We recommend planning at least 3 days to go to San Diego. This will allow you to explore the city center, visit one or two theme parks, and potentially take a look at the beautiful coastal areas nearby. However, if you have more time, you can easily take 5-7 days in San Diego and you'll find plenty to do. For a more complete experience of the city, excluding theme parks, I recommend you spend at least two full days in San Diego.
This way, you can also visit historic districts and major monuments in a single day, especially if you only plan a short stop during your road trip or if you want to stay 2 days, including a theme park. The best way to get around is by renting a car at the airport, especially if you plan on day trips to northern beach towns. For a more land-based activity, Prospect Street is ideal for window shopping and people-watching in a spot known as San Diego's Rodeo Drive. If you want to visit the zoo and museums of Balboa Park, this is where the San Diego Go Card can be really useful and end up paying for itself, as many of these attractions are included in it.
If you plan to spend the day downtown, my advice is to start your visit from the Marina District-Embarcadero area, which can be easily reached on foot or by public transportation from downtown San Diego. There are walking trails if you're an early riser and one of the best photo spots in San Diego is right in Balboa Park (below). Plus, you'll need a car in San Diego to get to the highlights, so you've checked that box with a rental car. International travelers to San Diego are likely to find better value for money in this option.
With countless things to do, a perennial climate, and a relaxed lifestyle that's instantly contagious, San Diego is one of the best places to visit in California. This has to be on your San Diego itinerary, especially if you're not from the west and don't see these sunsets often. San Diego is the best tourist destination, especially compared to Los Angeles, with a seemingly endless variety of things to do, so no matter how much time you might spend here, you can make sure you're always busy. Located just south of La Jolla and just north of Mission Bay, Pacific Beach is about a 20-30 minute drive from downtown San Diego, depending on traffic.
Renowned for its panoramic waterfront views, this upscale San Diego neighborhood is an ideal area to spend a day by the sea and mingle with local marine life. Hotel Del Coronado One of the most iconic hotels in the country and not just in San Diego, if you are looking for a luxury stay in San Diego, you can't go wrong with Hotel Del. Of course, if you like marine animals and want to make the most of your ticket by spending a few hours of pure fun on the attractions, you can spend a whole day there without hesitation. Cabrillo Bridge: Located in Balboa Park, near the Museum of Us, visit the bridge at night to photograph downtown San Diego from above I-5 to blur car lights with extended exposures.
Learn about the Mexican-American history of San Diego, visit more than 100 specialty stores, stroll through Fiesta de Reyes (see calendar of events) and eat great Mexican food with a cocktail.