San Diego Travel Guide

Lately, San Diego has been on my mind. I flew over last June because I had decided that I wanted to learn how to surf. San Diego stole my heart (even though I never really managed to surf). It was the perfect weekend to relax and be a beach bum. Here are the details of my trip!

Where I Stayed:

I stayed in Ocean Beach. This is a quirky community with weekly farmers markets, acai bowl shops on every corner, and friendly beach bums. Ocean Beach was only a bus ride away from the airport and I arrived during the prime time of the Ocean Beach Farmers Market. This market goes on year round from 4- 7 pm on Wednesdays. There is live music, local makers and lots of ready-to-eat food. A couple of stands were even catered to vegan food or baked goods.

USA Ocean Beach Hostel

I stayed at USA Ocean Beach Hostel which is totally decked out in rainbow colors and is completed by a peace sign mounted right on top of the house. You can see the beach from the hostel and it’s only a short walk to get there. The beach gets packed with people tanning, playing volleyball and surfing. The hostel was decently clean, which is always nice when you’re trying to stay on a budget because let me tell ya… some hostels are NOT clean. I booked this hostel through Hostelworld.

This was definitely a party hostel, y’all. The hostel had a large communal kitchen, a movie room in a tent outdoors and tons of couches and tables outside. This was where people generally hang out at to meet others and party every night. There was three huge fridges out in the back reserved just for alcohol and at night there was games like beer pong going on.

USA Ocean Beach Hostel has also partnered with a surf shop on the street to offer discounted surf lessons and rentals. They loan out beach towels, chairs and umbrellas for free. There are also excursions and activities offered every day of the week from group trips to Tijuana to morning yoga on the beach. My only problem with this hostel was that it’s isolated from the rest of San Diego. This means you have to spend a bunch of money Ubering, rent a car, or spend a bunch of time on a bus to get anywhere else. Overall, I would recommend this hostel if you’re wanting to stay in the Ocean Beach area on a budget, especially if you decide to travel to SD solo.

What I ate:

Ocean Beach is ah-mazing if you’re vegan. There was so many places that I could just walk to and grab food at!  The first night I was seriously craving a greasy delicious burger and fries (we all have those days, right?). Thank goodness for Plant Based Fast Food. It was a bit of a walk from my hostel but everything is plant-based. And I mean it’s vegan in a way that you walk in, look at the menu, and then do a double take. A vegan milkshake?! WHAT! Chili “cheese” fries, “cheesecake,” and all these other foods that you know aren’t good for you but haven’t had since forever if you’re vegan… they’re here. I may have ate here twice #noshame.

I also got a chance to try Mike’s Taco Club- shout out for having veggie burritos and tacos. For cheap tacos and late nights in the area this is a good go-to. It’s hard for a burrito to disappoint me anywhere, to be fair.

If you’re in Little Italy, there are plenty of places around to eat! I stopped at a random café along the way that was advertising a vegan special on a board outside. It did not disappoint. Although I don’t remember the name of this specific café, many of the restaurants looked authentic and varied in price. There are lots of options!

Honestly though, I mostly lived on acai bowls, because duh! There was a place to get an Acai bowl on every single corner in Ocean Beach. If you know me, you know I will never turn down an Acai or smoothie bowl so I was really feeling it.

What I did:

     1. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

  • This is a gorgeous rocky bluff. It is absolutely perfect to watch the sun rise or set at, as the name implies! While talking to a ton of different locals, I was recommended this spot by all as a nice view point to go to. There were plenty of people spread out, taking pictures, and waiting for the sun to go down for a picturesque moment.

     2. Surf Lessons

  • Maybe my surf lessons didn’t turn out well- but that’s just because I am an uncoordinated mess! It was a fun experience and now that I know the basics, if I ever get the chance to rent a board again I know the general steps to riding a wave. If you’re wanting to learn how to surf, this is definitely one of the best places to do it! I learned at La Jolla which is a popular beach that frequently has seals and sea lions.

     3. Exploring Balboa Park

  • This is a park near downtown that has 16 museums, the San Diego Zoo, trails, and sometimes live music. My personal favorite was the botanical building, but even if you aren’t able to go into this building, there are gardens everywhere.

     4. Shopping at Seaport Village

  • This is an area near downtown that has different shops and restaurants. If you’re in the mood to look in some beachy stores close to downtown, then this is the area for you! It’s a good way to spend a couple hours if you’re in the area and watch the boats in the harbor.

     5. Neighborhood Hopping

  • San Diego really is the perfect place to just explore. It’s easy to be a beach bum and hop to the different beaches (La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach) and explore the different shops in these neighborhoods!

San Diego has gone down as one of my favorite trips. I loved how slow and relaxed life is on the beach. It was a nice change of pace!

Have you been to San Diego? Let me know your favorite things to do and places to eat in the comments!





    • maddiemdeer
      January 18, 2019 / 3:58 am

      Thanks, Riana!

  1. Tren
    January 11, 2019 / 2:14 am

    Such a beautiful place. We visited San Diego during our winter break. We actually drove the coast of CA to get an experience of what many don’t talk about. CA is such a beautiful place!

    • maddiemdeer
      January 18, 2019 / 3:58 am

      I drove the coast from Lincoln Beach in Oregon down to Santa Monica during spring break once. It is SO beautiful and how different the scenery from northern to southern California is crazy! Thanks for the read, Tren πŸ™‚

    • maddiemdeer
      January 18, 2019 / 3:56 am

      You’ll definitely have to go sometime! The Redwoods are pretty incredible and there are some nice beaches! Thanks for the read, Madi! πŸ™‚

  2. January 11, 2019 / 5:38 pm

    Awww, can I get on that holiday right now?! Not only would I use some of that sunshine but it all sounds fantastic… and so much fun! And the description of Ocean Beach with the farmer’s markets… yes, please!

    • maddiemdeer
      January 18, 2019 / 3:54 am

      You’ll have to let me know if you ever go! Thanks for the read, Monika πŸ™‚

  3. January 11, 2019 / 9:15 pm

    I’ve never been to California but I’d love to visit and San Diego sounds beautiful! So jealous of all the vegan food, the best vegan burger I ever had was when I was visiting Philadelphia so I am convinced that the US has something the UK hasn’t figure out yet when it comes to vegan food!

    • maddiemdeer
      January 18, 2019 / 3:45 am

      I’ve never been to Philadelphia, but you’re going to have to let me know where that burger was from (in case I ever go)! You should definitely come to California though, it’s really something! Thanks for the read, Bronia! πŸ™‚

  4. January 12, 2019 / 1:07 am

    Your trip sounded great! My daughter stays in hostels a lot–she says she can’t beat the price.

    • maddiemdeer
      January 18, 2019 / 3:44 am

      You really can’t! Plus you meet lots of people from around the world πŸ™‚

  5. January 12, 2019 / 6:58 am

    My parents live in California, man how I miss it today! We are getting 4-7 inches of now ?

    • maddiemdeer
      January 18, 2019 / 3:43 am

      As much as I miss the heat, I wish we’d get some snow! I’m over in Washington and it hardly ever snows! Thanks for the read πŸ™‚

  6. Kelly @ The Tour
    January 12, 2019 / 6:42 pm

    Sounds like a fun trip!

    • maddiemdeer
      January 18, 2019 / 3:43 am

      It definitely was! Thanks for the read πŸ™‚

  7. January 18, 2019 / 5:56 am

    I love how this is organized! Sounds like a great trip!

    • maddiemdeer
      January 18, 2019 / 6:03 am

      Thanks, Alexa!

    • maddiemdeer
      January 18, 2019 / 7:33 am

      Thanks for the read, Ivy!

  8. Don Ridgway
    January 24, 2023 / 1:12 am

    We live in SD and it’s a wonderful town to live in (if you stay off the freeways at rush hour). And yes, OB is a great neighborhood. Balboa Park is worth days of exploring all by itself, even not counting the zoo.

    Come back and eat at Indigo Grill; they have a veggie tower that my wife loves, will blow your socks off.

    Also, I got both the Brevite and Bagsmart camera packs, and like both of them, almost the same configuration. I am conflicted as to which one to use when we travel to Scotland this spring. Might just close my eyes and grab one.


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