Why visit San Diego? San Diego has more than 30 beaches, 50 public golf
courses, a world famous zoo and many, many museums and theme parks – so
planning a vacation is easy. San Diego is California’s second largest
city but it does not feel crowded. With 70 miles of beaches in San
Diego County, you’ll always find a prime spot for your towel. Local Cities & Towns
San Diego's glowing skyline at dusk
San Diego boasts near-perennial summer, a huge stock of
accommodations from budget to luxury for vacations with no limits. Head
to the Gaslamp Quarter for nightly entertainment, pubs and restaurants.
Go east to Julian or the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Or, head north to
La Jolla and Del Mar. Our scenic drives show you the way.
Some of the highlights of this destination include:
Attractions: San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Old Town San
Diego, Sea World San Diego, Cabrillo National Monument, Horton Plaza,
Legoland, Belmont Park, Maritime Museum, Seaport Village, Crystal Pier,
Mission Bay Park, La Jolla Cove and many more.
Towns: San Diego, La Jolla, Del Mar, Coronado, Escondito, Imperial Beach, La Mesa
Beaches: Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, Black’s Beach, Windansea Beach,
Ocean Beach, La Jolla Shores Beach, Torrey Pines State Beach
State Parks: Torrey Pines State Reserve
SCENICE DRIVES: San Diego is loaded with great sights and
activities – too many for a single drive. The map shows three
drives, allowing for time to get out and stick your toes in the sand,
enjoy a meal, tour a ship or a museum...whatever "vacation" means to you.
Tour 1: Seaport Village to Point Loma to Old Town
Start at Seaport Village near downtown San Diego on the Bay for a
relaxing place to walk, dine and shop. Head north on Harbor to
the Maritime Museum with three historic vessels (a tall ship, a ferry
and a yacht). Next, head west to Point Loma and the Cabrillo
National Monument for great views of the Pacific Ocean. December
through February is the season for spotting whales but the tidepools
are interesting year-round.
Backtrack north to Sunset Cliffs for more gorgeous views, stopping
at Ocean Beach if you have time. Otherwise, turn right on W.
Point Loma, right on Midway and left on Rosecrans to find Old Town, the
state historic park. The park showcases the first European
settlement in California with historic buildings amid shops,
restaurants and tours.
End the day by taking I-5 south to 6th Ave where you head south to
the Gaslamp Quarter, the main restaurant, theatre and entertainment
district on the edge of downtown.
Tour 2: Horton Plaza to Balboa Park to Coronado
Horton Plaza is a fun place to start your next San Diego day –
right in the center of downtown, these colorful shops and restaurants
are great to explore and do some people-watching, especially on a sunny
day. Parking nearby. Head north on 1st to the Hillcrest
neighborhood for a more laid back, funky version of San Diego life away
from skyscrapers and sand.
Take Washington St. to 163 and head south into Balboa Park, a
destination known worldwide. There is plenty of parking for
visitors. The Park is home to the famous San Diego Zoo and a long
list of other attractions like the Aerospace Museum, the Museum of Man,
Model Railroad Museum, Museum of Art...and many more. There are
fountains, gardens, historic buildings – more things to see and do in a
day so plan ahead.
Take I-5 out of the Balboa Park to the Coronado Bridge for a scenic
crossing to Coronado (perhaps for sunset on the beach). Don’t
miss the landmark Hotel del Coronado, a historic Victorian hotel right
on the water. Enjoy the beach, a cocktail or a bike ride and
backtrack on the Bridge to return to San Diego.
SIDETRIP: Continue south on Silver Strand Blvd. to Imperial Beach or even further south to Tijuana, Mexico.
Tour 3: Sea World – Beaches – La Jolla
Start in Mission Bay Park where the large Sea World complex
attracts crowds with open-air shows, rides and demonstrations. Head
north on Ingraham, left on Grand Ave. to enjoy the coast. Crystal Pier
and Pacific Beach areas are quintessential San Diego beaches with
sunbathers, continuous volleyball games, skaters, snack shops, surf
shops and, right on the Pier, a motel!
Continue north along the rugged coast to La Jolla, a wealthy town
with a nice shopping/restauarant district on Prospect. The main
attraction is the Cove where sea lions and pelicans dominate the
scene. Great beachcombing nearby.
SIDETRIP: Continue northward to visit Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute or Torrey Pines State Reserve.
SIDETRIP: If you continue northward to Carlsbad, watch the
hillsides to spot the huge fields of brilliant colors (a major source
for millions of annual flower plants). It is also the location of
Legoland, a popular theme park for young children.
Make a loop around La Jolla on Torrey Pines Rd. to return southward
but first make a left onto Nautilus for another scenic view from the
hills. At the top, stop at Soledad Natural Park before continuing
south. At Garnet, turn right to head back to the beach where you
will turn left near Crystal Pier. Follow Mission Blvd to Mission
Beach and Belmont Park where you can ride a restored 1925 wooden roller
coaster at the water’s edge.