The Ultimate San Diego Travel Guide
Paola Simmons Najjar
Food & Wine
San Diego is such a beautiful and underrated city! It has a much more relaxed and laid-back vibe than Los Angeles. I lived in San Diego for a year and absolutely loved it -- the beautiful beaches, friendly people, gorgeous sunsets and endless outdoor activities. What more can you ask for?
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Where to stay in San Diego, California
San Diego Mission Bay Resort
Overlooking Mission Bay. this beachfront resort boasts, contemporary rooms, an outdoor pool and a spa in San Diego.
Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa And Marina
Family-friendly Hyatt resort with an array of pool and ocean activities including paddle boarding.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
Pendry San Diego
Handsome newbie in the Gaslamp Quarter, with oversized rooms overlooking the city or bay, and a lively bar and restaurant.
$100 resort / hotel credit.
Full daily breakfast (up to $30 each) for two.
Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.
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Things to do in San Diego, California
Watch the seals at La Jolla Cove
This might be the most touristy thing to do in San Diego but if it's your first time in San Diego I definitely recommend checking it out. The ocean views at Jolla Cove are beautiful and you can then walk around and explore downtown La Jolla afterward.
Grab dinner in Little Italy
You can't leave San Diego without doing dinner in Little Italy! India St, the main street in Little Italy is filled with restaurants, bars and shops. Make sure to stop by the European-style Plaza, Piazza della Famiglia known as the "Heart of Little Italy". Sometimes they have live music performers playing right in front of the fountain!
Catch the sunset at Sunset Cliffs
This is the most popular place to catch the sunset in San Diego and a must-do in my book! I love bringing a blanket and a bottle of wine to enjoy the sunset. Don't forget to bring a sweater, there's lots of wind and it can get chilly once the sun goes down!
Explore Balboa Park
The "Central Park" of San Diego! Balboa Park is one of the most popular and oldest urban parks in the US and it's only a few minutes away from downtown. The Spanish colonial buildings in the park are breathtaking, they make you feel like you are right in the middle of Spain. The list of things to do in the park is endless but just to name a few: The Botanical Building, Lily Pond & The San Diego Zoo are very popular.
Bike along Mission Bay, Mission Beach & Pacific Beach
This is one of my favorite ways of exploring the beach area in San Diego! The 12-mile flat path along the bay is just absolutely perfect for biking. I love continuing onto the boardwalk on Mission Beach and making it all the way up to Pacific Beach!
Beach it at Coronado Beach, which is actually often considered one of the best beaches in California! It's a no-brainer that is absolutely worth checking out! You can either drive or take a ferry from downtown. If you are driving -- drive down Orange Ave, the main street in Coronado, which is filled with restaurants and shops until you hit the famous Hotel Del Coronado. Definitely walk around the beautiful hotel and explore all the different areas. You don't have to be a hotel guest to visit their restaurants, bars and shops. My two favorites are Sun Deck & Beach & Taco Shack right on the beach!
Explore the Seaport Village
A vibrant open-air waterfront-style village with shops, cafes and restaurants. After exploring Seaport Village, continue to walk north on the Embarcadero waterfront. The famous unconditional Surrender AKA “The Kissing Statue” and The USS Midway Museum are only about a 10 min walk away. There are also a lot of waterfront dining options along the waterfront like Brigantine Seafood & Oyster Bar.
Go sailing on the Triton Charters Catamaran
Going sailing in San Diego is such a fun activity. If you don't want the hassle of renting your own private boat, you can buy tickets and go sailing on the largest Catamaran in San Diego! The catamaran is super modern and has a bar and plenty of seating areas to enjoy the beautiful San Diego skyline.
Take a yoga class at Riffs Yoga Studios
Yoga is pretty popular in San Diego. If you are looking to take a class, this is such a beautiful outdoor yoga studio that offers daily yoga classes and certain classes have live music from local performers.
Catch a baseball game at Petco Park
Catching a game is so convenient as it's right in the middle of downtown. Even if you don't follow baseball, Petco Park has a fun atmosphere with tons of options for food & drinks. Be sure to check the Padres baseball schedule and purchase tickets in advance!
Day Trips from San Diego
Wine tasting in Temecula: Temecula is only about an hour's drive North of San Diego. Temecula has around 50 wineries giving you the opportunity to do a wine tour if you have extra time. My personal favorite is Akash Winery & Vineyard, a family-owned and operated winery with a trendy vibe! They have a gorgeous, open-air patio where you can do a wine tasting for $30.
Places to eat & drink in San Diego, California
Morning Glory (Little Italy): This is the most popular brunch spot in San Diego. It's always packed and they don't take reservations. The wait can sometimes be 2+ hours but it's 100% worth it. The food is reasonably priced, the music is fun and the decor is absolutely beautiful! The earlier you go, the better. I recommend putting your name down and exploring something nearby like Balboa Park. (Make sure you order the Souffle pancakes!)
Azucar (Ocean Beach): The best Cuban pastries I've ever tried. I recommend pre-ordering online on weekends to avoid a line. Here's the perfect order: Cortadito coffee, Ham Croquetta, Cheese Roll and a Cubano Pie-Puff Pastry.
Palmy's (Pacific Beach): Beautiful, relaxing outdoor seating area with a boho Australian beach vibe.
Sun Deck at Del Coronado Hotel (Coronado): This is by far my favorite lunch spot in San Diego - anytime anyone visited me in San Diego I took them here! The ocean views, firepits and vibes are unbeatable. The food & drinks are a bit pricey here but are worth it for the experience.
Beach House (Mission Beach): This is exactly what you think of when you think of a "beach bar". Located right in front of the boardwalk. You can grab a drink, order food and have your toes in the sand at the same time.
Cannonball (Mission Beach): Beautiful rooftop sushi spot right in front of the boardwalk on Mission Beach. I recommend doing an early dinner so you can catch the beautiful sunset. There's lots of firepits and heaters to keep you warm if its a chillier night.
Harry's Tacos (Pacific Beach): Picking the best fish taco spot in San Diego, is essentially impossible! There's way too many amazing options like Oscar's, Fish Shop, Puesto, City Tacos and so many more. I personally loved Harry's Tacos and fell in love with them after doing a taco tour in PB!
Barbusa (Little Italy): In my opinion, this is the best Italian restaurant in Little Italy. The food is great and it has a modern feel I recommend making a reservation in advance as it tends to get booked up fast.
Seneca Trattoria (Downtown): Trendy Italian rooftop restaurant with a harbour view. Make sure you order the "tableside hand-stretched mozzarella" a server will come to your table and make it infront of you.
Kettner Exchange (Little Italy): One of my favorite places for dinner and cocktails in San Diego! It's a great option for groups as well as you can reserve a Cabana! If you only have one night out, Kettner would be my pick!
El Prez (Pacific Beach): This is one of the most popular ocean-front beach bars in Pacific Beach, or "PB" as the locals call it. It's one of the best happy hour spots to catch the sunset with a fun, young-crowd vibe. They have great seating options for groups! Make sure you order the Carne Asada Nachos and try their Margaritas!
Camino Riviera (Little Italy): Camino Riviera will immediately transport you to Tulum. Its actually a restaurant that turns into a bar. You can grab dinner or small bites and cocktails here. There's usually a DJ playing deep house!
Nolita Hall (Little Italy): Nolita is a beer hall perfect for day-drinking or even a night-out. Lots of TVs, different seating areas and two shuffleboards!
Wolfie's Carousel Bar (Little Italy): A rotating carousel cocktail bar inspired by the famous Carousel Bar & Lounge in the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans.
Polite Provisions (North Park): This was one of the coolest cocktail bars in San Diego! The atmosphere was so unique. Polite Provisions actually used to be an old pharmacy so it truly has an antique vibe that I have never experienced before. The bartenders—or better yet, mixologists—really know what they are doing and their cocktails won't disappoint. Although there's no food served here, you can pick up some Chinese takeout from the Fortunate Son, their trendy sister property next door. Have you ever eaten from a Chinese Take out Box at a fancy cocktail bar? It was such a cool experience!
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