San Diego, California

Penasquitos Canyon

showed me how to live my best life. With juice bars, health food stores and hiking trails, oh my; I had the healthiest week of my life— on vacation! Though San Diego has the art and culture elements of the big city experience, I found it to be closer to Brevard than New York City in terms of layout. There was limited public transportation and long drives between each adventure.  If you love the metropolitan energy, but not the crowds, limited greenery, and fast-paced lifestyle, I recommend San Diego.

The Great Outdoors

     There is no shortage of fresh air in San Diego. Paths to hike appeared at the end of every road and after that, you could be at a beach to surf in less than 30 minutes. I particularly liked the Penasquitos Canyon trail. Even if hiking wouldn’t normally cross your mind as a must-do, it is worth it in California! The stark contrast between Florida’s never- ending green and California’s mountainous, red clay is amazing. After hiking Penasquitos Canyon for the first time, we stopped at La Jolla Cove, where seals were lined up on the bank of the beach. Explorers ignored the smell to get up-close pictures with the mammals, who were surprisingly calm. I even took my nephew right up to them for a photo-op.

     When I wasn’t amongst the mountains, I was soaking up all that Balboa Park has to offer.  The park grounds contain 16 attractions, most of which are museums, and include the San Diego Zoo. I bought the “multi- day, multi-park explorer” pass, but there is so much to see, and I only made it to about five. The Japanese Friendship Garden was easily my favorite. San Diego and its sister city, Yokohama, created a traditional Japanese garden within the park. The immersive, educational experience allows visitors to walk down pathways of Japanese flora and fauna. Along the trails are two museums, one containing Japanese-style art and the other an exhibit on Japanese daily life.

La Jolla Cove
Japanese Friendship Garden

Delectable Dining

Pressed Juicery

     Almost every restaurant in San Diego has some sort of health initiative and is ready to cater to every diet. As a health-conscious vegan it was fantastic to have so many options, even in places I would never have expected, like burger joints. Many have also switched to sustainable business practices, like ditching plastic straws and bags. My favorite health food store, by far, was the Pressed Juicery. They carry smoothies and juices for post-adventure rejuvenation and vegan soft-serve for any health-nut’s sweet tooth.

     San Diego is a great place to visit if you enjoy a good dose of nature and juice cleanses, as well as rich, cultural learning experiences. If you’re looking to learn something, pack your bag full of reusable bags and head to San Diego.

Casey Wilkerson