Hey, remember July? That guy kind of came and went didn’t he? I’m a few months into working for myself, and my schedule tends to go like this: wake up, walk dog, workout class, read a little, write a little, play with dog, with some meals in between. Suffice it to say I spend a lot of time at home in Ocean Beach. I’ve also had a lot of out-of-town visitors come through lately. They always want a tour of my ‘hood, and I’m happy to show it to them. Being tour guide is one of my favorite things to do, because as someone who loathed winters on the East Coast, I feel so hashtag blessed to live in San Diego. If you’re thinking about visiting Southern California, or just live in another part of town and haven’t made it to OB lately, here’s a run down of my favorite places and my ideal way to spend the day.
7:30 A.M: Sunset Cliffs Walk
To maximize your day in little OB (it really is a small town; my favorite saying often found on license plate covers here is ‘seven square miles surrounded by reality’), you’ll want to get out and about just a bit early. Sunset Cliffs natural park is about a mile and a half of serene seaside views, with a dedicated trail. Start at Point Loma Avenue and head South to Ladera Street; take the staircase down the cliffs during low tide. Bonus: Sunset Cliffs is pet-friendly, so you’re bound to see a few cute pooches.
8:30 A.M: Breakfast at Little Lion
Greasy spoon diners are great, but there’s a time and a place for that kind of food. Since you’ve started your day with a little exercise, do yourself a favor and enjoy a fresh, nutrient-dense breakfast at Little Lion. Like the name suggests, the space is really little, with only a few tables available. Luckily OB doesn’t get cracking until 9 or 10, so if you’re here early there’s a good chance you won’t have to wait. My favorite menu items are the Baked Green Eggs, Breakfast Tacos with lentils, cauliflower and soyrizo, and the chia seed pudding situation known as the Turquoise Bowl. The drink menu is pretty much a wellness-junkies dream, featuring brunch cocktails, smoothies, bougie coffee drinks, and even alkaline lemonade.
10:30 A.M: Boutique Shopping
Head back to Newport, the main drag where all the action is. Check out adorable boutiques and try not to spend all your money…easier said than done. A few of my faves are Shara for cute (and affordable!) jewelry and Miss Match for clothing. If you’re into antiques, you’ve come to the right place, because OB has plenty of mom-and-pop shops to peruse. Don’t forget to hang a right on Cable street and stop by Botanica, a bohemian home and garden store with a fantastic selection of plants, which opens at noon.
Another can’t-miss home and garden store is just a block over on Santa Monica street. I dare you to walk into Thistle and leave empty handed…it’s pretty much impossible. Walk just a few minutes north to Voltaire street, where you’ll find another group of enticing shops: The Holistic Science Co. for non-toxic beauty goods, Run for Cover bookstore for those who prefer to read print, and Willow for ceramics and other fun gifts.
12:30 P.M: Beach Break
Congrats, you’ve seen most of OB! That was fast, huh? Follow Voltaire Street to the ocean where you’ll end up at Dog Beach, where it’s Fido Friday everyday! When your heart needs a break from all of that cuteness, walk back down the beach because it’s time for lunch!
1 P.M: Lunch with a View
There are a few great options for lunch with a picturesque view of the ocean and epic people watching. You could opt for South Beach, overlooking the pier with famous fish tacos. Or grab a window seat at Wonderland, named after the town’s former amusement park of the same name. Wonderland’s got a bit of everything, but I usually go for the Rainbow Spring Rolls, Surfer’s Teriyaki Bowl, or the Kale Caesar salad. Just below Wonderland lives OB Surf Lodge with a similar menu; but serious seafood lovers should go for Blue Water Seafood, which just opened their OB location earlier this year. Be sure to walk the pier after your meal; it’s the longest concrete pier on the West Coast!
3 P.M: Taproom Time
The number of beer tasting rooms in this tiny town is kind of…excessive? It’s a highly debated topic in the neighborhood recently, along with the new Target Express that opened this summer. But one things for sure – all of these taprooms get plenty of business. My faves are: Culture, which always has a fruity sour in their rotation; Belching Beaver, that now offers three versions of their popular Peanut Butter Milk Stout; Pizza Port, and Mike Hess. Most taprooms here are dog-friendly, too! If it’s not blatantly obvious Ocean Beach is very dog-centric, much to my delight.
6:30 P.M: Wind Down at Dinner
After a full day of leisurely strolling around town, you’ve probably worked up an appetite. There are a lot of noteworthy restaurants left to try, but here are some of the standouts that never fail. Sundara is an oh-so-cute Indian restaurant with a limited, but stellar menu. The portions are large so you’re likely to take home leftovers. I love the Roasted Masala Veggie salad, the samosas, both specialty vegetarian curries and am no stranger to the sesame naan. If you hear the siren song of French fries, you need to go to Raglan. This New Zealand-inspired bar has more than 21 different burgers; I’m partial to the Holy Roller with grilled tofu. They have a great black bean burger, and will swap out the burger bun for a lettuce wrap, just ask! BO-Beau is a charming restaurant that will briefly transport you to a bistro in France. The lighting is low, the music is chill, the food is consistently good. Do not leave without trying the Crispy Brussels Sprouts, which have to be the most popular item on the menu. BO-Beau has nightly specials and several Gluten Free options, too.
More OB Favorites
OB Donut: Low-key, with some of the best coffee in town.
People’s Organic Food Market: I frequent this co-op for produce, snacks and bulk goods.
The Holding Company: Live music venue that just went under a major renovation. I still need to go check out the rooftop bar!
Current Collective: A place that will inspire your next Instagram. This boutique near the pier also houses Seafarer Coffee and Salt Water Surf & Supply.