24 Hours in San Diego, Flickr: David Mahler

 Coronado Island


It’s not easy packing in only 24 hours in any city between cheap flights, yet if you have to do it, I can’t think of a better city than San Diego, which has one of the best climates in the U.S. There are few cities I would recommend depending on public transportation or taxis in, but San Diego happens to be one of them.

To kick off your visit, head south to Coronado, near the Mexico/U.S.A. Border and start making your way up. Head to the Crown Bistro and enjoy breakfast while sitting out on the patio. Coronado Island is a great spot for walking around and seeing some of the views looking over to downtown San Diego.

From Coronado, you can catch the hop-on and hop-off bus, which takes visitors on a tour of some of the highlights of San Diego, such as Balboa Park, Old Town, and downtown San Diego. If you have a particular place you want to stop, you can hop-off and then catch the next trolley that comes through. I recommend your first stop being at Balboa Park. Balboa Park is San Diego’s popular urban park that includes some of the city’s best attractions, such as the botanical gardens and the San Diego Zoo.

After spending the rest of the morning at Balboa Park, hop back on the trolley for Old Town San Diego. Old Town is the birthplace of California, dating back to the 1700s when it was settled. It has some of that same old world charm in the buildings and architecture you see. This is a popular place for shopping for handcrafted items, but also a good stop to have lunch, as there are several good Mexican restaurants nearby.

From Old Town, if you have your walking shoes on, you may want to walk the two miles to Mission Bay and SeaWorld, or just walk down to the Old Town bus stop, which has taxis waiting. On a warm, sunny day, make sure to have sunscreen with you for spending the afternoon at SeaWorld, which has opportunities to see polar bears, dolphins, seals, orca whales, and other animals and marine life.

One of my favorite parts about San Diego is the beaches, as you could spend an entire day just hopping from beach to beach. As the afternoon starts to fade, make your way to one of the area beaches and enjoy a drink while the sun sets behind the Pacific Ocean. One of my favorite spots for sunset is La Jolla, but if you want something closer to San Diego, then find a bar along Mission Beach.

To end your 24-hour stay in San Diego, head to downtown and the Gaslamp Quarter. The Gaslamp Quarter is a 16-block historic district and is the center of some of San Diego’s best restaurants and nightlife. There are tons of great restaurants and bars mixed in with the historic buildings, meaning you shouldn’t have a tough time finding a couple good locales to end your evening at.


People in San Francisco can grab their San Diego experience with today’s travel deal, SF to San Diego, round-trip for $139, which includes taxes! Be sure to use PROMO code SM17 for up to $17 off that!


Photo: David Mahler

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