San Diego is hands down one of my favorite West Coast travel destinations. Whether you’re looking for adventure or just visiting for the laid back California vibes, San Diego has a little bit of everything. Experience great food and culture in North Park, go for a morning walk in Mission Beach and find some great shopping in Mission Valley. With something for everyone, it’s the perfect vacation spot for families, couples or groups of any size. So pack your bags (and your swimsuit!) and explore everything San Diego has to offer with my Ultimate San Diego Travel Guide.
The Ultimate San Diego Travel Guide
Flying into San Diego is super easy through its local airport – San Diego International Airport (SAN). The airport is extremely easy to navigate and has some great food options. Once you’ve landed at SAN, it’s only a quick 10-20 minute Uber to nearby hotels.
When To Go
Southern California is famously sunny all year round, so it’s a great place to visit any time of year. However, if you’re visiting during the summer months you can expect very high temperatures and tourism as this is the most popular time to vacation in San Diego. If you’re wanting to avoid the summer rush (and heat), I recommend visiting any time from late fall to early spring.
What To Pack
Sunny Southern California is know for its warm days so light, breathable fabrics are the way to go. If you’re planning to visit during the fall or winter months, be sure to bring a sweater or jacket as it can get pretty chilly in the evening. Don’t forget your swimsuit and reef-friendly sunscreen if you plan on swimming in the ocean.
Where To Stay
If you’re hoping to experience some great San Diego nightlife, downtown is the place to be. The Pendry San Diego is a great option that is within walking distance to plenty of restaurants, nightlife, beaches and shopping. The Pendry welcomes you into luxury with an urban coastal California aesthetic and plenty of amenities on site. With a spa and four restaurants on property, you’ll hardly ever have to leave.
With lush palm trees and ocean views, The Catamaran is the perfect escape in the heart of Pacific Beach. Hop in the pool or take a short stroll to the ocean – this Polynesian-themed resort has plenty of ways to help you relax and cool off from the SoCal sun.
Wake up to beach views and grab drinks at The Pool Club. The Hilton San Diego Bayfront has everything you need for a relaxing vacation near The Gaslamp District.
Where To Eat
Harry’s Taco Club is hands down my favorite casual restaurant in all of San Diego (and maybe ever). Enjoy a Cali burrito in Harry’s all-outdoor seating area, or walk a few blocks down to the beach to enjoy your meal by the ocean.
If you’re looking for an amazing rooftop dinner experience, Seneca Trattoria is a must see. Designed by Avro Ko, this swanky Italian-Roman style restaurant looks to San Diego’s nautical and Maritime history for an amazing atmosphere with breathtaking views of downtown San Diego. If you have dinner at Seneca, make sure to take a trip to the ladies room where the nautical interior design travels to the moody restrooms hidden behind an almost-secret door.
With 13 locations in the San Diego area, Board and Brew is the best place to grab specialty sandwiches and local brews in SD. They make everything in house, working with local farmers to source fresh and high quality ingredients for an exceptional taste.
What To Do
San Diego is no stranger to outdoor adventure. Enjoy the warm California sun with these fun outdoor activities in San Diego.
As one of the most popular attractions (and largest zoo in the US!) the San Diego Zoo is a must see for kids and adults alike. Wear your walking shoes to experience the 100 acres of wildlife that’s home to over 12,000 animals, or take the Skyfari Ariel Tram across the park for breathtaking views of the Zoo and Balboa Park.
Head out on the water with San Diego Sailing Tours for incredible views of the California coast. From group charters to private trips, you’ll enjoy a luxury charter experience on one of the vintage yachts in the San Diego Sailing Tours fleet.
Get out on the water and take a paddle boarding lesson from West Coast Paddle Board Rentals. There’s no experience necessary, making this a fun activity for everyone!
Morning Walk at Mission Beach
One of my favorite morning activities in San Diego is to grab a cup of coffee and take a nice morning walk on the Mission Beach boardwalk. It’s the best place to walk right by the ocean and there are tons of restaurants around to stop for a quick breakfast.
Dinner at Sunset Cliffs
For a laid back and unique dinner experience, grab your meal to go and head to sunset cliffs for a beautiful sunset dinner. It’s a great place to go as a couple or with friends.
Museums and Attractions
With art from the Americas to Asia, the SDMA has curated a museum of worldly art exhibitions covering early and modern centuries. Take a trip through Renaissance to Realism or view the new 20 piece Modern Women collection recently added to the museum.
As one of San Diego’s oldest museums, the NAT is a must see for any age group. Learn about the evolution and diversity of Southern California in one of San Diego’s top visited attractions.
A San Diego must see, the USS Midway Aircraft Museum is fun for all ages! Take a tour of the ship and hop into some of the most notable US Aircraft.