning environments.

–  Second Saturday – Free or low-cost public lectures, workshops or family fun programs presented monthly.

– Today’s Trash is Tomorrow’s Archaeology – A new program for K-12 students that explores how the archaeological record is created and demonstrates how our behavior today will affect the environment in the future. Kids will see that a plastic water bottle can last as long as a pottery olla fragment made 500 years ago!

– Exhibition – Our exhibits allow the public to see artifacts from 9,000 years ago, as well as objects their grandparents may have used.  In addition to the award winning Center Museum exhibits, we also create off-site displays which are set up throughout the county.

– Curatorial and Research – We promote understanding of the region’s rich cultural history and the science of archaeology through curation, research, and dissemination of information to the scholarly and general public.

Come and see us soon!

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