From humble beginnings in a college student's apartment in 1976, Birkenstock of San Diego burgeoned into a full-fledged arsenal of comfortable footwear with five locations. Before assisting customers in their quest for the perfect kicks, employees grasp the fit, material components, health benefits, and levitation capabilities of more than 30 brands from around the globe, which include UGG Australia and the store's signature Birkenstocks, which contour to insteps and leave ample toe room. A full stock of Vibram FiveFingers shoes in an array of sizes and colors swaddles each toe in a separate compartment, keeping arches closer to the ground for a healthy, natural stride.
Fantastic Sams is a full-service salon for the whole family that will sculpt wilted hair into a look-twice hot commodity. Cuts start with a complimentary shampoo using Fantastic Sam's signature line of products, followed by a three-minute scalp massage to blast away the dead-skin-cell-loving turtles. Whether you've got a secret style you've been saving in your panache pocket or you opt to trust the expert stylists at Fantastic Sams to get creatively awesome with your tresses, your hair will be snipped and primped to fit your desired identity.
Youngsters who have outgrown their gear and adults picking up a new sport can outfit themselves with selections from Play It Again Sports, the largest sporting-goods resale franchise in North America. In 2011, the Pacific Beach location set itself apart, garnering both the parent company's Store of the Year and Heritage award—the first such feat in more than 25 years. As in all the stores nationwide, brand-name equipment—from popular makers such as Diamondback, Bodyglove, and Wilson—shines in San Diego's displays alongside gently used wares. This gear helps equip competitive athletes playing sports from soccer and golf to surfing and biking. Patrons can also trade in or receive cash for their equipment, provided that it is still in working condition, and put that money toward new gear.
With its brightly colored walls and candy-loaded shelves, Royal Candy Castle appears to be a little kid's dream come true. Stop in at the right time, though, and you might catch adults in their own reverie of sweet nostalgia induced by some candy that they loved as a child. There's a treat for every generation: some candies, such as Clark's Teaberry chewing gum, date back more than a century, whereas other sweets are modern. In addition to candy, the shop carries lunchboxes and Melissa & Doug toys.
Linda and Mike McWilliams prefer to leave the rigors of raising grapes to their local vineyards, citing their lack of a chateau. Instead, they set their focus on crafting their vintages on the micro-level, making small batches and infusing them with an Old-World character and unique flavors such as habanero passion fruit. Their wines are named after places and figures from San Diego’s rich history, such as the Guadalupe Valley syrah and the Lake County sauvignon blanc.
At Get Centered Clay Studio, instructors teach fledgling clay artisans the basics of slinging, spinning, and molding ceramic works in a fully equipped facility. During each two-hour private instructional class, participants will learn a brief history of clay making, as well as the foundational skills necessary to hand form clay, spin symmetrical pieces on the potter's wheel, or sculpt lifelike busts with their minds. Budding artists can then hone their craft on amorphous clay blobs, becoming familiar with the materials and the wheel. Although students will not create a fully finished piece, they will leave equipped with the know-how to make ceramic water jugs and full-scale concept cars in the future.