San Diego is the perfect long weekend trip. You can get plenty done in 4 days, but if you want to maximize it, I would recommend another day or 2.
San Diego is famous for having the best weather all year around, (insert sarcastic tone here) however we got incredibly lucky to be there during a storm. But no one was going to rain on our parade.
On our first day, we went to visit Balboa Park. This place is amazing; from a Japanese tea garden to the best views of the city, it has it all. Must do here is walk through the Desert Garden, a trail with amazing plants and cactuses, for a second you feel like you’re in the middle of some isolated desert. Then pass by the rose garden and head to the Botanical Building.
From the outside, this is an outstanding structure that reflects beautifully over the Lily Pond in front of it, and inside is filled with fascinating plants.
After the Botanical Building, you could take a break at Panama 66 and enjoy a wide variety of craft beers while admiring the sculpture garden. Then, off to the Museum of Man. Why? Because it has a pretty awesome tower called the California Tower, with amazing views of the city. Take it all in first, then take some photos.
Other things to enjoy in Balboa Park are: The Zoo (a must) the Spanish Village, and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
LITTLE ITALY & NAVY PIER
This was our second stop of the day. We grabbed lunch at a super delicious ramen noodle restaurant called Underbelly. Not only was the food great but the place is chic. From there we walked to the Navy Pier, passing by the colossal USS Midway and of course the famous sailor and nurse “Unconditional Surrender” statue.
This is the hip night-out area of San Diego. We stayed in this area, so it was perfect to go for a walk and out for dinner every night. There is plenty to do, from chill bars to trendy restaurants to an all-out clubbing scene. You can check out the sunset and nice views of the downtown skyline at The Nolen rooftop bar. We had dinner at the famed Searsucker, but we were not super impressed.
In the morning, I highly recommend going to Breakfast Republic for, you guessed it, breakfast or brunch. The place is cool, the food is delish, and the bloody mary… mm mmmmm… (p.s. They have several locations around town.)
Love Hiking? On our second day, we hiked all through Torrey Pines Reserve and absolutely loved it! We hiked through breathtaking views of the park, cliffs, and beaches. Be prepared to walk, running shoes and all!
From there we headed to the Gliderport, and if you’re the adventurous type, go gliding! (a little pricey though). If you’re not, go down the 1,597 (or so) steps till you hit Black’s Beach, a nude beach when the weather is not 50˚F, LOL. It’s a nice walk down to the sand.
Next stop: La Jolla. From Scripps Pier, to the Children’s Pool, it’s the main “attraction” in San Diego. In La Jolla you can: Go kayaking inside the different caves, take a Mission Bay sunset cruise, go inside the hidden Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave, walk through Prospect St. and check out the stores and restaurants, and finally check out the sea lions from La Jolla Cove to the Children’s Pool (a little beach where the sea lions sunbathe, lol).
We had an amazing lunch with spectacular views at the terrace of George’s at the Cove, highly recommended. Plan about a full day for both Torrey Pines and La Jolla.
PACIFIC BEACH & MISSION BEACH & OCEAN BEACH
Enough sightseeing, it was now time to relax and enjoy a nice stroll down the beach, and a very fun bike ride along the boardwalk all the way from Pacific to Mission. This is a California paradise. Reminded me of a mix between Santa Monica and Venice beach in LA.
On Pacific Beach you’ll find the famous Crystal Pier, a really neat pier that is also a hotel. Yes! You can stay on a cottage on the actual pier (if you do, I want to hear all about it).
Ocean Beach was not my favorite, but there’s the Ocean Beach Pier, which is the longest concrete pier on the west coast, and nice to check it out.
You can catch a beautiful sunset from any of these beaches.
Now the best sunsets, are from the Coronado Hotel. The hotel is impressive and very historic, and you can have a drink at the bar while enjoying the sunset (open to the public).
Other To do’s:
Other things you could do in San Diego are visit Sunset Cliffs, take an Aerial Biplane Sightseeing ride, go to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Salk Institute.
Coffee? Communal Gem
Goodies? Pigment Store
We stayed at the Kimpton Solamar Hotel. It’s right in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, and it has a fun social hour every day.
For questions or tips you can send me a tweet to @jesuistourist!