San Diego is one of my favorite cities in the world! Even though I hate travelling to the same place more than once, I always find myself back here time and time again.
It has the perfect weather, beautiful beaches, adorable shops, great people, and best (kill me for actually admitting to say this word) vibe!
The first time I ever visited this city was on a romantic weekend getaway with my boyfriend, Joseph!
There’s a chance that this post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you), that goes directly towards little Rosie’s dog treats!
What to pack?
I keep a list of all my summer essentials and favorite finds on this guide here. I am constantly updated it after every warm destination – tried, true & tested! I also have a list of my 10 travel essentials I can’t live without, you can read those here!
If you are traveling to San Diego in the winter months, I would still bring summer clothes + a few light jackets. It gets cool at night, but still sunny and warm during the daytime!
My top 3 recommendations that are specific to San Diego are:
1. Bluetooth speaker for the beach
I doubt I’m the only one who loves listening to music for any occasion. What makes happy hour better? Live music. What makes getting ready when you’re tired better? My favorite songs. What makes relaxing on the beach better? Relaxing music! All of this is possible with a Bluetooth speaker and one of the main reasons why I bring this on 99% of the trips I take. Click here for the Bluetooth speaker I have.
2. Cute bathing suits
Nothing gets you more excited for a summer destination than a new bathing suit! I get my bathing suits from a variety of sites, but my all-time favorite and most affordable swim suits are from ASOS. You can browse their current ones here!
3. Sunblock Packets
I always apply a full amount of sunblock before leaving the hotel, but bring sunblock packets with me in my purse. They take up almost no space and are super easy to quickly re-apply. They are about the size of a ketchup packet and can even fit in your pocket. Click here for the packets I use.
Where to stay in San Diego?
There are three main areas to stay in, all offering a completely different vacation. There is the bustling Gaslamp district, trendy Pacific Beach, and romantic La Jolla. I have stayed in all three areas, and am indifferent. I think they’re all great spots and it just depends on what you prefer!
Also known as downtown San Diego, this is where you will find far less expensive hotels, better restaurants and more nightlife options. The only downside is you are not walking distance from the beach, which if you are looking for a beach vacation, this would not be your best option.
You can easily catch an Uber/Lyft/Taxi to the beach, which I would recommend because if you rent a car you have to pay to park it downtown ($$$) and have to drive through beach traffic.
Pacific Beach is an adorable beach town with margarita bars and surfers galore. You are only a few steps from a beautiful, beach sunset and good restaurants. The hotels in this area are more expensive because you will be on the beach, but there are a lot of airbnb or house rental options if you are coming with a big group.
This area also has a lot of nightlife options, but a lot different than the Gaslamp district. They have more of a beach-bar vibe with live music and fruity cocktails versus Gaslamp has more night clubs and higher-end bars.
La Jolla is more luxurious with gorgeous views of the ragged California coast line. The beaches here are not as nice as Pacific Beach, but the coastal views and golfing courses make up for it. If you have ever seen pictures of the seals and sea lions in San Diego, you will find 99% of them in this area.
The nightlife is quiet and mature, so a great option for a romantic get-a-way!
Day 1: Fly into San Diego
You can fly into the large, international airport in the heart of San Diego. This itinerary is based in Pacific Beach, but you could realistically stay in any area of San Diego and is completely doable.
Once you check into your hotel / Airbnb, go to my favorite Pacific Beach spot: Baja Beach Cafe! This is my favorite spot for several reasons: They have an entire page of margarita options, the margaritas are the size of your head (seriously), the have an adorable outside patio right on the beach, and the best happy hour EVER! They have 2-for-1 drinks from 4pm – 8pm every Monday-Friday (the happy hour special does not give you the extra large size though, they are still big but not as big as pictured below).
TIP: If you want to go for sunset, I would get their early to score a spot on their patio!
After you drink your weight in margaritas, you’re ready for your night out on the town! If you’re in town on a Wednesday night, make your way over to PB Shore Club for their Goldfish races!
TIP: Don’t choke and come in second place like I did, sigh…
Day 2: San Diego Zoo
Grab yourself a acai bowl at The Mad Beet, and head over to the San Diego Zoo!
Prepare yourself for a long day of walking and picture-taking because this place is huge! If you can avoid going on a weekend, I would try because it can get crowded. I would also try to go right when it opens!
End your night by grabbing a bite to eat and a bottle of wine (don’t forget the wine opener like we did, ha) and head over to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park for sunset. The smell of the ocean, sound of the waves crashing and feeling like you’re the only two people in the world is my favorite moment out of all the times I’ve been to San Diego!
End your night either bar hopping in the Gaslamp Quarter or a date night in Little Italy (both downtown San Diego). Some of my favorite bars in the Gaslamp are Onyx Nightclub, Vin De Syrah, Patrick’s Gaslamp Pub!
Day 3: La Jolla
Sleep in and head to Mister A’s for a high-end brunch. Enjoy your perfect view of the city and spend your morning relaxing and watching the planes land and take off over the city.
After brunch, drive over to La Jolla Cove. This is a cliff-side town that has shopping, cafes and SEALS! If you didn’t get your animal fix from the zoo, you can walk down to the cliffs and take a picture with the millions of seals and sea lions!
Go to dinner at the cliff-side restaurant, Crab Catcher. Enjoy your dinner watching the best sunset of your life while drinking one of their world-renowned martinis!
Day 4: Beach Day
If you’re ending your trip on a Sunday, head over to the Catamaran Resort for the best buffet-brunch of your life! For only $62, you get bottomless champagne and king crab legs / sushi!
Work off your food by either paddle boarding mission bay or spending your afternoon at the beach before your flight home.
Like this post? Pin it here!