My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Written and Published January 17, 2017


My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego


My Favorite 20Things to do San Diego - Understand


San Diego is located all the way down in California, just a few miles north of the Mexican border. There is a bit of a Mexican resemblancein the city, but it's very muted. San Diego is a mix of Las Vegas (in the Gaslamp Quarter), the Vandenberg Air Force Base (Coronado), Miami (Mission Beach) and some West Coast Hipster areas (North Park). It is much smaller and much less diverse than LA or San Francisco.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

San Diego impresses with its beautiful beaches, a rather clean city (not in the downtown area though) and a decent amount of things to do should it rain. For a city so far south, San Diego has an amazing amount of places for great coffee and craft beer. I could find no less than a dozen breweries rated 9 or better on Foursquare; I have not seen that in any other town. The local beer creations are indeed fantastic.

My Favorite 20Things to do San Diego - Safety


San Diego is a rather safe city. The leafy suburbs are very safe, but there are plenty of gritty areas in and around the downtown area as well as near the border, where it pays to be extra careful after dark.

My Favorite 20Things to do San Diego - Get Around


My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Uber and Lyft provide ample services for short rides. San Diego is fairly stretched out, though, so a car is a good idea. There is street parking outside of downtown (often limited to two hours) but the downtown area usually requires you to pay for a garage.

My Favorite 20Things to do San Diego - Sights


Tons of visitors come to San Diego for SeaWorld and the San Diego Zoo which, of course, I duly skipped.

San Diego's beaches are easily some of the best on the West Coast; the water is not as cold (though it's still freezing) but it is more clear and not as dark as the algae brew up north in San Francisco.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is a long stretch of pretty beaches with a lovely beach walk. The view is magnificent, the sand is soft and the waves are calm on most days.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Coronado Beach

The long island of Coronado is split into an upscale residential area, the beach and various military installations. At Coronado, you can see plenty of fighter jets and Navy helicopters while you chill at the beach. I found that very interesting!

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Coronado Island

The whole island is just pure joy to see and drive through on a sunny day. The palm-lined streets, the little parks and outdoor cafes make you jealous of the San Diego lifestyle (though most of the cafes aren't great to eat at orhave coffee at).

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

USS Midway Museum

Every boy's dream is to step on an aircraft carrier and explore it and this is exactly what you can do at the USS Midway Museum. It's a fantastic way to spend 3 hours; the museum's curators have done a great job here.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is the more down-to-earth beach;it attracts more hippies and also has better food options right behind the beach.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

La Jolla Beach

Upscale La Jolla also has a beach, but it's a bit smaller and has more interesting cliffs.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego


Balboa Park

Balboa Park is home to the San Diego Zoo, but it is much more than that; there's plenty of open space with lots of playgrounds, walking grounds and views on a foothill just outside of downtown.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego - Eat & Drink


I had a whole week in San Diego, but felt I did not even touch the depth of the breweries in town. If you like beer (especially a darker West Coast-style IPA), this is ground zero for it.

Most breweries are around the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station (coincidence?) Big names like Ballast Point, Rough Draft and Green Flash are all located in the area. While I only went to one brewery, I'm fairly certain you could spend a few days exploring them and wouldn't be disappointed.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

North Park

North Park is 'hipster central' in San Diego and easily has the most diverse food and drinks options.

Nomad Donuts

Nomad Donuts spins out some of the best donuts I have had anywhere. It's cheap too and the staff are super-friendly.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Young Hickory

Most places that serve coffee and food during the day and beer at night are rather dull and can't do any of it right. However, Young Hickory pulls it off with great, simple food and a great vibe.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Dark Horse Coffee Roasters

This company sells wholesale to many local coffee shops and restaurants. The North Park outlet is tiny, but the coffee is great and the staff really authentic.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Bahn Thai

Bahn Thai is likely the best Thai food in town, with great looking dishes and low prices.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego



Ialso went to the Mexican place next door but one, El Zarape (which was equally well-rated), but really did not like the food there.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Downtown/ Gaslamp Quarter

The whole downtown area is just getting its act back together. At times, though, there are more homeless people around you than people who shower in the morning.

Copa Vida

A coffee shop right next to the ballpark, inside the most touristy quarter - can this be any good? Yes, it can; you will like the great vibe, spacious design and decent coffee and breakfast ideas here.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Half Door Brewing Company

This Southern-style brewery in a lovely old building has fantastic IPA's on offer. They look and taste like noothers I had before. The small patio is awesome and much quieter than the indoors.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego



Berkeley Pizza

This pizza place looks shockingly average and not very inviting, but it churns out super-delicious, large, deep-dish pizzas for just $22. Come here if you are a big group and/or hungry.





Coffee & Tea Collective

This hipster coffee workshop tries a little too hard. Too much attitude and a 'cold' environment and the coffee did not make up for it.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Cafe Moto

Cafe Moto is the tasting shop for San Diego's biggest wholesale seller of coffee beans. This little spot convinces with a relaxed vibe and warm staff. Plus the espresso drinks come in big portions and are delicious.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Ocean Beach

The Ocean Beach area features such great places as the OB Noodle House Bar 1502 (whoever came up with this name?!) which has a great selection of authentic Vietnamese dishes (it's often very loud inside, though).

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

Further up, Azucar Bakery has lovely desserts and delectable chocolates if you are still hungry.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

La Jolla

In La Jolla, you should stop by Bird Rock Coffee Roastersfor the awesome espressos theyhave made for almost two decades now,Oscar's Mexican Seafoodfor cheap and excellent fish tacos andThe Taco Stand, where I enjoyed thebest burrito I ever had.

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego

My Favorite 20 Things to do San Diego