Hipster guide to San Diego

Surfing on a wave of PBR and cold brew

Grab your statement Walkman and your unicycle: You’re headed to SoCal, hipster style. Just because surfboard wax abounds doesn’t mean you can’t find a place where people appreciate your beard oil. In fact, in neighborhoods like South Park and Normal Heights, you can break out your knitting project in a coffee shop and slowly sip your cold brew while you finish that dog scarf you’ve been working on.

Don’t be hesitant to leave the beach the next time you’re looking for things to do in San Diego, hipster. Our Local Expert hipster guide to San Diego for unique spots is here to help you navigate the best stops for breaking away from tourist traps and avoiding the ordinary.

Keep it ironic, San Diego

Wake up in the land of eternal sunshine and head to James Coffee Company in Little Italy. This downtown purveyor of caffeine is in a giant warehouse that also has a bicycle boutique and old-fashioned barber shop. These are the cornerstones of hipster vacations. Oh, and you can shop for a new pair of spectacles in the warehouse, too. Even if they’re just for show.

Travel 4 miles northeast

Viewfinder Tip:If you want a snack after shopping at Pigment, head across the street to Waypoint Public for some fried green tomatoes.

Grab an Uber and head to North Park, where suspenders and hand-made candles send out a siren song. First stop: Pigment, where you can build your own succulent arrangement and buy adult coloring books. The airy, bright store also has golden inflatable swans and hard shell suitcases. Go a few feet down 30th Street, and you’re at Verbatim Books. Shop for some random titles at the indie book store before you continue your tour.

Travel 2 miles south


A quick drive and you’re in South Park, where the number of bicyclists tips you this is home to plenty of hipster things to do in San Diego. In fact, independent shops and poets have moved in don’t show any signs of leaving. Stop at KINDRED, open all day on the weekends and for dinner during the week. The vegan restaurant has artisan cocktails, a garage door wall that opens to let in the sunshine, and desserts served in shooter glasses. Oh, and your bill comes tucked between the pages of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book.

Travel 5 miles northwest

Small batch kombucha, served in growlers. Need we say more? Schedule a stop at Bootstrap Kombucha. This spot just off Pacific Highway near Mission Hills is serving locally brewed kombucha on tap. Savor a hit of ginger-hibiscus or apple-ginger in the tasting room (open in the afternoons), like the organic-loving patron you are.

Travel 4 miles south

Stop to refuel in East Village at one of the most delicious hipster places in San Diego. Sitting in Rare Form restaurant, you’ll find that the historic portraits on the wall and green table lamps make the space feel like a study room, but don’t get it twisted—you’ll be ordering drinks with crushed ice and chomping on a grilled cheese in your high-back chair. Soda comes in the bottle and water is served via a red-handled spout in the corner. Indoor bocce ball is icing on the cake.

Travel 2 miles southeast

A quick Uber to the south, and you’re in the middle of a cultural renaissance. Barrio Logan is a haven for up-and-coming art lofts and collectives. Individual thinkers and artisans are transforming the neighborhood into the place to be for creativity. Check out a gallery show at Union, or see what the artists at Glashaus have been up to at a public event.

Travel 5 miles northeast

San Diego’s craft beer game is on point, and it’s on tap across the county. Return to North Park and walk into the Coin-Op Game Room, where the draft beer is flowing and tater tots are baking. The venue specializes in arcade games from the 80s. Set a record score on an original Frogger machine or give Ms. Pac Man a good run.

Travel 1 mile north


Via Yelp/Miguel A.
A short jaunt north, and you’re in the heart of Normal Heights. End your day of hipster travel at Polite Provisions, where an apothecary-style atmosphere in a former pharmacy promises to heal what ails you with custom tonics, elixirs, and cures. Let a suspender-clad server bring you a bright drink in a giant punch bowl. No, you didn’t drop a boatload of nickels in the bathroom—they’ve glued coins to the floor. Just wash your hands with some powdered soap and head back to chat up your vest-wearing bartender.

Where do you get your hipster kicks in San Diego?

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