In most places, summer is a season. In San Diego, it's a state of mind. With year-round sunshine (ish), what differentiates summer here from the rest of the year are a couple of 90-plus-degree days and how vigorously we pursue the good life. So take a break from dozing in the hammock to check out these must-try things for the summer.
SUMMER MUST: BBQ
Nothing says summer like a BBQ. But if you don't want to slave over a hot grill on a hot summer day, why not let somebody else do it? Mozy on over to
Lemon Grove , where you'll find Coop's West Texas BBQ. Choose from pork spareribs, beef brisket, jerk chicken or pulled pork - you really can't go wrong with anything at Coop's. The only sin to be committed here is not ordering the collard greens as one of your sides. -Michael James Rocha
2625 Lemon Grove Ave., Lemon Grove. 619.589.0478 or coopsbbq.com
SUMMER MUST: BEACH
There's nothing more SoCal than the perfect Southern California beach, and summer just isn't summer without a trip to Cardiff-by-the-Sea. Whether you're looking to surf (Swami's) or lay out in the sun for some beach reading (Pipes), Cardiff should definitely be on your must-list. Just don't forget the sunblock and your phone - you'll definitely have an Instagram moment or two. -Michael James Rocha
-Michael James Rocha
SUMMER MUST: BEER
Among local beer events, Modern Times' Festival of Radness is a mere toddler, only debuting in 2015. Yet this kid is a beer behemoth. Scheduled for Aug. 26, 2 to 7 p.m. at Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, this promises to be one of Southern California's hottest hop-intensive happenings. This year's lineup hasn't been announced yet, but last year's quaffables were a Who's Who of What's Happening Now, Beer Division. San Diego County's best and brightest were there (from Abnormal and Alpine to Pizza Port and Societe), plus a delegation of distinguished visitors (Boneyard, Cellarmaker, Half Acre, Knee Deep, Surly and many more). -Peter Rowe
SUMMER MUST: BOOK FESTIVAL
More than 40 local authors will be featured at the inaugural San Diego Festival of Books, organized by The San Diego Union-Tribune in partnership with KPBS. Shilpi Somaya Gowda, Lynn Vincent and Bill Walton are among the writers participating, and this year's One Book One, One San Diego choice will be announced. Aug. 26 at Liberty Station.
SUMMER MUST: COCKTAIL
If there's anything that can get us up from our beach chair, it's a garden party, or more accurately the Garden Party cocktail served up at the elegant You & Yours Distilling Co. in the
East Village. Y&Y's fabulously floral Sunday Gin is blended with Mixwell Dandelion Tonic (!), rose petal cordial and flower petals. Let the other coast catch fireflies in a jar; we'd rather capture summer in a glass. -Michele Parente
1495 G St., East Village. 619.955.8755 or
SUMMER MUST: CONCERT, INDOOR
The Roots are the best live band in hip-hop, and the most versatile. Anchored by drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson - who also leads The Roots as the house band on TV's "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" - this Philadelphia-bred ensemble is now celebrating its 20th anniversary. The group's July 11 concert at Observatory
should be a celebration to remember. -George Varga
SUMMER MUST: CONCERT, OUTDOOR
This year's many worthy contenders include U2,
Brad Paisley , Rocket From The Crypt and Angelique Kidjo. But our vote goes to the 13th annual Switchfoot Bro-Am concert and surf contest at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas on June 24. It's free, it's by (and in) the sea, and it's designed to give homeless and at-risk San Diego kids a day at the beach they'll never forget.
SUMMER MUST: CONCERT, QUINTESSENTIAL SAN DIEGO
This season's Bayside Summer Nights - San Diego Symphony's summer series - boasts an impressive lineup, from Tony Bennett and Wynonna to Ozomatli and Leslie Odom Jr. Pick a night, grab a blanket and experience the way a San Diego summer evening is meant to be experienced.
Michael James Rocha
SUMMER MUST: CRIME FICTION
Local authors Don Winslow (Julian) and T. Jefferson Parker (Fallbrook) bookend the summer with new novels. Winslow's epic NYPD corruption tale, "The Force," is out June 20, and Parker's "The Room of White Fire," due Aug. 22 and set in San Diego, launches a new series featuring an ex-Marine turned private investigator.
SUMMER MUST: DESSERT
When the mercury rises this summer, cool down with a refreshing chilled treat like the new buttermilk pie dessert at Juniper & Ivy restaurant in
Little Italy . Pastry chef Ginger Niles created this science-nerd's delight with liquid nitrogen-frozen blueberry Cool Whip, streusel ice cream and house-made graham crackers. -Pam Kragen
2228 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy. 619.269.9036 or juniperandivy.com.
SUMMER MUST: DISH
The seasonal soft-shell crab is fleeting like a summer sunset - you wait for it to come, it's spectacular when it's here and then, poof, it's gone. Water Grill in the Gaslamp Quater serves two succulent jumbo Chesapeake blue crabs, pan sautéed with brown butter and ginger and served with a cool cucumber and watermelon salad. Get them before they fade into the sunset. -Michele Parente
615 J St., Gaslamp. 619.717.6992 or watergrill.com
SUMMER MUST: EVENT
You know it's summer when the World Championship Over-The-Line Tournament hits the sand in Mission Beach. Hordes of competitors and spectators play, drink and watch the two weekend round of games that kicks off July 8-9 wrapping up the following weekend of July 15-16. The tourney is BYOB (no glass, please) but if you didn't have time to pack a cooler, OTL's got you covered. There'll be plenty of adult beverages and food stands ready to serve hungry and thirsty fans in the OTL playing area. Fiesta Island, Mission Bay Park, San Diego. ombac.org.
SUMMER MUST: FAMILY-FRIENDLY OUTING
Wrangle up the family and hightail it to the San Diego County Fair for a Wild, Wild Western-themed adventure. Along with the traditional fair favorites like fried foods, grandstand concerts and carnival rides, city slickers will encounter a frontier booming with new events and attraction, such as bronc riding and stunt shows, high-noon showdowns and ropin' and ridin' horses done the cowboy way. -Carolina Gusman
Through July 4. Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar. 858.755.1161 or 858.793.5555 or sdfair.com
SUMMER MUST: FOOD CLASSIC WITH A TWIST
Call them weenies, franks or tube steaks, top them with chili, cheese, sauerkraut or mustard, hot dogs are the perfect summer all-American handwich. And since nothing is more American than blanketing something in bacon, the folks at Carnitas' Snack Shack are doing just that. During July, you can indulge in a smoked bacon-wrapped pork hot dog, with carnitas, pico de gallo and chipotle aioli. We salute you. -Michele Parente
North Park: 2632 University Ave., 619.294.7675; Downtown: 1004 N. Harbor Drive, 619.696.7675. carnitassnackshack.com
SUMMER MUST: "IT" RESTAURANT
Summer is about bringing the heat and
is the hottest new restaurant in town. The upscale Mexican dining spot serves sizzlingly sumptuous fare and cocktails, nowhere more caliente than by a fire pit on the patio. Keep it spicy with shrimp ceviche with serrano and Tapatío hot sauce and the signature Alacran margarita kicked up with serrano syrup and sliced serranos. -Michele Parente
4340 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego. 858.291.8630 or redorestaurant.com
SUMMER MUST: MOVIES
It's just not summer without a superhero flick, and this season isn't any different. Peter Parker's coming to the big screen July 5 in "Spider-Man: Homecoming," starring English actor and dancer
Tom Holland. Is the world ready for this reboot of the Spider-Man franchise? Only the box-office receipts will tell. But it doesn't hurt that Holland's Parker will have a little bit of help from his mentor,
Robert Downey Jr. 's Tony Stark (Iron Man).
Michael James Rocha
SUMMER MUST: TELEVISION, NAIL-BITING
Winter is coming, and TV fans know what that means - more "Game of Thrones" stress sweat. Season 7 debuts on July 16 on HBO, and now that the show has outpaced George R.R. Martin's books, we are in an uncharted territory unofficially known as Crazytown. Whether your money is on Daenerys, Jon Snow or the Lannisters, your eyeballs belong to HBO. And Peter Dinklage. - Karla Peterson
SUMMER MUST: TELEVISION, STREAMING
Its characters are damaged goods, but Netflix's "Marvel's The Defenders" mini-series is a prime slab of superhero splendor. The show unites Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Iron Fist (Finn Jones) to battle the Hand, a band of evil mystical ninjas. The eight episodes will be available for binge-watching on Aug. 18. This one's gonna hurt so good.
SUMMER MUST: STREET FEST
Most "Taste Of" events are happy to highlight the best eating and drinking their neighborhood has to offer. Taste of Adams Avenue features nearly 50 places - of every cuisine imaginable - on a stretch than runs through three hoods: Kensington, Normal Heights and University Heights. Show offs! -Michele Parente
June 25, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tickets $35. 619.282.7329 or tasteofadams.com
SUMMER MUST: THEATER, MARQUEE
The Bard's titanic tragedy "Hamlet" will unfold under the stars as the second show in the Old Globe's summer Shakespeare Festival. The production's director is Globe artistic chief Barry Edelstein, an accomplished Shakespearean who is taking his first crack at the saga of murder, mystery and madness in Denmark. It's the first Globe "Hamlet" in a decade, and only the second since 1990. -James Hebert
Aug. 6-Sept. 10, Old Globe's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre,
SUMMER MUST: THEATER, BUZZWORTHY
The creative duo behind San Diego's longest-running homegrown musical - the '80s-centric Lamb's Players revue "mixtape" - now jump ahead a decade with this brand-new show: "Pump Up the Volume: A Musical '90s-Palooza." Director-choreographer Colleen Kollar Smith and musical director-arranger Jon Lorenz promise an ode to the "pimpin' pop culture, phat fads and stylin' fashion" of the '90s with the piece, which will take in songs by acts from Pearl Jam to
to Britney Spears to the Spice Girls. --James Hebert
July 28-Sept. 10, San Diego Musical Theatre at the Horton Grand, 444 Fourth Ave., downtown San Diego.
SUMMER MUST: SONG
There's plenty of ear-candy vying in this category, from French Montana's "Unforgettable" and
Calvin Harris ' "Slide" to Haim's "I Want You Back" and Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee's "Despacito" (with or without Justin Bieber's vocal cameo). But Miley Cryus' lilting "Malibu" stands out. A surprisingly understated love song and an ode to endless summers, it's many miles away from the twerking, banger-happy Miley of just a few years ago. Clearly, giving up pot is already paying off for her. -George Varga
SUMMER MUST: THEME PARK
On July 1, the zoo opens its $68 million Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks exhibit, an 8-acre project in the area of the zoo formerly known as Cat and Dog Canyon. Visitors will walk a winding pathway through lushly landscaped and underwater areas representing six zones of Africa, from savannah to rainforest. The new exhibit, one of the largest in park history, will be home to more than 40 species of mammals, reptiles and birds, including baboons, monkeys, lemurs, crocodiles, leopards, penguins and sharks. -Pam Kragen
2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego. zoo.sandiegozoo.org
SUMMER MUST: WINE
You want laid back? You can't get any more chill than wine in can. These take-anywhere tipples rival anything in a bottle - no need to lower your standards just because it's summer. Look for Alloy Wine Works Everyday Rosé at Krisp, Underwood's bubbles, rosé, pinot noir and pinot gris at Trader Joe's and BevMo and Pam's UN-Oaked Chardonnay at Whole Foods.