5 THINGS: A Travel Guide to San Diego

5Things_San Diego

In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, photographer Jamie Street shows us around sunny San Diego.

5 Things: San Diego
Jamie Street

I moved to San Diego when I was fresh out of high school. I only stayed for six months, but I knew I’d be back—and since returning, something about the temperature, the people, and pace of life in San Diego has kept me planted for over a decade.






Blind Lady Ale House, 3416 Adams Avenue, (619) 255-2491

San Diego is a beer mecca—best-known for developing the West Coast style of IPAs—so it would be a shame not to stop at one of its many (many) fine beer-centric establishments. Our favorite, hands down, is the Blind Lady Ale House. Offering its own house brew, Automatic, as well as many local favorites and beyond, the menu isn’t limited to just beer—their specialty is pizza, but really, everything is top notch. Seasonal items rotate, the produce comes from one of our best local farms and, since of the four owners is vegan, there’s something for everyone. Plus, it’s so kid friendly, we’ve practically raised our son there.






Spanish Village Art Center, 1770 Village Place, (619) 233-9050

We love visiting the Artist Village in Balboa Park, where local artists and craftsmen keep open studios so you can watch them work—and pick up a piece to take home with you. We love the Ceramics Guild, and poking around in all the eclectic studios. (Plus, those painted tiles!)



La Valencia Hotel, 1132 Prospect Street, (858) 454-0771
AirBNB — San Diego

I’ve always been tempted by the pink walls of the historic La Valencia, overlooking the Cove and the village, and hope to one day plan a staycation there. Until then, most of my friends would be likely to choose from one of many great Airbnb finds in the area. Three budget-friendly options I’d suggest: this Solana Beach guest house, this Little Italy loft, and this North Park studio.




Balboa Park, 1549 El Prado, (619) 239-0512
Salk Institute, 10010 N Torrey Pines Road, (858) 453-4100

It goes without saying that you must visit the beach. In the winter, we like to go with a hot coffee for a morning walk — and in the summer, for a swim, obviously! Windansea (pictured) is a local favorite for sunners, swimmers, and surfers. The little rocky coves are so picturesque, but if you’re an inexperienced ocean swimmer or are traveling with very small children, the beach break might not be ideal. In that case, head to La Jolla Shores. The gentle rolling waves are great for playing and boogie boarding.

I also suggest everyone pop over to Balboa Park. Dubbed the nation’s largest “urban cultural park,” there really is something for everyone. A few of my personal highlights include the Mingei International Museum, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the San Diego Zoo, and the free gardens (particularly the botanical building, the adjacent lily pond, and the cactus garden). I also love just rambling around, checking out the crazy romantic Spanish Colonial architecture, and lunching on the lawn or inside Panama 66.

If you have free time and an interest in design, do go visit the Salk Institute. Designed by Luis Khan, it is simply the most amazing place I have ever been. Just spend an hour in awe of the architectural magnificence, and take in the view. (Design nerds can also take a tour.)




A sweater! [Similar]

True, our climate may be mild and lovely, but it sure does get chilly quick! Always have a light layer in your bag if you’re headed out, even in the summer.

Thank you so much, Jamie! It’s no wonder you decided to call such a beautiful place home. (Thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series. See more 5 Things travel guides.)

P.S. One of Jamie’s beautiful photographs hangs in our living room over our sofa!

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