3060 University Ave., North Park
A small floral shop in the North Park area of San Diego, Sage Sisters focuses on quality and seasonality over volume. The careful selection of flowers is constantly changing, and no two bouquets are ever the same. But the overall aesthetic doesn’t change: natural, unpretentious designs that lean into the season. The best part of Sage Sisters, though, is that any flowers that aren’t sold by the end of the day are made into arrangements and donated to local nonprofits.
Ironsmith Coffee Roasters
458 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas
A hipster, industrial space with a garage door, free Wi-Fi, and a highly curated, artisanal approach to coffee—that’s the essence of this coffee shop, which would be just as at home in Brooklyn as it is in Encinitas. The space is small, but it has its own roastery, and the baristas are highly knowledgeable about all things coffee. Stroll in on the later side if you can: It may be in a sleepy little beach town, but this place gets packed in the morning. Image courtesy of Kai Diaz.
The Lion’s Share
629 Kettner Blvd., Downtown
We were captivated by the heavy wooden door and almost heavier lion’s head knocker. But once we came inside, we were in love. There’s something very creepy cool about The Lion’s Share—the moody lighting and velvet drapery, the taxidermy and unsettling paintings of animals presented in an uncanny-valley sort of way (like the water buffalo wielding a knife). Even the menu, with its old-fashioned, vaguely haunted imagery, sends a shiver down our spine. Try the County Cork (twelve-year-old whiskey, sherry, Grand Marnier, and orgeat) and a meat and cheese board. That’s only to start—the food is out of this world, so leave time for a few courses.
3801 30th St., North Park
Pigment is one of those stores that makes us want to throw out everything in our home and start over. Beautiful artisanal candles you’d have a hard time finding anywhere else, elegant prints that would elevate any living space, pillows, throws, stationery, notebooks, cutting boards, cocktail glasses—Pigment speaks to the good life, and a well-curated one at that. But where Pigment really thrives is with its greenery. All manner of pots, plants, succulents, and flora that look more like pieces of art than pieces of nature. You can also design your own terrarium, which—no lie—was the most fun we’ve had in a long time.
453 Sixth Ave., Gaslamp
The view from the Nolen is so vast, it’s hard to be believe you’re only fourteen stories above downtown San Diego. On a clear day (which is most days here), you can see the Gaslamp district, Petco Park, and all the way to the Coronado Bridge. But the Nolen is worth it even in the rain: The drinks game is solid (we love the Damnit Janet—a mix of vodka, rose water, watermelon, and lychee), and the warm, salty, delicious snacks will inspire you to make a night of it. Or a day, in fact. The Sunday brunch is one of the best in San Diego.
Heartwork Coffee Bar
3993 Goldfinch St., Mission Hills
Tucked into Mission Hills, Heartwork is a neighborhood coffee bar. It does its own roasting and leans heavily into small-batch, locally made pastries and snacks. The vibe is quiet and chill, perfect for a stop if you’re passing through the area. Before you leave town, grab a bag of the beans—the Costa Rica blend is a favorite.
Raised by Wolves
4301 La Jolla Village Dr., La Jolla
Having a drink at Raised by Wolves feels a little like you might be having a drink at the Gare du Nord a hundred years ago. The marble floors, antique cash register, domed glass ceiling, gilded barstools, velvet armchairs in the library, moody lighting: It all conspires to make you feel as if you’re in an Agatha Christie novel and there’s a steam engine train nearby. The drink menu is extensive—over a dozen pages before you even get to the wine—so if you’re overwhelmed, ask one of the skilled bartenders for a suggestion. Or keep it simple and order a glass of champagne.
100 Park Blvd., Downtown
Whether or not you’re a San Diego Padres fan and whether or not you’re even a baseball fan, it’s hard to resist the charms of sitting outside at twilight, drinking a cold beer, and watching the sun set over the city. Petco Park, located right in downtown San Diego, is the Padres home stadium, and it’s occasionally used for events and concerts. Whatever you go for, try to make it a late-afternoon event—watching dusk settle on the city from here is lovely.
One of the most pedestrian-friendly areas in San Diego, Little Italy is a charming jumble of bars, trattorias, shops, and markets—and it’s one of those rare neighborhoods that’s as lively during the day as it is in the evening. Spend the day window-shopping and checking out the local galleries, stop for a virtuous lunch at Café Gratitude, stroll down to Waterfront Park, and should the afternoon bleed into evening, you’re perfectly positioned to treat yourself to a cheese tray and a glass of Verdicchio at Enoteca Style wine bar (which is as much a name as it is a design aesthetic).
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
12600 N Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla
Torrey Pines is 1,500 acres of pure, pristine, untouched California. This nature reserve is right on the water and delivers some of the prettiest views you’ll find anywhere in the state. First the bad news: This is a reserve, not a park, which means you can’t bring food or drinks inside, so no picnics. (No pets are allowed in the reserve, either.) But the good news is you won’t really care. The reserve is so full of hikes and trails and cliffs and places to explore, it feels like a vacation within a vacation. If you have kids, this place is heaven (actually whether or not you have kids, it’s pretty much heaven): There are deer, rabbits, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, lizards, snakes, opossums, bobcats, and all kinds of insects—so watch your footing. The reserve is open every day of the year from 7:15 a.m. to sunset.
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