First Time in San Diego? These The Top 5 attractions to Visit

san diego old town

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I absolutely love the West Coast and California and I think as much as I love San Fransisco and the Bay Area, my favourite city has to be San Diego for a number of reasons. I visited San Diego the first time a few years ago when we went on honeymoon and road tripped in California. Immediately I connected with the vibe of the city – it’s funny, somehow the very first impression can just determinate how you like somewhere or not. If you decide to visit San Diego, make sure you check out all the benefits that the San Diego Tourist Pass offers.

san diego marina boats

Reasons I love San Diego

  • It’s laid back, relaxed vibe. Not like the surfing coastal cities in California – I like those too, but San Diego has a different, almost bohemian vibe mixed with some old Hollywood glamour.
  • Smaller than Los Angeles and San Fransisco. Less populated, you get much less traffic too and the beaches aren’t that busy.
  • The weather is always nice. It also doesn’t get too hot like in LA.

My top 5 attractions when you are visiting the first time:

Balboa Park

It’s a huge, 1200 acre urban park with lots of attractions, that are also family friendly too: museums, zoo, gardens, theatres, exhibition centres and outdoor spaces offering everything fun, sporty, cultural and art. It’s definitely the best and must-see attraction of San Diego. Visiting the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Museum of Art (with the latest addition of my big favourites: Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele,) was a such a lovely way to spend a day.

san diego coronado beach

Coronado Island

Coronado’s coastline offers wide sandy beaches with sparkling sand, courtesy of the mineral Mica, that draw visitors from around the world. With its elegant gardens, old-world mansions, quaint shops, and oceanfront dining with spectacular sunset views. I absolutely loved our time visiting the Hotel Coronado and walking around this charming village. Beautiful food and even more beautiful beach scenery! Definitely dedicate a day to explore it all.

Gaslight Quarter

The Gaslamp District is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, it’s an area with a lot of architectural charm. Its streets are lined with 19th century, Victorian buildings restored to their original exuberant appearance. The area is full of restaurants, shops, and clubs that occupy former brothels and saloons. There are nearly 100 historical building in the 16.5 walkable blocks that make up San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. Keep an eye out for my favourites: St. James Hotel and the Royal Pie Bakery Building. 

san diego la jolla

La Jolla

Another full day required here to explore this beautiful, hilly and rocky seaside area, in my opinion. It’s a posh village with cute shops, great restaurants, beautiful beaches, coves and nature. La Jolla Shores is a mile-long crescent of prime sand beach – sun bathing, surfing or walking along it equally a fantastic experience. I remember even spotting a pair of humming birds here! How amazing is that?

san diego old town

San Diego Old Town

The Old Town has some historic museums and nice restaurants. Divided to Old Town State Historic Park and the more commercial area of Old Town with shops and the restaurants. These section are directly next to each other and offer a lot of fun and cool activities: the Old Town State Historic Park has many little, unique museums (many of the free), outdoor area and you can visit America’s Most Haunted House, take a trolley tour or even a ghost tour! Plenty of activities for big and small people.

Did you enjoy this post? 

I have some other US travel posts you might like:

Things to do in Charleston, SC

What is There to Do in Vegas in June?

9 Essential Tips for First-Time Travellers Visiting the Oregon Coast

Top Destinations in Georgia

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