How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in San Diego
San Diego is one of my favorite places to go for a quick weekend getaway. The city is large enough to explore but is also surrounded by relaxing beaches and gorgeous scenery to enjoy.
Growing up in Arizona has given me the chance to take many weekend trips to San Diego, and there are certain places I have to go to every time that I visit. If you’re looking for the best places to explore during your trip to San Diego, I’ve included all my favorites in this blog post!
Here’s how to spend the perfect relaxing three-day weekend in San Diego.
DAY 1 – Weekend in San Diego
Whether you are driving or flying to San Diego, try to arrive by the early afternoon to make the most of your weekend. There is so much to see and do that you don’t want to miss a single second!
After arriving in San Diego, drive 15 minutes from downtown San Diego to Coronado Island!
Coronado Island is filled with adorable boutiques, jaw-dropping hotels, and of course, gorgeous, sandy beaches.
Spend the afternoon relaxing on the beach, rent a bike to cruise along the beachfront, or stroll down Coronado’s main street for a quaint shopping & dining experience.
Hotel Del Coronado
Don’t leave Coronado without visiting the crown jewel of the island: the legendary Hotel del Coronado. The hotel was built in 1888 and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1977. The Hotel del Coronado has hosted dozens of celebrities and political figures over the past century and continues to attract tourists worldwide.
Even if you don’t stay in the Hotel del Coronado (it’s pricey!), it is still fun to explore and peruse the shops around the lobby and enjoy the gorgeous beachfront views.
Bottega Italiana & Burger Lounge
While you are walking around Coronado Island, stop by Bottega Italiana for delicious gelato! It’s freshly made in-store, and they have tons of unique flavors.
Before you leave Coronado Island, stop by Burger Lounge for a yummy grass-fed burger, or The Henry for a trendy & delicious array of Modern American fare.
When you drive back to San Diego, enjoy a stroll through Seaport Village to soak up the waterfront views during sunset.
Stop at the San Pasqual Wine Tasting Room in Seaport Village to enjoy a glass of local, California wine (try one of the passionfruit wines, they are so unique and tasty) to finish your day!
Day 2 – Weekend in San Diego
Start your morning with one of my San Diego essentials, Better Buzz Coffee!
Better Buzz is a small coffee chain & roastery in Southern California with a trendy and fun culture (some might say basic). Personally, I love Better Buzz, especially their specialty drink, The Best Drink Ever (yes, it’s actually called that, and yes, it’s actually the best drink ever!).
Along with delicious, locally-roasted coffee, Better Buzz serves some delicious acai bowls! Give Better Buzz a try when you are in San Diego.
And if you’re looking for another awesome coffee shop to try… check out Communal Coffee!
Little Italy Mercato Farmer’s Market
Next, head downtown to Little Italy for the Little Italy Mercato Farmer’s Market!
The Little Italy Mercato is from 8 AM – 2 PM year-round on Saturday mornings. With over 175 vendors and farmers, you will find everything you could ever want in a farmer’s market.
From colorful fruits and flowers, fresh cheeses and baked goods, locally-made jams and hummus, and even kombucha on tap, there is something to satisfy everyone at the Mercato!
I’ve been to several farmer’s markets, and this one is by far one of my favorites. The quality of the goods sold and the sheer size of the market is hard to beat!
After grabbing a bite to eat for lunch at the Little Italy Mercato, drive to Balboa Park. Though San Diego is known for its pristine beaches, Balboa Park rivals them in beauty!
Full of gardens, museums, unique architecture, and free entertainment, exploring Balboa Park is an excellent way to enjoy an afternoon in San Diego.
Here’s a list of some of the best things to do at Balboa Park!
The Botanical Building and Lily Pond
The Museum of Man and the California Tower
The Japanese Friendship Garden
San Diego Natural History Museum
The San Diego Air & Space Museum
San Diego Zoo
Balboa Park is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park! If you aren’t a museum-goer, I recommend checking out the Botanical Building (it’s free!) and heading straight to the San Diego Zoo for the afternoon.
My husband and I spent an entire day at the San Diego Zoo (like six hours!) and loved every second. The San Diego Zoo is clean, easy to navigate, and home to thousands of animals worldwide. The animals were very active when we visited (and seemed so happy!), which made our experience at the zoo so fun!
After a busy day exploring Balboa Park, head back to Little Italy for dinner! There are tons of excellent restaurants in this area.
After dinner, head to Extraordinary Desserts for, you guessed it, an extraordinary dessert! This is a fun spot to visit to try and an extravagant slice of cake, petit dessert, or cookie!
Day 3 – Weekend in San Diego
My favorite place to get breakfast in San Diego is Breakfast Republic! There are multiple locations in the San Diego area, but I recommend visiting the location is Pacific Beach for this itinerary.
The décor in all their restaurants is fun and trendy, and their dishes are themed to match the restaurant. They have an excellent variety of menu options, and I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever ordered here!
After breakfast, drive 10 minutes north to La Jolla.
La Jolla is a gorgeous beach town known for its rugged coastline and the great variety of water activities.
Choose from this list of activities to make the most of your day in La Jolla!
La Jolla Underwater Park
La Jolla Underwater Park remarkable spot for adventurers to go kayaking, snorkeling, or scuba diving to encounter a variety of sea creatures, like fish, dolphins, leopard sharks, and whales that call this ecological reserve home.
I haven’t had the opportunity to visit the La Jolla Underwater Park yet, but it’s on my list for the next time I visit San Diego. I would love to try this kayak and snorkel tour!
La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is my favorite spot to visit in La Jolla. The rocky coastline is gorgeous, the caves are fun to explore, and it is an excellent vantage point to view the sea lions who enjoy hanging out there!
From my experience in La Jolla Cove, it is also an excellent spot to swim, lay on the beach, or go paddleboarding.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
If you want to experience the sea life in La Jolla without getting in the water, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is the perfect place to spend your afternoon in La Jolla! There are tons of interactive exhibits and more than 5,000 fish in the aquarium.
If you’re looking for something a bit less adventurous to do during your day in La Jolla, be sure to walk around and go window shopping.
Prospect Street and Girad Avenue are located right next to the beach and filled with a good mix of trendy boutique shops and high-end stores.
Before you head home in the evening, be sure to stop by Bobboi Gelato for some genuine Italian gelato! All their gelato is natural and made in small batches. Be prepared to wait in line, though. This place is awesome, and everyone knows it!
Get the Best Value for Your Weekend in San Diego
Go San Diego Card
If you’re planning to squeeze a lot of these activities into your weekend in San Diego, I would recommend purchasing the Go San Diego Card!
The Go San Diego Card is an all-inclusive pass that provides easy access to TONS of San Diego activities, like the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park museums, La Jolla water activities, and dozens of other must-see places in San Diego!
I love using Go City Cards when I travel because it makes traveling more convenient. All I have to do is purchase one digital pass, and I am good to go! It’s also a great value. If you’re like me, this is a high priority when traveling!
Enjoy Your Weekend in San Diego
I hope this travel guide helps you to plan and enjoy a fantastic weekend in San Diego! I love San Diego so much and always look forward to going back to visit.
If you visit San Diego, don’t forget to share your pictures with me on Instagram! (@travelbybrit)
Have an incredible trip!
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
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