The best places to go in San Diego, California if you only have one day

San Diego is a gorgeous city, filled with so many different activities and beaches to see. Ideally, you want to spend more then a day in a place like that, ( I sure wish I could have) but we have to make the best of what we’ve got. This past February, my boyfriend and I were visiting his parents in Arizona, and wanted to check out San Diego. We decided to road-trip out to the coast for a single day. I did a decent amount of research into all the different options, focusing on mostly beaches and a few attractions. In the end, we were really satisfied with all the places we saw, and fell in love with the whole area.

I thought this list could be useful for those planning any future trips once the pandemic has passed, and keep everyone inspired for the future!

Disclaimer – we did have a car which made it easy to get to different locations quickly, but either way I hope this inspires you to check out some of these places.

Ocean Beach, San Diego

Ocean beach is a funky little surf town located 10 minutes north of Sandiego. It has everything you think of when you think California surf town, entertainment, food, surfers, volleyball, and a pier. It really gives off the whole sandiego vibe. However, it is close to the city, which makes for a little busier scene and a limited beach.

@ Passport to San Diego

We started our morning at ocean beach to scope out the surf, there was quite a few people out there and it had a decent break closer to the pier. We took a walk along the beach and walked up the main strip to grab a coffee. We were hoping for a coffee shop as funky as the town itself, and we were stoked to find Jungle Java.

Jungle Java, Ocean Beach San Diego, (instagram: @marissareeds)

Coffee was amazing, and they had a variety of dairy free milk options – a must. The back of the cafe is actually completely open, so we were able to sit in the sun and enjoy our iced coffees, while surrounded by a ton of cute plants. Personally I liked that the vibe was pretty low-key, and it had a lot of character, definitely a chill place to have your coffee in the morning before heading to the beach.

Balboa Park, San Diego

Botanical Building, Balboa Park (instagram: @marissareeds)

Basically, Balbao park is a large park in Sandiego featuring botanical gardens, the zoo, and various museums and centres. Most of these attractions do charge admission, however walking through the park is free and is incredibly beautiful. It definitely exceeded my expectations and is something that I would reccomend for everyone to go to.

Botanical Building, Balboa Park (instagram: @marissareeds)

We parked our car near the “Fleet Science Centre”

I drew this little map for your reference! Not anything beautiful but I made a point of the locations I thought were definitely worth checking out. It is easy to get turned around when looking at all the different maps online!

click for maps location

The Spanish Village was my favorite and it is really easy to miss, be sure to check it out (top right of the map) .

Spanish Art Village ( instagram @marissareeds)

La Jolla Shores, La Jolla

We only made a quick stop over in La Jolla beach, but it was for sure beautiful. It definitely feels like vacation there, a little more high-end and residential, when compared to ocean beach. The beach had smaller waves but a lot more space, I would say ideal for families looking for a beach day.

We weren’t able to check it out ourselves, but there’s still a few attractions nearby like the sea caves, or surf lessons that looked worth doing! All in all, La Jolla seems like a great place to stay when you’re looking to relax out-side the city, but still have options for activities.

Torrey Pines State Reserve, La Jolla

instagram: @marissareeds

Okay, I saved the best for last.. I hope you’re still with me because Torrey Pines is a must when visiting Sandiego. This is what you see in movies and commercials of califoirnia, sandy beaches that go on for miles, tall cliffs and turqouise waves. You also get some views to some unique geography shaped from the erosion. You can walk along the beach, or explore the scenic trails throughout the park.

View from Razor Point (@marissareeds)

We drove up to the top of the reserve from the south beach entrance, (10$ per car) and parked at the trail head near the visitor center.

The hike down to the beach we took did not disappoint, we winded through the razor point trail, past the Red Butte, all the way to Razor Point. The view point gives you a long view of the coast and the local geography. Then we hiked from Razor Point to Yucca point, and from there down to the beach.

Razor Point, Torrey Pines (instagram: @marissareeds)
Torrey Pines State Reserve (instagram: @marissareeds)

Aaaand that’s a wrap! I hope sometime in the future you’ll be able to check out these beautiful locations. If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!

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