While Comic-Con’s presence looms large over the popular perception of San Diego, there’s a lot more to California’s southernmost city than the world’s biggest stars would have you believe. Spanning over one hundred kilometres of pristine coastline that will take you within arms reach of Mexico, San Diego is enjoying a popular renaissance as a destination that straddles the divide between rest and recreation.
To help you navigate the city’s 100 eclectic neighbourhoods, GRAZIA spoke to Sasha Roberts – personal concierge to the stars at one of San Diego’s most prestigious hotels and celebrity enclaves, Beach Village at The Del – to solicit a tour of the best places to stay, play, wine and dine in San Diego.
As far as celebrity-spotting goes, prime celeb watching in San Diego takes place during Comic Con, the annual movie marketing phenomenon and comic book convention held every July. Part of the historic beachside Hotel del Coronado, the 128-year-old Victorian era grand dame nestled in the heart of Coronado Island, Beach Village at the Del and its luxury beachside villas are a sure-fire bet for A-list people watching in a location that cannot be beat. On a smaller scale, The Pearl in Point Loma is a budget-friendly, modern, boutique hotel that possesses a singular charm unique to mid-century architecture – an appeal that’s boosted considerably by perks like dive-in movies and craft cocktails. For the more nocturnally inclined, Roberts recommends the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego’s vibrant Gaslamp Quarter for its unparalleled convenience, rooftop pool, and in-house entertainment options, including nightclubs and another of Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s eponymous, legendary Japanese restaurants.
“As far as celebrity-spotting goes, prime celeb-watching takes place during Comic-Con every July when A-list actors, directors and Hollywood industry folks fill the restaurants, bars and clubs.”
Breakfast Burritos are part of every quintessential San Diego experience – “a MUST HAVE”, according to Roberts. There’s no shortage to be found around a town whose vibrant culinary scene thrives thanks to its proximity to the Mexican border. With three locations in San Diego, you’d be hard pressed to miss one at The Mission. If braving the open-air Tuna Harbour Fish Market sounds like too great an ask, head straight to Saiko Sushi on Coronado Island for some of the best sushi in San Diego. It might seem counterintuitive for a Japanese restaurant that serves year-round fresh fish, but Roberts’ proffered one secret menu tip: “They also have the best meatloaf!” If fish fatigue hasn’t set in by the evening, make a beeline for Ironside Fish & Oyster. Once a 1920s warehouse, Ironside’s stunning interior design (read: an entire wall built from piranha skulls) is rivalled only by the raw bar’s signature one pound lobster rolls and fresh oysters served on platters that come in three sizes: Big, Bigger and Biggest.