Post updated June 26, 2019. Originally posted on August 24, 2018.
It’s official! San Diego is my favorite city in California. Granted, I haven’t visited every city, but I have been to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Napa Valley. Not only does it have a great downtown, but the beaches are beautiful and every area is so unique.
Allison moved to San Diego a couple of months ago, and I spent her birthday with her last week. Last year, I joined her on a trip to learn all about San Diego and scope out where she wanted to live. One of the things I loved the most was how each part of the city felt like its own space.
About San Diego
San Diego is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the United States because of it’s sunshine and warm weather. The city also boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the west coast. It’s a large city, but has a small city feel, because it most definitely embraces the beach life.
Where to stay
Now that I have been there twice, I can say, I really like Ocean Beach. Maybe it’s because it’s where I am most familiar, but I also think it has a lot to offer. Stay in an Airbnb if you can. Another great area is Del Mar. Check out the Best Western Premier in Del Mar. If you haven’t tried Airbnb yet, book your first place for $40 off by clicking here.
What to do
Along with booking your room, you can also book experiences on Airbnb led by hosts.
Go for a running tour along the sunset cliffs or various parts of San Diego. Iman will tailor a run just for you so you can run like a local while on vacation. Check out her site and book your run.
Take beach volleyball lessons. We took lessons with Amanda, a professional volleyball player from Colorado. Allison and I learned so much from this and had a blast. Book your lesson here.
Ride a bike around Balboa park.
Grab a scooter or bike to ride around the Mission Beach boardwalk.
Take a paddle board yoga class with Sun Chaser SUP.
Check out Ocean Beach’s market every Wednesday and stay for the drum circle.
Go beach hopping. Spend time at the different beaches and enjoy the different vibes each one has to offer.
Head over to dog beach and watch the dogs play in the sand and ocean. You may even get a few kisses while you are there.
Watch the sunset at the sunset cliffs or Del Mar.
Rent a kayak at La Jolla. Sure you can take a tour, or you can rent one on your own like we did. We even paddled next to a sea lion.
Watch the seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove.
Visit Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial.
Walk around Mt. Soledad.
Catch a show at The Comedy Store in La Jolla
Hike one of the trails at Torrey Pines.
Check out a flamenco show at Costa Brava.
Line Dance at Moonshine Flats or Moonshine Beach (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays)
Where to eat and drink
San Diego is a foodie’s dream. There are so many delicious places to eat and grab a drink in this city.
One Door North is not only a beautiful oasis away that allows you to feel like you are out of the city, but has a delicious menu that will leave you wanting more. I opted for oysters, mac n cheese, and charred brussels sprouts, then followed with the cookie sundae.
The Mission Restaurant is what breakfast dreams are made of. Order the pancakes or the chicken apple sausage with eggs.
Bravo’s Mexican Grill has an amazing margarita list. This Texas girl was incredibly impressed with their selections. The coconut margarita was our favorite!
If you are looking for a cute patio to have a happy hour at, check out Zel’s Del Mar. They have some of the largest oysters I have ever eaten.
Another great breakfast location is the Richard Walker’s Pancake House. They have beautiful crepes, regular pancakes, baked pancakes, and a ton of other breakfast favorites.
The Patio on Goldfinch has delicious food and a wonderful reverse happy hour for your late night dinner.
If you are in the mood for authentic Italian meal, check out Piacere Mio.
If you are looking for some delicious pizza in San Diego, check out Bernini’s Bistro.
One of the more creative places you can visit in San Diego is Creme and Sugar. Enjoy the unicorn menu and may all of your childhood dreams come true.
Grab a cookie ice cream sandwich at The Baked Bear.
Eat a massive donut at the world’s most award-winning donut shop, The Donut Bar.
One of my favorite things to eat on vacation are Spanish tapas. Costa Brava has an excellent menu and great live entertainment.
When you take the trip to Balboa park, stop in at The Prado for lunch and drinks. We stepped out of the heat and enjoyed salads and cocktails.
Duned In New Zealand Eats is another perfect brunch spot. Get you a chicken biscuit, you won’t be sorry.
Stop by the Baja Beach Cafe for giant margaritas.
The happy hour at The Duck Dive is hard to beat. They have cheap oysters and 1/2 off craft cocktails.
Grab a flight of beer at the Belching Beaver Brewery.
PRO- TIP: If you’re looking for great happy hours and what they include, check out the San Diego’s King of Happy Hour. He has everything set up by neighborhood, day, and gives all the happy hour details.