I Heart My City: Shannon Switzer’s San Diego

One of the many trails you'll find in Mission Park. (Photograph by Shannon Switzer)

As you know, Shannon Switzer, otherwise known as the Curious Traveler, just returned from an epic road trip around the American West. Though she’s happy to be back in her hometown of San Diego, she aims to keep her curiosity goggles on now that she’s back in familiar territory. Now, without further ado, these are a few of her favorite things.

San Diego is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is La Jolla Cove to kayak in the sea caves and snorkel with leopard sharks and sea lions.

Brown pelicans (center left) waiting out a storm at La Jolla Cove. (Photograph by Trisha Ratledge, My Shot)

When I crave a California Burrito I always go to Lolita’s Taco Shop.

To escape the beach crowds in summer I head inland to Cedar Creek Falls near Ramona.

If I want to buy chocolate-chip banana bread that’s to die for I go to Charlie’s Best Bread in Pacific Beach.

For complete quiet, I can hide away on the cliffs above Bird Rock in La Jolla.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with Shamu at Sea World.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from Craft & Commerce, it has to be the Kentucky Riviera cocktail (bourbon, crème de cacao, lemon, and peach bitters).

Cedar Creek Falls, one of San Diego’s backcountry gems. (Photograph by Shannon Switzer)

Deseret Industries Thrift Store in Chula Vista is my one-stop shop for great deals on vintage clothes.

Locals know to skip the Gaslamp on crowded weekends and check out the great bars and restaurants in North Park instead.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go to World Famous on Wednesdays for $1.75 lobster tacos.

For a huge splurge I go to Oestra the Fishhouse in the Gaslamp for their scallop dish (pan seared scallops served over soft polenta, lobster chunks, and tobiko caviar in a pomegranate reduction sauce).

Photo ops in my city are literally everywhere! For great ocean shots go to Torrey Pines State Park in the early morning or during “golden hour” in the late afternoon. For urban shots of interesting murals go to Barrio Logan, just south of downtown.

Me and my friends at the Altitude Sky Lounge. (Photograph by Shannon Switzer)

The best vantage points are from Kate Sessions Park (overlooking Pacific Beach), the Altitude Sky Lounge atop the Marriott (which provides great views of the Gaslamp), and, during baseball season, Petco Park (where you can watch the game).

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Angelina Jolie, because it’s a dynamic city with classic beauty and plenty of grit.

The most random thing about my city is the giant mountain of salt that sits on the San Diego Bay in Chula Vista — South Bay Salt Works is the second oldest commercial business in San Diego.

My city has the most active and fit men.

Catch a Padres game at Petco Park. (Photograph by Rob Eakins, My Shot)

My city has the most entrepreneurial women.

In my city, an active day outdoors involves heading to the local mountains (Big Bear, Snow Summit, or Mountain High) for a snowboard session, then getting back home in time for a sunset surf.

My city’s best museum is the San Diego Natural History Museum.

My favorite jogging/walking route is any of the 40 miles of trails in Mission Trails Regional Park, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S.

For a night of dancing, go to Vin de Syra. Or, for live music, check out The Belly Up Tavern.

Bolillo Tortas is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read DiscoverSD.

You can tell a lot about my city from its past, which you can learn about in Old Town, the oldest settled part of San Diego known as the “birthplace of California.”

You can tell if someone is from my city if they say “dude” and “like” during an intellectual discussion.

The best thing about San Diego? Daytime snowboarding, followed by a sunset surf. (Photograph by Shannon Switzer)

In the spring you should check out the wildflowers in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

In the summer you should check out the grunion run along any of San Diego’s beaches or go to one of the many open-air theatres like Moonlight Amphitheater in Vista.

In the fall you should take advantage of the gorgeous weather during what we call our “Indian Summer” in late September through October and check out one of the many festivals — San Diego Beer Week, Adams Avenue Street Fair, and the International Film Festival.

In the winter you should go play in the snow in the mountain town of Julian and enjoy a slice of their world-famous apple pie made from apples grown in the local orchards.

Stop and smell the wildflowers in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. (Photograph by Chyong Hsien, My Shot)

A hidden gem in my city is the Wild Willow Farm and Education Center in Ocean Beach.

For a great breakfast joint, try Cafe 222 and order the sweet cornbread waffle.

Don’t miss the the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, one of the largest outdoor organ pipes in the world.

Just outside my city, you can visit Tijuana, Mexico.

The best way to see my city is by trolley — it gives you the best views of the San Diego River.

If my city were a pet it would be a Golden Retriever, because it’s friendly and likes playing outdoors.

If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live in the hamlet of Coronado.

See a film under the stars, and on the water. (Photograph courtesy of USS Midway Museum)

The best book about my city is The Way We Were in San Diego by local newspaper reporter Richard W. Crawford.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “My Town” by Buck-O-Nine.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster in Belmont Park.

Outdoor summer movie screening on the USS Midway floating museum could only happen in my city.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because it has it all — the ocean, the mountains, the desert, cultural happenings and great night life. It’s truly America’s finest city.

I Heart My City: Shannon Switzer’s San Diego

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