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San Diego

California dreamers, endless coastline, and sunshine

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As if all that sunshine weren’t enough, San Diego is a waterfront city with top-notch restaurants, beautiful ocean-sprayed vistas, neighborhoods that are steeped in history and culture, and a centrally located urban park. Whether you’re spending a few days indulging in the city’s myriad of beaches and surf spots, visiting the aquatic attractions SeaWorld San Diego and Mission Bay Aquatic Park, or exploring the inland offerings of the city, San Diego will not disappoint.

What to Do in San Diego

Perhaps the best place to start is in Balboa Park, 1,200 acres of pristine emerald green in the heart of the city, home to 17 museums, the most populous koala colony outside of Australia, and the largest outdoor instrument in the world. Get a sense of this oasis’ many wonders by beginning the day at the San Diego Zoo. Next, stop for a photo at the stunning Botanical Building, overlooking a lily pond, and venture inside the free-entry Timken Museum next door. Enjoy a peaceful sushi lunch at the Japanese Friendship Garden before strolling to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion (on Sunday afternoons, you can hear the 5,017 pipes come to life). Or check out one of the many exceptional museums like Fleet Science Center or Museum of Us (formerly the Museum of Man). 

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Explore can’t-miss shops and hangouts in key neighborhoods such as the Gaslamp Quarter, the East VillageNorth ParkOld Town, and others, and learn how you can leave your car—and parking worries—out of your daily plans and get around via the extensive system of trolleys, light rail, trains, buses, and water taxis.

Restaurants in San Diego

When eating in San Diego, seafood and Mexican—and sometimes both, as with its famous fish tacos—often take center stage. From food trucks to super casual eateries to bucket-list fine dining, dozens of delicious options dot the city. When the craving for fresh fish served dockside strikes, hit CoasterraMitch’s Seafood, or Royal Rooster. For unbeatable views of the La Jolla surf coupled with world-class California fare, book a rooftop table at George’s on the Cove. If you can’t get enough tacos, you really can’t go wrong in this town—but for creative, elevated options, head to Puesto (multiple locations) or Lola 55 (downtown). (There’s more taco exploration where that came from on this Southern California Taco Tour road trip.)

Not every culinary experience that San Diego offers is in a restaurant, of course. Get a rundown about the annual Latin Food Fest, and the year-round foodie extravaganza that is Liberty Public Market, a former naval complex that now houses over 30 high-end food and drink vendors. And don’t forget to check out the Maritime Museum, San Diego County’s famous slew of craft breweries, and Torrey Pines Gliderport

Cities Near San Diego

A visitor could spend weeks within San Diego and not run out of things to do, but San Diego County is also home to numerous other cities that offer amazing Southern California experiences. The two farthest, around 40 miles up the coast, are Oceanside and Carlsbad, which are home to a postcard-worthy marina and LEGOLAND California, respectively. The boutiques and surfside restaurants of La Jolla, the surfing mecca of Encinitas, and the island community of Coronado are all magical in their own ways, and also not to be overlooked are Chula Vista, Escondido, home of San Diego Zoo & Safari Park, and Del Mar, home of blissful beaches and the world-famous horse racetrack.

In short—if you’re a fan of amazing weather, exceptional dining experiences, unbeatable outdoor recreation and cultural options, and great shopping, you’ll find yourself smiling in San Diego.

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