One of the big perks of living in Tucson is that we're less than 6 1/2 hours to sand and surf! With a little bit of planning, you can jump in the car and head for the San Diego beach. No need for plane tickets! The drive is a breeze.
Resplendent with excellent beaches, seaside dining, and interesting cultural venues, San Diego is a delightful beach vacation destination. Balmy weather, ample sunshine, and sandy beaches make it a year round travel paradise.
Below we have provided a list of the best hotels, attractions, restaurants, and activities in San Diego. Are you wondering where to stay and what to do on your next trip? This guide will keep you in-the-know. We will edit this page regularly with new finds and fun places. Happy road-tripping!
If you are booking accommodations in San Diego, you will have no shortage of hotel and resort options. We’ve listed our favorites in alphabetical order below, along with insider tips to make the most of your stay.
There's camping...and then there's camping at Campland on the Bay in San Diego. If you love beautiful beach campgrounds with plenty to do for the whole family, look no further. This huge campground offers a private beach, game room, playground, dog park, beach volleyball, live music, on-site dining, an ice cream shop, a swimming pool and jacuzzi, seasonal activities, and easy access to local attractions.
GOOD TO KNOW
Paradise Point Resort & Spa has been creating lasting memories since 1962 when the resort was formerly known as Vacation Village. Situated on a 44-acre island in San Diego, guests can choose from 462 bungalow-style guest rooms with garden and bay views. In addition to an award-winning spa, there are several pathways leading through tropical gardens and tranquil lagoons that provide a calm clarity. The more adventurous guest can enjoy an exclusive, full-service marina with watersport rentals or opt to stay on land with a variety of bicycle options to choose from. While Paradise Point is located within 10 minutes of Downtown and many attractions including SeaWorld, the resort offers 4 dining outlets, two that are waterfront with stunning views of Mission Bay. At Paradise, guests feel secluded on a tropical island, but are only a short distance from the bustling city of San Diego.
GOOD TO KNOW
Breakfast Republic is a California eatery with a distinctively Southern California vibe. With 11 locations (7 are in San Diego), you're bound to find one (or two!) near you if you are vacationing in this area. Offering all-day breakfast with generous portions, Breakfast Republic is a popular spot for locals and is the perfect place to kick back before or after a day on the beach.
GOOD TO KNOW
Not to be missed in San Diego - Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre urban park with 17 museums, 9 performing arts venues, 19 garden areas, play areas, dog parks, restaurants, trails, and fountains. Admission (and parking!) is free to the park grounds, botanical building, outdoor gardens, and some attractions. Admission charges vary for the other museums. To stretch your dollars, buy an explorer pass to receive discounted admission to multiple museums of your choice - starting at $56 for adults, $35 for youth. Ages 2 and under are always free. You can easily spend a day exploring the park - free or otherwise!
If you're hungry while exploring the park, The Prado at Balboa Park has colorful and breezy outdoor dining areas. Try the Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad for a very Californian experience - or ask about the daily specials. Entrees range in price from $11-$39.
Located immediately adjacent to Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo is 100 acres of lush landscaping, more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals, and more than 700,000 plants. A 1-day pass, which is $62 for adults (ages 12+) and $52 for children (ages 3-11), includes one visit to the San Diego Zoo, a Guided Bus Tour, the Kangaroo Express Bus, Skyfari Aerial Tram rides, and all regularly scheduled shows.
Head toward Mission Bay and spend a day at SeaWorld San Diego. The marine-themed amusement park is best known for their shows - including Dolphin Days, Orca Encounter, Pets Rule, and - our favorite - Sea Lions LIVE! In between shows, you can catch some thrills on rides, including Manta, Journey to Atlantis, and Shipwreck Rapids. Toddlers and preschoolers will have a blast at the Sesame Street Bay of Play - which includes kiddie rides, a splash pad, and a variety of climbing apparatuses. Tip: wear ponchos, swimsuits, or lightweight clothing that will dry easily in the sun. No denim! You're almost certain to get splashed (or soaked!) on the rides and at some of the shows...which feels great on steamy summer days!
One of the best beaches in the area is the Coronado Central Beach. White sands, tame waves, and unbeatable weather. Street parking is free and can be easy to find if you arrive early and/or on weekdays. Don't forget sunscreen, hats, buckets + pails, boogie boards, beach towels, water, and snacks.
Mission Beach is an excellent beach to visit during the off-season in San Diego. Splash in the waves, walk up the deck, bike the adjacent paths, or brave the roller coasters at Belmont Park. Free street parking is available nearby and there are outdoors showers to help you scrub off all of that sand before driving back to your resort, vacation rental, or campground.
San Diego is a sunny and modern city - with crisp and fragrant air, inviting beaches, great restaurants, and pretty-close-to-perfect weather. The ideal season to visit is ANY season.
Stay tuned for future posts about other drivable cities from Tucson. Road trips make for fun memories without the steep cost of airline tickets!
What are your favorite things to do in San Diego?