The best way to describe my 72 hours in San Diego? Simply put- Paradise! California is a very special state, and somehow San Diego manages to wrap all of CA’s quintessential qualities into one city.
Not only does it have its own unique, laid-back vibe and culture, it has also managed to acquire all the best attributes from its neighboring regions. Its got the stunning Mexican beaches and delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine, the diverse sea life of Baja California Sur, and lastly, the trendy yet beachy city vibes of LA, its 2.5 hour away neighbor upcoast.
When Visit San Diego invited me to explore their backyard, I immediately jumped on the opportunity! With my home in LA being just a short road trip away, I knew it’d be a swift and easy weekend escape 🤗
Ironically, I’d never properly explored SD, even though I lived so close all this time! After spending a good 72 hours in San Diego, I have no clue what took me so long! My CA road trips always took me up north, but I had no clue what I was missing out on. To name a few…
- The clearest water I’ve ever witnessed in the state of California
- The most sea life I’ve ever encountered on a casual beachside stroll
- The BEST Mexican food I’ve ever had in CA
- The most stunning hikes, sunsets, and tide pools I’ve ever experienced in my entire lifetime of living in this state
Needless to say, if you haven’t been to San Diego yet, add it to your list, and make sure to follow my guide to 72 hours in San Diego!
How To Get There
If you’re from out of state/country, the easiest way to get here is by flying into the San Diego International Airport.
If you’re from LA like me, San Diego is only about 2- 2.5 hours away by car. If you’re planning a CA coast road trip, San Diego is very accessible and connected to multiple major CA highways, regardless the direction you’re coming from.
Where To Stay
My personal favorite area in SD was La Jolla. The beaches there are beautiful, it’s home to various types of sealife, and the village of La Jolla and La Jolla Shores have the cutest shops and restaurants! If you’re going for quintessential beach town vibes, definitely stay in La Jolla!
What To Do
- Swim or even scuba dive in La Jolla Cove! The water there is incredibly clear and turquoise, and you’ll discover sealife of all sorts!
- Visit wild seals at Children’s Pool Beach and sea lions at the cliffs next to La Jolla Cove.
This was my favorite pastime during my visit!
- Visit La Jolla Tide Pools for even more SD wildlife!
- Bring a sunset picnic to La Jolla Shores Beach and take pictures at Scripps Pier as the sky changes colors.
- Drive through Cabrillo National Monument for vast coastal views and visit the tide pools at low tide! These were my favorite tide pools to explore in SD and the jagged cliffs that surround them are absolutely stunning!
- Watch the sunset at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park and hike its several walking paths along the coast.
- Enjoy authentic Mexican by the beach (keep reading for recommendations!).
- Rent bikes and ride along the boardwalk through Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, and/or Ocean Beach.
- Walk along the Ocean Beach Pier and watch the surfers catch some waves.
- Hike along the coast in the gorgeous Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. There’s a variety of beautiful trails for all levels of hikers! My personal favorites were Yucca Point, Razor Point, and Broken Hill Overlook.
- Watch hang gliders take off into the sky and fly over the ocean at Torrey Pines Gliderport.
- Shop everything from local boutiques to name brands at The Shops at La Jolla Village.
Where To Eat
- La Playa Taco Shop– Amazing hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint in Pacific Beach
- Piatti– Upscale Italian dining with beautiful outdoor seating in La Jolla Shores
- Shorehouse Kitchen– Popular local breakfast spot in La Jolla Shores
- Lucha Libre Taco Shop– Amazing California-style burritos (with french fries!) in Mission Hills. Be prepared for a line!
- Cody’s– Popular breakfast and lunch spot with comfort food and patio seating, located in the village of La Jolla
- La Perla Taco Shop– Another popular and authentic Mexican spot, located in Mission Beach
- BO-beau Kitchen + Bar– Romantic french bistro/wine bar in Ocean Beach
Planning a trip to SD? Save this guide to 72 hours in San Diego! 📍
* This post is funded in part with City of San Diego Tourism Marketing District Assessment Funds., but all opinions and recommendations are my own.