San Diego is an amazing beach city with a chill vibe. It has everything from fabulous food, awesome culture, beaches, great beer, nightlife, attractions, the list goes on and on.
Can you tell how much I love San Diego? I pretty much fell in love instantly and count the days till I can return. San Diego makes a great weekend trip and can easily be connected with a trip to Los Angeles.
La Jolla Beach
This is a definite must do! What I really liked about La Jolla Beach is you get the beach, cliffs, awesome food, and water activities all in one spot. If you only have time for one beach, this is definitely the one I would go to. This is one of those places you don’t visit just once, it’s a place you keep wanting to go back to.
Choices, Choices, Oh My!
There are so many activities at La Jolla to do from kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, swimming, etc. Since we went in the fall and the water was cooling off, we decided to go kayaking. We chose La Jolla Kayak. Our tour guide was absolutely incredible and I would highly recommend it.
We were running short on time in La Jolla, so if you have more time there are tons of other activities nearby. You can see the caves without having to get wet by going to the Cave Store. Also if you are up for an adventure there is a Secret Swing that overlooks the beach and moves frequently so search instagram for #secretswings. There is also tons of shopping and great restaurants nearby, so make sure to find something with a view and take in the beach life.
Diner with a View
For dinner we went to George’s at the Cove (Ocean Terrace). Every seat at George’s on the top deck has a water view and overlooks La Jolla Cove. We loved the ceviche and the drinks. Make sure to definitely spend one evening dining outside and by the water if you can. Also look up sunset times before you go and book your dinner/drinks during a sunset. If you have time right below George’s is La Jolla Cove with lots of pretty places to get a picture, if you get lucky you might even see a sea lion.
When I go on vacation I like to find things that I can’t find at home. Donut Bar is definitely not your local donut shop. We got way too many donuts, but we totally wanted to try everything, how can you not? Their menu changes every month, so you can go back often. Our favorites… Homer’s Donut, Pumpkin Creme, and Banana. There is extra seating upstairs and a bar in the afternoon, if you need an afternoon pick me up. Also make sure and visit the bathroom for some awesome Homer Simpson paintings.
San Diego Zoo
Then it’s off to the San Diego Zoo & Balboa Park, where you can walk off the donuts you just ate. You can spend A LOT of time at both of these places!
My biggest advice is to go to the Zoo first and early in the morning. An employee told us this is when the animals are more alert.
This place is HUGE, so definitely pick animals you want to see and do those first! That way if you get tired you don’t miss out on seeing any animals. Make sure not to miss the panda exhibit as that is the main feature of the zoo. Definitely wear a really good pair of walking shoes and get ready to see one of the coolest zoos.
We took a lunch break at Buona Forchetta, which is close to the zoo. This place has some seriously authentic food. Also the portions were very large for lunch, so i definitely recommend sharing. We had the pizza & calzone which were incredible. We did see the pasta going by and it looked amazing and we’re wishing our stomachs could hold more. This area also had lots of cute shops and restaurants that you could easily spend an afternoon just walking around.
The San Diego Zoo is inside of Balboa Park. So after some good food we went back to Balboa Park. There is tons to do here, so you might want to look ahead of time or visit guest services and get a map to see the main places you want to hit. It is also a place where you can just walk around and be amazed at all the amazing architecture and beautiful flora and fauna. Make sure to check ahead of time to see if the attractions you want will be open because we ran into a few of the buildings we wanted to go into were closed.
Whatever you do, make sure you make at least one meal Mexican Food. It is simply to die for in San Diego! We chose to eat dinner at Jimmy Carter’s. The food was arguably the best Mexican food we had on the trip. Their green salsa was amazing and my Chile Colorado was the best I’ve ever had. There was limited parking, so if your not feeling the driving and street parking, I would definitely Uber.
Coronado Bridge & Beach
Coronado Bridge is a definite must, it gives you an amazing view of the city and a great way to get to the beach. There are multiple turn offs, we chose to stop off at Silver Strand Beach. Coronado Beach had the biggest clams and the prettiest sand dollars, so enjoy your time exploring.
Need a bite and some beer?!? Pizza Port Ocean Beach is absolutely life changing. My husband is a strict pizza connoisseur and both of us still say it is the best pizza we have ever had! Like we have talked about planning a trip around the pizza it is that good. They also have an amazing craft beer selection, so what could be better? The staff is super knowledgeable too, so if you are overwhelmed by the choices, just ask for a recommendation. You will be pressed to find bad beer and food in San Diego. Also this restaurant is super close to Ocean Beach so make sure you drive by or stop by the beach.
Make sure you stop at Sunset Cliffs. They were absolutely gorgeous and super fun to just sit and watch the waves roll in. There are lots of places to climb down, just make sure to watch the waves, we saw a couple get drenched when the tide came in. There is limited parking lots near the cliffs, but there is street parking and more parking at the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.
Looking for a great place to spend an evening? Gaslamp Quarter makes for a really fun evening. Restaurants and Bars pack every street, each with a different theme, so it is an easy way to spend an evening walking around bar hopping. Our favorite drink spot had to be Trailer Park After Dark. This trailer park themed bar had a great drink selection, or you can go simple and get a PBR in a brown paper bag. The decor is amazing and worth a stop just to see! There is so much to experience in this area, that you could spend multiple nights and have a very different experience each night.
If you have more time, I would definitely add these stops to my list! They are definitely on my list of places to stop when i come back to San Diego.
- Breweries- San Diego is known for having some of the best craft brews in the country! Seriously the beer is good! So make sure you get a chance to stop at a couple of the breweries! Some recommendations would be Monkey Paw, Mission, and Stone. If you don’t get a chance, make sure to try some at local restaurants & bars. Most of them had at least one or more local breweries on tap!
- San Diego Wild Animal Park- We would have loved to have more time, so we could have gone here! This is a little bit of a drive from the San Diego Zoo and requires a little more time, so plan ahead!
- Gaslamp Bars we didn’t get to- The Shout House (Dueling Piano Bar), Cat Eye Club (Speakeasy Tiki Bar with a 4 person treasure chest drink called Goonies Never Say Die), Sycamore Den (1970’s inspired decor), Noble Experiment (speakeasy), The Nolan (inside the Marriot), The Tipsy Crow (Drink prices rise and fall on demand)
- Mexican Food- I’m telling you, you can’t get enough. Galaxy Taco, Puesto, and the Taco Stand.
- Torrey Pines- Great stop for Golf lovers and adventure seekers. They have paragliding and hang gliding. So even if your not that adventurous, it’s a great way to watch others, or take an amazing hike.
- Old Town- This is rich in culture. A friend who moved from San Diego said this was her go to place to get Mexican food and walk around.