13 Things to Do in San Diego: Bites, Beaches, and Bars (and Balboa!)

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San Diego, California is known for being a cool SoCal city with tons of sights to see, activities to experience, and food to taste. Although I only had a few days in the city, I’ve compiled a list of 13 things that you can see and experience during your own trip here!

Bites

1. Karina’s Mexican Seafood

Looking for delicious and affordable Mexican food? Look no further! This was actually my very first meal in San Diego, and I have zero regrets. I got 3 different seafood tacos (grilled fish, scallops and shrimp, and “baja” style-fried shrimp) – with avocado on top, of course.

2. Tajima Ramen

Tajima is a cozy Japanese restaurant in the Hillcrest area, offering up authenticity as well as variety. I got their traditional ramen, vegetarian-style. It was so hearty and delicious, perfect for the cooler evenings that San Diego experiences.

3. Nonna

Nonna, Nonna, Nonna…I write this name 3 times, because that’s how many times we went back (at my request). Whether it’s their delectable tortellini or their fresh pizza with mushrooms and pancetta, Nonna quickly became my favorite place in Little Italy! Disclaimer: Italian food is one of my absolute favorites, regardless.

4. Breakfast Bitch

This quirky diner is a great experience for some off-color humor and a gourmet spin on breakfast favorites. I chose the avocado toast, which was elevated with egg, parmesan, and Brioche bread.

5. Copper Top Coffee and Donuts

Copper Top is a cute coffee and donut stand located in Hillcrest. The interesting thing about Copper Top is that you simply walk up to the open window to order; and they have an outdoor area to sit in if you wish. I wanted to try all of their donuts, but ended up settling on one with coffee elements.

Beaches

6. Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach is a great place to go (especially on a weekday), because it’s not nearly as busy as some of the more popular beaches in San Diego. This beach is definitely one for relaxing and sunbathing.

7. Pacific Beach

In contrast, Pacific Beach is made for socializing! Besides the plethora of bars nearby, the beach itself is significantly more crowded due to it being in a more “exciting” part of town. Be sure to have a fishbowl drink at one of the bars (more on that below) and then make your way down to the beach. NOTE: The bars near the beach require you to be covered up, so be sure to bring a swimsuit cover-up of some sort because they definitely ascribe to the “no shirt, no shoes, no service” rule.

8. Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines is a beautiful natural park and beach, and you could honestly spend an entire morning or afternoon here! We went hiking on one of the coastal trails first, and then headed down to the beach to lay out and relax. The beach here isn’t as “pretty” as the others, but it’s still a great choice.

9. Mission Beach

Mission Beach is a great place to visit if you want variety in your activities! The beach itself is very laid-back, and a boardwalk runs parallel to it. Additionally, a cute little amusement park called Belmont Park sits on the beach, and there are plenty of bikes and scooters to rent if you want to take a ride down the length of the beach.

Bars

10. Duck Dive

Duck Dive was a sports bar that we visited in Pacific Beach, and I can definitely say that it can get quite crowded on Saturdays; especially when there’s a game on. That said, they have bottomless mimosas for $17.95 from 9am until 1pm – so get there early! They also have these massive fishbowl drinks that are great for sharing. Although the fishbowls are generally for 4+ people, you can split the smallest size with just one other person if you really believe in yourself.

11. Flicks Karaoke Bar

Flicks was one of two gay bars that we visited on our last night in San Diego. It’s a great spot for karaoke if that’s your kind of thing, and the atmosphere itself is fun yet laid-back. Still, if you want more of a party, head down the street to…

12. Rich’s Nightclub

Rich’s nightclub was a good time on a Sunday night, so I can imagine that it’s even better on Fridays and Saturdays! Rich’s has two different dance-floors that play two different genres of music. The smaller and more intimate space plays more Top 40s and hip-hop, while the bigger dance-floor plays EDM and house music. Whichever you choose, rest assured that you’ll be dancing the night away.

Balboa

13. Balboa Park

Balboa Park is such a beautiful spot to visit in San Diego, and there is plenty to do if you have the time for it! We ended up visiting on the same day that I flew back home (later that night), so we simply walked through the park and enjoyed the architecture. However, if you have time to explore, I highly recommend checking out the museums, restaurants, and gardens at Balboa. Whenever I go back to SD, Balboa will be one of the first places I visit! I linked their official website above, so click there for more info.

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I hope this list helps you start planning your own trip to San Diego! Have you visited California before? What are some of your favorite cities there?

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