While living in San Diego, few activities thrilled me more than giving visitors an experience of the city and Pacific.
Advice for those considering moving to San Diego:
If you like being involved in the community, and aren’t afraid to seek out activities and events, then San Diego’s awesome. Unlike New York or San Francisco, things are spread out a bit more, so it’s helpful to stay on top of the many
festivals/concerts/events via websites like www.signonsandiego.com
,. There are plenty of (young) adult recreational leagues, supporting most sports from soccer to flag football to beer pong. I’ve played on a number of teams through both Vavi (www.govavi.com
) and the Y (which are actually nice, expansive sports complexes in San Diego, compared, at least, to many other states/cities that I’ve seen). There is plenty of activism in San Diego, as well, including The Surfrider Foundation (an awesome gro
up of dedicated, surfing environmentalists, www.surfridersd.org
), among literally thousands of others (www.volunteersandiego.org
). Balboa Park, apparently the world’s largest urban park, has at least a couple dozen museums, an outdoor amphitheater, a sweet international region (definitely check out the Houses of Pacific Relation on a Sunday between 2 and 4- it’s a favorite!), the Spanish Artists’ Colony, a few theaters, some gardens, and the Zoo right there. And if you’re into academics, there is never a shortage of inspiring lectures offered on the campuses of UCSD, USD, and SDSU.
For areas to have fun, Pacific Beach has many of the beach bars that are popular for the college/just-graduated scene (and some a bit further from graduation), with Mission Beach simply an extension of this (but to a lesser degree, since it’s further from the main streets). The Gaslamp Quarter downtown has a wide variety of places, from creative wine bars to packed, multi-floor dance clubs to the ethnic eateries to the obligatory Irish pubs. Some people complain that there’s not enough variety of restaurants and clubs, but I’ve never had that problem myself for the two times per month I ventured downtown. North County (Del Mar and up) has some nice village centers located at/near the beaches (Encinitas, Cardiff, Carlsbad, Oceanside), but these areas are more family-friendly than anything else and, during rush hour, it may take more than an hour to get to the airport. Ocean Beach has held onto its hippie roots quite successfully, though I think you need to luck out with your neighbors to enjoy it there. Or just move there with some good friends already and you’ll have a blast with the easy going crowd.
Friends who’ve lived in Hillcrest, North Park, and University Heights (much cheaper than other areas, but still close to downtown) have really enjoyed the young atmospheres, bar, cafe, and restaurant choices, and cultural happenings that come along with a restless crowd. Perhaps a tad less safe late at night, and guaranteed to be dirtier on a Saturday night, there’s always a balance between how fun a place is and the mess that’s left behind. I haven’t had too many friends live downtown, but those that have liked it for a while, then decided that the beach or cheaper rent was worth moving to another area.
I have lived mostly in North County (as a kid) and, during my grad program, in La Jolla, right next to the UCSD campus. There are exactly two places in La Jolla for any sort of nightlife, so people our age generally don’t choose the high rents for little more reason than the spectacular coastline (which, no one can argue, is a huge draw). La Jolla demographics consist of older retirees and wealthy families. For surfing, beach bonfires, and kayaking, La Jolla Shores is perfect, though. And for showing people around, the seal colony, wide grassy park, cliffs, tidepools, and caves at the La Jolla Cove are hard to beat. Torrey Pines State Reserve is the location of the Hanglider Port and is the best spot to watch the sun go down. Oftentimes, a pod of dolphins pass through around sunset as well, to make it even more perfect.