Hiking | Lifestyle | Travel

Your Full Guide to San Diego

San Diego Guide

Located in beautiful Southern California, San Diego really does have something for everyone!

If you haven’t visited for yourself, you’ve surely read about it or saw scenes from tv shows and movies featuring San Diego’s beautiful coastline.

Ready to visit San Diego for yourself?

Here are just a few awesomely unique things to add to your list! Start off by:

Staying at Mission Bay Resort, San Diego

At San Diego Mission Bay Resort you’ll enjoy waterfront dining, endless outdoor water AND land activities, luxurious spa treatments, poolside relaxation, and – best of all – proximity to everything you could want to do in San Diego’s vibrant city.

San Diego
San Diego

Every detail is covered – from the modern hotel grounds and the delicious food to the comfy beds and bay views from your patio.

This will be one of your favorite places to stay yet!

San Diego
San Diego
Additional San Diego Mission Bay Resort perks: 
  • If you need an umbrella while you’re there, (like I did) you can easily check one out at the front desk for free!
  • Everything can be done by text message! Checkout, food reservations, and more!

With multiple options for delicious food and drinks, you’ll find everything from bay-view dining to a poolside Mexican food stand, and even enjoy coffee and acai bowls at their on-site coffee shop – Mission Joe!

If you’re into “girly” coffee, do yourself a favor and grab an iced Caramel Macchiato from their coffee shop. You won’t regret it.

San Diego
San Diego

For all the dining and drink options on the San Diego Mission Bay Resort property, click here

Ready to book your room at this beautiful resort? Click here:

Up next:

Go Whale Watching

Create memories you’ll never forget with San Diego Whale Watch!

This experience features a 3-hour whale-watching cruise, narration by a certified Marine Biologist, the opportunity to see whales, dolphins, sea lions, and birds, indoor and outdoor seating, a snack bar including beverages, and more!

You won’t want to miss this San Diego experience!

San Diego Whale Watch

Whale watching tip: Dress warm and bring layers!

San Diego is known for having great weather year-round but keep in mind that it’s always cold on the water, especially with the wind chill!

(If you don’t dress prepared, even after I warned you, they do sell blankets and hoodies right on the boat.)

Keep in mind that while you’re not guaranteed to see a whale on this tour (depending on the time of year) you are guaranteed to see either whales or dolphins – or you get a free trip back out!

San Diego Whale Watch

Tours are offered in both the morning (9 AM) and afternoon (12:30 PM).

Cost: $48 per adult and $44 for military, senior citizens, and kids ages 0-17.

Click here to book your tour:

See the iconic Potato Chip Rock

Potato Chip Rock is one of those hikes that even non-hikers want to go on to get a photo. This Insta-famous spot is located just outside of San Diego, in the town of Poway, and is a must-do! 

This hike will take you to a thin rock that people climb on that looks like it will break at any moment and it’s Insta-famous for a reason!

There are so many creative photos you can grab here! Keep in mind that with social media exposure, this spot requires a wait to grab a photo. 

Potato Chip Rock San Diego 2
Potato Chip Rock San Diego 2

Not only is Potato Chip Rock awesome, but the entire hike is also full of picturesque views!

You’ll see everything from the city skyline to miles of boulder-covered mountains. It’s breathtaking.

Potato Chip Rock San Diego
Potato Chip Rock San Diego

Getting to Potato Chip Rock

Important: there are two different ways to hike up to Potato Chip Rock. 

Route 1:

Potato Chip Rock via Mt Woodson Trail.

Miles: 7.3-mile (3.65 miles each way)

This hike features views of the Pacific Ocean. It is a flat uphill walk in the beginning, then you’ll do some zig-zagging (think switchbacks). Same elevation gain, but more of a gradual climb.

For a full map and details on this route click here.

Route 2:

Potato Chip Rock via Hwy 67.

Miles: 4.1 miles out and back

This trail is basically an old service road that’s half paved and bumpy. While this is the “shorter” route, don’t think for a second that you’ll be cheating your way to the top. While one-way up is only 2.05 miles, it’s pretty much straight up. In fact, you’ll gain an elevation gain of 1,220 ft. That’s quite the climb, folks.

For a full map to hike this route click here.

Ready to stay in another area of San Diego?

Head to Point Loma and…

Stay at the The Monsaraz San Diego

The Monsaraz San Diego is part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton! 

This hip hotel is located in the Point Loma area of San Diego and also happens to be centrally located to everything you want to see.

Just steps from Fisherman’s Landing, less than 2 miles from Sunset Cliffs, and less than 5 min to Downtown San Diego!

The Monsaraz San Diego
The Monsaraz San Diego

You’ll find a great place to eat right on the property at The Westerly Public House San Diego!

Westly Public House serves delicious food and cocktails every day from 7 AM- 10 PM.

I highly recommend their brunch menu with a vanilla latte by day, and sipping on one of their handcrafted cocktails by night!

The Monsaraz San Diego
The Monsaraz San Diego

This particular mocktail shown below came complete with a dehydrated pineapple shaped like a flower, which was delicious in itself.

Fancy and tasty? Count me in.

To book your room at this inclusive modern San Diego hotel click here:

As mentioned, The Monsaraz is only steps from Fisherman’s Landing! You’ll definitely want to take some time to see this beautiful area.

But don’t worry, I’ve scoped it out for you first.

So without further ado, lets…

Explore Fisherman's Landing

Walk around and take in the views, grab some food overlooking the water, and even go deep sea charter fishing!

Fishersman's Landing San Diego
Fishersman's Landing San Diego

Also previously mentioned, less than 2 miles from The Monsaraz San Diego you’ll find yourself at one of the most beautiful places in the entire San Diego area – Sunset Cliffs.

If you want an epic sunset unlike anything you’ve seen before, be sure to…

Catch a sunset at Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a 68-acre City of San Diego regional park which extends .5 miles along the Point Loma peninsula western shoreline.

This unique coastal environment features expansive ocean views, dramatic cliff formations and caves, a fascinating intertidal area, and connectivity to the adjacent Point Loma Ecological Reserve. 

Sunset Cliffs San Diego

Every inch of this shoreline in San Diego is gorgeous, but my favorite spot is definitely the Sunset Cliffs Open Ceiling Sea Cave!

You’re about to see why:

Sunset Cliffs San Diego
Sunset Cliffs San Diego

This massive sea cave is a fantastic spot for photos and due to the difficulty of access (only during a negative tide), it stays relatively secluded.

Note: it is dangerous to attempt when it is not a negative low tide.

Don’t be dumb.

Sunset Cliffs San Diego
Sunset Cliffs San Diego
Details about this epic San Diego Spot:
  • Trail length: 1 mile out and back
  • Slippery rocks, be prepared to get at least a little wet, even if there’s a negative tide.
  • Location: Near Luscombs Point in the Sunset Cliffs
Getting to the Sunset Cliffs Sea Caves:

The easiest way to get there: head to the Luscombs Point area.

Click here for the Luscombs Point driving directions!

It’s possible to get street parking there if you’re lucky and you will see the large gate that blocks you from getting close to the top of the cave.

Walk to the end of Luscomb’s Point (where the surfers go down) and scramble the roughly-made steps down to the water. If you’re lucky, there may be a rope placed there by another person. That makes getting down a lot easier. Be careful on your way down as it’s very steep! 

If you visit this epic spot, tag me on Instagram! @theramblingraccoon

Ready for even more breathtaking views?

Visit Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument is one of the best places in San Diego to get a bird’s-eye view of the entire city.

On a clear day you can see the mountains of Mexico to the south, the Laguna mountains to the east behind the San Diego skyline, North Island Naval Air Station, and the Coronado Bridge.

cabrillo national monument

In addition to the views, you’ll also get to see the Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo Statue, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and have a chance to play in the tidepools!

Note: if you have a National Park Pass, it’s free to get in! If not, expect to pay a fee of $20.00 per non-commercial vehicle.

cabrillo national monument San Diego

You’ll find many short hiking trails with fantastic views at San Diego’s Cabrillo National Monument, such as the Bayside Trail.

This trail lets you take in the native plants and animals in the area. In fact, there’s a chance you could see cottontail rabbits, ground squirrels, lizards, snakes, and even a fox!

Cabrillo National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument

Right next to Torrey Pines, you’ll find the…

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

The Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is a federal military cemetery in San Diego. It’s located on the grounds of the former Army coastal artillery station, Fort Rosecrans. 

This cemetery is registered as a California Historical Landmark and reminded me a lot of the Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC!

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery San Diego

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery size: over 77.5 acres!

This humbling cemetery overlooks the San Diego Bay and the city from one side, and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery San Diego
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery San Diego

For more info on the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego click here.

Go play at Balboa Park

Known as the cultural heart of San Diego and only minutes from downtown, you’ll find 17 museums, a beautiful botanical pardise, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

Balboa Park San Diego

Eat some delicious food, (SoCal Hot Dog Carts and California churros are literally the best thing to ever be invented) shop until you drop, and have the time of your life browsing over 1,200 acres in Balboa Park!

Balboa Park San Diego
Balboa Park San Diego

To watch a shameless video of me doing a catwalk through all the Balboa Park awesomeness, watch below or click here.

Hike San Diego's Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve offers a collection of trails that wind through the terrain with postcard-worthy views at every turn.

There are eight miles of Torrey Pines hiking trails with a total of 6 hikes available in the main Reserve and 4 trails on the Reserve Extension. 

See the map below:

Torrey Pines San Diego

Pictured below – San Diego Torrey Pine’s Beach Trail.

Torrey Pines San Diego
Torrey Pines San Diego

This 2.3-mile loop features a rustic footpath through the Upper Preserve and descends roughly 300 feet to the beach. Final access to the water is reached via two sets of stairs.

Torrey Pines San Diego
Torrey Pines San Diego

Looking for more adventures in the San Diego Area?

Check out my great friends Evan and Ange over at @squirrelmusttravel! 


Have you been to San Diego? If so, what is your favorite experience?

Never stop exploring! 🤘

Have questions about San Diego or any other place I’ve written about?

Message me on Instagram or leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you!


4 Responses

  1. What a wonderful trip! Have always loved that area! Looks like you had an incredible time! Thanks for posting! I want to explore some of the places you did!!

  2. This San Diego guide is incredibly helpful. You’ve really thought through everything you need to know before planning a trip. Thank you for this helpful resource. Saving this guide for later!