Travel United States

4 days solo in San Diego

San Diego is beautiful and every good thing you’ve heard about it is true. It’s friendly, vibrant and a great town for friends, couples, families and students. The beaches are some of the best in the country and the people will make you feel right at home.

While all that is absolutely true, my experience wasn’t completely perfect. I’m not hating on the city, but bare with me.

San Diego has the potential to be everyone’s favorite city, but my first mistake was visiting in June. “May Gray” and “June Gloom” are real on the southwest coast. Other than a few hours in the afternoon, the sun failed to show its face and the highs were in the low 70s – cooler than I’d expected for that time of year.

I would also say it’s not particularly a location for solo travel. Yes, there are things to pass the time, but not in abundance, and once the day turns to night, it’s more a town for friends and families.

I hope this in no way deters you from SD, but instead lets you know what to expect, so you can plan your best trip.

Here’s what I suggest for all traveler types:

Places to visit

Balboa Park

With more than 1,000 acres, this cultural park in San Diego has open spaces, natural vegetation zones, gardens, restaurants, museums and walking paths.

It’s a really beautiful place to explore and has some pretty photo opportunities. Loads of people use the park as a place to meet up with friends and picnic or nap in the sun.

The park is open 24/7.

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is repeatedly voted as one of the best in the world. The park is pretty magnificent and a place you can spend the whole day.

I recommend picking up a guide at the entrance. The park has them available in dozens of languages. My favorite exhibits were the gorillas, polar bear and koalas. Good luck catching a glimpse of the marsupials while they’re awake. Koalas sleep 22 hours a day.

An adult ticket or day pass costs $60 and includes a guided bus tour, Kangaroo Express Bus and Skyfari Aerial Tram. You can also purchase a 3-in-1 pass for $154, which gets you into the Zoo, the Safari Park and the SeaWorld. If I remember correctly, these three parks are not in the same location, so you will have to drive from one to the other.

Visit San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park on the same day. They’re the same location. 

Mission Bay 

The United States Navy has a base in Mission Bay, so it’s filled with ships, big ones. It’s pleasant to walk along the seaside for a day out – stopping by Seaport Village

Seaport Village

Recommended by most locals, Seaport Village is a college of shops and restaurants clustered along the coast. Tourists can buy everything from t-shirts to handmade jewellry in this corner of the city.

Chicano Park

Chicago Park is where the city meets art. The national landmark is a marriage of concrete and grass coloured in by graffiti and intricate murals. There are dozens that cover miles of the park. Many people gather in the area for an afternoon picnic or drink with friends to enjoy. There’s even a Chicago Park Day which ”features beautiful costumes and cultural pride of performers like Danza Azteca Calpulli Mexihca, along with live bands, a lowrider car show, art workshops for kids, and food and craft vendors.”

Old Town 

Return the the Wild West in this old-timey village of San Diego. As a cultural site, historic buildings have found new use as shops, restaurants and revamped hotels.

A day at the beach recommendations

Coronado, La Jolla, Cardiff State Beach and Carlsbad

San Diego has some of the most beautiful beaches. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, swim, surf or hang with seals, the coastal town has a beach for that.

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