It's no secret there's an undeniable cultural difference between Southern California and New England- the weather, the friendliness, the laid back lifestyle, beaches galore. But, there are a few things I've picked up on that are not as obvious or talked about that need some exposing:
LOCAL COFFEE & DONUTS
It’s a running joke that in New England you can give directions from any point A to point B using only Dunkin Donuts references, “take a right at the dunkin until you come to a light, once you pass the next dunkin take a left and you’re on the highway.” It’s so hilariously true. There are less than five Dunkin Donuts in San Diego and I’m honestly not mad about it (I may have just been officially disowned by east coast). You won’t have any issues finding a Starbucks when you need one anywhere around here, but San Diegan’s love their local coffee shops instead of heading to the convenience of the bigger chains. Nobody seems to mind spending a few extra minutes in line and neither do I. (Shoutoutz Crown Point Coffee for being my go-to.)
In any given neighborhood you can find a pair of creative minds hosting a photoshoot, drones flying on the beach, promo videos being shot at local businesses, or creative professionals sitting at cafes getting their editing and writing done (heyyy). After launching Sets in the West, I’ve had a few friends reach out to tell me they’ve been wanting to start something like this, and one has already had a podcast on his mind for months now. Being surrounded by people like this makes me happier than you can imagine - not everyone is wired like this or appreciates how cute our coffee shops are or the amazing graphic design on the hip new restaurant menus - but damn, lots of San Diegans do. You can absolutely find these folks on the east coast - but as you walk through NYC or New England it’s definitely not the same.
I’m not sure what the hell is up with this, San Diego, but I miss stopping in for a cheap, fresh, sandwich from a deli on any given east coast street corner in CT or NY. Sure, I love Rubicon Deli and their Dapper Dipper endlessly, but any true east coaster knows they are more of a regional chain sandwich shop. I have yet to find anything that compares to the "build your own" subs or BEC’s on hard rolls we all grew up on.
PAY TO PARK FOR SAND & WAVES
During a recent trip home we were discussing the ridiculousness of paying to park at the beaches in CT or RI. Once Fairfield Beach tried to charge $50 for beach parking during July 4th Weekend - dude, you’re hardly considered the Atlantic *eye roll*. Misquamicut and Watch Hill in RI were always $15-$20 for the day, and the giant parking lots are really your only option to access the beach. I was asked “Do you have to pay to park at the beaches in California?” And thinking about all my trips up the coast and even into the SF area, the answer is no. You could argue by pointing out the convenient garages right by the beach you can choose to pay for, but unlike beaches in CT and RI, you have the option to street park. Even better, as you follow Route 1 north, you’ll consistently see big dirt lots of free parking for any beach goers. Because in California, the beach is just the edge of the land. #micdrop
NO PIZZA PARTY
This part makes me want to cry on the inside. Hell, it makes me want to cry on the outside. Here is the honest truth - Pizza in San Diego in general is terrrribleeeeee. Yes, I am a pizza snob, but the pizza here isn’t even scoring above a 5 on my pizza scale (that I completely just made up now.) Disclaimer - I have yet to explore Little Italy on my pizza hunt - but in general, grabbing a quick slice or a small pie pretttyyy much anywhere in Pacific Beach is just something you should pass on. **UPDATE - I just checked out Isola in La Jolla last night and it was amazing - I teared up on my first bite of pure joy. Clearly, my connection to pizza is insanely dramatic. I still stand on my consensus as a thumbs down in general for pizza in SD compared to New Haven. Frank Pepe, I miss you, man. Also shouts to Red Wagon Pizza doing New Haven style pizza RIGHT on this coast.
THE TERRIBLE DRIVERS
I swear nobody was taught what a blinker is in this city. This is no stereotype - San Diego was recently rated #5 for worst drivers in the COUNTRY. Yes, out of the 75 largest metropolitan areas, we ranked in the top 5. Buckle up, SD.
Despite the lack of BEC's and swerving my way out of car crashes, I still love it endlessly. Comment below the differences from your city, I'd love to hear them!