Hi Mimi! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I spent the last two years living abroad in Oceania, but now I’m temporarily back in America and based in the Pacific Northwest. I’m an adventurous soul, and have done everything from jumping out of a plane in New Zealand to eating snakes in Vietnam. I write about slow travel, craft beer escapades, festivals, and outdoor adventures on my blog, The Atlas Heart.
Where in the world is your happy place?
My happy place is the sunny Southern Californian city of San Diego.
How often do you have the chance to visit San Diego?
I don’t have the chance to go there as often as I would like to, now that I live up in Oregon. I lived there for five years in total, and went to school at UC San Diego in the suburb of La Jolla.
Out of all of the places you’ve been, why is San Diego your happy place?
There are so many reasons why San Diego is a special place for me. It’s the first place I moved to on my own after leaving my hometown of Santa Cruz when I was 18. I had various college-type escapades with friends in the many suburbs and beautiful beaches. It’s the city where I first became interested in craft beer. It’s where I’ve met the closest and best friends of my life and it’s a place that brings me a deep, comfortable feeling of being home whenever I visit. All I have to do is visit my favourite spot, the Black’s Cliffs in La Jolla, and take in the views to know that everything will be okay.
Lastly, it’s a hard place not to be happy in. There is a constant gentle ocean breeze, nice weather, friendly people. Also, there are more than enough activities and events to keep you busy for however long you’re there for.
How did you usually spend your time in the city?
I loved exploring the different suburbs as much as I could while I was living in San Diego. They all have such unique personalities and eccentric parts to them.
Ocean Beach was a favourite lazy weekend outing. I’d spend an afternoon in the old record stores, eat pizza on the beach, and be engulfed by the hippie vibes. Pacific Beach is good for nightlife and cheap drinks, but also for second-hand shopping sprees. The Downtown or Gaslamp area is great for culture. Balboa Park used to remind me that I was living in a fairly big city – even though it didn’t always feel like it.
La Jolla is the best place for brunch and local coffee shop study sessions. North Park is the alternative artsy suburb and the best place for coffee, dinner and great whisky. There are countless other suburbs that I could go on about. I’m sure you could find whatever your heart desires depending on your mood and preference.
Also, Mexican food! I have never found a place that has Mexican food as good as San Diego and I miss it a lot. So, it would be fair to say I also spent, and still do when I go back, a lot of my time in the city eating burritos on the beach. A classic San Diego experience!
N.B. All photos in this post belong to Mimi
Has San Diego changed since your college days?
Yes and no. In some ways, it’s very much the same as when I lived there during my college days. But on the other hand, places that were once familiar always change after a stint abroad. When I came back for the first time after two years away, I finally saw the city through the eyes of a tourist. I did all of the fun activities I never thought of doing while I was living there. It broadened my idea of San Diego and just gave me another reason to like it.
My craft beer tastes have also changed quite a bit after bar tending across Oceania. It was interesting going back to my favourite breweries in San Diego and seeing how much my preferences had changed.
Can you describe San Diego in one sentence for us?
Salty sea air with a touch of lime.