Why You Should Visit San Diego This Summer

Fish tacos, craft beers, and endless sunshine, of course. But San Diego has raised its game even more for 2021.

Why You Should Visit San Diego This Summer

Barrio Logan is home to the world’s largest collection of Chicano murals.

Photo by Stacy Keck

America’s cities are back: bigger, bolder, and packed full of exciting events, new outdoor spaces, and reimagined dining. Check out Cities We Love for inspiration this summer.

San Diego’s flip-flop friendly climate makes it inviting in any season of any year, but summer 2021 is an especially good time to head to this stretch of Pacific coast. New happenings abound: The world-famous zoo is opening the Kenneth C. Griffin Komodo Kingdom and a new hummingbird habitat and has extended its hours until September 6 (9 a.m.–8 p.m.); the Candlelight Concert Series lands in SD, with works from Vivaldi and Mozart et al. performed at various locations; and San Diego Pride runs from July 10 to 18 across the city.

Horse racing fans can get back to the Del Mar Racetrack from July 16 to September 6, and art lovers can choose between a new Wild and Beautiful sculpture exhibition at the San Diego Botanic Garden in nearby Encinitas or photorealistic drawings by Ana de Alvear and Cranach to Canaletto: Masterpieces from the Bemberg Foundation at the San Diego Museum of Art. In Balboa Park, an evergreen destination in both senses of the word, the Mingei International Museum will reopen, newly expanded after a three-year closure, displaying folk art and design.

You could spend all summer searching for the perfect taco and craft beer combo in San Diego. One new option: a collaboration between Mike Hess Brewing and Quiero Tacos at the renovated Seaport Village (where forthcoming Asian café Tuk Tuk Eatery will serve up bao buns and boba teas). Other new-for-2021 options include White Rice at Point Loma’s Liberty Public Market for Filipino street food, pan-Mediterranean fare at Callie in the East Village (think Syrian chicken and Tunisian brik), and Vietnamese spot Kingfisher Cocktail Bar & Eatery in Golden Hill.

The San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art

Photo by Emily Zheng

Where to stay

The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott San Diego Pacific Beach is scheduled to open near Balboa Park in July. For a historic stay, the Hotel Del Coronado, setting for Some Like It Hot and host to many a president over the years, is undergoing a $400 million, multi-year renovation. July sees the relaunch of oceanfront rooms at the Views (previously known as Ocean Towers) and other updates hotel-wide.

Stay at the Fairfield Inn: from $275/night, expedia.com; stay at the Hotel Del: from $436/night, expedia.com

Go deeper

Head to the Barrio Logan, San Diego’s hub of Mexican American culture and home to the largest collection of Chicano murals in the world, many dating back to the 1960s. Here, on Logan Avenue specifically, a number of Latinx women (among other entrepreneurs) have opened businesses in recent years, selling everything from jewelry to crafts and crystals among restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries. Check out Chicana-owned healing space Copal y Tierra, the Nativo gift shop, and Simón Limón. The latter showcases more than 50 businesses and says, “When you shop with us you are supporting local, national, and cross-border small independently owned businesses with an emphasis on Womxn/Latinx companies.” Members of the community started an outdoor market on Saturdays during the pandemic as a way to support each other, and it’s still going weekly from noon to 6 p.m.

>> Next: The Best Cities in the United States in 2021

Tim Chester is a deputy editor at AFAR, focusing primarily on destination inspiration and sustainable travel. He lives near L.A. and likes spending time in the waves, on the mountains, or on wheels.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More From AFAR