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San Diego city guide

Southern California's beachy metropolis

Located on California’s southern tip and abutting the Pacific Ocean, San Diego is a city filled with otherworldly flora, breathtaking shoreline and a vibrant cultural influence thanks to Mexico, which is just 30 minutes south. Add to that a heap of chill vibes and a lot of sunshine and you have the perfect getaway. With a downtown offering the bustle and nightlife of any frat guy’s dreams, top-notch museums for kids and adults alike, premier attractions like The San Diego Zoo and Legoland as well as a myriad of outdoor sports – hiking, paragliding, surfing, among much more – for the adventurous among us, there is something here for everyone. The food, as if there weren’t already enough reason to visit, is also delish. There are a lot of highlights below, but be sure to also check out where our five notable San Diegans go when asked to show us their favorite spots.  

Photos José Mandojana


Mission Beach

A beach-centric neighborhood where sand, flip flops, and surfboards rule the sidewalks. A boardwalk, most often traversed via rollerblades, skateboards and bicycles, leads to neighboring Pacific Beach. The crowd is young and the restaurants, bars and boutiques are hopping. After a fun day at the shore, take a ride on one of the oldest wooden rollercoasters in California at nearby Belmont Park

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La Jolla

This is a ritzy part of town with a plethora of fine dining, galleries, upscale boutiques and an epic shoreline. Beyond shopping and eating, visitors can kayak, standup paddle board, surf and watch the main attraction: the herds of local seals luxuriating and playing along the cove. Take a dip at La Jolla shores, a notably fantastic swimming beach, and a guided kayak tour to the sea caves.

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North Park

North Park is a walkable urban neighborhood filled with restaurants, boutiques and bars, but it is also the mecca of craft beer with more than 14 breweries reachable on foot. The vibe is chill and while there is a lot to do there, it is less touristic and offers a great glimpse into how the locals really live. After some brews, catch a show at The North Park Observatory.

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Little Italy

This sweet spot downtown filled with street-side water fountains, courtyards and string lights is the perfect place for an atmospheric stroll and dining experience. A ten-minute walk will get you to the waterfront where sailboats and yachts glide over the big blue expanse and you can splash in some ankle-deep water at the newly constructed Waterfront Park. The farmer’s market, truly a feast for the eyes and mouth, occurs every Saturday and is worth the trip.

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Barrio Logan

An up and coming arts neighborhood with Latin roots and some of the most exceptional Mexican food this side of the border. Before getting tacos, check out the galleries and the legendary murals at Chicano Park and then finish up the night at Border X Brewing. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a glimpse of La Vuelta, a parade of lowriders that runs through the neighborhood on select evenings.

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Tribute Pizza

(619) 450-4505, 3077 North Park Way, San Diego

Housed inside of the former North Park Post Office, Tribute Pizza offers various tributes to other pizzaolis, pizzas that are reflective of chef Matt Lyons inspirations.  The salads, entrees and specials all hold up to the incredible pizzas being churned out.

Kindred, San Diego

(619) 546-9653, 1503 30th St, San Diego, CA 92102, United States

You’ll find lots of unique dishes at this South Park based vegan cocktail bar and restaurant. The modern decor draws inspiration from death metal iconography, while the vegan menu is accessible to vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Check their social media to look for secret menu items.

Sushi Ota

(858) 270-5670, 4529 Mission Bay Dr, San Diego

The best sushi bar is in a strip mall trope is alive and well in San Diego.  This particular shrine to pristine slices of fish is located in Pacific Beach and is almost 30 years old. You’ll want to reserve seats and the sushi bar well in advance and order the omakase.

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Born And Raised

(619) 202-4577, 1909 India St, San Diego

The table cart service and stunning decor harkens back to a previous era of steak houses. All of the classics are represented on the menu, but contemporary dishes like the Uni spaghetti are representative of what the kitchen is capable of.

Cucina Urbana

(619) 239-2222, 505 Laurel St, San Diego

Score some house made pastas at this always bustling and local favorite Italian eatery just west of Balboa Park. The extensive wine list is an added bonus to what will already be a delicious evening.

Mister A’s

(619) 239-1377, 2550 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103, United States

Though Mr. A’s is at its core a fine-dining restaurant, it’s all about the view at this superb establishment and drinking a cocktail from the 12th floor roof deck can put a cherry on top of any kind of day. Get there close to sunset, sit back with beverage in hand and watch the planes land at Lindbergh Field.

Photograph by Zack Benson

Raised By Wolves

(619) 629-0243, 4301 La Jolla Village Dr Ste #2030, San Diego, CA 92122, United States

In the front, this speak easy inside of a mall looks like a boutique for upscale spirits, but a secret revolving door leads cocktail seekers to a dazzling lounge. A stained glass ceiling arches over the low-lit bar and there are booths galore to cozy up in while sipping drinks like Rattlesnack Venom and Pelvic Sorcery. Pro tip: Check out the bathrooms.

Tahona Bar

(619) 255-2090, 2414 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110, United States

With over 120 different types of Mezcal, Tahona will blow your palette and mind away with the complexity and history of this traditional Mexican spirit. They serve Mezcal flights as well as cocktails with distinctive ingredients like lemongrass, fresno chilies and mole bitters. There is a food menu to complement the cocktails. Get the mole flight.

Polite Provisions

(619) 269-4701, 4696 30th St, San Diego, CA 92116, United States

This classy joint is in the space of a former pharmacy and has kept an apothecary theme. Think elixirs, ice in all of the shapes and garnish like orchids and herbs. The atmosphere is perfect for anything from a date to a post-work debriefing with colleagues. They also offer cocktail classes for those looking to bring the bar back to life in the comfort of their own homes.

Turf Supper Club

(619) 234-6363, 1116 25th St, San Diego, CA 92102, United States

Get a strong cocktail at this classic San Diego favorite, which was established in the 1950’s, and stay for the grill-your-own goodies that can be ordered from the menu and then slapped onto the self-service grill. Your evening will be accompanied by a steadfast jukebox and some of the best people watching in town.


(619) 282-0456, 4026 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104, United States

San Diego is a beer town and while you could spend months visiting the more than 150 craft breweries, you could also go to Toronado where a vast and ever-rotating beer menu awaits. Start at Toronado, find your favorite beers and then go visit the specific breweries you discover while there.

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When people think of San Diego, more often than not they think of beaches and tacos. This isn’t necessarily wrong: Sunshine and Mexican food come in large helpings in this Southern California city. Yet, there are many lesser-known gems waiting to be discovered—the cluster of vintage...

Hotel Del Coronado

(619) 435-6611, 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118, United States

A storied luxury resort on Coronado Island that, during its 130 years in business, has hosted U.S. Presidents such as Jimmy Carter and celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe. With amenities galore, restaurants lining the sand and even a mermaid workout class offered several mornings a week, this fairytale-esque hotel is a sure bet for a good and relaxing time. Plus, it’s only a ten-minute drive from downtown.

Rancho Valencia

(858) 756-1123, 5921 Valencia Cir, Rancho Santa Fe

Rancho Valencia is a five-star secluded property that is 30 minutes north of downtown. Once you get on site, you will not want to leave the luscious grounds and decadent rooms. With tennis courts, full-service spa and yoga studio, there will be plenty to keep you busily relaxing.

The Pendry

(619) 738-7000, 550 J St, San Diego

A happening luxury boutique hotel located in the Historic Gaslamp Quarter and only a few minutes walk to Petco Park and The San Diego Convention Center. The chic and modern interior design makes a stay here a delight while service at its six restaurants and full-service spa is on point. You will leave this urban getaway feeling spoiled and swank.

The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows

(619) 296-2101, 2223 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104, United States

The Lafayette is relaxed and retro. There are bungalows, but also rooms designed with bunkbeds for traveling families. A large pool serves as center piece to the hotel and many events revolve around it like Float & Film movie night and Vibe & Flow yoga. It’s in North Park, a trendy neighborhood north of downtown filled with restaurants, breweries and shops.

The Pearl

(619) 226-6100, 1410 Rosecrans St, San Diego

A casual, but hip boutique hotel with mid-century modern design and only blocks away from The Point Loma Marina. All 23 rooms look out onto the oyster-shaped pool where cocktails and dining is also available.

Paradise Point

(858) 274-4630, 1404 Vacation Rd, San Diego

A family friendly resort in Mission Bay with spacious accommodations and plenty to do. There are four restaurants, five pools, five tennis courts, a basketball court, an 18-hole putting golf course, an aquatic center for watersports and much more.

Balboa Park

(619) 239-0512, San Diego, CA, United States

If the ocean is San Diego’s blue jewel, then Balboa Park is its green gem. Filled with vibrant gardens, live-performance theaters, 17 museums, an art village, eateries and lively cultural events, this 1,200-acre park with Spanish-colonial and neo-Renaissance architecture is a must visit.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

(619) 525-8213, Ladera St, San Diego, CA 92107, United States

A coastal area of rust-colored craggy cliffs overlooking the vast blue ocean. The 1.5 mile drag is perfect for sunset stalkers looking for a breathtaking view. The area is also known for its intertidal area which during low tide reveals its myriad of inhabitants.

Liberty Station

Liberty Station, San Diego, CA, USA

Liberty Station, which encompasses a vast array of galleries, shops, restaurants and entertainment, was repurposed from a 361-acre former Naval Training Center. Liberty Public Market, which is just one of the delicious destinations inside, showcases local eateries in side-by-side stalls. Take some food to go and pull of a blanket for a picnic or if you stay long enough, catch a movie at the luxurious Lot, where wine and food is brought straight to your leather recliner.

Old Town

(619) 220-5422, 4002 Wallace St, San Diego, CA 92110, United States

In 1769, Old Town became San Diego’s first settlement with only a mission and a fort. It is now a vibrant area filled with historic sites, outstanding Mexican food and lively entertainment like the mariachis you can often find playing in the courtyard of Fiesta De Reyes. A favorite novelty is Old Town Jerky and Root Beer, where you can select a root beer from 50 different brands to make your very own ice cream float.

Where to shop in San Diego

At these North America cafés, you can sip your coffee while playing with kittens