Visiting San Diego? Here’s What You Can’t Miss …

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If you’re reading this you probably have a question:

I’m visiting San Diego soon … what should I do while I’m there? 

Here’s a few tips:

 

Best Neighborhoods in San Diego

First off, here’s a map of San Diego neighborhoods for context:

western-neighborhoods1

I think of San Diego in two regions: (1) beach towns and (2) not beach towns.

Beach towns

  • Torrey Pines – It’s  coastal hike in a beautiful area. It’s about 15 minutes north of Pacific Beach and not on this map. But it’s mindblowingly beautiful. Go to the Torrey Pines Gliderport or walk the Torrey Pines trail.
  • La Jolla – This is where the billionaires live. Super nice but super expensive. Go to La Jolla Cove. Also, go to Mount Soladad Cross. Looks over all of San Diego.
  • Pacific Beach – This is where I live. It’s the 25-35 year-old beach town for post-college graduates. Mixture of people working white-collar 9-5 jobs and those just hanging out, working low key jobs at restaurants/bars.
  • Mission Beach / Mission Bay – This is similar to Pacific Beach, but more touristy. Really not that special or different compared to Pacific Beach. Don’t go out of your way to go here for the Pacific Ocean-side of it. However, Mission Bay is incredible. People will go wake-boarding, jetskiing, sailing, etc. Has a cool bike path around the entire bay.
  • Ocean Beach – The hippie beach. Definitely the beach with the most character. Laid-back, granola-y culture. Worth going to for sure.
  • Sunset Cliffs – Similar to Torrey Pines, but a little less massive. As the name suggests, incredible spot for sunsets.
  • Point Loma (Cabrillo National Monument) – Costs $5 to enter Cabrillo National Monument, but worth it. Views are spectacular, looking over downtown AND the Pacific Ocean on the other side. Best views of downtown San Diego.
  • Coronado – It’s that big green island toward the bottom of the map. Mainly tourists and those who work in the military. The naval base is there. Should definitely check out the Coronado Bridge though.

All in all, all of the beach towns are safe. Mission Beach can get somewhat sketchy at night. Ocean Beach seems sketchy on the surface, but it’s not.

Not beach towns

  • North Park – Calling all hipsters. If you want vinyl records, thrift stores, and foodie joints … North Park is for you.
  • Hilcrest – The LGBT neighborhood. Really good food here.
  • Little Italy – Kinda the “young successful professional” neighborhood. Great food.
  • Downtown – Go to the Gaslamp District downtown. It’s on 5th Avenue between Broadway and the San Diego Convention Center. That’s the main strip of restaurants and bars.

Best Places to Eat

Here are a few of my favs:

  • Oscar’s Fish Tacos, Pacific Beach – $2 fish tacos. You only need three to be full. Mon-Thur from 3pm to 5pm, they’re only $1.
  • Thai Village, Pacific Beach – Get the Avocado Curry. Not kidding, I’ve been ordering this once a week for the past 12 months. I swear the chef puts crack in the curry. I’ve never been more addicted to one meal.
  • Leilanis, Pacific Beach. Hawaiian breakfast joint. So good. Get the My Kalani or Junior Boy.
  • Fig Tree Cafe, Pacific Beach. “This is the best breakfast i’ve ever had” quotes from nearly every friend I’ve taken there.
  • La Perla, Pacific Beach. Wanna try the famed California Burrito? Eat here.
  • The Baked Bear, Pacific Beach. Homemade ice-cream cookie sandwiches.
  • Costerra, downtown-ish. It’s high-end Mexican food. Crazy views of downtown with great food. Kinda pricey.

Best Places to Drink

Options:

  • Tap Room, Pacific Beach – You pour your own drinks and pay per ounce. It’s like Frozen Yogurt, but for beer.
  • ALTITUDE Sky Lounge, Downtown – I have a special place in my heart for rooftop bars. One of the best in San Diego.
  • AndazRoofTop600, Downtown – Luxury rooftop bar with a pool. Met the hilarious dude from Hot Tube Time Machine / The Office here.
  • Duck Dive, Pacific Beach – Not a fancy venue, but they play THE BEST deep house / nu-disco tracks at night. My favorite local place for going out.
  • Tap Room, Pacific Beach – Tap room with a massive selection of beer. Get the Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout if it’s available. That’s my favorite beer from San Diego.

Main attractions

I’ve listed a few of these things above, but here’s a clear-cut list of the top stuff to see/do while visiting:

  1. Snorkel at La Jolla Cove (you can also Kayak or Stand-Up Paddleboard at La Jolla Shores)
  2. San Diego Zoo
  3. Visit Cabrillo National Monument
  4. Watch the sunset at Sunset Cliffs
  5. Bike around Mission Bay
  6. Learn how to surf (I’ll teach you!)
  7. Go to Torrey Pines Gliderport to watch these crazy dudes jump of cliffs
  8. Walk around Seaport Village
  9. Gaslamp District (downtown)
  10. Drive up to Mount Soladad Cross
  11. Hike Torrey Pines

That’s about it! If you have other questions, just give me a jingle. You have my number.     🙂