Ah, Sunny San Diego, where the weather is perfect 99.9% of the time and flip flops are acceptable 100% of the time! I (Adrienne) was lucky enough to attend UCSD and live in the beautiful Southern California city for a handful of years. Really though, between the endless beaches and grub spots and the incredible outdoor vibes, I can’t recommend a trip to San Diego enough!
What to Eat
El Zarape Restaurant
4642 Park Blvd, $
Every time I visit San Diego, my only goal is to come get a Scallop Burrito. They also have Scallop Tacos if you’re looking for something more snack size or want to get a variety. They also have Lobster, though it’s was gone for a little while and I’ve never gotten around to trying it (that’s how obsessed I am with the Scallop).
El Pescador Fish Market
elpescadorfishmarket.com, 634 Pearl St, La Jolla, $$
Beautiful and modern, this is a great spot to pick up some fresh fish or grab a sandwich to go. They’ve got brews too, so it’s definitely an option to hang out here with some friends but it does get a little cramped during the rush hours. Friendly service and delicious lemonade! They also have an horchata, but it’s quite a bit different, more almond-y and floral.
harumamasd.com, 1901 Columbia St, $$
Even without the gorgeous interior, how can you say no to noodles and buns? I found them via InstaGram and knew I had to come check it out. Come as a group so you sample multiple items, like the Haru Ramen, Truffle Udon, and the character baos – they have a delicious Totoro!
Liberty Public Market
libertypublicmarket.com, 2820 Historic Decatur Rd, $
A great spot to socialize and wile away some hours and taste a variety of foods and do a little shopping here and there. It’s also right next to some art galleries, there’s a outdoor firepit, and during some seasons they host outdoor movie nights nearby.
- Paraná Empanadas – I love empanadas.. but these were really disappointing. The crust was thin and more bread-y and pie like. The fillings were really wet and almost soupy. I do not recommend.
- Le Parfait Paris – Their signature cake was delicious, like a decadent ferrero rocher!
- Mess Hall Bar – Grabbing a brew is easier than finding a seat!
James Coffee Co
jamescoffeeco.com/pages/drinks-menu, 2355 India St, $
Hipster hub for coffee, little boutiques and a barber shop. Definitely worth a visit to snap some ‘Gram worthy pics!
What to Do
Ok, pretty much everything is outdoors in San Diego, whether you’re looking for something more active like hiking or something a little more sedentary like baking on a beach – you will most likely be spending your time outside. No matter what you’re doing, don’t forget your reef-safe sunscreen!
Balboa Park + San Diego Zoo
A no-brainer for your visit is to hit up Balboa Park. If there’s sunshine, you can simply stroll through, maybe visit the Botanical Garden, the Rose Garden, or the Spanish Village Art Center. If you’ve got the worst luck and it’s rainy or cold, you can still come and check out any of the number of museums in the park.
If you’re an animal lover, then I highly recommend the San Diego Zoo. I’d say it’s definitely one of the best in the States, and definitely worth the ticket and the day. The Safari Park is also quite an interesting and unique experience but it’s out further and if you’re short on time the Zoo is the one to go to.
Make sure to arrive before 10 am to find parking, otherwise it’ll start to get tricky.
La Jolla Shores
One of my old college haunts (it’s right outside UCSD), it’s a great beach for tanning or snorkeling/diving. There’s also a lawn area and playground, so the area is highly trafficked, but there is a decent sized dedicated parking lot.
Torrey Pines State Beach
The beach right up next to the road, there are also trails you hike from here. A little rockier than La Jolla Shores, and trickier to park at, so definitely plan to beat the rush.
The lovely peninsula neighborhood where you can see the Cabrillo National Monument, a couple trails, and some tide pools. Note there is a $15 entrance fee whether you drive or walk in. Tide pools close by 4:30 pm. Pair this with your Liberty Public Market visit.
University of California, San Diego
Of course there’s also visiting any of the college campuses in San Diego, but I biasedly suggest UCSD. It’s a large campus (you can run campus loop for 4 miles, but bits are under construction right now), so you can easily spend a half or full day wandering. There is the famous Geisel Library among many other stunning buildings.
If you’d rather avoid the masses, go on a weekend for a quieter stroll, plus parking is free!
Moniker General Store
Just outside the Liberty Public Market, the Moniker General Store is a great hipstery boutique full of stuff for home and persons.