San Diego is often called "America’s Finest City," and for good reason. The eighth-largest city in the U.S. offers heaps of attractions, cultural experiences, and an undeniable cosmopolitan vibe. Despite its size, San Diego maintains a laid-back ambiance that is emblematic of Southern California, embodied by its friendly locals and the city's famously perfect climate. With temperatures hovering around the mid-70s (21°C) year-round and abundant sunshine, there is never a bad time to explore its world-renowned museums, indulge in 5-star dining, bask on its internationally acclaimed beaches, and revel in its exceptional hospitality.
US Dollar, $1 = 100 cents
The San Diego Union-Tribune – www.sandiegouniontribune.com
San Diego Reader – www.sandiegoreader.com
San Diego Magazine – www.sandiegomagazine.com
San Diego Business Journal – www.sdbj.com
Independent stores are usually open from 10 am to 6 pm daily. Major malls and shopping centers stay open until 9 pm or longer.
1.39 million (2022)
San Diego Visitor Information Center
996 North Harbor Drive, San Diego
Open daily 10am–4pm
+1 619 236 1242
With an estimated population of nearly 1.4 million people, San Diego ranks as the second-largest city in California and the eighth-largest in the United States. The city is home to the nation's largest military community that together with a diversity of neighborhoods provide San Diego with a unique flavor.
The heart of San Diego is the historic Gaslamp Quarter where Victorian-style buildings and modern skyscrapers meet. Here, you will also find the city's coolest restaurants, theaters, art galleries, concert venues, and fashion boutiques. Neighboring the Gaslamp Quarter is East Village, San Diego’s largest downtown community and home to Petco Park, San Diego Padres baseball stadium. It is also the center for luxury hotels, foodies, and live music.
North of downtown is Old Town, which has preserved the city’s Spanish and Mexican heritage, where some of its first houses can be seen. Adjacent to Old Town is Uptown, a pedestrian-friendly area that consists of North Park, University Heights, and Hillcrest. This area, particularly Hillcrest, serves as a center of the city’s gay and lesbian community.
Further west, between the airport and La Jolla, is the scenic coastal area, which encompasses beach communities such as Mission Beach and Pacific Beach, both famously popular with surfers and students. If you continue north, you will eventually reach a stunning piece of coastline that belongs to La Jolla, home to some of the most beautiful and safest beaches in Southern California. It is also where you will find one of the region’s most affluent communities and some of the best – and most expensive – dining.
Unlike the sprawling L.A., San Diego has the feel of a compact city, and it can be tempting to stay downtown. A lot of people, however, think of San Diego in terms of the whole county, which leaves a lot more to be explored.
The regional terrain is extraordinary in itself and varies from the Pacific coastline in the west to the Sonoran Desert in the east. Those who travel to the northeast will come across snow-capped mountains, while travelers who visit the south will find themselves just 15 minutes away from the Mexican border.
This impressive landscape variety makes the city a top spot for outdoor activities that include: hiking, surfing, biking, and sailing. Plus, the long list of family-friendly attractions, such as LEGOLAND, the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and the New Children's Museum proves that San Diego has something for everyone.
SeaWorld San Diego
The Gaslamp Quarter
San Diego Zoo
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park
La Jolla Cove
San Diego Bay Waterfront
USS Midway Museum
Botanical Building & Lily Pond
Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Pacific Surf School
Cabrillo National Monument
Torrey Pines Gliderport
Knott's Soak City
Torrey Pines Golf Course
Street food in San Diego is synonymous with fish tacos, and most locals couldn’t enjoy a Padres game without one. Although numerous food trucks specialize in this delicacy, the city boasts a plethora of other tempting dining options. For those craving contemporary Italian cuisine, Little Italy is an excellent destination, whereas the Gaslamp Quarter attracts avant-garde chefs seeking to create culinary masterpieces. If Mexican fare is more your style, head to the Old Town area. Don't forget to explore the local drinking culture by visiting the wine-making district (situated in North County, just a 45-minute drive from downtown) and the numerous artisan breweries.
Las Cuatro Milpas
Bali Hai Restaurant
Tom Ham's Lighthouse
Aroma Thai Restaurant
Blue Wave Bar & Grill
Charles + Dinorah
Top of the Market
George's at the Cove
Whether you just want a regular black coffee or a signature espresso with a pastry to-go, San Diego knows how to please its coffee crowd. The city is known for its abundance of coffee houses and it has everything from simple and inexpensive cafés to well-established coffee chains, with some of the best and most loved places concentrated around Balboa Park.
Bread & Cie
San Diego offers a diverse nightlife scene that caters to a wide range of tastes, with plenty of trendy hangouts just waiting to be explored. From renowned jazz clubs to jet-set bars, there is something for everyone here. In the summer months, the city truly comes alive as outdoor concerts, theater performances, and movie screenings take center stage, adding even more excitement to the already vibrant atmosphere. And with San Diego being one of America's best microbrewery destinations, why not sample some of the finest local beers while you're at it?
The Tipsy Crow
House of Blues San Diego
The Tower Bar
Waterfront Bar & Grill
Craft & Commerce
ALTITUDE Sky Lounge
The Shout! House
San Diego is a great city for heart-warming retail therapy. The very accommodating climate provides the perfect backdrop for open-air shopping centers, and there is an endless variety of top-quality malls, luxurious brands, and vintage shops to choose from. Hipsters are also very well served by many small designer boutiques, retro bookstores, and record shops.
Old Town Market
San Diego Zoo Gift Shop
Bazaar del Mundo
South Coast Surf Shop
Coronado Ferry Landing
Africa and Beyond
Farenheit 451 Books
San Diego International Airport (SAN)
San Diego International Airport (SAN), formerly known as Lindbergh Field, is located three miles northwest of downtown San Diego. The Airport is served by I-5 with connections to State Route 163, I-8, and I-15.
Terminals 1 and 2 serve major airlines and are situated close to Transportation Plaza, where you can find all ground transportation including taxis and shuttle vans.
A taxi ride to the city center usually takes 10-15 minutes. If you prefer public transport, look for the red and blue-striped buses.
Address: 3225 North Harbor Drive, San Diego
Phone: +1 619 400 2404
Passport / Visa
Citizens of the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Kingdom of Brunei can visit the United States for up to 90 days without applying for a visa (as well as citizens of Andorra, Lichtenstein, Monaco and San Marino). Citizens of these countries must obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) before traveling. All other travelers must obtain a visa before visiting the United States. International travelers need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of their intended trip in order to enter the country.
Best Time to Visit
Although the sun is known to always shine over the Golden State, the best times recommended to visit San Diego are from March to May, and from September to October, when you can expect great weather and moderate rates. Watch out for the cloudy skies in May.
Summertime is always recommended for hot temperatures and countless events taking place around the city. However, hotel fares are more expensive. Be aware of the gray skies in June.
For the best hotel rates, winter months are the best option. Even though the winter in San Diego is far from freezing, expect rain showers and water a tad too cold for swimming.
San Diego’s bright-orange trolleys are great for exploring the city and operate from about 5am–midnight, seven days a week. Fares are based on trip distance. San Diego Transit also provides local bus services throughout the county. Most buses have bike racks, making it easy to pedal around the city. For fares and timetable, visit: www.sdmts.com
For most visitors, driving in Southern California is an adventure, but it can also be stressful. Make things easy on yourself by avoiding the freeway during the morning and afternoon rush hours (6–8:30am and 3:30–6pm). Downtown San Diego is pretty simple to navigate, and finding on-street parking can be easy. Just remember to feed your parking meters.
Taxis are easily available at shopping malls, hotels, and the airport. Other options for lower fares are the rideshare companies Uber and Lyft.
San Diego Airport Taxi
Phone: +1 858 227 9272
Coastal Cab Company
Phone: +1 619 358 5230
You can buy stamps at many newsagents or at the post office. Official United States Postal Services (USPS) mailboxes are usually blue steel containers on city sidewalks. Many post offices or private mail companies like UPS or FedEx are open from 8am–5pm.
Address: 3911 Cleveland Avenue, San Diego
Phone: +1 800 275 8777
In San Diego, many pharmacies are open 24 hours. Some are even drive-throughs. To locate a store near you, contact a national drugstore chain such as Rite Aid or CVS/pharmacy.
Country code: +1
619 - Southern half of San Diego metro, including downtown San Diego, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, National City, Santee, La Mesa
858 - Northern half of San Diego metro, including La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Clairemont, Del Mar, Poway
442, 760 - Northern and western parts of San Diego, including Encinitas, Escondido, Oceanside, Ramona
U.S. electrical power is 110V/60 cycles AC with two flat parallel prongs.