PLNU Student’s Guide to Off-Campus Study Spots

Whether it’s a chapter exam or finals, students like me can get overwhelmed when it comes to juggling stress, anxiety, and studying. Sometimes all you need to get back into the right headspace for studying is a new environment, and San Diego has plenty. Here are my favorite off-campus study spots to help you ace your exams (or at least find a cup of coffee that makes you feel that way).

Get a feel for city living by studying with a high-rise view.

The San Diego Central Library in downtown is a solid spot to study with both low noise and silent spaces. Much like PLNU’s Ryan Library, their Helen Price Reading Room on the eighth floor is a quiet space with a stunning view overlooking the Coronado Bridge and San Diego Bay. When I needed a break from studying, I meandered through a museum/art gallery showcasing San Diego history, as well as the book store that sells not only books but also movies and vinyl records. Parking downtown can be a hassle, but free public parking is available, located beneath the building for 2 hours with validation. 

Be on your study game with great Wi-Fi and even better paninis.

As a San Diego local (specifically from La Mesa), I’ve spent a lot of time in the coffee shops of my hometown. Lightbulb Cafe is within my personal top three favorites. For a deep thinking study sesh, I head here. The atmosphere is laid back and quiet, it’s not too busy most weekdays, and their acai bowls and paninis are delicious. It’s a little more expensive than other places, but the Wi-Fi works great and the environment as a whole is optimal for studying.

Check out a PLNU tried and true coffee shop.

Because we’re so close to Liberty Station and this is a PLNU staple, Moniker General is a must on this list. As you step into Moniker General, you can tell it’s a great study atmosphere. Most people are lounging on the couches with their laptops or a book. There’s lots of bright natural light which is great for reading, with two outdoor patios that offer a friendly space to work solo or on group projects. My only complaint is the indoors section can get a little noisy, so make sure to bring your headphones.

Grab a cup of coffee in the Jewel of the Hills (La Mesa). 

Public Square Coffee House got me through my midterms last semester. While it’s a 25-minute drive from campus, the environment is a characteristic bustling coffee shop, but with plenty of outlets and catchy ambient music. It’s a lot like Moniker but within the more intimate and small-town La Mesa setting. Be warned: it’s extremely busy on the weekends and you most likely won’t find a table. If you do brave the coffee rush hour, however, bring some headphones, play your study playlist, and you’re good to go. I recommend their butter scone and a London fog or the Pandan latte. 

Rewind and study with (some) comforts of home.

Jennings House Cafe is a residential home converted into a cafe in the Point Loma area, and the owner of this establishment actually used to work at PLNU! With three areas open to guests — the parlor, the library, and the veranda — Jennings House Cafe makes you feel right at home. 

Read More: A Guide to Coffee Shops in San Diego

Enjoy the Pacific coast from a different vantage point at Pinpoint Cafe.

Located on the coast of La Jolla, Pinpoint Cafe is a gorgeous studying spot with outdoor seating overlooking the ocean. Of the two locations, I prefer the cafe on Biological Grade. The ocean breeze and acai bowls simply melt away the concerns of school.  

Hit the books at Liberty Station. 

In the heart of Liberty Station’s Public Market, Le Parfait Paris is a coffee/patisserie booth that makes a delicious Pain Au Chocolat (chocolate croissant) and chai latte. While the public market itself is not the best place to study because of the hustle and bustle, on a sunny day, I usually buy my tea and bring a picnic blanket to study at the park a block away from the market.

Grab your bullet journal and start manifesting your goals over lunch. 

Bread and Cie is a great place to take reading notes or plan out your week in your Google Calendar. Located in Hillcrest, Bread and Cie has delicious soup and sandwiches. Their booths feel like little nooks you can nestle into for a couple of hours as you dive into some literature or journaling.


About the Author:
Lainie Alfaro is a San Diego local and student at PLNU studying Journalism and International Studies. As a Research & Writing Assistant at PLNU, she has had met and interviewed many PLNU alumni, written a wide range of articles, converted stories into social media copies, and learned more about her strengths and goals as an aspiring journalist. The pictures embedded in this article were taken by her.