how to be a tourist in san diego

My very first visit to San Diego also happened to be my bachelorette party. Not really a common destination for a bachelorette, but that’s what I liked about it. It was super chill and I was so happy to have all nine (yes, 9!) of my amazing Bridesmaids in attendance. Most of us flew out from JFK Thursday morning and arrived at around noon. This gave us about 2.5 days there before we all left early Sunday to get back to reality. But here are all of the things we got a chance to do:

1. HIKE THE LA JOLLA COAST WALK TRAIL

This is a paved 2.3 mile trail by La Jolla Beach, which will give you some magnificent views of the coast. You may also see some seals and sea lions sunbathing on some rocks. You’ll probably hear them first. Then you’ll see crowd of people trying to get a better look. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of coast for you to catch a glimpse of the creatures. If walking the trail is not enough exercise for you, there are also coves where you can rent a kayak and paddle out

Bunch of seals/sea lions chillin on the beach

2. PIG OUT ON SOME TACOS

Though not specific to San Diego, tacos are popular here just because the city is so close to the Mexican border. It was at the Taco Stand in Downtown (they have multiple locations), where I ate quite possible the best carne asada taco I’ve ever had in my life. The meat was cooked medium rare and you can get cilantro aioli, which really made the taco. But it’s better if you just go eat one yourself

Ok, so this is not a taco but it was an amazing Carne Asada Quesadilla, stuffed with fries at the Blind Burro

3. SPEND A DAY AT THE SAN DIEGO ZOO

This is the most visited zoo in the United States. It has more than 12,000 animals of over 650 different species. I was really hoping to see the giant pandas but they were sent back to China back in 2019. The koala exhibit was pretty awesome. If you still have energy left after the zoo, plan a visit to Balboa Park too (which is where the zoo is located). We skipped the park, just because we were already exhausted from the zoo and we were also starving

4. GRAB SOME BEERS AT BALLAST POINT

I recommend the Trade Street and Woodford Rye. They have such a huge selection of beers, that you’ll find something for everyone. Even if you’re not a beer drinker, they have wine, ciders, and even hard kombucha. It’s a chill place to hang out but very close to the airport so it’s pretty noisy, so it’s good for trying some new beers but not so good if you want to have an actual conversation with somebody

5. CHECK OUT LITTLE ITALY

There are lots of trendy bars/restaurants here. It’s also where Ballast Point is located

6. GO BAR HOPPING IN GASLAMP QUARTER

This is where all the nightlife action is. You’ll find clubs, bars, and dives. This would have been so much fun pre-Covid. But during Covid, none of us felt safe at the crowded bars. Luckily, we were able to find one with outdoor seating with some social distancing. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this neighborhood not being safe. After we got back to NYC, I actually read there was a shooting a few days before we were there. That being said, just be alert and use your common sense just as you would in any neighborhood while traveling

7. EAT SOME SEAFOOD

San Diego is right by the coast so it’s bound to have some fresh seafood. We could only eat so much in the limited amount of time we were there but we did get to try some omakase and oysters

BONUS – 4 THINGS I LEARNED IN THE 2.5 DAYS I SPENT IN SAN DIEGO

  1. We stayed in the Downtown area, which was close to the airport. The bus to get from the airport to the hotel was only 15 minutes and cost $2.50. You can either pay in cash or download the MTS app to purchase your ticket ahead of time
  2. Speaking of the Downtown area, it seemed pretty sketchy. It seems like all of the homeless people congregate over there. If I ever come back to San Diego, I would probably try to stay in La Jolla
  3. Ubers take forever to come. Maybe it’s because we had to order XLs each time but I feel like the few times I checked for a regular Uber, the quoted time was at least 20 minutes. We spent a lot of time waiting for Ubers and you couldn’t really schedule them either. In fact, we scheduled one for 5 AM the day we were flying home. Nothing was ever confirmed so we ended up just taking the bus. Luckily they run that early and are pretty reliable
  4. Restaurants don’t give you glasses of water unless you ask. Maybe it’s a California thing? I don’t know but either way, don’t wait for them to bring it to you or else you’ll be waiting for a loooong time

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