My 5 Favorite Things About Living in San Diego

Four people standing in the water at Coronado Beach near San Diego, California – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)

Within the past few weeks, two close friends pointed out how long it’s been since I last published a Coffee Break style post, where I give you a glimpse into what’s going on in my life behind the scenes of baking and blogging. Somewhere between that last post and now, I started to worry that many people only cared about the recipes… So I pulled back and pressed the virtual “pause” button on these life update blog posts.

If you’re just here for the recipes, don’t worry! I’ll be back with another one soon. But if you’re okay taking a quick break from them, then grab your favorite coffee or tea (hot, iced, or even a homemade frappuccino, perhaps?) and pretend like we’re sitting across from each other at a coffee shop, laughing and chatting and getting caught up on each other’s lives.

And if we were… This is the big news I’d share with you.

View of the sand and ocean while sitting on Coronado Beach near San Diego, California  – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)

Recently, as I strolled across the sand, a thought popped into my head.

“It’s a random Tuesday afternoon… And I’m walking on the beach because I want to. How crazy and cool is that??”

It was immediately followed by another thought.

A young woman standing outside of the front door of a house in San Diego, California  – photo of Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)

Wait… Has it really been five years since I moved to San Diego??”

Although I didn’t quite inherit my grandma’s photographic memory, mine still tends to work fairly well (most days, anyway!), so I chuckled a little as the disbelief gave way to amazement. As cliché as it sounds, time has flown by since I packed all of my belongings into the back of a U-Haul and drove down I-5. It feels like just two years have passed – or maybe three – yet here I am, five full years into home ownership and my new Southern California life.

So in honor of my first five years, here are five things I absolutely love about living in San Diego – followed by lots more photos!

(For the record… It was nearly impossible to narrow my list down to only five things I love. Maybe I should share additional blog posts with more? Like my five favorite activities or my five favorite local San Diego foods? If you’d like to see anything like that, then leave a comment below and let me know!)

Two ladies smiling while holding disposable Starbucks Christmas holiday coffee mugs – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)


Spending time with my grandma.

We actually live in the same neighborhood! Her house sits up the hill, a little over a mile away. Since I’ve moved here, we’ve met up for coffee dates at a Starbucks in the local shopping center, attended lots of Padres games together (she and my dad are two of the biggest reasons why I’m obsessed with baseball!), and watched plenty more games on TV at her house.

She and her best friend have also invited me along for their trips to the theater, outdoor summer orchestra concerts, and lots of their lighthearted in-home movie nights. We’ve even developed a routine… I bring the sweets (often homemade baked goodies from my recipe testing – along with dark chocolate M&Ms, dark chocolate Reese’s thins, and any other chocolate or pumpkin spice treats her best friend loves!). Her best friend supplies a salad and a jar of cashews (my favorite nuts!). Then my grandma, the best party hostess I’ve ever met, handles everything else. The snacks, the entrées, the entertainment, the decorations… You name it. She thinks of everything and pulls out all the stops – one of the many things I completely admire and adore about her!

And for my birthday…

Black-out chocolate fudge cake from DZ Akins in San Diego, with birthday candles and a baseball-themed "Happy Birthday" cake topper – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)

Oh my goodness. Those ladies have truly spoiled me. Cards, gifts, more movie nights or tickets to a baseball game or show, the most decadent chocolate cake from a local bakery… Every year, I’ve felt like the luckiest girl to have these wonderful ladies in my life.

But it’s not just because of those special occasions!

It’s our regular text chains, filled with GIFs and Bitmojis and standard emojis too. It’s the way I can text my grandma about anything baseball-related and know she’ll appreciate it – and that she does the same for me. It’s how she “doorbell ditches” me to leave See’s chocolate, miniature cakes, and other little presents on my front porch. It’s the way she always invites my dog to come over too and insists that my pup is “one of the girls.”

When I moved to San Diego, I had zero expectations of how our relationship would unfold… Yet even if I did, they wouldn’t even come close to reality – and how she is the number one thing I love about living here. I’m so incredibly grateful for the kindness and love my grandma continues to show me.

A dad and son playing in the waves on Coronado Beach near San Diego, California – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)


The beach.

San Diego has plenty of them! Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla Shores… But my current favorite is Coronado Beach. It’s really wide and expansive with plenty of street parking just steps away from the sand, and even on busy weekends, the beach never feels overly crowded. There’s plenty of room to stake out a spot, spread out, and stay for hours – or even all day long.

A young woman sitting inside of a three-person blue beach tent on Coronado Beach near San Diego, California – photo of Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)

I go to Coronado Beach at least once a month, and my mom and I started a tradition of ordering takeout lunches to eat on the sand when she visits. I even bought this little pop-up beach tent for us!

Bonus: Coronado Beach has good public restrooms, and the Hotel del Coronado is super cute and fun to walk around too! As is all of Coronado… The downtown area, the shops and restaurants, even the residential neighborhoods with their adorable homes, ranging from classic coastal vibes to craftsman style to modern and chic. I’m obsessed! (And yes… My mom and I have been known to drive around looking at the houses for sale, planning which ones we’d buy if we ever won the lottery. A girl can dream, can’t she??)

Late afternoon golden hour sunlight illuminating eucalyptus trees in San Diego, California – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)


The weather.

I know. It probably sounds a little lame to list this as one of my favorite things about San Diego. However, I lose my circulation really easily. My fingers and toes go numb just from standing on the freezer aisle at the grocery store, trying to pick out which flavor of ice cream to buy. (Hooray for Raynaud’s!)

So I really appreciate the mild weather of San Diego. The winters aren’t as cold or as rainy as the ones I grew up with in Northern California (and definitely nowhere near as frigid as the blizzard-filled winters in other parts of the country and world!), and the summers are comfortably warm too. It’s hard to complain about temperatures in the 70s and 80s for eight months out of the year!

But one thing I thought I’d detest – yet ended up falling in love with – was…

Thick May gray clouds hanging above a few trees in San Diego, California – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)

May Gray and June Gloom.

They’re real things! My mom (formerly an atmospheric scientist) and I looked them up. In a nutshell… The combination of the air and ocean temperatures in San Diego during May and June often cause a thick layer of clouds to form. They generally burn off by mid-afternoon, but sometimes those dense gray clouds stick around all day.

As someone who was a self-proclaimed sunshine chaser for most of her life, I thought I’d dread May and June… But now I really look forward to those cloudy days! They’re cozy and cool, without being cold, and almost act like my reminder to slow down and rest. They just might be my favorite time of the year!

Young woman standing in a kitchen, placing white paper muffin liners into a metal muffin pan – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)


My house.

Especially my kitchen!

I dreamed of having a kitchen like this for years. Big, spacious, white cabinets, lots of light, plenty of storage, a large island perfect for baking (and filming my recipe videos!)…

But I didn’t think I’d ever end up finding it.

In most of the San Diego houses I toured, whether virtually or in person, the kitchens were small, dark, galley-style, or dated. After months of searching, I started to wonder if I should just buy a place where the rest of the house felt great and then renovate whatever kitchen it came with. Yet as soon as I walked into this one…

Large red candle holder and a white wooden "love dwells here" sign sitting on a white fireplace mantle – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)

I knew.

And it’s been a dream come true the whole time.

So yes… I bought my house because of its kitchen – but I still adore the rest of it too!

Late afternoon golden hour sunlight illuminating eucalyptus trees in San Diego, California – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)


My neighbors.

I’ll try not to sound too mushy again… But man. I truly lucked out with this little neighborhood. People are so friendly and caring. We regularly stop to talk to each other, kids and dogs play in the street, and everyone watches out for each other.

People wheel in each other’s trash and recycle bins when families are out of town and pick up the packages on their front porches when they’re on vacation. They help each other with fixing broken appliances and yard work. We celebrate birthdays together (kids and adults alike!) and even have an annual Halloween potluck at the end of the street… And then the kids all go trick-or-treating together in one massive group. Seriously. It’s the cutest thing when 20 kids ring your doorbell and all shout “Trick or treat!” at the same time with big cheesy grins on their faces.

Then again… I also get a kick out of ringing my neighbors’ doorbells to hand off baked goodies. The way their eyes light up and smiles spread across their cheeks… It makes my heart glow. (And they don’t realize they’re doing me a favor by taking the treats off of my hands!)

A plush Easter egg pillow, a stuffed animal Easter bunny holding a baseball, and a small black baseball sign on a white shelf – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)

After the past five years, it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. My grandma, my neighbors, this space, and this place… My heart feels so happy and full. It’s almost like one long “pinch me; I must be dreaming” moment – but this actually is my real life.

And I’m so incredibly grateful that’s true.

I’d love to know – what things do you adore about where you live?

And would you want to see any other lists of things I love about San Diego?

Finally… I’m one of those people who can scroll through other people’s photos for hours – anything from kids and dogs to vacations and travel to special milestones and fun celebrations to even the simple, seemingly mundane moments of everyday life – and somehow, I’m guessing I’m not the only one… So I thought I’d end with more photos. Just in case you happen to be the same way! 😉

Vivid tangerine-colored sunset above left field at the San Diego Padres' PetCo Park – photo by Amy Atherton (Amy's Healthy Baking)

So… Would you like to hear more things I love about San Diego?? Like my favorite activities or local foods? Leave me a comment below and let me know!

About the author: AKDSEO

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