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The Ultimate San Diego City Guide: Discover Hidden Gems and Local Favorites

Updated: Apr 29

San Diego is a beautiful coastal city located in Southern California. It is one of the top tourist destinations in the US, and every year thousands of people flock to San Diego to experience the beautiful beaches, visit amazing attractions, and enjoy near-perfect weather year-round. San Diego is a large city and home to over 1 million people and over 3 million people in San Diego County. With so many neighborhoods, attractions, and activities, you will always have things to do and this city will keep you coming back for more. In this post, I will provide a helpful city guide to help you plan your trip to San Diego!

Helpful Tips:

San Diego is located within San Diego County. SD county is huge and locals refer to the upper part of the county as "North County" and the lower part of the county as "South Bay". The city is also divided into different neighborhoods, the most popular with tourists are Mission Valley, La Jolla, North Park, Mission Beach, Coronado, Convoy, and Pacific Beach.

Beach at Mission Bay
Mission Bay

When to Visit:

End of June to October - I’ve lived in San Diego for a little over 4 years, and the end of June- to October is the best time to visit. Visitors can expect beautiful sunny days 7 days a week during the summer months. During the day temperatures can reach the high 80s but if you explore the city at night, bring a light jacket because the temperature may drop to the mid-high 60s.

November to April- This is considered the rainy season and during November, cooler temperatures begin to arrive in San Diego. If you don’t mind a little rain, you will find that major attractions are less crowded and hotel prices are significantly lower.

May to the beginning of June- San Diego is a city known for its perfect weather but every year the city experiences almost 2 months filled with cloudy days. This May (2023), San Diego did not have one sunny day. I know, strange, right? Well, this weather phenomenon is called a marine layer. You can check out an informational video from our local news which provides an excellent description. During this time visitors can expect the weather to be a little chilly so bring a light jacket.

Local Tip: Around the 3rd week of July, Comic Con arrives in San Diego. If you don’t know what Comic Con is, it’s one of the largest comic book conventions in the world. It’s not uncommon to see celebrities from your favorite Marvel movies or actors from your favorite TV shows at the event. During this event, hotel prices are almost double, and nearby restaurants have a fixed menu with elevated prices. I would recommend choosing a different week to visit San Diego, but if you plan to come during this week, choose accommodations far from downtown to avoid the high rates.

Getting here:

The best way to get to San Diego is by plane. We are also a quick drive from Los Angeles about 2 hrs. and we are about 4 hrs. from Las Vegas.


Once you arrive, I highly recommend having a rental car if you plan to explore different city areas. San Diego does offer public transportation such as city buses and a Trolley. Over the years, the city has put a lot of funding into the Trolley and it can take you from downtown to the neighborhood of Little Italy, to Old Town and La Jolla. There are other stops along the trolley as well. It’s very easy to use and navigate, so if you are interested in riding the Trolley during your stay you can find out more information by visiting The San Diego Trolley website.

Where to Stay:

There are so many hotels to choose from and it depends on what you are looking for. For example, are you looking for a hotel near the water, in the city center or in a central location?

Near the water: I recommend the neighborhood area of Mission Bay/ Mission Beach or Coronado. Mission Beach is a small beachside community located 15 min from downtown San Diego. This is one of my favorite beaches.

Downtown San Diego: I recommend a hotel near the Embarcadero or the Hilton Bayfront.

Central location: For visitors who plan to explore different areas in San Diego and maybe even venture out to cities further north or south, I recommend staying in the Mission Valley area. Mission Valley is as central as possible, with most of the city's top tourist destinations within 15 minutes.

Local Tip: La Jolla is a beautiful city and is very popular among visitors. If you plan on spending most of your time in La Jolla or the Del Mar area, this is the perfect place to stay. However, if you plan on spending most of your time closer to downtown or surrounding neighborhoods, consider more central accommodations like those mentioned above.

Things to do:

There are so many things to do in San Diego and something for the entire family to enjoy. Here are some of the many things San Diego has to offer:


San Diego Zoo- One of the top-rated zoos in the U.S.

Belmont Park- Beachside amusement park in Mission Beach

Padres Games- San Diego’s professional baseball team.







Where to Eat:

There are many restaurants in San Diego to choose from. Check out some of my food blog posts for ideas on where to go!


Overall San Diego is a fairly safe city and tourism is one of the main industries. With that being said when exploring some areas in downtown San Diego, I would suggest being mindful of your surroundings


San Diego is an expensive city. On average a meal at a restaurant will cost about $20 per person and drinks will cost around $12-$15 per person. Hotels typically run $250- $300 per night but can be higher depending on where you stay.

Wrap up:

San Diego is an amazing city with many attractions, delicious restaurants, and beautiful beaches. I hope this guide is useful as you plan you vacation to San Diego.



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