got a weekend? here are your SoCal must-tries
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a born and raised Cali girl (though no one from CA actually calls it “Cali.”) Even though I grew up in the suburbs of LA, there’s SO much in Southern California to do that I always feel slight FOMO when I leave.
I was recently in Ventura County, LA, and San Diego to visit family and friends and to run the 2018 SoCal Tough Mudder at Lake Elsinore, and it was a much-needed vacation.
I left SoCal only to find that this week, there are some crazy things happening right in my hometown. From the shooting in Thousand Oaks (I used to live there for a short period of time and grew up 20 minutes away) to the wildfires ravaging Ventura County, I can only pray that my friends, family, and everyone else in the area stay safe.
This article wasn’t meant as an homage or even as a donation plea, because who could’ve seen these things happening, but if you did want to help support those who are affected by the fires and those who are fighting the fires, you can donate here.
Not to be a downer or anything. So you can still enjoy these pics, foods, and sights — keep reading!
While this isn’t the ideal place for working, Longevity Coffee’s menu is on the cutting edge of “health” coffee shops. I got a Nitro “Latte” with their Longevity blend and homemade nut milk for the drive down to San Diego. They also have turmeric lattes, real-ingredient pumpkin spice lattes, and more.
You guys know how much I love cute coffee shops. I generally don’t need food as a pre-requisite, but I’d just come from a morning Corepower class and was ready for brunch, so we headed to Communal in North Park. It’s pretty crowded, but there’s plenty of outdoor seating. I got a gluten free bagel (!!!) with avocado and prosciutto and one of their specialty lavender honey almond milk lattes. Their menu is extensive and everything sounds delicious, and they have a cool retail section too.
My cousin actually suggested this place, as it’s her new fave Thai place in North Park. I hadn’t had Thai food in a long time, so this was a treat. It’s a bit of a hidden gem — the vibe seems pretty modern, yet the food is very authentic and the service is great. It’s a good takeout spot too. We got Pad Thai (duh) and something I honestly can’t remember the name of, only that it was delicious and came with pork belly (pretty much my guilty pleasure).
Not your typical brewery here. Juneshine is an organic, hard kombucha brewery AKA my kind of brewery. They have board games, a photo booth, a popcorn machine, and are dog-friendly. We got a flight of kombuchas (pink lemonade, mojito, blood orange, pineapple tart) to share, but they also do glasses and growlers.
I feel like this was the “original” acai bowl place to go to in San Diego, or at least the one I’ve been going to the longest. They have locations throughout SD and are very family-friendly.
Further proof that healthy food tastes good! It’s a sit-down restaurant that has a ton of gluten free and vegan options. If you’re not GF/DF, I’ve heard their flatbreads are fabulous.
Guys, this is my place. The West Coast version of NYC’s Hu Kitchen, Nectarine Grove has a mostly Paleo and 100% gluten free menu. There are baked goods, a smoothie bar, coffee bar (butter coffee?), and prepared foods you can get to go (I bought a bag of Paleo bagels that I brought back to Boston and stuck in the freezer), as well as breakfast and lunch. They have Wifi and plenty of outlets, so you can definitely do work there if you want to.
P.S. They have parking in the back, so don’t drive around for 10 minutes looking for street parking like I did!
For more great San Diego/Encinitas recs, check out Bakerita’s post here!
Boxing gyms are popping up everywhere in LA, but Box ‘n Burn classes are led by real fighters and take you through circuit strength training, mittwork, bag work, abs, and shadowboxing all in one hour. They have 2 locations: Santa Monica and Brentwood. P.S. Your first class is free!
Maybe not your most “authentic” taco experience (I recommend basically any Mexican taco shop or La Azteca Tortillaria for BOMB burritos), but it’s quick, delicious, mostly GF, and close to UCLA if that’s your jam. There’s street parking or a parking garage nearby.
If you’re vegan, this is a must-try. With mantras like “I am enlightened,” it’s all about feeling good inside and out.
Other: Tough Mudder, Home Cooking & More (Misc)
The actual Tough Mudder was SO much fun. If you’ve never done one, I strongly recommend it — it’s like a Spartan Race, but the focus is on teamwork and overcoming your personal challenges rather than crazy competition. As a crazy competitive person, I love this new way of thinking about racing.
You can choose from the full Tough Mudder (~10 miles), half (~5 miles), or 5K. You’re not running for more than 1-2 miles at a time, because there are so many obstacles (some fun, many muddy, some requiring others to help, some mentally difficult).
One quote the MC said as he started us off was: “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
I loved the reminder of constantly challenging yourself to grow, of constantly learning and trying new things, of overcoming mental AND physical obstacles.
I got the chance to cook for myself in between visiting all my favorite places / new places — my parents got an air fryer and Instant Pot, so it was fun to play with that! I made myself eggs and lots of veggies (duh), air-fried sweet potato fries with pomegranate guac, and more. Check out my IG to stay up to date with my eats!
Interested in more California recs? Check out these articles I wrote for Spoon University:
You can check out my other travel guides here!