How to Spend 24 Hours in San Diego

Zack Garhart
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With endless activities, we’ve created a short guide on how to spend 24 hours in San Diego.

A city with spectacular beaches, vibrant nightlife, and plenty of parks, San Diego is filled with things to do year-round. From catching a game at Petco Park to having a picnic at Balboa Park, there are enough activities to keep you busy for weeks.

Start With A Sunrise

While La Jolla offers incredible sunsets, we recommend heading a little further east to Mt. Soledad for sunrise. Hiking this 822-foot hill means getting panoramic views of the ocean and the city just as the sun starts to fill San Diego with color. Mount Soledad is also a monument honoring veterans and is a perfect place to relax before getting your day started. Once you watch the sunrise at Mt. Soledad, head on over to La Jolla for a cup of coffee. Both Harry’s Coffee Shop and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters will help you get your day started right.

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Stroll Through The Park

One of San Diego’s gems is Balboa Park. This sprawling park covers over 1,000 acres and features numerous museums, shops, and restaurants. From the Japanese Friendship Garden & Museum to the San Diego Air & Space Museum, there’s something for everyone. Although there is plenty to see at Balboa, we suggest bringing blankets, a basket of food, and something to drink for a picnic. Bring your friends, a frisbee or football, and plan to stay a few hours while you enjoy the sunshine at Balboa Park.

Stock up on Party Supplies

Whether you’re on the beach, at the park, or posted up at one of our awesome hostels, there are plenty of ways to bring the party together. For a more relaxed outing, hit up a liquor store and sip on some of Southern California’s finest wines. We love stuff from Santa Barbara and the Russian River Valley, but there are also gems to be found along the Central Coast. For smokers, we suggest hitting up Hikei Modern Cannabis. This local shop is known for its home-grown flower and reasonable prices.

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Where to Grab Lunch

San Diego’s food scene is dominated by its fresh seafood and tasty tacos. For a true flavor of the city, try the fish tacos at Oscar’s Mexican Seafood, or Taco City. For lunch, we suggest Taco City on Tuesdays for their specials on tacos and tap beer. Both spots have multiple locations, so you have options while you’re cruising around the city. If you’re looking for a local experience and craving tacos, don’t miss Tacos El Gordo. This taqueria is about as authentic as it gets, and their prices are reasonable so you can load up on tacos before hitting the town.

Beach Time

San Diego is filled with wonderful beaches, and they each have their own distinct vibe. Ocean Beach is where you’ll find artists and hippies of all ages, plus skaters, students, and foreign travelers. This melting pot is one place you don’t want to miss, and we recommend swinging by their Wednesday Farmer’s Market for fresh produce and a taste of the local fare.

Both Pacific Beach and Mission Beach offer amazing sands and an array of places to post up with your towel and umbrella for the day. If you’re looking to party, go to Pacific Beach. For a more laid-back outing, check out Mission Beach. Both our Mission Beach and Pacific Beach hostels are centrally located and budget-friendly.

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Take in the Sunsets

Once you’ve hit up Balboa Park, grabbed a few fish tacos, and laid out in the sand, it’s time to catch the sunset. Southern California is known for its breathtaking sunsets, and San Diego’s beaches offer some of the best views around for watching the sun go down. La Jolla is our favorite place to watch the sunset and this part of San Diego is filled with spots that offer different looks of the city and ocean. Before hitting up the bars, make sure to find a great spot to watch the sunset in San Diego.

Sunset Cliffs comes in as a close second for another great place to catch the sunset in San Diego. The rugged cliffs make for a picturesque scene and are the perfect place to enjoy the last moments of daylight.

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Party On

San Diego likes to party. Whether it’s for happy hour, over a game of pool, or at one of the many local taverns, there are plenty of places to grab a drink. Some of our favorite happy hours in town include The Blind Burro in downtown San Diego, Coin Op Game Room in North Park, and Mavericks Beach Club in Pacific Beach.

If you like playing pool, stop over at Sunshine Company Saloon in Ocean Beach after their Wednesday Farmer’s Market. They have an upper deck where you can check out the ocean views and even watch the sunset.

For a good night’s rest, head over to our Adventure Hostel in Little Italy. With a prime location near downtown, it has everything you need to explore San Diego.

Want another set of recommendations on what to do in San Diego for a day? Watch this video!

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