Life in San Diego takes place mainly out of doors – soaking up good weather, relaxing vibes, and a composition of structural buildings next to tranquil waters.

The city’s fun and dynamic atmosphere stems through interaction with its neighbour; Mexico, where a fusion between the two places can be seen in the people and experienced in the food and music. Whether you’re lapping up the sun and waves in Mission Beach, rummaging through the abundance of thrift shops, or slinging back tequila in the downtown area, San Diego is all about having fun.

As Harriet and I were only in San Diego for a few days, we didn’t get to experience everything but I’m giving you our top 5 things to see and do:

1. The Harbour
San Diego Habour

Release your inner fisherman by strolling around the seaport village to enjoy the backdrop of sailing boats and charming cafes. The Maritime Museum is also located here, and if ships ‘float your boat’ you’ll be amongst the world’s finest collection.

2. Balbao Park

Balboa Park, San Diego

This is perhaps the most beautiful park I’ve ever been to (I can’t decide between here and Singapore’s Botanical Gardens) and it is certainly the most relaxing. It contains elaborate pavilions and architecture that would not look out of place in several major European cities, which is no surprise seen as though  many of the park’s buildings are in the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style.

You’ll easily be able to spend a whole day here and not want to do anything else but wander around and laze at every spot.

3. San Diego Zoo

Although technically a part of Balbao Park, I’m reviewing this as a separate entity in order to spread out the divisions of this fabulous city.

San Diego Zoo is the largest zoo in the world and is an organisation which prides itself on conservation foremost. Usually I’m not into zoos because I prefer to see animals in their natural environment but I had read a lot of positive comments about this zoo beforehand which prompted me to go. I think this place is especially good for families because it enables children to learn about animals inside a spacious setting.

I also recommend taking a ride on the cable car which overlooks the whole of the zoo and San Diego’s impressive skyline.

4. Mission Beach

Alas I became too caught up in sunbathing and strolling down the bustling sidewalk that I forgot to take any photographs! This beach attracts everyone from people seeking extreme watersports, to kids trapping their parents in a tomb of sand – don’t forget your suntan lotion!

5. Night-life

San Diego nightlife

Okay so Karaoke doesn’t really meet most people’s expectation when ‘nightlife’ comes to mind, and I for one heavily campaign against it, but a few drinks later and with little persuasion Harriet and I got on stage. I’ll give Harriet praise where praise is due, as she actually could actually hold a note in key, but my Yorkshire tones completely and utterly butchered the song. Fittingly, we sang Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin, and ‘Let’s talk about sex’ (why am I even telling you all this?).

However, (and this is most likely) if you want to leave the Karaoke alone, Diego is prefect on a warm summer evening, having cocktails and enjoying music.

San Diego nightlife

In terms of accommodation, we stayed in two youth hostels, the first one was HI Hostel and the second one was called Lucky D’s. Both were great (well as great as a youth hostel can be, ahem!) but  Lucky D’s has the edge because it provides a slightly better price; being around $50 a night for the both of us, and it was the privacy of 2-person room. HI Hostel was really nice inside, but only two bathrooms on each floor equates to around one bathroom per 18 people – so get up earlier to avoid the queue for the shower!

P.S. There is video footage floating around the internet of Harriet and I singing ‘Like a Virgin’, but I shall not subject you to it!

What else can you add to this list?

A travel & culture blog specialising in Scandinavia and the Arctic, peppered with the rest of the world in between.

'TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN SAN DIEGO' have 9 comments

  1. October 2, 2009 @ 1:58 pm Tim

    I do so enjoy this little snippets and windows into your world, both charming and delightful!


  2. October 2, 2009 @ 11:30 pm shing lin yoong

    Thank you Mr…

    You can peep through my window anytime 😉


  3. October 3, 2009 @ 10:23 am Tim

    hehehe – the Octopus is now extremely happy 🙂


  4. October 5, 2009 @ 8:41 am Brett

    Free competition time again, those wonderful people at blurb have given me 3 voucher worth £30 each to give away, to help promote their latest book competition in which you could win $3,000. The book competition ends on the 22/10 so to give the winners of the vouchers time to do their books this give away ends on Friday 9th.

    To enter you just need to follow one of my blogs and tell me your funniest pet, travel or family related story. If you already have a post on your blog just link to that in the comment and I will read it there.

    Why have I chosen those categories well they just happen to be the themes of the books for Blurbs competition, Pets, Travel or Families, so get your thinking caps on as this competition for the £30 vouchers ends Friday.


  5. October 10, 2009 @ 10:18 am Anonymous

    San Diego looks like a lot of fun.

    A great resource when you are traveling is

    You can ask questions, share expertise and find people looking for the same things.

    You should swing by.


  6. November 15, 2012 @ 8:22 pm Pola (@jettingaround)

    I’m going to San Diego for the first time in a few weeks and will definitely check out the Harbor. I didn’t know about Balbao Park, but I think it will make my list too!


    • November 15, 2012 @ 11:09 pm admin

      You’ll have a fantastic time! Oh you MUST go to Balbao Park, if I were to recommend one place for any visitor to go to in San Diego it would be Balbao Park because it’s incredibly beautiful, with several gardens dedicated to different plant species and elaborate architecture. You wont be disappointed! I will look forward to reading about your trip!

      P.S San Diego is fun for going thrift shopping too…!


  7. December 17, 2012 @ 6:05 am Christy @ Ordinary Traveler

    I had to take a peek since we live in San Diego and obviously LOVE it too! It looks like you had a fun time. It’s funny, I never go to karaoke bars around here, but our friend just had his birthday at a karaoke bar on Friday. Maybe it will become a tradition now. haha


    • December 17, 2012 @ 6:25 pm admin

      Hi Christy! I hope to explore San Diego again – what a pity that it’s thousands and thousands of miles away from where I am now! Haha I was a complete karaoke virgin before going to San Diego, and so far its my first and last experience of it!

      Yes do it on FRIDAY! 😀


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