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Growing up in the wine country of Temecula, I have always dreamed of my next adventure in San Diego.
My list of things to do in the big city never stopped growing. Fortunately, San Diego was only an hour away so it was easy to jump over to explore amazing eateries, gorgeous beaches and hip areas.
For many years living in Cape Town, San Diego has remained close and dear to my heart. When I was finally ready to take root in Southern CaliforniaI raced to this cool coastal town.
Today I call San Diego home and mine relaxation everything I dreamed of, they will. I enjoy the opportunity to show people the neighborhood where I stomp.
This is why I created mine The Ultimate Guide to San Diego Travel to help you navigate. Now, to help you figure out your daily planning, here’s my one-week San Diego itinerary.
Ready for an insider’s guide to San Diego? Let’s go!
What is the best neighborhood to stay in San Diego
It is important to understand how geographically large San Diego County is. When planning must-see spots in the city, look at the map.
The county has 70 miles of coastline, so things can be much farther apart than you think.
There are too many areas to even list, so I’ll just touch on the surface, listing the best bases to explore.
If you come to the city for just one week, you will find many options. To help you decide, let’s take a look at which areas are best for different types of travel.
City Center / Little Italy
If you’re looking for top-notch nightlife, add the city center and Gaslamp (next to Little Italy) to your list.
Little Italy is close to Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo, but it’s not the best place for kids. You will also find that expensive parking is difficult to find.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for an overnight stay in the city and plan on using Uber, you’ll love this.
For great views of the Pacific Ocean and a relaxed atmosphere, you’ll be spoiled for choice in the Pacific, Ocean Beach and Mission Beach areas.
This stunningly beautiful area is well worth it, but worth it if you want to pamper yourself.
While you will be a little further away from typical tourist spots such as Balboa Park and the Zoo, you will find cool escape spots in Del Mar, Solana Beach, Leucadia, Encinitas, and Carlsbad.
If you are only planning to look into the Balboa Park area and are more interested in finding a place to turn off, look here for options. This is a relaxing beach area with great deals.
I really love Karlovy Vary here! Come here in spring to admire the colorful flowers. However, keep in mind that you are 45 minutes from Point Loma and this is not a practical base if you plan on exploring San Diego on a daily basis.
Best time to visit San Diego
By far the best time to visit is from August to October. The weather is still warm, but you will find that the tourist crowds have mostly dissipated.
If you are not from California, you may not be familiar with May Gray and June Gloom.
Although we have a few warm and sunny days in the spring, it doesn’t look like it’s summer until July. Most of spring and early summer, the morning is cloudy and a little dull.
However, I like cloudy days because it rarely rains. This is the kind of weather when you can comfortably sit in a cardigan and drink hot in a coffee shop.
If you are looking for some sunshine on the beach, May and June are not the best times to travel.
Travel San Diego
Without a doubt, having your own set of wheels in San Diego is essential. Although there are walking areas, they are quite extensive. During the week, you’ll want to explore the wider area of San Diego.
Southern California is not known for its public transportation, and for good reason.
There are numerous freeways nearby connecting all the beach towns and neighborhoods on the outskirts of San Diego … but they are designed for cars. Relying on the bus system is tedious and time-consuming.
Planning tip: I’ve put together a weekly guide, but it’s not an accurate plan. You can mix and match different events and do things in any order.
I highly recommend checking calendar of city events as soon as you start planning.
See if there are any festivals or major events you want to attend or avoid (if you’re not participating, traffic, parking problems, and overpricing during major events can be annoying).
Day 1: Balboa Park and Zoo
These are two must-see places in San Diego.
You can knock both of them out in one day. All the best museums are collected in one place. If you are traveling with children, they will definitely love the zoo (just like the adults!).
Much of the incredible Spanish-style architecture of Balboa was built between 1915 and the late 1930s for various exhibitions (you may know them as World Fairs).
There are many great walking areas outside the zoo and you can BYOB for a wine picnic. Take your time exploring and spend the whole day in just these two locations.
Day 2: Bring a beer
With 150 breweries and new establishments opening daily, San Diego has definitely earned its place among the world’s top craft beer capitals.
Spend the day tasting beer and exploring all the unique options you will find only here.
To sample the local foam, head straight to North park… And come hungry! This place is home to some of the best local eateries and craft beer spots in town.
Day 3-4: Days at the beach
It’s all about the beach here, and you’ll want to soak up the sun for a couple of days. In addition to bronzing and water sports, each beach town has its own unique ambiance.
While you will hear locals recommend a number of places when it comes to accessibility and offerings, you can’t go wrong with any of these popular beaches.
Here are a few places to check:
Mission Beach and Belmont Park
When you think of a classic boardwalk, you probably imagine something like this. These two miles of boardwalk have everything from bumper cars to mini golf to beachside rental shops. There is everything for families here.
It is also a great place to go cycling or rollerblading. After dark, you’ll also find things to do in Mission Beach and nearby Pacific Beach.
La Jolla Shores
When it comes to options for the family, this is the best choice. With a relatively calm sea and lifeguards on hand, this is a favorite place for parents.
Don’t miss the La Jolla kids pool! This is a small sandy beach with an area originally built for children to be isolated from the waves by a concrete barrier – now quite popular with seals!
You can even go kayaking if you so desire!
This quaint island off the coast is the perfect choice for families and couples. You can tour the legendary Hotel del Coronado, shop in unique boutiques or stroll through the parks.
It is a young and lively city popular with surfers. Catch the wave, surf the Crystal Pier, then stay here for a drink and dinner.
If you are looking to rent a Duffy boat or paddle board, Mission Bay is a good option because its location in the bay means there are no waves here.
This city north of San Diego, home to Legoland California theme park, beautiful spring flower fields and eight different beaches, has a picturesque setting with a small-town vibe.
Be sure to check the Flower Fields calendar as the iconic buttercups only bloom from early March to early May!
More than 5,000 fish that call it their home make over 60 aquariums at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography a must for kids (and kids at heart) at Birch Aquarium.
Day 5: Hike and nature reserve
Start your day in Torrey Pines. Hike the nature reserve and enjoy its beauty away from the beach. Once you’ve whetted your appetite, head out for a brunch.
In the afternoon, head to Solana Beach or Del Mar Beach. They are both known for their eclectic boutiques, trendy eateries and local art galleries.
Day 6-7: Choose your adventure
On the last two days of your visit to San Diego, you can choose your own adventure. Here are a few of my favorites:
Check out the bay and island of Coronado
Take an excursion on a naval ship, cruise the Hornblower, visit Midway Museumthen shop, eat and drink as you cruise the Midway area as well as the magnificent Coronado Island!
Parents of the game
Go to the ball game!
Street market Little Italy
Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm. Start your day here for food, crafts and great atmosphere.
Wednesday night market at OB
IN Farmers’ Market Ocean Beach held every Wednesday from 4 pm to 8 pm. It is a great place to browse, shop for local goodies, and a great place to observe people.
The sunset from here is so impressive that the whole place was named after him! And besides being a romantic place, it is also a great place to do yoga.
Remember that this is a popular spot in summer, so keep in mind that it can get crowded.
However, this is a fantastic picnic spot with some serious views!
Torrey Pines Glider Port
The Torrey Pines glider is the perfect place to make your heart beat faster and get a bird’s eye view of the city.
There are over 100 wineries in San Diego County, with many more close to the hotel. If you are also a wine lover, don’t miss your chance to sample local vintage wines.
Overnight in Little Italy
What would you add to your dream itinerary in San Diego? I’ll be working on restaurants and brunch guides soon! Let me know what you would like to see in the comments below!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Algulf.net and Algulf.net does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.