There are a few select San Diego attractions that have been branded with the term “touristy.”
These are the places where people who visit America's Finest City instinctively flock in droves. Seaport Village attracts tourists like nerds to Comic-Con. Don't get me wrong - this is definitely a good thing. San Diego is dependent on the tourism industry, and we need the rest of the nation to stop by and drop some cash before they head home.
The only problem with these San Diego attractions is that locals rarely venture into parts deemed "touristy," consequently missing out on some of the best places in town. Remember, there's a reason why tourists hit up these famous spots - they're fun, safe and down right beautiful.
Kettner Street runs directly into the North Embarcadero Park where Seaport Village is divided. This is the intersection where you can catch the seal amphibious tour and the romantic Cinderella horse drawn carriage ride around town - at a hundred bucks a pop. More importantly, this picturesque intersection is home to the largest conglomeration of street performers and sidewalk attractions in the county. You can't miss them; if the rainbow umbrellas don't catch your eye - the crowds of onlookers will make you stop and take notice.
Along the boardwalk in Seaport Village you'll find makeshift park side offices selling temporary henna tattoos, tie dye t-shirts, hand crafted beadwork, custom caricatures, psychic readings and, like any major city, you'll also find street performers plying their craft.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the famous sidewalk attractions and street performers, check out the photo gallery here.
One of the most popular street attractions is a collection of colorful rescued parrots. Parents and children grin as they pose to take pictures with the tropical birds perched on their arms. The star of this show is Colada (as is Pina Colada), a talkative green parrot known for her infectious laugh and a lovely rendition of the Scooby Doo theme song. Donations are encouraged, and go towards the care of the colorful creatures.
If it's a custom caricature you're looking for stop by Caricatures by Damon, near the center of the throng. Damon is a handsome young black man who charges $10 for a black and white drawing and $20 per face for color. He takes approximately two to five minutes for artwork suitable for framing and even throws in some charming conversation for free. Damon works in marker, but charcoal and even pastel artists are nearby if you're looking for a different medium.
There are a handful of psychics, palm readers and tarot card practitioners along the strip, but if you're looking for a little guidance I would highly recommend Dr. Iris Carlton, Intuitive Consultant. Dr. Carlton is a doctor of theology and a reverend in metaphysics.
She has a regular indoor office but enjoys getting out and offering her services to the visiting masses. She claims that every person has a frequency, a frequency she can tune in to like a radio or television. Located just across the sidewalk from the parrots, her blue/green umbrellas, dress, hat and table were all very soothing and inviting. She immediately put me at ease and started telling me things about myself I didn't even ask for. She was impressively accurate, not to mention exceedingly nice. Dr. Iris only asks for donations, but after asking around I hear most people donate between $20 and $40.
Julia was busking and didn't even know it. Born in San Diego she recently moved home after an eleven-year stint in Hawaii. Julia can be found a couple times a week sitting under a nearby tree with some friends, singing and strumming her custom made ukulele (with engraved Chargers bolt). "I just like to play in a beautiful setting," says Julia. "I wasn't really asking for donations, but I'll take it." Surprisingly - one of the best street performers there wasn't even consciously performing. So if you happen to walk by, be sure to throw some cash into the basket on the front of her pink beach cruiser. Maybe we can get her to come out more often.
Some days you may find mimes on boxes, cowboy statues that scare kids or the obligatory metal painted human. Of course what you find here depends on when you stop by. You can see the best "real guy pretending to be a statue" you've ever seen one day, but he's gone the next when you bring your friends. Part of the charm of street attractions is that you never know what you're going to find.
Seaport Village in San Diego is an area that should be shared by tourists and locals alike. You don't need to be on holiday to enjoy the quirky shops, colorful kites, the walk along the bay and long lunch complete with a view of the Coronado Bridge - but once you get there, it sure does feel like vacation.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the famous Seaport Village sidewalk attractions and street performers, check out the new photo gallery here. And, discover the scenic Seaport Village photo gallery here.