By Sabrina Piper: Associate Editor
Welcome to San Diego! You may have heard a lot of things about our beautiful city, but rest assured that it does rain (mostly in February), not everyone surfs (but a lot do), and sometimes the weather isn’t so perfect (June Gloom and a touch of humidity). But whether that makes you happier about your choice to spend the next three years here or a little more hesitant, I think most of you will find something about San Diego that makes you happy.
San Diego County is made of smaller neighborhood communities which are each a little different from one another and each offer their own cultural environment. I highly suggest that you spend a little time exploring the different areas and finding out which of them feels most comfortable to you. But being as the school year has just begun and your time is probably otherwise accounted for; I’ll give you a brief overview of a few of the areas closest to campus.
When most people think of San Diego, they think of beaches, surfing, fish tacos, and sunshine. On most days, you’ll find plenty of all of those things in the Pacific Beach and Mission Bay areas. These places are great for a day of fun at Belmont Park, Sea World, or just hanging out at the beach; but they are also great for nights of sports bars, dancing, or Bar Review events.
Old Town tends to attract a lot of tourists and parking can be rather difficult at times, but it’s a great place to head for Taco Tuesday or a margarita to celebrate finishing the last final of the year. It’s known for its quaint shops and historic sites. It’s a great place to take out of town visitors and to do a little site seeing.
South of campus along interstate 5 you will find yourself in downtown San Diego. You’ll know you’re there when you see tall buildings, airplanes, and suddenly find yourself on one-way streets. There are tons of things to see and do in downtown San Diego: Padres games, conventions, Sea Port Village, shopping at Horton Plaza, visiting the Farmers Market in Little Italy, and of course, the Gaslamp.
The Gaslamp area is where you’ll find clubs, restaurants, and some great people watching. You will probably become well acquainted with it after a few Bar Review outings, but when you’re downtown it may help to keep these parking tips in mind.
1) Meters, Green, and Yellow Zones: You can park in one of these spots after 6:00pm for FREE for any length of time up until 8:00am the following morning (just make sure there aren’t any signs that indicate otherwise).
2) Sunday, Sunday, Sunday: You can park in most any area on Sundays or City holidays for any length of time for FREE (again, double check any posted signs).
3) Horton Plaza (the mall downtown): You can park in one of the mall parking lots for free for three hours with validation. There are automated validation machines spread throughout the mall, but they turn off at 9:00pm sharp.
In the Mission Valley area you will find plenty of good excuses to spend any money you have left in your account after buying books and supplies for class. Here, you’ll find Fashion Valley Mall, plenty of restaurants, Mission Valley Mall, Dave and Busters, Ikea, Costco, and DSW. While this area has plenty to offer, some roads here are prone to flooding when it rains; so drive carefully and watch for detour signs.
If you are trying to find a place that promotes small businesses and supports alternative lifestyles, I suggest visiting Kensington, Hillcrest, North Park, Bankers Hill, or University Heights. All of these areas have a great mix of a small town atmosphere and sophistication which make them each well-rounded metropolitan neighborhoods. But don’t take my words on it. Go visit them yourself!
I strongly believe one of the keys to success in school is being comfortable and happy with your living environment. So get out there! Explore the neighborhoods of San Diego and find the place where you feel most at home. San Diego’s Restaurant Week is September 16-21 and is the perfect excuse to get out of the LRC, eat a delicious three-course meal at a discounted price, and become better acquainted with your new home: San Diego.