San Diego is one of the most sophisticated and exciting metropolitan areas in the country. From historic to hipster, America’s Finest City features a vibrant arts, culture and food scene. Situated on picturesque canyons and hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean, San Diego also offers a number of romantic views. This guide provides suggestions for an itinerary that enables you to see the best of San Diego even if you only have time for a quick weekend getaway. The recommendations include a wide range of cool sites that fit every taste and budget.
Best Way to See the City
Don’t spend time and money searching for parking or Ubers on your weekend getaway in San Diego. The hop on/off features of Old Town Trolley Tours offer numerous advantages for anyone exploring the city. You can sit back and relax as the conductor entertains guests with an informative narrative about San Diego and places of interest. Step off the trolley and explore popular tourist destinations as well as hidden gems off the beaten path. Climb aboard the next passing trolley and continue to see the sights on your schedule.
Trendy and Hip Attractions
San Diego has exciting amenities like a number of fantastic beaches where you can enjoy the city’s abundant sunshine and moderate temperatures. The city also boasts numerous hip shopping, dining and entertainment destinations that you should consider adding to your itinerary.
Readily identified by its iconic historic hotel, Coronado features pristine beaches and a waterfront boardwalk. Take a picture with San Diego skyline as the backdrop, or enjoy the shops and eateries along Orange Avenue. The artful sand dunes incorporating seaweed and ice plants spell out the words Coronado Beach that are only legible from the air.
Once a commercial district, the warehouses and other buildings in the Gaslamp Quarter have been transformed into the epicenter for shopping, dining and entertainment. Open throughout the day, the attraction draws throngs of people at night. The live performance venues feature a mix of comedy, drama and music. Cultural offerings also include galleries and museums.
The Embarcadero is the long stretch of bay-front promenade connecting the airport and the convention center. The route features restaurants, street art and quaint niches for quiet moments together. The setting for the Maritime Museum and SeaPort Village, the Embarcadero honors the city’s seafaring heritage with its busy fishing marina.
The buildings of the historic San Diego Naval Training Center have been repurposed into the 361-acre Liberty Station. Along with a nine-hole golf course, you will find a food market, art stalls and a luxury movie theater. The mixed-use development provides a glimpse into the past while delivering modern amenities.
If you are looking for a spot off the beaten path and away from the crowds, check out these options.
Blacks Beach is an isolated stretch of sand in La Jolla where you can enjoy the sun away from the crowds. While surfers say that it has some of the best waves in San Diego, hang gliders rave about the stellar view.
Heritage Park features numerous restored Victorian-era homes, including the residence of the city’s first newspaper publisher. The buildings now accommodate shops and inns. The park is the setting for Temple Beth Israel, San Diego’s first synagogue. The shops and museums of Old Town State Park and Presidio Park, home to the Juniper Serra Museum, are among the nearby attractions.
The 25th Street pedestrian bridge over Highway 94 has a musical surprise. The railing conceals 488 chimes. People on the span can strike them in sequence to perform the piece Crab Carillon written by Joseph Waters. Installed in 2003, the bridge is a public art piece designed by Roman de Salvo.
When looking for a romantic spot to take a keepsake photo, head to one of these popular scenic locales.
According to AAA, Ellen Browning Scripps Park is one of the most photographed settings in San Diego. Near La Jolla Cove, the beautiful expanse of green space is adorned with soaring palm trees. Its waterfront promenade affords marvelous views of the Pacific Ocean.
The Coast Walk Trail follows the cliffs between Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla and Cave Street. The casual walk traces one of the most picturesque parts of the San Diego coastline. Descend the stone stairs to Sunny Jim Cave, a sea cave that got its name from Frank Baum, the author of “The Wizard of Oz.” It was used by smugglers during Prohibition.
Secret Swings are hidden in the trees on the hillside above Scripps Piers in La Jolla. A short walk from Expedition Way, the trip is worth the ocean views. The location within the trees of the handmade swing, bench and tire swing is always changing. Searching online for the current setting of the hidden swings is part of the fun.
Named by “Travel and Leisure” magazine as one of America’s best cities for foodies, San Diego boasts a burgeoning culinary scene headlined by numerous award-winning chefs. It features a vibrant mix of bistros, casual eateries, brewpubs and fine dining establishments. To start your day with a jolt of sugar and caffeine, head over to Nomad Donuts. For a quick bite during the day, try the selections at K Sandwiches and The Crack Shack, which serve burgers, chicken and other traditional American fare. When you want to enjoy a meal in a more elegant setting, Born and Raised is a popular steakhouse. While CUCINA urbana features Italian dishes, Addison serves a menu of Nouveau French cuisine.