Unspooling along the banks of the San Diego River, Santee is an urban oasis surrounded by thousands of acres of great outdoors, connected to UTC, La Mesa, and downtown San Diego via its popular trolley line. Jump on and off at Town Center Station in Santee Trolley Square, and you’re in the center of the action—the complex is home to the famed Phil’s BBQ (award-winning ribs and pulled-pork sandwiches), plus dozens of shopping options like Sephora, Barnes & Noble, and Old Navy. Along Mission Gorge Road, which conveniently connects Santee to highway 52 (an artery running straight west into La Jolla, connecting to the 15, 805, 163 and 5 freeways along the way), find more retail, and little gems like Sab-E-Lee for authentic northeastern Thai specialties, Pho Ca Dao for Vietnamese dishes, and Mary’s Donuts, a sweet haunt for 35 years.
Craving more? Locals love Newcomer Fifty-two East is earning rave reviews for authentic pub grub and a great brunch scene. And craft beer enthusiasts rave about award-winning BNS Brewery & Distilling Co., Groundswell Brewing Co., and Burning Beard for kicking back with friends and a tasting flight. Santee nightlife is all about grabbing a bite, then taking your crew to watch a movie under the stars at the Santee Drive-In, an institution showing family-friendly films 365 days a year.
When the sun is shining—more than 300 days a year—nature lovers take advantage of Weston’s location on the edge of one of San Diego’s most beloved wild corridors, the 7,200-acre Mission Trails Regional Park, crisscrossed by nearly 65 miles of trails. Weston also sits high above Santee Lakes, where you can fish for trout and bluegill from the shore, kayak or canoe; stay overnight on a houseboat; or just enjoy outdoor movies on a hot summer night. Then, a literal stone’s throw away, there’s San Diego’s most popular outdoor bouldering area, Santee Boulders, well known for its thin faces, mantels, challenging cracks and steep face climbs. For a long, cool walk in the shade, head to the meandering banks of the San Diego River, which runs right through the center of Santee (you can even drop in a kayak and head off for a paddle). Explore natural habitat areas and a trail system in Mast Park, or head up-river, where nearby you’ll find the native plant garden and museum at Edgemoor Barn, a remnant from Santee’s agricultural days.
Santee’s laid-back vibe, with shopping and entertainment easily accessible, is welcoming with an adventurous edge, whether you’re into urban or outdoor adventure. So plan a fun day!
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