Are you going to travel to the Californian city of San Diego? We passed through here on our route through the West Coast of the United States and we were delighted! Keep reading as we are going to give you a few ideas of the best things to see and do in San Diego (25 no more and no less, so you don’t get bored). And remember that at the end of the article we leave you a lot of useful information to help you plan your visit.
San Diego is a perfect destination to spend a few days with your partner, family or friends: it is a fairly complete city with many things to offer to adults and children. We arrived from Phoenix (and if your route also passes through here, we recommend you read this post where we tell you about our visit to Salvation Mountain, one of the most curious places on the West Coast).
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Now yes, here are our recommendations:
1. San Diego is famous for its beaches, but which one is the most beautiful? For many the easy answer is: La Jolla Cove, a beautiful cove where you can surf, swim or enjoy the sunset over the Pacific. There you can find the Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave, a sea cave accessible after going down some stairs carved into the same cliff! If you want to visit several of them on the same day, you can sign up for this 4-hour tour.
2. One of the most interesting museums is the Air and Space Museum. If you travel with children, they will love it for sure
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3. Surround yourself with skyscrapers and a modern and technological atmosphere in Downtown.
4. Although perhaps you prefer to disconnect from the city. For that, climb Cowles Mountain, the highest peak in the San Diego area, with hiking options. Another great trek is the one that leads to the top of Mount Woodson, where a rock that looks like… a potato chip awaits you!
5. Visit Old Town, one of our favorite areas, where you can see the original buildings from the first settlement in San Diego. It is very touristy, yes, but it has a lot of charm! With a bit of imagination and an exercise in evasion, you will be able to see yourself in an old Mexican town! You can also take a train tour And once you’re there, you can’t miss eating a Mexican specialty in one of its many restaurants.
6. San Diego is an exceptional place for whale watching, in fact it is possible to see them throughout the year. If you want to take advantage of your visit to see one of the largest and most powerful animals in the world up close, sign up for this boat tour from the port of San Diego.
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7. If you are traveling with children, you can visit LEGOLAND California, a world of Lego where attractions and spaces as surprising as Miniland USA, a United States in miniature, await you! you can book the transport + ticket.
8. And if you are traveling without children, we suggest another plan: a romantic boat ride at sunset on the San Diego Bay. This includes cocktail :P. You can also do it at any time of the day.
9. San Diego is the craft beer capital of the United States. More than 70 local breweries are waiting for you to taste their barley juice. What are you waiting for? You can see a map of craft brewery options.
10. Come to the island of Coronado to have great views of the city, with its bay and the skyline. If the budget is not a problem, you can stay at the Hotel Coronado, or if you are a common mortal like us… walking on the beach is free.
11. Stroll through Little Italy, a neighborhood full of Italian restaurants and shops.
12. Do you know that the San Diego airport is in the center of the city! It is impressive to see how the planes land!
13. The organic craze has also arrived in San Diego. You can visit one of these markets with local and healthy products at the Ocean Beach Farmers Market (on Wednesdays) or the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market (on Sundays).
14. If you have time and feel like an alternative plan, go see a game of the San Diego Padres, the local baseball team. Their stadium is in the heart of the city, so there are no excuses!
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15. Spend an afternoon in Balboa Park, the most beautiful in the city, where you can also find some of the most interesting museums in San Diego, such as the Natural History Museum, the Hombte Museum or the Fleet Science Center. Of course, do not go to the zoo : do not contribute to the business of animals.
16. Did you know that San Diego is home to one of the largest warships in the world ? The USS Midway, an impressive aircraft carrier.
17. Baja California is just a step away… consider renting a car and taking a tour of this region that, they say, is amazing! If you prefer, you can take a one-day tour and see the essentials of this beautiful Mexican region. Or a one day tour to the city of Tijuana.
18. One of the best things to see and do in San Diego is to sunbathe at Pacific Beach, without a doubt one of the beaches most loved by San Diegans.
19. If you prefer to admire the sunset, better go to Point Loma. Climb up to the lighthouse for the best views from there.
20. Take a tour of the Gaslamp Quarter, a beautiful neighborhood full of Victorian buildings, shops, cafes and restaurants. And with an exciting nightlife. One of the best flats in San Diego.
21. Something curious to do in San Diego is to get on the amphibious bus that runs through its streets and then sails through its waters! Yes, all in the same vehicle.
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22. Go to the Museum of Contemporary Art (free on the third Thursday of every month from 5 to 7 pm).
23. And please DO NOT go to SeaWord, it is one of the most famous attractions in San Diego, but this water park with shows will only make you part of the animal business, where a few get rich and many are deprived of liberty. Be a responsible tourist A good way to enjoy animals in freedom is to take this cruise (you will see sea lions!)
24. If you want to enjoy nature, Mission Bay Park is your place. And while you’re at it, head over to Mission Bay Beach and take a dip in the Pacific Ocean (yes, the water is cool, cool).
25. You can’t miss a visit to the most alternative beach in San Diego: Ocean Beach and there you walk Newport Ave in search of hip joints and in the purest hipster style.
:: Where to sleep in San Diego?
We stayed at the central HI San Diego, one of the hostels that we liked the most of the entire trip to the United States. Why? It is a hostel full of colors and art, the staff is friendly, the facilities are new, modern and full of personality.
In addition, it is located in the heart of the Glaslamp neighborhood, surrounded by shops, bars and a lot of atmosphere. We only stayed 2 nights and, wanting to make the most of our visit, we couldn’t participate in any activities organized by the hostel… but you know that they do many (from walking tours in Balboa Park, to Pub crawls).
- Where is? It is located at 521 Market St.
- More info on their website
:: How to get around San Diego?
We always use Uber (in the United States it is not frowned upon, far from it!). These are the tours we took and what we paid (two people in the Uber Pool):
- Hostel to Old Town: $4.39
- Old Town to Ocean Beach: $5.83
- Ocean Beach to the hostel: $5.47
You can get a $20 bonus if you sign up for Uber.
:: How to save on attractions?
If you plan to enter most of the city’s paid attractions and museums, it’s worth buying the Go San Diego Card, which includes admission to 39 of these attractions.