Catch a wave
SAN Diego may be California’s second-largest city, but it has a small-town feel, thanks to year-round sunshine and chilled vibes.
In the upmarket seaside village of La Jolla, the wide, white-sand beaches are a surfer’s paradise. Try your hand at catching a wave with Surf Diva, the world’s first all-female school, which offers lessons from £45 (Surfdiva.com).
If you’re not too wiped out afterwards, wander the pretty lanes with their high-end shops and galleries, before stopping at chic lunch spot George’s At The Cove.
Gaze at spectacular sea views while enjoying delicious spicy shrimp tacos, £10.50, and crispy chicken torta with avocado and chipotle aioli, £11. Wash it down with an ice-cold local beer, £5.50 (Georgesatthecove.com). And don’t miss the Children’s Pool beach, where you’ll see hundreds of seals basking in the sun on the shoreline.
Shop like a local
Take a stroll through the colourful, artsy North Park neighbourhood. Head to quirky boutique Artelexia for vibrant home accessories and Mexican gifts – don’t leave without posing for a pic by the Insta-famous mural outside.
You can even book on an arts and crafts workshop or culinary tours (Artelexia.com). Next door, Pigment is well worth a stop for all things interiors (Shoppigment.com), and Mimi & Red is unmissable for affordable fashion (Mimiandred.com).
If Macy’s is more your thing, pop to the lively Gaslamp Quarter for high-street fashion galore.
And when you’ve had your shopping fix, enjoy a stroll through Balboa Park’s beautiful botanical gardens and art exhibitions (Balboapark.org).
Eat your heart out
For the best alfresco brunch downtown, hit Carnitas’ Snack Shack and order the breakfast quesadillas, £6, with a side of mac ’n’ cheese, £4.50 (Carnitassnackshack.com).
North Park’s Breakfast Republic serves up super-sized plates of Southern classic shrimp and grits, £11, and a stack of fluffy pancakes for £9 – the portions are huge! (Breakfastrepublic.com).
For dinner, Little Italy is buzzing. Hit up Civico 1845 for home-made pasta with local ingredients and lots of vegan options (Civico1845.com).
For something special, El Jardin takes Mexican cuisine to a new level with Asian and European twists. The short rib taquitos, £13.50, and raw sea bass tostadas, £13, are mega moreish (Eljardinrestaurantbar.com).
Drink spicy cocktails
Hundred Proof in the Hillcrest neighbourhood boasts a cocktail menu of dreams – try the Stawbarely Legal, infused with mezcal and chilli for an extra kick, £10 (Hundredproofsd.com).
For those in the know, speakeasy-style cocktail bars are the place to be seen.
Candlelit Noble Experiment in the East Village (Nobleexperimentsd.com) and the Chinese-inspired Realm of The 52 Remedies in the Convoy district are accessed via secret doors for extra wow factor.
Hit the hay
Intercontinental San Diego is the perfect downtown base for exploring the city, and its huge cloud-like beds guarantee a great night’s sleep.
Every room has floor-to-ceiling windows with a sea view. At sunset, grab a spot on the terrace Vistal Bar and sip a Passion Tea Collins, £9.
The hotel also offers free yoga and fitness classes by the pool. Double rooms cost from £175 per night B&B (Intercontinentalsandiego.com).
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