13 San Diego Things We Can’t Wait to Do When Quarantine is Over

Beers at Balboa Park, dumplings in Mira Mesa, and sunsets on the beach.

It’s time to relax, San Diego. Seriously, it feels like we’ve all been holding our breath for the last eight weeks, and it’s time to let go. As we slowly return to the beaches and parks, continue to support our restaurants, breweries, and other small businesses and dare to look at what our city might be like post-coronavirus we’re also looking back -- at how things were, and how much we took for granted. 

We asked some of our favorite San Diegans what they miss most while sheltering in place, and what they can’t wait to do again after we get through this. A few secrets were spilled, like where a small-batch brewer can legally crack open a beer in Balboa Park and which tacos our favorite rugby players are craving. More than one chef lusts after steak and an old school nightcap, a craft beer expert has a plan for a Convoy Street beer and dumpling crawl and San Diego’s favorite diva reveals an off-menu cocktail. 

Holistic spa days, romantic date nights, and coffee with friends rank high on many must do lists, but overwhelmingly, everyone just wants to get outside again. To the beach, the trails, the desert and the mountains, the neighborhoods, the parks, the galleries and gardens -- they’re calling to us, and we’re ready to get back out and enjoy life in America’s Finest City. 

Laura Ulrich
Laura Ulrich | Joseph Wilson

Play bocce ball and drink beer in Balboa Park

“I am really looking forward to hitting up the parks and enjoying libations with my friends. Since we can’t drink on the beach there are some great parks and specifically there are cool parts in Balboa -- not just the amazing Panama 66 -- but grassy areas that you can legally drink in. Just throw a blanket down, play cards or bocce ball, crack open a few craft beers with friends and people watch in the park. I also can’t wait to hit up a bar or brewery to see brewery folks. As much as I love all my Stone Brewing co-workers, I am excited to see all my brewery buddies.”
 Laura Ulrich, small-batch brewer at Stone Brewing and president of The Pink Boots Society

Rachel King
Rachel King | Becca Batista

Enjoy sunshine at Torrey Pines and a romantic date night at Born & Raised

“I am yearning to hike in the sunshine at Torrey Pines State Park, lay on the sand and splash in the waves at Windansea Beach, go to the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park with my kids, and take the family to SeaWorld on a beautiful day. 

I can't wait for dinner parties with friends where our kids go crazy running around the house and we actually get to talk like adults. I'm ready to have a date night out with my husband that includes movies in a movie theatre and dinner at one of our favorite upscale restaurants. I’d start with a Head Ancho (or three) and ahi tostadas at Tahona or a Seoul City Hipster at Realm of the 52 Remedies, followed by an unforgettable sushi experience at Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub or delicious steaks at Born & Raised.”
— Rachel King, founder and culinary director of Kaneh Co., a local San Diego high-end culinary brand specializing in gourmet cannabis-infused edibles

Landon Donovan
Landon Donovan | Joseph Wilson

Eat at the city’s best restaurants and get back to soccer

"I'm most looking forward to going out to all the great restaurants in our city, especially Market Restaurant + Bar in Del Mar and Addison in Carmel Valley. I also can’t wait for San Diego Loyal soccer games at Torero Stadium." 
— Landon Donovan, EVP of soccer operations, San Diego Loyal

Christina Kantzavelos
Christina Kantzavelos | Stacy Keck

Hit the trails at Cleveland National Forest and get pampered at Leo by Liv

“I look forward to hanging our annual CA state parks pass on our dashboard and getting to visit and hike our state parks again, as well as all of our lovely county trails, including Cleveland National Forest. I want to play in the ocean and lay on the sand with a good book. I'm ready to break gluten-free bread with friends and families at our favorite restaurants, or, at our homes, where we can sit and enjoy each other's company, and share in laughter and tet-a-tet emotions. 

I dream of walking around Balboa Park, visiting a museum or garden, and enjoying both the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park. I can't wait to pick my produce and other items at the local farmer's market. I also look forward to getting my monthly organic facials at Shop Good, and my low-toxic pedicures, and holistic massages at Leo by Liv. Lastly, I can't wait for a proper hair trim, and that will be with Flo at Pikku Salon.”
— Christina Kantzavelos, owner/editor of BuenQamino, an award-winning, gluten-free and health-conscious travel and lifestyle blog

Brian Malarkey
Brian Malarkey | Becca Batista

Enjoy the simple pleasures of family time at Del Mar Racetrack

“Watching the horse races at the Del Mar Racetrack is one of my favorite San Diego experiences. I’ve always loved horses and the buzzy energy you find at the track. I’m also looking forward to enjoying the simpler things: baseball and softball practice with my kids, going to concerts with my wife and our friends.  And of course, I can’t wait to be back in my restaurants, working alongside my staff and cooking for my neighbors and our regulars."
— Brian Malarkey, Top Chef All-Stars, co-founder of The Puffer Malarkey Collective, judge on Food Network's Guy's Grocery Games, regular guest on the Today Show and Good Morning America

Ralph Rubio
Ralph Rubio | Rubio's Coastal Grill

Play tennis, eat at Cucina Enoteca, and relax on the beach

“I’m very much looking forward to getting back on the tennis court with my friends and having some fish tacos and cervezas. Afterwards, martinis and dinner with my wife, Dione, at one of our favorite restaurants, Cucina Enoteca in Del Mar on a warm Saturday night. And summer Sundays together on the beach, reading the newspaper and taking body surfing breaks in between.
— Ralph Rubio, co-founder of Rubio’s Coastal Grill

Christian Siglin
Christian Siglin | Arlene Ibarra

Dinner and nightcaps at Cowboy Star and Turf Club

“On my First Day Back to ‘normal’ life, I would start my day off getting coffee at Dark Horse in a Golden Hill. Then I’d go to the beach, I can’t wait to go surf again with normal-sized crowds. Next I would catch up with family and give everyone big hugs. As for dinner plans, I would definitely go to Cowboy Star with my wife and some friends. Finally, we would meet up with all our friends for a nightcap at Turf Club.”
— Christian Siglin, beverage director and operating partner at Fernside Bar

Catt White
Catt White | Stephen Metz

Eat breakfast with the grandkids and visit the Little Italy Mercato

“I'm missing breakfast with the grandkids, dinner on the patio at Buona Forchetta, greeting neighbors with a hug at the Little Italy farmers’ markets and toasting marshmallows on the beach. My favorite restaurants let me eat at the counter and watch the chefs at work, and that's probably unlikely for a while. I can't wait to see how our small businesses put their creativity and resiliency to work to achieve a new normal for gathering: maybe timed table rent for working at coffeehouses and encouraging appetizers with friends at the restaurant and taking dinner to go to work with limited tables. The curtain is going to rise, but slowly.” 
— Catt Fields White, CEO, San Diego Markets

Psalm Wooching
Psalm Wooching | David Frerker

Shake a barista’s hand at Better Buzz Coffee and eat all the tacos

“The first thing I’d do is visit Better Buzz Coffee, order a coffee ‘for dine-in’ and shake the barista's hand that prepared it. After that, I’d go to The Taco Stand or City Tacos and enjoy a meal with friends and family. We love you, San Diego. Soon enough, we will be doing these things, until then keep your heads high so we may conquer this pandemic.”
— Psalm Wooching, flanker, San Diego Legion

Barbarella Fokos
Barbarella Fokos | David Fokos

Drink secret cocktails at Starlite and heal with art

“I’ve been working on a ‘back to new normal to-do list,’ and at the top of it is sitting at the bar at Starlite and chatting with bar manager Jack as he makes my favorite, the classic, off-menu but still available if you know to ask for it Holly Golightly, or maple Manhattan. Next on my list would be hitting up art museums in person -- like the Oceanside Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Photographic Arts -- and hopefully seeing new work that is informed by this collective trauma we can all relate to, offering catharsis and connection and, ultimately, healing. 
— Barbarella Fokos, author, television host, award-winning journalist and humorist, Emmy Award-winning producer, and co-founder of Salt and Sugar Productions

Brandon Hernández
Brandon Hernández | Photography by Tyler Graham

Hit up Kearny Mesa’s best beer and dumpling spots

“While I’ve been lucky to be able to drink through a robust cellar of craft ales and lagers in quarantine, I’ve been longing for San Diego to transform back into a social locale. When it does, my first stop will be O’Brien’s Pub, where I had my first beer -- Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard Ale -- and thousands more since. I’ll give owners Tom and Tyson big hugs before ordering some hop-laced, barrel-aged or otherwise delicious indulgence and chatting up the good people at and behind the bar. From there, I’ll head across the street for xiao long bao, kung pao seabass, and scallion lamb at Dumpling Inn before setting off for the first of many long-overdue brewery visits at Societe Brewing. I’m done with the distance. It’s time to be responsibly social!”
— Brandon Hernández: senior editor, West Coaster Magazine; columnist, Ranch & Coast Magazine,  co-host, The Indie Beer Show; author, San Diego Beer News

Peter Malcolm
Peter Malcolm | San Diego Legion

Eat burritos at The Taco Stand and walk on Cardiff State Beach at sunset

“My first stop will be at Ironsmith Coffee in Downtown Encinitas for an americano and some sunshine on their outdoor tables. After that, I’ll head over to the dog park in Encinitas community park so my pup can enjoy some playtime. The most important stop: lunch at The Taco Stand for a pollo asado burrito. It’s been so long since I’ve been out among people that I’m actually excited to wait in their gigantic line. Of course, a ‘real first day back’ in San Diego will need a visit to the beach, so I’ll finish the day by walking at Cardiff State Beach with my girlfriend Megan -- pair that with a craft beer or two from local brewery Ballast Point Brewing.” 
— Peter Malcolm, hooker, San Diego Legion

Brad Wise
Brad Wise | Trust Restaurant Group

Fishing, family time and a look to the future 

“We are very hopeful that life will go back to normal as soon as possible, but I am most excited to see positive energy infused back into the City of San Diego. In our industry, transitioning into busy, warm summer weekends is an amazing feeling and it would be great to experience that feeling. I think a lot of people are missing the energy and fun of restaurants, beaches, and events. Although this is an awful time and our industry is one the hardest hit, if we can weather the storm over the next year to 18 months, things are going to be better than ever.

For myself, I really miss fishing and Sunday fun on the boat with my wife, daughter and friends. And, I can’t wait to enjoy dinner at Kettner Exchange and Cowboy Star and all of my other favorite spots.”
— Brad Wise, executive chef/owner of Trust Restaurant Group

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks, and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.