Best things to do in San Diego
Stepping out of the airplane and smelling the fresh pacific air reminded me how much I have missed California. We used to live near San Francisco and loved driving down Pacific Coast Highway to San Diego. Our last trip to the West Coast has been over 10 years.
I was very excited to go back and rediscover it all again. And I found so many great things to do. Here are my best tips if you are thinking about a short trip to San Diego.
And if this is a short stop before you head over to Maui, here are more tips for you:
First day in San Diego
Waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning I could see the ocean right from my bed. I walked down to the beach barefoot, too early for the world. Nobody was there. The fog was still layering over the ocean, the sun wasn’t sure if she wanted to show herself or not, the fresh air playing with my hair.
Start slow – you are on the beach
I walked along the beach with dolphins swimming right next to me, waves were trying to catch my feet and birds digging for worms in the sand. You can walk for hours on the beach, just breathing fresh air and relaxing your soul.
After a fast breakfast my yoga class started, I stretched my muscles and relaxed even more doing some easy Yoga exercises.
Unbelievable how your mind can drift away, if you have no schedule, no plan, no appointments, no duties. The only appointment I had this morning was watching the ocean, listening to the waves and feeling the sunshine on my face. But of course I also wanted to go to the city and explore some parts of San Diego.
So here are my tips if you travel alone and you are not really used to hanging out all by yourself. If this is your first time traveling alone, this is how to start.
Best travel tips if you decide to visit San Diego:
Hotel Del Coronado, on the island of El Coronado is an awesome place to stay, right on the beach (4 star Hotel). The rooms are not cheap but if you can afford it, book at least 1 night, it is absolutely worth it. They also have room specials. I went in March and the room was around 200 $ special rate.
Hop-on-hop-off-bus (Old Town Trolley Tours)
Best thing you can do is go on a hop-on-hop-off bus, actually I did this 2 days in a row, because there is so much to see. And if you are interested and want to learn a little bit about San Diego and El Coronado, the drivers are the best. Very funny, very informative, very helpful. You don’t feel lonely in the bus, the driver introduces everybody and it is a fast way of meeting people (the day ticket cost around $ 40). The best stops among the 10 were:
- Balboa Park – Art Museums, the San Diego Zoo, Science Center, the Museum of Man, Japanese gardens and much more – it is absolutely worth it. You can spend days walking around the park, going in the museums and the Zoo. (You get free entrance to the Veterans Museum and Timken Museum of Art)
- Little Italy – stroll around India Street, eat the best pizza or pasta and of course the best ice-cream. I had a great lunch at Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. You walk through the store (buy some fresh cheese and mortadella) to enter the restaurant. Loved the meatballs and the pizza. And the price is very reasonable too.
- Old Town – where it all began. See the old stores, the jail, the Whaley House and do some shopping. (Free entrance to the African Museum).
- Harbor – If you like cruise ships, aircraft carriers and the Maritime Museum, then step off the bus at the harbor, you can also see the kissing statue there, which is pretty impressive.
Enjoy the beach
However, my absolute highlight was my morning beach walk, watching the amazing wildlife, breathing the fresh pacific air.
If you are lucky you can see the SEAL teams working out on the beach, as the military base is right next to the hotel. Unfortunately that brings also a lot of helicopters flying around the area which can be a bit annoying at night. Especially if you like to leave the windows open and sleep with fresh air in the room and the sound of the ocean.
The Del offers a lot, a spa, pools, restaurants, bars and a lot of free sport activities. You can use the gym, go to free classes or do the yoga on the beach. A lot to do during the day and during the night also.
Tips nearby San Diego
If the weather is nice take a trolley tour or a Taxi/Uber to La Jolla Beach or Ocean Beach and watch the surfers. Another option is Sea World, but I am not a fan of trained animals, especially whales in little pools.
Oceanside, CA is about a 30 min. drive from San Diego. Walk on the pier, watch the surfers or go for a drink in many cool bars and restaurants. Thursdays from 5 to 9 pm is the sunset market with a lot of great food, music and little treasures to buy.
Or check out Carlsbad, CA just next to Oceanside but a little more laid back. The Farmers Market is every Tuesday afternoon, you can dine in many really good restaurants or go shopping and treasure hunting in second hand shops and little boutiques.
San Diego is great for a weekend get-away or a short trip to the beach. You can do a lot of sightseeing or just relax on one of the beautiful beaches and enjoy doing nothing. Breath the Pacific air and enjoy sitting on a beach watching the waves. That is the best.
Watch out for more tips if you want to come to San Diego with your RV or Travel Trailer. This was our trip in February and we loved every minute of it. I will keep you updated.
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