I still remember the very first time I went to California- I was floored by the perfect weather, the insane beaches and the cool California vibe. I’ve since explored most of the major areas in the state (including Napa Valley) and I can confidently say that San Diego is by far the coolest city in California. When my best friend wanted to come visit me in Phoenix during the scorching summer months, I decided to forgo the desert and instead plan the perfect weekend in San Diego.
If you’ve never been to San Diego, do yourself a favor and get there ASAP. The city is unique in the sense that you can feel like you’re in a small beach town or in a surprisingly lively city depending on where you stay. Naturally, we wanted to experience both on our short trip. So here’s what we did:
First 2 nights in Pacific Beach. This is where you should go to get the true, laid back beachey San Diego vibe. We stayed in this Airbnb and it was easily the best one I’ve stayed at thus far. Our hosts left us bikes and a binder full of great local recommendations for where to eat, drink and play.
Played tourist for the day. First, we rode our bikes down to Mission Beach and got brunch at World Famous. The food and the views alone are worth the wait, and we went for a nice stroll on the beach while we waited to be seated. Then we headed over the Belmont Park, the iconic amusement park in San Diego where we got ice cream cones, rode the roller coaster and pretended to be kids again. We ended the stint with a bike ride where we got to look at some of the most stunning beach homes I’ve ever seen.
Played “locals” for the day. Naturally, this involved a lot of eating and lounging. Dinner at The Fishery, happy hour at a place called, you guessed it, The Local. This was hands down the best happy hour I’ve ever been to. We ate, we drank, and by 9pm happy hour turned into a big dance party at the bar. Needless to say we had a wonderful time and we even ran into our Airbnb hosts!Explored the Gaslamp Quarter. This is the downtown area in San Diego, full of bustling night life and lots of action- a starkly different vibe from Pacific Beach. We spent the night downtown and did the Brothels, Bites and Booze tour. Honestly, we weren’t all that excited because at this point we were exhausted, but the tour ended up being great. Not only do you get to try snacks and drinks from several different restaurants, but you also get to learn about the colorful history of downtown San Diego. Afterwards, we went to the Prohibition Lounge, a very cool speakeasy, with our tour guide and listened to live jazz music and tried some impressive cocktails.
Wrapped up the trip with brunch in Little Italy. Little Italy is a section of downtown San Diego with a quaint, homey feel to it. We got brunch at this cute Italian place (which since has closed, sadly). The area is perfect for strolling, shopping and taking in the perfect weather.
San Diego is the perfect vacation spot if you’re looking for the best that Cali has to offer. The sun, the beaches, the food and the overall mood is what makes this place so special. This definitely won’t be my last time exploring the city!