Planning a trip to San Diego?
You’re in the right place!
What should you know before you go on your San Diego vacation? And what should you know before you even book anything?
After living in the city for a couple years and having all my friends visit, there are definitely some important things to know before you travel to San Diego, to help make your trip perfect.
These are my top San Diego travel tips, with the goals being to: help keep you prepared before you go and make sure you’re able to take advantage of what San Diego has to offer!
Don’t travel in May or June if you want the sun
Many people travel to San Diego expecting constant 70s temperatures and sunny weather. If this sounds like you, don’t go in May or June.
Known locally as “May gray” and “June gloom”, the weather is generally cloudy and gloomy, with the occasional shower. Of course, not every single day is always like this, and sometimes it does end up clearing out later in the afternoon– but in general these months are the cloudier months.
But if you prefer this kind of weather, then this is the perfect time to go!
And I would argue that climate change is making the winters like this too, but we’ll see if that keeps up…. Like, the picture above was from April.
Don’t miss out on San Diego’s craft beer scene
Think you’ve had good craft beer? Think most cities nowadays have good craft beer scenes and it’s a little overrated?
That’s because you haven’t had craft beer in San Diego yet.
Like I used to think that too, until I moved here. There are so many craft breweries in San Diego, and in fact it has the third most breweries in all of the US. And it’s in so many top beer cities lists.
San Diego is a good place to drink great beer because there are so many amazing, creative options. This is coming from someone who lived in Seattle, another top brewery place, for much longer.
If you travel to San Diego and disagree here, let me know in the comments which city you think is better so I can do… research…
Do pack flip flops to fit in
Everyone here wears flip flops. Even when San Diego is in its low of 50s, one of the most common outfits is flip flops, shorts, and a warm sweatshirt.
To both fit in with the locals and be prepared in case you randomly end up on the beach, bring a cute pair!
Don’t be like me. I’m still wearing flats and stick out like a sore thumb.
Know that the main sights are pretty far from each other
San Diego is not one of those cities where everything is kinda in the same district, and all the major districts are small and close by.
San Diego is really spread out.
If you want to see as much of San Diego as you can, you’ll probably need to rent a car (but know that the price you see is not going to be the price you pay — because of fees!), take a lot of Lyfts/Ubers, or befriend someone with a car. The bus system is pretty bad, and you can’t walk easily between different districts.
Trust me, I tried to live here without a car for four months, and it was terrible. Unless you don’t plan to leave the neighborhood you’re in at all. Which could be a fun trip too because the neighborhoods are fun.
If you’re only here for a short period of time, or like slower paced travel, or don’t mind just focusing on a few areas, then you’ll probably be fine without. But if you want to go from, like, La Jolla to Point Loma, you’ll probably want a car.
Don’t just assume that there’s better food in LA
Usually LA, OC, and SF comes to mind when people think of major food scenes in California. That’s true, and you can’t miss out on eating in those places if you have the chance. But according to Yelp (not just me), San Diego has an amazing, quickly growing food scene too!
Don’t miss out on local delicacies when you’re in San Diego. And don’t miss out on its top foodie spots either. And don’t miss out on San Diego’s nicer dining spots, if you can afford it. And if you can’t (like me!), there are a ton of ways you can try the best local food cheaply in San Diego.
As you can see, San Diego has many different food options. However you do it, make sure you check out San Diego’s food scene when you’re here!
Don’t forget to bring shade for any hikes
This trail had the most shady trees of the hikes I’ve done in San Diego so far.
If you’re like me, you love hiking– but you’ve only really hiked in places with lots of trees and shade. Think about it. San Diego’s not like that at all! A lot of the hikes here are more in the desert or without a lot of thick, shady trees.
If you go hiking in San Diego be prepared with sun hats and (if it’s your thing) light long sleeves, because there’s not a lot of shade on the trails. Heat exhaustion is very real. Sunscreen will help prevent sunburns, but decreasing your exposure from the sun will also help prevent overheating.
Whether you’re spending the day in Torrey Pines or doing Potato Chip Rock, you’ll want to be prepared for the exposed trail. And if you’re able to make it to one of San Diego’s larger deserts, here are some other key desert hiking tips.
Do bring your dog
Before I moved to San Diego, I lived in Seattle, which is a pretty dog friendly city.
But San Diego is like next level in dog friendly! Everyone brings their dog everywhere here. You can even buy your dog “craft meat” in some restaurants. There are spas with dog treatments too, including “skin brightening” ones. In some districts, there are “dogs of the neighborhood” signs that highlight popular pups. I don’t even think you’re allowed in districts like Ocean Beach if you don’t have a dog. That is how dog friendly it is here.
So if you’re wondering if you can travel with your dog to San Diego- you can, do it! Yes, there are still a few restaurants and stores that won’t allow them, but they are few and far in between. The hardest part might be lodging, but there are pet friendly Airbnbs. If this is your first time using Airbnb, here’s $40 off your first stay!