Photo by Candice Eley
Harper’s Topiary Garde
Take a detour through some of the curvy residential streets in Mission Hills and you might unexpectedly find yourself in front of what looks like the work of Edward Scissorhands. Harper’s Topiary Garden (3549 Union St.) leaves an immediate impact on any visitor, simply because it’s the only residential garden in the neighborhood that features more than 50 hedges carved into geometric and anthropomorphic shapes, ranging from whales to tigers and even a human-like bunny that appears to be waving at you when the wind picks up. It is a residential space so be courteous to the owners and by all means don’t trespass, but on a summer afternoon, taking in the impressive sights makes for a fun diversion.
It's hard not to feel nostalgic about paying a visit to the old video arcade—countless afternoons and quarters were spent there during my youth, and the appearance of grown-up arcades like North Park's Coin-Op have certainly stoked that nostalgia. But for a more traditional, old school arcade experience like you had when you were a kid, Nickel City (8990 Miramar Road) is a different option for racking up high scores and skee-ball tickets (and mini-bowling!). The games really do take nickels, so it's not just a clever name—though don't be surprised if they require a lot of nickels per credit. Admission is $2.50, so make sure you have about 50 extra nickels on hand before you enter.
Photo courtesy of Nickel City
The Convoy District was onto something when they started the San Diego Night Market a few years ago. The neighborhood has long been a best-kept-secret when it came to Asian food and the market, which returns June 25 and 26 to the Kearny Office Park (8304 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.) after a brief hiatus. It has proven to be highly successful in showing off the area's vibrant culture. The event was so successful that there's now the D6 Night Market. This year's one-day event includes two stages of performers, a beer garden and food selections from all over Asia as well as Central America and Africa. It takes place Saturday, May 21, at Mira Mesa Community Park (8575 New Salem St.) from 4 to 10 p.m. Can't beat the price either (read: it's free).
Photo by Chris Feraro
San Diego Night Market
Remember a few years ago when all the cool hipsters were getting all snazzy and playing croquet in the park? Judging by the crowds that pack in at The Loma Club clubhouse bar and grill (2960 Truxtun Road, thelomaclub.com) on weekends, it looks as if those cool kids grew up and started playing golf. There's a decidedly less stuffy atmosphere at the nine-hole course in Point Loma. Tee times are only $14 and it's highly doubtful anyone will judge your weak-ass backswing. This mellowness extends to the bar where a refreshingly co-ed crowd mingles over happy hour drink specials ($4 well drinks? Yes, please!), surprisingly cool live bands and games of shuffleboard and cornhole.
Photo by Alex Zaragoza
UNO, DOS, TRES...
If you want to summer like an assassin in a Michael Bay movie, Cuatro Cuartos in Mexico's Valle de Guadalupe is where to go. Imagine yourself dressed in white linen standing over a cliff overlooking the ocean, sipping crisp white wine as the breeze kisses your face. Oysters and other gourmet cuisine are served next to a bocce ball court. Bocce ball, wine and delicious food. On a cliff. Part of the adventure is the pickup truck you have to mount on the back to get to the cliff area. If you get too tipsy, there are upscale tents to reserve.
BABES ON BIKES
These aren't your average motorcyclists. Long hair whipping in the wind and glitter helmets sparkling under the San Diego sun, these girls can out-race you, probably out-drink you and definitely out-cool you without batting an eyelash. Yet a noticeable absence of catty infighting and drama defines the Flat Black Collective and The Litas San Diego rides, where everyone is welcome regardless of age, bike or experience level. Both girl-forward motorcycle groups roared to life in 2015 with the goal of providing a safe community for female riders as their numbers continued to rise. Follow them both on Instagram for a schedule of monthly rides, meet-ups and campouts (including Babes Ride Out 4 in Joshua Tree this October).
National Beer Mile
Selfies, tutus, cheap beer and live music—yes. During the National Beer Mile, running is practically an afterthought. Expect to be challenged on the short course—four beers consumed over one mile may dampen your speed, but likely not your enthusiasm (and with pretty light selections like High Life, you're likely to stay surprisingly hydrated). General admission is $35 to the June 11 race at Qualcomm Stadium, as well as the after-party with local food vendors and (what else?) an open bar. Pro tip: Unless you opt for the VIP package for an extra $20, BYOKoozie. 21 and up, no pets.
WICKED, THE SANDWICH
The new Liberty Public Market (2820 Historic Decatur Road) will eventually lure you into its white bread, Liberty Station world. So don't fight it and resign yourself to sampling wares from one of the nearly three-dozen artisanal vendors. Itís nearly worth the wait to stand in line for a butter-drenched lobster roll at Wicked Maine Lobster. Two brothers from the Northeast have brought their perfect recipe for this smallish-but-meaty delight. This popular market booth also doles out New England Clam Chowder and lobster bisque. Recommendation: Place your order and spend 15 minutes perusing the rest of the crowded market before returning for pick-up.