Visiting San Diego, California, with a mild climate and the Pacific Ocean lapping up to the coastline, is sure to be enjoyable. San Diego is a favourite city to visit. Make these five places a priority to visit and dine for a fun, unforgettable time.

5 Fun Places to Visit and Eat in San Diego, California - Make these five places in San Diego, California, a priority to visit and dine for an unforgettable time along the Pacific Coast.

San Diego CityPASS

Old Town, San Diego

Old Town Market San Diego California

Known as the beginning of San Diego, where the Kumeyaay Native Americans lived before the Spanish settlers, the history lives on in Old Town, which has museums, reenactments, and eateries. Start your day by walking into the California State Parks visitor information center located in the Robinson Rose House. Staff are available to explain the attractions and hours of operation. While there, gather informational brochures to begin your self-guided walking tour of Old Town State Park with historic stables, blacksmith barn and theatre.

PRO TRAVEL TIPFiesta de Reyes is a colourful promenade with specialty shops. I always stop at El Mercadito for a churro, a warm Mexican dessert rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

Making tortillas in Old Town Mexican Cafe

When it’s time to take a break, head over to Old Town Mexican Cafe and watch fresh tortillas being made by hand. Classic dishes like tacos, carnitas and guacamole are served along with margaritas to quench the thirst.

Little Italy, San Diego, California

Little Italy San Diego

Many years ago, an Italian community was established near the Pacific Ocean to fish and raise their families. Today, generations continue to run restaurants and food markets in Little Italy that offer fresh bread, pizza, and traditional Italian pastries.

Popular farmers markets are set up on Wednesdays and Saturdays, brimming with locally grown produce, various foods and handmade items to bring home. Take a seat in the new Piazza della Famiglia in the center of Little Italy to relax and view the San Diego Bay while sipping an espresso.

After a stroll on India Street, lined with restaurants and colourful stores, pop into Mona Lisa Italian Foods and buy Italian sauce, pasta, sausages, and cheese.

Antipasto from Mona Lisa Italian Foods in Little Italy San Diego

PRO TRAVEL TIP: The number 8 sandwich at Mona Lisa is the most popular item to order. Next door is their restaurant for lunch and dinner, and the servings are enormous.

Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo

You could easily spend an entire day visiting the walkable Balboa Park, known for its many museums and lovely gardens. Art, Comic-Con, Space, History and Automotive are a few of the museums. On weekends, the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages showcases multicultural goodwill. Meander along the sidewalks to the Spanish Village Art Center with studios full of handmade crafts like woodturning bowls, colourful glass works and watercolour art.

A quick walk from Spanish Village will bring you to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Start by taking the 35-minute narrated bus tour to see the popular animal exhibits and get a visual layout of the zoo. Afterward, either walk or take the Kangaroo hop-on hop-off bus to visit animal exhibits of interest. A unique way to get from the bottom to the top of the hilly zoo is to take the Skyfari Aerial Tram for a scenic ride over trees and animals.

 

Schedule your time for a casual meal in the zoo’s Albert’s Restaurant, which is located in the lost forest overlooking a waterfall and lush foliage. The restaurant pays tribute to the late gorilla, Albert, who was beloved at the zoo.

Alberts Restaurant

Alberts Restaurant photo courtesy of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Jolla, California, is approximately a 25-minute drive from San Diego. With spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, La Jolla is known for posh shops and picturesque photo op locations. Hike along Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and watch hang gliders at the nearby Gliderport. If playing on the beach is for you, La Jolla Shores is the place to walk in the sand, surf, and play in the water. You can spend a leisurely day here and, on the way, pick up lunch at Girard Gourmet. Be sure to order the decorated cookies to eat while watching the waves. Nearby is the Children’s Pool, where you can see seals resting on rocks and sliding into the water.

Decorated cookies from Girard Gourmet Bakery in La Jolla California

Feeling like staying indoors, the Museum of Contemporary Art is in a modern designed building with rotating exhibits and a sculpture garden. Kids and adults will like the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which has interactive exhibits for all ages. Included with admission are penguin feeding and even shark feeding. The aquarium makes you feel like you’re walking through the waters and surrounded by sea life.

 

 

San Diego CityPASS

Coronado, California

A ferry ride or a drive across the Coronado Bay Bridge will bring you to the “Crown City” of Coronado. Water surrounds this peninsula, a treasure trove of walkable streets, shops, and restaurants. Coronado beaches wind around popular bike and jogging paths with plenty of outdoor space and fresh air.

Walk through the historic Hotel Del Coronado, which dates back to the late 1800s. The design and charm of the hotel is worth a visit. You might catch a sandcastle being built outside of the hotel on the adjacent beach sand.

Hotel Del Coronado exterior

The other side of Coronado offers sweeping views of San Diego’s skyline and dramatic views of the expansive 2-mile span of the Coronado bridge. Rent a bicycle or kayak to go along the bay or kick back in one of the many public parks.

Clayton's Coffee Shop

Clayton’s Coffee Shop photo courtesy of Clayton’s Coffee Shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clayton’s Coffee Shop is the go-to place for homey food and old-time jukeboxes. Sit at the counter and watch milkshakes being made and fresh pie cut into servings. The restaurant serves hearty American-style food.

Guest Author M’Liss Hinshaw is a freelance travel and food blogger born and raised in San Diego, California. Her travels are sure to include interesting places and delicious food. Find her at www.mlisstravels.com and mlisstravels on Facebook and Instagram.