The Ultimate San Diego Itinerary: The Samurai Way

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San Diego is probably one of the best cities to visit of all time. It is just one of those cities that needs to be on your bucket list. If you didn’t know that… well, now you do. 

With warm temperatures almost year-round, beaches, surfing, and delicious restaurants, it’s no wonder a lot of people book this place as their go-to travel destination. With so much to see around the city. It is definitely worth the visit!  

Whether you have 72 hours in the city or 5 days, here are some great ideas worth noting to make your trip just a little bit nicer. 

Here’s our breakdown of the best San Diego Itinerary of things to do so you can make the most of your stay. 

Top Attractions to See in San Diego

It’s no surprise that San Diego is known for a number of attractions. If you’re looking for some quick things to keep you busy then don’t forget that these are the most popular to check out!

  1. San Diego Zoo
  2. Sea World
  3. USS Midway Museum
  4. La Jolla Cove
  5. La Jolla Farmers Market
  6. Coronado Beach & Hotel del Coronado
  7. Cabrillo National Monument
  8. Old Town 
  9. Farmers Market (i.e Hillcrest)
  10. Pacific Beach

Quick Stats

  • Currency: USD
  • Language: English & Spanish
  • Weather: Mostly warm temperatures year-round; cooler nights. Check your local area
  • Mode of Transportation: See Below

Where to Fly-In

San Diego is a large city and because of this, it has its own international Airport. The San Diego International Airport is your best choice to book your direct flight there. Look for San Diego (SAN) since most airlines fly into San Diego. Major airlines such as Frontier, Delta, American, United, and Spirit can fly there. 

How to get around San Diego

Depending on where you are staying, there are a couple of ways to get around San Diego. Some of them are pretty good and others are not the very best, but definitely doable. 

If you are staying in or around downtown then walking can get you somewhere. A lot of people staying in or around the downtown area prefer to walk around since you can pretty much see and cover a lot. In fact, it is pretty popular to explore San Diego both morning and night. 

However, another offer would be to take the ever-so-popular scooters LYFT, BIRD, or RAZOR. I have seen these sprawled around the streets of downtown making it ever so popular to grab on the app, allowing you to explore more at a faster rate.

Certain scooters have been banned (i.e LIME), but so far I still continuously see other companies out there. It is a great way to check out the downtown area fast. 

In addition, if you prefer to rent a bicycle, then this is definitely another yet amazing way to get to explore the area. You can find a local bike shop and cruise around the downtown area with no problem. Rates are pretty fair when it comes to exploring the area. 

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Your best bet would be to rent a car.

San Diego is made up of a lot of different cities and counties so it’s best to get around driving. You can also take public transportation, but honestly, it’s a headache in San Diego.

San Diego public transportation is probably not the best way to get around. Unfortunately, it’s not as reliable as Europe’s transportation. I have personally taken it before, and it isn’t the best way to get around.

If you can, rent a car. There is a lot of ground to cover and many places to go walking. You can easily get around by walking, transit, scootering, or renting a car. 

San Diego Itinerary Plan

Not sure what to do and when? Don’t worry we got you covered! Here is a quick simple itinerary ready to go!

Pick and choose what you feel like doing! 

Day 1:  Downtown San Diego + USS Midway Museum

A great time to go explore San Diego is during the day. There is so much you can do here and there is a lot of ground to cover. You can easily get around by walking, transit, or even renting a car. 

Start by exploring the downtown area. The downtown area is a great way to see some local restaurants and catch the vibe of San Diego. 

  • Start by visiting the downtown area of San Diego. You can either walk, take transit, or even better rent a car. There are a lot of parking metered spots and parking structures.
  • Just be aware that you would need to pay for these accommodations.  It’s perfect if you plan on spending a whole day exploring.
  • Another great recommendation is if you book a hotel within proximity, then you leave your car there and rent LYFT, BIRD, or RAZOR scooter to get around town. As far as this post is written, LIME pulled out of San Diego, but there were plenty of these that I noticed around downtown. 

San Diego Itinerary options:

Balboa Park

There are lots of museums here worth checking out! You can also experience cultural institutions and choose anything from science to seeing the Japanese friendship garden. It’s definitely a great family experience!

USS Midway Museum

The perfect museum for those who are into historic aircraft and carries. If you love learning about historical warplanes then this is something you may not want to miss. 

Cabrillo National Monument

If you’re down for some nice hiking and exploring then be sure to visit the Cabrillo National Monument. You can learn how the first conquistador Juan Cabrillo landed here as well as take in some epic panoramic views of San Diego.

Check out this blog where we talk about the best things to see in Cabrillo National Park including the Point Loma tide pools at Cabrillo!

Walking Ghost Tour

If you are ever visiting in October or November you can definitely learn some history by taking the evening ghost tour.

You will learn a lot about the history of San Diego as you walk the streets at night to find out what life was really like back then. You will be pretty surprised!

Day 2: San Diego Zoo + Seaworld

  • Explore famous attractions such as the San Diego Zoo or SeaWorld. Not only are they popular to check out but it’s a great way to spend some time exploring the many attractions of San Diego.

Both Seaworld and the San Diego Zoo can be full-day events where you can find a lot of entertainment. These parks are probably one of the most touristy things you can find here in San Diego specifically.

In the evening opt-in to explore city life in San Diego. The twinkling light can definitely make for a nice treat. 

Day 3: La Jolla Beach & Cove + Farmers Market

  • Explore La Jolla Cove and Beach for the day. You can also do what many local San Diego’s do and learn how to surf.
  • Schedule a paddleboarding experience. There is plenty of paddleboarding and kayaking experiences in La Jolla.
  • Check out the children’s pool which is filled with lots of seal pups. The children’s pool does close in winter, so if you happen to be exploring during that time, during seal pupping season it may be closed, but you can definitely appreciate it from afar. 
  • If your visit is on a Sunday then is sure to stop and explore the La Jolla Open Aire, Farmers Market. It has lots of delicious foods for you to enjoy.

Day 4: Coronado Beach + Hotel Del Coronado

  • Coronado Beach is probably one of the most iconic beaches out there. Not only does Coronado Beach have a Naval Base, but there is a history with Hotel Coronado. In addition, Coronado Beach has an area perfect for your pups to play.
  • The designated dog beach is what you need to let your pup also enjoy just a bit of the ocean too. You can read about this dog beach and others here. Check out this article to learn more about what Coronado Beach has to offer.

Day 5: Pacific Beach or Old Town

  • Pacific Beach is a nice beach to visit during the day, however, at night it becomes a college town for many students.
  • There are a lot of bars and outings you can visit if that is your thing. However, during the day it’s perfect for an outing or just to walk the beach
  • Old Town makes for a nice visit too. There is a lot you can see here. Old Town is known as the “Birthplace” of modern California. According to the source, Old Town became known as the place where the first Europeans settled.
  • Now, it has evolved into a historical museum. You can do everything from shopping, eating, and even live entertainment. Just a perfect place to spend your day. 
  • Hillcrest Farmers Market: If you happen to arrive on a Sunday then be sure to check out the farmers market in Hillcrest, there are lots of delicious foods and locally grown fruits and produce. Definitely, a place to check out for yourself. 

Day 6: Exploring North County

Explore the North County Beaches and Beach towns.

If you have enough time and are looking to keep busy then be sure to check out the amazing North County Beaches. There are some gorgeous beaches with cute beach towns you can explore. 

These beaches include beaches like Cardiff by the Sea, Encinitas Beach, Carlsbad Beach, and even Oceanside Beach. So many people don’t realize that there are neat beach towns to check out here. It’s a great escape from the busier side of San Diego. 

If you do find yourself in the Oceanside beach area, here are 15 things you can do while visiting. You can also read about Oceanside Village Harbor, a sweet place to check out during your stay!

If you rented a car, then do this trip. Take advantage of this. From the downtown San Diego area, you can expect anywhere from a 40 min drive to an hour. Depending on how bad the traffic is.

I would say go during off-peak hours. If you want to see what North County Beaches are out then sure to read this blog right here

Where to Stay in SD

There are an array of different options to stay in San Diego! Whether you plan on staying closer to downtown or looking for that coastal hotel, there is something for everybody. Here are our top picks!

You can also check out some good-looking locations near you by using the map below! Good luck! There are a lot of good places out there! If you’re looking for iconic California food you can never go wrong with In-n-Out, but if want more local food then do a simple search near your area.

If you find yourself in Oceanside, then check out these amazing restaurants in Oceanside Village.


All in all, if you’re looking for a perfect spring or summer getaway then look no further than this awesome San Diego Itinerary!

There is plenty to see and do in San Diego, but ultimately picking a couple of your favorite tourist spots is all you need to feel that SD vibe.

Whether you are here for a couple of days or plan on staying longer, it really is up to you.

Though you can easily spend a whole week visiting this amazing city and getting to know everything it has to offer, you will get to see everything that YOU want to do. 

All in all, use this Itinerary as your guide to starting your epic travel beach getaway. My hope is that you will come with such awe and leave never wanting to actually leave this city. Your heart will stay in SD, I know that mine did. 

Good luck out there! Let me know what you enjoyed the most when visiting this city! 


Jess & Jeanette

Jess and Jeanette, two sisters who founded Unseen Beaches, were inspired by their family’s beach vacations while growing up.

Their passion lies in guiding you toward the most remarkable beach destinations across the U.S., while also protecting and preserving these beautiful coastal treasures! 🌊❤️

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