California

On Appreciating San Diego

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I’m going to toot my own horn for a moment…

I live in an awesome city.

Sometimes I don’t really appreciate it as much as I should, because I get caught up in work and traffic and bills and cleaning the apartment and making sure I’ve bought enough eggs to last through the week, but when I do stop and take the time to look around me, I have to say, San Diego is pretty amazing.

I haven’t always lived in San Diego. I’m an L.A. transplant who, like so many before and after me, gave up the glitz and glamour urban sprawl and crush of humanity for a mellower, more pleasant, more quintessentially “California” experience.

Reflecting on the past eleven years of my life living in San Diego, I can see how I’ve changed as a result of living here. I remember when I first moved here. I was 23, and I felt like I was dragged kicking and screaming. It was so boring here. Of course, being a newlywed 23-year-old with a husband who had just been offered a dream job in San Diego, I moved with him on the promise of getting the heck back out to somewhere more exciting as soon as he had acquired the required amount of experience in his job. My own professional life was still somewhat lacking at the time. I was working at a job that I didn’t really care too much for in a field that was not my chosen field of graphic design, so it made sense to move, but I resented the move to the sleepy coastal San Diego suburb or Carlsbad at the time. 23-year-old me wanted excitement and adventure. 23-year-old me wanted to move somewhere like Paris, or New York, or even Tokyo…not….Carlsbad.

It was a tough adjustment period, but eventually I came to love my new home, to prefer it even. Maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten older, but the allure of Hollywood nightclubs and gallery opening parties has faded and been replaced with a deep appreciation of a good afternoon spent at the Encinitas meditation gardens, watching surfers from the cliffs high above the ocean, and a leisurely Sunday brunch on a breezy patio.

One thing I find interesting is that many travelers who come to Southern California end up skipping San Diego altogether in favor of L.A., which is only 2 hours drive North (well, when there isn’t traffic, anyway). While I grew up in L.A. and most of my family as well as my husband’s family still lives there and it will always have a very special place in my heart, I can’t help but wonder why some travelers skip San Diego.

I completely understand if you’re in it for the Hollywood sign and the Santa Monica pier (and that oh-so-L.A. experience of being stuck in traffic for 4 hours just to go 10 miles), but I often hear things like, I want that classic Southern California beach experience, or, oh, I don’t know…we’re just going to show up in L.A. and wander around without much of a plan.

If you want that classic beach experience, you can definitely find it in Los Angeles, but did you know that San Diego’s beach communities are, in general, more pristine with better beaches than their L.A. counterparts? Did you know that showing up in L.A. without a plan is a terrible idea because the place is huge, full of awful traffic, and notoriously tough to find a parking spot in? (Have a plan for L.A….for the love of god, have a plan).

Don’t think I’m hating on L.A. I’m not.

It’s actually one of my favorite places in the world. L.A. is a place where you can do anything you might fancy. It really does have it all…beaches, Hollywood stuff, funky art scenes and museums, amazing restaurants, weird events, beautiful nature, awesome hiking trails, shopping, and so much more…but….if it’s that quintessential Southern California beach experience you’re after, you can’t beat San Diego, my adopted home.

 

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