A Complete Guide to San Diego

 

I love living in San Diego and I'm so grateful for the life I get to live here! I grew up in North County, Encinitas to be exact. And now we are living closer to the Downtown area. I've been scheming up for awhile now this San Diego guide, as a reference for my family and friends for when they're here visiting. This is a list of my favorite places to eat, where to go and favorite beaches up and down the San Diego coast! Enjoy! Let me know what your favorite is! 

san diego california guide

Food:

Taco Stand

This is hands down our favorite place to eat, and we love taking our family here! The line is often long but totally worth it. There’s three locations now, one in North Park, La Jolla and Encinitas. I have good memories with this place because when Seth and I got engaged, this was where we went for dinner. We also always stop by for a California Burrito after a surf session in La Jolla

Pappalecco

I’m really proud of this find. We were searching for a good gelato spot (after our honeymoon in Italy, we knew what was good and what wasn’t) I found this place on Yelp and it was honestly just as amazing (if not better!) than the gelato in Italy! The Vanilla flavor is THE. BEST. vanilla flavor you will ever have. We figured that if they had such good gelato, the food must be pretty good too...well it is! The pizzas are amazing and interesting and actually pretty affordable! We have met the owner and he is so nice. They know their customers by name. The owner Francesco actually modeled the Kensington location to look exactly like his restaurant in Italy!

Salt and Straw

This trendy spot is unreal! Each flavor is incredibly unique and seriously yummy. If you are the type of person who likes flavors that are unique like Honey Lavender, Chocolate Chicharrón and Roasted Strawberry.. You need to go! If you’re coming during night time odds are there will be a huge line but it's worth it! Servings are HUGE here.

salt and straw san diego guide

 

Lotus Cafe

This was the first meal I had in America after being in the Philippines for 13 months. So that should basically say it all. This is a great spot for the health food nut. They have a huge variety of menu items so it can please just about anyone!

Roxys

I worked here in high school. Everything is pretty good but I always always always get the Artichoker Sandwhich   with avocado.

Board n Brew

Seth and I love this place and wish we could eat here every day! It's just your basic yummy sandwich spot but they have this special sauce that is just my favorite ever.

Baked Bear

In high school,  every weekend my friends and I would drive 30 minutes just to come here. Now they plenty of locations all over the country but San Diego is where it was founded! My favorite combos are: brownie sandwich with mint chocolate chip or brownie and oatmeal cookie sandwich with salted caramel ice cream. Make sure you get it warmed up!!!!

baked bear san diego guide pacific beach

 

La Playa Taco Shop

This is a hole in the wall spot but some of the best authentic mexican food I’ve found! I love the california burritos and the shrimp tacos.

Cafe Coyote

Honestly just come here for the tortillas. You can either sit down at the restaurant and order 6 tortillas served with salsa and butter for a few dollars or don’t even bother and just purchase a tortilla for a dollar at the front of the restaurant. There are a few ladys making them fresh right there. Seriously the best tortillas you will ever have! The food at the restaurant isn’t anything to write home about so I would just skip that!

Napizza

If you’re in Little Italy and don’t want anything too fancy, this place is super high delicious.

Puerto La Boca

Seth served his mission in Argentina, and for restaurant week I picked an Argentine place for us. This is located in Little Italy and is amazing! It's quite fancy and expensive so be prepared for that! We normally find a sweet deal on Groupon. 

Craft & Commerce

I took my mom here for her birthday and it was super fun and good! We just ordered a bunch of appetizers and shared. Brussel sprouts were amazing.

VG’s

The best donuts you will ever have! We ordered these for the donut wall at our wedding so you know I’m a huge fan!

vg donuts san diego guide cardiff best donut

 

Swami's Cafe

There are plenty of locations throughout the area but this is one of my favorite breakfast spots!

Beaming Juice Bar

My all time favorite spot for smoothies and juices. These are delicious and super healthy (none of the gross crap that places often put into smoothies). They even have some snacks and lunch items!

Rubys

If you’re in Oceanside this is a super classic and “Instagrammable” spot. The food is pretty yummy! Or even just stop by to enjoy a shake.

The Yellow Deli

You should do some research into this place! It’s pretty interesting. Its run by a church group in the area and all the food is grown at their local farm in Escondido. I also really love the sandwiches. If you go you’re encouraged to ask them about their faith. They’re all really nice and down to earth. The restaurant is really cute and homey!

Hapi Fish

My friends and I would always stop by this place for the best sushi in Encinitas. Since I went back the last time, I’m not sure if its actually the best out there...BUT they do have great deals for “hapi hour”!

 

What to do:

 

Little Italy Farmers Market

I haven’t been in awhile, but this farmers market is amazing and has everything you could dream of! Plus its in Little Italy so it can’t get cuter than that.

Jet Ski

This is such a fun thing to do! You can either rent in Mission Bay or in Carlsbad Lagoon. You could also rent a kayak or paddle board at these places

Parasail

My grandma took me parasailing for the first time a few years ago in Pacific Beach and it was an incredible experience. And yes, she did it with me!! Seth and I recently took a trip with San Diego Parasailing Adventures and had such an amazing time! If you want to see the best view of San Diego, I highly recommend this adventure!

san diego parasailing adventure san diego guide

Hike Torrey Pines

There’s not many hikes in San Diego, but this spot makes up for it because it's beyond gorgeous. I normally park on the street (to park in the parking lot is $15) then walk up the mountain from there. There are several trails you can take and some go all the way down to the beach.

san diego guide torrey pines hike

Hike Cowles Mountain

Speaking of hikes.. This was a great find! It’s in the mission trails area which is actually a beautiful area with tons of hikes all around. This particular one is the tallest point in all of San Diego. We did it as a sunset hike on New Year's Day during the supermoon. We had to come down in the dark so we were happy we brought along our headlamps. This hike is not for the faint of heart!

Little Italy

In my opinion, if you want to explore downtown, this is the only area really worth visiting. You’re surrounded by italian food and gelato aka heaven.

Mount Soledad

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This is an incredible view for sunset, sunrise or just about any time of the day. You can drive up to the top and have views of La Jolla and downtown. There's also a memorial at the top.

Seaport Village

Another fun area near downtown! There's plenty of touristy shops around but often there's some sort of event that's fun to visit. You also have a really pretty view of the Coronado Bridge here.

Coronado

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The whole Coronado area is adorable and perfect. Seth and I recently rented bikes and went through all the amazing neighborhoods. Another thing to do is visit the historic Hotel Del Coronado. It's fun to walk around. The beach in front of the Del is one of the cleanest and most white sand in San Diego!

Dog Beach

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Dogs + Beaches = Heaven! Honestly! Can you think of a better combo? If you’re ever in a bad mood, just visit one of the three dog beaches in San Diego (Solana Beach, Ocean Beach and Coronado) to watch happy pups running around and splashing in the water.

La Jolla Glider Ports

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This is one of the most beautiful views in San Diego. You can walk down to Blacks Beach (a nude beach) or stay on top and enjoy the view from here. You can also paraglide here! We did it and it was an amazing experience.

USS Midway Museum

This is an amazing Museum near downtown. The USS Midway Museum is a maritime museum located in downtown San Diego at Navy Pier. The museum consists of the aircraft carrier Midway. The ship houses an extensive collection of aircraft, many of which were built in Southern California.

Balboa Park

This is a really amazing area! The architecture is amazing and there is so much to see. I love walking through the cactus garden. On sundays there are free organ concerts. There are several museums here and on Tuesdays select museums are free for locals! My favorite museum is the Fleet Science Museum :)

San Diego Zoo

This place speaks for itself, its one of the largest zoos in the world and VERY humane. It is a huge park and you'd need a full day to see everything!

Belmont Park

This is just a place I think everyone should go once and ride the big wooden roller coaster. We did it on the day we got married :)

Flower Fields

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I’m sure you’ve seen some beautiful images from this flower field online somewhere. But its located in Carlsbad. Tickets are $16 and it's definitely something I love to do every year. I’ve been going since I was little.

Self Realization Fellowship

This is a beautiful garden area in Encinitas. It's a meditation garden and very important to be respectful while in the area. There's a very beautiful view of the ocean from here.

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Beaches:

 

Swamis

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This is one of the best surfing spots in Southern California. I wouldn’t recommend surfing here if you are inexperienced but it's a pretty view for sunset!

Pontos

san diego beaches guide

This is my favorite beach! The pathway down is a bit steep so I wouldn't recommend going if you’re planning to bring a ton of stuff, but for that reason it's typically less crowded. Good surf here!

La Jolla Cove

This is one of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego. You’ll also want to walk over to the Children's Pool area, to view the seals! Just don’t go down to the beach because you wouldn’t want to bother the seals. There are several other spots that you can go down to the sand at though.

Sunset Cliffs

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This is a beautiful area with amazing cliffs on the ocean. It's often very crowded during sunset but always worth it! It would be nice to run/walk along the road here.

Point Loma

Just south of Sunset Cliffs, this is a beautiful place to explore. You can visit the old lighthouse, and even go down to the beach to see the tide pools.


I hope you enjoyed this guide to San Diego! Its a beautiful place to call home and to visit, if you take a visit to any of these places... Please let me know what you thought!