San Diego is a pretty popular destination; from beaches to restaurants to shopping, the city pretty much has it all! But, if you want to make the most of the time you have in this fabulous location, here’s what I’d recommend from a local’s perspective!
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Point Loma / Cabrillo National Monument
There’s lots to see here! From an old lighthouse, to tide pools and panoramic views of the city, this really is one of those classic San Diego spots! Hotel Del Coronado
The Hotel Del was built in 1888 and is a beautiful historic landmark! It sits right on a wide, sandy beach with dunes and tide pools and has several amazing restaurants, plus the Marilyn Monroe movie Some Like It Hot was filmed there!
Torrey Pines is located in La Jolla, which is a bit North of the city. It has great ocean views, hiking trails, and is a beautiful spot to watch paragliders fly from the Glider Port! You can even book an instructor-led flight for yourself!
La Jolla Shores
La Jolla Shores really has it all! Surfing, snorkeling, kayaking…it’s such a fun place! Certain times of the year, you can snorkel with Leopard Sharks (don’t worry, they’re harmless!) and it’s definitely worth the trip! Surf Diva is our favorite spot for rentals, and they’re so knowledgeable about the area too!
The USS Midway is an actual retired aircraft carrier and is the perfect spot to learn about the military history of San Diego! You can walk through the whole ship as it floats in the harbor! Plus, the views of the city and bay from the top deck are amazing!
Historic, gorgeous architecture, museums, gardens, an organ pavilion, fountains…what more could you want?! Balboa Park is the perfect spot to get that old San Diego vibe, just make sure you pack comfy shoes for all the walking! They have pretty much every kind of museum you can ask for, and the San Diego Zoo is there too! There’s also a lot to see for free too, like the Botanical Building! Maybe Skip…
Okay, I know this place looks cool with all the sea lions and seals, but I’d personally say to skip this spot for a few reasons. First, it gets INCREDIBLY busy with people and sidewalk vendors, so it can be difficult to find parking or even walk around, especially in the summer. Second, the beach itself isn’t open to swimming or lounging because it’s reserved for the sea lions/seals. So many people harass the animals and try to touch them or pose with them, and it’s against the law to bother them, so it’s really just not a positive experience IMO.
Julian is about an hour from the city, sometimes more if there’s traffic, so that’s primarily the reason I’d say to skip it, especially if you don’t have a ton of time! Julian is the local spot for apple picking and has a small Main Street where you can walk around shops and historic buildings, but there’s a lot of similar spots closer to San Diego that don’t involve driving on winding roads!
Seaport Village is a beautiful place to walk and has some historic spots too! There’s shops and places to eat, and a boardwalk of sorts right on the water. The reason I’d suggest skipping this spot? Parking can get really tough, and it can feel a little sketchy/unsafe with a lot of the people that hang around there, especially if you have kids.
So there ya have it: San Diego spots a local loves vs. the ones I’d rather skip! Drop a comment or an email if you have any other San Diego questions, I’d be happy to answer them!!