Ohhh San Diego. Such a beautiful Californian city! Last summer I spent about six weeks living in southern California. It was an incredible time filled with beaches, palm trees, fish tacos, and friends. One highlight was taking a bus from Long Beach to San Diego for the day–I recommend staying longer if possible since there is so much to see and do. In this post I offer a few ideas for what to do if you find yourself in San Diego for a few hours!


One day in San Diego: Activities guide

1. Visit La Jolla.

La Jolla is a part of San Diego located about 15 minutes north of downtown San Diego. Upon entering, you will be met with gorgeous views of La Jolla Cove, palm trees rocketing into the sky, and friendly locals everywhere. There is so much to do in La Jolla, especially water activities. So try some snorkeling, scuba diving, or kayaking if you have the time!

2. Check out the wild sea lions.

While in La Jolla, be sure to pay a visit to the hundreds of sea lions sunning themselves on the coast. It was so fun to be up close and personal with wild sea lions, I even got to see the cutest baby sea lion (it was playing in the puddle to my right in the picture below). But be careful–they do smell pretty bad and they can bite if you get TOO close. Lifeguards recommend you stay a few feet away at all times.

Where to stay: Andaz San Diego

3. Eat some Mexican food.

What I didn’t realize until arriving in San Diego is how close it is to Mexico! A 30 minute drive will lead you to Tijuana. I almost returned to San Diego to take a quick visit to Mexico, but ran out of time! One of the benefits you get from San Diego being so close to Mexico is amazing Mexican food.

I decided to eat at this adorable restaurant I stumbled upon called Puesto. I ordered the fish tacos and they were delicious (and presented so beautifully!) I loved sitting by the open window at their counter watching people pass by and enjoying my meal. I highly recommend stopping by this place for a great meal, great service, and a fun atmosphere. Another place recommended to me is called Whisknladle right next door to Puesto.

One day in San Diego: Activities guide

4. Relax in a park.

If you decide to stay in the La Jolla area join the locals and throw a frisbee around La Jolla Park or buy a mexican blanket from one of the local vendors and take a nap. You will get beautiful views of the ocean and a soft grassy area to relax and soak in the sunshine.

5. Visit the Gaslamp Quarter.

One of my favorite neighborhoods in San Diego was the Gaslamp Quarter. Every street boasted dozens of restaurants, bars, and shops. This is also the area of the city where they hold street festivals and parades throughout the year. My boyfriend and I returned to San Diego to attend the Comic Conference only a few weeks after my first visit and the streets were buzzing with all types of characters!

Where to stay: San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter

Overall, San Diego is a beautiful city and every inch of it is worthy of exploration! If you have the opportunity to stay in San Diego longer than a day here are a few other ideas worth checking out!

  • Visit Torrey Pines State Reserve for a hike along the ocean
  • Visit the San Diego Zoo
  • Spend an afternoon in Balboa Park
  • Take a trip to Coronado and see the famous hotel
  • Visit Ocean Beach for sunset


Author: Erin founded the Wonderlost Travel blog in February of 2015 after her experience of studying abroad in Europe. She has had the opportunity to travel throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and parts of South America and Asia. She enjoys writing about and photographing her travel experiences in order to inspire others to get out and follow their travel dreams. Erin has a passion for traveling the world to experience other cultures and explore nature!

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