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Laid back but with a vibrant beach-city vibe.
Canadians are cool, in both the figurative and (now that winter is upon us) literal senses. So here’s a tip for those of us seeking warmer climes but want to skip the humdrum resort scene. Visit San Diego, California.Forbes called San Diego “America’s Coolest City”, and it’s easy to see why. This is a paradise for the young and the young at heart. With an average age of just 35, San Diegans have created a mecca for adventure seekers who expect just a little more from life. If your idea of a great time involves perfect weather, great food, craft beer and a vibrant arts scene, you will find it here, in addition to spectacular surroundings and some of the best beaches in the world.You can’t mention San Diego without talking about its phenomenal outdoor lifestyle, much of which has a lot to do with the fact that it lies at the southwestern tip of the US, right along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. This is matched by its fantastic year-round weather, with the temperature rarely dropping below 16°C or soaring above 25°C. The fact that you can surf, snorkel, boat and paddle all year makes it a must visit destination for any Canadian that might have been a fish in another life!Those who would rather not get their feet wet can immerse themselves in beach volleyball, biking on endless beach paths or just lying in the sun. San Diego also offers hiking, world class golf, rock climbing and more. Its perfect year-round weather makes it the ultimate outdoor playground.Spend a day at Balboa Park, which happens to be the largest urban cultural park in the U.S. It’s also a cultural landmark, with acres of gardens, 17 museums, theatres and galleries. For impromptu free entertainment, check out the street performers and artists that line The Prado. Of course, since we’re in San Diego, you can also enjoy a charming meal at The Prado restaurant, or wade into the craft beer scene at Panama 66, which is a more casual outdoors hangout — all while surrounded by the beauty of Balboa Park. La Jolla Cove (SAN DIEGO TOURISM AUTHORITY)You can also take a short drive north to experience the beach town of La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya) — there’s a reason why it means “the jewel” in Spanish. Consider exploring the oceanside caves of La Jolla Cove, an ecological reserve, where you can mingle with the seals and spot other wildlife. Later, take a stroll to the fantastic Murals of La Jolla, a project of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library commissioned by the community to demonstrate La Jolla’s unique personality and vibrancy. Scope out the town’s many coveted dining options, including some of San Diego’s best upscale eateries. Here you can enjoy gourmet open-air dining and stunning coastal views like nowhere else.Food is at the centre of the city’s rich craft scene. For a truly San Diego experience, get to know Cali-Baja food – a mixture between Mexican cuisine and California’s emphasis on fresh, local food. It’s about shocking your taste buds and doing the extraordinary, like grilled octopus on a tostada or grilled avocado in a taco. The Cali-Baja scene has kept those in the know buzzing for years, and could be reason alone to visit the city, especially if you are a foodie.Speaking of foodies, do go to Little Italy – one of the buzziest food neighbourhoods in the city, and an area that Forbes dubbed as one of the US’s top 10 hottest neighbourhoods. This foodie’s haven is home to more than 50 restaurants and cafés, some of which are dotted along what locals call “Top Chef Alley”. This strip is famous for the many restaurant creations of past Top Chef contestants including Brian Malarkey and Richard Blais. OB Brewery (SAN DIEGO TOURISM AUTHORITY)There would be no point in mentioning the fabulous food scene in San Diego without talking about its impressive craft beer scene, which is a culture all in itself. As Canadians, we love our beer, so a trip to San Diego might be akin to a pilgrimage to one of the world’s largest and most prolific craft beer destinations. San Diego is home to over 150 local craft breweries. And it even boasts its very own signature brew; the West Coast-style IPA. This signature brew can be tasted at breweries along the “Hops Highway”, “Beer-a-Mar” and “Beer Boulevard”. All of these beer regions can be experienced on a brewery tour, or you can easily just head to one of these strips and take it all in on your own.Driven by its young citizens and stunning geography, San Diego is all about perfect weather, gorgeous beaches, culture, street art, food, craft beer and nightlife. Be sure to check out America’s Coolest City and experience it for yourself.