San Diego is one of my favorite cities to visit in California. I have traveled here frequently for work and to spend time with family and friends. It’s a beautiful place to explore with lots of things to do for all types of people from families, friends, and more. I want to share the best way to spend one day in San Diego with this Itinerary from someone who is practically a local.
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San Diego Itinerary | One Day in San Diego, California
Learn about some of my favorite places to visit in San Diego and make the most of your 1 day in San Diego itinerary.
Best time to visit San Diego for one day
There almost isn’t a terrible time to visit San Diego for 1 day. It is much cooler during the winter months, but it’s mostly sweatshirt weather. The weather in San Diego is very mild and very comfortable. I have traveled to San Diego during all of the months of the year visiting family. I definitely prefer the summer months only so that I can enjoy swimming in the water and more of the water type activities. You can still enjoy the beaches during the winter months, but it will be pretty cold to swim in.
How to get around San Diego | How to get to San Diego from the Airport
So to get around San Diego can be difficult if you are visiting from out of state or out of the country. I highly suggest you get a vehicle to rent, but if you don’t feel comfortable driving, Uber is a great option to take around the area. You can easily request an Uber from your phone to take you from destination to destination. Taking an uber will be quiet expensive to do in San Diego though.
Where to stay during your San Diego Itinerary
- Point Loma/Ocean Beach – Ocean Beach or Point Loma area is the area I am most familiar with and enjoy staying in. You can enjoy a laid back beach vibe with delicious restaurants along the beachside and a great place to stay in. There are lots of places to drink, but it’s also great for families as well. There are a lot of things to do from shopping, walking the boardwalk, and more. You’ll also be fairly close to my favorite San Diego attraction Sunset Cliffs.
- Downtown San Diego/Gaslamp Quarter – This area is a great area to stay in if you have some sort of conference or just want to go out for the night and enjoys some clubs, bars, and nightlife. I would suggest you stay fairly close to the Gaslamp Quarter.
- La Jolla – This is a popular area because of its upscale location with family-friendly beaches. It can be a bit quieter in comparison to the other areas. However, it’s a great location to stay in.
One Day in San Diego Itinerary | What to do in San Diego for 1 Day
Day one has quite a feel things to see and do. Lots of them are beautiful viewpoints and popular San Diego Attractions.
Address: 1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Balboa Park includes several open space areas like the natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths. Additionally, it contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. I highly suggest you check out some of the beautiful outdoor botanical gardens. It’s just a great place to browse and enjoy the beautiful mission-style buildings.
San Diego Zoo and Safari Park – A popular destination for your one day in San Diego Itinerary
Address: 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
The San Diego Zoo is fairly famous among the United States and there is a reason for it. It’s a very large park with some amazing exhibits. The animals seem very happy and friendly in this zoo and well kept after. They house more than 3,500 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies. In addition, to the zoo, there are several areas with kid play areas, shows, and tours making it a very interesting and fun experience for families of all ages. For your one day in San Diego itinerary, the park may not be easy to do in one day and will maybe take up most of your day.
Coronado Beach is a popular destination to visit because of its beautiful scenery. It’s considered one fo the best beaches in the United States. There are a few shops and places you can eat and it’s a great beach to walk along. This beach is also dog-friendly and the waves are fairly calm and relaxing.
Cabrillo National Monument
Address: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, San Diego, CA 92106
Cabrillo National Monument is at the southern tip of Point Loma. This is one of the best views in San Diego which is why I added it to your 1 day in San Diego itinerary. From Cabrillo National Monument, you can see the views of Mexico, you may even get a notification on your phone that you have entered Mexico. You can also check out some amazing tide pools and see some real sea life.
Sunset Cliffs – A must-see during your one day in San Diego Itinerary
Address: Ladera St, San Diego, CA 92107
This is my favorite place to visit in San Diego. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of Sunset Cliffs. Every time I visit San Diego, this is the place I have to visit each time. Sunset Cliffs is a beautiful place to visit and a must for anyone visiting San Diego for one day. You can see these beautiful nature cliffs with a gorgeous view of the ocean. There is nothing like it. I prefer it even more so than the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland.
This is a great area to go shopping, grab a bite to eat, and more. I suggest you come to visit here for some great restaurants and even some laid back nightlife. There are a few rooftop bars and bars along the beach where you can get some great views of the sunset. Find some classic souvenirs, great sunglasses, and just relax in this hippie California vibe place.
Old Town San Diego
Address: 4002 Wallace St., San Diego, CA 92110
Want to experience what life in San Diego might have been in old times? Well, Old Town San Diego has a few old buildings from mission style to a bit of the wild west. There are a few delicious Mexican restaurants here as well and you can easily get serenaded by a mariachi band. You can also find some unique souvenirs and antiques here as well. Be sure to check out their calendar for updated live events.
This lively downtown neighborhood is great for people who love to go out and have a fun nightlife from drinking, to live music, dining, and entertainment. There are quite a few delicious restaurants in the area that are great for couples wanting to have a romantic night out. I love some of the bars and clubs in the area, which makes it fun for people who enjoy the nightlife. There is also a popular haunted house located in the area that is popular for tourists as well.
Other things to add to your San Diego Itinerary
- Torrey Pines State Reserves
- La Jolla
- Mission Beach
Food to eat during your one day in San Diego Itinerary
- Fish Tacos
- All Mexican Food
- OB Noodles
- Clam Chowder
RELATED: Where to eat in San Diego
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