San Diego is the land of warm sunny days and cool nights pretty much any time of year and while most people simply think of it as a beach destination, there’s so much more to America’s Finest City!
San Diego might not be a sports town like Boston or Chicago, but one of the best parts of San Diego is the absolutely stunning Petco Park – home of the San Diego Padres. Even if you aren’t a huge baseball fan, the park is worth visiting since it is right downtown and gives you an opportunity to taste some of the best parts of the city. This includes Rimmels Fish Tacos and Hodad’s Burgers as well as a great variety of locally produced craft beer.
Other San Diego sports ideas include:
Paragliding – Visit the Torrey Pines Glider Port for an incredible experience with a tandem soaring adventure above the beach. Even if you aren’t adventurous, this is a great location to hang out and watch as glider pilots navigate the constant updrafts coming off the ocean, while soaring back and forth.
Surfing – If you already surf, make sure to bring your board but if not, don’t worry. Lots of places in San Diego offer surfing lessons.
Paddle Boarding on Mission Bay – most first time visitors overlook Mission Bay but this has fantastic calm water that is perfect for paddle boarding since it is protected from the waves.
It might seem strange for people not familiar with San Diego, but this is a military town with a long history. It’s nearly 500 years of tradition began in 1542 when the Spanish Explorer Juan Cabrillo discovered San Diego and continues today with thousands of Navy and Marines at various bases spread across the county.
Some of the highlights you will want to experience include:
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum – San Diego is home to some of the United States Navy’s newest aircraft carriers, docked just across the harbor from the USS Midway, host to a fantastic museum showcasing the history of naval aviation. Visitors will be able to see how sailors lived, ate, and worked on this floating city of more than 4,000 men.
Cabrillo National Monument – While you aren’t going to see replicas of the Spanish explorers, it’s an important place to visit to learn about San Diego’s earliest history. Additionally, the park is located atop a bluff overlooking North Island Navy Base and the Point Loma Submarine Pens, so it’s not unusual to see fighter jets, submarines, and other ships leaving the harbor here.
Maritime Museum of San Diego – While not entirely military vessels, the museum hosts a fantastic collection ranging from a replica of Juan Cabrillo’s “San Salvador”, to a Vietnam-era swift boat and even a Russian Submarine as well as a Star of India which is America’s oldest active sailing ship.
San Diego is one of the preeminent destinations for any guy who loves to enjoy great beer. With more than 100 licensed breweries in the county, you will find everything you could possibly imagine here from IPAs to Lagers for the perfect San Diego beercation.
Some of our favorite breweries include:
Stone Brewing (Liberty Station) – Stone Brewing is one of the largest breweries in San Diego and this is where they maintain an experimental small batch plant as well as having one of the largest beer gardens in town. While the outside area is remarkable – make friends with one of the bartenders inside since that’s where they serve their limited releases.
Modern Times (Point Loma) – This is one of my favorite breweries and while they don’t have a vast selection of taps, they make some of the best beer in town. Their Point Loma location in particular epitomizes the spirit of San Diego’s beer scene with a laid back and irreverent atmosphere complete with a mural of Michael Jackson’s pet chimp made of sticky notes.
Duck Foot – The founder of this brewery has a gluten allergy and wanted to create beer that he could enjoy. While not technically “gluten free” they use an enzyme that eliminates virtually all the gluten. Don’t worry though, they make some of the best beer in San Diego and always have a fun group of people enjoying their product.
White Labs – Last by not yeast (haha!), these guys are leading the explosive growth of craft beer across the United States right now. While I’m not fond of their individual beers, White Labs is all about creating and maintaining strains of yeast. The highlight of a visit here is trying a flight where the only difference from one sample to the next is the type of yeast used to create alcohol.
No visit to San Diego would be complete without spending the afternoon relaxing in the sun as the waves crash on the beach and some of the most beautiful women (and men) walk by. People watching is fantastic anywhere in San Diego and the beaches are no exception to that. One thing to remember when selecting your beach day destination is that each beach has it’s own community and locals always have a preferred beach based on the vibe, so make sure to pick the beach that’s right for you.
Mission Beach – This is a great beach for people in their 20’s and 30’s looking to see and be seen. After a day soaking up the sun, you can cool off with a walk down the board walk and make sure to pop in to one of the dozens of bars for a cool drink. Ocean Beach – This is a fun little hippie village where you’ll find people doing yoga in the park, VW Vans parked on the street and surfers by the pier looking to catch the perfect wave. There are also a ton of fun bars, brewery tap rooms, and restaurants here including Hodad’s where you will find one of the best bacon cheeseburgers known to man.
Coronado Island – Whether you are looking for an upscale experience staying at the “Hotel Del” and it’s 129 years of beach front elegance or simply want to walk across one of the most fabulous southern California beaches and relax, this is your place. While there are restaurants and bars on Coronado Island, it’s less of the surfer culture and more of the yacht set here so make sure to wear your shoes, shorts and polo here before going to get a bite to eat.
La Jolla Shores – This is my favorite beach even though it isn’t the most beautiful. It just has a nice vibe and is fun to walk down the shore looking at million dollar beach cottages. The other nice thing is that the waves are moderate and the sand isn’t nearly as deep as you’ll find on Coronado Island and there’s plenty of parking. This makes it a popular spot for setting up a tent near the fire pits for a bonfire with your friends.