Help a Reader Travel: San Diego

This post may contain affiliate links from our advertising partners, such as American Express. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here. Additionally, some of the offers on this page may no longer be available through Deals We Like.

Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel! Sorry I’ve been slacking in this weekly series, but I promise to continue this as many have seemed to benefit from these reader tips. As I’ve mentioned before, I have not been to every destination (unfortunately), but do get questions from friends and other blog readers on all sort of travel destination questions. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to Maui, The Greek Islands, Pacific Coast Highway, Argentina /Buenos Aires, Costa Rica, Cape Cod & The Islands, Iceland, Geneva, Canadian Rockies, Rome, Israel, Peru / Inca Trail , Stockholm, Chicago, Paris, Hanoi, Austin, Puerto Rico, Bruges, Salzburg, Istanbul, Las Vegas, Jamaica, India/Golden Triangle, Auckland, Singapore, Moscow, The Oregon Coast, Seattle, Portland, Hawaii Islands, Alaska Skiing, Brazil, Prague, Budapest, Paraguay, Cabo San Lucas, and Edinburgh.

So this weeks travel destination includes San Diego. I received the following email from reader Sarah:

“My husband and I just took advantage of the JetBlue 25% off promotion and will be going to San Diego this Fall. We will have about 4-5 days and we were wondering where to stay and what to do while there. Do you suggest staying in San Diego or should we stay more beach side, for example, La Jolla or Carlsbad, or anywhere else. Most of the chain hotels seem to be in San Diego, but we are open to stay at a non-chain since we got a great deal on the airfare. Any hotels you’d recommend both in the city and outside? Also, for things to do, what are some recommendations? Of course we will go to the beach, but what else?”

If you’ve ever been to San Diego and have any recommendations, let’s help out reader Sarah by commenting below.

Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Downtown San Diego isn’t huge on things to do but it’s pleasant and worth a half-day. You can check out the Midway, which is nifty if you like militaria. Old Town is a fun stroll. Good restaurants in the Gas Lamp. Then Mission Trails Gorge has some very nice hiking.

  2. I really enjoyed the Marriott property right on the marina downtown. It’s within easy walking distance to the Gas Lamp District, etc. Also, if you happen to be Marriott Plat, they aren’t stingy with the room upgrades.

  3. Downtown SD is very close to the airport (10 min) so if you break up your Hotel stays either drop off your rental car or don’t get one until you leave..that said..I would head north…La Jolla, Torrey Pines and Del Mar are so much nicer places then Downtown SD…On a budget stay at the Hilton@Torrey Pines..No budget “The Grand Del Mar”…things to do : Del Mar Race Track, Carlsbad has a very quant main st, back in SD: Gas Lamp for nightlife, Coronado for beach and restaurants…Have fun it’s a great 5 day Vaca

  4. There is a wonderful place in La Jolla called the Pantai Inn. Right on the water, excellent service. Check it out!

  5. For budget hotels I would definitely recommend the Del Mar Doubletree as well as the Hyatt House in Sorrento Mesa. The Hyatt House is newly renovated and the suites are amazing, and free breakfast is included (full omelette station and wide array of hot items). These hotels are not centrally located but are only minutes from all the major attractions. As for things to do, in addition to the things mentioned by others, you can take a stroll in Balboa Park and perhaps visit the museums there, go to the zoo and Wild Animal Park, take a ferry from downtown to Coronado, rent a bike and visit the Hotel Del, eat at a ferry landing restaurant, walk around downtown La Jolla and La Jolla Shores…no matter what you do here, you’ll love it!

  6. I always like staying downtown. If you like beer, San Diego is a Mecca for great beer and breweries.

    * La Jolla is definitely worth a drive – amazing houses and beaches by the cliffs, shopping downtown too
    * Gaslamp is definitely the place for nightlife and dining
    * Coronado Island/lunch at the Hotel Del is a good way to spend the day
    * Stay away from Pacific Beach/Mission Beach – dirty and crowded

  7. If you have a passport you can spend a day in Tijuana (TJ). The San Diego Trolley will take you right to the border and you can walk in to TJ from there.
    There are the usual well known things to do like the zoo and SeaWorld, but the Safari Park is neat also. You can see California Condors up close and the park is operated by the San Diego Zoo.
    About an hour north near Temecula there are many wineries (French Valley), and within 45 minutes of San Diego there are some decent casinos if you’re into gaming. A few are even 4 diamond rated resorts like Pala and Pachanga (Pala’s website even has a list of about 20 wineries).

    Naturally the coast is what makes San Diego’s climate famous – so plan to spend some time catching a sunset there. Torrey Pines state beach is nice – it’s close to La Jolla, UTC and Del Mar if you plan on staying in that area. Have fun!

  8. From a local:

    San Diego is spectacular on weather and great on beach options, but lacking in high end hotel stay. Grand Del Mar is an enjoyable experience and close to north county beaches. Hotel Del Coronado is the most famous and does provide a great experience. Outside of the beach, though, there is little of interest to a tourist who cares about experience the best of SD. Skip the downtown hotels, I say, b/c you’re going to have to rent a car and the best neighborhoods/attractions are a drive away. Here is a list of things to do:

    Craft Beer: (If you like craft beer), North Park and surrounding neighborhoods make SD the mecca of California’s beer scene. (If you’re in the area, Mariposas has best ice cream hands down).

    Best Beaches: Torrey Pines State Beach, La Jolla, Coronado, Sunset Beach. (Skip Mission Beach)

    Notable Restaurant to consider: Sushi Ota, Searsucker, Cowboy Star, Alchemy, Whisknladle, Jake’s Del Mar, Hash House, Phil’s BBQ, Cucina Urbana, Urban Solace. BUT A MUST MUST, is SD’s best cuisine, Mexican. And we’re talking hole-in-the-walls or thereabouts: El Zarape, Las Cuatros Milpas, Oscars are great. Miho Gastrotruck too! For me the local cheaper favorites are: Bluewater Seafood and El Zarape. Chinese/Asian lovers can go to Convoy St. Spicy House is delectable.

    Attractions: San Diego Safari Park. SD Zoo. (one or the other, both provide great experiences. Balboa Park is best park in town for tourists. Cabrillo Monument and Torrey Pines offer great hike/walking with ocean views. Farmer’s Market make for a wonderful experience too. The Little Italy offers a great lunch/market double up option. Yes, Tijuana is just a short drive away, but it’s really a huge drop-off from what it used to be and not really worth it these days. Unless you’re going with a Mexican who knows what’s what and how to avoid danger.

    If you like coffee, go find a Pannakin or Subterranean (North Park).

  9. Even though it’s quite a drive from San Diego, I recommend the Hilton Carlsbad Resort, especially if you have Hilton Gold or Diamond status. It’s one of the best properties I’ve stayed at in the States when it comes to elite recognition, comp. breakfast, and light bites. It’s also close to a Costco and a few supermarkets, where you can fill up on water, etc.

  10. Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Airport at the historic Liberty Station:

    – All suites property in a garden setting. Comped breakfast for all, comped dinner with beer & wine Monday-Thursday.

    – Awesome historic location where the navy-types trained/went through on the way to the Pacific front during WWII.

    – Close to Old Town, Zoo, SeaWorld, Downtown, etc.

    – Free airport shuttle, or, free parking if you have a rental.

    – Many shopping (VONS, Trader Joes, etc.) just a 2-minutes drive from hotel.

    – No fuss and no nickle & diming!

  11. There is a wonderful little BBQ shack that has a Top Gun connection that is almost across the street to the Hyatt that I view as the top site in San Diego….iit is the inner fabric of what makes San Diego San Diego……..then there is another trip that I never was successful at but I wanted to find where Richard Nixon and Beebe Reebozo chilled out on the lawn……….it a dark winding secret road hidden behind a bevy of white and gray haired matrons guarding the gate………but I have to think that spot is uber rich in gravitas so if you like /top Gun you should also search for this site! Finally, Four Season swimming pool isn’t bad if you get a good day……..

  12. We just got back from San Diego after a five night stay. We spent the first 2 nights in Del Mar at L’Auberge. It is a beautiful property and a much quieter place than La Jolla. They have a horse track right there, the beach, and a cute downtown. Highly recommend Prep Kitchen to eat. We had a ball doing a Segway tour of La Jolla with “We Love Tourists”. We called them and got a Groupon rate for $49pp. Stayed at the Pechanga Casino 2 nights and took a winery tour with Grapeline Tour. Had a great time. Last night stayed at Hotel Indigo in the Gas Lamp district with a nice view of Petco Park. Had fabulous meal Cucina Urbana and did a sunset cruise with Cruise San Diego. Would also highly recommend Happy Hour at Roppongi in La Jolla-1/2 off all apps that are super yummy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.