San Diego

San Diego is the birthplace of California and sits just 20 minutes from the border with Mexico. Mild weather, sunshine, and 70 miles of coastline help justify the nickname “America’s Finest City.” Travelers come to San Diego for world famous tourist attractions such as the San Diego Zoo and the beaches, but there’s more to the city beyond the Gaslamp and Pacific Beach. In San Diego’s culturally diverse neighborhoods, you’ll find unique restaurants, breweries, art galleries, and locally owned boutiques. San Diego is built atop undeveloped canyons giving the city’s neighborhoods distinctive boundaries and interspersing the city with open space. The canyons also mean that attractions are a bit spread out.


Photo Courtesy of Ganapathy Kumar


When’s the best time to go to San Diego?

During the months of May and June, known as “May Gray” and “June Gloom,” the sun remains hidden much of the day behind a thin veil of high fog. The hottest months, with temps in the eighties, are August, September, and October, when hillsides are golden-brown. A little rain falls during winter, which is the best time to view the natural landscape at its greenest. The combination of ocean, coastal canyons, and mountains to the east creates a variety of microclimates. A 10-degree temperature difference can occur within as little as 15 miles.

Can’t miss things to do in San Diego

Definitely check out Sunset Cliffs Natural Park in Point Loma. See the crystal waters from the sandstone bluffs. You might feel like you’re in some other country—a beautiful one, for sure.

Food and drink to try in San Diego

The border location plus the influx of Asian immigrants over the centuries means San Diego specializes in Mexican and Asian cuisines. The locavore movement is growing, and many restaurants have been developing relationships with farms just outside the city. You’ll find chef-owned fine-dining establishments, hole-in-the-wall destinations, and dozens of food trucks.

Culture in San Diego

San Diego’s climate and location on the West Coast draw people from all over the world. A variety of cultures are reflected in the shops and restaurants around the city. Each neighborhood has its own feel and style. If you love architecture and hidden treasures, plan to park your car, get out, and walk around!

FESTA!, in Little Italy, is the largest Italian festival on the West Coast. Balboa Park December Nights is a Christmas-themed festival that draws over 350,000 visitors. Restaurant Week happens twice a year—a time to eat gourmet at a great price from more than 170 participating restaurants. The San Diego LGBT Pride fest in Hillcrest draws over 200,000 participants. San Diegans love their festivals, and something is usually happening every month of the year. At these lively events, the trolley offers an easy transportation alternative to parking a car.

Local travel tips for San Diego

- The best time of year is September and October, when the ocean is warm enough for most swimmers to get in the water without a wetsuit, and the hordes of tourists have left.
- Winter is considered “off-season,” so you can get lower hotel rates and still enjoy great weather.
- No matter the time of year, dressing in layers is recommended, as the temperature can change in short distances due to microclimates.
- San Diego’s weather is dry, so carrying water with you is essential!
- The neighborhoods of La Jolla, Ocean Beach, and Pacific Beach have only one main road leading in and out. Avoid visiting around the morning and evening rush hours or you may get caught in a traffic bottleneck.

How to get around San Diego

The San Diego International Airport, formerly known as Lindbergh Field, sits right in the heart of San Diego. Flying in can be a real thrill as the plane passes low over Balboa Park and between buildings.

The San Diego freeway system is laid out in a grid, making it easy to get around by car anywhere in the 372 square miles of city. The trolley is a great choice if you are staying in downtown San Diego, as it stops at many destinations of interest. A machine at each trolley stop accepts cash or credit. Another option is to rent an electric smart car from Car2Go (register in advance, as it takes about five business days to get your membership card). Use the card to activate any Car2Go smart car, and when you’re done, just leave it parked in any legal parking space in the city. To get to the various towns along the coast in San Diego County, or farther north, hop aboard the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner.

Read Before You Go
Resources to help plan your trip
San Diego’s Balboa Park contains 1,200 acres of gardens, trails, museums, restaurants, fun activities, and tucked-away local treasures.
Southern California’s surf-centric city offers beautiful beaches and big-city attractions, from seriously good restaurants, breweries, and boutiques to several top hotels. Historic properties in Old Town, the Gaslamp Quarter, and Coronado continue to offer lodging in the grand style, with proximity to everything classically San Diego, while coastal options feature beachfront cottages, tiki themes, and the sound of the breeze from your bed.
Drinking with a view of the Pacific or a Padres game are sort of your basic rights when you go out in San Diego. This sunny Southern California city is set up for margaritas, locally brewed beer, and craft cocktails that use some of the bounty of fruits and herbs that the region is known for. The coffee down here is not too bad, either.
From small boutiques to a sprawling outdoor art mart showcasing local crafts, San Diego offers a variety of cool finds to complement hot weather. The area is home to many wonderful artists including glassblowers, painters, photographers, clothing designers, and jewelers.
San Diego’s sterling reputation for sun and vacation is largely founded on its sunshine and beaches. The rolling surf, the brilliant mornings, the vivid sunsets: You’ll find them all here. Seek out the beaches that are popular with surfers for a taste of the lifestyle Southern California is famous for, but don’t forget the more secluded coves with tidal pools and seals.
It’s hard NOT to have a great day in this lovely coastal city with an ideal climate. Dally in Balboa Park, try some of the local fare (tacos! smoothies! margaritas!), put your toes in the Pacific at the beach, and enjoy this sunny paradise
Along the coast, a few standout restaurants offer fantastic food to match the fabulous vistas.
Only three days in San Diego and not sure where to start? This coastal city with a Mediterranean climate aims to please. Try a surf lesson or yoga classes on the beach. Shop local, eat tacos, see the world-famous zoo, and stay outside as much as you can.
For a perfect visit to America’s Finest City, visit the beaches, well-known sights like the San Diego Zoo, and creative hubs filled with art galleries, restaurants, and breweries.
For a splendid stay in America’s Finest City, visit the beaches, well-known sights like the San Diego Zoo, and creative hubs filled with art galleries, restaurants, and breweries.
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