I grew up in San Diego and absolutely love it. Even though I am currently living in Orange County, I am hoping that one day we will be able to return to San Diego. To be honest, there are so many thoughts that come to mind for a honeymoon in my hometown, that it has taken me a while to put everything together. San Diego is beautiful all year, so you can come and enjoy it anytime. Obviously for those that love the beach, summer is the best for that. If you are planning on coming here for your honeymoon you could either play tourist and see all the sights or choose to cozy up in romantic restaurants, spas and relaxing scenery. San Diego is very big, so I think I’m going to divide it up by general areas and things to do.
In downtown San Diego, not far from the airport, there is tons to do. The Gaslamp is the main part of downtown where everything is within walking distance, but there are also other great finds nearby. Friday and Saturday nights are packed with people going out to dance, hanging out at bars, and eating at some of San Diego’s best restaurants.
Where to Stay (There are lots of options. I’ve listed a few that I have visited or heard good things about):
Places to Eat:
This list could seriously be endless so I will list some of my favorites, but I recommend you research ahead of time so you find that perfect place.
- Island Prime/C-Level: They’ve got an incredible view of downtown San Diego. You can either sit outdoors at the beautiful bar, or sit inside in the more formal restaurant.
- Aqua Al 2: I have a serious weakness for Italian food and pasta. This restaurant is only here and in Florence, Italy.
- Blue Pointe Cafe: I’ve had many special dinners at this restaurant and always walk out stuffed. This place and Island Prime/C-Level are all a part of Cohn Restaurants. They are all San Diego-based restaurants that have excellent food.
- Little Italy: This is a street that has all Italian food restaurants and stops. Basically it is heaven, as I am a serious pasta lover. There is everything from super casual to fancy restaurants. I’d recommend just walking the street and picking what looks good.
Things to Do:
- Petco Park: Well, I’m not sure how our baseball team will be this year, but the park they play in is awesome! It’s located right in downtown by the Gas lamp so you can go to a game and walk to the bars and restaurants after.
- Old Town San Diego: A fun place to walk around and see more of the historic San Diego. Make sure you stop at one of the delicious Mexican restaurants.
- Mission Bay: Another popular spot during the summer for picnics, volleyball, and jet skiing. If you are a walker, runner, or biker, there is a great sidewalk that circles the whole bay. Get there early to reserve your space because it gets crowded.
- Balboa Park: I love spending time in Balboa Park. There are tons of museums, gardens and performances to see. The architecture and surroundings are beautiful. If you explore the museums and parks all day, try to see a show at Starlight Theatre at night. It’s an outdoor theater that usually has some fun musicals during the summer.
These areas have great places to eat, stay, shop, and of course, just relax on the beach. Mr. Ducky and I got engaged down on the cliffs in Del Mar! La Jolla is just south of Del Mar. I mention the two in the same category because they have a similar feel. La Jolla has a little bit more to do that is within walking distance, but I grew up in Del Mar.
Where to Stay:
- La Valencia: A beautiful and historic hotel down in the middle of La Jolla. It’s the perfect place to stay and be in walking distance of restaurants, shopping and the beach.
- L’Auberge Del Mar: Growing up in the area this was one of my favorite hotels and it was just redone a year ago. Right in the heart of Del Mar above the beach, it’s the perfect spot for relaxation.
- The Lodge at Torrey Pines: If you are a golfer you would probably love staying at the Lodge at Torrey Pines. The Lodge is just gorgeous and sits on Torrey Pines Golf Course.
Where to Eat:
- Manhattan: This elegant restaurant is hidden away at the bottom floor of the Empress Hotel in La Jolla, but it’s one of my family’s favorite spots. The steaks and lamb chops are to die for. It’s kind of a romantic setting with live jazz on certain nights.
- Jake’s Del Mar: This is a super yummy steak/seafood place and is located right on the beach in Del Mar. There is obviously a gorgeous view as you enjoy your meal.
- Pacific Del Mar: Another seafood restaurant with an amazing view. It’s located in Del Mar Plaza that has lots of cute shops and several great restaurants. I mention it specifically because they make my favorite creme brulee ever!
- Board and Brew: This is a block up from the beach and is the perfect spot to grab a delicious sandwich. I recommend the Chicken Club.
What to do:
- Beach Beach and Beach! There are lots of beaches, but the most popular in these areas are La Jolla Shores and 15th Street/Powerhouse Park in Del Mar. Of course, there is surfing, kayaking, body boarding, and sand castle building.
- Racetrack: During the later part of summer and beginning of September you can go see the horse races where the “surf meets the turf”. This is always a fun outing and something a little different to do. On opening day, everyone wears crazy hats and then heads to the Del Mar Plaza area, and you never know what you will see.
- Del Mar Fair (now referred to as the San Diego Fair): This happens from June until usually about July 4th, and is popular in the area. Keep in mind that if you are visiting during this time, you will encounter traffic in this area even if you are just passing through. Check out the listing of concerts; a lot of times you can see some great shows, depending on the year.
Del Mar Racetrack-source
This is a beautiful area. You just take a big bridge over from San Diego to get there. I love all the little houses and cottages. The famous Del Coronado Hotel is here and is just a fun area to spend some time. We always went to Coronado on the 4th of July to watch the huge fireworks display.
If you can, stay at the historic Del Coronado Hotel. For another alternative, you can look at Loews Coronado Bay, which is another favorite spot in the area. For eating in the area, you can bring a picnic for the beach, or splurge on one of the restaurants at the Del Coronado Hotel. There are several options for eating at the Del itself. All are either in a luxurious setting, like the Crown Room, or overlooking the beach. If you walk around the town, there are plenty of casual options, as well.
More things to do/see in San Diego:
- Pacific Beach: If you are looking for more of a night scene, head down to Pacific Beach. There are lots of fun bars, restaurants and a huge beach that is very crowded during the summer.
- The San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park: I’d probably be a terrible San Diegan if I didn’t mention these places. They really are amazing to see. The zoo has more to see, but the Wild Animal Park focuses on endangered animals in their natural habitats. Both are worth visiting, but I’ll give you the warning that the Wild Animal Park is really hot during the summers.
- Wine Tasting in Temecula: There are lots of wine tasting tours you can take in Temecula. I personally love the South Coast Winery. It’s a beautiful spot with a great restaurant, spa ,and cute little villas you can stay in.
- SeaWorld: You know what it is, so I won’t explain. I haven’t been recently but I know they’ve added lots of attractions.
Any trip to San Diego is not complete without multiple stops to eat delicious Mexican food! Here are a few different restaurants that are all delicious!
- Old Town Mexican Cafe: Everything here is good, and it’s a favorite spot in San Diego that has been around forever. Watch them make homemade tortillas in the window.
- El Indio: This is one of my favorite spots downtown, and it’s inexpensive! The tamales are delicious!!
- Fidels: Hidden from main traffic, Fidels is a favorite spots for locals after a day at the races. It’s in a converted old house and has all sorts of charm.
Other References for Planning Your Trip:
Beach Guide: Browse this website to find a description of different San Diego beaches to plan your day.
Sign-On San Diego: A great source for reviews of restaurants and listings of current things going on in the area.
I could probably go on and on forever about different fabulous restaurants or things to do in San Diego, but I don’t want to overwhelm with any more information. If you have questions, please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer along with all you other San Diegans.
See all the posts in the Honeymoon in my Hometown Series here!