sights, sips, sand...and food!
San Diego Zoo – Probably the star attraction in the city, this is more than a zoo – it’s a conservatory and breeding program for endangered animals housing more than 3,500 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies. You can learn more about its mission here.
Balboa Park – This 1,200-acre urban cultural park features open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths. It houses museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. There are also many recreational facilities and several gift shops and restaurants within the boundaries of the park. The park's site is one of the oldest in the United States dedicated to public recreational use.
WNDR Museum - An interactive and immersive experience in the heart of the Gaslamp.
Old Town – The historic heart of San Diego, Old Town was built in 1769 as California’s first settlement with only a mission and a fort. While mostly a re-creation of the original area, it’s still worth a visit, especially if you want some great Mexican food (see Eats for our favorite). It's also the home of the famous haunted Whaley House. Take a trolley there so you can indulge in some margaritas!
Sunset Cliffs - Venture out to Ocean Beach for an amazing sunset.
Whale Watching – While this is seasonal (December to April and June to September), it’s a pretty cool thrill to see a whale breach! More information here.
Hiking – With great, non-humid weather most of the year, we’re a great place to go hiking. Learn all about great hikes here or here.
Cowles Mountain is great for hiking. It's part of Mission Trails Regional Park which has other hiking trails as well.
Sunset Cliffs Coastal Trail is a city park and the name is appropriate. Great for an evening walk.
Point Loma tidepools are part of Cabrillo National Park.
Blacks - Get ALL of you tan! SD's nude beach. Also great for surfing...just maybe not both at the same time. A steep climb down to reach.
Coronado - For a large, wide sandy beaches with the backdrop of an iconic hotel, this is the place. Easy to reach from the hostel via taxi boat or ferry.
La Jolla - Visit with the sea lions! But please, don't touch. Also, you can kayak in the water caves.
Mission - Fun boardwalk, wooden rollercoaster! Wide beach.
Ocean - Iconic, throwback southern Cali beach area. Great spot for surfing lessons.
Pacific - Active college scene, miles of sand.
Eats and Drinks
We're literally in the middle of some of the best places to eat and drink in San Diego. The area just outside our hostel is closed 5th Avenue every weekend and the street becomes restaurant patios! In addition, there's some great takeout. We have a longer list at the hostel. But here's some of our favorites.
Cafe 222 - our favorite corn beef hash and eggs in the world! Great for breakfast.
Breakfast Republic - Jurassic Bacon! Don't ask, just order it. Everything's better with bacon!
Cafe Sevilla - Spanish tapas and live salsa music!
Tacos al Gordo - lines are out the door for their street tacos!
There's also awesome places outside the Gaslamp. If you go further afield we recommend the following:
Quartyard - An urban park and event venue constructed from repurposed shipping containers in the East Village. Home to an eatery, dog run, full service beer garden, event venue, art space and coffee shop.
Coyote Cafe - favorite for Mexican/margaritas.
Hana Sushi - yeah, sushi in Old Town. A bit pricey but worth it!
Arrivederci - awesome Italian!
Hash House a GoGo - you'll need two people to finish off one order of breakfast! Long lines, go early!
Luigi's - featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. New York style pizza with a twist!