If there are two things that San Diegans know best, it’s craft beer and burritos. There are currently over 100 licensed breweries in San Diego county and the Mexican food (excuse me while I drool) puts just about anyone else’s to shame. While camping may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think Sandy Eggo, it does have some of the best weather in the nation and a surprising geography that offers everything from beaches to forests, deserts, and mountains.
If you’re visiting this often overlooked city, ditch the Gaslamp, Hotel Del, and Seaport Village to say yes to burritos, beer, and the great outdoors. You know, the important things in life. We can’t think of a better way to start the weekend than picking up breakfast burritos, filling up a growler, and setting up camp in America’s Finest City.
Here are five combinations you cannot go wrong with:
Breakfast burrito: Colima’s Mexican Food
For a bomb-ass breakfast burrito, look no further than Colima’s in North Park. It’s the perfect quick fix when your pals are having a bit too laid back of a morning and you ringing their doorbell was the alarm clock.
Beer: Fall Brewing Company
A few blocks up from the burrito you just inhaled is a brewery that’s absolutely worth the pit stop. Locals dig the tasting room ambiance and suggest the Plenty For All pilsner or 2AM Bike Ride coffee stout.
There are nearly half a million acres of land in the Cleveland National Forest to explore, with access to mountain ranges, waterfalls, swimming holes, winter recreation, and the cherry on top, 360 degree views all the way out to the Salton Sea. This one time at band camp (who are we kidding - these are some HIP campers), San Diego musicians The Tree Ring hosted a hike-in show here near Mount Laguna. We recommend snagging a spot at Laguna Campground. On most Saturday nights during the summer, San Diego State hosts star parties there.
Breakfast burrito: Harry’s Coffee Shop
Harry’s has been a staple in La Jolla since the 1960 and the classic cars parked out front on the weekends might make you think you traveled back in time. Go for the veggie breakfast burrito or the classic breakfast burrito (w/ bacon). We shouldn’t have to remind you to add avocado either.
Craft beer fans all over the world are familiar with their microbrews and the beer maker now has two fantastic locations in Escondido and Point Loma. With plenty of creations on tap and a beer garden that looks more like a wildlife sanctuary, you’d be loco not to stop in. We know you just ate something delicious, but this place also prides itself on using in-season, locally, regionally, and organically grown produce on all menu items.
A San Diegan favorite, South Carlsbad Campground offers sites right on top of the bluffs that look down on the ocean. Plus, there are plenty of outdoor activities available to you to burn off the burrito and beer baby. Swim, surf, kayak, or canoe the day away and maybe even catch the elusive green flash phenomenon when conditions are right. Did we mention Carlsbad is the old stomping grounds of Tony Hawk and Shaun White? It’s got extreme sports cred up the wazoo!
Breakfast burrito: Pokez
Celebrating over 20 years in downtown San Diego, Pokez (pronounced Poke-eez) serves up authentic Mexican food with a punk rock attitude. Dietary restrictions or not, the Vegan Chorizo breakfast burrito will have you feeling like a winner.
Beer: Societe Brewing Company
With a tasting room that’s open 7 days a week, Societe is a believer in the power beer has to bring people together. Yes, the beer is ace, but the crew also allows pets, meaning you could have brought Baxter along if you didn’t throw your burrito out the window at a biker. What, did you really think we’d get through this without one Anchorman reference?
Sometimes called the third jewel of San Diego’s park system, Mission Trails Regional Park is flush with rugged terrain that includes hills, valleys, and wide open spaces. Campsites at Kumeyaay Lake are open for overnight stays on Fridays and Saturdays. Sip yer cold ones while fishing here and the larger Lake Murray, or save them as a reward after traversing the park’s 54 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails.
Breakfast burrito: Ferny’s Mexican Grill
If you hit the road early for a trip out east, grab the breakfast burrito at Ferny’s. It opens at 7AM, serves breakfast all-day, and the hot sauce is so good there are actually people who have made Ferny Fridays a weekly ritual.
Beer: Alpine Beer Company
This brewery’s new expanded location won’t take you far off the 8 East and serves up some world-class brews from ales to lagers, IPAs, and sours. Plus, the new outdoor patio is too legit to quit and offers shaded refuge on scorching hot summer days.
About an hour’s drive from downtown San Diego, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park’s got rivers, lakes, mountains, and an oak and pine forest. When you set up camp at Paso Picacho, you’ll be only two miles from the sometimes wildflower-adorned Lake Cuyamaca to take advantage of the boating and fishing. Ask the staff here about the 2-mile Geocache trail they created.
Breakfast burrito: El Zarape
You can’t deny this taqueria’s presence in the burrito scene and the best part about it is you never feel gross after eating here because they use primo ingredients. Stick to the OG location on Park Blvd and dig into that salsa bar. The green avocado salsa is so dope you should be cheersing and drinking it.
Beer: Modern Times Beer
These modern times call for discerning taste and you won’t go wrong here. The Fortunate Islands is a mix between a hoppy IPA and wheat beer, with a totally reasonable ABV so you’re not getting too sauced under the sun.
Anza-Borrego is the largest state park in California and its desert landscape boasts breathtaking beauty that includes wildflowers, cacti, and a palm tree oasis. At night, get ready to gaze up at the heavens. Because there isn’t any light pollution, the stars and planets light up the skies brighter than Neil DeGrasse-Tyson illuminating the minds of America’s youth. Desert vibes are strong at Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, but there are plenty of amenities and the visitor’s center has San Diego Backcountry maps for anyone interested in 4WD or OHV activities. You may also want to swing by the Salton Sea and Slab City.
Words by Kiran Umapathy
Born in London (and working on getting that accent back), Kiran Umapathy subscribes to Helen Keller’s belief that “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” California stole his heart and won’t give it back. Follow his shenanigans on Instagram.