Consistently sunny weather and 70 miles of magnificent coastline are what draw active types to San Diego throughout the year: that and the mouthwatering cuisine, thriving nightlife and one of the country’s favorite zoos. And then there are the beaches: Retreat to Mission Beach to soak up the rays, to La Jolla to catch a wave and to Coronado for a leisurely seaside stroll. When you’re ready to ditch your flip-flops and board shorts for more formal attire, you’ll find pockets of vivacious nightlife throughout, especially near the historical Gaslamp Quarter.
America’s Finest City is a confluence of different communities defined by the area’s military and Hispanic heritage: San Diego is home of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet and sits adjacent to the U.S.-Mexico border. In spite of constant growth (and its title as California’s second-largest city), San Diego maintains a small-town feel, making it a popular destination for families and anyone looking for a laid-back, Southern California getaway in the sun.
How To Save Money in San Diego
- Check the calendar There are numerous events and conventions throughout the year, ushering in thousands of visitors at any given time. Plan your trip around San Diego’s event calendar to avoid high hotel rates.
- Skip summer This is the peak tourist season, meaning hotel rates skyrocket while availability plummets. Instead, try for an early spring or late fall getaway.
- Hang your hat downtown Hotels along the beaches charge hefty fees for their views. You’ll find more affordable lodging in the downtown area.
San Diego Culture & Customs
San Diego’s personality is a mix of Spanish, Mexican and American cultures. Its eclectic nature as a border town has greatly influenced its art, architecture, politics, and even its food. While you’ll encounter this dynamic medley of cultures in nearly every pocket of San Diego, the city’s neighborhoods are especially representative. Barrio Logan is home to the city’s Hispanic community while Little Italy plays host to the neighborhood’s namesake cuisine.
Aside from its diverse neighborhoods, San Diego’s multifaceted culture is also displayed in some of its top attractions. Balboa Park features several popular art museums, including the San Diego Museum of Art, the Timken Museum of Art and the Museum of the Living Artist, not to mention the Spanish Village Art Center.
You should also know that San Diego is home to the U.S. Navy’s largest base on the west coast. Aside from the Naval activity you’ll witness in and around the bay, you’ll also see the city’s military population formally honored every September during Fleet Week.
San Diego Dining
It should come as no surprise that San Diego is home to some spectacular seafood. Its proximity to the Pacific Ocean means fish is fresh and abundant. For fine dining, head downtown. The Oceanaire Seafood Room and Blue Point Coastal Cuisine are well regarded for their prime Gaslamp District locations and delicious dishes. If you’d like your seafood with a side of ocean views, try George’s at the Coveor Anthony’s Fish Grotto on the Bay. Prefer casual meals on the go? You’ll find plenty of food trucks stationed around the city. Foodie-approved trucks include Devilicious, MIHO Gastrotruck and Tabe BBQ. For Italian eats, head straight to the source: Little Italy. Meanwhile, Barrio Logan and Old Town serve up some of the city’s best Mexican food.
San Diego is also an emerging craft beer destination with more than 70 breweries and counting. Denver may be known as the “Napa Valley of Beer,” but San Diego is the Napa Valley of craft beer. You can find a directory of breweries, categorized by region, on the San Diego Visitors Bureau website. For a comprehensive glimpse into San Diego’s love of the brew, consider planning your trip for November during the city’s annual beer week.