San Diego is often referred to as “America’s Finest City.” With pristine beaches, one of the largest zoos in the world, and beautiful sunny weather year-round, it’s not an exaggerated description. San Diego truly embodies the classic Southern California culture. But a great San Diego vacation is so much more than an expensive hotel and a trip to the beach. The city is full of incredible art, picturesque scenery, and a booming culinary scene. There are plenty of things to see and do in San Diego that are extremely budget friendly. Take a look at these suggestions; your wallet will thank you!
You’ll be right next to the excitement of the Gaslamp Quarter when you stay at the Sofia Hotel. This boutique hotel is set in an ornate gothic revival building that dates back to 1926. It’s the perfect combination of historic elegance and modern luxury. The well-appointed guest rooms feature flat screen TVs, mini fridges, microwaves, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The property is also pet friendly and completely smoke-free. Book the San Diego Zoo package to experience one of the largest zoos in the world! You’ll receive deluxe accommodations and two tickets to the San Diego Zoo.
Tacos El Gordo
Skip the fancy white tablecloth and head south. Tacos El Gordo is a family owned and operated company that has been in service for over 40 years. The San Diego location first opened in 1998, and since then they’ve become widely known for their dedication to quality and authentic flavor. The menu is simple and consists of traditional tacos, quesadillas, and various preparations of meat cooked to perfection. The line to order can get long, but it’s worth the wait! Order a few of their adobada tacos made with marinated spicy pork, cilantro, onions, and their signature cream sauce.
Visit Barrio Logan to see the murals scattered throughout Chicano Park. Chicano Park spans almost 8 acres and showcases San Diego’s diverse Latin roots. The astounding works of art give you a glimpse into the unique history of the city. Mexican-Americans first settled in the area as early as the 1890s!
Mt. Woodson Trail
Gear up and climb the scenic Mount Woodson Trail. It begins at Lake Poway and takes you through a challenging route that reaches an elevation of over 2,000 feet. It’s a challenging hike, but you’ll come across extraordinary landscapes as you make your way to the summit. Find the infamous “potato chip rock” before you reach the peak. Be sure to snap a picture! It’s a dramatic rock formation you won’t find anywhere else. Once you reach the top, you’re rewarded with panoramic views from Lake Poway all the way across the city.
Spruce Street Suspension Bridge
The Spruce Street Suspension Bridge is a historical site located in the Banker’s Hill neighborhood near downtown San Diego. The pedestrian bridge is a hidden gem that was built back in 1912. It spans 375 feet long and hangs almost 70 feet above the ground. Be extra cautious if you’re afraid of heights! The bridge tends to wobble and sway towards the middle. Make your way across and you’ll find several “love locks” adorning the railings. Take in the beautiful scenery and hike down to explore the canyon below.
Cabrillo National Park
Explore Cabrillo National Park to learn about San Diego’s cultural and historic past. The national monument commemorates Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on the West Coast back in 1542. The plaza around the monument offers scenic views that stretch all the way down to Mexico. The park is also home to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, an original structure that’s been restored and is now open to the public. Head south from the lighthouse and you’ll find the whale watch lookout. Keep your eye on the water; January and February are peak months for whale watching!