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From the vineyards of Rancho Bernardo to the pier at Ocean Beach, San Diego woos travellers with sunshine, non-stop events and bay views worthy of an intercontinental journey. As an important seaport, California’s second-largest city boasts a rich maritime history, loads of culture and plenty of time to be as lazy as your holiday self desires in beachfront San Diego accommodation.
Planning San Diego holidays is quite easy, thanks to the fact that there’s a neighbourhood for everyone.
When you visit San Diego, you need a priority list to tackle all the sights and flavours that await in “America’s Finest City”. Obviously, you’ve got to book accommodation in San Diego’s coolest districts where you can eat, sleep, explore and repeat.
Start in Old Town, the site of California’s former capital. Sure, it’s a bit kitschy, but the colourful, old-timey shops are reminiscent of San Diego’s Latin heritage. While you’re uptown, it’s time to eat. East of Old Town, you’ll find Mission Hills, Hillcrest and North Park—all foodie and brewery neighbourhoods ready to satisfy the most casual taco enthusiast or fine dining aficionado.
With a belly full of SoCal cuisine, you’ll be ready for museum-hopping. Head to Balboa Park to visit the San Diego Air & Space Museum, Mingei International Museum, San Diego Zoo and much more. There are several free events in the park year-round, too, so get swept up in local celebrations before you head west to swab the decks of tall ships at the Maritime Museum in the harbour.
Little Italy, located nearby, is a top stop for easygoing nightlife with nary a dive bar in sight. If you prefer more shenanigans, head to the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego’s red light district of ages past and today’s club hub.
Feel like spending a day on the Pacific Ocean? Book accommodation near Belmont Park in Mission Beach to stay close to vintage roller coasters and the centre of San Diego’s most popular beach neighbourhoods.
Flights to San Diego International Airport (SAN) land only 4.5km north of downtown. Southern California is driving country, and San Diego has the freeways to prove it. Public transport—bus lines and trolleys—can get you to most stops on your itinerary, so you can skip the car hire if you aren’t in a big hurry to get around.
events and festivals going on all the time in and around this city, and our San Diego hotels are right in the thick of it. If you’re in town in mid-July, you’ve got to check out the annual World Championship Over The Line Tournament. OTL is a bat and ball game played by adults who can’t let go of the baseball dream. Anyway, it’s a huge party on Fiesta Island in the middle of Mission Bay and definitely worth a visit. If you feel like playing, scrape together a team and sign up. As always, BYOB.
San Diego is considered a foodie mecca by some, and events like the Latin Food Fest in August help solidify that claim. Bring your appetite, because some of the best food in San Diego will be served up here. We’re getting hungry just talking about it. Just imagine scarfing down a plate of asado, beans and rice topped off with a minty mojito. Seriously, it really can’t get any better.
Moving into September, there’s the festival of all festivals. The San Diego Bacon Fest is the greatest showcase of this delicious treat that you’ll ever experience. Masterful chefs create unbelievable recipes, incorporating bacon in a variety of ways. Next time you’re eating a plate of bacon and eggs, just remember this: The chicken made a donation, the pig made a commitment.
A trip to SoCal isn’t meant to be spent laying around your hotel room. You’ve got to get some sun and see the town. No better way to do that than with a San Diego City Highlights Segway Loop Tour. After you’ve familiarised yourself with the ins and outs of this futuristic machine, follow your guide through the streets of downtown. Cruise along the waterfront where yachts bigger than your house are docked, and then stop for lunch in the Gaslamp District. We challenge you to complete the whole ride without going down.
Park your two-wheeled chariot and oil yourself up for a day at the beach. There’s plenty to choose from, but we’re going to recommend Pacific Beach. This not-so-sleepy beachside community is perfect for unwinding in the sand. And after you’ve properly roasted yourself, grab a cold one at one of the many bars lining Garnet Street. This also happens to be one of the best places to stay in San Diego, because who doesn’t want to be awakened by the surf?
We can’t imagine only spending one day in San Diego, but if that’s the case, here’s what you must do. Wander the seaside village of La Jolla. This ritzy little town styles itself as the Beverly Hills of the county, and for good reason. Fancy boutique shops and fine dining restaurants line the streets. If you hear a distinctive bark coming from the ocean, those are the seals hanging at Children’s Pool. No one really knows what they’re yelling about, but they’re funny.
This town is one of the craft brewery capitals in the country, so before departing, let your taste buds enjoy some foamy libations. There’s all sorts of brewery tours you can sign up for, so pick one and let the beer flow like wine. Ballast Point comes highly recommended by us.
Ready to find out why San Diego is considered “America’s Finest City”? Wotif has sweet deals on airfares and hotels in San Diego, so you can see for yourself. Hint: It might have something to do with bottomless margaritas on the beach.
Hotels in San Diego start at NZ$83 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.