IT’S TIME TO SAY GOODBYE to cloudy skies and soggy socks — summer is nearly here! In celebration of the tan lines and cold beers ahead, I have compiled for you a list of 94 of my favorite summertime activities in San Diego, one for every day of the season.
1. Kick off the summer with a hike along the oceanfront trails at the Torrey Pines State Reserve.
2. Ruin all that exercise with a high-calorie picnic of cheese and snacks on the beach below.
3. If you were able to actually acquire tickets to the LSU Alumni Crawfish Boil, I hope you also purchased elastic-waistband pants along with them. Every summer, thousands of in-the-know gluttons converge on the old practice field at Qualcomm for a little-known San Diego annual tradition, coolers full of side dishes, rubber gloves, and empty pitchers in tow. Fill your pitcher with as much free beer as you can (especially helpful right before they stop serving for free), pass the side dishes around, snap on your gloves, and dive elbows-deep into the comically large pile of bright red crawfish before you.
4. Make friends in the exorbitantly long lines at Phil’s BBQ. It’s worth the wait.
5. Take your girlfriend on a kayak tour of the La Jolla caves.
6. Tip your kayak, then pretend to be getting eaten by leopard sharks until she cries. (I’m still not convinced they’re harmless.)
7. Eat your way through the OB Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off. Speedwalk to Rite-Aid afterwards to grab some much-needed antacids.
8. Eat an acai bowl for breakfast while watching the morning waves roll in.
9. Every lazy exercise routine must include a day at the Morley Field Disc Golf Course. Popsicles from the snack shack are pretty much mandatory.
10. Wait out the June Gloom in the climate-controlled casino at Viejas. If the gambling doesn’t make you feel better, some rum and cokes probably will.
11. A camping trip at South Carlsbad State Beach is the perfect excuse to crack a beer at dawn and eat nine hot dogs for lunch.
12. Ride a beach cruiser from Ocean Beach to La Jolla. Stop for ice cream cones — plural — on the Mission Beach boardwalk.
13. Get cultured for free on Tuesdays at Balboa Park. Congratulate yourself for being a sophisticated museum-goer.
14. Shotgun a PBR and loiter around The Casbah, the best place to see an up-and-coming band before they get all famous and you have to pretend not to like them anymore.
15. Risk heat exhaustion at the Wild Animal Park. Pant like a buffalo while giraffes, gazelle, and hippos all intermingle at the watering hole.
16. Study graffiti in Chicano Park. Tell Lucky-2-Tears I say hello.
17. Have lunch and a Long Island at South Beach Bar & Grille, home of the best fish taco I have ever laid lips on.
18. Hop on the old wooden roller coaster at Belmont Park in Mission Beach. You’ll scream more from the creaking than the ride itself.
19. Order a caprese sandwich at Mona Lisa’s before exploring the Little Italy Mercato.
20. Dig out your old Zelda costume and hit Comic-Con, the Western Hemisphere’s largest and most popular nerd-fest.
21. Couldn’t get tickets to Comic-Con? Head downtown anyway. The chance to see Darth Vader have lunch with a Transformer only comes once per year.
22. Overlook the fact that it’s mentioned in every San Diego guidebook. Presidio Park is one of the best places for an afternoon picnic in the city.
23. Summer’s all about simple pleasures. Run around Ocean Beach all afternoon clutching a popsicle and chasing the wild parrots.
24. Spend frivolously on an overpriced jet ski rental and speed around Mission Bay.
25. Take a free tour of the Stone Brewery in Escondido. Get complimentary beer at the end.
26. Devour the best bacon cheeseburger on Earth at Hodad’s. Bring an aspirin for when the heart attack hits.
27. Paint yourself rainbow and head to Balboa Park for the annual LGBT Pride Festival.
28. Best place to watch the nightly fireworks at Sea World without having to do that whole Sea World part? Fiesta Island.
29. Enjoy a sandwich and some cheap booze at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. Watch out for the seagulls. They peck. Hard.
30. Rub elbows with San Diego’s douchiest clientele at the Altitude Sky Lounge. The view into Petco Park on a game night makes it completely worth it.
31. Learn to surf at La Jolla Shores, where both the waves and the locals are gentle.
32. Forget Taco Bell. Eat a true San Diego Staple: carne asada fries.
33. Push back the wall of kegs and step into one of San Diego’s worst-kept secrets: Noble Experiment. Fair warning: this place isn’t for the claustrophobic and, in keeping with the 1920s vibe, they have a strict dress code. Because, you know, there were no flip flops and snapbacks in the 1920s.
34. Pack up some water and trail mix for a 7-mile hike up Mount Woodson. And by up, I mean up — it’s a 2,000+ foot elevation gain from Lake Poway to the top.
35. Lose every bet at the Del Mar Racetrack. Thanks to 4 O’Clock Fridays, you can still afford the free show afterwards.
36. Not to state the obvious, but San Diego is home to one million (okay, 33) beaches. Nothing says summer like sand in the crack.
37. Watch the old-timers get drunk and rowdy playing beach softball at the notoriously vulgar Over-The-Line tournament.
38. Take a date to the South Bay Drive-In and make out in the back seat, just like the olden days.
39. Suppress your inner Godzilla as best as you can for the US Open Sandcastle Competition.
40. Pet a llama with one hand while eating a giant turkey leg with the other at the Del Mar Fair. I’ll never call it by that other name.
41. Watch in awe as a stranger projectile vomits into the street, then lose your shoe at Beer Fest.
42. Walk fearlessly through the Whaley House in Old Town. Try not to cry.
43. Speaking of pants-crappingly scary, bring your acrophobic friends to the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge and watch them squirm.
44. Stay up late for a Grunion Run, when fish crawl up the shore to spawn. Bring a bucket and a flashlight if you plan to do more than just be a voyeuristic creeper.
45. Even if you don’t have a large enough wagon full of money to play, visit the Torrey Pines Golf Course just for the views.
46. Afterwards, join me in getting drunk with the locals at the Mission Bay Golf Course.
47. Look for Slomo, the slow-motion in-line skater out on the Pacific Beach boardwalk.
48. Fork over $12 to sit on the grass for a Padres game with a plate of nachos and a baseball glove.
49. Gorge yourself on fresh apple pie and ice cream at the Julian Pie Company. So. Good.
50. The Mission Bay Aquatic Center can take you wakeboarding without the added expense of buying a boat.
51. Unbend a coat hanger and grab a bag of marshmallows for a bonfire at one of San Diego’s many fire-friendly beaches.
52. On your way to a show at Belly Up in Solana Beach, stop by Pizza Port for some locally brewed craft beer.
53. Now that Pizza Port is also in Ocean Beach, a pint of the Skid Mark Brown may be the new Winston’s pre-show ritual.
54. But for a true taste of how pizza and beer is done in OB, head a few blocks down to Newport Pizza & Alehouse to eat a Tony Soprano.
55. Take a day trip into Tijuana. Be thankful it’s not Juarez.
56. Get some holes poked through your head at Apogee Piercing on Newport Avenue.
57. Spend a day getting skinned knees and elbows while mountain biking at Mission Trails.
58. Jump off a cliff at the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Or, if you’re me, just watch quietly.
59. While you’re there, take your pants off and check out Black’s, the nude beach below. On second thought, keep your pants (and sneakers) on to climb down the unstable cliffs.
60. Be a sucker for cheap amusements. Embrace the crappy helmets and shitty bats at the batting cages at Boomers in Kearny Mesa.
61. Do you enjoy being ridiculed by children? Yes, me too. That’s why I skateboard at the Robb Field Skatepark.
62. Silently loathe / feel superior to the Starbucks up the street as you relax at Jungle Java.
63. Try to finish your plate at the Hash House in Hillcrest. I’d keep a pair of stretchy pants in the car if I were you.
64. I’m not about to let digital music take over without a fight. Lou’s Records in Encinitas is my final dying ally.
65. Get zen at the Self Realization Fellowship’s Meditation Gardens in Encinitas.
66. Is public humiliation totally your thing? The Mission Beach Wave House’s FlowRider is for you.
67. Enjoy a freshly caught lunch at Point Loma Seafoods. Order anything with calamari in it. Actually, just order anything.
68. Pedal through the city at night on the Midnight Madness bike ride.
69. People-watch on the streets of downtown San Diego. Watch two bums fight over a shoe.
70. Slip slowly into a sugar-induced coma at Extraordinary Desserts in Little Italy.
71. Mount Soledad is an ideal spot to look out at the city lights. Or to make out with your summer fling.
72. Hunt for treasures at Kobey’s Swap Meet. I once went for a guitar, but left with a bonsai tree and a framed photo of a Mexican fisherman.
73. Time your southbound commute through Del Mar just right to see hot air balloons float by at sunset.
74. Mix alcohol and board games at the Whistle Stop on Tuesday nights. Take it easy — I’ve lost many friendships over violent Connect Four disputes.
75. The San Diego Velodrome’s Tuesday evening races are like a hipster version of NASCAR!
76. Spend a day volunteering as a dog walker for one of San Diego’s shelters or rescues.
77. Take a history lesson and a cheesy photo in front of the lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Monument.
78. After the lighthouse, visit the nearby tidepools and get pinched by a crab. (That’s what you get for poking at the wildlife.)
79. The Red Fox Steak House serves dinner, but the real reasons to be there are the extremely stiff drinks and the jazzy piano man.
80. The open practices at Chargers Training Camp give you the chance to get up close and personal with a bunch of very large men.
81. Shovel down a halibut burrito at the Tin Fish, then go splash around in the fountain with a bunch of little kids and the occasional homeless guy.
82. Engage in a stereotypical Southern California beach volleyball game on the public courts at Mission Beach.
83. Channel your inner Lebowski and order up a White Russian at the East Village Tavern + Bowl.
84. Only slightly crappier than Napa, San Diego wineries provide an enjoyable tasting experience without having to put up with uppity wine snobs.
85. Fishing is kinda messy, but boats are awesome. Take a whale watching tour if you’re not up for fighting with a 100-pound tuna.
86. Ocean Beach’s leash-free Dog Beach gives your happy pup a chance to frolic, chase a Frisbee, or just sniff butts all day long.
87. Pan for gold in Julian, where the Julian Mining Company will graciously spike your first handful.
88. Dinosaurs are real. See Rangui and Rumbi for yourself on Bonita Road.
89. Spot harbor seals at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla, but keep your distance; they don’t smell as cute as they look.
90. Catch up on some summer reading under the Moreton Bay fig tree at Balboa Park. Get hit in the head by a fig.
91. Pop your collar and get your fake tan on, because the Pacific Beach bar scene is calling. For a lower frat-boy factor, try Cass Street Bar & Grill.
92. Munch on a churro (or 12). Best bargain in town? Costco.
93. Do you have a large inventory of Pepto Bismol to use up? One competitive eating challenge at Tower Bar will solve that.
94. Restaurant Week is appropriately slotted for the tail end of bathing suit season. Get fat for fall!
Post originally published June 21, 2010