San Diego has got it all: pristine beaches, a bustling nightlife, a foodie haven and authentic culture. I like to think of San Diego as LA’s little brother who studied abroad one year and came back cooler than ever. A mere 2 hours from Los Angeles, here is the best of SD and where to go for your weekend getaway to San Diego
Where to Stay
The US Grant – No stay is more luxurious than the accommodation at the iconic US Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. The 5-star hotel opened in 1910 and continued to a be a pinnacle of glamour and high-quality service from the 1920s to present day. Guests enjoy the fantastic views, impeccable service and rich history at this landmark hotel.
Bahia Resort Hotel – Located slightly outside of central San D
iego, the Bahia Resort Hotel is perfect for those of you traveling with little ones or extended families. The Bahia was my family’s favorite years ago and with good reason! The hotel is situated in the heart of Mission Bay with plenty of activities on the property and off, like SeaWorld and Belmont Park, only a few minutes away. Not to mention, this resort is flexible for all budget types.
The Del Coronado – If you’re into history, luxury and maybe a little eeriness, you must see the Del Coronado. You might know this place from its iconic architecture, its famous guests, like Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin or President Franklin Roosevelt, or you might have heard the creepy stories of the hauntings found at the Del. Whatever reason, it’s worth drinking, dining and staying at this luxurious hotel.
La Valencia Hotel – Another historic favorite is La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, San Diego. Also known as The Pink Lady of La Jolla, La Valencia is an iconic, Spanish-style hotel built in 1926 with impeccable sea views. Stars of the 1950s loved to retreat to this hidden oasis and it’s no wonder with its Old Hollywood, Beverly Hills Hotel glam. Today, guests love this elegant hotel for it’s location, service and charm.
Where to Eat
Donut Bar – Not only is this the best breakfast spot in town, these donuts might just be some of the best in country! Donut Bar has daily specials but some of their classics include apple fritter, maple bacon, big poppa tart, mexican hot chocolate and creme brulee with an actual hardened shell!
Las Cuatro Milpas – A must-see for tourists as locals see this restaurant as a Mexican staple. This hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint may look dodgey, but that’s how you know it’s good. Don’t be afraid of the hour-long wait as the burritos and shredded beef taquitos are worth it!
The Prado at Balboa Park – Amidst the famous Balboa Park lies the National Historic Landmark known as the Prado, originally built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. Now the Prado boasts a beautiful cafe that serves some of the best Mediterranean dishes you will ever have.
Sushi Ota – While the location is questionable, the quality is absolutely top notch. Sushi Ota is for you sushi fanatics who are less about over-the-top rolls and more focused on the quality of the fish and sushi structure.
Juniper and Ivy – Tasty as hell and trendy as all get out. Juniper and Ivy is an American-style restaurant located in the Little Italy District and my gosh, is it tasty! Aside from the industrial-style decor and kick ass cocktails, you’ll need to unbutton your pants for this one.
What to Do
Enjoy a Padres or Chargers Game – San Diego is home to the San Diego Padres baseball team and the San Diego Chargers NFL football team. Witnessing a local game in the city’s stadiums will give you a real view of what it’s like to be a San Diegan. Plus, the view at the AT&T Park at sunset is out of this world!
Visit the San Diego Zoo – A trip to San Diego wouldn’t be complete without visiting the largest zoo in the world! The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park houses over 3,700 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies. The zoo is best enjoyed over the course of many days or perhaps you and the family could enjoy a sleepover at the zoo where you camp overnight with lions, giraffes and more!
Ride Bikes Along Mission Beach’s Oceanfront – A casual day is best spent renting a bike and seeing how the typical San Diegans live. Stroll down Mission Beach, take an afternoon to enjoy the beach and enjoy the local food before you reach Belmont Park.
Enjoy Belmont Park – Unlike your typical beach pier, Belmont Park’s historic, 95-year old amusement park is an iconic landmark. With rides like the Giant Dipper and classic Tilt-a-Whirl, you’ll be able to relive your classic carnival days right along the water.
Get Lit in the Gaslamp Quarter – The Gaslamp District in San Diego is where you want to go to enjoy fine dining, the busy nightlife and get your drink on. In addition to the bars, lounges, clubs, pubs and restaurants found in Gaslamp, you’ll also find a plethora of locals, tourists and students looking to have a good time. Make sure you go with the flow in this part of SD!
Take a Trip Down South – You’re not too far from the Mexican border and what better way to get the local flavor than seeing where it all started? Hop on a trolley to Tijuana, Mexico, do some shopping and try the local flavor to see where San Diego’s heritage really comes from!
What to See
Explore Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá – Mission Basilica Barbara is the most exciting mission to visit as it is the first Franciscan Mission of California. Built in 1769, Mission Basilica continues its mass to the public and is a truly stunning sight to be seen.
Enjoy Sunset at the Coronado Dog Beach – Most people head to La Jolla Cove for a classic sunset scene and while it is gorgeous, the Coronado Dog Beach is where it’s at. What will make you happier than a happy dog, gleefully running through the water as the sun sets? Nothing, that’s what.
Discover Balboa Park – Balboa park is a more laid back version of Central Park, with San Diego’s Zoo in the dead center. You can also find the Prado, the Museum of Man, the Museum of Art and the Japanese Friendship Garden within the wilderness that is Balboa.
Of course these recommendations are just a taste of what San Diego has to offer. San Diego offers countless of activities and foodie spots, but a stroll through Little Italy, Gaslamp or its many beaches promise a friendly community waiting to show you around America’s “finest city.”
About the Author
Sebrin Elms is a newlywed, travel fanatic, book lover, champagne connoisseur and kitty mama. When she’s not globe-trotting or wearing flower crowns, she’s probably writing on her blog, The Clumsy Traveler.