If you're planning a trip to California, consider adding San Diego to your list. Why? San Diego is one the best places in California! Every day feels like you're on vacation because there's so much to do, the weather is perfect, and the food is so good. At least I feel like that, and I live here! Here are my best 10 things to do in San Diego to help you plan an exciting trip.
1. Kayak in La Jolla
La Jolla is one of my favorite places in San Diego. It's a gorgeous, wealthy, coastal neighborhood north of downtown San Diego. Kayaking is a unique way to experience La Jolla because you can explore several of the caves and cliffs firsthand. You can go on your own or do a guided tour to learn more. Plus, there are seals and sea lions that hang out close to the shore!
If you're not into kayaking, really doing anything in La Jolla is beautiful. Consider shopping, paddleboarding, walking around, snorkeling, or just hanging out at the beach when you're in La Jolla.
2. Hike Torrey Pines Natural Reserve
Torrey Pines is a natural reserve full of super easy to moderate hiking trails. What makes it unique and one of my favorite places is that the trails are all very short, and you hike from the top of the desert hills to the bottom of a beautiful beach. So you don't have to put in a lot of work to get incredibly beautiful views!
3. Eat San Diego Mexican food
After all that exercise, consider munching out on San Diego's Mexican food. San Diego is home to both amazing authentic Mexican food and also amazing fusion Mexican food. Some of the food trends from San Diego include carne asada fries, California burritos, and Baja-style fish tacos. There are a lot of taco shops where you can try this food for cheap and upscale restaurants where you can try them on the pricier side.
4. Eat good food in general
San Diego is home to delicious food in general. Some of my favorite places include the Little Italy Food Hall because there are a ton of delicious, creative foods to try, and anywhere in North Park for diverse, hip dining experiences. If you don't want to spend that much money on food, don't worry- there are a few ways you can eat out on a budget in San Diego while still checking out amazing local places.
5. Explore Balboa Park
Balboa Park is amazing. It's a gigantic park full of Spanish colonial and Pueblo style architecture, 17 diverse museums, multiple gardens, and a cute area full of art galleries. Walking through the park, admiring the plants and architecture, and breathing the fresh air is perfect, and it also makes the perfect place for a picnic, run, or just hanging out with friends.
6. Visit The San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is actually located in Balboa Park and is unique compared to other zoos I've been visited. Many of San Diego Zoo's exhibits are actually outside - so those animals aren't necessarily in cages. Plus, they have a huge focus on preservation and conservation, so the zoo is educational not just on the animals themselves but also with ways on how you can help keep some from being extinct.
7. Explore Coronado
Coronado is a historical island right next to San Diego. It has some of my favorite beaches just because they're so large, and it's also home to the Hotel del Coronado, a gorgeous, iconic, Victorian-style resort. You don't need to stay there to explore the beautiful architecture, but if you do, be aware that some think room 3327 is haunted!
8. Walk through the Cabrillo National Monument
The Cabrillo National Monument is a national park dedicated to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who is the first European to navigate to California, and this park has a free museum and monument dedicated to him and other conquistadors, as well as some preserved historical buildings. But, the best part of this park is walking along the cliffs and enjoying the Point Loma tide pools. It's a gorgeous area with some short hikes, and even if you miss the tiny animals in the tides, the beautiful ocean views are so worth it!
9. Drink in North Park
Most cities have a craft beer scene nowadays. But in San Diego's North Park neighborhood, there are at least 15 breweries at the time I'm writing this in a single city neighborhood, and they're all amazing! You can take your own beer tour or do a guided one in North Park.
10. Party in Gaslamp
For vibrant nightlife with lively clubs and bars, head to the Gaslamp Quarter. This is a popular district that draws people even outside of San Diego for a wild night. For something more lowkey, there's also a piano bar in Gaslamp, and for something a little more action-y, there's an arcade bar in Gaslamp.
And those are my top 10 things to do in San Diego. I hope this helps you plan an awesome trip there!
Meet Our Contributor
Angelica is a travel and food blogger at Things to do & Eat. She is based in San Diego, and when she's not gallivanting around the city, she's probably traveling to new places, trying their food, getting lost in their nature, or sharing advice on her blog.