If you fancy a holiday packed with sunshine, gorgeous coastline, top quality food and world-class attractions, San Diego ticks all the boxes…
Situated in southern California along the Pacific coast, San Diego is renowned for its cool surfer vibe, innovative culinary scene and seemingly endless coastline. The city certainly packs a punch; from world-class attractions and impressive parks to a range of sporting activities and an abundance of restaurants, there is something for all ages and interests. Check out what this year-round destination has to offer:
Top 10 things to do in San Diego
1. Balboa Park: The largest urban park in the USA, Balboa Park is the heart of San Diego. Home to 17 museums, a number of manicured gardens and the world-famous San Diego Zoo, it’s easy to spend hours exploring all that the park has to offer. Visitors can also catch a musical, ballet, comedy or puppet show at one of ten performing arts stages.
Open 24 hours
2. San Diego Zoo: A stand-out attraction in its own right, the San Diego Zoo is fun for all ages. There is a world of animals behind its doors, including African elephants and adorable Australian koala bears. Get in on the action with a special experience; visitors can explore the zoo at sunrise or be a keeper for the day.
3. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park: 1,500 acres make up the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, one of the wildest stretches of land in southern California. Located on the cliffs above Torrey Pines State Beach, there are eight miles of hiking trails as well as wildlife and around 3,000 pinus torreyana’s, the nation’s rarest pine tree. Visitors can also play golf at the Torrey Pines Golf Course to the backdrop of breath-taking ocean views.
4. Beaches and bays: With 70 miles of coastline and a variety of beaches, San Diego is a paradise for water babies and sun seekers. In the south of the city, Imperial Beach is renowned as a top spot for surfers, whilst Pacific Beach further north has a number of trendy bars and cafés along the boardwalk that are perfect for a sunset drink.
5. San Diego Botanic Garden: Flora and fauna fans will rejoice at San Diego Botanic Garden, a 37-acre urban oasis with plants from around the world. The 29 gardens focus on different regions of the world, with plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds and an herb garden with natural medicinal remedies. There’s even a 226kg Galapagos tortoise named Sam.
6. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park: Created in 1769, Old Town in San Diego is considered the “birthplace” of California and is where the Spanish first settled. The Old Town State Historic Park reflects what life was like for locals between 1821-1872, with replica shops, including a blacksmiths, insightful museums and live period performances.
7. Liberty Public Market: Head to Liberty Public Market next to San Diego International Airport to purchase everything from fresh baked goods to homemade gifts. During the weekdays, many stalls offer happy hours so bargain hunters can buy food and drink at discounted prices. The market also holds regular live music events and craft workshops.
8. Nightlife: When the sun goes down in San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter comes alive with a party atmosphere and good vibes throughout its nightclubs and bars. With 60 bars and nightclubs to choose from, offering everything from bespoke craft cocktails to world-class DJ sets, visitors are spoilt for choice. There are also a number of rooftop bars which offer incredible views of the city and Pacific Ocean.
9. San Diego Padres: San Diego’s professional baseball team, the San Diego Padres, play their home games at Pecto Park, located in the downtown area of the city. Experience the atmosphere of a packed stadium at a baseball game; the Padres compete in the National League’s Western Division against teams including the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Angels.
10. Tijuana, Mexico: Not in San Diego, but Tijuana in Mexico is a short 20 minute drive across the border and well worth a day trip. Travellers can soak up the dynamic and vibrant culture at the many museums and galleries; sip a cocktail at a number of hip bars, sample authentic Mexican cuisine at the Telefonica Gastro Park or a fresh salad at Caesar’s.
Where To Stay
From boutique hotels to large resorts, there are a number of accommodation options in San Diego to suit all needs and budgets.
The US Grant
The large diamond chandelier in the lobby of the US Grant sets the tone for the stay – the hotel is a getaway of grandeur and timeless elegance. Attentive staff ensure travellers are well looked after and little touches, such as complimentary tea and coffee in the morning and chocolate at nightly turndown, make it an extra special stay. The hotel also boasts an impressive $6.5 million art collection with work from artists across the USA and Europe.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines
Set within the beautiful Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park, The Lodge at Torrey Pines is a charming hotel that feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Rooms are furnished with classic wooden pieces and all have views of the golf course or botanical central courtyard. Guests can relax in the state-of-the-art spa or play golf at the world-famous course.
Andaz San Diego
The Andaz San Diego reflects the laidback California lifestyle, from accommodation decorated with ocean hues to an effortlessly cool rooftop swimming pool, serving signature cocktails and light bites. Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, a number of bars, restaurants and nightclubs are on the doorstep and Balboa Park is just a short walk away.
Pendry San Diego
Located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, the Pendry San Diego is a boutique, five-star property with timeless style at its core. Relax with a cocktail at the Pool House – the rooftop swimming pools exclusive bar – or head to Spa Pendry and enjoy an indulgent treatment.
Food and drink
Blending freshly caught seafood with Mexican spices and cooking styles, San Diego’s cuisine – also referred to as Cali-Baja – is a taste sensation. The city is also recognised as the craft capital of California, with over 130 independent breweries, so visitors can wash down their dinner with a nice, cold drink!
Herb & Eatery
The Herb & Eatery is a relaxed café and gourmet market in Little Italy serving tasty pizza, fresh salads and filling sandwiches. Chef’s specials change daily and include steamed clams on Tuesdays and roasted bass on Saturdays. Visitors can dine in on communal benches or take food away.
Located in the trendy Barrio Logan, ¡Salud! is a fun restaurant with Mexican flavour, style and flair throughout. The menu features typical Mexican dishes including nachos, quesadillas and tacos, the latter of which the restaurant is famous for. Dishes can be washed down with a range of cocktails and craft beers. Afterwards, explore the colourful artwork of nearby Chicano Park.
Sunday – Thursday 10am – 9pm
Friday – Saturday 10am – 11pm
A conversion of a 1960s beach house, Tidal is a laid-back, contemporary restaurant situated within Mission Bay. On the menu is local seafood and succulent cuts of meat, whilst the drinks menu includes bespoke cocktails and a range of beers and wine. The outside deck also boasts a fire pit.
Monday- Friday 4pm-9pm
Oscar’s Mexican Seafood
Fish tacos are a must for anyone visiting San Diego and Oscar’s Mexican Seafood cooks up arguably the best in the city. There are six fish tacos to choose from including the Taco Especial – smoked fish, shrimps and scallops served with cabbage, onion, tomato, coriander, avocado and cheese – which will only set you back $4.90. This popular street food eatery can be found in North Pacific Beach, Pacific Beach, Hillcrest, East Village and Encinitas.
Greystone Prime Steakhouse & Seafood
Greystone Prime Steakhouse & Seafood in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is one of the city’s most iconic steakhouses, serving classic cuts of beef as well as exotic game, including elk and wild boar. It is one of the few places in San Diego that serves Japanese wagyu beef, the world’s priciest meat. There are also a range of bespoke cocktails created by the in-house mixologist.
You’d be forgiven for thinking San Diego is only suitable for meat-eaters but there are a number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants across the city, including Kindred. The décor is weird and wonderful – light pink wallpaper is emblazoned with fighting plants and a large wolf head adorns the back wall – and heavy metal music blasts out of the speakers. The food is as loud as the surroundings; dishes pack a punch and are full of rich flavours. Try the Drop Biscuits, honey-glazed bread served with jam or mushroom gravy.
Galaxy Taco in La Jolla is a stylish Mexican restaurant where visitors can feast on tacos, enchiladas and tamales. The restaurant takes pride in grinding its own dough every day in-house, which results in the freshest and tastiest tortillas imaginable. Make like a local and try the boozy Sunday brunch.
Coronado Brewing Company
Standing as one of the most iconic breweries in San Diego, Coronado Brewing Company has been producing beer in the city since 1996. Nine core beers are available and the team experiments regularly with seasonal and limited edition flavours. In 2006 Coronado opened the Brewpub, where diners can choose from over 24 beers and a range of hearty meals.
How To Get There
British Airways flies direct from London Heathrow Airport to San Diego International Airport daily. Return flights from £651 per person.
For more information visit www.sandiego.org.