With 2018 well underway, it’s time to start planning your next vacation. The kids are off school for a week and there’s no better time to escape to somewhere warm and sunny. This year, we’re feeling SoCal, and in particular, California’s most southern major city. From getting in and getting around to eating, exploring, and just chilling, this is your San Diego Spring Break itinerary for 2018.
What to Know
Getting there: Our favorite way to get to San Diego only really applies to those coming from Los Angeles, and that’s the scenic route: driving south on the Pacific Coast Highway. If you’re coming from just about anywhere else, you’re best to fly. San Diego International Airport receives 16 million travelers per year so it’s equipped to receive you and your family, especially during the busy Spring Break season. Twenty-two major airlines service SAN, including many non-stop flights from major American cities as well as Mexico, Canada, and the UK. If you can snag a window seat, keep your eyes peeled as you descend over San Diego. You get a lovely bird’s eye view of Balboa Park, downtown, and the San Diego Bay. The airport is just 10 minutes from the city center, so you can hit the ground running on your vacation as soon as you land.
Getting around: Okay, you’re there! Now how do you navigate San Diego? The city has many attractive neighborhoods—Gaslamp Quarter, Old Town, Point Loma, and more—all planned around a concept called the City of Villages. So how do you see them all? There are a number of convenient options for getting around San Diego that can be fun all on their own. San Diego’s iconic bright red trolley cars can get you through the downtown core and all the way out to places like Old Town, Mission Valley, La Mesa, and Chula Vista. For taking a day trip out to one of San Diego’s coastal communities like Encinitas or Oceanside, your best bet may be the Coaster train for a relaxing ride with breathtaking scenery along the way. And if you’re sticking around the city center and looking to get a sweat on at the same time, try San Diego’s Pedego Electric Bikes—they are powerful enough to handle the city’s hills and headwinds no matter the length of your ride.
Weather: With near-perfect weather all-year-round, San Diego won’t disappoint for your upcoming Spring Break trip. During the month of March, you can expect average lows of 54℉ and highs of 67℉, and the prospect of rain in San Diego is always unlikely. Pack a light coat for the evenings, but pack your swimsuit and sandals for those sunny afternoons too.
What to Do
Breakfast at Nico’s Mexican Food: San Diego does Mexican food like no other American city outside of Texas, and it’s a gran elección (great choice) for any meal of the day. We like to start our day with a local staple: the burrito. The city has so many delicious options that we encourage you to try as many as you can, but since you have to start somewhere, you can’t do much better than Nico’s. There are three locations: Ocean Beach, Morena, and Carmel Valley. Go with whichever is closest.
Balboa Park & San Diego Zoo: After a heavy breakfast, you’ll need to walk it off. Good thing San Diego has North America’s largest urban cultural park, the 1,200-acre Balboa Park. Start with a walking tour where you can learn about the park’s architectural heritage, experience its horticulture, or step inside its Japanese garden. Then, make your way to the iconic San Diego Zoo, and don’t miss our favorite Koala exhibit, the aptly-named Koalafornia.
Coronado at Sunset: Just a ferry ride away, Coronado is a charming island on which to spend a relaxing afternoon. Explore the friendly beach town by bike on a 10-mile guided tour with Coronado Cruise Bike Tour, paddle under the Coronado Bridge in a kayak, or try stand-up paddleboarding on the San Diego Bay. End your day at the glistening Coronado Beach, and stick around for sunset. The view of the San Diego skyline from there is as good as any, so enjoy a new perspective of the city before you head back.
LEGOLAND California: You don’t have to be a Lego fanatic to enjoy this one. We suggest making the hour-long drive north first thing in the morning to avoid traffic. The reward will be worth it, especially for kids aged 2-12. Legoland has an amusement park, a water park, and an aquarium, so it’s easy to spend at least a full day there. Still, there’s a lot to do, so if you need to squeeze it in over just a few hours, we suggest avoiding the long lines at the headline rides and heading instead to Fun Town for friendly competition, and Lego Club where you can build with Lego.
Torrey Pines: If there is one or multiple golfers in your family, then a trip to San Diego means one thing: hitting the links. This classic public track hosted the 2008 U.S. Open and is a must-play if you can get yourself a tee time. For non-golfers, Torrey Pines means something different: a day in the wilderness, walking peaceful trails and stopping at scenic overlooks.
Kayak in La Jolla: La Jolla is a sunny seaside town just north of San Diego. One of the best ways to spend a day there is out on the water in a kayak. You can take a tour that combines kayaking with snorkeling so you can dive in and spot some leopard sharks and sea lions, or you can stay in the boat, take advantage of the peaceful waters, and take in the colorful skies at sunset.
Mission Beach: Mission Beach is a laid-back family-friendly neighborhood also popular with twenty-somethings. Start your morning with a quick bite and a coffee at one of the mellow hangouts along Mission Boulevard, then walk down the boardwalk amid the cyclists and rollerbladers. Grab a surfboard, join in on a volleyball game, or just lay back and catch some sun.
SeaWorld: Just a short drive from Mission Beach is the iconic animal theme park SeaWorld. There’s a lot to do, but you’re best to schedule your activities around the park’s show times. There’s Dolphin Days, showing off some impressive water acrobatics, Sea Lions LIVE, a slapstick production featuring some lovable characters, and Cirque Electrique which features LED-lit human performers flying over Mission Bay.
Dinner at Seaport Village: The perfect way to end a day in San Diego, and even the entire trip, is by cruising down to the waterfront at San Diego Bay. Seaport Village is great for shopping and dining, and there’s often a performance to take in. The Busker Festival, taking place March 3rd this year, is a place to see some bizarre talents—from sword-swallowing to juggling on unicycles. End the day with dinner at Harbor House where you can dine formally or informally, and enjoy views in both directions while drinking local beers and enjoying the oyster bar.
Where to Stay
Put the finishing touches on your San Diego Spring Break with some of the finest accommodations in Southern California. Your family will love any of the luxury San Diego beach house rentals available in La Jolla, Encinitas, or Mission Beach.
Stay directly on Mission Beach at Ocean Front Estate, with two California chic villas you can rent together for a big group. If you prefer La Jolla, Serenity by the Seashore is a refreshingly modern home and the perfect place to watch the sunset over the Pacific. Finally, Neptune’s Delight in Encinitas has a massive balcony with a hot tub, a barbecue, and some of the best views in San Diego.