After 10+ years of being away, I recently went back to my hometown of San Diego, CA to visit family. From the moment I stepped off the plane I felt confident, calm, and right where I knew I needed to be. Home has that feeling, y’know? It’s something undeniable yet un-explainable. It’s familiar. It’s comforting. I didn’t know going back home would elicit such strong emotions from me, but there was something honest in experiencing home for the first time after a very long time away.
Home has that feeling, y’know? It’s something undeniable yet un-explainable.
Before I left, I announced my plans to leave to others and I was amused at some of the friendly “advice” I received about what to do and where to go. Sure, I could’ve stopped them from giving me unsolicited advice but I was curious about what people – or tourists – would tell me about my home town. What was their perception? What did they admire? What couldn’t they understand? So I listened and here’s what I heard:
- “It never rains in San Diego.”
- “Everything is so fresh; produce and fruit are available all the time!”
- “The women are sooo skinny! I couldn’t live out there..”
- “That was the biggest zoo I’ve ever been to…I’m sad I didn’t get to see it all. No, I did not ride the Aerial Tram, I’m not sure if it could hold me.”
- “You should go to [insert chain restaurant here] they have the best [insert bland food item here].”
- “Oh, San Diego! I have family in [insert place that is not in San Diego.]”
- It’s perfect. The weather was gorgeous, everything is green, it’s my favorite place to visit.
Some comments amused me, others confused me (seriously, chain restaurants?!), and the last statement gave me warm fuzzies. San Diego is perfect to me but in all reality, there are only two things you need:
1. Chill at the Beach.
There are many opportunities to shop, check out museums, and even take in a little history; but, there’s only one place that will (convincingly) break down the wall of busyness in your life – the beach. I’ll be the first to admit that yes, the water is cold (it’s the Pacific Ocean, okay?) but it’s not all about the water. It’s about the waves, the surf, and sea creatures. It’s about slowing down to actually feel the warm sun on your face, the sand between your toes, and to watch the birds fly above you and know that they have more to worry about than you for the next few hours.
The pictures are from my favorite beach, La Jolla, often referred to as “the jewel” of San Diego. Once my sister, nephew and I scaled the cliffs and found this beautiful spot we didn’t leave for hours. Leave all the heavy baggage behind and just bring yourself and a towel or chair and watch whatever stress you’re facing become nothing- it’s truly powerful!
There are many other beaches to visit, like Mission Beach, Point Loma, Coronado, etc. so choose wisely!
2. Eat Mexican Food.
I’m always shocked when people, who live in a state that does not border Mexico, claim to know where the “best” Mexican food is. No, I’m sorry (not sorry!) but you don’t. It’s in San Diego. And it doesn’t come from a chain restaurant, either. Any foodie knows that some of the best, most authentic food can be found in the little mom n’ pop shops off the beaten path.
From my experience, the best place is Petra & Nati’s Las Cuatro Milpas and I’m not alone- thousands of other native San Diegans would agree! I’ve not had any food like it elsewhere in the United States- these women know how to cook and they do it so well! Everything is made in-house: tortillas (you can actually watch!), tamales, shredded beef, chorizo, salsa…the list goes on. There are no fancy websites to visit for more information as word-of-mouth has served small businesses, such as Milpas, well for generations.
San Diego has many amazing things to offer – from the world famous zoo to boardwalks galore to even a short trip to Mexico – but there are only two things you need to do to maintain a healthy life balance: chill and eat Mexican food. No more, no less.