San Diego Travel Guide
San Diego is a brilliant place to call home. I spend my days guiding both residents and visitors to the best places to stay, restaurants, museums, outdoor activities, water sports, parks, and other fun things to do.
Through the content below, I’m positive you’ll be able to plan a San Diego vacation that suits your budget and interests whether you are visiting with kids, on business, as a couple, or on your own.
San Diego Travel Tips
San Diego Neighborhood Guides
Depending on which neighborhoods in San Diego you visit, you might find yourself in a vibrant arts and culture enclave, a charming 1950s-style small-town, or a laid-back beachy paradise. Not sure where to vacation in San Diego? You can find out a lot more about each San Diego neighborhood in the guides below.
This luxurious La Jolla neighborhood is surprisingly laid back. Million-dollar homes sit on cliffs overlooking San Diego’s beautiful beaches, but don’t make the mistake of thinking this San Diego neighborhood is inaccessible! Tourists and residents alike flock to La Jolla (which residents affectionately call ‘the village’) to dine, sightsee, and to watch the famous La Jolla seals and sea lions doing their thing.
DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO
The thrumming heartbeat of San Diego can be felt in our urban center. Downtown San Diego is a buzzing neighborhood (which includes the historic Gaslamp Quarter) has it all, from chic boutiques and fine arts to family fun plus a sizzling nightlife scene. It’s also where you’ll find attractions like Petco Park® (home of the San Diego Padres®) and the New Children’s Museum®. The San Diego Zoo® is just north of downtown.
Just across the bay from downtown San Diego, you’ll find Coronado; an exclusive beach community that has a quaint, old-fashioned vibe. There are quiet, tree-lined streets, old-timey storefronts, and friendly sidewalk cafes, plus miles and miles of walking paths, a great public golf course, and plenty of beaches to enjoy. It’s a popular resort destination and home to the iconic Hotel Del Coronado®, which you can enjoy at the Virtuoso rate if you book through me.
Called PB by the locals, this San Diego neighborhood is a hub of students, young professionals, and surfers, so the vibe is hip and energetic. In Pacific Beach, you’ll find plenty of flip-flop friendly restaurants and bars — this is definitely the hub of San Diego’s beach culture — along with Pacific Beach hotels catering to every type of traveler. If you’re traveling with kids, there are quieter spots that will still give you access to great restaurants and the boardwalk.
MISSION BEACH/MISSION BAY
This casual San Diego neighborhood is a whole lot of fun! There are amusement parks, including SeaWorld San Diego®, and waveless beaches on Mission Bay that are just perfect for young kids. The paths that wind around this neighborhood are lined with vacation properties. There are great hotels for family travelers in Mission Beach, too. Enjoy plenty of fantastic restaurants, bars, and a hot volleyball scene.
This area of San Diego boasts the largest urban cultural park in the US. It draws visitors from all over the world who come for the 17 museums, gorgeous gardens, beautiful Spanish-Renaissance architecture, art installations, performances, musical events, and of course, the famous San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park should be a part of any visit to San Diego — in fact, you could probably spend an entire vacation exploring this area’s attractions.
Known as “The Village by the Sea,” this wealthy San Diego neighborhood has so much to see and do — including LEGOLAND® California. It is a shopper’s paradise and a foodie hotspot, with a huge variety of restaurants, breweries, and coffee shops to enjoy. That said, if you prefer outdoor amusements, Carlsbad also has plenty of gorgeous beaches where you can go to catch a wave and there’s also Carlsbad Lagoon — a popular spot with paddle boarders and kayakers.
Need to Know
A rental car is advised though you can use Uber. The public transportation system helps but is not robust.
Explore More San Diego Neighborhoods
My local guide to Christmas events in San Diego and fun holiday activities includes photos with Santa, tree lightings, and other fun holiday activities.
Find Christmas dinner in San Diego to-go from these top restaurants and hotels who could use our support this year, especially.
The best things to do in Downtown San Diego include these bay tours, museums, rooftop pools, Little Italy and Gaslamp Quarter spots, and much more.
Your casual beach vacation begins at one of these Ocean Beach hotels in San Diego, California. No frills, but fun and easier on the wallet.
Sesame Place San Diego opens in March 2022! Learn what to expect, rides, how to buy tickets and more tips for your theme park day.
Save money instantly on Sesame Place San Diego tickets by purchasing now through these authorized sellers.
It doesn’t rain very often but when it does you’ll need to find the best things to do in San Diego when it’s raining. Stay dry in these museums, markets and other fun spots.
Where to eat Thanksgiving dinner in San Diego restaurants or pick-up chef-prepared meals that you can reheat at home.
An always up-to-date list of Hotel del Coronado holiday events and activities at San Diego’s most popular beach resort.
We have theme parks and beaches but also the quiet, cool, and unusual San Diego hidden gems on this list.
Find the best places to watch the sunset in San Diego whether you’re hiking, at the beach, or just wanting to relax.
My curated list of romantic hotels in San Diego for couples getaways and honeymoons, why you would choose them & how best to book.