I cannot tell you how much I LOVE San Diego.
San Diego is hands down one my favorite cities in California – with San Francisco being right behind it.
I first time visited San Diego in February 2020 – just right before the pandemic changed everyone’s travel agenda! And after wanting to go back, I was able to find a good flight deal from Houston and went back in February 2022.
Both times I decided to stay in Ocean Beach. I honestly fell in love with that beach town! It is so chill, cute and calm.
Ocean Beach is a bohemian neighborhood, just 15 minutes outside of San Diego, California. The community became an attraction for hippies, surfers and people who enjoy fishing! You will find surf shops, antiques stores , beachwear (in case you forget your bathing suit) and, pubs with a variety of beers and delicious Mexican restaurants.
I stayed at the same Hostel both times I visited. Samesun Ocean Beach (previously USA Hostels OB) is the cutest most vibrant, fun and chill hostel I have stayed. Check out my Instagram or Tik Tok for a tour of the hostel!
During my visit to San Diego, these are the attractions I got to explore:
- Balboa Park
- San Diego Zoo
- Spanish Village Art Center
- Little Italy
- USS Midway Museum
- Gaslamp Quarter
- Old Town San Diego
- Belmont Park
- La Jolla
- Sunset Cliffs
These are some of the restaurants I’ve tried that enjoy and recommend checking out! (This list gets updated every time I travel and you can check it out here)
San Diego is a small city and a lot of the attractions are walking distance from each other, or a fairly small drive.
Balboa Park is where you can find many of the attractions mentioned above. Located blocks from Downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is a cultural park with beautiful gardens, shops, 17 museums, and the world famous, San Diego Zoo.
I highly recommend visiting the San Diego Zoo first. With more than 4 million visitors, San Diego Zoo is the most visited Zoo in the United States. Arrive early so you can get to see all the animal exhibits. You can take the guided bus tour and once you get to the top, you can take the skyfari down (or vice versa). Both, the guided bus tour and the skyfari, are free attractions that are included with your zoo ticket.
After touring the zoo, you can walk over to Balboa Park main hub area. We walked through the Spanish Village Art Center and got to see some cool and colorful art.
Then we made our way down to the park where you can find the Balboa Park Fountain, Japanese Friendship Garden and the California Tower.
Around the fountain you can hear artist perform, grab a bite from food vendors and shop from street vendors. The Japanese Friendship Garden is based on Japanese techniques adapted to San Diego’s climate. And the California Tower can be seen from miles around.
Next to Balboa Park, you will find Little Italy with a variety of restaurants, shops, bars and even and Italian market. I definitely recommend grabbing a bite here!
If you like museums, USS Midway Museum is a cool way to learn about the longest-serving U.S. Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. You can climb up to some of their aircrafts, check out the cockpits and even have some simulator rides!
Outside of the museum, you can see the huge kissing statue. Embracing Peace sculpture depicts one of the most famous and iconic moments of history in the US, reflecting the joy of the American people upon learning WWII had ended.
Not far from the Museum, the Gaslamp Quarter is where you can experience San Diego’s nightlife! The name came after the city installed 50 gas lamp street lights to light up the “new side of town”. And since then, its called the Gaslamp Quarter.
If you make your way up north of downtown, right by the intersection of Interstate 8 and 5, the cutest little town can be found. Old Town is one of San Diego’s most popular destinations. Known as California’s birthplace, Old Town has some of the best authentic Mexican cuisine!
Belmont Park is located on the other side of Interstate 5 in Mission Beach. It is an amusement park right on the beach that opened almost a century ago, in 1925. The Giant Dipper is the only ride that still runs since it first opened, and it is a local landmark that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
La Jolla is one of the top beaches in California. The water is very calm and refreshing. The town is picture-perfect seaside upscale community with filled with cute boutiques and gourmet restaurants. Here is where you can find the hidden swings and is home to Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
Last but not least, one of my favorite places to visit is Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach; where you can get panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Sunset Cliffs National Park include caves, arches, rock beds and 400-foot sea cliffs.
There are definitely way more places to see and visit that I’ve yet to check out, so I am hoping to be back soon!
I would also love to take some surfing lessons! If you ever tried it, or recommend a place, let me know!