San Diego, a city of 1.426 million, home of the San Diego Padres and known for its awesome SeaWorld, is a vibe, if I say so myself. Having visited a handful of times since moving to LA, I’m beginning to develop a little soft spot for the tiny, SoCal city. Being two hours away from LA, it’s not too hard to get to – like driving from Toronto to Niagara Falls. Locals like to tell me that San Diego is a chiller version of LA, and they’re certainly right.
What makes San Diego such a good vibe? Here are 3 reasons:
1. Balboa Park
Balboa Park is like the Central Park of San Diego. It’s a vast, 1.875 miles (that’s 3 kilometres for all you normal folks) of lush greenery that oozes with charm and, as far as I can tell, doesn’t have the dangerous side of Central Park. Balboa Park, which was initially named City Park, is named after Spanish explorer, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, and not after Rocky Balboa – something my friends thought when I told them where I’d spent the weekend.
Not only is the landscape of Balboa Park something worth marvelling at, but so are the many activities you can do.
Museum of Man: Cannibals: Myth & Reality
Smack dab in the middle of Balboa Park is a museum that alternates exhibits every once in a while. When I was there, they had Cannibals: Myth & Reality, which is, as crazy as it is, a museum about cannibalism throughout history and in media.
Going through the exhibit is indeed pretty messed up. There are retellings of how cannibalism transpired in communities from New Zealand, Australia and in Spain. They even showed some of the same instruments people used to kill… Cook… Eat each other? Very nerve-racking but low-key interesting, not even going to lie.
Continuing through the museum, there’s a hella interesting exhibit called Post Secret, where you guessed it, people posted their secrets. Reading about others’ secrets is fascinating enough, but the design of the exhibit and the canvas where each secret is shared is super cute – like a Wes Anderson movie. There are literally thousands of secrets to read. Submitting them can be done then and there, as there are loads of postcards you can write on, or you can submit them via email. They’ve even got a secret hotline, where you can share your secrets the old school way. My secret is that whenever I see the word “hotline” I wished she’d make my Hotline Bling.
What’s your secret? Share it at Post Secret. Anonymously of course.
Japanese Friendship Garden
Then there’s the Japanese Friendship Garden, which is almost like entering a completely different world. Once you’re inside, it feels eerily more quiet than the rest of the park and a sense of serenity washes over you – it’s crazy. From bonsai trees, to koi fish and to rock gardens, you’ll be happy to be surrounded by this stuff after getting the chills at the cannibalism exhibit.
Balboa Park plays with your senses, and you’ll love every bit of it. Make sure you eat at The Prado!
2. Lovely Views
Having lived in the city for a huge chunk of my life, I often take for granted how important great views can be. Normally being surrounded by skyscrapers, I’m not within an arm’s reach to delicious views – and San Diego definitely has them.
My favorite view so far, apart from being on the waterfront and seeing San Diego’s skyline, is at Cabrillo National Monument – Point Loma. With a lighthouse adorning the top point, museums about naval war, and statues erected for Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who led the first European expedition to explore what is now the west coast of the United States, there’s something to keep your interest.
I think back to Toronto’s views, and nothing comes close to being this charming and backed up by so much history. Though I’m not talking about Toronto’s skyline – it’s untouchable. Fight me.
3. The Music Scene
Number three will depend heavily on your love for festivals and for electro, but the things I was able to experience in San Diego earlier this year, before the rona hit, has given me a new appreciation for music and for festivals in general. The level and quality of artists I got to see at Crssd Fest were insane – 2ManyDJs, Carl Cox, Charlotte de Witte, Myd and even a b2b with 2ManyDJs and Brodinski and Bang Bang, yeah you don’t get that level of god-like electro in Toronto.
Not only was the quality of artists awesome, but so were the people – for the most part. Random people kept coming up to us and commenting on how much they loved our shirts (Partiboi69 btw) and the sense of community was very strong.
When it comes to the music festivals I’ve been to in Toronto, there’s a feeling of boujeeness, like, “Is that what you’re actually wearing?” versus “I love what you’re wearing!” At Crssd Fest, there was this guy going around who was wearing handheld fans as earrings and people wanted to take pictures with him. Or people sharing hats and sunglasses – though in retrospect, that was pretty unsanitary, knowing everything we now know about COVID-19.
Toronto Music festivals that started out as electro festivals have now been transforming into rap and hip hop festivals, which is fine, event managers know their market. But for me, who has been a fan of electro since I was a yute, I’ve found a place and city where it’s embraced with open arms and talent I would have otherwise never seen are playing just two hours away from me.
I know San Diego will provide me that electro-fix that I regularly need.
There you have it, the 3 things that I love about San Diego. It’s a lovely city and if I ever decide to relocate to somewhere else in SoCal other than LA, SD will definitely be in my top 3 (SF and SJ are the other two). Have you visited San Diego? What do you love? What do you hate? I’d love to hear from you.
If you like this content, check out my YouTube channel, where I’m planning to upload more SoCal videos soon.