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 Members, who stay at the 4,700-square-foot Calita residence 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
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 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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.