San Diego is a one-of-a-kind coastal city with a rich American history and a very distinct personality. Whether walking the streets of Ocean Beach, where everyone seems to know how to skateboard, or perusing the revitalized and vibrant blocks of the Gaslamp Quarter, the soul of San Diego is unlike that of any other city in the world. A unique mix of cultures and districts, military and art, San Diego is a city that is famous for much more than being the second largest in California. It was founded as a haven for those who left the safe confines of the East Coast in search of gold and adventure, and to this day, San Diego is full of an unparalleled mix of cultures, from Arab and Thai, to a strong Mexican and Italian influence in different districts. The heart of San Diego lies in its variety of distinctly different districts, from Old Town and Point Loma, to North Park and Pacific Beach, each with its own history, its own crowd, and its own culture. Ultimately, the year-round perfect weather, industry leading breweries and restaurants, and beaches that rank among the best in the world, make it easy to see why many consider San Diego to be a strong candidate for America's greatest city.
Must see in San Diego
Make the drive across the bridge to visit the beaches of Coronado, or follow the coast all the way down to Silver Strand. Silver Strand is arguably the least touristy beach near San Diego, and is very clean and well-maintained.
Torrey Pines State National Park
The $10 you'll pay to park at the entrance of Torrey Pines will be one of the best you'll spend in weeks. The mix of desert, road, mountains, cliffs, and beach terrains make this one of the most memorable hikes you'll ever take.
Few places are as densely packed with history and culture as Balboa Park. First noticeable because of how massively spacious it is, and secondly because of the awe-inspiring architecture, Balboa Park is home to over 15 different museums, each with regularly evolving exhibits. Additionally, Balboa Park has restaurants, a concert hall, and unforgettable events like December Nights, a multi-cultural celebration that attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year.
Where to stay in San Diego
Reserve a Beach Condo
To maximize beach time Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and Mission Beach, among others, offer hotels and condos with great views of the ocean, and many of them are surprisingly affordable. With a little planning, you can ensure that your beach accommodations are going to be available and affordable.
Hotel Circle is an entire district full of various types of hotels, ranging from Town & Country Resort which is great for golf lovers, to the Vegabond Inn where they charge a fair rate for a good room and continental breakfast. Perhaps the best news about staying in Hotel Circle is that it's less than ten minutes from downtown and the beaches. Also, expect a variety of nearby restaurants in the area that serve the rotating group of traveling customers.
Best and worst time go to San Diego
Weather can get somewhat cool in early mornings or around sunset, but the city is known throughout the world for having some of the absolute best weather year-round. Whenever you go out in San Diego it's going to be vibrant and thriving, and even times of heat are often accompanied by a cool breeze. In the mornings, lines will form at popular cafes like Mystic Mocha in North Park, and joggers can be seen making their morning run up Cowles Mountain in the Eastern part of the county. Additionally, San Diego has a thriving nightlife, which can be seen in areas including the Gaslamp Quarter and Pacific Beach.
Where to get lost in San Diego
Ocean Beach has to be among the greatest places to get lost in San Diego. Whether you wander past the pier to carefully navigate slippery rocks as you listen to waves crash in the cracks below, or find yourself chowing down in internationally famous restaurants like Hodad's and South Beach Grill, you can visit Ocean Beach numerous times and experience different people, places, and views.
The best deal in San Diego
San Diego's Best Sightseeing Tours
Undeniably the best way to see all of the important places in San Diego is with a hop-on, hop-off trolley tour. Hitting 11 of the most well-known stops in San Diego, including Coronado, Old Town, and Balboa Park, the San Diego's Best Sightseeing Tours are free for residents who have a paying visitor.
Transportation in San Diego
San Diego has a popular and elaborate trolley system, in addition to numerous bus routes that run throughout much of the city. The city also has vibrant populations of Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as taxis and Car-2-Go vehicles, which require you to have a membership card to unlock them.
Getting In from San Diego
The San Diego International Airport, widely known as Lindbergh Field, is easy to navigate and is just a few minutes from Downtown. Numerous cabs and shuttles run from the airport, which is close to major highways like the I-8 and I-5.
Local tip for visitors to San Diego
Try the Foods of San Diego's Many Unique Cultures
While best known for having great Mexican restaurants in every town, the diversity of San Diego doesn't end there. With tons of Thai restaurants, Vietnamese Pho Restaurants, Italian, Jewish, Ethiopian, Mediterranean, French, and other cuisines all within the city of San Diego, there are constantly new dining experiences to be had. It's also worth mentioning that San Diego has become internationally known for its craft beer scene and is home to a massive variety of Food Trucks.
Author's bio: After a seven year career in the US Navy, Nicholas Napier completed his MBA and settled in California. He's published over 40 articles as the San Diego Fitness Trends Examiner, and regularly contributes as a freelance writer to various companies.