Looking for a relaxing beach vacation? A weekend of fine dining and shopping in a chic, cosmopolitan urban city? Or a scenic escape to nature? In San Diego, travelers can do all of the above. This unique mix of vacation styles makes the city a favorite of Inspirato travelers, who can stay at the Arches residence, a stuning midcentury-modern home perched on one of the highest points in La Jolla, or one of our award-winning resort partners, such as the Fairmont Grand del Mar:

The Grand Del Mar is simply what luxury should be defined as. The property staff provided world-class service. The on-site dining is a great complement to this five-star property. In addition, the on-site golf club should satisfy most golfers.

Heyward D.Inspirato Member

Check out Inspirato’s top recommendations of the best things to see, do, eat, and explore in San Diego ­to get inspired for your next vacation.

Places to See

Children’s Pool

Don’t be fooled by the name: Children’s Pool isn’t just for kids. In fact, you’re more likely to see sea lions and seals at this protected cove. A seawall shields the beach from huge waves, which once made it a good spot for little swimmers to splash and play in the water. While it is still open to the public for swimming, Children’s Pool is now a better site for spotting animals lounging in the sun.

San Diego Zoo

Considered to be among the best zoos in the country, the San Diego Zoo displays nearly 4,000 animals from more than 650 different species. Stroll the paths through the sprawling park to observe rare and exotic critters (plus more than 700,000 plants). For a more in-depth experience, visit the zoo’s Safari Park just outside the city.

The Mountains

The hills and mountains around San Diego offer rugged topography. Hike the 4.7-mile trail up Cowles Mountain, located within the city limits, to get a bird’s-eye view of San Diego from its highest point. Also worth visiting is Potato Chip Rock, accessible via the Mount Woodson Trail (about 35 minutes outside of the city).

Things to Do

Beaches

With 70 miles of coastline, San Diego is brimming with excellent places to get your toes wet. Here are some of our favorites:

  • La Jolla Shores – gentle waves in the summer, making for good swimming, scuba diving and surfing; boasts many facilities including restrooms and showers
  • Bird Rock – neighborhood with mostly rocky beaches that are great for watching sunsets
  • Del Mar Beach – long beach with portions that are good for swimming and surfing

Golf

There are nearly 100 golf courses in the San Diego area, but Inspirato Members won’t have to play just any course here. These are our top recommendations:

  • Torrey Pines Golf Course – two 18-hole championship courses with sweeping views
  • The Grand Golf Club – par 72 course designed by Tom Fazio with intricate landscaping and features; part of the Fairmont Grand Del Mar resort
  • La Costa Resort & Spa – two award-winning, classic courses that boast recent renovations and updates

Nature

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a 2,000-acre swath of perfectly preserved coastal desert terrain. Named for the unique trees that adorn much of the land, the park is an ideal spot for hiking, guided walks, bird-watching, and gazing into the ocean, which is best enjoyed at sunset.

Family

Make memories that will last a lifetime at one of the many legendary theme parks in the area. There’s something for all ages, from thrilling, adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to the friendly faces of kids’ favorite cartoon characters.

Dining

Karl Strauss Brewing Company

This craft beer mecca is also kid-friendly. In addition to its award-winning brews (the founders are considered pioneers of San Diego’s now-booming craft beer scene), the brewery boasts a full restaurant with crowd-pleasing burgers, sandwiches, pizza, and more. karlstrauss.com

Herringbone

This gorgeous restaurant gives you the best of dining indoors and alfresco — all at the same time. Two century-old olive trees tower over tables inside, where exposed brick, soaring arched ceilings, and twinkling lights cultivate a dreamy ambiance. And that doesn’t even take into account the food, much of which incorporates local seafood. herringboneeats.com

The Ocean Terrace at George’s at the Cove

Locals gather at this rooftop bar to not only enjoy cocktails and casual bistro food, but to soak up the abundant sunshine and panoramic ocean views. In the unlikely event of bad weather, head inside for fine dining options. georgesatthecove.com/ocean-terrace

Things to Know

Climate

Visitors will enjoy relatively hot summers with temperatures peaking in the mid-70s; cool winters that dip to the high 40s; and low humidity (despite its proximity to the ocean). There are more than 300 sunny days every year, and if a storm should arise, it doesn’t last long – the rain is fleeting.

Getting There

San Diego International Airport (SAN) is just 3 miles northwest of downtown San Diego. Most major airlines service this airport, with a large percentage of flights delivered by Southwest, United, Delta, American, and Alaska Airlines.

Getting Around

Whether you need a car depends on how much of the area you want to explore. Attractions in San Diego are fairly spread out, so you will probably want a rental car or private transportation.

One Comment

  • James Wheaton says:

    I grew up in San Diego. Everything you have said about my hometown is true. I realize that space for a piece such as this is limited, but there is so much more. There is Scripps Institute of Oceanography aquarium. Granted, there are no dolphins jumping through hoops but you will see things here you never knew existed in the oceans of the world. And when locals want seafood, they want it fresh right off the boats. They go to Point Loma Seafood in Point Loma. After early July you may be lucky enough to see one or two of the sportfishing boats unloading their catch of Albacore Tuna and Yellowtail. Maybe you would like to try your luck, you can rent fine gear on the premises. Processing and shipping is available. The Zoo is nice but if you like animals in their environment head to the Wild Animal Park. Yes, space is tight here as there’s so much more. It’s a wonder the local’s ever leave town on vacation.

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