Best Travel Tips to San Diego (For Your First Trip)

san diego night skyline

Located in the southern parts of California, San Diego is one of the most beloved cities not only in the U.S. but worldwide. With its population of “only” 2.5 million residents, San Diego is very different from its panting and dusty “neighbour” – Los Angeles, although the great geographical proximity between the both cities. For millions of Americans to live in San Diego is the dream of their life, because this is one of the few cities in the world, where there are still residential areas, where the people live a quiet life and many people do not even lock its front doors yet.

san diego night skylineLifestyle. This is the same America that we know from the movies. The streets are wide and clean, and they seem as if have never passed a car on them.

On the both sides of the road there are trees and paths for pedestrians and cyclists. The houses are large and very beautiful. Every house looks like brand new. The American laws are very strict here and everyone is obliged to maintain his property in perfect condition.

The mown lawns are emerald green. The lows here insist on the beauty and the perfect appearance of the residential neighbourhoods.

Almost all houses have in their backyards large swimming pools, whose azure waters quiver under the strong Californian sun.

These are those same neighbourhoods, where a paper-boy brings to you the morning newspaper every day, the same living areas, where a school bus take and left your child just to the front door of your house.

This is the same America, in which the nuts and businessmen earning hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes millions a year,  running in shorts on the streets and they do not care if anyone sees them.

This is the same America, where young people surfing in the weekend or playing volleyball on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. In San Diego the real life is like in some Hollywood production.

city park of san diegoGeography. San Diego is located close to the border with Mexico at 32° north latitude. To the west of it, is the Pacific Ocean and to the east there are impressive mountains.

The north suburbs and small towns are situated immediately to the large North American metropolis LA. To the south lies the Mexican city of Tijuana.

The local border is considered to be the busiest in the world. From here, Tijuana is just at hand, but the difference between the cities is indescribable.

These are two completely different worlds. The space between the houses of San Diego and the houses of Tijuana is only about 300 meters.

The zone is very strictly guarded, because there are many attempts by Mexicans with low standard of living to move to the U.S., crossing the border illegally in searching of a better life and work.

coronado bridge san diegoClimate. San Diego is sunny and warm city. It falls within the subtropical climate zone. This is one of the few places in the world which have a typical Mediterranean climate.

The weather in San Diego is very similar to the weather in Malaga and Cyprus, for example. The summers are very hot and long, mostly dry, there is no pronounced spring and autumn.

The summer and winter merge into one other without transition seasons. The winter is very short and mild. Usually the main part of the precipitation falls during the winter months.

The temperatures in San Diego range from 18-19 degrees in January to 26 degrees in August.

The summer season lasts from March to November, when the beaches are filled with residents and guests of the city. In fact here does not real winter.

From December to February the days are very pleasant, sunny and warm with temperatures around 18-19°C during the day, but often reach 24-25°C.

coronado san diego CAFrom December to March the nights are cool with prevailing temperatures between 9 and 11°C. Even in winter the beaches sometimes serve to the people, who sunbathe under the bright sun of California.

Similar to the Mediterranean, there are also maximum of the temperatures in August and September, when the ocean water is heated enough.

Although in this part of the year the average daily temperatures are around 24-26°C, not rarely the thermometers can show more than 40°C, especially in areas that are more distant from the ocean shore.

The relatively cold ocean currents that move around the coast of California have a very strong impact on the local climate.

coronado san diegoThe cool ocean waters are the main reason for the dry climate and insignificant rainfall. It leads to bigger number of sunny days per year.

The rainfall in San Diego is really quite below the average. The local climate is prone to drought. From November to March the weather is still slightly wetter.

The maximum of the rainfall is in March, reaching 40-50 mm. This is the month with the biggest number of rainy days in the year – about 4-5 days.

The large number of sunny days during the year, enable the households in San Diego to gain their own electricity from solar panels. These panels are usually mounted on the roofs of their houses.

La Jolla beach before sunsetThe nature of San Diego and its surrounding area is typically Mediterranean, dominated by evergreen and dry – loving plant species. The palms are very common – royal palm, date palm and others.

This is the ideal climate for growing of citrus trees and olives. Very well also grow some conifers. San Diego has great beaches. Some of them are among the finest not only in America, but throughout the continent.

Mission Beach and La Jolla are just some of them. The golden sand and plenty of sunshine attract millions of visitors every year.

Since there are no coral reefs, which to break the ocean waves, very often when the winds blow strongly or for a long time, there are great conditions for surfing.

Usually more suitable for surfing is the winter, when there are great number of days with large waves.

In general, the coastline of San Diego is slightly indented with the exception of the very large peninsula called Coronado. To the east of San Diego in the mountain areas there is natural scrub lands.

The vegetation is quite rare and dry-loving. Grow mainly robust and unpretentious shrubs. The soil is mostly yellow-brown and sandy. The widest spread animal species are snakes, scorpions, lizards and others.

Relief. San Diego is located in the narrow coastal plain, locked between the Pacific Ocean and the Cordillera. Overall, the city has an altitude of less than 200 meters.

San Diego is situated at a delicate place. Here the Pacific plate crawl under the continental plate of North America and thus is formed the mountainous terrain in the east of the city.

Therefore there is a high seismic activity. Some earthquakes are very powerful, but fortunately the buildings here are built very steady and is difficult to influence even of stronger earthquakes.

san diego beachEconomy. San Diego is one of the richest and most developed cities in California and California itself is the richest U.S. state. Here are developing many knowledge-intensive industries.

Very important for the local economy is the development and learning of the bio technologies. The education and health are at extremely high level.

In San Diego you can find one of the best universities in America – The University of California.

A special place in the local economy occupies the powerful tourism industry, which is among the leading sources of income for the city.

The year-round warm and sunny climate, beautiful beaches, excellent infrastructure, the enormous popularity of the city of the Hollywood movies and the countless attractions of San Diego have turned it into one of the main centers of the tourism industry in the country.

Very important to the economy of San Diego are also the many military bases in the city.

san diego skylinePopulation. The urban population of San Diego is much more modest than that of the metropolis of the giant Los Angeles.

Unlike the huge LA, in San Diego live “only” 2.5 million people. Like all other American cities, the local population is also very cosmopolitan and diverse.

In most cities in the U.S. have one or another ethnic group, which outnumber the others. In San Diego these are the residents of Latin origin.

Here, the Spanish language is almost catching up in importance the English. Many residents are immigrants from Mexico, who have settled here first in order to be closer to their home country, because they have relatives there and had to travel very often.

On the other hand there are great job opportunities in San Diego, especially in the tourism industry and the city often import labor from abroad.

Landmarks of San Diego

Coronado is one of the most interesting attractions of San Diego. This is a peninsula, which extends in the direction from south to the north along the coast.

This peninsula forms a lagoon between itself and the continent. This lagoon is a perfect natural harbour because of its convenient entrance and the protection of the moored vessels from the large oceanic waves in occasions of bad weather.

san diego parkCoronado is located on the main tourist area of the town. It has beautiful beaches, greenery, amazing hotels, excellent golf course and incredible views to the skyscrapers of San Diego.

To the peninsula you can reach by 3.4 kilometers Bridge called Coronado Bridge. It rises to the impressive 61 meters above the lagoon. The view, which it reveals to the city is incredibly beautiful.

– Sea World is a magnet for the tourists. It is located in northern San Diego, not far from the coast of Mission Beach.

Here is one of the best places in the world, where you can see incredible various performances with one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet – The Killer Whale.

Next to the Sea World has a marina. The whole area is a coastal tourist attraction.

san diego city skylineBalboa Park is a great place for leisure. From north to south it stretches over two kilometers. This is the perfect place to stroll, for picnic or sport.

Part of the Balboa Park was occupied by the world famous zoo in San Diego. In Balboa you can enjoy the cool shade of a huge variety of subtropical and tropical plants.

Zoo of San Diego is located northeast of the so-called Downtown (or city center). Here, more than 4000 animal species live in conditions as close as possible to the natural and the animals enjoy a special care.

This is a wonderful place, where you can find calmness and coolness among the dense foliage of the park in the Californian summer heat.

Here we should mention that this is one of the largest and most attractive zoos all around the world.

sunset in beach san diegoBeaches. Among the main attractions of San Diego are its beaches. Mission Beach, La Jolla, Imperial Beach can make you to take your breath away with its immensity and infinity.

Most beautiful are the beaches of San Diego at sunset. In the meantime here are crowding different people from all over the city to enjoy the beautiful view.

Some surfing, other riding, third used the sunset for yoga exercises. Each found its way to enjoy the beautiful California sunsets.

Old Town. The lovers of history and culture maybe will be most impressed if they visit the U.S. Historical Park “Old Town” of San Diego. Here the atmosphere is really authentic.

The buildings are untouched from the ages of the arrival of the first settlers in these places. To be more genuine the atmosphere of the typical American old town, here on the streets walk around dressed like the first missionaries to these lands actors.

Even the actors dealing with some typical activities and in this time you can lose completely your idea about the time and is absolutely likely to forget you’re in San Diego in the 21st century.

the border between san diego california and tijuana mexicoProtected areas. San Diego and the surrounding territories have many protected areas. The closest of them is located near by the downtown of San Diego.

This is a marshland area, called National Reserve of San Diego, occupying the southernmost parts of the lagoon, formed between the Coronado peninsula and mainland.

Another reserve is situated very close to the border. This is a National Reserve slough Tijuana.

It is located at the mouth of the Tijuana River, where the river crosses the Imperial Beach and flows into the Pacific Ocean.

To the east on the territory of the mountains is situated largest protected area of San Diego – National Reserve San Diego.

The best time for visiting San Diego. The weather in San Diego is great for tourism throughout the year.

However, if you want the nice weather to be completely guaranteed it would be better to visit the city during the period from March to November.

The same applies if you want to go to San Diego because of the wonderful beaches. December, January and February are more suitable for walks, because the weather in this part of the year is not so hot and you can hiking for hours without to be tired from the heat.

If you decide to travel to San Diego is better to wear light summer and spring clothes, with no matter what time of year you go.

Mandatory, however, wear some warmer coats, as the nights can sometimes be quite cool even in the summer. It is good to put your luggage open and closed shoes.

Sometimes even in January is pleasant to walk in open shoes, but in other cases because of dry air even the summer nights are quite cool.