It's no secret that San Diego is one of the nation's most appealing vacation destinations--for so many reasons. Combining year-round, near-perfect weather with a spectacular natural setting, the region is home to exciting theme parks, world-class arts and culture, unlimited outdoor recreation, a vibrant downtown, eclectic dining options, top-rated resorts and spas, a rich history dating back to the 18th century, a dazzling variety of shopping opportunities, and 70 miles of glorious beaches, just to name just a few of its attractions!
In fact, San Diego is home to such a plethora of exciting things to see and do for persons of every age and budget, it can be overwhelming for a potential visitor to choose from such a wealth of options. To put some fun and ease into the planning process, check out some sample itineraries and enjoy my recommendations for a fun-filled day or two (or more!) in beautiful San Diego.
BALBOA PARK BLISS
Delight your senses with a tour of Balboa Park, located just a mile from Downtown San Diego. Photograph the unique architecture and fauna; explore its many museums; hear a free organ concert; watch a fascinating IMAX film; take a stroll in the Japanese Friendship Garden; attend a performance at the historic Old Globe Theatre; meander through miles of hiking trails.
DISCOVER THE SEA
Walk along ocean tide pools and discover fascinating sea creatures; rent a kayak and explore La Jolla's shoreline and caves: take a scuba diving lesson; don a snorkel and discover the colorful world beneath the waves; stay dry and explore the fabulous underwater world at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps.
Hike the palm canyon in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park; discover the badlands in a customized jeep tour; play a round of golf surrounded by majestic mountains; horseback ride through the canyons; stroll through the magnificent desert flower fields in spring; bike along scenic roads and trails.
PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ
Party the night away in a Gaslamp Quarter club; fine dine at an elegant restaurant; enjoy a Broadway show; hear your favorite band at the House of Blues; sip an after-dinner drink on a rooftop bar with a view over the sparkling San Diego skyline; while away the afternoon at an urban wine-tasting bar; sit back and relax to the smooth sounds of live jazz in a cozy nightclub; spend the night in a hip downtown boutique hotel.
Experience one of San Diego's 300 annual festivals and holiday celebrations; watch the world's largest balloon parade in December; dance in the streets of Little Italy at the Italian festivals in May and October; enjoy special events and farmers markets held year-round in San Diego's charming neighborhoods.
HIKE AND BIKE DELIGHT
Hike the ocean view paths of the Torrey Pines State Reserve; ride your mountain bike down the face of Mt. Palomar; view the vistas of San Diego's East County from Cowles Mountain; eat famous apple pie in the mountain town of Julian after a hike in the mountains; bike endlessly around Mission Bay; hike the ocean trails of North County's rugged beaches or backpack through Mission Trails regional park, a mere 8 miles from downtown San Diego.
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN HISTORY
Visit an 18th Century mission; go back in time in San Diego's colorful Old Town; learn about San Diego's first settlers at the Serra Museum at the Presidio; admire the historical architecture of the Gaslamp Quarter; visit a 19th century gold mine in the Cuyamaca Mountains; view the sweeping view of San Diego city and bay from the Cabrillo National Monument , where San Diego was discovered; visit several of the old Spanish Missions that will take you back three hundred years in time.
LIFE'S A BEACH
Work on your tan on one of many glorious beaches; rent a kayak and paddle into the blue Pacific; take a surfing lesson; bike along the Mission Beach boardwalk; snorkel through blue waters; lay back in your beach chair and sip a drink while watching a glorious San Diego sunset.
LIONS AND TIGERS AND DOLPHINS, OH MY!
Dine with Shamu behind the scenes at SeaWorld San Diego; soar like an eagle on a flight line safari high above the San Diego Zoo Safari Park; spend the night at the San Diego Zoo and listen to the calls of the wild as you drift off to sleep; stroll and sail through the miniature world of LEGOLAND California.
Snack on guacamole and chips; order lime with your beer; devour fish tacos by the beach; savor seared ahi fresh from the sea; peel a just-picked orange or grapefruit; dive into a juicy burger at Hodad's famous burger joint in Ocean Beach; sample seasonal favorites at farmers' markets through the San Diego community.
LUCK BE A LADY TONIGHT
Try your luck Vegas-style at any one of several deluxe casinos; enjoy fine dining at first-class casino restaurants; play a round of golf in rolling green hills at a casino resort; pamper yourself at a casino spa; watch nationally known entertainers perform in a chic casino lounge; shop in nationally-known stores at a casino outlet center.
Go back in time onboard the USS Midway Museum; soar above the clouds in a WWII aircraft; attend the boot camp graduation ceremony at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot; view San Diego's active naval fleet from the deck of a harbor cruise boat.
Immerse yourself at one of San Diego's many museums; enjoy antiquities or contemporary art; study vintage planes, model trains and flashy automobiles from yesteryear; learn about the history of music; admire the work of famous photographers; take the kids to the downtown Children's Museum for an interactive adventure.
NURTURE YOUR NATURE
Rejuvenate at a luxurious spa; indulge in an herbal wrap; make your skin glow with an instant tan; refresh your smile with a relaxing facial; unwind with a full body massage right on the beach.
SAIL AWAY FOR THE DAY
Grab the rudder, take a sailing lesson and steer a straight course to aquatic fun on San Diego Bay; be part of the crew on an authentic America's Cup racing yacht; thrill to close encounters with California grey whales on a RIB boat or whale-watching cruise; race across the water in a sailboat or catamaran; go on an exciting sport fishing trip; savor a gourmet dinner on a harbor tour yacht while watching the sun set over the horizon.
SHOP THE WORLD
Find colorful Mexican treasures in Old Town; stroll through the unique and colorful retail shops of Horton Plaza; discover Italian art in the shops of Little Italy; revel in the high-end designer shops of La Jolla; go bargain hunting in local retail outlet stores; enjoy the souvenir shops of Seaport Village; uncover the many shopping venues in San Diego's Mission Valley.
Play a round of golf at Torrey Pines, high on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific; swing a tennis racket in a picturesque court; hit volleyball barefoot in the sand; play another round of golf at spectacular locations throughout San Diego County.
Ride the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner to North County and beyond for breath-taking views of the coastline; rent bikes to take on the train and stop at will for a ride through the neighborhoods; marvel at the intricate setups at the model railroad museum in Balboa Park.
TOURING THE TOWN
Tour San Diego's major attractions in a trolley or a double-decker bus; take a walking tour of Balboa Park; make a splash on a land/sea amphibious tour; discover the ghosts of San Diego's past on a "frightseeing" tour; cruise through San Diego's neighborhoods in a Go Car.
WIND, WINE, UNWIND
Glide through the air over the Pacific in a colorful hot air balloon; sail off the cliffs of La Jolla in a hang glider for the ride of your life; enjoy an exhilarating skydive over San Diego's picturesque terrain; taste the wines at sunset at several North County wineries; tour the chateaus and vineyards of the neighboring Temecula wine country.