A weekend in San Diego takes clever planning. These in-the-know ideas will keep you entertained, well fed, well quenched, and longing to extend your stay.

mission bay san diego

Mission Bay, San Diego

Friday Evening

You’ve got 72 hours in San Diego, so choose your hotel wisely. Tower23 Hotel is a hip, sleek boutique hotel with pristine views of the ocean, which is ideal if your focus is on beach time. Kimpton Hotel Palomar, in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, has a funky upscale vibe and a rooftop bar with shimmering views of the city. This spot will keep you close to attractions.

Clandestine drinks at Prohibition let you live like Gatsby, and this speakeasy is only accessed through a secret entry. Enjoy cleverly named cocktails in this 20s-style lounge, where cell phones are forbidden, and a dress code is enforced.

After drinks, catch a Shakespearean play at the historic The Old Globe. The theater is known for its centrally situated stage that accommodates simple productions from the days of yore.

Then it’s on to dinner at Bivouac Ciderworks, where you can sample a range of local ciders and an impressive seasonally driven menu with delights like Maple Leaf Duck Breast.

Saturday Morning

Your next 48 hours in San Diego kick off with breakfast at Fig Tree Café, known for its fig jam and cheese-stuffed French toast.

Work off the calories with a stroll through lush Balboa Park, where you can take in the Spanish-influenced architecture, wander the gardens, and pop into a range of world-class museums.

balboa park weekend in san diego

Balboa Park, San Diego

Visit the west side of the bay at Point Loma. Offering unparalleled views, rugged terrain, and plenty of historical sites, it’s an ideal spot for a day trip. You can also explore La Jolla, an upscale, European-influenced beach town that’s perfect for watching sea lions, taking in the majestic coast or browsing the elegant boutiques.

If you’re looking for a high-end lunch, check out the mussel bisque and gourmet sandwiches at landmark Dobson’s Bar & Restaurant, or tuck into an Italian feast at CUCINA enoteca Del Mar. If you prefer causal fare, fresh seafood at Supernatural Sea to Sandwich is a real crowd-pleaser.

Saturday Evening

Saturday night in San Diego should start with a few handcrafted cocktails at The Rooftop by STK. You can sip on drinks poolside at this swanky bar while the city and stars light up the sky.

la jolla san diego

La Jolla, San Diego

You can carry on a tipsy tour of the town by hitting all the hot spots. Start with on-tap beer, wine, and cocktails at Polite Provisions in University Heights, and then make your way to downtown’s Noble Experiment, which has an elite clientele and secret entry.

Keep the night going as you catch some live music at Belly Up. Popular headliners here have included The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Rolling Stones. If you prefer the twang and hoopla of toe-tapping country music, Moonshine Flats offers 10,000 square feet of dance floor.

Treat yourself to dinner at San Diego’s very posh steakhouse, Born & Raised. They’ll impress you with the mind-blowing decor, a roving bar cart, and house-aged prime cuts of beef. Plus, you won’t want to miss their legendary carrot cake for dessert.

Sunday Morning

Breakfast at Kono’s Cafe in Pacific Beach is a great way to set off your last 24 hours in San Diego. Spice it up with their egg burritos or a chorizo breakfast sandwich.

Your Sunday morning should include a trip on the Skyfari® tramway at the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. You’ll explore the naturally designed habitats of the hundreds of species living there.

san diego zoo weekend in san diego

San Diego Zoo, San Diego

San Diego is brimming with history and beaches, and Coronado Beach offers both. Soft sand, cool surf, and the majestic Hotel del Coronado work together to create a true San Diego experience. You can also have lunch at the historic hotel’s restaurants, which offer everything from tacos on the beach to pizza at an outdoor firepit.

Don’t miss out on the museums and historical sites of San Diego like the Museum of Art, the San Diego Natural History Museum, or the lovely Timken Museum of Art.

timken museum of art

Timken Museum of Art, San Diego

Sunday Evening

Sunday night is your last chance to squeeze in anything you missed. A walking tour of the city’s neighborhoods is an intimate way to explore the history of Old Town San Diego, the charming and intricate architecture of the Gaslamp Quarter, or the seaside shops of Seaport Village.

San Diego is renowned for its craft breweries, and Ballast Point Brewing Company gives you a peek at how this frothy favorite is made while you sip some samples.

Celebrate your last dinner in San Diego at Kettner Exchange, which is aptly named after the city’s founder. With elegant hints of nautical history and a menu of innovative cuisine, including suckling pig larb, grilled quail, and foie gras French toast, the rooftop patio is the perfect place for a fond farewell.

Whether you’re a thirsty traveler, a beach bum or a history buff, San Diego serves it all. Book your flight today.

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