Last year I went to San Diego a few times. I went once with just my husband and I for his birthday-then on my birthday we went back with the whole family.
I live in Northern California and Southwest had a $29 flight sale for Wednesday and Thursday flights and my birthday just happened to be on a Wednesday-so we flew out Wednesday morning on the earliest flight-and headed back on the next to the latest flight home!
When I went with just my husband we were there longer than just one day, so we took some time to explore and try out lots of food and tourist spots. Then, when we came back with the kids-and we were only there for 1 day- we knew how to make the most of it. My parents, brother and his family all live in So Cal, so they met us in San Diego when we got there and it was just one of the best days of my life. We had so much fun.
I know some people who are headed to San Diego this Summer so I am really writing this post for you guys because there is SO MUCH you can do in San Diego without spending very much money.
If you are flying-wait for a deal-you should be able to get $49 and $59 flights. If you are driving-which is cheaper if you can avoid stopping for food several times along the way- Pack food, snacks, and drinks with you! The more you stop-the more you spend!
Each time someone had to go to the bathroom on my last trip-someone wanted to buy food, snacks, coffee or something and I know that could have been eliminated because on the way there I spend $0-on the way home $60!
Once we got to San Diego it was still pretty early in the morning so business areas were not open.
We headed to Coronado. Driving over the SUPER TALL bridge is an event in itself!! It is so high!
Once over, park along the beach-as close to Hotel del Coronado as you can! My husband and I actually stayed at this hotel for his birthday and it is absolutely gorgeous! It is a Hilton hotel if you are an Honors Member or have points for your stay- HIGHLY recommend.
Even though we did not stay there with the kids, we went there so I could show them how beautiful it was!
It is on the beach and you can walk through the hotel and the property and it’s shops which is just agreat sight to see. Also along the streets there are lots of shops you can look through as well. It is just very pretty.
After Coronado we went over to Old San Diego at 10 am.
Lots to look at there. A favorite of mine-and the kids was Candle Making! You just buy a plain wax candle and you can dip it in to the colors and make your own design. They had candle sticks 4 for $5 for basic ones, we got some that were $2 each. This was a very cheap and fun souvenir!
Toby’s Candle and Soap Shop
2645 San Diego Ave
San Diego, CA 92110
We walked through the shops and tried on wrestling masks, ponchos, and found some sweatshirts etc.
Another CHEAP Souvenir Idea-PRESSED PENNIES!
EVERY part of San Diego has pressed penny machines. You put in 2 quarters and a penny-turn the crank and a pressed penny with a picture of your spot you are at comes out. Each machine has a few options to choose from.
My boys got so into this that $1-$2 per machine was entertainment and souvenir enough for them that was all they asked for!
I bought an empty book they sell for $5 there and they started collecting them! This has paid off on later vacations as well. Santa Barbara, Pismo Beach, etc all had machines like this so they just needed a couple bucks for souvenirs! Just save your quarters and SHINY pennies!
In Old San Diego we ate at the Mexican Restaurant-
2754 Calhoun St, San Diego, CA 92110
There were 13 of us and we had the whole outside patio area for our group which made it very special-and we did not have to wait. PLUS-the food was very good!
After Old San Diego and Lunch we went to Seaport Villiage
There are LOTS of shops to look through and we even saw a performer that was breathing fire (strange to me, but kids were entertained FREE!) We walked through the shops-some had cupcakes, some had dessert there too. It was nice. Make sure you pay for parking- we forgot and received a parking ticket on that stop. The newer area had neat shops, boutiques, Starbucks and a jail you can get some fun pics and read some history in (FREE)
Take fun pics of your kids in jail!
After that we headed to the USS MIDWAY Aircraft Carrier
We parked in the parking lot by the Kissing Statue and took pictures. We took pictures of the carrier too, but did not tour it. We did walk along it and down along the outside of it.
The “Kissing Statue” is at the Port of San Diego. The 25-foot installation — officially known as “Unconditional Surrender” — recreates the famous embrace between a sailor and a nurse celebrating the end of World War II in New York’s Times Square in 1945
We did not take tour the USS MIDWAY aircraft because of time, but hung out by the statue and took some pictures recreating it, walked past the carrier looked at the “Pirate ship” took some pictures all around this area.
This is the area my husband and I had l lunch at the Carnitas Shack-DEFINITELY worth going. These were our tacos and they were so big! I didn’t eat the shell of my tacos and they were very filling! And the GUACAMOLE WAS INCLUDED!
We walked through the Gaslamp district and that is where my husband had Burger Lounge for the first time (since then we have fortunately got one in Saceramento!)
We also had the BEST Gelato that I have ever had at… (this was before my keto diet!)
509 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
b/t Island Ave & Market St
For dinner we went to HODAD’s
945 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
Let me tell you-if you only go to ONE place with your family-GO HERE
First of all-it is very cool looking with all of the surf memorabilia
-2nd super affordable.
Tell them you want fries and onion rings for the group and they bring out just the right amount of baskets for everyone-then order your burgers. If you are contemplating bacon-GET IT- they are very generous with it and somehow it was the best bacon on a burger I have ever had. For 13 of us the bill was less than $100 and we were very full. They let us take pictures, took pictures for us, photo bombed them all– very fun and GREAT food.
There is a big shopping area with stores and all that-which is fun to walk through if you have time- there are some murals and fountains..but I would pick this last since many of the stores you may have on your own city.
It is just fun walking through places you have never been-and then taking cool pictures there!
If you have Snapchat- use it!! The filters are VERY FUN- and then you will remember where you took your pictures at when you look at them later!
We ended our day at Mission Beach. It was a beautiful sunset tehre. The kids enjoyed the roller coaster, rides and carnival games. They have an Escape Room, Laser Maze (waste of Money don’t fall for it!!!) Zip lining, gift shops and some nice surf stores. If it isn’t in your budget, skip this area. It was nice for the beach and to walk through-but it is really hard to tell your kids “No” to thinks that look SUPER FUN! I spend more in this area than I planned to, but the kids loved it-except for the Laser Maze-lasted 30 seconds.
There are many other places you can go too- SEAL BEACH is awesome if you make it to La Jolla .
I really love just taking great pictures and having fun! Playing at the beach is free and that is my favorite too! Leave a comment if you have another attraction is San Diego you enjoy!!!