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7 Tips for Experiencing San Diego Like a Local

When you vacation in San Diego, the biggest challenge you’ll have is choosing among all the fun things to do, and the best way to plan your activities is to find out what’s popular among the locals. Here’s a list of some of San Diego natives’ favorite ways to enjoy the city, brought to you by the friendly team at Sunrise Inn San Diego, one of the most ideally located and budget-friendly hotels in San Diego.

1. The Beaches

Of course, visiting the beaches is one of the top things to do in San Diego. For most of the year, the water is ideal for swimming, surfing, and a variety of water sports. San Diego’s beaches are at the top of most locals’ lists because they can be enjoyed all year long, and they’re absolutely free. 

Grab your sunscreen and check out these beaches that are popular among locals:

2. The Zoo

The San Diego Zoo has a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest zoos in the world. The 100-acre park is home to more than 3,500 animals of 650 different species as well as 700,000 plant species. Many of these plants and animals are endangered or rare. The zoo is a world leader in species preservation and conservation research, and it has pioneered the use of cageless open-air exhibits that recreate the natural habitats of the animals.

3. Balboa Park

The largest urban cultural park in the U.S., Balboa Park features a variety of museums, parks, play areas, and trails. This gem in the middle of San Diego is one of the city’s greatest treasures, and it has something for everyone to enjoy. You’ll find everything from street entertainers to bike rentals and fantastic restaurants in Balboa Park. Grab a craft cocktail at Panama 66 before you see a play at the Old Globe Theatre, or take the family to check out the park’s 17 museums, including:

  • San Diego Natural History Museum 
  • Fleet Science Center 
  • Museum of Us 
  • Museum of Photographic Arts
  • San Diego Museum of Art
  • San Diego Air and Space Museum

4. State Parks

State parks are among the most popular destinations in San Diego. If you’re interested in outdoor activities that offer more than gorgeous vistas, check out:

  • Old Town San Diego State Historic Park – Old Town San Diego, which encompasses Old Town State Historic Park, is widely believed to be the birthplace of California. Admission is free, and there are several small museums, housed in 19th-century adobe and wood-frame buildings, that explore what early California life was like. Locals love this location in particular because of its authentic Mexican restaurants.
  • Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – This spot is also popular among locals because of its spectacular ocean views and easy to moderate hiking trails. Torrey Pines State Beach is just below the reserve.

5. Embarcadero

Some of San Diego’s most popular attractions are on the waterfront at the Embarcadero. The views of San Diego Bay are incredible, and some of the best restaurants in town are in this spot. Sightseeing and people watching are favorite activities for locals as they stroll through the area’s shops, eateries, and attractions, including: 

  • The Maritime Museum Of San Diego – This museum is one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships. You can see what the interior of an actual Cold War-era Soviet submarine looks like, and you’ll be able to board the world’s oldest active ship, the Star of India.
  • The USS Midway Museum – If you’re a military history buff, you can’t miss the USS Midway Museum. One of the world’s most unique museums, this aircraft carrier is permanently docked in San Diego. You can take the self-guided audio tour and wander around the flight deck exploring military aircraft—and you can even climb in the cockpits of some of them. 
  • Seaport Village – If you’re in the mood for shopping and eating, head to Seaport Village, which features more than 50 shops and 17 eateries, and there’s even a classic vintage carousel.

6. Little Italy

Little Italy is just a few blocks away from the Embarcadero, and it’s a favorite among locals. With the huge number and variety of restaurants and bars in this area, you’re sure to find the perfect ways to satisfy all your cravings. If you’re staying over the weekend, make sure to check out the Saturday farmers’ market, which is extremely popular among the locals.

7. Breweries

San Diego is home to more than 220 breweries—the most in any U.S. county—so if you’re a craft beer lover, you’ll be in heaven. You can explore the local brewery culture by taking a private tour, pedaling through the Gaslamp Quarter on a bike, taking the train up the coastline, or simply checking out the funky breweries close to your hotel. There are plenty of unique beers to try, and you can combine your brew tasting with some fantastic sightseeing opportunities.

There are so many ways to enjoy San Diego that it will take several days to do and see everything on your list, so reserve your room today at Sunrise Inn San Diego. When they’re looking for the most comfortable cheap hotels, San Diego visitors will be amazed by our unbeatable rates as well as our spacious rooms, stunning views of the harbor, and proximity to the best tourist attractions in America’s Finest City. Call one of our friendly staff members today at (619) 223-5544.