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If You Have an Afternoon in San Diego

If you find yourself with a few hours to spare in San Diego, here's a few of my suggested vintage shopping and historic destination recommendations.

If you're an architecture lover like me, exploring the downtown district of any city is always a fabulous idea. And San Diego's downtown is no exception to the rule...filled with gorgeous Art Deco, Victorian, Mid Century, and Spanish Revival landmarks, I wish I'd had more time to casually stroll and take photos. Alas, I'll have to save my architecture tour for next time.

However, I did make it a point to visit Hotel del Coronado, located on Coronado island, across the bay from SD. It is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort. The reason I had to go, you ask? Any Marilyn Monroe buff will tell you that in 1958, this famed resort was the picturesque backdrop of director Billy Wilder’s classic comedy, Some Like It Hot. Starring one of my personal long time idols, Miss Monroe, alongside Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. Released in 1959, the film was voted the #1 comedy of all time by the American Film Institute and named #14 on its list of the 100 Greatest Movies. Do yourself a favor and watch this classic as soon as possible!

My partner in crime, Cecilia and I explored the surrounding beach and resort grounds, admiring the historic opulence of it all. One of my favorite parts was the enormous original hand carved wooden bar within the Babcock & Story Bar. Unfortunately, the majority of the hotel's interior has been updated in a far less impressive style than the resort's original grandeur. But hey, a nerd is a nerd and I was thirsty for some history and enjoyed it nonetheless.

If you know me at all, you're quick to realize I'm not fond of sun bathing, however, I do find myself enjoying the beach from time to time. Though I almost always dress to protect my skin from sun exposure. Here you can see my not so beachy San Diego look.

After visiting the resort, we did some vintage shopping...The Girl Can't Help It seemed to be the shop calling to us. When we arrived, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of impeccably curated men's and women's vintage. From Dior to Lilli Ann and every designer in between, I had not come prepared to spend my life's savings, but oh how I was tempted.

This is one of the best selections of supreme vintage I've found in southern California. And the owner, Gail was an absolute doll. She casually mentioned traveling the world several times over throughout the decades to curate her vintage offerings...a woman after my own heart! Had I only come loaded with cash and time, I could have left with arms full of extraordinary pieces and a heart full of Gail's magnificent stories. I did, however leave with a small bag filled with some lovely accessories, including an adjustable satin leopard print belt from the 1960's, a 1970's leather adjustable belt made in India with dual interlocking silver alligator heads as the clasp, a pair of 1950's fur earrings, and a gold-tone bull's head ring from the 1970's. Every time I said I was ready to pay, I found another animal themed accessory that I could not walk away without.

From there, we went to Frock You Vintage, located at 4121 Park Blvd, where I found many swoon worthy pieces, including some Schiaparelli hosiery and the PERFECT mid-calf boucle little black dress with a mock neck (a bit too small for my covid lockdown figure), but fantastic nonetheless. I loved this boutique, but begrudgingly walked away empty handed. I'm trying this new concept lately where I don't cater to my every retail whim...I hate it. But this lady has several closets that long ago reached maximum density.

Until next time, San Diego. I'll come back prepared with a few parking spaces reserved in my closet and my endless thirst for observing the massive tapestry of stunning architecture that southern California graces us with.


- Ashley Urban


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