Once a sleepy Navy town, San Diego is now wide awake. Visitors to this Southern California city can enjoy cocktails at a rooftop bar in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter, catch a Broadway-worthy show at the La Jolla Playhouse or hit the links at one of the city’s 90 golf courses. San Diego’s proximity to theme parks and pristine beaches makes it a popular vacation spot. And it doesn’t hurt that the city is warm and sunny year-round.
San Diego’s economy is spurred by defense—its deepwater port houses the only major submarine and shipbuilding yards on the West Coast. And the city is home to the headquarters of several national defense contractors. Tourism, research and manufacturing also play an important role in the economy.
Getting to and from the airport
San Diego International Airport is 3 miles northwest of the city center. The Metropolitan Transit System’s Bus Route 992 runs from terminals 1 and 2 to downtown San Diego. It operates between 5 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. every 15 minutes on weekdays and every 30 minutes on weekends and holidays. Or you can find a cab at designated taxi zones on the arrivals level adjacent to each terminal.
Getting around San Diego
If you’re staying downtown, the iconic Red Trolley is a good option for getting around. Three trolley lines go to key locations such as the Santa Fe Depot and the San Diego Convention Center. Fares are $2.50. There’s also an extensive network of buses throughout San Diego. For timetables and schedules, visit the Metropolitan Transit System website. You can find taxi stands outside most hotels, attractions and shopping centers. Fares are metered. Uber is another option for convenient transportation—the company is well established in the San Diego area.
Where to stay
If you’re looking for full-service accommodation, consider Andaz San Diego (600 F St.; Ph: 1-619-849-1234), Omni San Diego Hotel (675 L St.; Ph: 1-619-231-6664), The Westin San Diego (400 W. Broadway, Ph: 1-619-239-4500); Wyndham San Diego Bayside (1355 N. Harbor Drive; Ph:1-619-232-3861).
For budget-friendly options, try Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego/Del Mar (11025 Vista Sorrento Parkway; Ph: 1-858-523-0500), Best Western Plus San Diego/Miramar Hotel (9310 Kearny Mesa Road; Ph: 1-858-578-6600), Country Inn & Suites by Carlson San Diego (5975 Lusk Blvd.; Ph: 1-858-558-1818) or Days Inn Hotel Circle by SeaWorld (543 Hotel Circle South; Ph: 1-619-297-8800).
Things to see and do
San Diego is a global destination for beach lovers. La Jolla Cove, in particular, is an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking. The small cove is surrounded by majestic sandstone cliffs that create a striking backdrop for your day of leisure. There is no cost for entrance. Lifeguards are on duty from 9 a.m. to dusk.
Visitors to the USS Midway Museum get the chance to board the largest aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy fleet. You can walk in the footsteps of over 225,000 sailors who served their nation on the USS Midway from 1945 to its retirement in 1992. A self-guided audio tour takes you through some of the ship’s 65 rooms, including the engine room, sleeping quarters and the bridge. Tickets are $20. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Balboa Park is the nation’s largest urban cultural park. It’s home to 15 major museums, performing arts venues and serene gardens. A One-Day Explorer ticket costs $45 and gives you access to five museums of your choice. The park grounds are open 24 hours a day, and museum hours vary by institution. The park also encompasses the famed San Diego Zoo. The zoo pioneered the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits intended to recreate natural habitats. The design gives you an unobstructed view of over 3,700 rare and exotic animals. The zoo, which draws more than 3 million visitors each year, celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2016. Look for centennial events throughout the year. It’s open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A one-day pass is $50.
Seaport Village is a lively and charming outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment complex in the city center. The waterfront property offers stunning views of San Diego Bay. Enjoy live music every day from 12-4 p.m. in the food court. On Saturday evenings, you can catch a free concert featuring some of the city’s talented musicians. And there’s no shortage of dining options—17 eateries are clustered in the area.
Where to eat
It’s worth the drive to the suburbs to enjoy a meal at The Brasserie. The restaurant is attached to a wine shop, so you can be sure they’ve got the perfect pairing for your dish. The menu is full of mouthwatering creations like the rich gazpacho and the venison with Brussels sprouts and black cherry reduction. Find it at 9550 Waples St., Suite 115, San Diego, 92121; Ph: 1-858-450-9557.
If you find yourself in La Jolla, pay a visit to George’s at the Cove. Chef Trey Foshee wows guests with his famous seafood dishes, including fish tacos and mano de leon scallops. And you just can’t beat that seascape view. It’s at 1250 Prospect St., La Jolla, 92037; Ph: 1-858-454-4244.
Start your day off right with breakfast at Snooze. The casual restaurant finds innovative ways to serve traditional breakfast classics with a twist. The staff—affectionately labeled “Snoozers”—welcome customers friendliness and a contagious passion for food. It’s at 3940 Fifth Ave., San Diego, 92103; Ph: 1-619-500-3344.
Located in the Grand Del Mar Hotel and Resort, Addison Restaurant is a hot spot for natives and tourists alike. Addison’s contemporary French cuisine features vibrant tastes and simple yet skillfully combined ingredients. The menu constantly changes to incorporate what’s in season. The langoustine dish with Oscietra caviar and tuile biscuit is a fan favorite. Find it at 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, San Diego, 92130; Ph: 1-858-314-1900.