Locals dream of the perfect summer


To paraphrase Leo Tolstoy: Reasons to love summer in San Diego may all be alike, whether it’s the horse races in Del Mar, the craziness of Comic-Con, sunset strolls at the San Diego Zoo, or even the many neighborhood street festivals. But everyone enjoys a San Diego summer in their own way. We asked prominent locals what makes for their ideal San Diego summer.

Blake Leeper

U.S. Paralympian track athlete who trains at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista

“My ideal San Diego summer involves spending a lot of time outside. I like to start my days by drinking a cup of coffee outside my house while taking in the amazing view of not only Chula Vista where I train, but sometimes all of San Diego - on a perfect day, I’m lucky enough to see all the way to the Coronado Bridge. My absolute favorite thing to do is go to Pacific Beach, where I like to boogie board and hang out with friends. I also enjoy spending time at Fiesta Island, where I can kayak and walk my dog with my friends. If my family is in town, I like to take them to SeaWorld or the San Diego Zoo. When it’s time to eat, I love to stop at Fat Sal’s Deli in Pacific Beach. The buffalo chicken fries are my favorite thing on their menu.”

Info: Leeper will be participating in the 2015 U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships in St. Paul, Minn., in June; the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto in August; and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in October.

Ivana D’Souza

Professional dancer with Culture Shock Dance Troupe and dance major at San Diego Mesa College

“An ideal summer for me is to spend it with people I love, because spending summer alone is pointless! I especially love the farmers market in Pacific Beach; they sell locally grown produce and always have delicious samples to try. I also love thrift shopping at Buffalo Exchange and Flashbacks in Hillcrest. I would have to go hiking; Potato Chip Rock, Cowles Mountain, and the Devil’s Punchbowl are definitely on the to-do list. As far as food, I love eating at Crazy Bowls & Wraps, or if it’s late and most places are closed, I know I can always count on The Asian Bistro in Hillcrest to be open late, and I’d order a bowl of my favorite Tom-Kha soup with chicken.”

Info: Culture Shock San Diego performs at various locations throughout the summer, including a free outdoor show at the Market Creek Plaza Amphitheatre on June 8. For details, go to

Lisa Altmann

Owner of Viva Pops, a gourmet paleta store in Normal Heights

“Summertime is peak season for us at Viva Pops, but I still like to make time to enjoy all the special things San Diego has to offer. One of my favorite things to do is hike at Torrey Pines State Park. My husband, Jack, and I love to park in Del Mar and walk up along the cliffs to Torrey Pines State Park and back down along the beach. Topping off our long hike with an awesome outside brunch at Americana Restaurant is a tradition for us; a goat cheese and portobello omelet and a mimosa is always a good thing! Summer also means delicious and colorful local produce, which makes pop making and home cooking so much fun. The Little Italy Mercato is my favorite farmers market and summer destination. The beautiful produce, artisanal foods, interesting people and breathtaking sights of the harbor are quintessential San Diego. My husband and I love to bike ride along the beach and bayfront, go to summertime concerts, picnic in Balboa or Presidio Park, go to the nighttime zoo, and a have a wonderful dinner on the patio at the Prado. I also take great comfort in Mexican food all year round, but having a great veggie burrito and a beer at Bahia Don Bravo in Bird Rock when the sun is setting during the summer is pretty amazing. Most of all, the greatest summertime memories I have and will continue to have are spending relaxing afternoons at home poolside with my husband, dogs and good friends listening to dreamy music, enjoying summertime drinks and barbecue.”

Info: Viva Pops, located at 3330 Adams Ave. in Normal Heights, is open Wednesdays through Sundays. They can also be found at farmers markets around the county. For details, go to

Monte Jones

President and CEO of BAME (Bethel Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church) CDC, an organization that strengthens residents and businesses in Logan Heights

“Growing up on the East Coast makes me really appreciate San Diego’s perfect climate. From the beautiful beaches to happy people, I honestly can’t think of anything bad about it! San Diego is a mini melting pot, and culture runs deep. On summer days, I love to roll my car windows down and drive Imperial Avenue to grab some delicious food at many of the ethnic restaurants the Logan Heights area offers. Some of my favorites are El Salvadoreno and Antojitos Colombianos. Throughout central San Diego, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy live music, whether it’s in a local park, club or street festival. My favorite places to hear live bands include Seven Grand in North Park, Sycamore Den in Normal Heights and, of course, our Imperial Avenue Street Festival later this summer.”

Info: BAME CDC’s Imperial Avenue Street Festival is on Aug. 29. For details, go to

Source: DiscoverSD