San Diego, California
Just two hours south of Los Angeles, San Diego is an easy weekend destination for many. Also known as “America’s Finest City,” San Diego offers many things to do that will keep you busy. However, if you only have a day to spend, here’s a quick run down of itineraries for a day trip, including hidden gems, given to you by a local!
Start the day off by having brunch in La Jolla, all while taking in the gorgeous view of the cove. Popular restaurants include Duke’s La Jolla, George’s at the Cove, and my personal favorite, Brockton Villa. After brunch, make your way down to the cove, watch sea lions hop around and listen to them talk to each other. It’s quite entertaining!
After La Jolla, drive down to Balboa Park and find yourself in a 1200-acre parkland with 15 museums, large gardens, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. You can spend your whole day here, but if you’re short on time, start at the Botanical Building (under construction in 2022/2023) and Lily Pond. It’s the most photographed area of the park. From here, you’ll be right around the museums, trails, and gorgeous gardens, including Cactus Garden, a hidden gem right in the park. This area will make you feel like you’re in a desert and not right in the center of the city.
Before leaving San Diego, make a stop at Sunset Cliffs. Find a spot and sit, take it all in. The best time to go is, naturally, at sunset, but really anytime during the day. It’ll be the perfect location to end your trip.
San Diego has so many outdoor activities, ranging from hiking, kayaking, surfing and cycling, just to name a few. For a day trip, adventurers can get their adrenaline fix by hiking Scripps Coastal Meander Trail. While many opt for Torrey Pines hiking trails, Scripps Coastal Meander Trail is a shorter trail making it a great option for a shorter visit. Depending on how far you want to go, you can spend at least an hour here. Even with a 20-minute hike, the views will make you want to stay even longer. Best of all, this is a hidden gem that a lot of San Diego locals don’t even know about.
For lunch, drive down to Old Town San Diego, aka The Birthplace of California. You’ll find yourself transported back in time. Now ask yourself, did you even go to San Diego if you didn’t get any tacos? For the best tacos in San Diego, Cafe Coyote is an Old Town staple. They’ve been voted the best Mexican restaurant for 20 years in a row!
After some food and a wander through Old Town, stop by Ocean Beach and experience the bohemian and Southern Californian beach vibes that can be found all in one area. The mile-long beach has a walking and fishing pier, and designated areas for swimming and surfing. There’s even a dog beach where you can bring your pups and have them play leash-free. One area that is secret for most people, including San Diego locals, is the Santa Cruz Avenue Beach (aka Santa Cruz Cove). This is by far my favorite area in OB, perfect for more quiet beach days. It reminds me of Sunset Cliffs and La Jolla Cove combined minus the seals. For souvenirs, food and drinks, Newport Avenue is the place to be. If you like burgers, grab a bite at Hodad’s, aka the “World’s Best Burger”. It’s been featured on TV shows and multiple “Best of” lists.
There are plenty of “Instagrammable” locations around San Diego, but if you only have one day and really want to experience San Diego, this is the list you need.
Go Go Amigo is a new Mexican Restaurant at Liberty Station. From decor to food to drinks, everything is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and your tastebuds. After brunch, walk around Liberty Station, the site of former Naval Training Center and explore the waterfront, the USS Recruit commissioned ship, walking and running trails and historical buildings converted into beautiful shops and restaurants.
Next, make the 15-minute drive over to Balboa Park. Some of my favorite photo spots include the Lily Pond, Casa del Prado Theatre, the Spanish Village Art Center, and the Cactus Garden.
For a pick me up, head over to Communal Coffee in South Park for an afternoon coffee. The trendy outdoor coffee shop with its Instagram-ready trailer serves artistically-made coffees, like their Lavender Honey Latte. The little indoor area also sells gift items and flowers. From Communal Coffee, go north on 30th where you will find the “Welcome To San Diego Mural” (right in my old neighborhood in North Park) between Howard and El Cajon Streets. Surprisingly, this place never gets really busy, although it’s a very popular photo spot.
After the mural, make your way to La Jolla Windansea Beach. This well-known surfer beach is the perfect place to watch the sunset. The historic Surf Shack, built in 1947, is the iconic building you have seen in pictures when you look up this location. Photoshoots frequently happen here, including engagement and maternity shoots, and yes, Instagram photoshoots as well.
I hope I gave you some valuable information on how to spend 24 hours in San Diego. Being a local, I’ve hosted family and friends many times, and have figured out the best way to experience San Diego, combining food, culture and scenery in a short amount of time. However, I suggest you come back, because you’ll never run out of things to do and places to explore in this picturesque part of California.
This post is sponsored by Visit San Diego; all opinions are my own.Follow Sky Envy: Bloglovin' / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest