Whether you’re a local or a tourist – San Diego is a dreamy spot! San Diego’s nickname is “America’s Finest Cities” and that’s not for nothing. It has so much to offer with the vast coastlines to hiking and countless eateries it can be hard to know where to start! Here’s my guide with the top places you have to see in San Diego.
What Should you see in San Diego
This park is beyond beautiful and it gives off the Spanish vibe. You’ll be instantly transported out of San Diego and into a beautiful village in Spain. It’s one of the oldest parks in the United States that has been used and dedicated to public use. Balboa Park is 1,200 acres and inside you’ll find shops, restaurants, museums, gardens, and of course, the (World Famous) San Diego Zoo. It’s a great spot to walk around, ride the merry go round, soak up the culture, and enjoy the San Diego sunshine. It’s also one of my favorite picnic spots in San Diego.
Local Tip: In the summer they offer “Food Truck Fridays” where numerous food trucks come and there’s live music. In the winter, typically the first weekend in December, there’s December nights where the whole park is decorated for Christmas and there’s food to enjoy, vendors, and a perfect place to walk around with a cup of hot cocoa.
Ocean Beach/Sunset Cliffs
Sunset Cliffs, you guessed it, is a great spot to watch the sunset! There are also countless beaches to walk down which gives off a little secluded spot. There are spots for cliff jumping and most of the beaches are dog friendly. It’s a great spot for pictures because it’s typically not as crowded. Although it’s a popular spot for sunset, so you’ll see it start to fill up around that time. There’s always plenty of street parking.
Local Tip: Always wear comfortable shoes or go barefoot when going down the cliffs, it can get very slippery!
This was one of my favorite places to go to as a child because of Belmont Park which has the oldest wooden roller coaster in San Diego – The Giant Dipper. It was originally built in 1925 and designed a national landmark in 1978. There’s also a lot of bars and restaurants along with shopping along Mission Beach.
Local Tip: Pretend you’re a kid again and buy the ice cream cones at Belmont Park with sprinkles and try to finish it before it melts, I dare you! Along Mission Blvd (towards South Mission) is a dive bar near and dear to me – The Beachcomber, it’s not your average beach bar.
Pacific Beach, or PB as the locals will say, is one of the more popular spots in San Diego for nightlife. Whether you’re looking to grab a souvenir, grab a drink or a bite to eat, hang out on the beach, or walk the boardwalk, Pacific Beach is the perfect spot!
Local Tip: Get a chocolate dip at Mr. Frosty’s on Garnet, it’s one of the oldest ice cream spots in San Diego!
Coronado is a beautiful island and one of my favorite “getaways” in San Diego. It’s known for its ties to Hollywood. The author of The Wizard of Oz who had his summer home on Coronado used The Hotel Del for his inspiration for the “Emerald City.” Marilyn Monroe filmed her movie “Some Like it Hot” on the island as well. Coronado is
Local Tip: Rent a scurry at The Hotel Del and explore the island on it! There’s such cute cottages and mansions on the island.
Old Town is the first site of European settlement in San Diego which is why it’s so historic today! There are two spots listed on the National Historic Landmarks located in Old Town, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, and Presidio Park. It’s a popular Taco Tuesday location with live music and many Mexican restaurants. There are also people making fresh tortillas in front of most restaurants. When exploring, make sure you look down on the streets, they mistakenly paved over so many gravestones that they use by markers today.
Local Tip: Get a tour of the Whaley House, it was built by Thomas Whaley and was built on top of a cemetery. And if you’ve ever watched the TV show, America’s Most Haunted, then you’ll know that the Whaley House is known as the most haunted house in America.
This beach is another one of my favorites because it’s just so picturesque. La Jolla draws in countless people every day because sea-lions are always on the beach and the rocks around La Jolla Cove. La Jolla has it all from beaches to cliffs and it’s one of the most expensive zip codes in the state of California. La Jolla is also known because of the Birch Aquarium and the Scripps Beach (another perfect picture spot) and if you go during low tide you can see some wildlife in their natural habitat.
Local Tip: Head over to Torrey Pines Glider point to watch hang-gliders zipping down the cliffs onto the beach. It’s truly a sight! You can even walk down the cliffs to Blacks Beach, one of the best surfing spots! Tehehehe….
Point Loma/Liberty Station
Liberty Station is a new area located in Point Loma that was an old Navy base that was used for training and was transformed into a chic mixed-use development filled with new restaurants, bars, shops, and even a movie theater! It’s a great place to spend an afternoon and be sure to check out Liberty Public Market which is like Pike’s Place in Seattle.
Local Tip: Walkthrough Liberty Public Market before you decide on what you want! And go with friends to try multiple different restaurants because it’ll be hard to pick just one!
Where to go in San Diego
What’s your favorite place in San Diego? If you visit any of these, let me know! I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting places to go see!
~ XOXO, the local San Diegan, Amanda // Blonde out of Water