Hi ladies and gentleman! I have a great short trip for you if you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway: San Diego, California!
San Diego is such a little gem. There are several cute areas with different vibes so it’s easy to find something for everyone. If you’re looking for a weekend to experience it all, look no further; I have put together an awesome San Diego weekend itinerary.
San Diego is located in Southern California and is a fun city that encompasses the beautiful beaches of La Jolla, an artsy, upscale Gaslamp Quarter, and hiking around Torrey Pines. You’re also just a short 20 minutes to Tijuana, Mexico so you can bet there is some great Mexican food! You can truly experience it all in San Diego.
When to go to San Diego
SoCal is known for its amazing weather year-round. In the summer, the temperature is perfect and the beaches are buzzing. In the winter months, the weather can be cooler, but perfect to cruise the boardwalk and hike some of the great local trails.
How To Get Around San Diego
As you all may know by now, I am a big fan of renting a car when I travel. San Diego is no different. Everything in San Diego is close enough, but it would be expensive to uber around all weekend. I recommend renting a car so that you can have the freedom to get to those remote beaches and do all the day trips you’d like.
Where To Stay in San Diego
If you can, give yourself three full days in San Diego to explore all the different neighborhoods. Each area has its own unique vibe.
For a chill beach vibe that’s a little more upscale…
Stay in La Jolla for a cute beach town with beautiful beaches and nice shops and restaurants. La Jolla faces west so the sunsets are amazing. There are a ton of Airbnb’s or you can grab a boutique hotel to experience the quaintness of La Jolla.
For a younger more relaxed beach scene
Check out Pacific Beach or Ocean Beach. Pacific Beach has a great boardwalk, big beaches, and lots of fun bars for happy hour and going out. Ocean Beach is more of a hippy vibe with some great spots for fish tacos and margaritas!
For Nightlife and culture…
Definitely head to the Gaslamp district. The Gaslamp district is a young, hip scene with lots of great restaurants with outdoor dining, live music, and fun bars. If you want to hit the town, this is the place to stay. Also, The Gaslamp Quarter has a great brunch scene and is one of the oldest towns in San Diego.
For a quaint and quiet vibe with good food…
If you’re going for more quaint and quiet, you might want to head to Little Italy. I can tell you now, you’re in for some amazing food and ice cream.
Day 1: The Gaslamp Quarter
My best friend and I had a weekend getaway so we decided to stay in the Gaslamp Quarter to enjoy the nightlife, diverse restaurants, and cultural offerings.
We got a hotel room at the Gaslamp Plaza Suites for the weekend and enjoyed the central location and the rooftop view of the city. We arrived around midday and decided to explore the area. We headed first to Balboa Park which is about a 15-20 minute walk to the north of the Gaslamp Quarter.
Balboa Park is the hot spot for a cultural experience in San Diego. Balboa Park is home to 16 different museums, the San Diego Zoo, and there are tons of outdoor gardens and trails to explore. There are so many things to do in the park so you can really choose your own adventure!
After we had our cultural fill of museums and beautiful trails, we headed back to the Gaslamp Quarter to get ready to hit the town for the evening. It wasn’t in Little Italy, but we found an amazing Italian restaurant called Osteria Panevino right on Fifth Avenue. The food is to die for and it’s right on the main strip.
Day 2: La Jolla
We headed out to the seaside to spend the day in La Jolla. We wanted to get a little beach time in so we headed to La Jolla Shores Beach. This is a great place for everyone to enjoy the sun and see some wild life!
We caught some rays for a couple of hours and then headed down to La Jolla Cove to check out the sea lions that warm themselves on the rocks during the day. La Jolla has a rugged coastline with an easy walking trail to access all of its beauty.
If you’re feeling adventurous you can kayak, swim, and even scuba dive in La Jolla Cove. We met another group of visitors who talked us into going for an evening kayak. It was a little interesting getting out past the waves, but once you’re out in the Pacific Ocean, you’ll be glad you tried it.
For dinner, we had to try the local Mexican cuisine so we decided to go for tacos with our new friends. We ate at George’s at the Cove for some of the best tacos I have ever had and by far the best view of the ocean in La Jolla.
Pro tip: to get some amazing photos from your vacation, check out my other post on how to take aesthetic photos for some professional tips.
Day 3: Torrey Pines
Back out to the beach again for our last day in San Diego! We headed to Torrey Pines which is only a few miles north of La Jolla, but with steep cliffs down the beach and some really cool trails along the coastline.
We had to hit the beach one more time so we checked out Black’s Beach. There is a steep trail down to the beach and a beautiful view the whole way. It’s a big surfing beach so you can work on your tan and watch the surfers catch some big waves.
For the afternoon, we headed to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve which is 1,500 acres of land that was preserved and protected as San Diego developed. It has hiking trails with amazing views and pristine beaches.
The area has been preserved so the wildlife is abundant and you really get a feel for how the area used to be. I’d highly recommend spending some time enjoying the peace and the cleanliness of this unique nature preserve so close to a city.
We didn’t make it to Coronado on this trip, but if you have some extra time you can check it out. It is south of the heart of San Diego and you can drive over the massive bridge or take a ferry over. Coronado is home to a Navy base and has wide gorgeous beaches. If you are in search of a full beach day, Coronado might be a good place to head.
Other fun day trips in the area are Sea World in Mission Beach, sightseeing in Point Loma, or practicing your Spanish with a quick trip to Tijuana, Mexico. If you’ve got more time in California, check out my other blog and plan an epic 3 Day trip in San Francisco.
So if you’re looking to explore a diverse city with a little bit of everything, San Diego might be your next weekend getaway. Make sure to slow down and enjoy the little things in this unique city. And when you’re there, make sure you try something new, like surfing. It’ll help you become a more confident woman (or man).