San Diego is perfect for anyone who loves a good walk, a good swim, or a good time. The numerous beaches, huge amounts of al fresco dining options, marine life, and parks all amount to making this city the best for sunshine lovers. While there are plenty of places to enjoy these things in a day, we have a few favorites in mind. So here it is- our ideal itinerary for a sunshine filled day in San Diego, from start to finish.
Morning: Wander through Balboa Park.
No doubt you have seen plenty of photos featuring this aesthetic location. Being a huge cultural hub, it has become more and more popular throughout the years, and for good reason.
Being right downtown, Balboa Park is the ideal place to spend your morning. The endless gardens (including a cactus garden, rose garden, and palm tree canyon), Spanish Renaissance architecture, and emphasis on discovery all come together flawlessly. A few favorites include the Botanical Building (stuffed full of tropical plants), Spreckels Organ Pavilion (a.k.a. the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world), the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Museum of Photographic Arts. Tourists and locals alike can expect to find both knowledge and rejuvenation in this orchid-filled paradise. There is even professionally-led tai chi for those who want to jump in!
After you’ve wandered plenty through the weaving plants and fountains, it’s time for brunch. There are many fantastic options right there at Balboa Park, but our pick is Donna Jean. Expect colorful heaps of local fare, plant-based concoctions, and enough salads and colors to last you a lifetime!
Afternoon in San Diego: Enjoy refreshments in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.
Once you are stuffed full of southern California’s best veggies and pizzas, grab a drink over in the Gaslamp Quarter. Our favorite spot is Union Kitchen & Tap for their outdoor seating, Strawberry Fields Cocktail, and rustic decor. Enjoy the refreshments and great people watching in this Victorian neighborhood.
Make sure to carve out some time to wander around this perfect walking mecca. Think sprawling art galleries, gilded theatres, trendy shops, and bookstores galore! This district is amazing for those who love long walks and stunning architecture.
Late Afternoon in San Diego: Splash around on Coronado Island.
After half a day of long walks and city attractions, Coronado makes for the ideal cool down. The wide beach glitters, and the waves are phenomenal for body boarding and surfing alike.
Once you’ve had your fill on surf and sand, wander over to the famous Hotel del Coronado. The hotel is beautiful and historic, and has a beautiful lobby as well. After, take a stroll across the 200 ft. tall San Diego-Coronado Bridge. The views of the city skyline are to die for, and the ocean breeze is sure to make it a relaxing excursion.
Evening in San Diego: Enjoy the sea life at La Jolla.
If you want marine life spottings, insanely gorgeous views, and a town full of galleries and shell shops, then La Jolla is your place. Play on the rocky beaches, and splash around in the cerulean water. This place is probably the most beautiful beach in California, so enjoy your time there!
This area is also prime for snorkeling and scuba diving. Get ready to run into plenty of colorful sea life, including sea lions. They are fun to watch, but don’t get too close- they can be aggressive. We suggest watching them from the viewing points on shore, where you can enjoy these cute little guys safely.
Sunset: Feast on a cove-side dinner.
There are so many great eateries in La Jolla, but it is hard to beat the views at George’s At The Cove. They were voted the best restaurant in San Diego, and one of the top ten in the world. Their ocean terrace offers panoramic views of the sparkling sea, and is an unbeatable spot to watch the sun go down. Their tempura cauliflower is to die for, and their drink menu is expansive (we adore their Summer Soda). Enjoy mouth-watering food, a mango sherbet sunset, and the sound of waves rolling ashore. What a fitting way to end a day of sunshine in this paradisaical city. It does not get better than this.
Whether you love the sand and sea, or sprawling mazes of art museums, San Diego is your place. Ideally you will have more than a day to enjoy this perfect city, but if you don’t, this guide will act as the perfect guide for you. Happy exploring!