The Local’s Guide to San Diego

It’s not a secret, how much I love San Diego, after all, it’s where I was born and raised! How lucky am I?! For starters, there’s SOOOO much to do, see, experience, and of course (my favorite) EAT! Here’s my (just a few) favorite things that I believe is a must!

Whether you’re from here like me, just moved here, or visiting, there’s something for everyone! I’ll keep adding to this when I go back home and as I get told where to go or new places!


San Diego Sunset


All the fish in the sea:

  • Poke One Half: It’s like chipotle/subway but for a sushi bowl. It’s kinda the new thing in San Diego, and out of all (most) of them this is my favorite! The fish is always fresh, the people are friendly, and the portions are HUGE! They don’t even complain about getting avocado, or even extra avocado. 
  • PB Fish ShopThis place is great because you can pretty much do whatever you want, meat wise, seasoning wise, and how you want it – sandwich, taco, salad, etc.
  • Sushi Ota: Sushi = amazing, need I say more? It’s a small spot, but worth the wait. Always.
  • Banbu Sushi: Banbu is near and dear to my heart, I’ve loved it since they opened and they have a killer happy hour deal on Monday’s and Tuesday’s. If you go, you have to get the Banbu roll!
  • Point Loma Seafood: Quite possibly some of the freshest fish in town if you ask me because all the fisherman drop their fish off as they come in and you order right from the counter.
  • Mitch’s Seafood: Because who doesn’t want to eat seafood overlooking the marina? Thought so.

Poke Bowl At Poke One Half

Acai bowls:

  • OB Fruit & Smoothie:  These are huge!! I may be biased to them because they were my first acai bowl, everrrr. But still to date, the best $7 I’ve ever spent.
  • Rum Jungle:These ones are so instagrammable because they serve them in pineapples, so get one, walk around the corner to the beach and you have the perfect setting.
  • Mad Beet:  This is a new fave, I had them right before I moved and fell in love. They also have really good smoothies!

Oysters ($1 Happy Hour):

  • Herringbone: This place is so cute, a tree in the middle and not only do they have a happy hour for oysters, but everything else is good too. Literally not had anything bad ever.
  • Ironside: A fun spot in Little Italy to grab a glass of wine and get some $1 oysters too!


  • Bird Rock Coffee Roasters: This place is right up from the beach so I love going there, sitting down, sipping some yummy coffee and then going to the beach for the day, or just to see it!
  • Communal Coffee: If you’ve ever seen the wall that’s painted Coffee + Flowers this is where it’s at. They have lavender infused coffee, which is hands down amazing.
  • Lofty Coffee: I first saw this place because Tenley from Bachelor went there, and it’s so so good. I’m a big fan of their warm coffee, which says a lot because I’m 99.9% of the time all about iced.
  • Better Buzz: Order the best drink ever. End of story! Iced or hot, but I’d prefer iced.

Communal Coffee


  • Woodstock’s: Before a SDSU basketball game, a must go! Their crust is made right there, and all the toppings are always so fresh.
  • NaPizza:I love their’s because of truffle oil – and you can buy by the slice which is pretty amazing! 
  • Tribute: Some of their pizza’s have vodka sauce on them – and if you know me, you know I’m all about the sauce. Which is whyyy…I love it so so much!
  • Cucina Urbana: This place is so so so delish! Everything on the menu is amazing – but their pizza. OH MY GOD! Yes, it’s that good.

Breakfast spots:

  • Kono’s: This place is right on the corner by Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. I love their breakfast sandwiches (pictured below) and they have a little sitting area right on the water!
  • Hash House: This place’s portions are HUGE. I kid you not- but their hashes are so so good, especially if you like Rosemary. I’d be prepared for a little wait here if you go at a popular time, but so worth it.
  • Snooze: I’m a fan of this place because you can order a few pancakes (chocolate chip, blueberry, original, etc) or eggs bene (original, smashed avocado, chili verde, etc). 
  • World Famous: I love their California bene – so obviously this is on the list. But you also have water front dining, and you can never get enough of that.
  • The Trails: This place was on restaurant impossible, and I can’t say I went before. But it’s a cute spot, and their cinnamon roll pancakes are to DIE for.

Breakfast Sandwich at Kono's in Pacific Beach


  • Ortiz’s #2: uThis place has some of the best burritos I’ve had, right before I moved I was OBSESSED with their vegetarian!
  • Taco Surf: I love the decor in this place! Their ceiling is covered in surf boards! 
  • El Azteca:One of the best California burritos!
  • Lolita’s: This place is amazing, they have a few locations and I love to grab a burrito before a Padre game!
  • Las Cultro Milpas:This place is in a little sketchy of an area, but so so worth it!
  • Night & day cafe:  Their carne asada fries is what you will be ordering! Some of my all time favorites, and they aren’t stingy with their hot sauce.
  • Salud: They have great tacos, a milkshake with churros on it, and nachos that make me drool just thinking about them. So worth it, and so worth the wait (yes they always have a line)


Mexican Food at Pacific Beach

Taco Tuesday Spots:

  • Tacos El Gordo:Best tacos, and very authentic. You won’t be able to tell if you’re in San Diego or Mexico!
  • The Brigantine: I love this place for everything and Taco Tuesday is just an excuse to go there, but hey, I’ll take it!
  • Cafe Coyote: jIn Old Town,  practically every Mexican food place does Taco Tuesday but for some reason I keep going back to Cafe Coyote. Honestly you can’t go wrong with any of them though!


  • Karl Strauss: 
  • Stone: Pictured below at Liberty Public Market, and yes that is my wine glass.
  • Ballast Point:  When I used to drink beer (yes this was a thing- I loved their watermelon dorado )
  • Coronado: Their logo is a mermaid, so obviously I love them. But their food is also really good! I can do a sip of their beer flight and that’s about it for me.
  • Pizza Port: Want to try a whole bunch of local San Diego beers? This is your place! They have so so many different beers, and grab an amazing pizza while you’re at it.


  • All these places are in Little Italy and all of them you can go to and won’t be disappointed! They’re my top three favorites, I noticed as I was writing this post that I could go on and on – So I started to pick!
  • Civico 1845, Bencotto, and Barbusa


If you go about an hour north of San Diego, in Temecula there are tons, and I mean tons. My favorites: Danza Del Sol, Fazeli Cellars, Leoness Cellars (pictured below), Lorimar Winery, Miramonte, and Monte De Oro.

And then if you go about 20 minutes north to Rancho Bernando, there’s Bernado winery which is great too.

Boozy Views:

  • Drinks on the Patio at the Hotel Del Coronado
  • Have a Mai-Tai at BaliHai. They’ll only serve you three, by far the strongest, and most delicious one that I’ve ever had.

Mai Tai at Bali Hai

  • Drink a red bull slushie at PB shore club. This is a must. Hands Down. No Questions Asked.
  • Get a margarita at Cannon Ball – they’re pretty strong so watch out! This is also a great to work up some courage to go on the Giant Dipper
  • Draft: They brew their own beers and the beer list is out of this world. And you also are right on the boardwalk, so great people watching while also getting a salty breeze.
  • Wonderland: They have a great view of Ocean Beach and they have a wide variety of cocktails and beers. They also have a must get: pretzel fondue!
  • George’s: This place has one of the best views I think of La Jolla cove as well as some of the best sangria and ceviche.
  • JRDN: They have great apps and a great happy hour! Also right on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach
  • Costerra: This happy hour could possibly be my favorite in San Diego – the mussels and margaritas are all you need in life! Plus you have an awesome view of downtown San Diego.

Drinks in Coronado at the Hotel Del


  • UnderBelly: This was my first ramen, and it exceeded my expectations. I learned you can put a soft boiled egg in just about anything here and it’ll taste amazing.
  • OB noodle house: This place not only has good ramen, it has good everything! I don’t think I’ve ever had anything bad here. Plus they have awesome outdoor dining!


  • A chocolate dip cone at Mr. Frosty’s: They have other things, but this is the best thing on the menu, and I get it with swirl ice cream. It’s a place that you know is a locals only by the menu on their windows. But I promise, it’s so good!
  • Baked Bear: where you build your own ice cream sandwiches!
  • Moo Time: There’s a giant cow in front, which is why I went in at first. But it’s so fun to walk around – grab an ice cream cone and enjoy the night!
  • BJ’s:  Pazooki, if you live in Southern California, I know this is a chain. We don’t have it in Boston, and I miss it a lot. So send one over here!!

Mr. Frosty's in Pacific Beach

OTHER (food that I felt like didn’t fit into a category):

  • Carnitas Snack Shack: I’m a big fan of their carnitas torta because it’s 1) very filling and 2) very delish! This place will a lot of the time have a big line, but it’s worth it!
  • The Crack Shack: This place has a great name, a fun vibe, and fun sandwiches! It’s a great place to grab a drink, sit outside, and hangout!
  • Bo Beau’s: They have balsamic and parmesan brussels, need I say more?
  • Queen’s Town Public House: This place was a house that they restored into a restaurant and happens to be the cutest place ever, where you can Stay Awhile – when you go you’ll know what I mean.
  • The Prado: A quaint little restaurant in Balboa Park where they have live music sometimes and everything is good! They have a cute little patio outside and awesome sangria!
  • Cheers Deli: This place is right by my high school and a great place to get a LOADED sandwich with all the freshest ingredients.
  • Liberty Public Market: This place is like a farmers market that is always there and always has amazing food! Great photo opps, and Stone even has a brewery here. It’s also where I had my first lobster mac ‘n cheese to prep for the east coast move!

Lobster Mac and cheese at Liberty Public Market


  • Kayak to a concert at Humphrey’s
  • Take a harbor cruise on the San Diego Bay
  • Cabrillo National Monument
  • Go tidepooling
  • Walk around Little Italy
  • Spend a day in Julian and get a Mom’s pie
  • Giant Dipper at Belmont Park
  • Catch a game at Petco Park and before you go, grab a drink at Fairweather, Social Club, and/or Marriott Sky Lounge
  • Yoga on the USS Midway or Marine St. Beach
  • If you’re in season, catch an SDSU basketball game. My alma matar but also arguably one of the most fun basketball games I’ve ever been to.
  • Explore Balboa Park which is a 1,200 acre park right above downtown filled with museums, walking paths, theaters, dog parks, gardens, not to mention the world famous San Diego Zoo. It’s a great spot for a picnic, not to mention a great photo op. As a child, I loved the Ruben H Fleet Science Center, now I love to just go walk around and look at all the gardens, it’s a perfect picnic spot. Now you can go up the California tower and get amazing views, just make sure you reserve a time/ticket in advance.
  • Del Mar Horse Races: Opening day is where people wear the big hats and huge dresses, and yes it wouldn’t be weird to dress up anytime, and I think it’s so fun to make a day out of it! Their margarita’s are also 10/10!
  • Carlsbad Flower Fields: If you are here in the spring, this is a must! In Carlsbad this is a giant field of flowers, it’s beyond beautiful!
  • Watch a sunset at Sunset Cliffs
  • Walk on the suspense bridge on Spruce Street:
  • Witness Blacks Beach: From me you get no warnings other than the views and cliffs are beautiful!
  • Kayak/snorkel in La Jolla Cove: There are many places to rent kayaks and kayak from the shores to the cove. I would recommend doing a tour, even if you are a local! They tell you fun facts about the ocean, and San Diego in general. I learned a lot of new things (who knew that was possible). Kayak level: beginner, don’t worry! Just watch out, you may get a lazy fat sea lion looking for a free ride.
  • Hike Torrey Pines: my favorite hike is the beach trail
  • Hike Mission trails: there’s a hike for everyone there – from beginners to advanced. My favorite (and most popular) is Cowles Mtn.
  • See the views on Mt. Soledad & Mt. Helix: Best views of the city on these. Mt. Soledad is in La Jolla and Mt. Helix is in La Mesa, so no matter where you are – you get the best views!
  • Ride in a hot air balloon: You can do this in Temecula, and it’s right where all the wineries are!
  • And if hot air balloons aren’t enough for you, you can sky dive! I did mine at sky dive San Diego and I would highly recommend. It was so so so fun!

Skydiving in San Diego

Amusement parks:

  • SeaWorld: I know this place has a lot of controversy right now, and hate me for it. But I love Orca’s and if I could jump in the water with one my life would be complete. I grew up going to Sea World Camp, and this will always be one of my favorite things to do.
  • The (World Famous) San Diego Zoo: It’s HUGE! And there are a lot of hills (fair warning) but it’s great. You get to see every kind of animal you want, and ones you didn’t even know existed.
  • Safari Park: This place is like the Zoo in a lot of ways – but you get to see more of the african animals in their natural element which is roaming the african safari!

Shamu at Sea World

So if you’re going on vacation and need help planning and picking what to do let me know! If you’re a local and have other must do’s/see’s let me know and I will add them! Also, as I continue to go back to San Diego, I’ll keep this updated. Need more recommendations? Look at: Burgers in San Diego and Brunch in San Diego

~ Happy Sun Diego-ing, Amanda

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Hey there!

I’m Amanda, the blonde behind the blog a twenty-something year old with a love of wine, weekends, and traveling. You’ll find bits of my life, travel guides, beauty, food & of course, my pup Gatsby. I’m so happy you’re here & I hope you enjoy the blog as much I as I enjoy creating it! Cheers!


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