One of the most exciting and sophisticated metropolitan regions in the USA, San Diego comprises more than 100 colourful and unique neighbourhoods, each with a style, personality and charm all of their own.

All are wander-worthy, with dynamic medleys of outdoor activities, arts, culture, dining and shopping opportunities that brilliantly reflect the rich diversity of the region. From the luxury coastal enclave of La Jolla, to downtown’s charismatic Gaslamp Quarter, North Park’s vibrant craft beer scene, and Little Italy’s memorable dining experiences, we’re sharing a few of our own favourites that we think you’ll enjoy just as much as we do.

 

On this page...

1/ Coastal Neighbourhoods

2/ Downtown & Urban Neighbourhoods

3/ Where to Stay 

Coastal Neighbourhoods

La Jolla

With a dramatic coastline that boasts truly Instagram-worthy views, it's no surprise La Jolla makes a regular appearance on all the right shortlists when it comes to the world’s top beach destinations. It goes without saying that the biggest draw here are its beaches. But as well as being a real natural beauty (surrounded on three sides by the sea, backed by the steep slopes of Mount Soledad, and laced with scenic clifftop hiking trails and a world-class golf course), this upscale village neighbourhood also enjoys museums, arts, culture, one-of-a-kind boutiques, fine-dining restaurants, and a slew of outdoor activities.

Highlights
La Jolla Shores Beach | La Jolla Cove & Underwater Park | Birch Aquarium | Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve | Torrey Pines Golf Course | Scripps Park
Coronado

After making the short trip over the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, you’ll soon see that while this island (truly a peninsula) may exhibit small town charm, it’s big on fun for all ages. Soak up the sun on any one of its beautiful, award-winning, wide sandy beaches; enjoy summer concerts in the park; tour Coronado’s elegant gardens, old-world mansions and quaint shops by bike; or indulge in oceanfront dining and spectacular sunset views at the historic Victorian-era Hotel del Coronado (‘The Del’) – said to have been the inspiration for the Emerald City in L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, and the setting for the brilliant 1959 comedy, ‘Some Like it Hot.’

Highlights
Coronado Heritage Walk | Ferry Landing Shopping | Segway tours around the island | Silver Strand State Beach
Mission Bay & Beaches

Located just minutes from downtown is San Diego's Mission Bay Park – a 4600-acre aquatic playground – the largest of its kind anywhere in the world. Home to SeaWorld San Diego, one of the planet’s most popular marine-life parks, this sparkling water wonderland entices hordes of watersports enthusiasts with everything from kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding to waterskiing, kite-surfing… even water-propelled jet-packing. Best of all, there’s something for every age and skill-level to enjoy in the water; while back on dry land, families can explore the boardwalks by bike, and enjoy picnics, barbecues or bonfires right next to the water.

Highlights
Mission & Pacific Beaches | Moonlight cruises on the Bahia Belle | Belmont Park SeaWorld San Diego
Downtown & Urban Neighbourhoods

Gaslamp Quarter

Technically part of downtown (this is its historic heart – home in the late 1800s to San Diego’s red light district, where three gambling halls were run by Wyatt Earp), the Gaslamp Quarter is now the epicentre of San Diego’s nightlife scene. Its 16 walkable blocks are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and are filled to the rafters with eclectic galleries, chic boutiques, trendy nightclubs, secret speakeasies, rooftop bars, craft beer haunts and endless eateries.
Embarcadero

Lining the western edge of downtown, its boardwalk hugging San Diego Bay, the waterfront Embarcadero is where you’ll find the USS Midway Museum, the Star of India, and the Maritime Museum of San Diego. If a moving sea vessel is more your style, hop on a harbour cruise and explore the bay. Or for fun on land, grab a gourmet bite and browse for one-of-a-kind take-home treasures at Seaport Village, or head to Waterfront Park’s free splash fountains and state-of-the-art playground.
Little Italy

As well as quintessential SoCal living, San Diego also serves up a fabulous slice of La Dolce Vita in downtown's quaint yet lively Little Italy district. Filled with outdoor patio cafés, delis, restaurants, pubs, art galleries, great local boutiques (crammed with unique clothing, jewellery and small craft items), and the beautiful Amici Park, you’ll definitely want to grab a slice of pizza, an espresso and biscotti, or dine decadently at one of the celebrity chef restaurants located on bustling Kettner Boulevard – known locally as ‘Top Chef Alley’. Craft Beer is firmly in the spotlight in Little Italy too, and a multitude of family-friendly events are held here throughout the year. But do save some time for a visit to the Kettner Art & Design District’s brilliant galleries and shops, and the weekly Mercato – a hugely-popular, dynamic farmers market where over 200 tents line West Cedar Street from Kettner Boulevard to Front Street each and every Saturday come rain or shine from 8am ‘til 2pm.
North Park

North of downtown and east of Balboa Park, you’ll find the diverse and eclectic North Park neighbourhood. Catering to a local crowd, streets are lined with a dynamic mix of coffee shops, cafés, boutiques, art galleries and craft beer pubs. All this plus the city’s most up-and-coming restaurant row with cuisine that ranges from contemporary and healthy, to rustic and downright sinful. Check out Urban Solace’s super-popular Bluegrass Brunch ever Sunday; or wing it at local favourite Carnitas’ Snack Shop with its daily-changing menu. And on the second Saturday of each month, join the cool crowds along Ray Street for ‘Ray at Night’s’ gallery hopping and live music.

Downtown & Urban Highlights
San Diego Zoo | Balboa Park | Baseball at Petco Park | Horton Plaza | Seaport Village | San Diego Air & Space Museum | New Children's Museum


East Country
Julian

A historic gold mining town nestled in the picturesque Cuyamaca Mountains, and a little more than an hour east of downtown San Diego, charming Julian is an easy escape into the countryside, and a surprising mountain hideaway rich with natural beauty and entertaining adventures. Take a one-hour guided walking tour amongst the intricate path of tunnels at one of the town’s original gold mines, and try your hand at gold panning. The town is also a magnet for apple pie and cider lovers, so stretch your legs first with a visit to the Volcan Mountain Preserve, its trails lacing native grasslands and oak woodlands, to help build your appetite for a guilt-free slice or two of Julian Pie Company’s delectable crumb-topped Dutch apple pie.


Highlights
Eagle & High Point Gold Mine | Julian Pie Company | Volcan Wilderness Preserve | Cuyamaca Rancho State Park | Santa Ysabel Preserve | Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

  
Stay


The US Grant, A Luxury Collection Hotel
Downtown​

 
​Andaz San Diego
Gaslamp Quarter

 
​Pendry San Diego
Gaslamp Quarter

 
​The Lodge at Torrey Pines
La Jolla

 
Hotel del Coronado
Coronado​

 

To book your next
Southern California holiday, please call your
Travel Director on

01244 567 000

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