San Diego is a hotspot of culture, art, music, food, and fun - and it's all even better under the summer sun. As such a booming epicenter on the western USA coastal state of California, the city naturally attracts hordes of crowds - especially in peak season. But little do tourists know, San Diego does in fact have plenty of sights, sounds, attractions, and activities off the beaten track, including many only known by the most intrepid of locals. So what are these things and where are they?

11 Quiet Beach Lounging And Marine Critter Hunting At Mushroom Beach

Mushroom Beach in La Jolla got its name for its strangely-shaped rock formations. It's a pleasant stretch of sand and sea that's one of the area's quieter beaches much preferred by locals who want to escape the tourist crowds. Despite being just south of Windansea in ever-popular La Jolla, the beach rarely ever sees lots of people, offering a peaceful retreat away from the hustle-bustle of the beaten track.

The beach is also especially great for families with kids; the pools that form at low tide are home to lots of interesting marine species that little ones often enjoy watching - don't touch though, it's important to respect ocean critters and leave them be for others to watch and enjoy as well.

10 Visit Mexico For The Day

Fancy a quick trip to Mexico? No problem, simply grab your passport and head to the Mexican border, where a completely different lifestyle and culture can be discovered in Tijuana. Tijuana is a great spot to spend the day with plenty of cultural attractions and activities, as well as lots of fantastic Mexican restaurants and street food (don't miss out on the local tacos!)

A superb starting point is the Tijuana Cultural Center where travelers can learn about the area. Then, for a little more intrigue, other fun spots to check out are the town's Wax Museum or Estadio Caliente where sports fans can watch a soccer game.

9 Explore Nature On A Hike

Long sunny days mean an outdoorsy, active lifestyle. And with dramatic and diverse landscapes also decorating terrain in and around San Diego, it's only natural that locals and visitors are often seen enjoying a brisk hike or leisurely stroll.

There are many hikes to choose from; beginners in need of an easier saunter with sea views will enjoy Torrey Pines State Reserve, while explorers with a bit more stamina will find Cowles Mountain and its steep jaunts much more enjoyable - plus, the hike even ends at San Diego's highest point, offering epic panoramas and a chance to take awesome pics.

If that's not quite enough, then heading from Lake Poway to Mount Woodson awards even more energetic hiking and influencer-ready photo opportunities. Interestingly, the hike is nicknamed “Potato Chip Rock” and comprises a six-and-a-half-mile roundtrip finishing off at the famous rock that resembles - as the trail's name suggests - a big potato chip.

Related: The Best Parks For Reconnecting With Nature In San Diego

8 Strawberry Picking And Instagrammable Fields

Just off the 5 freeway, the Carlsbad Strawberry Company promises a unique day out picking fresh strawberries. They offer a fun and family-friendly “u-pick” activity in which visitors can go right out to the vines and pick their very own fresh strawberries. Open daily from 9 am to 6 pm, guests have the whole day to pick as many strawberries as they like - although according to many, the best time to arrive for those wanting beautiful photos is by 5 pm for the glorious sunsets whilst picking fruit. Instagrammers will be able to get even more photos for their feed nearby at The Flower Field at Carlsbad Ranch, where a gorgeous rolling hill is decorated by a vibrant blanket of floral blooms.

7 Drink Your Way Through San Diego On A Craft Beer Tour

It's no secret that San Diego-dwellers love craft beers, which is why a slew of amazing breweries have popped up all over the city. There are over 100 breweries in the area - four of which rank highly on the USA's 50 largest.

It's good news for IPA aficionados; the city is the home of many different kinds, including the iconic West Coast IPA - a delectable top choice amongst San Diegan booze-lovers thanks to its hoppy taste and citrus and tropical fruit undertones.

Instead of just sampling the beers at the various bars throughout town, the best way for any beer fan to truly indulge is to take a craft beer tour. It's the perfect opportunity to see and experience why San Diego is fiercely proud of its incredible brews.

Related: Looking For Some Good Beer Tours In San Diego? You're In Luck, Because Here They Are

6 Vintage Shopping In Trendy Hillcrest

Locals and tourists simply can't get enough of the ever-trendy Hillcrest neighborhood. The place is lined with hipster bars and restaurants coupled with an array of vintage stores. Think vinyl record shops, used book stores, and pre-loved fashion outlets selling heaps of vintage clothing and accessories. What's more, Hillcrest is the headquarter of San Diego's LGBTQ scene where the yearly Pride parade begins each summer.

5 Sip Rooftop Cocktails

Sipping a refreshing drink with skyline, ocean, and bay views as a backdrop may sound cliché, but it is actually one of the city's best and most peaceful pastimes. Combining such vistas with delicious craft cocktails, intriguing mocktails, or a cold beer makes the entire experience just that bit more perfect.

San Diego does indeed offer a wealth of different rooftop bars, and among those highly spoken of include Cannonball at Mission Beach, which offers ocean views and superb sushi, and the ALTITUDE Sky Lounge at the Marriott Hotel. The latter is a little more upmarket and is situated inside a fancy hotel, but that doesn't mean visitors and locals can't enjoy sipping drinks atop the roof while soaking up the stunning skyline scenery.

4 Let Lose With Live Music

San Diego has birthed many a world-famous artist -and plenty of whom have gone on to win Grammys and other prestigious awards. Even today, the city's live music venues continue to showcase up-and-coming singers, musicians, and bands breaking into the industry. Classic music hubs like The Casbah, Belly Up Tavern, North Park Observatory, Bar Pink, Soda Bar, Space Bar, The Whistle Stop, and The Tower Bar all host various artists most days, so it's a good idea to check them out to see who's playing if a wild night out on the town full of live music is on the cards.

Of course, one of the locals' most beloved establishments is The Casbah with its intimate feel and social atmosphere. Because of how cozy it is, fans can get up close to the artists as they jam on stage, dancing and singing along to their tunes whilst rocking out on the dance floor. And don't be tricked by the size of the place - in spite of its modest pint-size, the joint has indeed welcomed an impressive roster of big-name artists over the years, such as Nirvana, Joan Jett, The Shins, Arcade Fire, The Shins, Fitz & The Tantrum, and The Black Keys to name only some who've graced the place with their talent.

3 Marvel At Mexican Art And Culture In Barrio Logan

One doesn't have to cross the border to discover authentic Mexican culture; put Barrio Logan into the GPS and head on down to enter a world of vibrant street art, amazing Mexican food, and a lot more history. On certain days of the week, the HI San Diego Downtown offers free tours of the neighborhood, which includes local points of interest including taco food joints and the beautiful Chicano Park - home to the biggest collection of outdoor murals on the planet.

Furthermore, art appreciators have even more to take in; on every second Saturday of the month, the Barrio Logan Art Crawl takes place, allowing visitors a self-guided tour entailing artistic highlights, such as public art displays and local galleries.

2 Indulge In A Vegan Food Tour Of The City

San Diego's cuisine does involve some strange dishes, but for the most part, it's all about plant power; the city delivers some of the world's best vegan cuisine that could easily confuse and convert the heartiest of meat-eaters. The progressiveness of the region means it's home to a never-ending sea of specialized vegan restaurants, eateries, and street food stalls that all serve insatiable creations that even stubborn non-vegans can't resist.

There are many vegan restaurants to choose from, but particular well-loved local spots include Kindred with its cauliflower steak, OB Noodle House for its deceptive meat-noodles, Luigi's for its amazing vegan pizza, and Plant Power Fast Food for its mouth-watering vegan cheeseburgers, French fries, and milkshakes, as well as so many others.

Plus, from vegan tacos and burritos to plant-based enchiladas and tostadas, even Mexican food fanatics have their own vegan experiments to sample. Famed Mexican vegan highlights include Salud! in Barrio Logan, Ranchos Cocina in North Park, and Pokez in East Village to name just a few.

Related: The Results Are In, Here Are The Best Vegan Restaurants In The US

1 Get Cozy With Beach Bonfires And Roasted Marshmallows

Nothing screams "California" more than basking in front of a bonfire at the beach. And thanks to such an extensive coastline, there are more than enough beaches to do exactly that. Ideal seaside spots for sitting in front of the fire and roasting marshmallows with friends include Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Fiesta Island, and Coronado Island - all of which have bonfire pits for public use.

The famed and popular Huntington Beach also has fire pits - however this spot does get very crowded, thus those in search of tranquillity away from the masses should give this one a miss. So, grab some firewood, a few bags of marshmallows, and head to any of the other beaches to bag a bonfire pit - but be sure to get there early before sunset, for they operate on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Next: These Are California's Best Beaches, According To Your Favorite Beach Activity