Looking for a weekend vacation destination that will delight the whole family, regardless of the season? A place packed with outdoor activities, delicious eats, and world-class accommodations to keep your crew comfortable when you aren’t out exploring? San Diego is your spot!
Weekend Getaway Guide: San Diego
This southern Californian city is a great choice for families looking to escape for a long weekend and enjoy a few lazy days by the beach, as well as those looking to fill their itinerary with plenty of things to do.
If you’re planning a weekend getaway to San Diego, keep these recommendations in mind as you plan your trip and you’re sure to have an amazing time!
Where to Stay in San Diego:
Many of San Diego’s biggest tourist attractions are spread out across town. Staying downtown won’t necessarily make it easier for you to reach the places on your itinerary, but it is a nice place to stay nonetheless.
Hotels located in the Gaslamp Quarter, Marina, Little Italy, and the East Village will all leave you with a room downtown, so look for these neighborhoods as you’re comparing properties.
If you’d rather not stay downtown, there are plenty of other solid areas of San Diego where you and your family can comfortably stay. Two other locations I highly recommend are Mission Bay and Coronado.
Mission Bay is a popular place for visitors and locals alike to stay and play, offering a water park, plenty of public paths and parks, and 27 miles of shoreline to explore. My favourite Mission Bay hotel is Paradise Point, which offers bungalows perfect for visiting families.
Coronado, on the other hand, is a little peninsula positioned across from downtown San Diego, offering excellent views, easy access to the coast, and plenty of hotel options, including the Coronado Island Marriott Resort and Spa.
What to Eat in San Diego:
San Diego’s laid-back food culture is inspired heavily by its Mexican influence and its proximity to the ocean, so you can’t plan a trip to San Diego without grabbing lunch or dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.
While you can’t go wrong with many of the hole-in-the-wall spots you run into throughout town, plan a visit to Casa Guadalajara for great food, delicious margaritas, and quick service.
Seafood is another big specialty in San Diego. There are plenty of upscale eateries to make reservations at if you’re in town to celebrate a special occasion, but if you’re in for a visit with family, I’d recommend the unfussy but delicious Blue Water Seafood Market Grill. Here you can order tacos and other fresh creations made with fish pulled from the sea that morning.
Lastly, San Diego is known for California-style pizza. This is a thin-crust pizza heaped with toppings you wouldn’t be surprised to find on the west coast – cremini mushrooms, artichokes, eggplants, and other veggies not always on the menu elsewhere.
Drive just north of San Diego to Encinitas to try Blue Ribbon Artisan Pizza, which serves up wood-fired creating with a wide variety of seasonal toppings.
What to Do in San Diego:
Positioned on the coast, one of the biggest perks of San Diego is its easy access to the waterfront and the outdoor activities you can enjoy there. Picnic on the shore at Mission Bay, and let your little ones burn off some energy at the play structure at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.
Or head up to La Jolla for a solid swimming beach and the chance to catch some waves on a boogie board. Just make sure you don’t skip out on the sunscreen!
Right on the beach at Mission Bay is Belmont Amusement Park, with rides and great food. right on the beach, it’s a one-stop spot to have fun and then play on the sand. There’s so many great restaurants here as well – you could make a day trip just in this one location, we did!
If you’re rather explore the water than lay by the beach, consider getting out on the water with a boating excursion. You can take traditional sightseeing cruises or dinner cruises, but I always recommend a whale watching tour for families looking for a one-of-a-kind experience at sea.
San Diego Whale Watch is one of many companies in the area that offers this service – as well as a free pass to try again for anyone who doesn’t see anything on the trip.
While you’re in town, one big-name attraction you won’t want to miss is the San Diego Zoo. Home to exhibits that spotlight animals native to nearly every corner of the world, from panda bears to polar bears, you can easily spend a day exploring here.
Your little ones will love the opportunity to get up close and personal with their favourite creatures and critters, and with plenty of shows and hands-on exhibits, you’ll easily walk away with a memorable experience.
A weekend spent soaking up the San Diego sun is one your family won’t soon forget! Make San Diego your next vacation spot and keep these recommendations in mind as you plan your trip, and you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
If you’re a frequent San Diego vacationer (or local resident) and your favourite spots didn’t show up on my list, please leave a comment and let me know what you consider a can’t-miss in the area!
Have you ever been to San Diego before?
Also check out my weekend guide to Dallas.