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Alexa Brynne

Food North America Travel Health & Wellness

A Wellness Girl’s Guide to San Diego

We’re not as woo-woo as LA, but San Diego is a health and wellness mecca in its own right. There’s no shortage of fresh pressed juice, boutique fitness studios and holistic spas in this city. For those planning a weekend getaway with wellness top of mind, San Diego is one of the best places to go. Here are a few tried and true local restaurants and activities to make your trip a breeze, from one wellness girl to another. 

Eat & Drink

Donna Jean

The best things in life aren’t very complicated. Donna Jean has a simple menu that happens to be 100% vegan. Best known for their thin crust pizzas, Donna Jean also has handcrafted pastas, salads, and sweets on their seasonal menu. Their plant-covered front patio feels like a secret hideaway, a quiet reprieve from the nearby bustling city and Balboa Park. A glass of wine with crusty focaccia bread under twinkling string lights…it’s the perfect atmosphere for a casual, comfortable and cozy dinner. 

GOODONYA

Everything at the organic North County eatery GOODONYA will feel good in ya, thanks to high-quality ingredients. Stop in for breakfast, lunch or dinner: with a menu this nice you might want to drop by twice! Morning meals include eggs and scrambles, avocado toasts, a coconut yogurt parfait and more. Nosh on organic Mexican dishes, bone broth and soup made from scratch, giant colorful salads, wraps, and similar fare. Wash it all down with biodynamic wine, beer, kombucha, low sugar cocktails, or the restaurant’s own electrolyte and mineral hydration blend. They’ve also got a daily happy hour, as if there wasn’t enough to feel good about.  

Parakeet Cafe

If probiotics and adaptogens often make their way into your vocabulary, you’ve come to the right place. Parakeet Cafe has three locations in San Diego, all overwhelmingly pretty in pink. Start your morning with a specialty coffee, ranging from turmeric and beet lattes to mushroom elixir and cacao blends. Personalize your coffee with almond, coconut or oat milk, collagen, MCT oil, and more…all this all before the food menu! Breakfast is served all day, so you can enjoy matcha waffles or shakshuka anytime. Lunch includes salads, soups and bowls, all packed with organic greens, vegetables, and add-on sides to make your meal just the way you want it. 

JuneShine

Hard kombucha is taking over the city, and it all started with JuneShine. Their honest alcohol is made with honey, green tea, organic spices, and juice to make delicious flavors like blood orange mint, pomegranate basil, and chili mango. Grab a glass or try a flight at their beach-inspired tasting room near the city. Or drive twenty minutes North to JuneShine Ranch, featuring brewery tours and a full food menu created by certified nutritionists. 

You & Yours

Undoubtedly one of the most Instagrammable places in the city, You & Yours is the perfect mix of trendy and charming. This female-founded distillery makes gin and vodka onsite, which means a fresh-as-it-can-get cocktail for you. You won’t find artificial syrups or mix-ins here; the drink menu offers a unique mix of fruit and veggie inspired cocktails, complete with adorable names. Little Bunny Foo Foo (gin with carrot, turmeric, ginger, and lemon) and Rhubarbie’s Dream House (gin with rhubarb, raspberry, lemon, bitters, and pink peppercorn) are just a few options. 

Rest & Restore 

Encinitas Meditation Gardens

Unwind surrounded by lush greenery and a stunning ocean view at this self-realization fellowship in North County. Look for three large gold dome-topped towers on the Pacific Coast Highway. The nearby meditation gardens are open to the public, offering walking paths and several spots to sit and be still next to koi ponds, cactus, beautiful birds of paradise, and other colorful plants. 

Citrine Spa

Tucked away on an adorable block of Point Loma is Citrine Spa. The setting is sweet and inviting, and the clean beauty facials are just as soothing. The Citrine esthetician Dawn will curate natural products specific for your skin type. Enjoy a series of cleansers, masks, peels, and even gentle microdermabrasion with an essential oil shoulder and arm massage. After your serene facial, keep that refreshed feeling going by visiting the tea bar and plant shop across the street. 

Leo by Liv3

This picture-perfect salon will make sure your nails are ready for a close-up. Offering manicures, pedicures and massages, Leo sources non-toxic treatment products as much as possible. The team here is known for creating expert nail art, both minimalist chic and bright and bold. Following through with their mission statement ‘be good to yourself,’ Leo also offers free postcards: write down a reminder for some self care, mail them to home and smile when you get something other than a bill in your mailbox. 

ALCHEMĒ

A medical spa that offers beauty services for the inside and out, ALCHEMĒ utilizes treatments both cutting edge and ancient medicine. Aesthetic medicine services range from plasma therapies to photo facials and skin tightening technologies. For something a little less futuristic, opt for a Chinese medicine treatment like cupping or gua sha, or simply consult with a functional medicine practitioner. There’s no appointment necessary for a vitamin injection at the shot bar if you’re looking to get an extra boost of energy, ward off an oncoming cold, or even to help prevent a hangover. 

Saffron & Sage

This holistic health club has everything a wellness girl could ever want. Get pampered with acupuncture, cupping or a massage. Get moving with a yoga class, or mindful with a meditation therapy session. Get advice from a nutritionist, psychologist, or life coach. Saffron & Sage also sells clean beauty products, minerals, essential oil diffusers, and more goodies to take home as a reminder of your experience. Spend some time in a calming, multi-sensory space filled with like-minded locals who dive deep into health and wellness. 

Break a Sweat

Babes Who Sweat

This event series makes fitness fun, with indoor and outdoor workouts all over San Diego. Check their Facebook page for information on upcoming events; past sweat sessions include spin classes, bootcamps, yoga classes, and stand-up paddleboarding, and typically include a goodie bag from local wellness brands.  Meet fellow health and fitness lovers through this inclusive, friendly community. 

Convention Center Steps

Looking to really get your heart rate up? Walk or run up the open-air convention center steps downtown: there’s nearly 100 steps on the grand staircase. Your reward is an epic view of the Gaslamp District one direction, and the San Diego Bay on the other.  There are several shorter staircases around the convention center, perfect for working on sprints, lunges, or similar bodyweight exercises. 

Torrey Pines Hike

Get close to nature at Torrey Pines State Reserve, covering around 2,000 acres of coastal land. Open from 7:15 a.m. to sunset, the trails here are great for newbies or more experienced hikers. Bask in dramatic ocean views, scenic overlooks, coastal plants and the area’s eponymous pine trees. Check the Torrey Pines website for more information on parking and entrance fees. 

Stand-Up Paddle-boarding

There are plenty of places to get your paddle-board on. But the most quintessential San Diego spot may be taking to the water around Coronado Island. SUP Coronado offers rentals and group tours, leading around the Coronado Bay Bridge with views of the city skyline. Sit, stand, and hopefully catch a glimpse of sea life during your session. 

Advice Guides Insider Tips Outdoors

Five Beautiful Botanical Gardens Around the World

As an avid traveler, I love pounding the pavement in a city I’ve never visited before. Urban architecture and artwork never ceases to impress and inspire me. But there’s one non-negotiable must-do that’s always at the top of my trip list: botanical gardens. Below are a few of my all-time favorites any wanderlust should add to their itinerary.

Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

Walking distance from Melbourne’s bustling central business district – known as the CBD to locals – lies 90 acres of open air space. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria is filled with an array of lawns, lakes, pavilions, and paths. Several entrance gates lead to a vast range of collections from bamboo to ferns and palms to roses, with many rare species of trees and foliage. You don’t have to be a botany buff to appreciate the Australian Forest Walk or Water Conservation Garden, but the Garden does have an education team that offers programs for those who want to learn more. It may take multiple visits to soak in all that Melbourne’s garden has to offer; luckily it is completely free of entry. Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria hosts wellness experiences, family activities,  art exhibitions, guided walks, and more throughout the year. Or you could simply bring a picnic and soak in your surroundings before hitting the nearby beach or city. 

Innsbruck University Botanical Garden, Innsbruck, Austria

Two hours outside of Salzburg is the small, charming town of Innsbruck. Tucked away in the Austrian alps, Innsbruck is a prime location for year-round sports like hiking, skiing and mountain biking. But plant lovers are also in luck: the University of Innsbruck happens to have a lush park with three gorgeous ‘gram-worthy greenhouses. Each steamy greenhouse houses orchids, ferns, cacti, and more tropical plants. The real stunner is the indoor pond flecked with giant lily pads, surrounded by luxurious palms. The greenhouses are open every Tuesday, Thursday, and first Sunday afternoon of the month and cost just two euros to enter. Wander the rest of the botanical garden for free and explore over thousands of plant species from around the world.

Malahide Castle and Gardens, Dublin, Ireland

A peaceful outdoor retreat can be found thirty minutes outside of Dublin’s city center. Malahide Castle is a popular tourist destination, and daily tours of the medieval home fill up fast. The grounds around the 800 year old castle are equally as impressive: 260 acres are filled with gardens, greenhouses, the Republic of Ireland’s only butterfly house, and a fairy trail that’s perfect for kids. You may run into brightly colored peacocks who call the gardens home, which was originally created to grow vegetables and herbs for the castle kitchen decades ago. The last owner of Malahide Castle was enthusiastic about exotic plants and rare flora, and transformed the kitchen gardens into the existing landscape. Explore a rose garden, Victorian Conservatory, a geometric greenhouse and much more. Malahide also screens movies and hosts concerts, yoga and more events when weather allows. P.S. – their onsite cafe and food market is insanely delicious as well. Tickets for the gardens, butterfly house and fairy trail are 7.50 euro for adults, and are included in the 14 euro guided castle tour ticket. 

Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri 

Not only one of the oldest botanical gardens in the United States, the Missouri Botanical Garden was also awarded National Historic Landmark status. 79 acres of indoor and outdoor space with more than 20 individual gardens make up this serene space. Historical structures, including founder Henry Shaw’s townhouse built in 1849, make this botanical garden unique. Victorian era architecture – like a  stone cottage from the late 1800’s and a brick greenhouse constructed in 1882 – give a glimpse of the past, while newer builds like the Climatron geodesic dome conservatory are equally impressive. Multiple museums, a maze, koi fish pond and more round out the garden grounds. The Missouri Botanical Garden hosts events throughout the year, including the jaw-dropping nighttime Garden Glow with over one million lights; the only tradeoff being chilly temperatures. The garden is open daily with free admission for kids 12 and under, and $14 for adult visitors. 

Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado

It may be relatively small, but it’s substantial. Denver’s botanic garden on York Street, near downtown, is 24 acres of diverse plant life from around the world. Explore Gardens of the West, highlighting greenery that’s native to Colorado, and international gardens with foliage from China to South Africa and beyond. Colorful ornamental gardens with fan-favorite annual blooms, shady low-light gardens and water gardens with aquatic plants make up the rest of Denver’s collection. While Denver may be known for breweries and sports teams, the Mile High city makes outdoor space a priority with over 200 parks: the botanic garden being the most memorable. The York Street gardens are open all year with $12.50 entry fee for adults, with weekly events ranging from sunrise yoga to botanical illustration for an additional fee. There is a second Denver Botanic Gardens location at Chatfield Farms in nearby Littleton on working farm and native plant refuge. 

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