Every year San Diego CityBeat, for which — you might have noticed — I regularly write, features a “Best Of” issue. As Editor Seth Combs put it: “In honor of our 15th anniversary, we asked some of our regular contributors to give us 15 reasons, in no particular order, why they choose to live and remain in San Diego.” Here’s my contribution:
As a lifelong local, there are certainly more than 15 reasons why I choose to live here. We’re the biggest small city in the country, or maybe the smallest big one, and there’s none with a better combination of beach, biking, food and culture.
1.) Bodysurfing off Del Mar Beach (660 Coast Blvd., Del Mar): Mitt Romney famously, if stupidly, said Michigan trees are “the right height.” Well, San Diego’s waves are just the right height for bodysurfing: big, with long rides, and wet-sandy face-plants are rare (even for me). delmar.ca.us
2.) Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub (1815 S Coast Hwy., Oceanside): There’s nowhere like it in the world: sushi but not sushi, fusion but organic, and creative yet traditional. It’s a thing unto itself, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere I couldn’t get my fix. seabasstropub.com
3.) Urban foraging at Maple Canyon: Starting at the bottom of Mission Hills at Maple Street and heading deep into the canyons of Bankers Hill, there is something cool about picking your own mallows and nasturtiums and, better yet, not having to pay for them.
4.) The sunset from Inspiration Point (end of Inspiration Point Way, Mission Bay): One of the best ways to end a day of work is with a hard bike ride and there are few better destinations than Inspiration Point to watch the sun set over the Pacific.
5.) Racing at the San Diego Velodrome (2516 Pershing Drive, Balboa Park): Speaking of bike rides, when it came to racing, I knew I was a sprinter because I definitely wasn’t a climber. A San Diego sprinter’s natural home is the velodrome: fun, fast with an open camaraderie. sdvelodrome.com
6.) East end of Broadway in Downtown San Diego: Look west and it almost looks like a big city. Look east and it says “small time.” Both tell the truth. I like the truth.
7.) Mount Helix Park (4905 Mt. Helix Drive, La Mesa): There are a lot of reasons to not like a big public cross but the charming little trails around the amphitheater almost make up for it. So do the views and the bizarre circular house. mthelixpark.org
8.) The Asian food paradise that is Convoy Street from Aero Drive to the 52: The Convoy Districtis Chinatown, Koreatown, Japantown and more all rolled into two square miles in the heart of San Diego. I eat there nearly every day.
9.) Tailgating before Chargers, er, Aztecs football games at the Q, eh, SDCCU Stadium (9449 Friars Road, Mission Valley): Tailgating as the late November sun sets isn’t about the NFL. It’s about San Diego.
10.) Addison Restaurant (5200 Grand Del Mar Way, Del Mar): I go here to remind myself what perfection looks and tastes like and how marvelously terrifying a professional kitchen can be. addisondelmar.com
11.) Summer Shakespeare at the Old Globe (1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park): There’s never been much rain, sleet or snow to stop the Globe’s Summer Shakespeare festival on the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre. There’s no better place to commune with the Bard. theoldglobe.org
12.) Hillcrest: Once a beacon of everything San Diego was not—a bit of New York’s Village or San Francisco—now it’s more a sneak preview of what we’re becoming.
13.) Big Laguna Lake (near Sunrise Hwy., Mt. Laguna): San Diego offers great hiking any time I want (an offer not often accepted). This 10 mile, five-hour trail is everything our hiking can be: moderate and sometimes challenging, beautiful and by a pristine lake.
14.) Lunch at Deckman’s en el Mogor (Carretera Ensenada, Tecate Km. 85.5, San Antonio de Las Minas): There’s never a bad time for a meal from a Michelin-starred chef in a bucolic glade overlooking the vineyards of Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe. There’s no better time than lunch and there may be no more idyllic lunch on this earth. deckmans.com
15.) The San Diego Bicycle Club Saturday ride: A 45-mile loop featuring a signature stretch alongside San Elijo State Beach on South Coast Highway 101. The sound of the waves crashing and smell of the sea is reason enough to justify San Diego real estate prices. sdbc.org