San Diego, CA
San Diego, California's second-largest city, is home to well over a million resident-and countless annual visitors. So it’s impressive that San Diego manages to keep a small-town vibe and gives visitors an intimate and inviting feel, while providing amenities of a major tourist destination.
Here, the temperature rarely dips below the 60s and San Diego offers about 70 miles of coastline. There’s more here than just surfing, thanks to a flurry of restaurant openings, an amazing arts scene, and independent boutiques. Plus, there’s lots of family friendly attractions like theme parks and zoos. Read on for our helpful guide to the San Diego area.
Exploring the Area
San Diego’s main inland wonder is Balboa Park, 1,200 acres of museums, performing arts centers, gardens and other attractions. South Park, lies just to the east, which is an emerging neighborhood with NY vibe. Here, pedestrian-friendly streets are lined with quirky independent shops and historic Craftsman homes, some trimmed in colorful shades of lime green or electric blue. Before you start exploring, consider fueling up at Station Tavern (2204 Fern St.; lunch for two, $20), a transformed trolley station known for its reasonably priced burgers, San Diego brews and family-friendly outdoor patio.
One of America's fittest cities, because there are literally hundreds of places to explore on foot. For wonderful ocean views consider walking along Mission Beach, a lively take on the classic boardwalk beach town with nearly two miles of oceanfront boardwalk. Or for a lake view, hit the trails at Torrey Pines State Reserve, with free public guided walks for families and small groups are on weekends and holiday.
Point Loma has no real beaches but rather cliffs, creating an ideal backdrop for meditating to the sound of crashing waves. Plus, explore tide pools (check for schedule for low tides), tour Old Point Loma Lighthouse, or stake out a spot to view migrating gray whales (December-March). Go to the furthest tip of Point Loma to find the Cabrillo National Monument, honoring explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, On a clear day, you'll be able to see for what seems like forever.
Historic Dining in San Diego
When you work up an appetite, San Diego offers some unique dining options. Waterfront Bar and Grill, San Diego’s oldest tavern, was opened just after prohibition was repealed. A San Diego area favorite since 1934, the Waterfront serves up mouthwatering burgers and a variety of locally brewed ales. Filippi’s Pizza Grotto is quaint Italian restaurant in the Little Italy neighborhood (and more than another dozen locations). It’s worth visiting to experience recipes cultivated from a rich family history stemming back to Naples. Beyond pizza, you’ll find there’s heaping helpings of lasagna, spaghetti with enormous meatballs and other traditional Italian family recipes they’ve been serving over 67 years.
Day-Tripping to Carlsbad -Soak up the sun in this family-friendly shore town.
About 35 miles up the coast from San Diego, Carlsbad is a popular getaway. One of the best times to visit its main attraction, Legoland® (1 Legoland Dr.; 760-918-5346; admission, $90; children 3–12, $84), is during the week, when the crowds are typically lighter. The amusement park opened Lego® Ninjago® World in May 2016, a one-acre section near the entrance. Its interactive rides are the first in North America to take advantage of 4D™ Maestro technology. With just a wave of their hands, kids can throw fireballs, ice and lightning to defeat villains.
Nearby, children can play everything from gongs to electric guitars at the Museum of Making Music (5790 Amanda Dr.; 760-438-5996; admission, $10). Each gallery focuses on a different period in American music history, touching on song trends and cultural developments.
Consider wrapping up your trip with a walk through Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park (6200 Flying Leo Carrillo Ln.; 760-476-1042). Best known for his role as Pancho on The Cisco Kid, Leo Carrillo was an actor and conservationist in the first half of the 20th century. You can take a self-guided tour to see what life on the ranch was like. Jewel-toned peafowl roam free, providing an opportunity for colorful snapshots.
Of course, don’t forget, San Diego is also home to SeaWorld. See an array of spectacular shows where the stars are whales, dolphins, sea lions, walruses and seals. And if that isn't enough to satisfy your animal fix, consider adding a trip to the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
Whatever your idea of the perfect San Diego Area getaway, TripBeat offers some unique accommodations in San Diego, Carlsbad and other surrounding areas to help make the experience complete.
- Balboa Park
- Mission Beach
- Point Loma
- San Diego Zoo
- Sea World