San Diego
San Diego

San Diego

California, United States
Dream of California, and you're halfway to San Diego already: sandy beaches and seafood bistros in La Jolla, sailors sipping craft brews along 30th St., future stars making stage debuts in University Heights, pandas at the Zoo, snorkeling in Coronado, and summer romance year-round in the mood-lit Gaslamp Quarter.
Getting Around San Diego
The best way to get around San Diego is by car. A rental car will allow you to explore the whole San Diego region. Taxis are abundant throughout downtown and can be hired for $2.80 plus $3 per mile. San Diego's public transit system is economical to reach major attractions. Fares are generally $2.25 for a one-way ticket and $5 for a day pass. $2 will be added to your first purchase of a Compass Card, a reloadable card which can be used throughout the system. Downtown, the waterfront and certain neighborhoods like Pacific Beach, La Jolla and Hillcrest are well-suited for strolling.
Nearby Airports
  • San Diego International Airport-SAN
Airport Taxis
  • $15
Things to Do and See in San Diego
Gaslamp QuarterMission HillsNorth ParkCoronadoLittle ItalyNormal HeightsUniversity HeightsOcean BeachSouth ParkCity HeightsKensingtonHillcrest
This historic San Diego Bay neighborhood is visually stunning and understandably touristy, given its handy location near the Convention Center and Seaport Village. Here you're just steps away from the bay and Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. Hotels, clubs, shopping, and multiplex cinemas are all within walking distance. The Gaslamp Quarter was once home to brothels and Chinese immigrants brought here as laborers, and although the neighborhood has gone upscale and legit, gas lamps still set a romantic mood.
On a bluff east of the bay and west of Hillcrest, Mission Hills' stately homes nestle along well-manicured streets. University of California San Diego Medical center and other medical facilities are based here, so there is always a weekday buzz at hip, casual dining spots. Check out Presidio Hill and the historic site of Fort Stockton, which was taken, lost, and retaken by U.S. forces in the Mexican-American war of 1846-47. The area offers few accommodation options but plenty of charm in one of San Diego's best-kept original settlements.
Rated a top-20 hipster neighborhood by Forbes Magazine, North Park receives high praise for its cafes, microbreweries, and nightlife. Funky boutiques, a great farmer's market (Thursdays), and live local music complete the local scene. The main streets are lively, especially on weekends, when crowds converge for quick bites and tequila cocktails with a sting.
Known locally as "The Island" but actually a peninsula, Coronado is a quiet, clean, upscale area with appealing accommodation options. Cars are not needed here—everything is walkable, including one of California's most desirable beaches. Large stately manor homes line the beach north of Hotel Del Coronado all the way to Naval Air Station North Island, the birthplace of naval aviation and the training ground for Navy Seals. Golfing, dining, and water sports are all highlights in Coronado. Should you feel a bit of island fever, board a passenger ferry for a scenic ride over to downtown San Diego.
Food, food, food! Just outside downtown along the bay, Little Italy serves generous helpings of Italian pasta plus English pub fare, burgers, upscale Chinese, and Argentine steaks. Little Italy was once the hub for Italian fishermen who worked San Diego's tuna fleets—but when the boats sailed off, the bayfront became its own attraction. Since the neighborhood is close to the airport, zoo, downtown, and Sea World, there are several boutique hotels and a B&B here. This district stays classy, clean, and walkable. Burn off that tiramisu browsing the San Diego Firehouse Museum and the local architectural salvage shop.
This diverse area is funkier and more down to earth than its neighbors, Kensington and University Heights. Along its Adams Avenue business strip, students mingle with families. Normal Heights gets its name from the California State Normal School, which was founded in 1897 as a teacher-training college and later developed into the California State University system.
University Heights is the capitol of local coffeehouse culture (notable stops are Twiggs and Lestat's) and one of San Diego's central neighborhoods. Here you'll find tasty dining, a mellow vibe and celebrated cultural diversity. A live theater company keeps the locals entertained. Neighborhood highlights include local theater, antique shops, and Trolley Barn Park, a site where the original trolley cars terminated.
Welcome to the quintessential California beach town. Walk on water down a long wooden pier, and watch daredevil surfers ride the waves right through the wooden pylons. Along wide stretches of white sand, free spirits mix with nine-to-fivers boogie-boarding on lunch breaks. Bide your time in line at Hodad's for burgers worthy of local surf champions.
This hip Gen X and Y neighborhood is packed with trendy eateries and energetic young families. Men's Journal reporters called 30th Street "the nation's best craft beer boulevard." Restored vintage 1905-30 family homes blend with independent small businesses to form a welcoming community, though parking can be tough to find.
City Heights is beginning an urban renaissance, but it hasn't lost its diverse ethnic working-class roots. As you might guess from the multilingual business and street signs, Hispanic, Cambodian, Ethiopian, and Vietnamese are among the largest local communities. Neighborhood mom-and-pop restaurants are big on flavor and value, featuring global family recipes and California-grown ingredients.
Bordered by a large canyon, this sequestered neighborhood is mostly manicured lawns and refurbished Craftsman style homes, with quaint eateries and small shops in the business district. Kensington has its own art-house cinema, which is the last single-screen theater remaining in San Diego.
Just north of downtown and Balboa Park, you'll find the largest selection of of dining options in the area, often al fresco. Hillcrest is the center of San Diego's LGBT scene, with nightclubs, eateries, inviting coffee houses, and indie boutiques. It's hip and walkable, which is important because parking can be scarce. An arthouse multi-screen cinema crowns a mixed-use complex on 5th. Hillcrest boasts the first street to be named in honor of Harvey Milk, the San Francisco gay rights pioneer.
Our friends at pick the city's best restaurants each quarter, and we trust their opinion. See full list »
The first of Brian Malarkey's restaurant empire to open and its flagship concept; Searsucker adds a needed food-worthy dining destination to the Gaslamp.
The burgers at this East Village spot are as good as the craft beer that's served with it (yes, even without ketchup). It's bar food done better: steak tartar and deviled eggs with artichoke mousse.
Chaplos Restaurant & Bar
Burger fans are giving rave reviews to this Roaring 20s-era downtown restaurant; its Chaplos Burger comes on pretzel bread and is served with crispy cipollini onions.
Cafe Chloe
A small, cozy spot in the East Village with a menu of updated bistro classics and a beloved brunch that manages to be untrendy yet totally stylish.