Where to Stay, Play, and Eat in San Diego

The beautiful sun-soaked city of San Diego is not only nestled invitingly between Los Angeles and Mexico but attracts vacationers for its luxury accommodations, first-class attractions, good eats, and gorgeous beaches. The sun shines perpetually on this southern California gem, so perhaps it’s time for you to make your way out West and see what San Diego has to offer.

 

Stay

Whether you’re looking for luxury or a good bargain, there’s a lovely hotel with views, amenities, and comfortable rooms in this city by the sea. For those of you with deep pockets and a sweet-tooth for opulent leisure, look into the Fairmont Grand Del Mar where you’ll find an Old World Mediterranean resort designed to resemble a Spanish palace. You won’t find a complimentary breakfast bar in the lobby but you will be treated like royalty walking through marble columned corridors, getting pampered in the deluxe spa, or relaxing in the Caribbean blue swimming pool overlooking the lush Del Mar landscape.

On the other end of the spectrum, for those of you who would rather cash in your vacation budget on food and activities, there are beautiful, well-priced accommodations that don’t scream “cheap.” Location is often a major deciding factor in choosing a hotel and if this sways you, the Ocean Beach Hotel may be perfect. Situated on Ocean Beach, this hotel is centrally located to San Diego’s major attractions and only steps away from the surf. The mid-priced hotel offers comfortable, clean rooms with ocean views, French Provincial furnishings, and close proximity to over 50 restaurants and complimentary parking. Score!

 

Play

Besides its glorious climate, San Diego is perhaps best known for its award-winning zoo. Home to nearly 4,000 rare and endangered animals, the San Diego Zoo is one of the best animal sanctuaries in the world. Set within beautiful Balboa Park, the zoo is perfectly situated to accommodate a full day of touring. Start your morning by having breakfast with the koalas, visiting the endangered giant pandas and Malayan tigers, and then make your way through the rest of Balboa Park’s attractions. In its expansive 1,200 acre lot, Balboa is the site of arts, culture, science, history, and gorgeous landscaped gardens. Hop from the Spanish Village Art Center to the Natural History Museum or the San Diego Museum of Art before you finish out the day by seeing the Tony-award winning troupe perform at the Old Globe theater.

 

When you're in San Diego, however, it would be a shame to miss out on the beach. To experience the full effect of southern Californian culture and color, spend a day at Belmont Park. The boardwalk extends a state of the art amusement park straight over the water including the only FlowBarrel wave rider in the country. Ride the roller coasters or look out over the sea and surf from atop the Ferris Wheel before you check out the Wave House, an expansive restaurant where patrons can relax and be served as they sunbathe on the beach. Grab a Dole Whip or craft beer and funnel cake and then try your hand at mini golf, rock climbing, carnival games, or laser tag. Of course, you also have the option to hop off the boardwalk and surf the brilliant blue, crashing waves or simply sunbathe on the white sands.

 

Eat

When on vacation, many people take advantage of the opportunity to try different cuisine than what they are used to at home. For a varied and delicious visit to San Diego, make sure you start off your trip with a stop at Snooze. With two San Diego locations in Hillcrest and Del Mar, this a.m. eatery specializes in gourmet breakfasts. Pineapple upside down pancakes compete for your attention with Nutella cream cheese stuffed brioche, poached eggs with prosciutto on fresh ciabatta, and their homemade breakfast pot pie.

 

Lunch calls you down to Oscar’s Mexican Seafood where you can find the kind of food you might expect from an oceanside city only miles away from Tijuana in a beautiful, modern setting. Try the Bluefin tuna ceviche or the smoked fish taco with a side of homemade pinto beans and a Mexican soda or go full on Californian cuisine with a batch craft soda and various mouthwatering fish creations. When your stomach growls at about 3:00 and you are craving some vacation ice cream, don't settle for a Dairy Queen but look to the Baked Bear. Their custom ice cream sandwiches are their signature dessert with options including funfetti cookies or brownie sandwich with ice cream fillings like mint chip, strawberry cheesecake, or peanut butter and fudge.

 

To end a perfect day, head straight to the authentic northern Italy at Parma Cucina Italiana in the heart of Hillcrest. Share a cheese platter or prosciutto and then dig into a plate of spinach and ricotta ravioli, lasagna, or the chicken scaloppine. Finish it all off with a traditional tiramisu or Italian gelato with a glass of dessert wine or coffee. There's no better way to end a vacation with a gut-busting, satisfying dinner at a friendly and inviting Italian ristorante.

 

San Diego is a gorgeous ocean city with some of the top restaurants and attractions in California. If your group is looking for a relaxing and fulfilling destination for your next trip, look no further than San Diego.