Point Loma is a big deal. The hilly, peninsular tip of San Diego is also the birthplace of California, where in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European explorer to come ashore the West Coast.
Today, visiting Cabrillo National Monument reveals pristine nature and awesome views; a popular hike is the two-mile Bayside Trail, home to one of the last remaining coastal sage scrub habitats in the world. Then there's the one-mile Coastal Trail runs along the Pacific facing cliffs, where there's also an incredible intertidal zone to explore if the timing is right. Check tides before going, and the National Park Service website for any closures (nps.gov).
To get to the historical landmark, head south on the Catalina Boulevard stretch of San Diego's 59-mile scenic highway. The road eventually becomes Cabrillo Memorial Drive, ending at the park admission booth. Cost is $5 per vehicle or $3 if you're riding a bike or walking. It's open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Being geographically superior, Point Loma has plenty of perks. It's a prized region of San Diego for its history, picturesque shoreline and now more than ever, independent businesses and a new crop of eateries.
What it lacks in wide, sandy beaches, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park makes up for in spectacular views, good waves and coastline prime for pondering life, striking a yoga pose or just hanging out with friends.
There is a small beach at the end of Bermuda Street, which is accessible by stairs, and a larger more challenging beach access that faces the popular surf break, Needles.
More neighborhoods to explore
Anza Borrego, Balboa Park, Coronado, Del Mar, East Village, Encinitas, Fiesta Island, Golden Hill, Hillcrest, La Jolla, Linda Vista, Mission Beach, Mission Hills, North Park: Part 1, North Park: Part 2, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, San Carlos, South Park, University Heights
With plenty of benches and multiple turn-offs within Sunset Cliff's 68 acres of park, this region is always sweet for taking in - you guessed it - a sunset; or enjoying an al fresco snack.
Before hitting the cliffs, stop by PL Bagel, a little known, cash-only gem. The bagels here are light, pull apart easily and taste great toasted with the addition of infused cream cheeses like garlic and basil, and even bacon. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. 3704 Voltaire St. #107.
Little Lion Café
Or, visit the Little Lion Café, where you can grab some stellar, fresh baked pastries (and coffee) to go and enjoy while overlooking the waves. Or, dine in at the intimate, 30-person Belgian-inspired eatery and bar, now with 13 beers on their menu, just in time for summer. Open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. 1424 Sunset Cliffs Blvd., (619) 756-6921.
Health food is big in this neck of the woods. For your post workout pleasure, visit the Northside Shack for a fresh pressed juice or acai bowl. The popular "Ex-Lover" is a blend of juiced strawberries, beets, bell pepper and sweetened with agave. Fans of the place go wild over the fresh toppings that come standard in the acai bowl, like blackberries, kiwi and shaved coconut flesh ($7 for small). 1255 Rosecrans, (619) 715-1869.
Just around the corner in Point Loma Village, at Rare Bloom Boutique, you'll find a vibrant selection of locally crafted gifts for women, from ornate, orchid and succulent arrangements in unique pottery to the handmade jewelry line Viv by Sarah Stevens (who also happens to be the owner's daughter). Fun selection of coastal, casual clothes that won't break the bank. 2841 Canon St., Point Loma. (619) 677-7160.
A bright future for Liberty Station
All eyes are on the former naval training center turned mixed-use complex and mega outdoor event space, with its continued growth in 2015 to include a second outpost for Consortium Holdings' second Soda & Swine eatery. The meatball and apple pie shop, sans another Polite Provisions, is slated to debut in May in a 4,700-square-foot space that will specialize in Negroni cocktails.
But the real game-changer will be Liberty Public Market, a 22,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor space that will have stalls for 33 local artisanal vendors. The ambitious project is led by San Diego native, David Spatafore, of Bluebridge Hospitality (Leyroy's Kitchen + Lounge, Stake Chophouse), who has partnered with Liberty Station in bringing San Diego this monumental market in late summer 2015.