If you’re looking for a casual and fun destination for family, friends or a romantic getaway, San Diego has it all. The weekend warrior in me was up for a beach trip, so I headed south from San Francisco. Here are some fun (budget-friendly) things to do.
Shine bright like a diamond
Island hop over to Coronado and visit the iconic Hotel del Coronado, where the beach and waves literally sparkle. (The mineral mica in the sand sets off a brilliant luster.) If you’re lucky, you might just spot the art of “The Sand Castle Man,” Billy Pavlacka, who has been building castles for over 30 years.
Lounge on the beach, rent a skimboard, stop at the oceanfront shack for a beverage or take a stroll through the historic hotel. You’ll find one-of-a-kind victorian architecture dating back to 1888 and cute boutiques with unique coastal-inspired gifts and décor. Step outside for a herb and vegetable garden where chefs handpick their ingredients.
Where to go: Hotel del Coronado, 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado
Witness an awe-inspiring show compliments of Mother Nature
Sit on the gorgeous Sunset Cliffs to soak in those panoramic ocean views and a sky that changes every evening. You can capture some amazing snaps or a romantic smooch as the sun sets. It’s wise to get there about 45 minutes before the sun sets. Tip: Google “What time does the sun set in San Diego?“
Where to go: Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, take I-8 West to the end, follow Sunset Cliffs Boulevard through Ocean Beach to Ladera Street.
Stroll the so-called “birthplace” of San Diego
Experience lots of history and culture. Stop for a treat at the general store, enjoy the taste of Mexico (and a little table-side mariachi entertainment) at Casa de Reyes. Take in a show at the theater or shop the crafts of artisans and galleries. Where to go: Old Town San Diego, Casa de Reyes is at 2754 Calhoun St.
Strut like you’re on the runway
From high-end designer stores to trendsetting boutiques, movie theater and good grub, Fashion Valley Mall is a shopper’s paradise. A stop at the bareMinerals boutique is a must. Obviously. Grab lunch at True Food Kitchen for fresh cuisine, a dog-friendly patio and delicious tacos (and strawberry rum punch). Where to go: Fashion Valley Mall
Soak up the sun
Pacific Beach (aka P.B.) is people watching at its finest. Rent a bike, or walk the boardwalk to explore. The shore path is filled with vendors and pubs where you can mix and mingle with locals and tourists.
Witness puppy love
Dog Beach is a true pup’s paradise, where they can splash, play, chase and run leash-free to their heart’s content. Even dog-lovers sans dog frequent this beach for the sheer entertainment of it all. (Myself included.) Where to go: Dog Beach
Try your luck at the races
Take a trip just 20 miles north of San Diego to visit Del Mar Fairgrounds. This one-of-a-kind racetrack has a viewing area, where you can see the horses up close before each race. Take a gamble, and place a bet on some of the most exciting races and high-profile competitors. Stay for the a concert, they happen all summer long. Where to go: Del Mar Fairgrounds