In Love with San Diego: A Guide to “America’s Finest City”

After work in San Diego, I drive further south to an apartment I rent in El Cajon. While driving south down Highway 5 while on the phone with a colleague, I noticed up ahead what looked like a toll structure, as I was trying to multi-task between driving, talking and reading the signs ahead just out of my eye-sight, I realize that I am on a one-way trip to MEXICO! OH SNAP! “Let me call you back!” I fricken drove WAY past my exit oblivious to where I am heading!

I get off the phone (speaker phone that is) and try to locate an exit off of the freeway. There are none. I already passed the LAST exit in the United States. Now my heart is racing. I am headed to Mexico! What do I do? Can I get back into the United States? (Is this my once a quarter ‘blond’ moment?) I don’t have my passport. Oh S!@#$! Oh S!@#$! Oh S!@#$! Am I going to die? Where the heck is San Juan? Am I near San Juan?

So I calm down. I pull up to the border. There are a lot of Border Patrol officers waving people by. I slow down and open my window to talk to one of them but by the look on his face, (not a friendly look) I decide to keep it moving. I roll into Mexico. The signs are all in Spanish. I should have paid attention to Spanish class in high school. I follow the traffic around and about face back in the direction to America. I am on my way…..

In a nutshell, I make it back unscathed and alive. I know the murder rate in San Juan is high and I am assured later the San Juan is far away from the San Diego / Mexico border. Turns out that I didn’t need a passport but I did come back through in the wrong lane. They let me pass after an extensive inspection. I knew San Diego was close to the border. I did not think one could just stumble across the border as I did…or maybe one can’t and I just used my stupid voucher for the year (how many of those am I allotted?)

I began my San Diego contract in November 2010. Fresno was a hoot, I had a short stint in LA (6 weeks), took some time off in-between contracts (that was nice – chillin at home in Hermosa) and now I was back in the game in San Diego. I have always wanted to explore San Diego since living in LA but not knowing much about this Southern California city, I never got around to it.

Now that I was working here, I was excited about learning and experiencing this city/beach town!

In my opinion, California has 3 major metropolitan areas: Bay Area (where I am from), Los Angeles (where I currently live (actually – Hermosa Beach), and San Diego. Now that I have been working and semi-living in San Diego this past year, one can now say that I have all three locations under my belt.

According to Wikipedia, San Diego is the 8th largest city in America and the 2nd largest city in California.

So, what’s so special about San Diego and why do I love it here? Let’s go down the list:


San Diego is closer to the equator than most major cities in the United States, therefore it is warmer than both Los Angeles and the Bay Area, yet it is close to the ocean so that ocean breeze keeps us at a reasonably warm yet agreeable temperature. The average temperature year-round is about 70 F degrees. Since arriving in November last year – even the winter months weren’t as rainy or as cold as it can get in the Bay Area. To quote Wikipedia, “San Diego has one of the top-ten best climates in the Farmer’s Almanac and is one of the two best summer climates in America as scored by The Weather Channel.”

During the hot summer months, the temperature is hot enough for swimming and other water activities but never unbearably hot.


There are a number of beaches to visit in San Diego. I personally have been to La Jolla and found the following things enjoyable:

  • There are seals on the beach! (At Seal Rock)

They are just laying there! Amongst us! People are literally swimming in the same water that the seals are. If we were rude – we could actually walk up to them and touch them (before they scoot off away from us). For the most part, the humans and the seals do not interact and we give each other space to enjoy the area. I just love wildlife and seals are so cute. They look like water dogs! I just want to pet them and call them puppy! (I call all dogs puppy!)

  • You can take a tour of the underground caves!

La Jolla Cove  has a tourist appeal to it. For a few bucks, one can explore underground caves and coves. Snorkeling and canoeing are just a few other activities that are available here. Canoeing is definitely on my bucket list. Maybe 2012 is the year?

  • You can eat, shop or just simply bask in the sun!

I chose to eat. There is an old town feel to the buildings and architecture here that lends itself to novelty and romance. Next time, I am bringing a blanket and a good book to bask in the sun!


There are a number of local Casinos that also have bars and clubs. Another place to explore is the Gas Lamp district. This area is teeming with bars, clubs and lounges that can be bar-hopped if that sort of thing does it for you. I thoroughly enjoy a good night out with friends and really love this part of town. It is similar to Pier Ave in Hermosa Beach or Main Street in Santa Monica.


Being so close to the beaches, the culture of the area is beach influenced. I would say San Diego is a good middle between the heavy culture and intelligence of the Bay Area and the physically appealing and glamorous feel of Los Angeles.


San Diego is full of hills! There are a lot of major freeways (8 total) as well as routes. So getting lost is truly easy to do. San Diego is not made up of the grid-like structure that exists in LA or the Bay. The streets curve this way and that, and rolling on the freeway from one area to another feels like a boat ride between islands. Each sub-area of San Diego is tucked away in a corner or behind a hill or through some over pass. This makes each area really unique from the next giving the area a sense of personality that we sometime lack in some suburban neighborhoods. Also – there is a lot of green in San Diego. Meaning a lot of trees and plant life that is refreshing compared to the concrete jungles of other major cities.

Fun Stuff!

San Diego is famous for the following amusement parks:

  1. Sea World
  2. Lego Land
  3. San Diego Zoo
  4. San Diego Zoo Safari Park
  5. Old Town

I have yet to frequent these personally – but they ARE on my to-do list! (Again – 2012?)

Fun Facts about San Diego:

  1. A lot of professional athletes are from San Diego
  2. Nick Cannon is from San Diego
  3. Ted Danson is from San Diego
  4. Cameron Diaz is from San Diego
  5. Kendra Wilkinson (Hugh Heffner’s ex-girlfriend) is from San Diego

Why I am in love……

The people I worked with in San Diego are awesome! I enjoyed my professional life here as well and was able to accomplish all of my assignments within an enjoyable environment working with talented and interesting colleagues. I also was able to explore the area and thoroughly enjoy the variety and diversity found in the layout, the community and the scenery. My work assignment (i.e. contract) here is coming to a close as 2011 comes to a close, but my heart remains. San Diego offers me everything I have ever wanted in a place to live. I fell in love with San Diego about the middle of 2011 and will continue to grow roots here as I continue to travel the country. Try out San Diego and see if you agree!

Molla Enger Written by:

Molla Enger was born in Dallas, Texas to a recently immigrated Korean mother and Caucasian father. Naming her the Korean word for ‘I don’t know’, Molla comes from a background that has a story to tell. One parent being extremely schizophrenic and both parents heavily using drugs in her early years, Molla grew to be very independent and self reliant. Over the formative span of her childhood, moving every 1-2 years in Berkeley and East and West Oakland, her parents eventually separated when she was 10 years old and her father took on all of the parenting duties exposing her to volunteerism, community organizing, American politics and independent thinking. Over her lifetime, she has spent the majority of her time in California but has traveled to Korea, Canada, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Arizona and Nevada. After high school, Molla moved to Memphis, TN for one year and upon returning to California in 1994 she took on a career in health care. She is currently working as a health care IT consultant. Since joining, Molla plans to travel over the next few years with the specific goal in mind of writing about it. Locations on the itinerary range from the Caribbean, New York, Mexico, Rio De Janeiro, Italy, Europe and Hawaii. In the near future, look for articles chronicling California cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, Berkeley, Stockton, Sacramento, Fountain Valley and Fresno.