Soar above the Sunset Cliffs, catch a wave at Ocean Beach and sip a michelada at one

Soar above the Sunset Cliffs, catch a wave at Ocean Beach and sip a michelada at one of over 150 breweries in the California sunshine.

Summer in San Diego is unmatched; with 70 miles of beautiful coastline, endless outdoor activities and unparalleled al fresco dining, travellers can expect a summer to remember. Whether visitors are travelling solo, with a loved one or as a family, San Diego’s distinctive neighbourhoods, CaliBaja cuisine and laid-back spirit will cater for all.

What to Do

With 31 beaches surrounding the city of San Diego, beach lovers will be left spoilt for choice. Mission Beach is San Diego’s most popular beach, with nearly two miles of classic West Coast boardwalk running parallel to the surf with numerous boutiques and eateries along the way. Sushi restaurant Cannonball is a highlight, as is ocean view amusement park Belmont Park, home to a historic wooden roller coaster affectionately called ‘the big dipper’. Surfing in San Diego is of course, a summer must, which is why revellers flock to Ocean Beach. With its vintage SoCal vibe, visitors can catch a wave or simply relax on the beach. Some might try their luck fishing off The Ocean Beach Pier, one of the only places where fishing without a licence is legal in San Diego. Balboa Park, America’s largest urban cultural park and located just a stone’s throw from downtown, is San Diego’s must-experience destination. With over 1,200 beautiful planted acres and 18 free public gardens, it’s the perfect break from the beach or place to have a snooze under a tree in the heat of a summer’s afternoon. To experience one of San Diego’s amazing cultural offerings, visitors can pop into the San Diego Museum of Art. From 13 May – 27 August, the museum is exhibiting a one-of-a-kind O’Keefe and Moore exhibition, comparing the two artists’ works, careers and contributions to the artistic development of the 20th century.

Where to Stay

Known for creating San Diego’s most interesting and, at times, wayward restaurants and bars (think secret tiki bars and darkened speakeasies), the C.H. Projects is expanding its hospitality microcosm by entirely reimagining the Lafayette Hotel & Swim Club in North Park, San Diego’s hip LGBTQ+ friendly neighbourhood. Historically, The Lafayette was a dining and drinking destination for 1940s and 50s Hollywood elite like Ava Gardner, Lana Turner and Bob Hope, as well as well-heeled San Diegans and visitors. Slated for opening in June 2023, the $26m renovation of the hotel will include 141 redesigned guestrooms, lobby space and pool, three new restaurants, two additional dining and drinking outlets, a vintage bowling alley, mezcal bar, game room and an all-new pool bar. Couples and solo travellers alike can enjoy the retro poolside vibes outdoors at The Pearl, a hip mid-century boutique hotel which offers free cocktail-making classes and movie nights on a projector by the pool and don’t miss San Diego’s first Marriott AC hotel, known for its European styling and appeal to millennial travellers which opened in the Gaslamp Quarter in February. The 147-room AC Hotel San Diego Downtown Gaslamp Quarter’s rooftop pool and lounge will open in early summer, and in May, the rooftop bar – Techo Beso, meaning rooftop kiss – will offer a tapas-style menu with tacos, ceviche and cocktails. Inspired by the energy and culture of love found in Tulum, Mexico, it features a main bar space for a communal party atmosphere and a DJ elevated to connect the bar to the pool deck.

Where to Drink

San Diego is a city brimming with over 150 breweries, outdoor pubs and beachside bars. Mujeres Brew House, an all-female-run and Latina-owned brewhouse, offers an impressive array of craft beer (including Mexican-style micheladas) and live music in their large Barrio Logan beer garden, bound to refresh travellers beyond the beach. Elsewhere the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens at Liberty Station, previously a Navy mess hall, is now one of the best places in San Diego for an outdoor beverage. With a bocce ball court, extensive garden, outdoor cinema space, an eclectic and creative menu of world-inspired cuisine and the highlight of 40 taps of delicious craft beers, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens is calling visitors to enjoy the space on a summer’s evening. For something slightly more sophisticated – and if you’re in need of shade – North Park’s Polite Provisions serves up a lengthy list of distinguished cocktails, with a $9.99 happy hour that is sure to hit the spot.

Where to Eat

San Diego’s delicious CaliBaja cuisine and al fresco dining mean eating out in the summer is always a pleasure. Mabel’s Gone Fishing, located in North Park, was named one of Eater’s best new restaurants in America and features a Spanish-meets-SoCal menu that showcases local seafood – and pairs very well with a glass of wine. The adjacent bottle shop conveniently specialises in natural wine, which in combination with Mabel’s delectable menu and the quaint outdoor dining space, makes for an evening to warm the soul. For a bite to eat before hitting the beach in the morning, breakfast takes centre stage every day at Normal Heights’ Madi. This light and airy spot is decked out with retro pastel and mid-century modern design touches as well as cosy diner-style seating for an inviting neighbourhood feeling. Try the White Bean Shakshuka with Carnitas, which is prepared alongside a fresh, fluffy pita and herby yoghurt. If you’re in a hurry, stop by the walk-up coffee bar for your handcrafted favourites from Mission Hills’ Heartwork Coffee Bar. Voted San Diego’s best restaurant, George’s At The Cove sits on the La Jolla cliffs and serves up exquisite seafood and panoramic views. From local rockfish tacos to seared rare local yellowtail, why not catch a sunset at George’s At The Cove for an extra special dining experience?