Laid-back San Diego
San Diego has an interesting vibe due to its vicinity to the Mexican border. You can immediately sense the laid-back lifestyle and the Mexican influence. The atmosphere in San Francisco and Los Angeles is different—the will to emerge and achieve is easily perceived when you look around. San Diego doesn't care about appearance—it's the perfect spot to visit if you want to slow down.
I enjoyed walking around North Park and breathe the ocean air at La Jolla. These two areas are very different but both worth seeing. North Park has a funky vibe; La Jolla is a residential area where wealthy people live—the view from the promenade is gorgeous. Balboa Park gets busy, but it's worth checking out. It's not just a park—there are museums and beautiful artistic structures that make it a unique destination. The hours you spend there depend on your interests, you can take a quick walk, or spend an entire day visiting museums and exhibitions.
San Diego is famous for the zoo, but few people know that there is another zoo outside of the city. The same owners of the city zoo opened another park in Escondido called Zoo Safari Park, the entrance is $54 per person. The Zoo Safari Park is bigger than the city zoo, and they also built an artificial African Savanna to host the animals and make them feel home. You can take a trolley that goes around the Savanna and enjoy the incredible view. The driver will entertain you with informative and funny anecdotes.
The island of Coronado is famous for the Hotel del Coronado, where the movie "Some Like it Hot" with Marilyn Monroe was shot. It's a touristy location, and many people want to see it. If you are not interested in that, go to Coronado just to enjoy some beach time—the beach in front of the hotel is stunning.
If you want to take a drive and explore a different town, I recommend Encinitas. It's the surfers' paradise, and it has a more local vibe, compared to San Diego (fewer malls). I chose Encinitas because I am interested in Eastern philosophies—yogi Yogananda lived the last years of his life in Encinitas, where his disciples built a heritage for him. Even if you are not into meditation, the gardens are worth the drive—the view is a treat for the eyes and the soul.
WHERE TO EAT:
The Crack Shack in Little Italy has the best tuna sandwich I have ever had. It's not tuna from a can (as I expected), it's fresh tuna, lightly seared.
Hundred Proof is perfect if you are looking for a bar to enjoy cocktails but also grab a bite. I loved the beet hummus, and the fish tacos—nothing on the plate was greasy, and everything was tasty.
If you are looking for authentic Italian food in San Diego, visit Officine Buona Forchetta located in Liberty Station—Chef Marcello will transport you in Italy with his expertise and delicious dishes. Make sure you get the chance to try different things and choose a dinner "family style," don't miss the octopus carpaccio, pizza, and seafood pasta!