24 Hours in San Diego

  • WOW Contributor
  • USA
  • Apr 20, 2016
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I recently found myself hanging out in San Diego for all of 24 hours. It was short but sweet, with the Californian weather providing a welcomed change from the freezing cold temperatures of New York City this winter. San Diego is definitely a place you want to spend a little more time relaxing than just a short in-and-out day visit, but equally 24 hours is enough to let you unwind. If you too find yourself in San Diego for a short amount of time, here’s how to make the most of a 24 hour trip!

San Diego

La Jolla 

La Jolla is located North from Downtown San Diego; a beautiful stretch of coastline that encompasses a cove, beaches and seafront trails to walk along and enjoy the view. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to spot some of the many sealions that also inhabit this coastline. They may well be beached up on the rocks, if so you can actually manage to get quite close to them. La Jolla also has lots of little eateries, a personal favourite being Cody’s, it’s located with a great view of the sea and they serve fresh, delicious food. Definitely try their Mahi Mahi tacos, I cannot recommend enough!

If you’re looking to stay in La Jolla and also looking to treat yourself a little then check out the boutique hotel La Valencia, it stands out from the crowd being pale pink in colour and has an enviable view of the ocean. If you’re not staying here then it’s easily accessible from all areas of San Diego via hire car or cab. Beautiful spot on the coast that will most definitely relax you entirely!

San Diego

Explore the Coastline 

San Diego sits right on the coast so there’s plenty of beaches open to be explored. If you’re into surfing then this is a great place to catch some waves. However, if, like me, you’re not quite talented enough to balance on a surf board, you can rent Stand Up Paddle Boards or go out on a kayaking adventure. At this time of year the sea is a little nippy but it’s nothing a wetsuit can’t solve. Go out and paddle around in the beautiful Pacific Ocean!

San Diego

Old Town

The Old Town is apparently where the first European settlers in California lived, all the way back in 1850. Nowadays, it’s a little hub of amazing Mexican restaurants, as well as trinket and boutique shops. It’s the perfect place to grab dinner and also to explore in the afternoon sunshine. Every Saturday and Sunday there’s an Artisan Market here to wander through, you can buy anything from jewellery to hand-painted glass, making it a great place to pick up gifts for the loved ones you left behind!

San Diego

The Gaslamp Quarter

The Gaslamp Quarter is a historic district in Downtown San Diego. It’s filled with boutiques, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, it’s most definitely the heart of the city’s nightlife. The streets are lined with the iconic circular lamps, which gave the area it’s name. This is a really fun place to explore in the evening, there’s plenty of al fresco dining options and lots of restaurants to take your pick from. For the best street tacos you should definitely check out La Puerta, you won’t be disappointed. The Gaslamp Quarter is a great place to end your day in San Diego, especially if it’s with a margarita in hand!

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Whatever you do make sure you eat Mexican food…

San Diego is the closest city to the Mexican border, you can even take a trip over the border to Tijuana, if you’re staying for longer. Due to it’s close proximity to Mexico, the Mexican food here is, unsurprisingly, some of the best in the USA. If you’re as big a fan of Mexican cuisine as I am then you’ll be in heaven. I think during our very short time here I managed to consume at least 3 meals, all of which contained guacamole and tacos.


Over to you! Where are your favourite places in San Diego for visitors on a day trip?

WOW Contributor

Story by World of Wanderlust contributor Emma Bates.



  1. dan@danramosd.com'


    May 12, 2016

    Being from new jersey, San Diego has become basically a second home for me in the winter. Picture perfect weather, gorgeous sites, awesome surf, great food and beautiful hikes… theres nothing about San Diego I don’t like! Thanks for sharing!

  2. theredheadstory@gmail.com'


    April 30, 2016

    I am lucky enough to live here and I couldn’t think of a better place at the moment. The climate, the chill people, laid-back atmosphere, beach communities and many eateries – gotta love this city (that, to me, exudes a rather cozy small town feel from time to time).

  3. diabiancalao@gmail.com'

    Dia Bianca Lao

    April 27, 2016

    I had a similar experience where I ended up in San Diego for 24 hours. I would probably go cafe hopping in Little Italy like I did during my accidental extended layover:

  4. kristen@muddleandjoy.com'

    Kristen @ Muddle + Joy

    April 26, 2016

    Gaslamp District was a blast! There’s a fabulous Honky Tonk bar my friends convinced me to visit — Moonshine Flats. A+ would learn how to line dance again!

  5. charactersandcarryons@gmail.com'


    April 23, 2016

    San Diego is where I dream of retiring, it’s such a lovely and happy, relaxing place!

  6. stacie_eirich@yahoo.com'

    Stacie Eirich

    April 22, 2016

    I’m heading to San Diego with my family in May — a beautiful city that I’ve visited years ago — excited to experience it in 2016. Thanks for sharing!

  7. kariguastella@gmail.com'


    April 21, 2016

    24 hours in San Diego? I’d do an afternoon on Coronado then the Gas Lamp district at night!

  8. ohjanuary.enquiries@gmail.com'


    April 21, 2016

    Looks amazing! I’d love to visit!

  9. theclumsytraveler@gmail.com'


    April 21, 2016

    San Diego is literally one of my favorite places in the world! I’m lucky to live only 2 hours from there. Would love to meet up next time you’re there for a stopover or whatever 🙂 You covered some good stuff, but I’d be happy to show you some great foodie spots like Donut Bar or Las Cuatro Milpas!

  10. v.dalton.banks@googlemail.com'

    Vicky Dalton-Bank

    April 20, 2016

    San Diego has been on my list for so long. The sea and the food make it a winner for me, especially if you get a little glimpse of those sealions at La Jolla!x

  11. ashleychristabelle@hotmail.com'


    April 20, 2016

    I always go to La Jolla when I’m in San Diego. xx

  12. skyenvyblog@gmail.com'


    April 20, 2016

    San Diego is one of my favorite cities to visit and live and hopefully one day, I’ll find myself moving back. For La Jolla, my friends and I always get a table at Brockton Villa. In the Old Town, that resto in the photo, Cafe Cantina, is actually a good taco place. Gaslamp also boasts a lot of restaurants, pubs, and clubs, it can get very lively and entertaining on weekends! One place that wasn’t on the list is Coronado beach. Walk along the beautiful white beaches by the famous Hotel Del and you will find out why it was voted as the best beach in the US a couple of years back!

  13. Krysiagallarson@gmail.com'


    April 20, 2016

    My hometown! So glad you enjoyed it! If you’re looking for something to do at night, you can’t beat Shout House, the dueling piano bar! And in the morning….going to Donut Bar is a must! Best donuts in the country!

  14. camilleslifediary@hotmail.fr'


    April 20, 2016

    This is so lovely

  15. lumiereandlens@gmail.com'

    Alyse (J.X.L.)

    April 20, 2016

    I loved the Gaslamp District when I was in San Diego! Didn’t get to explore the coastline, but it’s on the list!

    Alyse (J.X.L.) |

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