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Things to Do in San Diego: The Ultimate Guide

Our curated guide on how best to enjoy this coastal Californian city.

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San Diego Coastline, California

Planning a holiday to California’s San Diego? This beautiful and temperate coastal city has the perfect blend of beachside relaxation and cosmopolitan vibes. Thanks to our expert curated guide of things to do in San Diego you don’t have to lift a finger to have the time of your life. And you’ll easily find the perfect place to stay too, with the help of our ultra fastidious and amazing Plum Guide home critics.

Explore La Jolla

A list of things to do in San Diego wouldn’t be complete without mentioning La Jolla – especially when we’re talking to posh and particular people like yourselves. When it comes to where to stay in San Diego, this charming and upscale oceanfront community is up there, with its almost European feel and enviable location on a rocky headland overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There is so much to do here that the majestic views almost feel like simply a bonus.

La Jolla Coastline, San Diego, California

La Jolla Coastline, San Diego, California

Visit La Jolla for elegant and tasty restaurants, chic bars, upscale shopping and of course the white sandy beaches. Find a sitter for the little ones and enjoy an afternoon golfing at the world renowned Torrey Pines course. While you’re practicing your follow-through on the green – which let's be honest has been a little rusty since your kids replaced your golfing buddies – the mini-yous can spend a few hours checking out the seals and sea lions napping on the sand.

Don’t miss a walk through Scripps Park near La Jolla Point where you can pose for next year’s Christmas card while enjoying an open air concert or even a fireworks display if you’re in town on the 4th of July. If you feel like getting pretentious artsy, stop by the Legends Gallery on Prospect Street featuring works by the one and only Dr. Seuss, among others.

The Tide, Plum Guide home in San Diego, California

The Tide, Plum Guide home in San Diego, California

Stay in Plum Guide dream home The Tide to wake up to glorious views from your king size bed before trotting down to the sea for a morning swim or surf lesson (watch those old bones though, they’re not what they used to be).

Visit Balboa Park

When it comes to things to do in San Diego, you won’t want to miss a wonderful wander through 1,200 acre Balboa Park. This urban outdoor space is home to the San Diego Zoo - which your little ones will go crazy for - as well as landscaped gardens featuring 350 plant species personally selected for the area by botanist Kate Sessions at the turn of the 20th century. The park also boasts seventeen museums, so you have no excuse but to get your culture on.

Reptile Exhibit at San Diego Zoo

Reptile Exhibit at San Diego Zoo

There’s a beautiful pond home to lilies and lotuses that will practically have you feeling like Monet (only without the monster artistic talent) and behind that stands a Botanical House, which contains 2,100 individual plants.

Beachy Touch, Plum Guide home in San Diego

Beachy Touch, Plum Guide home in San Diego

Stay at nearby Plum Guide home Beachy Touch, where you can end your day by roasting marshmallows around the fire pit. You and your family will be feeling so West Coast you’ll practically be ready to move.

Stroll along the Embarcadero

Among the perks of visiting this part of the world is the warm and mild weather all year round. Take advantage of spending time outside at San Diego’s walkable harbour-front Embarcadero. This seaside spot boasts cute shops, plenty of must-see tourist attractions and delicious restaurants. It also comes with a gorgeous view of Coronado Island right across the bay.

While hanging out here, don’t miss hopping aboard the USS Midway, a historical naval aircraft carrier museum right on the pier. History nerds buffs will obsess over the extensive aircraft on view, many of which were built locally in Southern California. Another floating museum in the area is the San Diego Maritime Museum, where visitors will be able to explore one of the largest collections of historic ships in the world.

If your kids are getting restless, take them to let loose (and get wet) at the interactive fountains in Waterfront Park or let them spend some time enjoying the extensive playgrounds. If you really want to win parent of the year, make their dreams come true and try whale watching. Just remember, if you tire the suckers out enough, they might actually let you and your better half have some alone time in the yummy hot tub at this beautiful Plum Guide seaside condo.

Channel Strand, Plum Guide home in San Diego, California

Channel Strand, Plum Guide home in San Diego, California

Discover Old Town San Diego

You definitely won’t want to skip a day exploring the Old Town when choosing things to do in San Diego. A crucial stop on any San Diego itinerary, this is the site of the first European settlement in what is now California. A walk down memory lane here will give you an idea of what it would’ve been like to live here back in the day. And just to be clear, we’re talking about a long, long time ago, way before your old bones were even an idea in somebody’s head.

You’ll love the historic adobe buildings dating back as far back as 1820 (and don't forget this is the good ol' US of A, so that's practically ancient). Next check out Presidio Park which sits on 40 acres and is home to the San Diego Mission and the San Diego Presidio. These were the first two settlements in the area and were founded in 1769.

Once you’ve soaked in enough history, stop for a deliciously authentic Mexican meal at one of the local spots before checking out the quirky neighbourhood boutiques and art galleries.

The Shack Life, Plum Guide home in San Diego

The Shack Life, Plum Guide home in San Diego

Head back to this contemporary and fabulous home away from home in time for magic hour to catch some truly beautiful light. Your teenagers will be thanking you for the Instagram content for at least the next few months. You're welcome.

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