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The Ultimate One-Week San Diego Itinerary


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Terrijo Veloz



Welcome to sunny California and the vibrant city of San Diego! With stunning beaches, a thriving culinary scene, and a wealth of cultural attractions, San Diego offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, this one-week itinerary will help you make the most of your time in America’s Finest City.


During your week-long adventure in San Diego, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the downtown area, visit world-class museums, soak up the sun on picturesque beaches, and indulge in delicious local cuisine. With its ideal climate and diverse landscape, San Diego provides the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities, whether you prefer hiking, surfing, or simply strolling along the coastline.


San Diego is known for its laid-back atmosphere and friendly locals, making it a welcoming destination for travelers from near and far. The city’s rich history, unique neighborhoods, and cultural diversity all add to its charm and make it a truly memorable place to visit.


Get ready to immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of San Diego as we embark on this one-week journey through its most iconic attractions and hidden gems. From the bustling streets of downtown to the picturesque shores of Coronado Island, there’s no shortage of adventure and beauty to discover in this coastal paradise.


So grab your sunglasses, pack your tank tops and sunscreen, and let’s dive into this ultimate one-week San Diego itinerary!


Day 1: Exploring the Downtown Area

Welcome to San Diego! On your first day, we’ll start by exploring the vibrant downtown area, known for its eclectic mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Begin your day by taking a leisurely stroll along the Embarcadero, a scenic waterfront promenade that offers stunning views of San Diego Bay.


Next, head to the historic Gaslamp Quarter, a lively neighborhood filled with Victorian-era buildings, trendy restaurants, and vibrant nightlife. Take your time to explore the unique shops and boutiques, and stop for lunch at one of the many fantastic eateries in the area. Don’t miss the chance to try some delicious California cuisine or indulge in fresh seafood.


After lunch, make your way to the USS Midway Museum, a fascinating attraction located on the decommissioned USS Midway aircraft carrier. Step aboard and learn about the rich history of the US Navy as you explore the flight deck, hangar deck, and various exhibits. It’s a truly immersive experience that offers a unique glimpse into the life of naval aviators.


In the afternoon, take a short walk to the nearby Seaport Village, a charming waterfront shopping and dining complex. Here, you can browse through a variety of specialty shops, enjoy street performers, and take in the picturesque views of the marina. Treat yourself to an ice cream or a freshly baked treat as you stroll along the waterfront.


As the sun sets, head back to the Gaslamp Quarter for a delightful dinner at one of the area’s renowned restaurants. From upscale steakhouses to trendy gastropubs, you’ll find a wide range of dining options to suit every palate. After dinner, immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter, where you can enjoy live music, rooftop bars, or dance the night away at a popular club.


End your day by relaxing in your hotel, reflecting on the excitement and energy of downtown San Diego. Tomorrow, we’ll continue our adventure by visiting the stunning Balboa Park, home to numerous museums, gardens, and cultural attractions.


Day 2: Discovering Balboa Park

Get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of Balboa Park, one of San Diego’s most iconic destinations. Spanning over 1,200 acres, this urban oasis is home to stunning gardens, world-class museums, and diverse cultural institutions.


Start your day by visiting the Botanical Building, a majestic greenhouse housing a vast collection of exotic plants and flowers. Take a leisurely stroll through the lush gardens and marvel at the intricate architecture of the building. Don’t forget to capture some memorable photos along the way.


Next, make your way to the multitude of museums that call Balboa Park home. From art and natural history to science and aerospace, there’s something to pique everyone’s interest. The San Diego Museum of Art features an impressive collection of artworks from around the world, while the San Diego Natural History Museum offers fascinating exhibits on the region’s diverse ecosystems.


Take your time exploring the various museums and appreciate the diverse range of exhibits they have to offer. If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to visit the Fleet Science Center, where interactive displays and hands-on activities make learning a fun-filled adventure.


After immersing yourself in the cultural delights of Balboa Park, take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch in one of the park’s many picturesque picnic areas. Relax under the shade of a tree, soak in the beautiful surroundings, and recharge for the rest of your day.


Continue your exploration by wandering through the park’s beautiful gardens. From the Japanese Friendship Garden with its serene koi pond to the vibrant colors of the Desert Garden, each area offers a unique and tranquil experience. Take a moment to unwind, connect with nature, and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings.


As the day winds down, don’t miss the opportunity to catch a live performance at the Old Globe Theatre or enjoy a concert at one of the park’s outdoor venues. Balboa Park is known for its vibrant arts scene, and you’re sure to find something that appeals to your taste.


End your day with a leisurely stroll through the park, taking in the breathtaking sunset views and reflecting on the cultural and natural wonders you’ve encountered. Tomorrow, we’ll head to Coronado Island for a day of sun, sand, and relaxation.


Day 3: Beach Day at Coronado Island

Escape to the picturesque shores of Coronado Island for a day of sun, sand, and relaxation. Just a short drive from downtown San Diego, Coronado Island is known for its pristine beaches, charming downtown area, and iconic Hotel del Coronado.


Start your day by heading to Coronado Beach, consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the United States. Soak up the sun, feel the soft sand between your toes, and take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. Whether you’re interested in swimming, building sandcastles, or simply lounging under an umbrella with a good book, Coronado Beach has something for everyone.


After some beach time, explore the charming Coronado Village, located just steps away from the beach. Stroll along Orange Avenue, the main street of the downtown area, where you’ll find boutique shops, art galleries, and cozy cafes. Stop by the Coronado Ferry Landing, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the San Diego skyline and indulge in some delicious waterfront dining.


Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the iconic Hotel del Coronado, a luxurious historic hotel that has hosted countless celebrities and dignitaries since its opening in 1888. Wander through the beautifully maintained grounds, marvel at the stunning architecture, and learn about the hotel’s fascinating history.


For lunch, treat yourself to some fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants in Coronado Village. From casual fish tacos to upscale seafood platters, the dining options in Coronado are sure to satisfy your cravings.


In the afternoon, venture beyond the beach and explore the Coronado Bike Path, a scenic route that takes you around the island. Rent a bike and enjoy a leisurely ride, taking in the breathtaking coastal views and the charming residential neighborhoods.


To end your beach day in Coronado, head back to Coronado Beach to catch the stunning sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Find a cozy spot on the sand, sit back, and let the vibrant colors of the sky paint a picturesque backdrop. It’s the perfect way to unwind and appreciate the natural beauty of San Diego.


As the sun sets, make your way back to your hotel and reflect on the tranquility and beauty of Coronado Island. Tomorrow, get ready for some outdoor adventures in the vibrant La Jolla neighborhood, known for its rugged coastline and thriving marine life.


Day 4: Outdoor Adventures in La Jolla

Get ready for an action-packed day of outdoor adventures in La Jolla, a scenic coastal neighborhood located just north of downtown San Diego. Known for its breathtaking cliffs, pristine beaches, and abundant marine life, La Jolla offers a wide range of activities to satisfy your adventurous spirit.


Start your day by exploring the famous La Jolla Cove, a protected marine sanctuary and a prime spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Grab your snorkel gear and dive into the crystal-clear waters, where you’ll encounter vibrant marine life, including colorful fish, playful seals, and perhaps even a majestic sea turtle.


After your exciting underwater adventure, take a leisurely stroll along the cliffs of La Jolla Cove and enjoy panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Keep an eye out for sea lions and seals sunbathing on the rocks, providing you with some unforgettable photo opportunities.


For a unique perspective of the coastline, embark on a sea kayak tour. Paddle along the picturesque shoreline, explore sea caves, and listen to interesting anecdotes from your knowledgeable guide. Kayaking in La Jolla is an exhilarating experience that allows you to appreciate the beauty of the rugged cliffs and the diversity of marine life.


Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the charming village of La Jolla and treat yourself to a delicious lunch at one of the local eateries. From upscale seafood restaurants to cozy cafes, La Jolla offers a variety of dining options to satisfy every palate.


After lunch, take a scenic drive to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, a stunning coastal preserve known for its dramatic cliffs and rare Torrey pine trees. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on one of the park’s many trails, immersing yourself in the beautiful coastal scenery and enjoying breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.


If you’re a golf enthusiast, be sure to check out the renowned Torrey Pines Golf Course, where you can test your skills on one of the two championship courses while taking in the stunning ocean views.


As the day comes to a close, head back to La Jolla Shores Beach, a wide sandy beach perfect for a leisurely stroll or simply enjoying the sunset. Unwind and reflect on the day’s adventures as you watch the sun dip below the horizon.


Tomorrow, we’ll discover the vibrant history and culture of San Diego as we visit the world-famous USS Midway Museum.


Day 5: Visiting the USS Midway Museum

Immerse yourself in the rich history and fascinating naval heritage of San Diego by visiting the USS Midway Museum, a truly unique and immersive experience. The USS Midway, an iconic former aircraft carrier turned museum, offers visitors the opportunity to explore the ship’s decks, learn about naval aviation, and gain insight into the lives of the brave men and women who served aboard.


Start your day by arriving early at the museum to beat the crowds and make the most of your visit. Upon stepping aboard the USS Midway, you’ll be greeted by friendly volunteers who will provide you with an audio guide that will walk you through the ship’s remarkable history. This self-guided tour allows you to explore at your own pace and delve into the various exhibits and interactive displays.


As you traverse the expansive flight deck, you’ll see an impressive array of aircraft from different eras, including fighter jets, helicopters, and transport planes. Climb into the cockpit of some of these iconic aircraft and experience firsthand what it’s like to be a naval aviator.


Descend into the labyrinthine depths of the ship and explore various compartments, including the hangar deck, engine room, and living quarters. Gain a deeper understanding of the daily life of the sailors and the intricacies of operating a floating city at sea.


One of the highlights of the USS Midway Museum is the opportunity to listen to captivating stories from the veteran docents who once served on the ship. Their first-hand accounts and personal anecdotes provide a unique perspective on life aboard the USS Midway.


Make sure to visit the Flight Deck Museum, located below the flight deck, which houses a remarkable collection of exhibits and memorabilia chronicling the ship’s extensive history. From the Vietnam War to Operation Desert Storm, the museum offers a comprehensive overview of the USS Midway’s service throughout the years.


After your exploration of the ship, head to the museum’s gift shop, where you can find unique souvenirs and mementos to commemorate your visit. Take a moment to reflect on the significance of the USS Midway and the sacrifices made by those who served.


As you leave the museum, take a moment to admire the panoramic views of the San Diego skyline and the beautiful Coronado Bridge. The USS Midway Museum is not only a testament to the naval history of San Diego but also a symbol of the city’s enduring legacy as a military and maritime hub.


Tomorrow, we’ll continue our exploration of San Diego’s vibrant downtown area as we immerse ourselves in the dynamic Gaslamp Quarter.


Day 6: Exploring the Gaslamp Quarter

Get ready to experience the vibrant energy and eclectic atmosphere of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter on day six of your itinerary. This historic neighborhood in downtown San Diego is renowned for its Victorian-era architecture, lively nightlife, and an array of dining, shopping, and entertainment options.


Start your day by indulging in a delicious brunch at one of the trendy eateries that line the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter. From classic American breakfast fare to international cuisine, you’ll find a wide range of options to satisfy your cravings.


After brunch, delve into the rich history of the Gaslamp Quarter by taking a leisurely stroll along Fifth Avenue. Absorb the charming Victorian architecture and discover the numerous art galleries, boutiques, and antique shops that populate the area. Take your time to explore the unique establishments and perhaps even find a one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home.


As you explore, keep an eye out for the historic Horton Grand Hotel and the iconic Gaslamp Quarter Archway, both of which serve as landmarks of the neighborhood’s vibrant past. Snap some photos and learn about the significant role the Gaslamp Quarter played in San Diego’s development.


For art enthusiasts, the Gaslamp Quarter is home to a variety of galleries showcasing both local and international artists. Spend some time immersing yourself in the vibrant art scene and appreciating the diverse range of artistic expressions.


When it comes to dining, the Gaslamp Quarter offers a plethora of options for every taste and budget. From upscale restaurants specializing in fusion cuisine to casual eateries serving mouthwatering tacos and burgers, your culinary desires will undoubtedly be satisfied. Don’t forget to try some local craft beer or sip on a refreshing cocktail at one of the many stylish bars and lounges.


If you’re a fan of live entertainment, the Gaslamp Quarter has you covered. Catch a show at one of the neighborhood’s many theaters, ranging from small, intimate venues to larger theaters showcasing Broadway productions and stand-up comedy acts. The area is also renowned for its live music venues, where you can enjoy performances by both local and national artists across a variety of genres.


As the day transitions into evening, the Gaslamp Quarter truly comes alive with its vibrant nightlife. Experience the electric energy as you hop from one bar or club to another, soaking in the lively atmosphere and making unforgettable memories. Dance the night away, enjoy live music, or simply enjoy a drink at one of the area’s rooftop bars, taking in the stunning views of the city skyline.


As you bid farewell to the Gaslamp Quarter, reflect on the unique blend of history, culture, and entertainment that makes this neighborhood a must-visit destination in San Diego. Tomorrow, we’ll head to Mission Beach for a day of relaxation and fun in the sun.


Day 7: Relaxing at Mission Beach

On the seventh day of your San Diego adventure, it’s time to unwind and enjoy a day of relaxation at Mission Beach. This lively beach community, located on a narrow strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and Mission Bay, offers a perfect blend of sun, sand, and recreational activities.


Start your day by taking a leisurely walk along the iconic Mission Beach Boardwalk. As you stroll along the promenade, you’ll be treated to scenic views of the beach, the crashing waves of the ocean, and the vibrant energy of surfers, joggers, and rollerbladers. Take a moment to breathe in the salty sea air and let the calming sound of the waves wash over you.


Once you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy a delicious breakfast or brunch at one of the beachfront cafes or restaurants. Indulge in classic American breakfast fare, sip on a cup of freshly brewed coffee, and savor the mouthwatering flavors as you soak in the laid-back beach atmosphere.


After breakfast, it’s time to hit the beach! Spread out your beach towel, lather on some sunscreen, and bask in the warmth of the Southern California sun. Whether you prefer sunbathing, swimming, or building sandcastles, Mission Beach offers plenty of space and a vibrant beach community to enjoy.


If you’re feeling adventurous, consider renting a surfboard, boogie board, or paddleboard from one of the beach rental shops. Try your hand at catching some waves or glide through the calm waters of Mission Bay. The experienced instructors at the beach can provide lessons for beginners or offer tips to more experienced water sports enthusiasts.


For a change of pace, take a leisurely bike ride or rollerblade along the boardwalk, enjoying the scenic views and the bustling activity around you. Feel the ocean breeze as you cruise past beachfront houses, restaurants, and shops, taking in the sights and sounds of this lively beach community.


If you’re traveling with family, make sure to visit Belmont Park, an amusement park located right on the beach. Experience the thrill of the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster, play games in the arcade, or take a ride on the iconic Belmont Park Carousel. It’s a fun-filled destination for both kids and kids at heart.


As the day draws to a close, find a cozy spot on the beach to watch the breathtaking sunset over the Pacific Ocean. The vibrant hues of orange, pink, and purple paint the sky, creating a magical atmosphere that perfectly encapsulates the beauty of San Diego.


As you say goodbye to Mission Beach, take a moment to appreciate the rejuvenation and relaxation this day has brought you. San Diego has offered you a week filled with incredible experiences, from exploring cultural attractions to immersing yourself in natural beauty. From the vibrant downtown to the picturesque beaches, you have truly experienced the best that America’s Finest City has to offer.


As you depart, carry the memories and the laid-back spirit of San Diego with you, and remember that this vibrant city will always welcome you back with open arms.



Congratulations on completing your one-week adventure in the incredible city of San Diego! From the vibrant downtown area to the stunning beaches and cultural attractions, you’ve experienced the best of what this captivating destination has to offer.


Throughout the week, you explored the historic Gaslamp Quarter, immersed yourself in the arts and culture of Balboa Park, and ventured out to the beautiful Coronado Island. You delved into the naval history of San Diego at the USS Midway Museum and embarked on outdoor adventures in La Jolla. Finally, you enjoyed a day of relaxation at Mission Beach, allowing the soothing sounds of the ocean to wash away your worries.


San Diego’s unique blend of natural beauty, cultural diversity, and laid-back atmosphere make it a truly unforgettable destination. From the picturesque coastline to the bustling city streets, every corner offers something new to discover and explore.


Whether you were captivated by the stunning sunsets, inspired by the world-class museums, or simply charmed by the friendly locals, San Diego has surely left a lasting impression on you. The memories of the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter, the tranquility of Balboa Park, and the breathtaking views from Coronado Island will stay with you long after you’ve left.


Remember, San Diego is a destination that can be enjoyed all year round, thanks to its pleasant climate and array of activities. Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures, cultural explorations, or simply seeking a relaxing beach getaway, San Diego has it all.


As you bid farewell to this extraordinary city, don’t forget to take a piece of San Diego with you. A memory captured in a photograph, a taste of the local cuisine, or a memento from one of the vibrant neighborhoods will serve as reminders of the wonderful experiences you had during your stay.


Thank you for joining us on this one-week journey through San Diego. We hope that this itinerary has allowed you to make the most of your time and create memories that will last a lifetime. Until we meet again, may the spirit of San Diego’s sun, surf, and vibrant energy stay with you wherever you go.