Weekend Guide to San Diego

Two and half hours south of Los Angeles down highway 402, lies the coastal city of San Diego, California. With perfect weather year-round, amazing beaches, and outdoor activities galore, San Diego is the true definition of “SoCal living”.

weekend-guide-to-san-diegoFilling a weekend with fun and exciting activities is not a hard task to accomplish in San Diego. Here is my complete weekend guide to San Diego, California.

Grab breakfast at The Mission

The Mission specializes in simple, healthy, and just plain delicious food. Every dish comes out creatively and artfully presented in a way that looks beautiful and tastes even better. The Mission has 3 locations, is open for breakfast and lunch, and even has an expansive gluten free menu.

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Hike Cowels Mountain

Get your fitness game on and get your blood pumping with a hike to the top of Cowels Mountain. The mountain sits at just over 1,5900 feet above sea level and is one of the most (if not the most) popular trails in San Diego County. The trail to the top is well groomed for people of all fitness levels and ages, and the views at the top of are urban and comparable to that of Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Arizona. The parking lot at the base of the trail is small and fills up quickly, luckily there is plenty of space for street parking if you don’t mind adding the distance to your hike.

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Check out Balboa Park

Balboa Park is 1,200-acre urban cultural park located in the heart of San Diego. The park is home to several open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, and gardens. In addition, Balboa is home to over 15 museums, nearly 10 theaters, countless gardens and recreation areas, and several restaurants and popular attractions including the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

Beach Hop

Featuring 70 miles of coastline, San Diego is a typical SoCal beach city, with plenty of amazing beaches. San Diego beaches feature everything you could ever want: surf-able waves, bike friendly boardwalks, beautiful long piers, expansive shopping, and an amazing selection restaurants and bars. I recommend any of the following:

Pacific Beach – popular with college students and surfers

Mission Beach – right next to the beachfront amusement park, Belmont Park

Ocean Beach – a pet friendly beach

Imperial Beach – home to the U.S. Open Sand Castle competition

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Visit the Seaport Village

The Seaport Village is a waterfront shopping and dining complex adjacent to San Diego Bay right in downtown San Diego. The Village is home to over 70 shops, galleries, and restaurants and even plays host to live music, concerts, and shows all year round.

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Visit the USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway Museum is parked right in the heart of the San Diego Bay, and is truly a sight to see. The floating museum features over 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircrafts, and is the longest serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Near by the museum is the The Unconditional Surrender statue. This statue is a recreation of the famous photograph celebrating the triumph and end of World War II.

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Hit up the nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter

While it’s technically a historic neighborhood, the Gaslamp Quarter is more commonly known as the home of some of the best entertainment and night life venues in all of San Diego. It’s downtown location makes it the prime spot for hosting several of the city’s scheduled events and festivals including Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp, Taste of Gaslamp and ShamROCK, a St. Patrick’s Day event.

Stroll through Old Town

Known as the birthplace of California, Old Town San Diego is said to be where the first Europeans settled. Old Town boasts over 17 historic points of interest, museums, galleries and shops all within easy walking distance with free live entertainment, mariachis, dancers, period attire docents providing tours and more. If you’re looking for a place to get souvenirs for family and friends, the markets at Old Town are your number one stop.

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get an acai bowl from San Diego Blenders

Healthy has never tasted better than it does at San Diego Blenders. Smoothies, fruit bowls, supplements, and juices are just the beginning for this little shop. They also serve bagels and several lunch sandwiches. The freshness of the ingredients here just can’t be beat.

go seal watching, kayaking, or snorkeling at La Jolla Cove

No trip to San Diego is complete without a trip to the stunning shores of La Jolla Cove. While La Jolla is no secret and attracts large crowds at all times of the year, it lies within the San Diego La Jolla Ecological Reserve and is heavily protected and extremely well maintained. Because of it’s beautiful shoreline and calm waters, La Jolla is San Diego’s most desirable spot for kayaking, snorkeling, and diving. If you’re looking for a break from physical activity, take a walk along the shore line and visit the adorable seals that spend their days sunbathing on the rocks of La Jolla Cove.

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Take in a sporting event

Sports fans, have no fear! San Diego is home to both the MLB’s San Diego Padres and the NFL’s San Diego Chargers. The MLB season runs from the beginning of April to  the beginning of October. The NFL season runs from the beginning of September to the beginning of February. San Diego is also home to several semi-pro teams including rugby, hockey, and soccer.

It's doesn't get more SoCal than San Diego. This is your ultimate guide to a weekend in San Diego, California.

What does your perfect weekend in San Diego include?

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  • Love this! San Diego is one of my favorite vacation spots and I’ve hit up all the things on your list! The Mission is a special favorite of mine!

    • Glad to hear I get the seal approval from a true Californian! 🙂

  • I LOVE San Diego and agree with all of your suggestions! I have not hiked Cowles Mountain because I didn’t think I was in enough shape at the time, but I’d love to take in on someday. Seeing your photos made me miss this city and I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as I did!

    • Glad to hear you’re a fan of SD as well, Brooke. I’m not sure if you’re an LA fan, but to me SD is the Southern California winner, between the two. definitely give Cowles a try if your up for it next time. thanks for stopping by & happy travels! 🙂

  • Such great tips for visiting San Diego! I wish that we had a chance to explore the sea caves during our last visit, but we just ran out of time. We’re planning a trip back to visit some friends, so I’m definitely going to keep this handy!

    • The sea caves are unreal! definitely something not to miss. writing posts like these always make me think about what I want to do next time I visit. I’m thinking surfing lessons is high on my list for next time!

  • We lived in Phoenix for a couple of years and never missed an opportunity to drive to San Diego. It’s one of our favorite California cities! Great collection of suggestions 🙂

    • I couldn’t agree more, Louise. I much prefer San Diego, to its show business obsessed cousin to the north, LA. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by!

  • I have been many times to San Diego but I still feel like I do not know the city as well as I would like. There are many places that I visited long time ago. I think I am ready to go back.

    • definitely give it a try! i loved it and found it to be a very unique city with a lot to offer. thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • San Diego sounds absolutely lovely!!! And it seems less crowded that LA, isn’t it?!

    • with out a doubt less crowded than LA! LA has some great qualities to it as well, but to me it seems that everything is about show business there. SD is nothing but SoCal lifestyle. thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  • San Diego looks SO beautiful. One of my best friends always raves about her trips there. I also had some family friends that moved from Columbus to San Diego for a few years – they were much more upset to leave California than Ohio 😉 I like that San Diego seems more laid back than other parts of California (specifically LA or San Francisco.)

    • more laid back than SF and definitely 100% more laid back than LA. I’m not an LA hater but I can’t deny that in my honest opinion it can be very superficial and very caught up in “show biz” which isn’t something I can really enjoy for more than a few days.

  • UncJ

    Evening outdoor dining in SD’s Little Italy is pretty nice too!!!!

    • Agreed! Any outdoor dining is high time in my book. It was great seeing you in Chicago!

  • Great list and photos! The food at The Mission is so good, wish I visited during our last trip. I’ll definitely check out San Diego Blenders next time. #CityTripping

    • Thank you so much, Cindy! I loved San Diego so much! I see you posted about SD too! on my way over to check your post out now 🙂

  • I was lucky to spend a day in the San Diego area a few years ago – such a lovely time. I especilaly loved spending time in La Jolla – we had breakfast at Cody’s – amazing. I am hoping to plan a proper vacation to San Diego with more than a day to explore. This post is ging to come in handy 🙂 #citytripping

    • Glad to hear you liked SD as much as me! I’ve never heard of Cody’s, but amazing is ringing endorsement, so i’ll definitely be looking in to it for my next trip to SD. Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  • This is such a great guide – the more I read about San Diego, the more regretful I am that we won’t have longer in California this summer to visit. La Jolla has always sounded lovely but there’s so much to do. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • thanks so much for hosting, Cathy! this is a great link-up!

  • AModernMother

    Love this post. Don’t forget La Jolla Shores as a beach, it is particularly good for kids as it’s shallow and waves aren’t as strong as somewhere like Wind and Sea. http://www.amodernmother.com xx

    • yes! I definitely noticed La Jolla as a hot spot for families! I also loved the little downtown area in La Jolla with shops and places to eat. such a cute area.

  • Wander Mum

    Great guide! Thanks for taking me on a tour of San Diego! I have yet to go so this will come in very handy when I do. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    • Thanks so much for hosting! This is a great link-up! 🙂

  • What a lovely guide to my hometown!!

    • that’s always such a compliment from a local! thank you so much! 🙂