San Diego is currently the second most populated city in California, housing 1.4 million residents in 2019. We could see why so many people are drawn to this coastal metropolis, because it has a perfect balance of island life and urban living.
If your vacation days are limited, but you want to squeeze in a mini getaway, San Diego is a fantastic option. The weather in this Southern Californian city is perfectly temperate for a majority of the year, making it a great place to visit all year-round. Because of the city’s splendid summer climate, it does get more crowded between the months of June until August, so if you want to beat the rush, then it would be best to plan your trip sometime between the tail end of summer, and the following spring.
For anyone eager to pack their bags and head to San Diego soon, we’ve got just what you need to make the most of a weekend beach trip!
Finding a Vacation Rental by the Beach
First order of business: finding the right place to stay. If you’ll only be in the city for a weekend, the best thing you can do for yourself is to find a vacation rental that’s walking distance to a majority of the spots you want to hit. There are two central locations to find a rental for beach-goers: Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.
Anyone coming to San Diego eager to soak up the sun and spend time in the water will love the Mission Beach area. This small strip of land is sandwiched in between the Pacific Ocean on one side, and Mission Bay on the other. You could walk from oceanside to bayside in under ten minutes, and you don’t even need a car to access the best sites, restaurants, and bars in the area. Everything is just a short walk away, or you can also rent bikes and scooters too!
Pacific Beach is a larger neighborhood right above Mission Beach. If you’d rather stay on a quieter end of town that’s still relatively close to all the fun, then Pacific Beach is the place to be. Because this area is much larger than Mission Beach, you’ll have more options for vacation rentals as well.
What’s in the Area?
Both Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are connected along Mission Boulevard, where you’ll find everything you could possibly need on your trip. Start your day off right at Better Buzz Coffee Roasters, where they serve delicious acai bowls and amazing espresso-based handcrafted drinks. There are several Better Buzz locations scattered around the city, but the Mission Beach branch is known as “The Lab.”
When you’re ready to get active on the water, you can walk up the street to Catamaran Resort Hotel to pick from a variety of water sport rentals such as powerboats, kayaks, paddle boards, surf boards, and more. Once you’ve settled on your water activity of choice, you can spend the whole afternoon roaming around the blue waters of Mission Bay and Sail Bay.
One must-try restaurant is La Playa Taco Shop, right beside Catamaran Resort Hotel. Work up an appetite on the water, then chow down on La Playa’s delicious tacos with a refreshing horchata on the side. Plus, two fun spots to grab drinks around sunset are El Prez, a trendy rooftop bar with colorful interior, and Baja Beach Cafe, where they serve massive, ice cold margaritas!
And finally, at any point during your trip, you can’t forget to spend a couple hours — if not the entire day — hanging out by the ocean. The street closest to the beach is called Ocean Front Walk, which is closed off to cars and literally meant for a two-mile long walk on the beach, covering both Pacific Beach and Mission Beach’s shorelines. If you’re with the kids, you can make your way to the south end of the Ocean Front Walk and visit Belmont Park, packed with tons of amusements and rides.
Other Places to Explore
If you have the means to drive out of the area and see other parts of the city, here are a few other things you can add to your itinerary.
- Have A Personalized Mexican Food Tour
With San Diego sharing a border with Mexico, it’s only right that the city would have a hefty selection of authentic Mexican food. If you like Mexican food, then you should definitely stop by a few taquerias in San Diego.San Diego Magazine recently released their 2019 Best Restaurants list, highlighting the best places to eat, chosen by local critics and readers. One category on the list includes Best Taco Shop, with the top three restaurants being Lola 55, Lucha Libre and The Taco Stand. In the Best Mexican Food category, El Jardín, Death by Tequila, and Las Cuatro Milpas get an honorable mention. Look up which restaurants make your mouth water and turn it into your very own Mexican food tour!
- Outdoor Activities Galore at Torrey Pines
In the outskirts of San Diego — just a 30 minute drive north of Pacific Beach — you’ll find Torrey Pines State Reserve and Torrey Pines State Beach, in the coastal town of La Jolla. There are plenty of outdoor activities you can enjoy at Torrey Pines including golfing, hiking, surfing, paragliding and nature tours. Head this direction if you want to get your explorer mode on.
- Bar Hopping in the Gaslamp Quarter
For a night out on the town, you’ll find plenty of lively bars in the Gaslamp Quarter. Two rooftop bars in the area that are worth your while include Upper East Bar on top of the Kimpton Solamar Hotel and The Nolen, a top candidate for the best urban view of San Diego. If you’re into the speakeasy vibe, be sure to make a reservation at Noble Experiment, an exclusive bar known for its strong drinks and skilled mixologists.
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