San Diego guide

San Diego guide

Consistently sunny weather and 70 miles of magnificent coastline are what draw all active and sun-loving people to San Diego all year round. Not to mention the mouthwatering Mexican cuisine, vibrant nightlife and one of the country's favorite zoos.

And then there are the beaches: Mission Beach, perfect for riding a wave, La Jolla, ideal for sunbathing and Coronado, preferred for a pleasant walk by the sea.

Why visit San Diego

Seventh largest city in the United States with nearly 1,3 million inhabitants, San Diego is a particularly popular city for enjoying the California sun… 300 days a year! The richness of its culture combined with its natural beauty make it a major tourist destination in California.

In addition, the city faces the Pacific with the Coronado Peninsula and its paradisiacal beaches which enjoy a very mild climate. San Diego is a leisure lover's delight!

The surrounding areas offer some interesting excursions, and Mexico, with the border town of Tijuana, it is in fact a few kilometers away.

San Diego itself is not without interest: it has an intact historic center and the atypical neighborhood of Gas Lamp Quarter which, as the name suggests, is lit only by gas lamps, giving it an incomparable charm.

Il Balboa Park, a breath of fresh air in the city center, is a small wonder with abundant tropical vegetation. It is home to many museums and galleries.

Also the zoo in San Diego worth a visit. It is one of the largest zoos in the world, best known for its action in protecting endangered species. Let's not forget the SeaWorld San Diego, an obligatory stop in the city.

The highlights of San Diego

  • it's a much less busy city than Los Angeles.
  • provides numerous and varied on-site activities.
  • it is home to really beautiful parks.
  • culture is omnipresent.

The weak point

  • it is very busy in the high season.

What to see in San Diego

Unfortunately due to limited time, you will be forced to choose from all the San Diego attractions.

In the heart of San Diego, it will be Balboa Park to establish itself on the list of attractions to visit. Fifteen museums and curiosities are exhibited in its 490 green hectares: the Museum of Man with its pottery, Mayan decorations and curiosities of the tribes of the southwest before the arrival of the Spaniards. Lovers of anthropology will also appreciate the replica of Lucy Australopithecus' skull.

More original, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is dedicated to miniature reproductions of railway networks. Fans of miniature train models will be amazed by the quality of 1/87 reproductions! Also in Balboa Park, you can visit the Spanish village, built in the 30s and now a historical monument.

Thirty kilometers from the city, the seaside resort of La Jolla and its tranquil charm will delight those looking for a quieter atmosphere.

It is imperative to visit it zoo in San Diego. It is one of the largest animal parks in the world, with nearly 4000 species of animals spread over an area of ​​40 km². Here you will have the chance to see tigers, pandas, gorillas and many other threatened or endangered species. The zoo has a part reserved for children who will be able to pet some species.

Il Sea World it's also a must in town. This gigantic water park offers, in addition to its attractions, a show of killer whales, a tunnel where sharks swim, and the inevitable pool where you can stroke the rays. The San Diego harbor area is home to many military buildings and is the largest Pacific base in the country.

You can use the two passport which offer access to a different number of attractions:

Go san diego card - Allows free admission and direct access to over 40 attractions, including Sea World, Legoland, the San Diego Zoo, Universal and all museums in Balboa Park.

Southern California CityPass - gives you a day at SeaWorld San Diego and the San Diego Zoo, another day at Universal Studios Hollywood, and a 3-day Disneyland park ticket.

What to do in San Diego

Admire the coast - Its magnificent coastline makes San Diego an ideal destination for adventurers and sun worshipers. Whether you're walking along the sandstone cliffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve, walking the foaming waves of Coronado Beach, or taking in the postcard-perfect scenery at La Jolla Cove, you'll find little reason to stray from the city's natural wonders.

To surf - San Diego is a kind of surfing mecca. Black's Beach is a hotspot for those with some experience, while the surf school in San Diego ( offers lessons for beginners.

biking - San Diego has miles of flat, paved terrain; perfect for touring cyclists. A popular route is the Bayshore Bikeway (24 miles) which starts at the Coronado Ferry Landing and ends in Downtown.

Hiking - The Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve in La Jolla and the Mission Trails Regional Park in northeast San Diego offer a good variety of trails. The city also offers some unique opportunities for both outdoor and indoor rock climbing.

Set sail for Catalina Island - During the spring and summer, a gentle coastal breeze makes sailing around San Diego an inviting option. You could rent a sailboat and enjoy the sunset or take a cruise to Catalina Island.

Play on a championship golf course - The year-round pleasant climate makes San Diego an ideal golfing destination. Whether you want to play golf with sea, mountain or desert views, there are over 90 courses to test your swing.

Watch the fireworks with a night kayak - From June to September, Seaworld organizes an evening fireworks display at Shamu Stadium. Instead of the stadium, why not enjoy the show on a night kayak? Illuminated by lanterns, San Diego Kayak Adventure ( offers the excursion around Mission Bay.

Diving - Those looking to explore San Diego's underwater world can take a dip in La Jolla or Point Loma. Wreck divers can board charters at Mission Beach. For divers, there is certainly no better named site than Wreck Alley. The Coronado Islands, in Mexican waters, are another popular spot.

Know the history - Even if it's tempting to spend your entire vacation exploring, don't forget to take some time out for a lesson on San Diego's history: America's Finest City proudly displays its military and maritime heritage with two well-kept museums ( and highly interactive).

The Best Time to Visit San Diego

The best times to visit San Diego are from March to May and from September to November. You can find some great deals on travel rates during the low seasons versus the peak summer season.

However, due to the warm weather, which averages 16 to 25 ° C all year round, there is really never a worse time or a month not recommended. But this does not necessarily mean that all times of the year are sunny.

Cloudy days often occur during the months of May and June, so much so that locals designate the months as "May Gray" and "June Gloom" (dark June). Rain comes during the winter months, so a day on the beach is out of the question during this time (also due to the ocean waters that are too cold for swimming).

How to reach us

By plane

San Diego International Airport, better known as Lindbergh Field, (IATA: SAN) is 2,5 - 3 miles (4 - 4,8 km) northwest of downtown San Diego and is less than 10 minutes by car (or taxi) from the city center.

All major US airlines fly to San Diego from other destinations in the US. Cheaper fares are available if you are traveling outside of peak periods such as school summer holidays, Christmas and Thanksgiving.

In the car

San Diego is California's southernmost coastal metropolis. It is the hub of three major interstate highway systems: I-5 (which runs north to south from the border between the United States and Canada to the border with Mexico); I-15, which begins in San Diego and runs northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada; And I-8 East, which begins in San Diego and connects with I-10 outside of Phoenix, Arizona.

San Diego also has an east-west corridor, which is designed to accommodate the increased rush hour traffic to suburban areas east of San Diego.

The four-lane state highway Route 56 (SR 56) helped reduce much of the congestion on San Diego's main eastern corridor, I-15. The I-5 is the connecting artery for most of the major cities of the California. Los Angeles e San Francisco they are both north of San Diego and reached via I-5.

By train

The San Diego train station is Santa Fe Station, 1050 Kettner Boulevard, corner of Broadway. Facilities are limited, but the architecture (Spanish style) is magnificent. The city operates a bus line (Route 992, “Airport Flyer”) between the train station and San Diego International Airport.

Amtrak manages the railway service Pacific Surfliner stopping at several stations along California's scenic west coast and offering multiple round-trip daily trips between San Diego and Los Angeles, continuing on to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

By bus

Unfortunately, there is no central bus terminal and they are not located next to each other in the same area. Each company has its own stops or stations throughout the city.

  • G ( operates buses to other American cities from its terminal at 1313 National Avenue.
  • Hoang Express, 9326 Miramesa Blvd, offers service from Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area in Southern California.
  • InterCalifornias, 751-A E San Ysidro Blvd., sale a Los Angeles, San Fernando, Bakersfield, Fresno e San Jose / Stockton.
  • LuxBus, (has various pickup locations upon request), offers four daily trips to and from Anaheim or Los Angeles.

Getting around

The best way to get around San Diego is by car. You will find that the bus and tram routes are not as well connected as in other cities, so to fully experience it, it is best to rent a car.

You can rent a car at San Diego International Airport (SAN) - located about 2 miles northwest of downtown - or you can take a taxi and rent a car once you arrive in the city.

Taxi fares from the airport to downtown San Diego can vary depending on traffic, but you should expect to pay $ 12 to $ 15 for a one-way trip. Learn more about transportation in San Diego

What to eat

Being close to the US-Mexico border, just 16 miles north, it should come as no surprise that San Diego is home to a delicious assortment of Mexican food of first quality.

Big and small Mexican restaurants can be found wherever you go, both in affluent areas like La Jolla and Point Loma and in the malls along the highway.

In addition to the production of the excellent californian wine, San Diego has also made a name for itself in the craft beer. The city boasts more than 130 breweries. The best craft breweries, such as Karl Strauss, Stone Brewing, and Ballast Point, are all located in San Diego.

Il fish is another important component of San Diego's culinary character, thanks to the ocean's proximity to the city. For the best atmosphere, look for the places closest to the water, such as Point Loma Seafood, Mitch's Seafood (also in Point Loma), and Oscar's Mexican Seafood in Pacific Beach.

Shopping a San Diego

San Diego has several shopping areas. Typical California gifts range from T-shirts to expensive artwork from one of the area's many art galleries. A bottle of Californian wine is always a popular choice.

Main areasHillcrest is where visitors can find local grocery stores and funky gift shops. Little Italy e Downtown, offer a fine selection of shops focusing on Mediterranean cuisine and culture.

San Diego, like most Californian cities, has a wide range of supermarkets and specialty food stores. Ralphs e Vons they are just two of the main markets and are found in most residential districts. Both are generally open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Alternative food stores including Trader Joe's, Henry’s e Barons Market they have a wide range of gastronomic products, cheeses and wines.

Markets - there are several farmers' markets scattered throughout San Diego County. Among the most popular there is Ocean Beach, where Newport Avenue is closed to traffic on Wednesdays 16.00-20.00pm. Vendors here sell everything from organic vegetables and flower packets to T-shirts and incense.

Shopping centers - Built to take advantage of Southern California's sunny climate, Horton Plaza, at Fourth Avenue and F Street, Downtown, is one of San Diego's premier shopping malls, with bright and airy interiors, built on multiple levels and designed for easy accessibility. Fashion Valley, 7007 Friars Road, offers many luxury shops including Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Burberry and Bose.

San Diego is a book lover's paradise with several excellent specialist bookstores. One of the oldest and largest is La Jolla's Warwick's, 7812 Girard Avenue, which has roots dating back to 1896. The Southern California New Age vibe thrives at Controversial Bookstore, 3063 University Avenue.

Opening time - Most shops are open Monday to Saturday 08.00-21.00 and Sunday 11.00-18.00, although opening hours may vary.

Tax information - Sales tax stands at 7,75% in San Diego. There are duty-free shops in San Ysidro, directly south of San Diego, via I-5, on the US-Mexico border. These stores are extremely popular and offer a large selection of products at reduced prices.

Where stay

San Diego's collection of hotels and resorts is as diverse as it is plentiful. San Diego is no longer the sleepy beach town it once was. Full Downtown luxury hotels cater to lone business travelers and young couples with trendy restaurants and beautiful pools. Budget-friendly options can be found in smaller neighborhoods just outside the Gaslamp Quarter such as Little Italy e Uptown.

Beachfront communities are also packed with accommodation options. Across the bridge, the hotels and resorts of Coronado they offer access to a stretch of sparkling white sand that is often recognized as one of the best beaches in the country.

La Jolla offers many romantic luxury oceanfront hotels and some of the best restaurants and specialty shops in the area.

Surfers feel at home in the informal inns and budget stays of Pacific beach e Mission bay. If you plan to fish, check out the hotels located near the marinas in Shelter Island, Point Loma o Coronado.

For families, Uptown, Mission valley e Old Town they are located near SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo, offering quality accommodations with extras like sofa beds and video games.

Mission valley it is also ideal for business travelers; there are many well-known chain hotels with conference spaces, modern shopping malls, and extended-stay kitchenettes.

Whether you're looking for something trendy and central, or a hotel right on the beach, whatever your mood or occasion, you'll find the perfect place to rest after an active day exploring San Diego.

San Diego guide
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