As a San Diego local, when out-of-towners are in the city, I usually get asked what we do for fun and what kinds of non-touristy things should be explored. The answer is usually pretty simple: the beach. But should you tire of the sand (blasphemy), there are definitely a few other staples locals love to do. Here are five non-touristy activities to consider when visiting America’s Finest City.
Craft Beer Tour
San Diegans love their craft beers, and for good reason. There are currently more than 100 breweries in the county and four rank among the nation’s 50 largest establishments. Plus, if you’re an IPA lover, this is your place to try out our West Coast IPA which is hoppier and bursting with notes of citrus and tropical fruits. Check out one of the many craft beer tours available throughout the region to get a taste of why we’re so proud of our brews. From a behind-the-scenes tour to a choice of a sit-down dinner or al fresco picnic, and private transportation, you’re sure to run into a local or two on your tour any sunny Saturday afternoon.
Go on a Hike
Because of our just-about-endless sunny days, locals love to be outdoors and stay active. Since the area is full of varying landscapes, you can regularly find San Diegans embarking on a hike. For an easier stroll, head to Torrey Pines State Reserve which looks out onto the ocean as you walk. To up the ante, check out Cowles Mountain which has steep switchbacks and finishes at the highest point within San Diego. If you’re really looking to get a good sweat in and a great photo op, the Lake Poway to Mount Woodson hike is calling your name. Dubbed “Potato Chip Rock,” the 6.4 mile (roundtrip) hike ends at the famous rock that juts out over San Diego forming the look of a potato chip. Use the hashtag #PotatoChipRock on Instagram to see the many creative ways visitors pose with the rock.
Enjoy Fish Tacos
We have the best fish tacos in the nation. Okay, we may be biased, but with our proximity to Mexico and the ocean in our backyard, the argument is a pretty solid one. If you want to see a San Diegan perk up, offer to take them out for fish tacos (or invite them to a Taco Tuesday). Which restaurant serves the best ones though will differ by who you ask. Some of our favorites include South Beach Bar & Grille’s Mahi Mahi taco, Brigantine Seafood & Oyster Bar’s swordfish taco and really any fresh catch at Pacific Beach Fish Shop. Displaying their catch behind a window, the Fish Shop allows guests to choose their type of fish, preferred seasoning and then whether it’s served on a sandwich, as a plate or in a taco. Try the TKO seasoning made with papaya, mango and pineapple atop the grilled Mahi Mahi.
San Diego is more of a music city than it gets credit for. The city has produced world-famous and Grammy award-winning musicians such as Jason Mraz, Tom Waits, As I Lay Dying, Blink-182 and Switchfoot. Yet, it’s the area’s great, up-and-coming bands that get locals out to the area’s best music venues. The Casbah, the Belly Up Tavern, North Park Observatory, Bar Pink and Soda Bar all offer a range of talent on any given night. A favorite among residents, The Casbah is an intimate venue where guests can easily interact with artists since there is no green room and the stage is an arms-length away from the main floor. Don’t be fooled by its size either, big acts such as Arcade Fire, The Shins, Brandi Carlile, The Black Keys, Fitz & the Tantrums, and Joan Jett have all played there.
It sounds simple enough, but having a drink at one of the many rooftop bars in San Diego is a prime way to spend a Sunday afternoon. When you’ve got ocean and bay views around every corner, it just makes sense to pair them with a great craft cocktail or ice cold beer. When it comes to great city views and a peek at Petco Park, ALTITUDE Sky Lounge at the Marriott Hotel is the place to go. It’s a more upscale crowd here and although it’s at a hotel, it’s a hotspot for locals. For ocean views, head to Cannonball in Mission Beach where you can pair your cocktail with sushi for the perfect sunset setting.