This year was a monumental one for San Diego Magazine. In addition to publishing memorably fun and interesting work throughout the year, we celebrated SDM’s 75th birthday. All year long, our team has been reminded of what an honor it is to be here, stewarding this magazine into its next chapter and celebrating this milestone.
After three-quarters of a century, SDM is entering a new iteration. We’re weirder, funnier, more engaging, and smart as ever. And we’re committed to covering this dynamic border region—the people, the food, the culture, the stories—in all its complex, expensive beauty.
In 2023 we published some phenomenal stories. Here are a few handfuls of our faves, chosen by SDM staff:
Behind the Scenes of Our 75th Anniversary Cover Shoot
This shoot, and the issue it appeared in, editorially solidified something here at SDM. We’re constantly making cool, interesting work for our region. Case in point: We asked the community to help us find cover models in their 70s. We wanted to honor how cool it is to be 75-years-young, while also nodding to the future.
We invited the incredible models we found to join us at the legendary Turf Supper Club in Golden Hill, where we proceeded to throw ourselves a birthday party full of Champagne, cake, balloons, glitter, and ‘70s style. The result are photos that we’re still getting compliments on. (And one of the images was selected as a finalist by the APA.)
Okay, this story is a boppppp. Managing Digital Editor Nicolle Monico profiles Rancho Bernardo rapper KTLYN, inspiring us to get up and move. We’re mildly obsessed with her now, so stayed tuned for our new IG fan club page.
Farming the Future: Aquafarms Cultivate Sustainable Oysters
When our first editorial fellow started in early 2023, we expected to get meaningful stories from her. But we certainly didn’t expect a cover story. But that’s just what Amelia Rodriguez does: She wows us. Her story on the fascinating Carlsbad Aquafarm oysters explores the slimy creatures as both animals and hors d’oeuvres. Her story anchored our 2023 Best Restaurants features. On the cover of that mag: a beautiful raw oyster.
When I asked legendary skate photographer J. Grant Brittain to put together a retrospective of his work for SDM, I hoped—but didn’t expect —he’d say yes. Brittain, who has been shooting local skate legends since the ‘70s, obliged, compiling a photo essay showing SD history through skating. On the cover of this issue (April 2023) was a 1980s-era shot of Tony Hawk, flying through the air at age 14.
The Future of Housing in the Cardiff Highlands
The Newly Renovated Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel Opens Its Doors
SD’s Institute Leading the Way in Breastfeeding Research
I love that this project to study human breast milk is happening in San Diego, and I love the personal touch Maria José Duran put on telling the story. I learned so much.
An Artist’s Guide to Visiting Santa Fe
This story has stuck with me. Reading this makes me want to organize a solo artist’s retreat for myself in some beautiful blue-sky place like Santa Fe. This is a great example of what a travel story can do: Walk readers through a location and highlight what’s special, all while reminding us that the best travels are the ones that mean something.
Chasing Tiki Through the Backyards of San Diego
Tiki was born in Southern California, so this was a fun one. I found some of the coolest backyard tiki bars and invited myself over for a drink to talk about the museum curator–like passion with which these tiki aficionados decorate their spaces.
More Staff Picks
Click the images below to read each selection
The Good, the Bad, and the Ridiculous Covers of SDM’s Past
We dug through our archives to find the best and most questionable covers we’ve ever produced
Brunch Is a Drag
Finding religion and a touch of history at Lips with Dragalicious Gospel Brunch
Chronicling 75 Years of San Diego’s Food Scene
From a single cream puff to CIA-level secret critics, an evolution of the city’s food coverage through the lens of SDM’s storytellers
Eat With Your Hands
Through war and a new life, the ritual of eating for the family behind The Crab Hut gave them a sense of home
Finding Home at MAKE Café in North Park
The immigrant-staffed restaurant & workforce program crafts some of SD’s most authentic international dishes
Harvesting Heritage at Arizona’s Indigenous-Owned Farms
In The Grand Canyon state, farms growing heirloom crops are preserving Native history while offering a window to the future
Exploring the “Magic Route of Crafts” in Oaxaca
Art, cuisine, and culture reign in Mexico’s most colorful state
How to Kill a Fish
An Ocean Beach writer surveys the deep, spear in hand
I Tried It: Running with a US Gold Medalist
SDM’s managing digital editor enlists pro athlete Chari Hawkins to help her find her stride again
In the local fight for court space, advocates for tennis and pickleball say the City of San Diego needs to be doing more
Inside the Largest Rare Orchid Collection in the US
Andy’s Orchids in Leucadia is home to more than 750,000 plants from every corner of the world
Review: Mi Rancho Market
Going beyond carne asada at Escondido’s renowned taco haven
The Artifice of Service
A lifelong server’s thoughts on robots attempting to infiltrate the Apron Class
The Kensington Studio Making Big Waves
How Singing Serpent Studios made it to the biggest games on the planet
The Kids Are Alright, They’re Just Sober Now
An increasing number of San Diego’s teens and young adults are reducing their alcohol consumption—or ditching it altogether
12 Reader-Submitted Love Letters to San Diego
We asked locals to share what made them fall for the city—these are their stories
What Your Favorite San Diego Surf Spot Says About You
A longtime surfer breaks down his thoughts on the city’s best breaks and the locals that frequent them
Where to Get Gluten-Free Pastries in SD
No wheat, no problem at these six locales around town offering fully allergy-free treats and baked goods