Confirmations for flights and your San Diego hotel have both hit your inbox. That's a relief, for sure. However, you still likely have some San Diego vacation decisions that need to be made before you depart.
The goal of this post is to address what you need to think about next.
(If you don't yet have flights, search for the best deals and create an alert on Kayak. If you don't yet have a hotel booking, I've written many posts about San San Diego hotels, and offer a curated list of hotels where I have benefits.)
1. Protect Your Trip
If you booked a hotel with me, I am actually required by my insurance now to ask you to consider travel insurance. Why? Things happen all of the time — from natural disasters to flight disruptions to lost bags to medical emergencies (that your credit card doesn't always cover).
Get a Free Travel Insurance Quote
If you have a nonrefundable flight or hotel booking, that you'd like to protect, the sooner you buy travel insurance after purchasing your trip, the cheaper it is. You can get a free quote for Allianz travel insurance right here.
2. Figure Out How You'll Get Around San Diego
After arriving by car, train or plane, think about whether you'll rely on a rental car, black car services, or rideshare apps. People do all three so which you choose depends on your itinerary and budget.
Getting Around San Diego: Do You Need a Car Rental?
Most people rent cars. When factoring in cost, remember that most San Diego hotels charge for parking which can be steep even at downtown budget hotels (street parking is almost never an alternative).
Guide to San Diego Car Services
Black car services offer an elevated level of service in addition to a nicer ride. They often carry better insurance coverage and screen drivers. You may find that the options on this list can be less expensive than UberBlack.
3. Decide Whether You'll Buy a Sightseeing Pass or Use Individual Tickets
There is absolutely NO NEED to pay gate pricing at our major San Diego attractions. You'll need to crunch some numbers to decide whether you'll save more with a Go San Diego pass or discount tickets to individual parks.
Tip: Be sure to use my exclusive discount for $6 off San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park tickets with code lajollamom on our partner site.
Exclusive La Jolla Mom Discounts and Promotions
I work with vendors around town to provide exclusive savings on tickets (including the lowest price online for 1-Day San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park tickets), tours, and even my favorite line of travel clothes that you won't find anywhere else.
10 Benefits of the Go San Diego Discounted Attractions Pass
If you choose a sightseeing pass, this is by far the most popular one. I have an exclusive 10% discount on All-Inclusive passes that stacks on top of current Go City promotions. The All-Inclusive pass allows you to see 48 attractions across 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 consecutive days. Or, you can choose a Build-Your-Own pass.
Discounted Single Park and Combo Park Tickets
If you aren't planning heavy sightseeing, purchasing individual tickets is the way to go. All of our parks are discounted here. For 1-Day adult and child tickets to San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park be sure to use this link and code lajollamom to save $6 per ticket!
4. Decide What You'll Put on Your Itinerary
I mention tickets and sightseeing first so that you can keep ways to save in mind as you map out your San Diego itinerary. Here are some starter ideas for what to do.
The 10 Most Popular Things to Do in San Diego
Consider this your "start here" list if you're not sure what to do. The 10 items on this list are why the majority of people visit San Diego.
52 Best Things to Do in San Diego with Kids
See why we are one of the most family-friendly destinations in the entire world.
20 Best Day Trips from San Diego to L.A., Mexico, & More
If you have the time, consider taking a day trip within the county, to Mexico, to Disneyland, and even up to L.A.
10 San Diego Museums That You Need to See
They're not big but they sure are mighty. From the famous USS Midway Museum to the Fleet Science Center, don't miss these fantastic museums for all ages.
20 Best Breweries in San Diego
You'll be able to sip our craft beer at most restaurants but you may want to seek out some of our over 150 craft breweries.
10 Best San Diego Tours for Sightseeing
We have tours on land and in the water that enable you to see and learn about our fine city.
Whale Watching Tours in San Diego
December through March are prime grey whale watching months but you can go out further into the ocean in summer to see if you can spot blue whales.
11 Popular San Diego Bay Cruises
A loop around the San Diego Bay showcases military and California history in addition to being a heck of a lot of fun. Speedboat Adventures is popular as are various harbour cruises.
5. Plan for What You'll Need to Bring
Find out what deserves valuable suitcase space. The most important tip is to always pack layers.
What to Pack for San Diego
A breakdown of San Diego style, helpful beach gear, and weather by season.
20 Coolest Travel Games for Kids
While this isn't San Diego related, families find this post particularly helpful for entertaining kids in restaurants, cars, and planes.
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
Planning a Trip to San Diego? Start Here!
And, don’t forget to save money on sightseeing with my discount tickets or a Go San Diego Card.
Things to Do
Before You Go
Explore More Things to Do in San Diego
Whaley House Museum: Hauntings, Highlights, & Tips
20 Fun Things to Do at the Carlsbad Flower Fields
10 Best Old Town San Diego Shops: Where to Go & What to Buy
Guide to the Best Beaches in Oceanside, California: Where to Go & What to Expect