Visit a San Diego Neighborhood:
Gaslamp – Spread out over 16 square blocks of Victorian-era architecture amongst modern skyscrapers, this is the heart of San Diego with more than 100 of the city’s best restaurants, shops, bars, and nightclubs.
Little Italy – Once home to San Diego’s flourishing tuna fishing industry and generations of Italian families, Little Italy now is comprised of cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and a vibrant nightlife.
North Park – Forbes magazine named North Park one of America’s best hipster neighborhoods, noting that “culturally diverse North Park is home to Craftsman cottages, cafes and diners, coffee shops, several microbreweries, boutiques, and the North Park Farmers Market.”
Hillcrest – located on the northwest corner of Balboa Park (next to North Park), Hillcrest is San Diego’s LGBT hub offering an array of ethnically diverse restaurants, nightclubs, boutiques, and thrift shops.
Old Town – come here for the best Mexican food in town (especially El Agave). Old Town is the birthplace of California and visitors can still explore a preserved historical site mixed with shops, restaurants, and museums.
Hike Torrey Pines
Torrey Pines is a coastal wilderness where you can find pine forests, sandstone canyons, pristine beaches, and breathtaking views of the Pacific. Many consider it the wildest stretch of coast in Southern California. This is the only location worldwide where you can see the Torrey Pine, the rarest pine in North America. There are 8 miles of hiking trails at varying levels of difficulty that allow you to explore the park. I recommend visiting at dawn or dusk during a weekday to avoid the weekend crowds.
See an Outdoor Concert or Movie
The parks around San Diego come alive during the warm summer months. From late June to the end of August you can find an outdoor concert or movie almost every night of the week and certainly every Friday and Saturday. There’s just too many venues to mention, but those in Balboa Park, Coronado, and San Diego Harbor are a few local favorites.
Head to the Beach
San Diego has many to choose from, so pick your flavor. Coronado Beach is the closest to downtown San Diego and can easily be reached by car, public bus, or ferry. Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, and Pacific Beach are also relatively close to downtown and easily accessible. If you find yourself a little farther north, any stretch of sand from La Jolla to Encinitas will not disappoint.
San Diego Stars in the Park
On the first Wednesday of every month, members of the San Diego Astronomy Association (SDAA) set up telescopes outside the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater in Balboa Park for free public viewing. Viewers will enjoy a variety of sights including the moon, planets, and bright starts. The SDAA also hosts other free viewings at Mission Trails (2nd Friday of every month) and Sycamore Canyon (3rd Friday of every month).
Visit an Art Walk
Explore open artist studios, galleries, antiques, and other entertainment while also experiencing a great San Diego neighborhood. Here’s a few to check out:
- Ray at Night (North Park) – occurs every second Saturday from 6-10 p.m. in the North Park Arts District.
- Friday Night Liberty (Liberty Station) – occurs on the first Friday of every month from 5 – 9 p.m.
- Art in the Park (Coronado Island) – 1st and 3rd Sunday every month in Spreckels Park from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Make Your Own Brewery Tour
San Diego has often been called “The Craft Beer Capital of America” for good reason. San Diego County is home to over 100 breweries, microbreweries, and brewpubs. Here are a few recommendations to get you started:
- North Park Tour – on the north side of Balboa Park you’ll find Belching Beaver, Rip Current Brewery, Mike Hess, Modern Times, and Thorn Street breweries all within a quick walk from one another. There are also many fine pubs in this area that cater to local craft breweries.
- “Hop” on the Coaster – bring your drinking hat, this is an all-day affair. Buy a $12 Coaster Train pass and stop at breweries in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Old Town, and Downtown.
- Tour the “Hop Highway” – you’ll need to have a car for this one. Highway 78 from Oceanside to Julian has more than a third of San Diego County’s breweries. Stone Brewery (a.k.a the Disney Land of Beer) is a must stop in Escondido.
Stroll through Balboa Park
Dubbed the “Central Park of San Diego,” this gorgeous park is an oasis in the middle of an urban jungle. You’ll find expansive green spaces, walking trails, gardens, museums, theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. A walk down the Prado is a must. This promenade runs down the parks center, and features most of the parks museums housed in gorgeous Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.
Go to a Free San Diego Festival
As with most things on this list, the great San Diego weather surely helps, which is why there’s no shortage of free festivals. There is normally at least a couple you can find every month, both big and small. Here’s a few that are not to be missed:
- San Diego Pride – July
- Adams Avenue Street Fair – September
- Oktoberfest in La Mesa – October
- Balboa Park December Nights – December
A scenic, palm-tree-lined path with views of the downtown skyline, Pacific Ocean, and San Diego Bay. There’s also easy access to cafes, shops, and parks along the way. The Bayshore Bikeway will extend 24 miles around San Diego Bay once complete. Approximately 15 miles of dedicated bike paths have been built with the rest of the route consisting of on-street bicycle lanes.