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  • Writer's pictureAngelina Ly

Where to Eat, Stay, and Go while in San Diego, California

San Diego is a beautiful and vibrant city with plenty of exciting things to do and delicious food to eat. From the stunning San Diego Zoo to world-class beaches, San Diego has something for everyone. Whether you’re visiting San Diego for business or pleasure, this blog will help you plan your trip and find great places to stay, eat, and explore. You’ll find reviews of San Diego’s best restaurants, hotels, attractions, activities, and more. I’ll also provide helpful tips to help you make the most of your San Diego experience. So read on and start planning your San Diego visit today!



When to Visit San Diego

San Diego is a great year-round destination, but depending on your interests and budget, certain times of the year may be better than others. San Diego experiences mild weather all year round, although it can get quite hot in the summer months. If you’re looking to beat the crowds and get some good deals on hotel rates and flights, think about visiting San Diego in the off-season (October to March). During this time of year, you’ll also find fewer tourists and shorter lines at San Diego attractions.


If you're not the biggest beach person like me, visiting in March is the best. It's always between 60-65 degrees during the days when I visited, so I can wear dresses during the day and jeans and tanks going out at night.


How to Get to San Diego

San Diego is accessible by air, train, bus, and car. San Diego International Airport (SAN) is the busiest airport in San Diego County and is served by many major domestic airlines as well as a few international ones. Amtrak offers daily service between San Diego and Los Angeles with several stops along the way. Or if you’re driving, San Diego is connected to San Francisco by the I-5 and to Los Angeles by the I-15.


I recently flew into San Diego's airport for a work conference and the airport is extremely easy to navigate and get around. The flights were a bit more expensive then flying into LAX and renting a car through Turo, which I have also enjoyed doing in the past. I would recommend flying directly in if you are looking to stay in just one area of San Diego, like the Gaslamp Quarter or by the water. But if you are looking to explore different areas and have some extra time, I highly recommend flying into LAX and driving the scenic way down.


Getting Around San Diego

San Diego has an extensive public transportation system operated by San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS). The city is served by a number of bus routes, trolleys, and light rail lines. San Diego also boasts several bike-sharing programs, making it easy to explore the city by bicycle. There are also numerous taxi and ride-sharing services available in San Diego. For those with a car, San Diego has an extensive freeway system that makes it easy to get around the city quickly and efficiently.


I liked riding the electric scooters around San Diego which are really easy to use with an app like Bird. Our hotel also provided free bike rentals for us which was one of my favorite amenities from them!



Where to Stay in San Diego

San Diego has a wide range of accommodation options, from budget motels to luxury resorts. The downtown San Diego area is home to numerous hotels and hostels, many of which are within walking distance of the San Diego Convention Center and San Diego Zoo. If you’re looking for a more laid-back experience, consider staying in one of San Diego’s beachfront areas such as La Jolla, Mission Beach, or Coronado.


We stayed at Hotel Z in downtown San Diego, which was actually one of my favorite hotels I've stayed at. It had a ton of fun perks and the location was close to a bunch of great restaurants and the water. If you're planning on staying downtown, check out my review of Hotel Z!


Here are some other recommendations on places to stay around San Diego, in order from the most budget-friendly to the most luxurious:



Where to Eat in San Diego

San Diego is home to an incredible array of culinary delights. From award-winning restaurants serving innovative cuisine to food trucks and taco stands offering traditional Mexican dishes, San Diego’s culinary scene has something for everyone. The city also boasts a number of breweries, wineries, and distilleries that are well worth exploring.

I loved trying out San Diego's amazing food scene while I was there. My favorite restaurants were:


Breakfast

  • Morning Glory: One of the most popular and recommended breakfast spots in San Diego. We went on a Wednesday at 10:00am and waited an hour and half to be seated. I suggest getting there as early as possible or being prepared for the wait. There are great coffee shops and juice bars around that you can wait at after putting your name in. Their fluffy souffle pancakes are so good and they have great morning cocktails. We also got the Turkish eggs and the chilaquiles and they were delicious.

  • Eggies: A great spot if you're not trying to sit down. They serve breakfast sandwiches and burritos that are perfect for eating on the go.

  • Breakfast Republic: San Diego's favorite breakfast spot. I got the Portuguese sausage scramble and upgraded my potatoes with bacon and brussel sprouts.

  • The Invigatorium: Another great breakfast spot in San Diego for avocado toast and acai bowls. The interior gives off a cozy, funky vibe. They also have rooms where you can bring your laptop and work which is nice.

  • Nektar: If you're looking for a lighter/healthier lunch, there are a bunch of Nektar locations where you. can grab a smoothie bowl or some fresh juice. We would get our ginger shots in the mornings here.

Lunch

  • Taco Centro: Delicious tacos and burritos with a great selection of vegan options. You can sit at their countertop and watch them make the tortillas from scratch. My favorites here were the Al Pastor and the Baja tacos.

  • Prince St. Pizza: San Diego's best pizza spot. They serve up authentic New York-style slices, and the sauce is amazing. You'll see a ton of people walking around downtown with the pizza boxes because it's a local favorite.

  • Provisional Kitchen: A San Diego favorite for modern American cuisine.

Dinner

  • Lumi: An amazing sushi spot on the outdoor terrace of the Grand Pacific Hotel. The spicy miso soup here is a great way to start, along with their baby back ribs appetizer. For the main entree, we got the mystery box of 9 different sashimis and it was probably the best thing I've eaten in San Diego. If you're into raw fish, it's a must.

  • Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine: A really cool restaurant with a lively atmosphere and inventive dishes. We got a variety of different nigiri flights and sushi rolls, including the bone crusher and the berserk roll (my favorite).

  • Trust: This New American restaurant was nothing short of amazing. The atmosphere is stunning and the food is to die for.

  • Born and Raised: A classic steakhouse in San Diego with a hip vibe. We had the ribeye steak, which was cooked to perfection. They have a great selection of wines and craft beers.

Late Night Bites

  • Tacos El Gordo: San Diego's go-to spot for late night tacos. Ordering is a little confusing as the entire menu is in Spanish and there are different sections where you have to place your order. The spicy pork tacos are the absolute best here.

  • San Remo Pizzeria: Open till 2 or 3 AM depending on the day, this by the slice pizza spot is a San Diego favorite.



Where to Go

There are plenty of different things to do in San Diego. From beaches to parks to art galleries, San Diego has something for everyone.



Beaches

San Diego is known for its pristine beaches. Mission and Pacific Beaches are great for swimming and surfing, Coronado Beach is one of San Diego's most iconic beaches, La Jolla is the perfect place for a romantic getaway, and Torrey Point is great for fishing and kayaking. My favorite beach to go to is always La Jolla cove, since there is an area where you can view all the sea lions sunbathing on the rocks. There's also a cute downtown area where you can go shopping at the boutiques and find some great seafood.



Balboa Park

San Diego's largest urban cultural park and home to 17 museums, beautiful gardens, theaters, and walking trails. You could spend a few days here and still not get through all the amazing attractions. Here are a few of my favorite spots in Balboa Park:

  • San Diego Zoo

  • Japanese Friendship Garden

  • The San Diego Air & Space Museum

  • The San Diego Museum of Art

  • Museum of UsAlcazar Garden

  • Botanical Building

  • Palm Canyon Trail



Belmont Park

San Diego's iconic amusement park, with lots of rides and attractions. It is home to the Giant Dipper roller coaster, which was built in 1925 and has been declared a National Historic Landmark. There are also plenty of fun carnival games, go-kart tracks, and ocean view restaurants for after the ride!


Old Town San Diego

This vibrant neighborhood is San Diego's birthplace and home to some of San Diego's best Mexican restaurants, shops, and historical attractions. Old Town San Diego is a must-see for anyone visiting San Diego.



Gaslamp Quarter

This 16-block area in downtown San Diego has something for everyone: great restaurants, bars, clubs, shopping, and art galleries. San Diego's nightlife is alive in the Gaslamp Quarter, with plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. Petco Park is also located near Gaslamp Quarter, which is a great place to catch a game or a concert.




Nearby Outdoor Parks

There are plenty of outdoor parks in the San Diego to explore. Some of these might require having a car, but there are a ton of outdoor activities and hiking trails within an hour of San Diego.


Mission Trails Regional Park

This 4,000 acre park is San Diego's largest urban wilderness area and offers a great escape from the city hustle. There are dozens of hiking trails, bike paths, and rock climbing spots to choose from.


Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

This 1,750 acre reserve offers picturesque views of San Diego's beaches and cliffs. This is a great spot for hiking, biking, and bird watching.


Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

This 25,000 acre park is San Diego's largest state park and offers plenty of outdoor adventures such as horseback riding, fishing, and camping. This is also home to San Diego's highest peak, Cuyamaca Peak.


San Diego is a truly amazing city with so much to offer. Whether you're looking for beaches, parks, dining spots, or attractions-- San Diego has it all!


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