San Diego is a great travel destination if you’re looking for an affordable vacation. Each city carries very different characteristics, beautiful views, and photo destinations. Here are ten cool cities you have to check out when you visit San Diego.
Coronado is an island that is a part of San Diego Bay. You can get to it by boat or by the famously long bridge that connects to the island. It’s a small, vibrant community filled with beautiful, well kept old buildings that creates a homey atmosphere. If you find yourself in Coronado, you cannot leave the island without visiting the well known Hotel Del Coronado. It is an extravagant hotel that is home to the Marilyn Monroe film “Some Like It Hot” (1959). The hotel is on the beach with an outdoor ice-skating rink facing the water, a great photo opportunity, and hotel guests or public visitors can enjoy its luxury. The hotel opened in 1888 and has a supernatural history. There are a few white sand beaches that have some of the best beaches in California! You can head to the beach or just walk around the streets, wherever you find yourself you’ll be entertained by all the beauty, history, and character that Coronado has to offer.
2. La Jolla
La Jolla means “the jewel” in Spanish, and the location does not fall short of the name. La Jolla is another wealthy city in San Diego that has many golden photo opportunities. Most of San Diego is hilly, but La Jolla is by far the curviest beach town you’ll visit in the area, and that’s why people love her. La Jolla is especially impressive because there are many natural caves and cliffs by the beach, which is hard to come by in southern California. You can paddle board, swim, snorkel, or kayak to meet sea creatures and explore a cave. The waves can be harsh, though, so make sure you know what you’re doing. Those of us who don’t have those skills can still visit “La Jolla Cove” and pay to descend into a cave far out in the water for only ten bucks. The locals have money, so there are gorgeous five-star restaurants and high boutiques to entertain any traveler. There are some sweet stores at the cove, but if you’re looking for more brands, look no further than a 20-minute drive from the cove. One of the most aesthetically pleasing malls in San Diego is “UTC.” UTC is an outdoor mall that’s dog-friendly, classic la Jolla, and even has an ice skating rink! It also has one of my favorite sit down restaurants, “Queenstown Bistro,” right in the center of the mall. La Jolla is truly a gem.
3. Pacific Beach
Pacific Beach, also known as “PB” is a great spot to party if you’re on spring break! It’s right on the beach, and you can find tons of bars, clubs, and restaurants right on the boardwalk. It also has a gorgeous pier and tons of murals for photo opportunities. It’s more of a beach city than a beach town, unlike the places listed above. The locals in the area tend to be a younger crowd. PB is a college and post-college frat house. If surfing’s not your thing, you can find other ways to exercise on the boardwalk; there’s bikes to rent, skateboards, scooters, and hoverboards. The shops are on the boardwalk or around the corner; If you’re not sandy while shopping, you’re not doing PB right. If you’re down to rave on the beach until the sun comes up, this is the place for you. You won’t find many 5 star restaurants, but you will discover fantastic thrift shops, delicious sandwiches, and good beer.
4. San Diego (SeaPort Village)
SeaPort village is a romantic and scenic date area of San Diego. It’s an outdoor experience of shops and restaurants right on the port. The view of the water is gorgeous; people fly kites, take their boats out, or just walk and shop around. Seaport Village has a great personality; it has gazebos, statues, and a working carousel built-in 1895. The shops carry all types of merchandise from stores filled with stuffed animals, hats, or flags. Travelers and locals visit seaport village for its eateries and gorgeous ambiance. Seaport Village is a destination with character and is the perfect family or date outing.
Hill Crest is a happening spot in San Diego, it’s known to have a large LGBTQ population, and there are tons of clubs and bars to hit when you’re in town. HillCrest is an old city in San Diego but is still crowded with young people looking to have a great time. There are places to dance and shop and eat. They have great farmer’s markets, and the ocean is only right down the street. Some of the LGBTQ spots are highly recommended bars like “Gossip” and clubs like “Rich’s.” It’s also a great place to be in town for during Pride season!
Julian is a part of the mountain ranges of San Diego, with an elevation of 4,000 feet. It’s widely known for its mines during the California Gold Rush. You’ll find some cold weather here and maybe even snow in sunny San Diego. You can camp, rent a cabin, or hike its gorgeous trails. The town itself is historical and cute with a faint smell of freshly baked pies that will make your mouth water. There are restaurants, diners, and museums to visit while you’re in the area. You can even book a tour to visit a restored mine! Julian is a perfect family destination and a sweet place to snap some fun photos, but don’t forget to grab a world-famous Julian Pie before hitting the road!
7. Downtown San Diego
Downtown San Diego is the heart of the county and has a very city feel to it, but with less pollution far more history and culture. The Gaslamp District is recognized for its trendy clubs and bars, but it also has a rich history explored through art galleries, shopping, theatres, and museums. When first established in the late 1800’s it was an entertainment hub for sailors and consisted of many saloons and places to gamble. Now it’s known as the hottest spot to visit in San Diego!
8. Del Mar
Del Mar is a wealthy town right on the beach that’s known for its summer fair and the Del Mar horse races. Whatever time of year you decide to visit Del Mar is known for celebrating seasons very elaborately. They host the “Del Mar Fair” during the summer, where you can find pop up rides, petting zoos, game booths, fun houses, and even concerts! They’re quick to book upcoming artists at the fair, and it’s always at a great outdoor venue. They also hold pumpkin patches and tree lightings in the area!
Carlsbad is a small charming beach town that will give you the low-key beach experience of your dreams! Carlsbad has golf courses, water sport rentals at the lagoon, and the best local coffee in the area. Carlsbad Village is the hub of the town. The architecture in the village is untouched from the 1860s, whereas the inside has been remondeled. People mostly recognize the town for its water. Yes you read that right–water. Carlsbad Alkaline Water has been around since the 1880’s being the subject of the town’s first local economy. According to the founder of the well, the water healed his chronic stomach illness. He then sampled it and began selling the “magic” water. I don’t know about improving health benefits, but it’s the best tasting water I’ve ever had. Carlsbad has excellent Mexican food, breakfast food, beaches, boutiques, and farmer’s markets. It’s genuinely a “Stars Hollow” experience. Carlsbad’s small-town appeal will get you thinking there must be something in the water!
Carlsbad is sweet, but if you’re looking for nightlife, Encinitas is the place to go. Encinitas is only a 10-minute drive from Carlsbad, and it’s a prosperous town that has a laid back nature to it. You’ll find tons of acai bowls and vegan options in this city. Most of the city is newly renovated and draws a hip and trendy crowd. Most things in Carlsbad close at nine, but there are bars and eateries in Encinitas that will close later, making it the nightspot for young people in the neighboring areas. The local happening bar to check out is “D Street.” Encinitas is full of beaches with cliffs that make for a cool photo. There’s also a lot of yoga practices in the area, which is why the Self Realization Gardens fit for the health and wellness theme you’ll find throughout the city. The gardens are gorgeous and make for a quiet place to sit and let your mind rest. Encinitas is the perfect mesh of modern, beach, and liveliness that makes it the best destination for any visitor.