Indie Pop Artist Jelani Aryeh's Day Off in San Diego Includes Incredible Burgers and Watching Paragliders
"I've always loved finding these little pockets in San Diego where there is culture—where art seems to really be alive."
By Sadie Bell and Jelani Aryeh
Published on 8/4/2022 at 10:00 AM
Jelani Aryeh | Photo by Brandon Kwon
Jelani Aryeh is a San Diego-bred, LA-based singer-songwriter whose Southern California upbringing has had a clear influence on his sunny, melodic indie pop music. After releasing his debut album, I've Got Some Living to Do, in 2021, he toured a great deal in spring 2022, will appear at Outside Lands later this summer, and is currently in the midst of writing his next release.
I just got my first apartment in LA, but I always feel a really big pull back to San Diego. I'm always yearning for it and it's never felt the way it does right now. Now, I think it's so serene and grounding, and I often have to step back and be like, 'Whoa. I'm from here." This year and last, there's been so much change in my life and everyone around me, and San Diego is the thing that keeps me sane.
I like to start my day in San Diego at a coffee shop called Mostra Coffee. It's a Filipino business and I'm half Filipino, so I love to support them. I get their iced honey lavender latte. I think there's Earl Grey in it, too, so that mixture alone is like heaven.
Meditation Garden | Courtesy of Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles, California
"Nature is one of the things that inspires me the most and I can definitely feel the spirituality of it."
I'm a huge morning person—which is strange, because I feel at my age of 22, everyone I know wakes up at 11 or 12. I'm like, "Dude, half of your day is lost!" I like waking up at 5 or 6 and driving, letting my mind go. So after I get coffee, I ideally want to go to La Jolla. There's this place called Mt. Soledad. It's one of the tallest peaks in San Diego, and you can see a 360 panorama of the city. A few weeks ago, I had this morning where I woke up at 4:30 and I couldn't go back to sleep, so I started driving and I got to watch the sunrise there. It's the most otherworldly feeling. Seeing that would always be my ideal way to spend the day. I can't pull off waking up that early a lot, but it's very special when I can.
I also like to visit the Meditation Garden in Encinitas really early in the morning. When you walk in, there's a wave of calm. It's a place in San Diego that I use as a timeline of where I am in my life. The gardens recently opened up again after 2020—and my life has changed so much in that time. It's cool that place can be that for me. When I'm there, I always feel like a little kid—like I'm three-years-old—and they have a bunch of species of flowers and trees, koi ponds, and lookouts to the ocean. Everyone there is super respectful and smiles with their eyes. Nature is one of the things that inspires me the most and I can definitely feel the spirituality of it.
Salk Institute | Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock
"I've always loved finding these little pockets in San Diego where there is culture—where art seems to really be alive—because that wasn't really around me when I was growing up in the suburbs in 4S Ranch."
In the afternoon, I like to go to this thing called the Swap Meet. It's a flea market that happens every weekend in Point Loma. I also enjoy visiting my friends that work downtown at this vintage shop called Wotown—they always have the best finds. I've found a lot of flared jeans there and got this amazing jacket that I wear in the video for my song "Marigold." It's always a good time going there, talking to them, and then walking around downtown with them.
I also like to spend a lot of time in the North Park area, which is where my friends (who created my latest album artwork) have an art-studio workshop called Swish Projects that's kind of a modular, ever-changing art space. I've always loved finding these little pockets in San Diego where there is culture—where art seems to really be alive—because that wasn't really around me when I was growing up in the suburbs in 4S Ranch.
North Park is really close to downtown, so for lunch I go to this place called The Friendly Tavern. I only found this place about a year ago, and I can't believe I lived in San Diego my whole life and only just now found the best burgers. They have a couple spots. There's one called The Friendly, which also serves pizza and has a diner vibe, and then The Tavern feels almost like a backyard. They have fireplaces, picnic-style tables, and it feels very nice. My go-to order is a burger called The Shitkicker.
Then, some other places I like to visit in the afternoon are The Salk Institute, which is a science research institute, but a stunning building you can walk through. It's almost otherworldly, and it sparked my love for architecture and design. I also like to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which has a lot of great new exhibits and is on the water.
Photo courtesy of Lexi Wheeler/Torrey Pines Gliderport
"It's those moments and places like that that make me feel like, 'Oh, this is my home.'"
At sunset or when it gets dark out, I love to visit the Torrey Gliderport. It is a very panoramic, wide-open space and you can see people on paragliders. It's like you're watching them right in front of your face, only 30 feet away, and you're really close to the cliff. Being there, it seems like everything is moving slowly, and it's super calming. It's almost like an experience going to the Meditation Garden—just farther down the coast. It's so special to watch the sunset, too, and how it's different every time. I love going there, singing really loud in my car, people-watching, and just decompressing. I nearly cry my eyes out every time I go.
I discovered going there sometime after high school. In a lot of these places that I love in San Diego, some of my favorite memories there are just conversations that I've had with my friends. They're always super nourishing. It's those moments and places like that that make me feel like, "Oh, this is my home."
I appreciate that I can still find new spots to love in my home city. I grew up in a bubble in the suburbs of 4S Ranch, but now I'm older, can drive around, and explore the places by myself. I can go to La Jolla and go to downtown Coronado. The city is super special to me in a way that it hasn't felt before.
Places to Eat & Drink
Things to See & Do
1100 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA
6905 La Jolla Scenic Drive at Via Capri La Jolla, CA
3500 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego, CA
730 Market St, San Diego, CA
2903 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA
10010 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA
700 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA
2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Dr, La Jolla, CA