Explore the City of San Diego


Guide Outline

  1. Hotels in San Diego
  2. Restaurants in San Diego
  3. Things to Do in San Diego
  4. Do’s and Don’ts While Visiting San Diego

The city of San Diego has plenty to offer, which is not surprising since it is the eighth largest city in the country.  Despite its size, the atmosphere is laidback and welcoming to those who visit.  Travelers will find that they can spend time inside and outside, as they explore the attractions, wander along the beach, and see the natural beauty that can be found everywhere. 

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Hotels in San Diego

There is a plethora of hotels within the San Diego area, but we have a couple favorites that we love! 

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Kings Inn San Diego

Kings Inn San Diego

This amazing hotel has been one of the top choices of travelers for more than fifty years.  Kings Inn San Diego is within a fifteen-minute drive from all the popular attractions within the city.  In fact, the San Diego Zoo and Sea World are only minutes away.  All the guest rooms have been recently remodeled, and travelers will love the heated pool and spa, as well as the fitness center.  The Wi-Fi is free and there are plenty of family friendly options for those traveling with children.  The best part is that there are two restaurants and a lounge on site. 

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Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Hard Rock Hotel

The Hard Rock Hotel San Diego is right in the center of the downtown area, which means that travelers are staying right where all the nighttime action is within Gaslamp Quarter.  PETCO Park is only one block away and the convention center is across the street.  This hotel has three types of rooms including studios, Hard Rock Suites, and VIP Rock Star Suites and each one is guaranteed to offer the comfort that travelers need.  Guests will love dining at Maryjane’s for breakfast and lunch, while NOBU is perfect for dinner.  This hotel offers all-inclusive packages that will give everyone the features and experiences they desire for their time in the city. 

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Bahia Resort Hotel

Bahia Resort Hotel

The Bahia Resort Hotel can be found on the waterfront of Mission Bay and it offers fabulous views of the ocean, as well as the lush tropical gardens that surround the hotel.  The rooms offer the ultimate in comfort and each one has either a private balcony or patio.  Some rooms also have kitchenettes, which are perfect for making snacks or small meals.  There are plenty of dining options on site though, so no one needs to prepare foods if they do not want to. 

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Restaurants in San Diego

San Diego offers a culinary experience even to the pickiest of eaters.  While there are too many restaurants to count, we have found a few favorites that every traveler will love. 

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Cobblestone Cottage Tea Shoppe

Cobblestone Cottage Tea

This little tea shop has been open since 1998 and it is the perfect place for travelers to sit and relax, as they reflect on their time in the city.  There are dozens of teas for people to choose from, as well as sandwiches, savory treats, and multiple desserts. 

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Petrinis San Diego


This local gem can be found within the Little Italy neighborhood of San Diego and travelers will find themselves having difficulty choosing which traditional Italian meal to eat.  The atmosphere inside is charming and inviting and the meals are quite inexpensive considering the amount of food that is served. 

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The Gaslamp Strip Club

Gaslamp Strip Club

This restaurant is named after its signature dish, which is the strip steak, although a person does need to be twenty-one or older to enter.  Guests sit inside curved leather booths under the dim lighting, as they cook their own steaks on the grill in the center.  While there are multiple types of steaks to choose from, diners can also order chicken, seafood, and vegetarian options. 

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Views of the stunning San Diego skyline are plentiful at Peohe’s and this restaurant gets even better with its tropical vibe and amazing cuisine.  This restaurant can be found just steps from the Ferry Landing, which means that guests can watch the boats pass by as they dine on delectable seafood dishes. 

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The Prado

The Prado

Those travelers who are wandering around Balboa Park will be thrilled when they stumble upon The Prado.  There are four main dining areas at this restaurant including the terrace, the courtyard, the solarium, and the lounge.  The terrace allows diners to sit outside to enjoy the fresh air, while the courtyard offers seating that looks out towards the fountains and the courtyard.  The solarium looks out towards the terrace and has skylights, and the lounge has two different happy hours that include numerous signature drinks. 

Things to Do in San Diego

There is so much to do in San Diego, which means that travelers will want to have a plan in place, or they will not have time to see everything that they want to.  Here are some of our favorite things to do while visiting the city.

Visit La Jolla

La Jolla

La Jolla is a beach town that offers quite a few upscale qualities that include the cliffs that look out over the ocean.  Travelers will love shopping in this town and many of them will also want to grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants that offer ocean views.  This area offers much more too including kayaking, surfing, biking, and running on the beach.

Take a Tour of the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier

USS Midway Aircraft Carrier

The military is everywhere in San Diego, which is why this aircraft carrier has been turned into a top tourist destination.  The USS Midway is nine hundred and seventy-two feet long and it was the longest ship in the world for many years.  The docents provide amazing information, which is perfect for those who do not know much about the military or ships.  There are also twenty-five different aircrafts on display around the ship, so travelers will want to plan on staying for a few hours. 

Explore Balboa Park

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is huge, and travelers can spend days wandering around as they look at the buildings and see all the fountains.  It is possible to see a Shakespearean play inside this park, as well as wander through eight gardens and fifteen museums. 

Visit Coronado Island

Coronado Island

Coronado is not an island, but it is a peninsula that can be found between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean.  This area is not large, but it is packed with things to do.  Visitors can walk along the beach, grab an ice cream or a drink at the bar in the Hotel del Coronado, or simply hang out in the downtown area. 

Go on a Harbor Cruise

Harbor Cruise

Water is everywhere in San Diego, so it should not be a surprise that visitors need to venture out in the water on a cruise.  While on the cruise, travelers will see the city’s skyline, as well as the Pacific Fleet and the massive height of the Coronado Bridge.  The best part of these cruises is that the water is calm throughout the year.

Visit the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo

There are so many animals at the San Diego Zoo, but the favorites are the Giant pandas.  The very first animal, a Kodiak bear named Caesar, arrived at this zoo in 1916 and since then thousands of others have been added.  After visitors see the giant pandas, they will want to take the time to see other favorites that include warty pigs, California Condors, koalas, and an albino boa constrictor. The zoo has one hundred acres and there are more than seven hundred thousand botanical plants scattered amongst all four thousand plus animals. 

Visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

As amazing as the regular zoo is, some people will also want to head over to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  Everyone has a safari experience during their visit, as they watch animals roam around in large open spaces.  Visitors must take a safari-style tour to see these animals, as it is the safest option.  While no one can touch the animals while on the tour, the petting kraal offers a more intimate experience to those who want to get up close and personal with a few animals. 

Head to the Beach


While many visitors spend time at the beach at La Jolla, there are plenty of other sandy options to explore.  Everyone will need to find the beach that is best for them, which may take a little trial and error.  However, by the time a person is ready to leave, they should have found the perfect beach for them in the city.  The only downside to spending time at the beach in San Diego is that there are many cloudy days throughout the year.  It is still warm, but without the sun, many visitors will not be able to sunbathe as they want to. 

Visit Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium is up in La Jolla, which is why many people will stop here when they are in that part of the city.  This is not a large aquarium, but it does have a few exciting exhibits filled with different types of marine life. 

Take in the Views from the Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Movement

The best views in the city can be found in this area, which is where Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped onto shore in 1542.  There is a historic lighthouse here, as well as a visitor center and tide pools.  During the winter months, visitors can see the whales out in the water.  It is not always easy to find spectacular views from this area, as the moisture in the air creates a barrier.  Therefore, everyone will want to make sure that it is a clear day before they begin the hour journey from the downtown area.

Wander Around an Art District

Art district

There are nine art districts in San Diego and travelers should visit at least one of them when they are in the city.  Those looking for works of art by younger artists should head over to Barrio Logan.  The North and South Park areas are full of art, as well as fashionable boutiques and amazing cuisine.  While exploring that area, everyone will want to keep an eye out for the most famous piece of street art in the entire city. 

Visit Legoland


Legoland is one of the newest theme parks in California and families love the options that they have when they visit.  There are dinosaurs, full-size traffic cops, and many other amazing creations constructed out of Legos.  All those items are placed amongst all the rides that keep people busy for hours, as well as days.  The best part is that there are rides designed specifically for the youngest visitors, which prevents older children from taking over the entire park. 

Do’s and Don’ts While Visiting San Diego

As with every other city in the world, there are certain things that travelers should do and not do while they are visiting.  Here are a few of the most important DO’s and DON’Ts when visiting San Diego.

  • DO take a sailing tour around the bay to see the city from a different vantage point.
  • DON’T shop at a grocery store.  Instead, DO buy as much food as possible from the farmer markets.
  • DO check out Easy Village in between visits to Gaslamp Quarter.
  • DO take a bus tour to see the best neighborhoods.
  • DON’T pay full price at attractions.  Instead, DO check websites for discounted tickets, as well as brochure racks at hotels. 
  • DO schedule time to spend at the beach.
  • DO rent a bike to explore the beach communities.
  • DO pack a picnic to eat while watching the sunset at Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma or at Torrey Pines State Beach.
  • DON’T visit during ComicCon unless wanting to attend, because room rates are atrocious, and it is difficult to find available rooms.

Everyone will love their time in the city of San Diego, although no one ever manages to stay there long enough for their liking.  In fact, most people know that they need to return to this city sooner than later and many even start planning their future trip before that have even returned home from their first one.