Things to do in San Diego - Food, Beaches, Hotel & Hiking

January 1, 1970

by Shatesha Morris

You are probably asking yourself, “Why should I travel to San Diego?” The answer to that question is simple: its beautiful, hip and most importantly, has year-round perfect weather. Many people joke about the weather, and their ability to visit the beach when it’s snowing in other places around the country. San Diego is not only an amazing place to live–but it’s one of the top travel destinations in the USA, understandably so. Also, don’t forget, San Diego arguably has the BEST authentic Mexican food! Continue reading if you want to learn more about why you should make San Diego your next trip!

San Diego Attractions:

There are so many things to do in San Diego.  So if you find yourself visiting, you’ll always have something to do. There are plenty of social and community events and even places to hide out for privacy and quiet time. Below is a list of some of the must-see/must-do events in the city:

  • Balboa Park: Family-friendly, beautiful architecture, amazing museums (residents in free every 3rd Tuesday of the month)
  • Seaport Village: Beautiful boat dock, shops, and food available. Great for a day out with the family near the water. Awesome areas nearby to catch scenic views of the city.
    • For beautiful views check out “Top of the Hyatt” on the top floor of the Hyatt directly adjacent to Seaport Village. You’ll get panoramic 40 story views of downtown and beyond, plus great drink options! *Free entry and opens daily at 3 pm! After 5 pm, 21+ only.
  • Gaslamp Quarter: This is where all of the downtown action is! Great restaurants, bars, the Horton Plaza Mall, Petco Park, and much more!
    • Must-Visit Bar:
      • Altitude Sky Lounge–> Beautiful views of Petco Park, if you’re lucky you can even catch great views of the San Diego Padre (baseball team) game!
  • North Park: Hip neighborhood area with plenty of restaurants and bars, and thrift shops if you like thrifting!
  • San Diego Zoo: With tickets costing around $54 for adults, you can bet on it being well-worth-it!
  • San Diego Safari Park: Want more exclusive views of the animals? This is your best bet! The Safari Park is an awesome way to have a close-up experience with the animals. There are options for a cheetah safari, caravan safari, jungle ropes safari, and much more!
  • Seaworld: One of the best places to visit for family and friends! Most natives have gone 2-3 times, and plan to visit again at some point.
  • San Diego County Fair at Del Mar Fairgrounds: if you happen to visit San Diego between the months of  June and July, you have to visit the fair at-least once! *Note: Extremely LONG wait to get off the freeway to access the fair. If you don’t mind traffic, definitely check it out!

Best Places to Eat in San Diego:

The restaurants in San Diego are the best! Gaslamp quarter is probably the best place to visit if you want options. Plus, everything is walking distance which is convenient if you aren’t driving. Some of the best restaurants in San Diego are listed below:

  • Trailer Park after Dark (interesting set-up, definitely a must-visit)
  • Strip Club- A Steak PLace (grill your own steak)
  • Spikes Fresh Fish Grill & Bar
  • Waterfront Bar & Grill
  • Puesto (great tacos)
  • Red Wing Bar & Grill
  • Seasons 52
  • Banzai Bar
  • The Balboa Bar & Grill
  • Hodad’s (free birthday meal!!)
  • Tom Ham’s Lighthouse (Point Loma Area)
  • Buffalo Wild Wings (North Park Area)–order the buffalo chicken on fries! It’s a native favorite!
  • Broken Yolk (breakfast)
  • Any Mexican food place (the Mexican food in San Diego is authentic!) One example: El Paisa in Logan Heights/Barrio Logan Area, or Chuy’s Taco Shop in North Park Area
  • Any Italian food place in Little Italy Area

Must See Beaches in San Diego:

Views of Coronado Beach Hotel

If you’re visiting Southern California, it would be a crime if you didn’t plan a beach day! San Diego has some of the best beaches in Southern California, everyone knows it! You’re probably wondering, “Well, how are San Diego beaches then?” The truth is, they’re a hot commodity all year round! Below are a few must-visits:

  • Coronado Beach (secluded beach in an affluent area known as Coronado, which is an island just a bridge cross away–also beautiful mansions bordering the entire beach island. There are also places for eating and shopping)
  • Mission Beach (top tourist destination. This beach is awesome because there’s an amusement park!)
  • Ocean Beach (best place for shopping and seafood restaurants)
    • Make sure you check out Wonderland Ocean Pub for great views and tasty food!
  • Harbor Beach (one of the best beaches in Oceanside, but a bit of a drive from central San Diego)

Hotel Stay in San Diego:

I’d highly recommend staying in a hotel in San Diego’s downtown area. It’s easy to travel to and fro, plus, there’s a trolley that runs throughout the area. One more awesome perk is the new “lime” and “bird” bikes/scooters that you can ride around downtown for just a few dollars. It’s fairly easy to set up as well–just download the app and follow the directions on your smartphone. I’d recommend booking your hotel stay on because that’s usually the most economical way to do it–and you’ll have extra money for fun activities around the city.

  • Little Italy
    • Any hotel in this area is usually great, it’s in a cute little area of downtown and just miles from the Gaslamp Quarter
    • Personally, I really like the “Found Hotel.” They even host a happy hour in the hotel on Thursday nights. The manager is extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the area, if you need recommendations for events, he even has a board set-up that showcases local activities.

San Diego Hikes:

San Diego isn’t just known for their beaches, but also their hiking trails! If you love hiking and views, definitely hit up a hike or two while you’re in San Diego. There are so many great spots, it’d be nearly impossible to visit all of them unless you are there for a few weeks, so here are just a few options below:

  • Kwaay Paay (2.5-mile hike)
  • Los Penasquitos Canyon (6.4-mile hike)
  • Iron Mountain (5.3-mile hike)
  • Stonewall Peak (3.8-mile hike)
  • Big Laguna Loop (10-mile hike)
  • Volcan Mountain (5.2-mile hike~difficult)
  • Mission Peak (6-mile hike) *this hike is one of the favorites among San Diego natives!


San Diego is absolutely beautiful! To list all of the things you can do in San Diego would be impossible. If you decide to travel here, you will surely not regret it!

Shatesha Morris

By Shatesha Morris

Hello & Welcome! My name is Shatesha Morris, better known as "Phenomenal Gal." I recently graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from California State University, Sacramento. I absolutely love writing–and was fortunate enough to be hired as a journalist throughout my 10-month study abroad journey in Accra, Ghana. I hope you all will journey with me!


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