5 Not to Miss Experiences in San Diego

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Bucket List Worthy  

La Jolla seaside
La Jolla is a lovely spot to stay at when visiting San Diego (Photo credit: Joanne DiBona/SanDiego.org)

It may not have the glamour of LA nor the quick access to wine country San Francisco boasts, but San Diego ought not be ignored when visiting the Golden State. You can’t beat San Diego’s near perfect weather, which makes exploring its endless beaches and abundant green spaces all the more pleasant. The Southern California city is mere minutes away from the Mexican boarder, but you don’t have to trek into Tijuana to sample some of the best Mexican food in North America. You’ll find it here, too. Have we wetted your appetite? Get started with this game plan.

Mission Beach

A golden sweep of sand swaddled between Mission Bay and the Pacific Ocean, Mission Beach is a funky little community filled with beach volleyball courts, playgrounds, bike and surf rental shops, plus eclectic eateries. At this time of year it’s too cold for a dip, but still stroll along the boardwalk and admire the million dollar beachfront homes. House rentals are abundant in this region and it’s the perfect bolthole from which to situate yourself. Teens will want to suss out Belmont Park, an amusement park with a rollercoaster and other midway games, plus all the typical carnie stalwarts.

woman and toddler on bike
Surf, swim or bike at Mission Beach (Photo credit: SanDiego.org)

Go on Safari

If you can’t tear away on an African safari, a visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is the next best thing. Within this 1800 acre wildlife preserve, you’ll find animals from around the globe and many endangered species who’s numbers have thrived within the enclosure. It’s worth paying the additional fee for their Caravan Tour to get up close and personal with animals from Africa and Asia. Hop into the back of a truck with a guide and feed leaves to rubberneck giraffes. Pet a rhino and journey through the Asian plains learning about Indians species you’ve never heard of. It’s a feel good tour made more so with all proceeds going directly towards animal conservation.

caravan tour san diego safari park
Our family had a ball feeding the (smelly) giraffes (Photo credit: Jody Robbins)

Take a Taco Tour

You can’t be this close to the border and not expect to find some seriously good Mexican eats, now can you? World Famous in Mission Beach is tops on Taco Tuesday when succulent shrimp tacos are only $2 a pop. Carnitas lovers will want to suss out the crispy pork served up al pastor style at Carnitas Las Michoacanas. And local favourite Salud tucks savoury fillings into hand-pressed tortillas (get a side of street corn while you’re at it).

san diego tacos
Oscar’s tacos are mighty tasty, too! (Photo credit: Christian Martinez)

Need to sell the advantages of travelling through your stomach to your travel mates? Have them join you on a culinary walking tour of the city. Tequila, Tacos and Tombstones delves into the city’s questionable past.

Balboa Park

Fittingly, this grand urban park (one of the largest in North America) was the location of the first World’s Fair. Much like Washington’s Mall is more than a boulevard of museums, this is more than a park. Speaking of museums, there are a whooping 17 of them set within this space. Naturally, you’ll find plenty of green spaces to loaf about in, plus there are lovely walking trails and over a dozen themed gardens. Families are spoiled for choice with five playgrounds, a carousel and mini train to climb aboard.

San Diego park
You know you’re in a great city when you can seamlessly mix culture with nature. (Photo credit: SanDiego.org)

Coronado Island

Situated across the bay from downtown, getting here is half the fun across the impressive Coronado Bridge. Beach lovers can’t miss Silver Strand State Beach, often ranked as one of America’s best with its sparkly sand courtesy of the mineral Mica. The island is a walker’s paradise with a sweet main street flanked with galleries, eateries and shops. Even if you haven’t booked in for the night, it’s worth taking a wander around Hotel del Coronado, a National Historic Landmark and rumoured to have been the inspiration for The Wizard of Oz’s Emerald City.

family hotel del coronado
It’s a real treat to beach comb along Coronado Beach (Photo credit: Courtesy Joanne DiBona SanDiego.org)

Have you ever been to San Diego? What are your favourite activities to do there?

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