San Diego Lenses

The most fun thing about Story Maps starting to take hold in practice as opposed to their former status of largely being envisioned as an esoteric concept, is watching all of the different methods unfold. Even more interesting is observing the types of people associated with the platforms that they use.

I’ll leave the inspirational open ended statements, and share the rest of this post informally, because, well, its more fun that way sometimes. Recently I was gearing up for the 2016 International Map Industry Association conference.  The IMIA is a group of business owners and industry leaders in the global map community, and I organized a session on entitled  “The Business of Building Apps with Open Data”. These maps were collected along my journey to San Diego.

SAANNNNN DIEGO – Google Platform

Why not start with the best first and work my way down? Enjoy the whip cream to this visualization sundae below, from my friend the author and technologist Patrick Collins.

” I love this city. Here’s my little map for my last trip, which includes most things from my first. So things I don’t think you should miss, put them at the top of your list:
Hanna’s Gourmet – a little restaurant, up in North Park (or Normal Heights? I can’t remember) that has an EXCELLENT brunch. I bet their dinner is also really great. But for brunch, GET THE CHILIQUILES. The tomatillo sauce and awesome tortilla chips were maybe the best food I had. Bonus tip: Skip In-And-Out, it’s just a fucking burger. People only like it because it feels special to order off the ‘hidden’ menu. At a fast food restaurant.
James Coffee Co. – this was my coffee snob traveling partner’s favorite coffee shop. 3rd wave, hipster centric, but with real great coffee. I don’t know because I only drink tea but…the tea was good! Also, it’s right near the airport. Double also, it’s in a big shared space warehouse thing with some other cool looking businesses. Bonus tip: If you hate this place, Bird Rock Coffee Roasters is like, 2 blocks away and a bit less hipster but still have good coffee as another coffee snob friend has told me.
Pigment – if you don’t have much shopping time/want to hit the best place first, this is it. They’ve got tons of cards and paper goods, and fun party things, and great jewelry, and just…a ton of shit. Great for gifts, great for yourself. Really love this shop. Bonus tip: Geographie is a little oddity-type shop just up the street on University, also worth a visit.
Torrey Pines Gliderport – this is awesome if there’s a breeze and people are out there. If not, it’s really pretty. The gliderport is where people launch paragliders off the cliffs by the ocean and then float around and down to the beach. I loved it.  Bonus tip: Black’s Beach, San Diego County’s only clothing optional beach, is right below it. The hike down is a bit of a trek, but if Torrey Pines beach is packed, Black’s is usually a great, more chill alternative. Also, the Scripps Institute has a really cool courtyard/architecture and it’s right up the road.
Sunset Cliffs/Point Loma – I really loved Sunset Cliffs, totally worth it for the exceptional sunset. Point Loma is up that way too, and I remember liking the cliffs that you could hike down to last time I went but if I had to pick, I’d do Sunset Cliffs first.
Bonus tip: Soak in the view of the city from this side of the bay, it’s pretty cool.

Coronado Beach – this might be my favorite beach in SD, but it’s kind of a tossup between this, Silver Strand (just down the road) or Torrey Pines. Though Coronado is an experience. Worth the scary drive over the giant bay bridge. Bonus tip: Coronado is full of rich people, don’t stay on the island too long. It’ll change you.

Food/bars – not all of the restaurants/bars on my map are created equal. There are some fancy places, some not fancy places, some total dives…google them before you head out. Though I will say that Noble Experiment is supposedly a cool experience (never been, but always wanted to go), Burnside has EXCELLENT sandwiches, Panama 66 is one of my favorite bars and it’s in Balboa Park which makes it super convenient and really fun. Oh and one not on the map that we liked was up in North Park, called Underbelly.
Bonus tip: Madison, Brooklyn Girl, Mess Hall, Buona Forchetta and Ironside are all places at the top of my list, but this last trip I was travelling with someone on a tight budget so I didn’t get to them.

California Burrito – Just get one. There are so many places to get them at, a couple really revered joints too. We had them at Lucha Libre (go to the location on University), which I loved. Steak/Shrimp one was so insanely excellent. That gif I sent is from there.

Other than those specifics…I suggest spending time at the beaches and in Balboa Park. It’s really magical. The zoo is $50/person, which felt steep even if it’s a great zoo. I still have not made it to one museum. Whoops. Annnnnd I think that’s it! If you have any other questions, let me know! Oh and, in case you didn’t know, I love writing city guides, I even did it for a living once in Melbourne.”

So. Yeah. That’s Patrick’s take on things. Just be prepared to be underwhelmed by all that follows all of that, because it is the epitome of describing the sense of place through the lens of a particular view. Yay Patrick!

Some Places to Eat in San Diego – ESRI Platform

This is an actual “Story Map” product from ESRI, who now has a system that allows users to build their own story maps and link media from YouTube, Flickr and other places to enhance their story. This particular map was passed along to me as I was reaching out to the San Diego community in search of speakers for my session, from a colleague in the data provider community. He said, “I’ve been to many of these, and can attest that this app is legit.” So there you go, these restaurants are legit. I’m sure the map’s creator, Rupert Essinger, would concur with the advice that accompanied his map.


San Diego Shortlist – ESRI Platform

If you wouldn’t believe it, my colleagues from ESRI, David Watkins and Mark Cygan gave a presentation on all the different new templates that are available in ESRI for users to make story maps. Clearly our good pal Rupert has been improving his San Diego Map as well.



Actual San Diego Nov 29 to Dec 1, 2016 – Carto Platform

All these great tips and fun spots to explore in San Diego, clearly I need to plan a return trip with a bit more cushion on the time. Maybe UC 2018? As you can see from my map, I was guided largely by the proximity stumble principle. In which I walked inland from my hotel when I had time to peel away and discovered only a couple spots for entertainment.

Margaret Spyker

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