Things to Do
(no particular order)
-Hike Torrey Pines
(It’s a super easy hike, but the views are amazing -- hardest part is walking up from the parking lot to the top where the hike actually starts LOL or you can choose to pay like $10 to park at the top. I recommend doing the trail that takes you down to the beach!)
-Spend an afternoon in La Jolla Village (shopping, restaurants, sea lions)
-Explore Balboa Park
(it's so nice to walk around even if you don't pay to go into any of the museums)
(one of my favorite beaches in SD…also a 2 min drive to The Taco Stand on Pearl Street...some of the best tacos I've ever had!! They also have a location in Encinitas, but I think this one is even better)
-Coronado (walk the streets until you end up at the famous Hotel Del Coronado)
-Sunset Cliffs (amazing views at sunset if not overcast)
-Carlsbad Flower Fields (I haven’t been yet — but super insta worthy LOL)
-Any of the beaches in La Jolla & North County are amazing
-Meditation Gardens in Encinitas
-San Diego Zoo
San Diego is HUGE so read below for a little overview of some of the different areas (they are NOT listed in order of preference)
Gaslamp: Downtown San Diego hub for nightlife and dining.
Restaurant Rec: Meze Greek Fusion
Little Italy: A chic, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, packed with trendy restaurants, creative cocktail bars, gastropubs, and coffee shops.
Restaurant Rec: Have dinner at one of the Italian restaurants (I'm biased but my favorite is Isola where Tyler & I met on our blind date)
North Park: This trendy neighborhood north of Balboa Park offers a mix of residential and urban areas. Its anchor is 30th Street and University Avenue, where you’ll find craft beer, popular coffee shops, sushi, taquerias, brunch spots, live music at North Park Observatory, thrift shops, and boutiques—all with a hipster touch. A weekly farmers' market takes over North Park Way on Thursdays.
Hillcrest: Hillcrest is the heart of San Diego’s LGBTQ community, with restaurants (many focusing on ethnic cuisines) and bars along University Avenue, and beautiful Spanish-style and Craftsman homes in the surrounding area. It’s also close to Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo, and offers easy access to multiple freeways. The Hillcrest farmers market on Sundays is popular for fresh produce and prepared foods.
Point Loma: A peninsular neighborhood by the bay with a strong boating culture, Point Loma is centered on seafood, outdoor activities, and charming mom-and-pop shops in Point Loma Village. It’s also near Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, which has a flat cliffside trail and great sunset views.
Normal Heights: Adjacent to the smaller neighborhood of University Heights, Normal Heights has hip eateries, bars, and coffee shops. Adams Avenue is the main area of action.
Old Town-Mission Valley: Historic area and location of first Spanish settlement in California. There’s also a bus, trolley and coaster depot located right next to it. Old Town Historic Park has many preserved historic buildings and museums to commemorate the early days of San Diego.
Ocean Beach: Ocean Beach, just north of Point Loma, feels like one of the last few quintessential SoCal beach towns. Super laid-back vibes hippie vibes.Populated with surf shops, outdoor cafés, yoga studios, and a dog beach, “OB” is an easygoing bohemian area, where many walk around in board shorts and flip-flops.
Mission Beach: Mission Beach is the ocean beach on the west side of the bay. The seaside amusement park Belmont Park is here (if you have a sweet tooth get the funnel cake) and you can bike, roller skate and walk the strand down to Pacific Beach. You’ll pass many homes, bars, restaurants, and vendors along the way. Also has bay areas that are nice for stand up paddle boarding and such.
Restaurant Rec: Drinks at Wave House & Lunch at Sand Bar (super casual)
Pacific Beach: Popular party and beach destinations with major nightlife and bar scene. (Mission Beach is a bit more laid back and has some cool areas for stand up paddle boarding and such. Pacific Beach is mainly 20-something year olds getting drunk at all hours day/night lol so if that’s not your vibe then maybe avoid Pacific Beach.)
La Jolla: Upscale beach community with impressive coastlines, cute shops and nice restaurants within walking distance of each other. The beaches in the Village run on the small side for sunbathers, but this is where you can spot the famous seals and sea lions!
Restaurant Rec: Ocean Terrace at George’s at the Cove (the food is good, but what makes it worth it is the view from their rooftop terrace) After lunch at George’s, I recommend walking down and get amazing gelato from Bobboi Natural Gelato. Then continue down the sidewalk until you reach the cove and you’ll get to see the seals from there :)
Another good restaurant in La Jolla (although a little pricey) is Pueso...get the filet mignon taco!!
Coronado Island: Cross the famous blue bridge to San Diego’s island resort town. It’s idyllic and has beautiful beaches. Be aware of traffic + difficult parking! Orange Avenue is lined with cafes, boutiques, and tourist spots.
Del Mar: The beach here is amazing (parking for it is definitely not) as are the restaurants and shops. One of the more affluent communities.
Restaurant Rec: Jake’s Del Mar or Poseidon (but mainly for views, although food is good too!)
Encinitas: Bohemian beach neighborhood and very spiritual vibes (check out popular spiritual shop called Earth's Elements) Moonlight and Swami’s are the go-to beaches, and Coast Highway 101 is the main drag with restaurants, shops, and cafés. Encinitas also has the Meditation Gardens (which are so peaceful and FREE!)
Restaurant Rec: URBN for pizza
Oceanside & Oceanside Pier: Has more of an old school beach town vibe. If you’re by yourself I would avoid walking the area alone at night, but it’s retro vibe, cool pier, beautiful beaches make it worth a visit during the day if you’re staying in the North County area.
Carlsbad: Has pretty beaches and a growing food and drink scene, with a walkable “village.” There's a cool spiritual shop called Soulscape Gift & Bookstore. In Carlsbad, there’s also the Carlsbad Flower Fields open during this time of year (I haven’t been yet — but super insta worthy LOL..I think it’s around $15 entry)
(I have a million other recommendations and I’m happy to answer any questions over the weekend, but hopefully this is a good start!)