If you’ve ever been to, or lived in, San Diego, there are certain things you’ve definitely done and places you’ve visited; the pandas at the San Diego Zoo, the seals at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla, ate a burrito in Old Town, swam in the Pacific, and had a cocktail at a Downtown lounge. But, just outside the main hub of San Diego are a plethora of neighborhoods, each emerging with their own vibe and offering an ever-changing backdrop of businesses and activities. If you’re ready to explore more of what the San Diego region has to offer – read on!
A growing neighborhood in San Diego’s North County, Vista is being touted by some as the next must-visit area. With a wave of millennials setting down roots in the area, Vista has developed a hip atmosphere centered on great restaurants, emerging local brew houses and community events. What’s a day in Vista look like? Plan to meet friends for lunch at the Yellow Deli where we’re sure chatting will ensue, follow it up with some shopping at local boutiques and end the evening with a show with your loved one at Moonlight Amphitheatre.
Although still a bit north of the center of San Diego, Escondido is the perfect spot to meet up with family and friends who live outside San Diego County for a day of outdoor enjoyment. The younger crowd will enjoy figuring out whether they like the rhinos or elephants at the San Diego Safari Park better. Not feeling all that exotic? Try tasting the local beer and produce at Stone Brewery after hiking around Daley Ranch.
Looking for the ultimate surfer-chic neighborhood (even if you’re not a surfer)? You’ve found it. Encinitas is the ideal location for easy-going individuals looking to spend some time outside overlooking the ocean. With 30-miles of trails and a 44-acre community park, there’s not too many reasons to go indoors in Encinitas, so start each morning in this neighborhood by picking up some to-go coffee at Lofty Coffee Co. and a walk on the beach. Stop for some sustenance in the form of a Swami’s famous Acai Bowl before heading to the farmers’ market (if it’s Sunday) or maybe participating in some yoga on the beach.
Normal Heights is home to a diverse and close-knit group of people and local businesses that give way to a laid-back and welcoming vibe. A visit to this area will center around Adams Avenue – the main drag of this community. Start with a pour over coffee at Dark Horse Coffee Roasters, get your bike tuned up for a ride at one of the local shops, and wander some of the great antique shops along Antique Row. Don’t forget to stop for a scoop of handmade ice cream at Mariposa Ice Cream before sampling local San Diego brews at a variety of establishments in the area.
In a seemingly secluded location bordered by hills, El Cajon caters to outdoor enthusiasts and many native San Diegans who want to live close to, but not in the midst of, the bustle of the city proper. Try testing your luck and enjoying a nightcap after a day on nearby Mount Helix or hiking other various hills in the area at Sycuan Casino, one of San Diego’s largest casinos.
Chula Vista literally means “beautiful view” and with over 60 parks and sports fields, you’ll be able to see much of it. Along with visiting the Olympic Training Center, you can plan on seeing one of today’s hit artists at the Sleep Train Amphitheater. If you’re looking to stay longer than just a visit, the Chula Vista Elementary School District was also the first to join Live Well San Diego – an initiative that works to establish farm-to-cafeteria programs, school gardens and safer ways to get to school.
Are you familiar with San Diego? Tell us where your favorite spot in the county is in the comments below.