This was a really challenging request but here are my scattered, disorganized thoughts about an incredible place that I love!!! If you're coming here for Comic Con try to get away from the convention center for a few hours and check out some of these spots!
  1. Disclaimer 1: I am only a native by generous San Diego standards
    I was born in Virginia and lived in upstate New York when I was a kid (military brat), but I've spent the vast majority of my life here. In SD, true natives are very rare. Almost everyone is from somewhere else, so you become a local after about 8 years here (I've been here for 20 so you can definitely trust me!).
  2. Disclaimer 2: This list is very central/south San Diego focused
    I grew up in Chula Vista and have lived in La Jolla, Mira Mesa, and North Park as an adult. Maybe @TripleeSheldon can provide the North County perspective! (...we don't need the East County perspective.) Also I tried to focus on just the city of San Diego but the edges bled a little and it's also about the greater county.
  3. San Diego is a huge patchwork of neighborhoods that are all really different from one another
    I'll reference many of these neighborhoods throughout. I am biased towards the one I live in, North Park, and the immediate surrounding neighborhoods (South Park, Hillcrest, University Heights, Normal Heights). The Barrio Logan is very different from Kearny Mesa which is very different from Del Mar which is very different from East Chula Vista which is very different from West Chula Vista.
  4. The beach is best in the afternoon
    We often get a really solid marine layer in the morning that burns off around 11am/noon. Don't be discouraged if you get to the beach early and see nothing but grey. The sun is coming!!
  5. Best beach: Windnsea
    A hidden gem in La Jolla just about a mile south of overcrowded La Jolla Shores. I like Mission Beach and Ocean Beach a lot too even though they're in very touristy areas.
  6. There's so much more than the beach towns and the Gaslamp Quarter!!!
    I love both of these places (during the day, anyway... more on that later) but there's a LOT more to explore in SD. Also accommodations will be much cheaper outside of these places. Try Hillcrest, Normal Heights, Balboa Park and surrounding (still touristy but great museums and events!), University Heights, and South Park.
  7. We're serious about our beer
    If you're in a bar that has less than 3 local beers on tap, get out. You're in a tourist trap. San Diego has SO many breweries and we take our beer very seriously (I apologize in advance to all women who have beer mansplained to them in San Diego... it's the biggest downside 😐). I love Ballast Point, Green Flash, Modern Times, Alesmith, and Mike Hess. Tour a brewery, get a flight at a tasting room, try new flavors and styles than you're used to!!
  8. San Diegans are so much more than bros and surfers
    I LOVE bros and surfers, but San Diego is a really diverse place with people from so many backgrounds and communities. If you're in a place that seems primarily populated by bros and surfers, you're seeing a very tiny slice of the pie that is San Diego!
  9. There's always a festival happening
    Beer, wine and music, bacon and bourbon, a taco showdown, a 24 hour play festival, film festivals, a BBQ fest, a chili cookoff... if there is a thing that interests you, there is almost undoubtedly a way to enjoy it in festival form here. I always feel *extremely* San Diegan when enjoying craft beer in a park in the sunshine while a local band plays some gentle surf rock.
  10. The Mission and the Broken Yolk are SO overrated
    These are the most famous/popular breakfast places and they are so incredibly not worth the 40+ minute waits on weekends. Try West Coast Tavern, Urban Solace, Small Bar, Tiger Tiger, 100 Wines, True North, or Mystic Mocha.
  11. Lucha Libre and Phil's BBQ are NOT overrated
    These two have not suffered for all the fame and popularity they've gained from features on the Food Network or Travel Channel. To avoid waits, phone in orders and take them elsewhere to picnic, or sit in the bar area at Phil's or reserve the Golden Booth ahead of time at Lucha.
  12. But there are better taco shops than Lucha
    If it ends in -berto's, it's probably legit. There's also Lolita's (several locations) and Tacos el Gordo way down south in Chula Vista. Just follow your nose when you're stumbling drunk just about anywhere in San Diego. We do carne asada better than anywhere else north of the border. We put in on French fries. Don't be scared. We also put fries in our burritos. Don't leave without having a California burrito!!
  13. Don't go out in Pacific Beach or the Gaslamp
    SO. MANY. TOOLS. The downtown scene is full of shitty clubs that wish they were in Hollywood and Pacific Beach is shitty bars that wish they were clubs in downtown. There are exceptions in both, but I truly hate going out in either of these areas because it's such a SCENE and there are so many assholes who creep on women.
  14. But the nightlife almost anywhere else is really great!!!!
    Clubbing in Hillcrest is a joy (an overwhelming joy filled with sweaty shirtless gyrating men who throw lollipops and Popsicles into the crowd). Normal Heights, North Park, and South Park have very chill beer bars (Tiger Tiger, Thorn Street Brewing, Hamilton's, Modern Times), very fun dive bars (Gilly's, Bar Pink, Bluefoot), classy hipster paradises (Seven Grand, West Coast Tavern), etc etc. These places are way way WAY better than Gaslamp and PB.
  15. Oh but definitely go out downton during Comic Con
    Exception to the above rule: the Gaslamp is really, REALLY fun during Comic Con. The crowd is a really amazing mix of hardcore nerds, locals, and bewildered tourists who didn't know it was Comic Con. Go anywhere that doesn't charge cover (I like Werewolf, Barleymash, Whiskey Girl, and Maloney's).
  16. San Diegans LOVE to complain about the weather
    If it's not between 64 and 76 degrees, we're complaining. We complain when it's "cold" and we whine when it's hot. We can't handle anything above about 40% humidity. God help us if it rains.
  17. We hate to love, and love to hate, our sports teams
    It's tough to be a San Diego sports fan for a lot of reasons, but true SD sports fans are EXTREMELY loyal and passionate. Because locals/natives are so rare, fans of other teams often outnumber SD sports fans in the bars. The Chargers and the Padres break our hearts every. single. year, but still we bleed blue and gold/blue and white. SD sports fans will be the first to talk shit on their own teams and the first to throw a punch if an outsider does the same.
  18. San Diego is more conservative than you think
    A ginormous military presence will do that. I think San Diego has a reputation for being a hippy haven full of stoned surfer bros, and we have that for sure, but overall the county leans right. People often forget/don't know this and are very surprised by election results.
  19. We love Anchorman and Top Gun
    Whale's Vagina. Stay classy. Highway to the Danger Zone. Some places end up resentful of the pop culture that gets most associated with them, but not San Diego. We're so close to LA that it's really rare for San Diego to be featured in media, so when it is we embrace it really hard.
  20. This list is already p long and I still have more thoughts about San Diego, but the gist of it is, this is a truly beautiful city that has so much to offer to so many different people, and it's not perfect but it is my home and I want everyone to love it as much as I do!!!!