Summer Vacation Ideas for San Diego California

Visit this popular city and live like a resident for a few days while visiting local attractions and popular eateries.

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San Diego, California is a prime vacation spot for all kinds of travelers, from families with big and little kids to couples vying for a romantic getaway. Pair the area’s beautiful beaches and mild weather with the endless places at which to eat and explore, and you’ll have yourself the perfect vacation no matter the time of year.

It’s no wonder the city scored MONEY’s top spot in the Best in Travel Awards. Whether you’re coming by car or plane, San Diego will welcome you and your traveling companions with open arms.

Families: San Diego is increasingly becoming a family hotspot when it comes to making traveling plans. The affordability of area attractions coupled with kid-friendly hotels and restaurants makes the city an appealing option.

For a hotel that has a lot to offer both adults and kids, stay at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel located downtown. This hotel is within walking distance of local attractions and offers Camp Hyatt with fun activities for children ages three to 12.

With an outdoor pool and s’mores kits for sale to enjoy by the fire pits, this hotel will add an exciting spark to the visit. While in town, visit the San Diego Zoo and experience the Africa Rocks exhibit, or feed flamingos with zoo trainers.

Watch feedings of big cats with the Animals in Action experience, or just enjoy a stroll and marvel at the exciting and exotic animals and displays.

Make a quick lunch stop at Waypoint Public, a popular eatery that offers draft beer for the adults and a fun enclosed play area to entertain rowdy little ones. Next, enjoy a hands-on history lesson and stop by the Cabrillo National Monument. Named for Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the monument memorializes the first European expedition in 1542 to explore the West Coast of America.

Finish off the day with an early dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory or Burger Lounge, both of which are located in the historic Gaslamp Quarter and offer great kids menus that’ll satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

Adventurers: San Diego is a perfect vacation location for the adventurous individuals looking for more excitement in their travels. Drop your essentials off at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar in downtown San Diego, which offers a rooftop bar, modern amenities like iPhone docks and flat screen televisions, and a short walking distance to the bustling Gaslamp Quarter.

Kick off a one-of-a-kind weekend and head over to Montgomery Field Airport for a tour of the San Diego skies in a vintage 1920s biplane.

After booking through Viator, passengers will enjoy a thrilling adventure from the front seat of the plane, while the pilot steers from behind. Next, explore the city’s unique breweries with Scavengers Beer & Adventure Tours out of Carlsbad.

This hotspot eatery takes “glamping” (upscale camping) to a new level with its rustic theme and tents separating the tables. Their menu features interesting takes on American dishes, including truffle fries, grilled octopus and wild boar Bolognese. Finally, end the night on a sweet note at iDessert. Located in Little Italy, this DIY dessert spot allows patrons to literally create their own confectionary creation.

Choose your own crust, cream, cake, gelato and other toppings and additions on a touchscreen panel and enjoy a unique sweet treat assembled by the experts.

Couples: Couples, prepare to splurge a little when visiting San Diego. This beautiful city has a lot to offer those looking for a romantic escape, and some things are just worth every penny.

Treat your partner to the luxurious US GRANT Hotel, which is conveniently located near downtown restaurants and nightlife. This hotel’s classic décor coupled with modern amenities will eliminate all work, home or travel-related stress. Easily customize a tour that’ll suit you and your date with Another Side of San Diego. 

You can also woo your date at Balboa Park, which boasts a zoo, more than a dozen museums, a carousel and miniature train rides. In addition, the botanical building houses more than 2000 species of plants, including gorgeous flowers.

Locals suggest packing a picnic to enjoy, or enjoying Prado, a modern eatery with gourmet sandwiches and salads perfect for a midday stop.

San Diego is also home to many romantic restaurants that’ll help light up the evening.

Grab reservations at Addison Del Mar, San Diego’s only five-star restaurant and enjoy exquisite French cuisine with a perfectly paired bottle of wine. Their menu is different each day, keeping patrons excitedly guessing as to what they can choose from.

For a more relaxed dining experience, try Madison located on Park Boulevard. With outdoor dining options and Mediterranean-inspired menu, you and your partner can feast upon a delicious skirt steak for dinner, or return during the day for brunch.

For a little fun when the sun goes down there is a night tour that is just the thing to kick off a romantic evening.

The San Diego City Lights Night Tour explores a city known for its copious amounts of blue skies and sunshine and introduces you to its shimmering, moonlit side with a chance to see the elegance of Balboa Park and watch the glimmering skyline from Coronado’s Ferry Landing.

Hidden Gems/Local Favorites: Known as the “birthplace of California,” it’s no surprised that San Diego’s local scene has always been bustling, and with its’ growing population, shows no sign of slowing down or going out of style.

Visit this popular city and live like a resident for a few days while visiting local attractions and popular eateries.

Begin your adventure by staying at Hotel Indigo, and bring along your four-legged friend if you’d like. This dog-friendly hotel is in the heart of the popular Gaslamp Quarter and offers 24-hour room service. With a rooftop lounge with fire pits and delicious bar menu, you may not want to leave.

On your way out, stop at Copa Vida on West Broadway and grab a cup of on-top Kombucha or a hand-made espresso drink.

Learn about the most beloved beach in the region and visit La Jolla Shores.

You can even rent surfboards and take a quick lesson from some of La Jolla’s most seasoned surf professionals.

If you’d like to explore some of the most celebrated beaches in Southern California on a comprehensive, fully-narrated tour, Old Town Trolley offers a La Jolla & San Diego Beaches Day Tripper Tour that takes you through charming little seaside towns like La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach where the windswept shores of the Pacific Ocean are always in sight.

Enjoy some of San Diego’s rich history dating back to the 1500s by visiting the San Diego Natural History Museum and explore the Coast to Cactus in Southern California exhibit, along with other amazing exhibits featuring the diverse environment the city possesses.

Drink like a local at Tiger!Tiger!’s unique beer garden and bar comprised of mostly recycled dining furniture. Or, feast on locally-made Italian street food at Monello, including skillfully crafted pizzas or a dish crafted with house-produced pasta. 

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