By Vince Mancuso, Storage.com
Whether it’s for the culture, the beautiful people, or even just for that amazing year-round weather, San Diego is a great place to live, which explains why it’s one of the ten largest cities in the United States. If you’re one of the many looking to get into “America’s Finest City,” there are a few things you ought to know!
1. BIG CITY WITH A SMALL-TOWN FEEL.
San Diego is home to more than 1.35 million residents, making it the eighth largest city in the United States. However, unlike the hustle and bustle you’d see in other major metropolises, San Diego has a “chill” factor that makes you feel like you live in a small community. This may be due to the fact that residents are spread out over 372 square miles. Compared to Chicago, which has more than 2.7 million residents in 234 square miles, there’s way more space to stretch out and enjoy life in San Diego.
2. COME FOR THE BEACHES.
Because San Diego is close to the water, there’s no lack of choices when it comes to how you want to hit the sand! Locals enjoy Coronado Beach for its spaciousness and fine white sand—though they recommend packing a sturdy umbrella in case the breeze picks up. It even has a dog park for any four-legged friends you may have. If you have a family, be sure to check out Mission Bay Park, where you can play in the grass, run on the beach, or have a family BBQ. You can also take advantage of San Diego’s mild climate at Sunset Cliffs, which residents say has the most beautiful views of the sunset. Sure, it’s a popular place for proposals and photo shoots, but there’s free parking, and it’s usually not too crowded.
3. BALBOA PARK.
Everyone has heard of the world-famous San Diego Zoo, but the zoo is only part of the wonder that is Balboa Park. This 1,200-acre cultural park is home to 19 gardens, 17 museums, nine performing arts centers, and nine attractions, including the zoo. You can even take your pick of activities, such as testing out your archery skills, playing in the dog park, taking your kids to one of five play areas, or hitting any of the 19 running trails. There’s even an added bonus for San Diego residents, as the park’s museums offer free admission to a rotating schedule of museum tours during Resident Free Tuesdays.
4. THE GREAT OUTDOORS.
In addition to the beaches and Balboa Park, San Diego has a number of other outdoor attractions to enjoy. For instance, you can stroll through The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, located in northern San Diego County, which is open March 1 through May 10. For a more year-round attraction, you can hit the trails at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, where you can learn from exhibits, nature walks, or take a hike of your own on the reserve trails. San Diego was also named one of the best fishing cities in the U.S. by Field & Stream for a number of reasons. For one, the fishing is good both in and out of the ocean, but another big bonus is that there’s no off-season for fishing in an area with a pleasant climate all year.
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5. MEXICAN FOOD GALORE.
When you live in San Diego, you must love Mexican food, whether it’s from a nice sit-down restaurant or a quick-serve shop. Residents love La Puerta in the historic Gaslamp Quarter off of 4th Avenue and West Market Street. La Puerta offers a number of family recipes that keep patrons coming back, including Surf ‘n’ Turf, which is made with arrachera steak, shrimp, tomatoes, grilled onions, poblano peppers, cheese, guacamole, and avocado chipotle crema. La Puerta also offers daily happy hour deals, and people love the $2 street tacos on Taco Tuesday! For a quicker experience, San Diegans love local chain Roberto’s Taco Shop for affordable and authentic Mexican food, such as the grilled chicken burrito or carne asada.
6. THE CRAVORY.
For something a bit sweeter, visit The Cravory, a cookie chain throughout the city. We’d tell you what locals recommend, but when it comes to cookie flavors, such as birthday cake, cookies n’ cream milkshake, or pancakes and bacon, you can’t go wrong! Also, the ultimate chocolate chip even comes gluten-free!
7. DON’T BE ALARMED BY GORGEOUS PEOPLE.
Whether you’re hitting the beach, dining out, or even just walking around, you’re likely to notice one thing: the people here are gorgeous. It might be alarming, but the reality is San Diegans just look really good. The city has actually been among the top ranked spots for having the most beautiful people in America. They also placed in the top ten for having the healthiest people in the country, which is probably due to all of the outdoor activities the city offers. Between being attractive and fit, it probably explains why San Diego gave the world athletes, such as legendary baseball player Ted Williams, soccer’s Julie Foudy, and professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, as well as actors like Cameron Diaz and Mario Lopez. That said, San Diegans are also as friendly as they are attractive, so don’t feel nervous around them!
8. SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON.
San Diego is home to San Diego Comic-Con International (which was the largest comic book convention in North America until the 2014 New York Comic Con). While it may not have the title of largest, there’s still no denying the impressive size of the convention, which draws more than 130,000 fans to check out the more than 460,000 square feet of exhibits, 700 different programmed events, awards, art shows, and, of course, cosplayers all focused on comic books and other pop arts. Rumor has it that the organizers of SDCC have plans for expansion to boost attendance, which could help them earn back that “largest” title.
9. ANCHORS AWEIGH.
Did we mention the U.S. Navy is one of San Diego’s top 10 employers? The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet has its principal home-port at Naval Base San Diego, making it the largest naval fleet base on the West Coast. The base is home to more than 20,000 military personnel, 6,000 civilians, and 200 individual commands and covers more than 1,600 acres of land and 326 acres of water.
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10. WHERE THE NIGHTLIFE IS.
For those who want to enjoy San Diego long after the sun goes down, locals recommend hookah bars like the Phantom Lounge in Miramar or The Hookah Lab Hookah Lounge downtown. For those who don’t enjoy the smoke, be sure to check out the Gaslamp Quarter and its many hot spots. People love the Gaslamp Speakeasy, which has live jazz music and handcrafted beverages—the bartender will literally carve an ice sphere for your Old-Fashioned. For something a bit more airy, check out ALTITUDE Sky Lounge, located on the upper floors of the Marriott in the Gaslamp Quarter. This rooftop bar offers spectacular views of the city with balconies on both sides of the building. Another bonus of the nightlife is that San Diego has great beer, earning it a spot on Livability’s Best Beer Cities. With more than eight breweries and pubs, you can enjoy brews like Stone, Societe, Ballast Point, AleSmith, and more.
11. HISTORIC HAUNTS.
San Diego has a deep history, dating back before the Spanish Empire settled in the area in the mid-1700s. With centuries of history, it’s not surprising to hear a ghost story or two around the city. Locals love the tales of the Hotel del Coronado, a beautiful beachside resort that was the largest in the world when it opened in 1888. While tourists can rent a number of luxury rooms, the hotel does offer two rooms that are reportedly haunted by the ghost of Kate Morgan, a woman who died in “mysterious circumstances” at the hotel in 1892. Another historic haunt is the Whaley House in Old Town. Built in 1857, it’s the oldest brick structure in Southern California and has been known for glimpses of the Whaley family ghosts.
12. ONE OF THE SMARTEST CITIES.
San Diego is listed among the 25 Most Educated Cities in America, and we have a feeling the more than 30 colleges and universities in the area have something to do with that. This includes public universities like San Diego State University and University of California, San Diego, as well as private colleges like University of San Diego and Point Loma Nazarene University. There’s even UCSD School of Medicine and three law schools: California Western School of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and University of San Diego School of Law. With so many colleges to choose from, it’s no wonder more than 41% of adults above the age 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher (13% higher than the national average).
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13. YEAR-ROUND FARMERS MARKET.
With a year-round growing season, it’s no wonder there’s always an open farmers market in San Diego. What’s even better is that local farmers take the top spots in producing specialized and valuable niche crops, such as avocados, guaves, pomegranates, and macadamias. San Diego is even ranked third in honey production, ninth in strawberries, and tenth in egg-laying hens.
14. FRIENDLY ADVICE FROM SAN DIEGANS.
San Diegans are friendly to other natives and transplants alike. Locals suggest you treat others with respect while walking, running, or riding on the boardwalk—and be sure to wave to Slo Mo, the man rollerblading in slow motion. They’ll also tell you be careful and patient on the roads, as the average motorist will spend 37 hours driving each year due to traffic.
What did you think of our list? Is there anything about San Diego you would add?