Though I was raised in the Midwest and now live on the East Coast, I have always adored California, or as some call it in Washington, DC, the ‘left coast’. Perhaps my favorite town in California is San Diego – the perfect mix of cosmopolitan city and ocean town, made even better by endless sunshine.
I was fortunate enough to be able to visit San Diego for the third time this January. Even in what is perhaps the bleakest month elsewhere in the country, I was greeted with clear skies, warm sunshine, and high temperatures in the low 70s. I was only in town for four days, but even after such a short time, it was hard to leave.
Over the last several stops I’ve made in San Diego, I’ve come to love a few places in particular. So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorite spots and things to do in this blissfully bright coastal city.
What To Do
Downtown San Diego Habor – I recommend not leaving San Diego before going for a long stroll along the harbor. You’ll find street vendors, live music, plenty of restaurants, the occasional fish market, and more museums than you’ll have time to see. You can also tour ships and submarines, like the HMS Surprise, the tall ship featured in movies like Master and Commander, and the USS Dolphin, the deepest diving submarine in the world.
Balboa Park – It is easy to spend a full day at Balboa Park, so plan accordingly. From its beautiful gardens, many museums, restaurants, and walking trails to its very own zoo, there is truly something for everyone here. It’s worth blocking off enough time so you can see as much as possible; you’ll never find yourself bored.
The Gaslamp Quarter – If you are any fan of food or shopping, visiting the Gaslamp Quarter is a must. You’ll find fabulous stores, restaurants, and cafes – enough to keep you occupied for hours.
Harbor/Marine Life Boat Tours – San Diego offers a multitude of short cruises to view the marine life and landscape of its harbor. You can choose from whale and dolphin-watching cruises, harbor cruises, and dining tours. During my last visit, I caught a one-hour harbor tour, which included the chance to see everything from sea lions to fighter jets taking off from the naval base on Coronado.
La Jolla Beaches – While not technically San Diego, its ritzier sister city La Jolla is always worth a visit. And perhaps the best way to experience La Jolla is to enjoy its white-sand beaches. One such beautiful beach – a rustic one, for the record – is Torrey Pines State Beach; if you’re feeling adventurous, you can hang glide from the cliffs above it.
Where To Eat
The Broken Yolk – If you’re staying in the Gaslamp Quarter, I insist that you stop here for breakfast. You’ll love the cheerful atmosphere, and enjoy a mouth-watering meal at a reasonable price. Afterward, you can stroll just a few blocks west to the harbor and walk off your hearty entree.
Anthony’s Fish Grotto – If you’re like me and love nothing more than eating seafood on the water, Anthony’s is the lunch spot for you. You’ll order at the counter, but wait for your meal at a table literally over the harbor, watching boats go by and catching some rays. I’d recommend any entree featuring fried fish; you won’t be disappointed.
The Oceanaire Room – If you’re looking for a more upscale restaurant for dinner, look no further than the Oceanaire Room. If there was ever a city in which to enjoy their vast menu of seafood options, San Diego is it. You’ll also find a great wine list and fabulous desserts. Last time I was there, we enjoyed pink champagne sorbet – so fabulous.
What are your favorite places to visit in San Diego? What have I missed? Tell me in the comments.