San Diego Travel Tips
California’s second-largest city is a treasure trove of culture, cuisine, and luxurious creature comforts for entire families.
If you found this page because you were searching for ideas for San Diego travel with kids, you’re looking at one of the best resources around. There are so many things to do in San Diego, both indoors and out, and the weather is absolutely spectacular year-round. Temperatures are mild in all seasons and it hardly ever rains, which makes San Diego a wonderful destination, whether you’re planning a summer weekend away or you need to escape winter’s chill.
When it comes to San Diego travel tips, the best piece of advice I can offer is simply make the journey. You will not be disappointed. This city is world-renowned for its gorgeous beaches, beautiful parks, and of course the San Diego Zoo®, but there are also amazing restaurants, immersive museums, hip neighborhoods, and so many art galleries and artists’ studios to explore.
Traveling Tips for San Diego Beaches
You can’t make a list of San Diego travel tips without talking about the 70 miles of beautiful beaches and the San Diego beach hotels! This is one of the best cities in the continental US for anyone planning a beach vacation. There are beaches where surfers can catch an epic wave, out-of-the-way beaches where those who value privacy (and are willing to hike for it) can find the seclusion they desire, beaches that are perfect for a romantic nighttime stroll, and of course, beaches where kids can build sandcastles and splash in the waves from sunup to sundown. You could probably spend an entire San Diego vacation at the beach, whether you’re staying in a bay hotel or a beach hotel.
Learn more about San Diego beaches.
San Diego Hotel Tips
You’ve read my San Diego travel tips – now it’s time to plan your getaway! There are so many luxury hotels in San Diego that you might find you’re overwhelmed by your options. Don’t worry! You’re not alone. There are gorgeous hotels for every style of traveler, from solo voyagers who want a taste of upscale San Diego living to families with young children who desperately need a few hours (or days) of pure relaxation. Whether you’re looking for one of those aforementioned beachfront hotels or luxury accommodations in downtown San Diego, I can help! Because of my affiliation with Cadence Travel (a Virtuoso® member agency), I have access to exclusive VIP amenities like complimentary room upgrades, spa credits, and other VIP extras you can’t get when you book yourself.
Check out the best luxury hotels in San Diego.
Tips for San Diego Travel with Kids
Sunshine and spas aren’t the only things that draw people here. Families new to this destination discover that San Diego travel with kids is fantastic because the area boasts everything from one of the country’s biggest and best zoos over theme parks to hiking trails. How would your kids feel about a trip to SeaWorld San Diego® or LEGOLAND® California? One of my tried and true San Diego travel tips for families is simply stay longer! There are so many family attractions here that you’ll never be able to fit them into a long weekend. Choose a hotel with specialty programs for kids and plan to stay a week (or even more), so you don’t miss out on this city that has been rated one of the top family destinations in the United States.
Activity Tips While Traveling in San Diego
Don’t assume that visiting major kid-friendly attractions like LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, and the zoo should be the centerpieces of your itinerary. There is so much more to this city (even if you’re visiting San Diego with teens and tweens). Experience a different side of San Diego on brewery tours and self-guided art walks, or enjoy the great outdoors with hikes for all ages and skill levels. Also check out the annual events hosted in the city year-round, from the San Diego County Fair to Del Mar Racing Season.
There’s also always free stuff to do in San Diego. Families, in particular, can benefit from free days at many San Diego museums, plus the Botanical Building and Timken Museum in Balboa Park are both always free. Hanging out on our beautiful San Diego beaches won’t cost you a thing and if you’re visiting with kids, tide pooling is a great way to pass the time. San Diego Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego along the bay near Little Italy has a fun interactive splash fountain. Come summertime, the waterfront hosts outdoor movies and other family-friendly events.
Curious to know my number one San Diego travel tip? I recommend to all of my friends and family visiting San Diego to get the Go San Diego® pass. This multi-attraction pass can save you a lot of money when you’re purchasing combined admission to San Diego’s top attractions, tours, and museums, and will let you skip the line at a lot of them. You can also get freebies and discounts are various restaurants and shops around the city when you have the card. There are different types of Go San Diego, from All-Inclusive passes to Build Your Own passes, all of which can be downloaded right to your phone so you don’t have to worry about carrying a paper ticket around.
Where and What to Eat in San Diego
San Diego’s idyllic weather and gorgeous beaches aren’t the only things that attract tourists from all over the world. The food scene in San Diego is frankly amazing, with top-notch international and hyper-local cuisine, the freshest seafood, and a growing selection of locally brewed, award-winning craft beers. If you find you’re overwhelmed by your choices when thinking about what and where to eat in San Diego, here are some suggestions.
Hit Lolita’s or Lucha Libre for a California Burrito
While there are burritos all over the state, the best examples of the California burrito can be found right here in San Diego. Never had one? San Diego burritos have crispy french fries rolled in right alongside the carne asada, guacamole, cheese, and sour cream.
Fish Tacos at Oscar’s Mexican Seafood or The Fish Shop
The first fish tacos may have come from Mexico, but it was San Diego that made this dish famous. It’s simple — fish, cabbage and a squeeze of lime — but so delicious.
Ceviche at Ceviche House or Karina’s Ceviche & More
The seafood (which may be fish, shrimp, scallops, octopus, or some mix of all of them) in ceviche is citrus-cured, not cooked, and is served with cucumber, red onion, cilantro, avocado, and chipotle or serrano chili sauce. There are many varieties of ceviche, so try a few to get the full experience.
The Uni at Davanti Enoteca or Sushi Ota
Famous chef and traveler Anthony Bourdain once said that the uni in San Diego was the best in the world, and I agree. You can buy the freshest uni in San Diego and prepare it yourself at home, and you’ll find it prepared myriad ways — over pasta or in sushi — at restaurants around the city.
Need more San Diego travel tips? Don’t miss my guide to things to do in San Diego when you’re planning your San Diego escape.