California seems to be a lot of people’s dream destination if they live elsewhere in the United States, and for good reason: With its coastal views, good climate, and multicultural lifestyles, there is plenty to experience on the west coast. Whether you want to see mountains, forests, deserts, or ocean, California has it all. The trouble is pinpointing where exactly in California one should visit. My recommendation is starting down at the bottom of the state in San Diego, and working your way up the 101 freeway. San Diego will be one of your favorite cities to visit, and here is a list of why.


With almost 20 miles of coastline and over 30 beaches, San Diego has enough ocean and sand for everyone visiting to enjoy. There is an endless list of activities you can do at the beach: sunbathe, surf, swim, play beach volleyball, jet ski, even parasail. Many beaches have grassy parks adjacent to the sand for you to picnic or play a small game of soccer with loved ones. Once the sun starts to set, you can start to cook up a hot dinner on a grill or a city-provided fire pit. Gaze at the stars and relax to the sound of waves crashing while eating a satisfying meal in good company. If you are looking for some alone time to relax, you can always bring a beach chair and a good book with you and sit in front of the waves all day.
Saltwater cures all wounds as they say, so don’t miss the opportunity to soak in the sun and feel the water wash your cares away at any of the top notch beaches in town.


San Diego is constantly high ranking in polls about sunny cities, best towns in the country, and best year round weather. The national average for mostly sunny days is about 213, while San Diego’s is 267. Averaging 70.75 degrees Fahrenheit year round, San Diego becomes extremely accessible to visitors whenever they feel like taking a vacation. It is the perfect place to escape extreme desert heat or freezing winter storms, welcoming you with comfortable, moderate temperatures. It relieves a lot of stress, not having to worry about bringing enough warm clothes or handheld fans. You can come and enjoy your time here without being distracted by uncompromising weather. I recommend taking a walk in the city after a nice romantic dinner, and enjoy the nighttime energy of the city without being rushed home by a serious cold chill in the air.


San Diego is one of the safest cities of its size in the United States. With its property and violent crime rate being lower than the national average, you can feel confident in your choice of place to stay. According to U.S. News, San Diego ranks an 8.3/10 on the crime index, indicating it is an overall safe spot to live and travel to. It is still necessary to partake in general safety practices, like locking your car doors and not leaving personal items unattended, but with a town full of friendly, laid back locals, you can open yourself to interacting with fellow pedestrians on the street with little worry. The safest neighborhoods in San Diego are La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Miramar, and Del Mar, mostly high scale coastal communities or military based locations with plenty of fun things to do. As with any city, the crime rate increases as you go downtown, so just keep an eye out for your personal belongings like your ID, credit card, and phone, as they are common pickpocketing items. Practice your usual safety precautions as you should in any new town to ensure an stress-free experience.


There are plenty of popular, world-class attractions to experience by yourself, or with friends and family. San Diego is home to animal conservation parks like the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, as well as SeaWorld. You can spend the day observing hundreds of different land and sea species in their natural habitat, and feel secure knowing these programs are constantly environmental protection and animal rehabilitation. Carlsbad is known for LEGOLAND California, a family theme park focusing on the fun construction toy Legos. This is a great family activity for young children, as there are no thrill rides that may intimidate young ones and over 30,000 Lego models to look at and climb on. The park features 6 million (!) Legos and offers a unique, other worldly experience that also makes for a great photo-op. If you’re looking for more traditional roller coasters with an ocean view, Belmont Park is a local favorite in Mission Beach that has been operating since 1905. You can’t miss the park’s famous Giant Dipper big thrill wooden roller coaster that goes up to 50 mph. There are also arcade games, carnival-style games, bumper cars, a rock climbing wall, and sky ropes that are fun as well as the roller coasters. Have an exciting, adrenaline pumping day at any of these amusement parks!


Finally, there is tons of shopping and dining to be done in San Diego in any of its historical, artistic neighborhoods. You ca  immerse yourself in the local culture in Balboa Park by exploring its museums, and dine at The Prado with skyline views of San Diego in the horizon. If you want a more lively nightlife vibe, head to the Gaslamp Quarter where hopping bars and nightclubs are all in walking distance. Explore more of downtown San Diego in Little Italy if you’re in the mood for a more romantic dining experience, full of spirited lights lining the neighborhood and tons of beautiful outdoor seating. Bring back your friends and family local trinkets from any of the stylish boutiques located downtown and in La Jolla Village. Whether you’re looking for rooftop lounges with 180 degree views of San Diego, intimate and charming dining, or lovingly worn-in dive bars with pool and darts, San Diego offers a variety of entertainment for tourists and locals alike.


San Diego is a must-see city if you’re exploring California. It represents Southern California well with its amazing weather, sandy beaches, and exciting shopping and nightlife. You will want to come back and stay again after visiting once, and will never run out of things to do in the city. Have an amazing time immersing yourself in the San Diego experience and add it to your list of vacation destinations for the next time

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Jordyn Reardon | UCLA alum English Major | San Diego native with an affinity for adventure. Loves discovering hidden gems across Southern California and writing about them for the greater community.