California City Guides

Weekend Getaway: San Diego

A few summers ago, I found myself in San Diego for a weekend as part of a week-long California road trip.

If you’re looking for California sunshine and great Mexican food, there’s no better place than San Diego.

San Diego is the kind of destination you want to spend more than a few days relaxing, but if you’ve only got a weekend in the city, there are a few things I’d recommend seeing and doing to make the most out of a short trip.


*Note: Please excuse the terrible iPhone pictures, these were taken on an early iPhone and unfortunately, not the best quality. 

Interesting Attractions

  • Beaches: There are plenty of beaches to explore in San Diego, many of which are perfect for surfing. We only had time to check out two of San Diego’s beaches, but this guide is great if you’ve got more time to explore different beaches in the area
    • Pacific Beach: Beach plus bar hopping, a winning combination
    • Coronado Beach: Beautiful ocean views and Hotel del Coronado, a grand resort, make this beach worth a visit
    • Mission Beach: Quintessential California beach experience- sun, sand, boardwalk and surfers

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Hotel Coronado
  • La Jolla: La Jolla is a beautiful stretch of coastline north of downtown San Diego, there’s a cove to explore and seafront trails to walk along. Because of the marine life in the area, the cove is part of San Diego’s Underwater Park Ecological Reserve
    • Check out Seal Beach, where dozens of seals lounge on the rocks lining the beach

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  • Sunset Cliffs: Take a picnic and watch the sun set atop a cliff

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  • The Gaslamp Quarter: A historic district in downtown San Diego lined with iconic gas lamps. You’ll find lots of restaurants, bars and shops in the area

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  • Balboa Park: A massive urban cultural park, spend a morning wandering the gardens and taking in the stunning Spanish architecture
  • San Diego Zoo: We didn’t have time to visit the zoo on our trip, but with over 3,700 animals, the zoo is world famous and has something for everyone
  • Mexico: San Diego is very close to the Mexican boarder, so a day trip to Tijuana is doable if you’ll be in the area for more than a few days


Where to Eat

  • Bird Rock Coffee Roasters (La Jolla): Great espresso and pourovers
  • Donut Bar (Central San Diego): Delicious donuts with fun flavors
  • Cafe Sevilla (Gaslamp Quarter): Sangria, bacon wrapped dates, paella, flourless chocolate cake- everything we tried was great
  • La Puerta (Gaslamp Quarter): Great street tacos and frozen mojitos
  • Meze (Gaslamp Quarter): Mediterranean food, recommend trying the hummus
  • Jose’s (La Jolla): Inexpensive, but delicious Mexican food. Order the fish tacos and a margarita
  • Tender Greens (Locations across San Diego): Affordable, fresh salads. We ordered salads to go one night for dinner and took them to Sunset Cliffs for a picnic
  • MooTime Creamery (Coronado): Order a scoop of the green mint in a waffle cone
  • Hash House a Go Go (Hillcrest): Come hungry, portions are huuuuge. Order the chicken and waffles and a skillet hash
  • The Original Pancake House (Kearny Mesa): Oven baked apple pancakes. ‘Nuff said
  • WhisknLadle (La Jolla): Ideal happy hour spot, great food and drink specials
  • Juniper and Ivy (Harborview): Like many places in San Diego, the seafood here is great- try the baja shrimp toast
  • Breakfast Republic (North Park): Really great breakfast spot- loved the veggie tostadas and brioche french toast
  • Isabel’s Cantina (Pacific Beach): You can’t go wrong with the avocado scramble and buddha bowl

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Where to Drink

  • George’s at the Cove (La Jolla): Snag a seat at the bar, order a Caipirinha and watch the sun set
  • Polite Provisions (North Park): Craft cocktails in a former pharmacy
  • El Dorado Cocktail Lounge (Central San Diego): Great craft cocktails for $5 before 9 pm
  • Noble Experiment (Central San Diego): Hidden speakeasy near the Gaslamp Quarter, recommend ordering the bartender’s choice
  • Fairweather (East Village): A+ tiki drinks and a lovely patio to enjoy them on
  • El Agave (Del Mar): Perfect spot for margaritas at sunset
  • Gaslamp Quarter: There are a slew of bars and nightclubs on Fifth Avenue, wander into any of them and order a margarita to start unwinding
George’s at the Cove

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