San Diego, also called “America’s Perfect City,” is known for its beautiful weather and over 70 miles of beaches. It also has a rich history, architectural interest, and opportunities to see an abundance of wildlife.
When you’re a first-time visitor to the city and browsing through San Diego, California vacation ideas, consider the sights you most want to see and choose a home base that’s centrally located to give you easy access to those venues.
The Spanish Colonial Revival architecture at Balboa Park creates the illusion of a mythical castle rising above well-groomed gardens. Balboa Park features a mix of paid and free things to see, such as 15 museums and numerous gardens. Telescopes are set up one night per week so visitors can catch a stunning view of the night sky.
Coronado Beach offers guests a peaceful experience, with gentle waves and miles of sand for sunbathing. Walk the shoreline looking for shells, hop on a boogie-board, join in a game of beach volleyball, or relax with the kids and build a sandcastle.
Capture photos of the historic Hotel del Coronado, nestled between the mountain range and San Diego Bay, for a keepsake of your time at the beach. If a busier stretch of sand is more your style, consider visiting Mission Beach or Pacific Beach for a more high-energy experience.
The Gaslamp Quarter spans a distance of more than 16 city blocks, and the streets are lined with renovated Victorian architecture. Visitors to the district can walk through for free and snap photos of the historic setting.
The Gaslamp Quarter also offers a variety of shopping experiences in the small boutique shops, art galleries, and specialty stores that fill the Victorian structures. This area is busy day and night, and you can also grab something to eat or go out for drinks. Guests also enjoy trendy restaurants, nightclubs, and bars that deliver a vibrant nightlife scene.
San Diego Zoo
Visit one of the largest rare and endangered animal collections in the world at the San Diego Zoo. This wildlife collection is housed on a 100-acre plot of land, and trails guide guests through the zoo to see a variety of animal species. You can also ride an aerial tram or enjoy a guided bus tour of the zoo.
San Diego Safari Park
If you want to plan some short weekend trips from San Diego during your stay, consider heading out to Escondido and the San Diego Safari Park. The safari park is home to African animals, like lions and elephants. Guests can choose from the different types of safaris offered, like a high-energy zip-line safari, or a more casual caravan-style safari.